It's one of those horrible stereotypes that gets repeated in movies and on television: the desperate, probably crazy, control-freak woman who tries to trap a man by deliberately "forgetting" to take her birth control pills or use whatever type of birth of control she uses or claims to be using. Well, guess what? In real life, that crazy control-freak woman might be a man.
It's called reproductive coercion, and despite what the plot points of countless bad movies and sitcoms would have you believe, it's not the sole domain of women. Men do it, too, for all the reasons related to domination and control that you'd expect. "You know those baby-hungry crazies who try to sabotage your birth control so you'll have a baby together and then they'll have something over you forever?" asks Anna North at Jezebel. "According a new study, they're often men."
That study, carried by UC Davis researchers and published in this month's Contraception magazine, indicates that men do not only frequently sabotage their partners' birth control in the hopes of bringing about a pregnancy, they also coerce their partners into pregnancy through threats of of abandonment. Not surprisingly, the reported rate of occurrence of both these practices was highest in relationships that women described as abusive. What's most disturbing about this? The women in this study were teens and young women (ages 16 - 29). Teens and young women.
The study recommends educating young women and men about abuse and -- for young women -- about birth control methods less vulnerable to sabotage. Which, yes, of course; I am totally, totally 100% behind this. But it hurts my heart desperately -- not only as a mother of a daughter and a son -- that this is something that needs to be taught to teenagers, that young women anywhere need to be taught how to sabotage-proof their birth control and that young men need to be taught not bully their partners into pregnancy or sabotage their birth control.
What's worse, however -- and you just know that this is true -- is that somewhere, someone is going to propose this program education to protect vulnerable young women and someone else is going freak out over that proposal because, hey, kids shouldn't be using birth control to begin with so we'd better not teach them how to make it sabotage-proof! You can't sabotage ABSTINENCE!
Yeah. Expect a post about that one of these days.
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