according to dr Amanda Wilson of De Montfort University in Leicester says it looks like a male contraceptive vaccine will be available within the next year. The jab is called Risug and could stem the already declining demand for vasectomies. The vaccine, which has completed its final testing, would be reversible, meaning not as radical as vasectomy.
That’s good news for women who think birth control decisions should be shared, isn’t it? Women in general have always wished that men took more responsibility for conception – and birth control. Throughout history, as we know, especially from the sad stories of mother and child homes, so many men have been able to get through a problem pregnancy and literally leave the woman with the baby. Wouldn’t it be an improvement if the male of the species took equal responsibility for all pregnancies?
It would, but the psychology of fertility can be complex. Some women will welcome the availability of the Risug jab, others may be more ambivalent. Some may argue that it puts the male in control of reproductive choice. I’ve known more than one woman who has resented her spouse for having a vasectomy because it deprived her of the opportunity to have another baby (although the lack of guidance on such decisions could mean the marriage is dead anyway is in trouble).
The pill really gave women the power to make decisions about having a baby for the first time. The pill revolution also promoted this key notion that a woman’s choice is paramount
Trust is a key element in the couple relationship and trust is not always present. According to opinion polls, some women say they wouldn’t necessarily trust a man who says, “I got the birth control shot” — it could just be a seduction ploy. (It was known.) And Dr. Wilson claims that men may hesitate to get vaccinated because their bodies are unaffected by pregnancy. So it’s a complex and ambiguous area.
Since the introduction of the birth control pill in the 1960s, contraception has been seen primarily as a woman’s job. And it empowered women not only through the suppression of fertility, but also through the privacy of its context. Contrary to the more mechanical aspects of birth control, no one ever needs to know if a woman has been on the pill or not. A woman who wants to become pregnant privately can always claim that she “forgot” to take the pill – which can happen accidentally or unknowingly on purpose.
It really has put women in the driver’s seat for the first time when it comes to making decisions about having a baby. The pill revolution, while intended to curb the need for abortion, also promoted this key notion that a woman’s choice is paramount.
And yet, in the past, despite the cads and bounders who impregnated and abandoned women, there was also a sizable cohort of men who wanted to limit the number of children they could father and sought birth control measures. Marie Stopes, the pioneer of contraception, received far more letters from men seeking contraception advice than ever from women. This may in part have been because women at the time were more reluctant to make public references to matters considered sensitive and controversial.
But it may also have been because, before the advent of the welfare state, married men were financially responsible for the children they fathered, and in some cases the law (or local custom) was able to track down unmarried fathers as well. When fathers had full financial responsibility for their offspring, they sought to reduce family size.
Interestingly, Stopes received a remarkable number of letters from Anglican vicars: they often had larger-than-average families, lived in draughty vicarages on modest stipends, and struggled to support their families. Some were also troubled in their conscience about the ethics of contraception and violated the Scriptural command to “go and multiply.” (The Church of England did not fully endorse contraception until 1958 — and even then only for married couples.)
Everything has changed, of course, and sexual relationships are no longer defined as within the confines of marriage. Controlling fertility is seen as even more important when relationships can be temporary or casual – who wants pregnancy as the result of a one-night stand or “connection”?
Developments in contraceptive choice are expanding the freedoms of men and women to enjoy sexual pleasure without the risk of pregnancy – though, as Louise Perry points out in her critical book The case against the sexual revolution, it can also decrease the ability to say “no.” “Consent” lessons arose in response to the simple assumption that there are now no barriers to physical relationship.
Most beneficially, advances in female contraception have led to an increased focus on women’s and maternal health. Advances in male contraception could eventually do the same. But the psychological issues will remain: some will see it as an opportunity for men to take on more responsibility; some may see it as a return to a form of male dominance and control.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/a-male-contraceptive-jab-is-on-the-way-but-will-it-truly-equalise-reproductive-control-42005209.html A male contraceptive vaccine is on the way, but will it really offset reproductive control?