You printed a letter from a guy who doesn’t want to be a father and wanted to know how to be sure his girlfriend is on birth control. You said, “The single worst form of birth control is trusting that a woman … longing for a baby” is taking hers (with whether she’s ethical being a “mitigating factor”). But you forgot to tell him the magic word – abstinence! In addition to preventing pregnancy, it also guarantees that you won’t get STDs or suffer the physically or psychologically damaging effects of premarital sex. Also, where’d you get the idea that women are conniving to get a bun in the oven without informing their partner? Right, we’re all baby-hungry, unethical hopeful breeders. –Saved Myself
I like to offer “Don’t have sex!” as a form of practical advice – usually just as I’m getting into my flying car.
Yes, abstaining from sex will help a person avoid producing offspring, getting STDs or breaking a leg after somebody cheaps out on the home dungeon installation. But there’s a reason they call it a sex drive, not a sex parked in the garage. Also, the advice “Just don’t have sex!” is especially impractical for guys in their hornitoadinous early 20s like the guy who wrote that letter. Sure, he’ll just sit his 800-pound libido down for a little chat and then politely decline any opportunity to have sex as if he’d just been offered some questionable hors d’oeuvre.
As for where I got the idea about (some) women “conniving to get a bun in the oven without informing their partner,” well, in email I’ve received from dismayed men paying child support to these women and from research by therapist Dr. Melinda Spohn. Spohn found that more than a third of the 400 women she surveyed at two community colleges had risked pregnancy – surreptitiously going without birth control or sporadically using it when they had sex with men with desirable qualities (like an apparent willingness to commit and good financial prospects).
On a positive note, it isn’t only men who are appalled by this behavior. A female reader who wanted a second child but whose husband wasn’t up for it wrote, “I can’t even remember how many people heard this and said ‘well, accidents happen,’ followed by a *wink wink.* Seriously, it’s disgusting! Even our family doctor said this! I’ve always been sure to make those people feel about two inches tall by saying that I would NEVER do that to my husband (and honestly, who wants a child this way?!).”
This woman’s ethics are the single best guarantee a man has that birth control will be used instead of dropped behind the bed. Meanwhile, many people will tell you they value ethics and then just cross their fingers and hope their partner has them. The thing to do is to make ethics a requirement, meaning looking for a partner to be OMG ethical!!! the way you look for them to be OMG hot!!! In other words, yes, a man who doesn’t want a child should practice abstinence – the practical, doable kind: abstaining from getting into bed with any woman until he’s observed that he has reason to trust her. (If he wants something loud, sticky and expensive in his life, he can buy a Ferrari and drive it over chewed gum.)
© 2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon. Order Amy Alkon’s new book, “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck” (St. Martin’s Press, June 3, 2014).