• 100% of unwanted pregnancies are caused by men, argues Gabrielle Blair. (Getty / Cavan Images RF)
If your body’s fluids have the potential to harm your partner, it's your responsibility, not your partner's, to ensure they don't.
Gabrielle Blair

26 Oct 2018 - 6:00 AM  UPDATED 26 Oct 2018 - 6:00 AM

I recently published a Twitter thread on the topic of abortion. Instead of talking directly about abortion, I focused on unwanted pregnancies, and the mystery of why, when there are so many forms of birth control available, unwanted pregnancies happen at all. It turns out the mystery is easily solvable: all unwanted pregnancies are caused by irresponsible ejaculations by men. Don’t believe me? Let me walk you through it.

The response to my Twitter thread was swift, intense, and shockingly to me - hugely positive. I had originally written the thread several months earlier, and then hesitated to post it. I had written specifically for Twitter, a platform I’ve used since 2008, and I was well aware of how ugly Twitter can be. So I paused, not knowing if I would ever actually publish what I had written. But in September, as I watched the hearings for then-Judge-now-Justice Kavanaugh, and heard man after man grandstanding about the reproductive rights of women, I hit a boiling point and pressed publish.

I mentioned the response was mostly positive, and that’s true. But it wasn’t all positive. Some people were incensed that I would position the responsibility as anything but 50/50 between both sexes. Easily the most consistent criticism was that by saying men cause 100% of unwanted pregnancies, I was making women victims and removing their agency. In a take that will surprise no one, I disagree.

To hold men responsible does not imply that women have no control of their sex lives, or that they are only passive victims. If I say irresponsible ejaculations cause unwanted pregnancies, is that the same as saying women can’t choose when to have sex, why to have sex, how to have sex, or with whom to have sex? No. The two are totally separate thoughts.

“But you’re painting women as weak! All women need to do is ask men to wear a condom, and then refuse to have sex with him if he doesn’t.” 

Okay. Sure. Women successfully make that request many times every single day, all over the world. But have you ever wondered, like I have, why would a woman ever need to ask a man to wear a condom? Why wouldn’t it be the default that men should provide their own condom and put it on without a request? Who benefits if the man doesn't wear a condom? 

If your body’s fluids have the potential to harm your partner, it's your responsibility, not your partner's, to ensure they don't.

If a woman doesn’t make the request — let’s pretend she’s preoccupied and forgets to ask — does that mean the man is off the hook? She didn’t bring it up so therefore he doesn’t need to wear a condom? He doesn’t need to be responsible for his own bodily fluids? Is there any other scenario where that makes sense? If a man had HIV and infected his partner, that's a crime. If your body’s fluids have the potential to harm your partner, it's your responsibility, not your partner's, to ensure they don't.

If a man sees evidence of birth control in a woman’s house (like the pill), or asks her if she’s on birth control, and she answers yes, does that qualify as a man-being-responsible, and absolve him of any obligation to wear a condom? If yes, why? 

Maybe a larger issue is that saying women should just insist on a condom ignores a huge power dynamic that exists between men and women in the real world — and maybe especially in the sexual world. It’s similar to saying that women who are being sexually harassed by their supervisor “just need to speak up.” We know it’s more complicated than that. It’s not uncommon for men to request or imply that they don’t want to use a condom. It’s not uncommon for men to pressure women to have sex without condoms. 

To say that irresponsible ejaculations cause 100% of unwanted pregnancies does not imply women are passive victims. It’s just highlighting biology: Ejaculations cause pregnancy. Men are fertile every day. It makes sense for men to be responsible for their ejaculations every time they have sex. 

Should women be responsible too? Yes. Of course. They already are. If you want to argue that women need to be responsible for preventing unwanted pregnancies, then you are in luck! Because that’s currently how it works. Do I think that by pointing out the fact that irresponsible ejaculations cause unwanted pregnancies, that men are suddenly going to wear condoms every time they have sex, and that women are going to stop putting often-harmful birth control products in their bodies? Unfortunately, no.

It makes sense for men to be responsible for their ejaculations every time they have sex. 

But by engaging in this conversation, will men and women become more aware of how imbalanced things currently are birth-control wise? Will they find it peculiar that many men responded to my Twitter thread with: WHAT?! Both parties should be responsible!!!! 

I agree having both parties be responsible makes a ton of sense; it’s embarrassing that it would even need to be pointed out. But that’s not how things currently function. Our birth control practices are wildly imbalanced strictly across genders. The burden of birth control, the effects of birth control, and the consequences of failed birth control, fall almost exclusively on women.

Will men and women recognise that no one seems to be trying to correct the imbalance? Will they realise the current imbalance has seemingly never bothered the men who are now calling for shared responsibility? That is my hope.

Gabrielle Blair is appearing at the 2018 Feminist Writers Festival in Sydney on a panel discussion called 'Writing (re)productively'. Follow her on Twitter @designmom.


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