What Male Birth Control Means For Feminism

Last week, it was announced that Vasalgel, a new male birth control, could be available as early as 2018 if all goes according to plan. It's a new option— finally a male birth control that isn't a condom. In fact, you don't even have to put it on or take it daily, like the pill. Instead, it's a shot in the vas deferens that blocks the sperm so it is reabsorbed back into the body, rather than, you know, getting you pregnant. It's a way to protect yourself from pregnancy without hormones or metal in your body, or stopping to put on a condom.

Truthfully, we're just not as good at putting on condoms as we should be. “Condoms are important in new relationships, but they’re often used inconsistently and are unpopular among long-term couples," Elaine Lissner, founder and executive director of Parsemus Foundation tells Bustle. We need a better option, and Vasalgel could be it.

But what does a male-centered birth control mean for feminism? Taking control of your own sexuality and sexual health through birth control has been a huge part of feminism. And male birth control doesn't take away from any of this, if anything it's just another win for feminism. Here's why:

1. It Opens Up The Birth Control Dialogue

Birth control isn't it discussed as much as it should be between hetero couples. Other than the "Do you have a condom?" whisper, it's all pretty silent. Female birth control may still be a bit of an enigma to men— a lot of them like to shrug it off as the thing that makes women "crazy" and something that affects when a woman gets her period — but Vasalgel could change that.

"I think it is very interesting and will open the sexuality discussion of responsibility for contraception," Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OBGYN, Sexual Medicine Gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, told Bustle.

Think about it, if there was a real option over which of you would undergo a procedure or take a pill— a serious commitment— for the sake of birth control, how birth control affects women may start to be taken a lot more seriously. If you're weighing it up against how Vasalgel would affect a male partner, they're going to have to listen to what the Pill or coil or whatever actually affects your body, too.

2. Equality Of Responsibility

With condoms, the responsibility is on both men and women. Though men wear them, there's a good chance both of you buy them and, more importantly, suggest using them. Or, if you're me and my first boyfriend, the 15-year-old girl buys them because your boyfriend is too embarrassed. And, unless you make the decision for a man to get a vasectomy, all of the other birth control options are solely female-based. Breaking up the responsibility with options for both men and women is much fairer, rather than assuming women should be the only ones using pills or implants that affect their body.

3. Equality Of Options

Feminism is about equality and equality goes both ways. And for a long time, men just haven't had the same option of birth control that women have. Condoms can get expensive and and be inconvenient, but there's been no other option besides a vasectomy, which is right for some people, but pretty drastic for others. Lissner pointed out that women "have multiple options (each with its own drawbacks), but right now there’s nothing out there both reversible and highly reliable for men." Vasalgel could change that, and more equality is better for feminism.

4. Safe Sex Is Empowered Sex

Bottom line: everyone can benefit from having more safe sex options. Although Vasalgel doesn't protect against STIs, any option that allows women to have sex without fear of unwanted pregnancy is empowering. It's good for women, it's good for sex, it's good for feminism. It allows us to celebrate sex for sex's sake, contributing to a feeling of having control of our sexuality without worrying — and that's good for everyone.

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Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Giphy (4)