Full transparency (this is the part where I drop trow). I’m “snipped”. In 2002, a year after my daughter (child number two) was born, after a series of conversations with my wife, I agreed to undergo a vasectomy – as the principle form of birth control my wife and I would use going forwards. This would take away pretty much all possibility that we’d undermine the decision we’d made to have two kids and leave it at that family-wise. It did not occur to me that I might need a functioning vas deferens to have a “second family”. It’s just not how I think.
Okay… if I’m really honest, it did occur to me that if I ever had an affair, I’d never have to worry about impregnating anyone and making a bad situation (me having an affair) worse (that affair producing a kid by accident). But, in my defense, I’m a storyteller and I come at everything from every conceivable angle because everything’s a potential story idea.
It was not the most fun I’ve ever had in my life, but a long weekend spent on the couch with ice on my crotch was nothing compared to pregnancy and childbirth. I know this because I assisted my wife through two pregnancies and two vaginal births (with a minimum of pain medication – my wife’s very English that way). What I “endured” was minor discomfort at worst.
Now, here’s the strange thing. The vasectomy made sex a kajillion times better. It wasn’t just knowing I couldn’t impregnate my wife. That meant “no worrying”. What improved markedly were the literal “feelings” – the sexual sensations themselves suddenly became amplified like never before.
I didn’t see that in the literature anywhere as a ripple effect but there it was – and consistently, too. Twenty years later, it’s still the case. Despite all the downs and eventual ups in my emotional life, my “plumbing” worked better than ever and made the whole house feel good. My vasectomy opened doors instead of closing them.
There’s a first class social influencer named Gabriella Blair (her Twitter handle is @designmom). She’s written brilliantly about sexual politics – about men being the sole cause of pregnancies; women can orgasm a thousand times and never get pregnant. Take the male orgasm out of the sexual picture and no woman would ever get pregnant by accident. Maybe no woman would ever get raped but that’s another question for another day. Read every word of this thread (if you have a Twitter account):
In a Twitter thread filled with headlines, here’s one: “As a society, we really don’t mind if women suffer, physically or mentally, as long as it makes things easier for men.” Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Ms. Blair continues: “Women enjoying sex does not equal unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Men enjoying sex and having irresponsible ejaculations is what causes unwanted pregnancies and abortion.”
Yes, a million times yes!
I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Blair’s conclusion and recommendations for a cure: “If you actually care about reducing or eliminating the number of abortions in our country, simply HOLD MEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS… What would that look like? What if there was a real and immediate consequence for men who cause an unwanted pregnancy?”
“What if” indeed! Makes me think of the brilliant “Every Sperm Is Sacred” sketch in “Monty Python: The Meaning Of Life” –
The problem with men (and I’m speaking as one who benefited from it): our sexuality is entirely “squirt ‘n go”. That’s our design. A young, healthy, sexually prolific male could knock up a woman a day. Well, that might fall off toward the end of the week, but a male with a high enough sperm count and an irresponsible libido could make his own village. Some men do. Having an emotional connection to the human beings our ejaculations produce is more a learned behavior than an organic one.
There is no excuse – good, bad or indifferent – for male casualness about where their sperm goes. As Ms. Blair points out, many men even get squirrely about using condoms because it diminishes their pleasure a bit. The fact that removing that condom for a few more degrees of pleasure could result in pregnancy? That doesn’t seem to matter suddenly. A satisfied male can leave a sexual encounter and then have zero to do with any of the resulting pain, discomfort, work implications, life alterations, possible death and jaw-dropping cost his sexual partner might have to bear. And all for a few minutes (if that) of “heightened pleasure” when it’s entirely likely that the woman on the receiving end wasn’t having anything like the same “satisfaction”. Doesn’t sound like a very good deal.
I’m not sure why any woman would make it.
The Greek playwright Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata in 411 BC. In it, the character Lysistrata gets the women of two warring Greek city states to deny all sex to men until they stop making war on each other (sex being the only thing the men truly and deeply desire). It’s hardly hyperbolic to say the right wing is at war with women – as they have been for hundreds of thousands of years. Barefoot and pregnant is how right wingers love to see women – all women.
Women may enjoy sex with men (those that do) but, it’s not like they really need men to have a good time. It wouldn’t really be much of a sacrifice even – if modern American women pulled a Lysistrata on America’s men (it will have to be all of them, I’m afraid) and denied them all sex until access to abortion, birth control and every bit of healthcare women say they need to be healthy is no longer a question in America.
Of course, there is an easy way to make sure no man ever (accidentally or otherwise) impregnates another woman. I can think of quite a few men who’d benefit especially (well, the rest of us would anyway) if we sat them down and re-adjusted their plumbing for them. If we start with their plumbing, their attitudes will follow.