Saturday, October 22, 2005

Medicine: One small step for man

So the dude who has spent the last twenty years working on a male contraceptive (currently achieving a promising 92% success rate) just got a 3.6 million dollar grant from NIH. Sweet!

I do have one particular concern, though: will a 'male pill' lower the rate of condom use and increase certain STD rates?

Considering the social dynamic, there's really no shame in asking a guy to put on a condom, because essentially the point is to stop from getting someone pregnant, of which almost every male has the capability. If anything, it is that male's very virility which allows him to impregnate, meaning that, by six degrees, the necessity to put on a condom is to some degree a masculinizing event. Not that every dude sees it way, but its certainly a valid read of the phenomenon.

Picture this:

Dude: I'm on the pill. I ain't plantin' the seed, suga.

Chick: But honey, what if you have the clap?

Dude: What you sayin' 'bout me, bitch? You think I'm dirty or sumpin'?

Chick: No, baby. You can rob the bank as long as you left the deposit slips at home.

Chick proceeds to get the clap AND pregnant, because Dude was a lying asshole and wasn't taking the pill anyway, or he missed a few doses here or there, or was taking some antibiotic (just to steal a problem from the estrogen/progesterone pills), and hell, what's he worried about anyway? It's not like he has to take care of the baby.

Now, don't get me wrong. A product that disperses responsibility for birth control to both genders in a non-invasive matter is a great thing. For monogamous couples to have that extra back-up is great. The pluses far outweigh the minuses. But, before we put the male pill on the market, if Dr. Hall puts that grant to good use, we better consider the social awkwardnesses which it might generate in a generally anti-feminist society, and at least attempt to address those dynamics with education.

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