Two STELLAR writers discuss.
When it comes to money and relationships I’ve always been a fan of sharing things evenly. Even on first dates I’ve always insisted that we go dutch and split the bill and if down the line I find myself living with some lucky fella, I’d want us to divvy up and pay for our fair share of the bills too.
Like it or lump it, money is a divisive issue in a relationship and the cost of preventing a pregnancy is a pricey one. Counter in the various doctors appointments and the cost of a monthly pill packet itself, and before you know it, you’ve got a birth control bill that amounts to hundreds of euros a year.
Why then, when both partners are invested in preventing an unwanted pregnancy does the price of doing so fall solely on the woman? It’s a combined responsibility, just like paying for the house you rent together or the car you both drive, so shouldn’t we be dividing up the costs just as fairly?
Women already deal with a disproportionate amount of the burden of birth control. We risk physical side effects like nausea and depression and go through hormonal manipulation in order to prevent a birth, as well as having to remember to take the damn thing every day.
Likewise, if condoms are your long term birth control method and you’re constantly relying on your fella to foot the bill, it seems only fair that you’d chip in or at least take it in turns to manage the costs.
In a world where as women we’re constantly asking for more equality (and rightly so) shouldn’t we be asking why both the cost and responsibility of birth control seems to have fallen almost exclusively on us? With the gender pay gap currently sitting at 20 percent in men’s favour, is it really such a bad thing to ask them to share the cost of preventing a pregnancy that neither of you want?
In Lisa Kleypas’ romance novel Blue-Eyed Devil, Texan something-of-an-heiress Haven Travis falls for trailer park boy turned something-of-an-oil-baron Hardy Cates. Before they have sex, she explains to him she’s on the pill, and she’s religious in making sure she takes it at the same time every day. To her the pill was the one reprieve she found for herself in the midst of her previous, and physically abusive, marriage. Not falling pregnant was her tight grip on the ledge, she dodged the trap door. It was control.
Hormonal contraception is one of the most important inventions of the past 100 years. F*ck the iPhone. The vote gave us the ability to determine the running of our Free State. But the pill, coil, patch, injection – hormonal contraception offers women true self-determination. It’s the c word: choice.
It is because of the intrinsic meaning of the pill, what it stands for, that I can only but eyeroll while my brain fizzes when a woman suggests the man in a relationship pays for her contraception.
Are we leasing vaginas now? After a one-night stand do you ask for 25 cents (Hallelujah generics!)? Or do you do a dash and grab for the bus change pile by the door?
If I was a man asked to invest in a business, I’d do a lot of due diligence. I’d ask for years of accounts, future projections, a turnover rate. If a man is investing in a conception defying menstrual cycle, what kind of entitlements does he have? Can he ask you to lay off the takeaway choices that in the past have given you digestion issues? Can he carry a thermometer to use during your pill break, just to see how fertile you can be? Are you committing fraud if you shag a colleague during a conference in Manchester? And even if you are devoted-survived-IKEA-and-a-Trailfinders-trip couple, I still think the woman should claim whatever ownership she can over her body. When you think about ‘til death do we part is a morbid framing of matters.
When the man is responsible for funding your freedom, you’re not being an enlightened, sassy, penny-pinching feminist. You’re asking for permission to live your life.
This article first appeared in STELLAR’s July issue. Our August issue is on shelves now.
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