Oral Contraception and Masculinity


I can’t help wonder if the supposed findings that female oral contraception has changed the definition of male sexiness will develop from “Hum, this is mildly interesting” to something the conservative anti-contraception movement could latch onto as another way to demonize healthy family planning.

Future headlines will surely read “Is Oral Contraception killing our beefy hunks?” (read the comment thread in this post if you have any doubts) I can just see the sensationalized evening news promo asking if we can guess which common household pill is choosing our men for us. Advil? Tylenol? Clariton? Aghast, no, it is the dreaded birth control pill.  The shame! 

My first concern here is that reports blanketly talk about “the Pill” as if it were a constant integer. However, the pharmacological make-up of oral contraceptives has changed and is changing dramatically since it was first approved in the US more than 40-years-ago.

RussellCroweJoaquinPhoenixGladiatorNot to mention the numerous social factors that have also changed since oral contraceptives became a widespread option. Over the last 40 years the survival standard has changed significantly. The skills and qualities men need to survive/ support in this country have gone from labor or skilled labor to technological, virtual and less “rugged.” Maybe the pool of masculine men is drying up? Or maybe we are redefining as a nation what the term “masculine” even means. Maleness is an extremely subjective idea.

Women are also increasingly less reliant on men for survival so they may feel freer to choose a mate based on different personal attributes rather than an ability to support or protect. Muscles and a bank account are an ancient relic.

Regardless, it seems a little dangerous to suggest that contraception can have such a broad impact on choices without, as they said, any “reliable evidence.” Not that everyone who reads this will think “Oooo, I am going to stop taking “the pill” (as they call it) so that I can be attracted to more masculine men again” but the implication of both the study and the Daily Mail article is on the negative side — that taking “the pill” and being attracted to Elijah Wood instead of say, Russell Crowe is inherently wrong. 

I don’t deny that hormonal supplements of any kind have the ability to alter our physiology, but don’t you think it is a little funny that they are blaming the pill for all the hot-demasculated men out there?

Still, actors like Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Vin Diesel, et. al. all get a leg up in the star department because a lot of ladies do still love to watch those muscles flex. And yet, Johnny Depp is probably one of the biggest Hollywood stars.  Maybe we can blame the pill for his success.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • krista October 20, 2009, 7:44 pm

    The fact of the matter is, that the synthetic hormones in birth control pills do not disappear once they enter the biosystem. They are found in the waters near water treatment plants, and the reports around the world on developmental problems on fish (namely concerning males) near these plants is a fact.
    I do not believe your argument on "natural evolution" due to women choosing different mates than before. While you might base your selection on something else, statistically and globally this is not the case.
    If anything, it has been proved the women still, by and large favor masculine men and all its signs (wealth, success, physical prowess, masculine jawline etc.)
    These synthetic estrogens can also be found in plastics, and the reports on baby bottles and they effects on baby boys are numerous. There are also reports on above normal births of girls near the plants that manufacture these chemicals, for example in Ontario.