“Why has it taken so long to develop these methods for men? The challenge is twofold. The first lies in differences in biology. During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone naturally halts ovulation. Men, however, never stop producing sperm. There are other obstacles, such as funding for further research and a lack of pharmaceutical companies taking an interest in the field. But, as scientists tell me, we could be only a few years away from temporary, reversible, male contraceptives.”
I encourage you to investigate the scientific aspects of a birth control patch, pill or injection for men, but what interests me is the social aspect. It’s often taken for granted that womyn take birth control pills (or other hormonal supplements), and this modification of female hormone levels to achieve a desired outcome (inability to get pregnant or suppression of certain characteristics) is a medical and social norm.
I don’t have strong opinions about whether or not womyn should be on birth control (for whatever reason), but I think the historical overemphasis on manipulating womyn’s bodies to ease intra-social interaction between the sexes is telling of a greater medical and cultural attitude towards manipulating the female body. This came to my attention when MSNBC interviewed one older bachelor about similar male birth control options. He responded:
“I would rather rely on a solution that doesn’t involving medicating myself, and the problems women have had with hormone therapy doesn’t make me anxious to want to sign on to taking a hormone-type therapy.”
His aversions are justified, however, “the problems” womyn have experienced that he refers to do not receive this same stigma within groups of younger American womyn (yes, I know a big generalization). I posit that this stigma is produced by the attitude that females have a primary responsibility to manage birth control and that changing, injecting, contorting and disfiguring the female body is something American culture enjoys (see: pornography, modeling, Kanye West’s leaked video “Monsters,” etc.).
I think this is why there is going to be resistance to male forms of birth control, as it will compromise the body our society has left comparatively untouched. I’m very interested (from a sociological perspective) to see how this option will be marketed once it’s out of trials. Will it play with stereotypes of psychotic girlfriends secretly trying to get pregnant? Will it masculinize the drug, claiming to enlarge certain organs? Either way, we will surely be seeing more discourse before birth control for men becomes mainstream in our society.