In my previous blog ,
I discussed how the lack of male contraception reduces men’s reproductive autonomy
and burdens women with the health-related and financial consequences of being
the one responsible for contraception. In this blog, I want to explore some of
the social burdens women face when contracepting, especially those that men do
not and would not face when using contraception.
Women face the social burdens of
contraception, which include medicalization of one’s reproductive health, the
stress and worry about the possibility of an unintended pregnancy, social
repercussions of one’s contraceptive decisions, and possible moral reproach for
contraceptive failures. While men could potentially face some of these social
burdens, several of them are specific to women. For example, since pregnancy
occurs in a woman’s body, she will physically embody the stigma and shame of an
unintended pregnancy whereas the man will not carry any physical reminder of
Another burden unique to women is
the double-bind they face regarding contraceptive use. Women who use
contraceptive may be seen as violating the feminine norm of chastity. Yet, if
single women do not use contraception, they risk an unintended pregnancy, which
is associated with irresponsibility and trying to “trap” a man.
Since men are not held to the norm
of chastity, but rather are frequently lauded for sexual promiscuity, they are
not socially penalized for engaging in sexual activity and using contraception.
Thus, the development of male contraceptives could help women avoid this no-win
situation while empowering men to control their reproduction.
The need for male contraceptives is
often looked overlooked because contraception is often conflated with women,
thereby marginalizing and even ignoring men.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.