The topic of contraception tends to make me overtly feminist. Not sure how it’s possible to be overtly pro-equality but I am, especially in this case. The amount of contraception that is available for women in comparison to men makes me agitated. It makes sense to me, in my logic, that the penetrator should take the precaution. If you were entering a cave, it would be your job to wear a helmet, not the cave’s job to pad it’s walls and ensure that no boulders fell on you.
But alas, we live in a world in which most of the responsibilities for preventing pregnancy lies on a woman, probably because she is the one who will face the consequences of actually being pregnant. In the 18th century, men used animal intestines to cover the penis during intercourse, so this isn’t an age old tradition of women needing to queue in a clinic and put hormones into their bodies. During the age of enlightenment they shared my thinking, it was far easier to cover the penis than to enter the mystical and unknown world of the vagina. But now, over three centuries later it is all too common to hear this pitiful excuse: ‘I just don’t like the way a condom feels.’
My reply to this? ‘Well I’m sure that I won’t much like the way that a baby feels when it squeezes out of my vagina.’ You prick. x
Contraception is a rather loaded topic. Far more than just pig intestines and the pill. Under it’s umbrella, contraception shelters religion, wealth, mental health, access to health care and a heated discussion over the kitchen table with one’s significant other. For religious reasons, many believe that contraception and abortion are interchangeable. That to stop a sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes would be a waste of life. Others of course, may not have access to the wide variety of contraception that exists. I realise that to complain about the vast amount of choices available to me puts me somewhat in a position of privilege.
I mention mental health as there is a risk, that when putting hormones into your body your mood or personality may change. We always joke with Rach, that none of us really know her because she’s been on the same pill since she was 15. When I got the implant at the age of 17, after two years of forgetting to take my pill, so swallowing six on one day every fortnight, I was a different person. I was angry all the time and if I wasn’t angry I was sad. I went to my local GP with my Mum, who begged them to take it out of me because I was a fucking nightmare, but was refused, sent away with a new combined pill to take on top of the implant. I did eventually get it taken out, potentially the best thing about a break-up, but having those hormones in my body was not without risk. It can effect your mood, the size of your boobs (often a positive), your sex drive, migraines, blood clotting, your weight, vaginal irritation, blood pressure and most worryingly your fertility. It seems to me, that the only thing a condom can effect is a man’s sexual pleasure and god forbid they have to fake an orgasm every once in a while.
Side note: I feel rather passionately about faking orgasms. Don’t do it?! It’s like telling Usain Bolt in training that his time is 9.58, when in actual fact he’s been running at 15 seconds and is now embarrassed at the Olympics. You can’t improve if you’re playing to strengths which you do not have.
There are 12 forms of contraception offered on the NHS (not including the wide variety of different contraceptive pills) and one of those is a male contraceptive: the condom. As I say, this vast amount of choice is not to be dismissed. The introduction of the female diaphragm, a cap which is inserted into the cervix to create a sort of shield, in to Victorian England emancipated women. It allowed them to take control of their own bodies, to control whether or not they wanted to get pregnant, a premise which still seems relevant today. If I don’t want to get pregnant, I should take the precautions to stop this from happening. Rather than it being about responsibility however, it feels more to me that contraception is an opportunity to understand the duality of sex. It is not an act which is done TO someone else. It’s a tango, and we all know that it takes two, or three, whatever you’re in to, to tango.
On a one night stand for example, when the person I’ve chosen to tango with doesn’t ask if I’m on any form of contraception and doesn’t ask for a condom or pull a rusty one out of his wallet RED FLAG. Number one, I don’t want your STI’s, you’re like food that’s been dropped on the floor and the 5 second rule does not apply here, but number two, you’re suggesting that the sex we’re about to have is not a shared act. That the only part you have to play is a physical one. When really that’s just the surface. Just the surface of what could potentially amass from this one physical act. As Juno so rightly put it: ‘Are you ashamed that we did it? At least you don’t have to have the evidence under your sweater.’
That’s what it really comes down to, the stakes. For me to have unprotected sex holds much higher stakes than my male counterpart. Like it or not, the responsibility falls on me. You can’t have sex with your partner, and it’s your fault because you didn’t get the pill in time? Even though you rang five times and you’re willing to get poked and prodded in the process. The responsibility falls heavily on top of the woman,
So, I get the half an hour bus to the clinic, I sit for over an hour, because for some reason I can never get an appointment. I smile politely as the doctor asks me intimate questions about my sex life: ‘Do you have anal sex?’, ‘How many sexual partners have you had?’, ‘Do you have unprotected sex?’ It’s all confidential of course but, those questions before the STI screening or the decision of what contraception to proceed with, feel like a public broadcast announcement. Before you know it you’re lying on a bed, spread eagle on a piece of white tissue which always sticks to your back, with a stranger between your legs. The pain of getting the coil put in was uncomfortable, a deep pulling of what I can only explain as what it feels like to have someone scratch your cervix. Once finished, they give you a maxi-pad the size of a mattress and you waddle out. As I left the clinic, I walked 100 metres before I started to sweat, feel a little faint and have the most intense stomach cramps that I have ever had. I made it to the bus, but only just. I sat, focusing on anything but the pain, trying desperately not to throw up and thinking about how much I hate the twat that said ‘pain is just a state of mind.’
There’s no two ways about it, contraception does fall on a woman. Rather than feeling upset, hard done by and like I hate all men (sorry even the good ones), I’d like to attempt a different stand point. We are blessed to have control. As we rightly should, we have total control over our bodies, menstruation and procreation. Despite the ball ache of going to pick up a new pill prescription, the side effects of the coil or the scar that the implant leaves on your arm – we are in control. All I ask, is that when, for whatever reason one choses to not be on contraception, one can still have protected sex, that a condom can still be used as it was intended to be.
Come on now, it’s better than a pig’s intestine and I’m sure you’ll still cum first. x