The phrase “The Buck Stops Here,” was on the desk of President Harry Truman. The plaque on his desk was a way of symbolizing that the president has to make decisions and has to take full responsibility for those decisions, no matter the consequence.
In regards to sex, it seems that we as a society are often passing the buck when it comes to surprise pregnancies. In the past, sex was viewed as something that you didn’t think about, talk about, something secret and shameful and now we’ve made a whole 180 to where you can’t help but be immersed in the culture of sex. But a funny thing about this change is that we seem to have forgotten that sex creates babies. The connecting, bonding, and pleasure parts of sex are happy secondary characteristics.
It would seem that once upon a time, people understood the connection between sex and babies a whole lot more than we do now. While we have made leaps and bounds with sexual knowledge, education and technology, we have fallen by the wayside in terms of sexual wisdom.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, “The 18% of women at risk who use contraceptives but do so inconsistently account for 41% of unintended pregnancies.”1 [Emphasis mine].
Birth Control has become a societal safety net but in all the talk about it, it seems we have out an important component: human error. Every method of birth control has two ways of measuring effectiveness: method effectiveness and user effectiveness. The user effectiveness is how effective it is when used by typical users, while the method effectiveness is when the contraceptive is used exactly as intended. We are lead to believe that all you have to do is be on birth control and that medication will take care of the rest. Except, it doesn’t always work that way. The buck is then passed to the birth control, specifically the failure of said birth control:
“Oh, the condom broke.”
“I was on the Pill!”
We’ve also forgotten another important component: No birth control is 100% effective.
This sort of distancing between sexual act and conception really does a disservice to women especially. Not only does it relieve the male partner of responsibility, it overwhelmingly places the duty of avoiding a pregnancy squarely on the shoulders of the woman. Achieving or avoiding a pregnancy is not a conversation that is had between the couple, but often seen as something that the woman should be controlling.
When things do not go as planned, we end up with a marked woman who is then held at fault for somehow not stopping her body from doing what it is supposed to do! She is then faced with the unfair choice of having a baby with perhaps the difficulty of raising it on her own or “taking care of things”.
Women deserve so much better than this.
Ask any couple struggling with infertility and they will share what a miracle pregnancy is (and it really is a miracle)! Once released from the ovaries, a human oocyte (egg) has 24 hours in which to be fertilized, after which it dies. Human spermatocytes (sperm) can survive 5-7 days, provided the environment is favorable. All it takes is for 1 sperm to fertilize the egg to conceive a human. Knowing all of this, is it right that we should be asking “What went wrong?” when someone announces a surprise pregnancy?
If you are thinking, “Come On. Not everyone is supposed to or should even WANT to have kids!” And I would 100% agree with you! I am not saying that every woman should go all hog wild having kids. Rather, I am saying that we need to start the conversation that sex is beautiful, good, and serves two purposes: It can create new life and it helps couples bond. “And” not “Or.”
Separate the two from another and you only get half of the story.
Until Next Time!
1. Guttmacher Institute. “Contraceptive Use in the United States.” Fact Sheet, (June 2014) Accessed April 05, 2015. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html