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(Image description: white male, remarkably handsome, in a hospital bed, awake after surgery and holding a bowl of what one would hope are vegetables. Either way, they're vegetables now.)

I am not a father, that I know of ("Anyone, anyone?") and now I will never become one, biologically. That's because, in January of 2020, I had my first vasectomy. Also, my last. (That's usually how it works.) My vasectomy was a calculated response to a number of my most pressing concerns – global population, carbon footprints, a flexible lifestyle, equality between the sexes, respect for my partners, and more. It was a deeply personal and difficult choice, as well as an intentional rejection of certain aspects of our society’s ideas about men and masculinity. I am choosing to share my thoughts and experiences on this cheap, simple, and practically foolproof form of birth control in the hope that they will provide support to others who are considering the procedure, that they might shed some light on it for others who aren’t, and for those that are just curious. This was a journey of self-awareness, some knowledge gained, love lost, personal sacrifice, and more. May my story help with your own.

A vasectomy is one of the few forms of birth control that men can participate in. Condoms and abstinence are the other two. Women, on the other hand, have many options... and almost all of the burden to prevent an unwanted child. The field is unbalanced and the origin is clear. The major holdup is not that pills or injections for men are not effective, they are; it is that the potential side effects for men would be the same as they currently are from women's birth control. The heads of the medical industry (men) say this isn't acceptable. What is good enough for Jill is not good enough for Jack. Still, progress is being made and male contraceptives may be on the market in another 10 or 20... years?! (This is also what was said twenty years ago but there seems to be evidence that this time it may happen.) The lack of male birth control can also be seen as part of the pink tax put upon women. If you aren't familiar with that, do a quick search.

This is shameful. Full stop.

So we men are left with the 3 options. Abstinence should be listed as an antonym to the human condition. And even though condoms need to be used both for protection from STDs and accidental pregnancy, we all know how well this is going. So, we men are actually left with one idiotproof form of male birth control: a vasectomy. This should be given its fair consideration and at the moment we're collectively not doing that.

Common concerns amungst men that I have observed are that a man will no longer be seen as a 'man' if he couldn't impregnate a woman. That, or letting a surgeon operate on their most prized 'possession' is not permissible. Also, they will regret not having their own children/their DNA passed on. (And from what I know, this is similar to some of the stigmas cast upon gay men.) Now take all of this (plus more that I haven't mentioned) and you end up with reticent men. Men unwilling to consider, or at times even talk about a valid, safe option to preventing unwanted pregnancies. And since these notions are so prevalent, stigmas are cast upon those that think otherwise. Then a cycle begins and we start to exclude this viable solution.

Globally, when women are given equal access to education, employment, healthcare, and civil liberties, they are often inclined to have children later in life and fewer of them. Many will chose not to have children. We also know that fathers more frequently walk away from parental duties. This is becaue we have patriarchal societies permitting this So, if portions of our cultures like patriarchy, religion, and most of all, religious/political agendas, were less prevalent, these two facts tell me that people are not as inclined to have children as commonly thought or practiced.

Also, and this is a big also, vasectomies prevent abortions. If you are anti-abortion, I hope that means that you also willing to fight misogyny, classism, sexism, patriarchy, and all the unfair burdens thrust on women because of this belief.

(Guys, huddle with me a moment, there is something we need to discuss. We're playing with a loaded dick, I mean, deck and progress require us to admit this. Acknowledging your advantages and helping others to have the same chances you had is honorable and needed. Fathers paying child support, I may have raised your hackles here but please look beyond yourselves and at the braoder situation. Most of the world does not have child support laws. And even in the societies where we do, why is it that men pay child support more often than women? Patriarchy. The same system behind much of what I've mentioned thus far. And in this scenario, it is working both for and against ((some)) men.) [see: classism]

Now that we've touched on just some of the challenges faced when considering a vasectomy, I'd like to tell you about part of my personal reasoning. I believe most of us will agree that children are the best part of humanity, and there is no shame in wishing to have kids. My last partner and I split for just this reason because I respect her desire to give birth. Being pregnant, I imagine, is possibly the pinnacle of the human experience. (I wish I could create a baby. How (your adjective here) is pregnancy and birth?!?! Consider me impressed.)

Even so, as a lifelong environmentalist that worked as a professional nanny, my pursuits have afforded me some useful perspective. Even so, I had to face that large stigma of not wanting to have birth children. This was manifest through repeated questioning from friends and family. I do see a value in that because altering your body in such a manner should be questioned and challenged... to a degree. I do feel that most in my circle were doing just that. It is also worth mentioning that I am a very confident person. Someone with less confidence might have had a much more difficult time deciding. Fortunately, I did not risk being judged, excluded, or expelled from my family, community, or church (if I had one). This is what many men (and more so women) face when choosing to go childfree. In fact, I'm probably writing from one of the least repressed or criticized perspectives, but that doesn't devalue my experience.

In addition to this confidence (and perhaps, in part, because of), my life has largely been in conflict with the dated notions of "manliness". Therefore my choice to have the old snip, snip meant I didn't have to address this. A lifetime of defining myself meant I would have to focus elsewhere.

(Women have their own stigmas and numerous concerns regarding this topic but I am not speaking much about it since I am not a woman. Similarly, I'm not qualified to write on the racial aspects of this topic, of which there are many. I encourage you to seek out those views.)

There was one more stigma I faced. As I mentioned above, a beautiful relationship of mine came to an end because we grew to feel differently about having a birth child. She had hoped we could stay together longer and see where the issue went. I'm older and have known a few women who did this. They waited for their male partner to "change" his mind. Personally, I only know of this story ending in tears and resentment. I wouldn't risk that for her. So at great pains (still present), we ended it. My biology could wait (if I were willing to be an old father, which I am not) but hers cannot. For this, I was regularly asked and criticized for not being 'willing' to provide what my love wanted. To the best of my knowledge, she was never asked to change her mind. It was implied that I should be the one to ignore how I feel to 'prove' my love, and to not do so meant either I didn't love her or I was selfish. The irony being that the best way to show my love and respect was to end the relationship so she could pursue this dream. (I wish to add, these criticisms never came from her. We respected each other completely through this difficult process. She's a remarkable woman.)

I have also been influenced by several fields of science, all leading me to conclude that each human that isn't raised with "love" and understanding has a much greater chance of becoming an adult lacking those traits. Therefore, the burden falls upon all of us to change that. For myself, this meant (in part) having a vasectomy in order to not add to that ratio of neglect. Yes, one can create children and provide care for others, but this isn't my interest. I feel more comfortable with the idea of fostering 50 children over the years than creating just one, let alone more than one. From this perspective, the surgery may make more sense, both pragmatically and on my conscience. Like many choices I try to make, the needs beyond my personal interests play a huge influence on my thinking.

Here are some other points I consider. I'll try to make them as bri