Last year, the injected male contraceptive underwent some very successful trials that found it to be 96% effective in preventing pregnancy amongst the 320 who used it over a one-year period. This is statistically more effective than popular contraceptives such as female condoms, diaphragms and caps.
The drug trial for this particular male contraceptive has been cut short due to 20 of the men finding the resulting side-effects of the injection unbearable. However, as many women have pointed out, these side effects are the same ones that women are expected to put up with when taking birth control such as the pill.
The premature halting of this successful and promising trial on these grounds prompts us to question the role of gendered bias in birth control: why have women had to deal with potentially debilitating side-effects for decades without further research to diminish them? Is male pain taken more seriously than female pain? Many people have also argued that women unfairly shoulder the burden of birth control, and that the backlash against the possibility of a male contraception evidences this.
English literature applicants may want to consider whether depictions of female pain in literature as ‘irrational’ has contributed to gendered ideas of pain and suffering in wider society. Medicine and Biomedical Sciences applicants could examine the results of contraceptive trials on women since the 1960s. For students interested in studying HSPS, Archaeology and Anthropology, or History, it may benefit your wider reading to research bias in science and the ways in which scientific findings have often acted to legitimise social constructs.
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