While I write regularly about all sorts of experiences, I rarely write the kind of intimate personal reflection on experiences that many other people do. When I have done this I have been surprised by the appreciative and supportive responses I have received.
For no particular reason, I was recently remembering an incident from a number of years ago. This is a true story. I was enjoying a casual, non-exclusive, relationship with a woman that lasted for about 3 months. I was in my early 30s. She was in her mid 40s. We had strong chemistry and connected socially and intellectually. We both had other partners. Our connection was about pleasure, not love, but it seemed based on affection and goodwill.
The memorable incident came in the languid aftermath of a sexual session. She commented at how unusual it was to be with a man who was so consistent in taking the initiative in using condoms to take responsibility for contraception. I’ve written previously about how I think accidental dads are losers and that men should take responsibility for their reproductive behaviour.
‘Thanks’ I said, ‘this is something I take seriously’. She continued with saying ‘you know how I said I was on the pill?’ ‘Yes’, I replied. ‘Well I lied, I’m not’. I was silent as I absorbed this. She continued with ‘all the sex I’ve had with different men in the past year has been unprotected, unless they volunteered to use a condom. I can’t decide whether I want to have a baby, so I’m leaving it to chance.’
She had an unusual personality and sometimes seemed to like to antagonise people for her own amusement. I tried to understand whether she was making a sick joke, but she was being honest. I was freaking out but somehow managed to remain relatively calm. I told her to get and and don’t come back.
There have been occasions in my longer relationships where condoms have been our primary method of contraception, and this is completely normal to me. Some women don’t like taking the pill, or suffer from side effects. Depending on circumstances, using two different methods (hormonal and barrier) can make both partners feel safer, especially with the STI protection condoms provide.
My rational self-interest in looking after myself in always using condoms to avoid STIs and conception has been condemned as paranoid and even misogynistic by some women friends and former lovers. They expect men to trust women to manage conception, even though they simultaneously complain that men won’t take responsibility for it.
I see no reason to relinquish my responsibility to someone else, especially when the consequences are so significant. Creating an unwanted child is unethical in itself, and passively accepting the risk of 18 years of financial ruin is something I could never do.
Men’s reproductive rights are not taken seriously in our society. To a significant extent I think this is men’s own fault, because they so often fail to uphold their responsibilities. But there’s more to it. Some women seem to think they are justified in cheating, lying, manipulating and defrauding men in relation to their genetic property.
I think a man who trusts a women who says she is on the pill is a moron who deserves to suffer the consequences, but equally, a woman who lies to a man about being on the pill to encourage him to have sex with her without a condom is a rapist.