The pill has always been a woman's problem, and that's not about to change

Originally, I was planning to write a blog post titled: It’s time to woman up and take the pill. I was going to talk about the fact that a new male contraceptive pill has been in the works for the last few years and last year it finally got to its trial stage. All seemed well at the beginning until men started to drop out of the trial. And why was that? Because of the side effects. Side effects which included, headaches, weight gain, moodiness and nausea and increased risks of blood clots. Now this is the point where all the women reading this should be confused… these are the exact same side effects we have to endure and yet there are millions of women who deal with the side effects and risks every single day.

I was then going to go on a bit of a rant about how unfair it is that we have to put up with these side effects for years while those men couldn’t even last a year. Maybe then I would have raged a bit about how it takes two to make a baby and it shouldn’t just be women who have to take all these extra precautions, I mean we already have to pay for tampons and pads every month something which we have no choice in.

Later on I was speaking to my dad about my idea when he said something that hit me hard. He said to me: “Emma, men taking a contraceptive pill is something that would probably only happen in an ideal world, because the fact is they are not the ones who have to worry about getting pregnant, they have a lot less to lose then women do if they get pregnant.”

That sounds really harsh but it’s true, at the end of the day men don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, they may worry about getting a girl pregnant but they will never be the ones who have to pee on a stick to find out. And again this might sound harsh, but a man will never be as affected or have to give up as much as a woman would if a pregnancy occurred.

The facts are that a woman will first of all have to decide what will happen to the baby, whether that is abortion or carrying it to full term. If she decides to abort the child, she alone will go through the trauma of the abortion and while the father of the baby may be devastated about the abortion he will never have to go through the physical pain and trauma of the procedure.

If the woman decides to carry the child to full term she will have to deal with morning sickness, aches and pains everywhere, swollen feet, weight gain, stretch marks not to mention having a doctor inspect the lower half of you naked body about once a month. Then there is that tiny little task of actually giving birth, an excruciatingly painful experience which can last anywhere from 3 to 48 hours (Oh please tell me getting kicked in the balls equals the same amount of pain…please I dare you)

After all of the physical aspects of pregnancy, there are also social aspects to consider. When I woman is pregnant she is less likely to be hired because of the fact that she will need to take maternity leave. Then once the baby has been born and gets sick, the mother will have to take off work to look after the child (In this sense I am speaking generally, I know some fathers take on this responsibility as well but it is most commonly seen as the mothers’ job to look after the sick child.) Here’s another generalisation, but picking up the children from school or day care is also most commonly the mothers’ role which means that many working mothers become part time employees.

Look I’m not saying that no one should have children because having children, according to my dad, is the single greatest achievement of his life and as he says ‘you do not know utterly true love until you have held your child in your arms.’

The point I’m trying to make is that I can stomp my feet and shake my head all I want at how unfair it is that I have to take the extra precaution of birth control when men don’t but that will never change the fact that men don’t get pregnant. And although, the idea of everyone regardless of their gender taking birth control is appealing, it could only ever happen in an ideal world… and let’s face it we live in a world that is any but ideal. 

Comments

Well written! I'd just like to make a comment about the 'roles' of mothers. Sharing responsiblity of looking after a child equally is not the same as having to biologically carry the child and give birth. Yes, it does take two to make a baby, and if the father doesn't own up to his responsbiltiies regardless whether the pregnancy was a mistake or deliberate then that's his loss. Men like to shout about 'mens rights' and 'fathers rights' but its true - women carry out all of the labour, and yes, they are the ones who naturally should have the only say over their pregnancy and the birth, and their bodies! :-)

By Sabah Mariam Jalal