LETTER TO WOMEN
WVD is a movement to inspire men to be better partners in family planning and more responsible to themselves, their family and our future. And while we agree that women should be able to make decisions concerning their own bodies, we feel the same should hold true for men. If a man is 100% certain he does not want more children, or perhaps any children, it’s up to him to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Since 2013, WVD has spent a lot of time talking with men, listening to them and trying to figure out what we can do to get more men engaged. I’m not claiming that a majority are open to a radical shift in behavior, but there are more than we think who want to be part of the solution, not the cause of the problem. For us the movement begins by aggregating the best of the best. We’re confident more will follow.
World Vasectomy Day was originally conceived as a force to attract positive male behavior, a community of men who choose to do good by themselves and others. We’ve been accused at times of being overly optimistic or even naive, but be assured that it is not because we don’t know recognize complex or even the contradictory ‘truth’ about men. It is because we are trying to help redefine and expand what that truth is.
We also spend a lot of time talking with women. Perhaps, not surprisingly, there are many women who fear, as do men, that a vasectomy will make their spouse less manly however that is defined. That’s not as uncommon an attitude as you may think. I remember asking a friend, half jokingly, if she would consider me an alpha male if I got a vasectomy. She hesitated, ‘maybe alpha lite’. It didn’t feel that way at the time, but perhaps she meant it as a compliment.
Let’s be clear, most women have no patience for men’s incapacity to endure the discomfort of a vasectomy. Why should you? A period is more uncomfortable and lasts decades. A pregnancy is infinitely more challenging physically. And compared to child birth, a vasectomy is not worthy of the word pain. Women have also felt annoyed that men who get vasectomy are considered heroes. As they explain it, simply doing the right thing doesn’t earn you the title of hero. Maybe they’re right, but getting men to feel good about ourselves by acknowledging the doing of good increases the likelihood this positive behavior will be repeated. .
That said, women should know that there are a tiny percentage of men who suffer long-term pain and that is the worst outcome for a man or his partner. Some of these men have expressed anger about our movement, and I understand that too. Yet, not taking a risk and not taking responsibility doesn’t make the pain go away. It just passes all of the pain on to women.
I believe that men, like women, should be free to make the ultimate decision about their own body. At the end of the day, that’s a basic human right. That said, I also believe men, and World Vasectomy Day, needs to do a much better job of including women in our conversation. For one, family planning is family choice so making decisions with one’s partner is crucial. And the benefits are incalculable. Frankly, if you can figure out how to talk about family planning with your partner (which also means talking about sexuality), your life will be much less conflicted, not to mention more pleasurable.
How can women get involved in our movement? Share you stories. Talk with your partners. Spread the word.
In the past years, I’ve pushed, but obviously not hard enough, to get a consistent woman’s voice included as part of WVD. Maybe this year we can finally launch a ‘Female space’. The world is a complex place with a wide range of beliefs and perspectives, including, of course, about gender. World Vasectomy Day should reflect this.
Jonathan Stack, Co Founder
World Vasectomy Day, Inc.