The Return of the Retro!

Because nothing is better than a ridiculous WWII era STD prevention campaign.

Vote for your favorite here! P.S. I stole this from our peer ed Amee (who is too busy being awesome in Africa to post this on the blog personally). Additionally – these appear to be somewhat a hobby of mine as I have previously encountered such silly posters on the Battleship Texas.

Advertisements

Birth Control For Dudes

A new article from Gizmodo (and the attractive picture of a sperm bicycle that accompanies it) have got me thinking and re-thinking about the idea of birth control for men.

I had actually heard of the idea long ago when listening to a podcast about male birth control. So far, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation beyond the vasectomy in effective, safe birth control for men. I believe that it’s a good idea, but somewhat complicated to implement. First, the male reproductive system does not take kindly to the destruction of sperm – they’re feisty little thugs. But also, as the article points out, men are socialized to believe that fertility is a sign of manhood and that to take birth control would put them at odds with gender norms.

The article, however, makes me think about how we envision medical technologies in the first place. It makes the claim that birth control for women is based on “decades old science” and that there needs to be an update. While I do think that the points brought up in the article that they link to are valuable – discomfort and issues with hormonal changes in the body can be a nasty side effect of birth control usage – I don’t think that should discredit the fact that birth control is good at what it does. It is 99% effective. It is generally easy to use. There are many forms of it, so you can switch if one doesn’t suit your lifestyle. So what is the obsession with having something new?

I believe that it comes with the territory of medical technologies. A lot of the tech that we are using right now has only come out in the last few decades, and it gets put into the system with such routine effortlessness that we can no longer tell what is new and what is old. Does it matter that birth control is based on old science? No. That actually means more people have tested it out, which makes it more safe for consumers rather than less. Because of the way medical technology markets work, we are all coerced into being early adopters of technology that people haven’t really tested on – to me, that’s more than a little frightening.

So, pass me my dusty old birth control pill please. I would rather not get pregnant today than hope in the future that my male partners will accept this shiny new model.

Match.com Screening for Sex Predators

Recently, Match.com announced that it would screen its applicants against the national sex offenders registry. This is response to a lawsuit from a woman who experienced sexual assault from just such a person who she met on the website.

While this might be considered a triumph for the prevention of sexual assault, this article brings up a few points of doubt. Firstly, the author argues that possibly dating a sex offender is part of the territory of dating, internet-based or no. This doesn’t really convince me–I mean, if one is able to make an environment safer, why not try?

Secondly, he warns that this “invasion of privacy” will lead to a slippery slope where taxes and credit scores will are next on the list of scrutiny. Again, I am not convinced. If one screens for economic resources, that might be considered direct discrimination along class lines. I think that it is far more acceptable in the minds of these companies to weed out those with criminal records than bad credit scores.

The author recommends that there be separate dating sites dedicated to “safety.” But really, isn’t that what everyone wants? Why shouldn’t all dating sites try as hard as they can to be “safe”? And who is going to want to use heyimnotasexoffender.com anyway?

Don’t get me wrong–I have serious reserves about this too. They come twofold. For one, is it really such a good idea to stigmatize sex offenders more than they already are? It can’t help to be rejected by society at every turn when you’re trying to reform. The massive snub that society gives to felons is a big reason why this country’s prisons have revolving doors.

Secondly, I’d be willing to bet that most sexual assaults are not actually committed by registered sex offenders. Date rape and intimate partner rape are extremely common, and this measure by Match.com does not particularly address that. So they shouldn’t be too quick to pat themselves on the back, in any case.

This issue is complicated, and I for one am not completely sure what to think. But the debate rages on!