London - The truth is that modern life, and medicine, has simply outgrown the vasectomy. What was once a lifestyle choice with a life-long partner – maybe even an overstated gesture of commitment – has now become a permanent mistake if you get divorced.
The stark reality is that relationships frequently break down, sometimes leaving fathers with little or no access to their children, and there’s even less incentive to go under the knife.
Understandably, rather than be alone, men want the possibility of starting a second family elsewhere. This isn’t selfish, it’s pragmatic. And if family law wasn’t so sexist, it might not happen at all.
From this perspective, men rejecting sterilisation is a good thing: it’s about reproductive emancipation.
Just like the contraceptive pill gave women greater choice and freedom for when NOT to have a baby, shunning the vasectomy does something similar for men in reverse.
It allows them a lifetime of choosing WHEN to have a baby. It extends choice, freedom and opportunity – for both them and their partners.
Besides, many vasectomies can’t be successfully reversed (only half result in a pregnancy after two years – and chances diminish year-on-year), so referring to it as “the snip” is deceptive – the procedure itself might be straight-forward, but the effect it has on the body is sometimes traumatic and can be permanent. There are also rumours it can increase rates of prostate cancer.
What Tom Rawstone’s article (see related article To snip or not to snip?) also fails to mention is that the procedure is expensive – often not covered by medical aid – and so is the reversal operation.
The real issues is that the scope of men’s birth control is both a joke. While women have the pill, the coil, the diaphragm, the Femidom and the morning-after pill (that’s before we even get to the much more complex options of abortion and adoption), men only have two choices: a condom or a vasectomy. Aside from the fact that one faces extinction, they’re both extremes of the same scale.
This is no longer acceptable.
Yes, women have more options because it’s easier to control one egg than a million sperm, and also because it’s them who carry the baby, but men are equally accountable once it’s born. And this is where the discrepancy lies.
Paul Elam is a men’s rights activist and the publisher of US website AVoiceForMen.com. For him, men have as much riding on pregnancy as women do in the long term, but not nearly as much control.
“Men are generally forced into a passive role in the reproductive picture,” he says.
“They compete for sexual selection and wait to be chosen. When they are chosen and engage in sex, they then wait to be informed of the possible consequences. They wait to be told if the baby will be carried to term, or will be aborted.
“They wait to be told if they will be allowed to participate in the life of the child. They wait to be told what they will have to pay, how much and for how long, regardless of whether they want – or intended – to be a parent.
“The implied agreement when having sex is that men have no say in the outcome, and that if they don’t like it they should abstain. In most areas that implied social agreement is backed by law.
“Greater birth control options are needed for men to control the outcome of their sexual encounters.”
And, as much as there are irresponsible men out there, he has a point.
Rather than scolding men for avoiding sterilisation in a world of short-term relationships, let’s put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to produce greater male aids.
After all, recent scientific breakthroughs across the globe show wonderful promise in this area.
According to Dr Phillip Hodson, a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, greater male contraceptives would also help women enjoy intimacy more.
“If there were better options, women would almost certainly feel less pressurised by men’s sexual demands, find it easier to get aroused, enjoy foreplay more, experience better hormonal health and in general regard intercourse as less risky,” he says.
“Women would love it… and men would feel very reassured to know they were not going to father unplanned offspring.”
It’s a win-win situation. But the benefit would also extend beyond the bedroom. It would create social sea change, too. Better male contraceptives would slash unwanted pregnancy rates overnight.
They would also see less children being raised without fathers, which is a contribution to boys being dysfunctional when they’re older (crime levels, poor educational success, unintentionally becoming young fathers themselves).
In effect, it would break the cycle. And most of us are ready to do that. – Daily Mail