Friday, July 31, 2009

Sexist Beatdown: Ejaculations of Surprise Edition!

Why, hello there! I hope you have pleasant plans for the weekend. Me, I have to take my mother and brother out on the town. They will ask, "what precisely is it you do all day, Sady?" And I will say, "today, I posted a chat about whether or not you should let dudes ejaculate in your vagina. OR ELSEWHERE ON YOUR PERSON."

Yep! Science agrees, apparently, that pulling out is a "reliable" form of birth control. Tracy Quan believes this to be some BS - BS, perhaps, that will maybe result in you getting The Deadly Crotch Rot or an accidental fetus from when the dude in question "forgets" to utilize this cutting-edge birth control method! Meanwhile Jessica Grose thinks Tracy Quan needs to chill and give folks a little more credit.

Of course, this means that it is time for a Sexist Beatdown. Join us, as the incisive and funny Amanda Hess of Washington City Paper's The Sexist and I discuss the cutting-edge sperm-placement technologies of the modern age!

ILLUSTRATION: Oh, sure, he LOOKS cute and cuddly.

AMANDA: 9:23 a.m. is a great time to talk about the ups and downs of not ejaculating into vaginas.

SADY: yes. personally, when i heard that not ejaculating into vaginas was a "reliable" form of birth control, i had my suspicions! i was like: apparently all of the dudes i have argued with about birth control have become scientists! who knew?

AMANDA: published in the renowned peer-reviewed journal of medicine, Maxim.

SADY: right. it strikes me as some flawed science, is what i am saying! for, even if withdrawal is a semi-effective method of "birth control," it strikes me as a highly ineffective method of Not Getting Various Diseases Such As The Herp Control. which i think is what Tracy Quan is saying, which is good common sense.

AMANDA: of course, but at the same time, real scientists who are not your ex-boyfriends have worked very hard to come up with dozens of methods of birth control that also don't prevent STDs

SADY: fair enough! the scientists, they do these things! i suppose i am a person who likes a certain modicum of control over these situations. and withdrawal as birth control, TO ME, relies on your partner having (a) really good timing, and (b) a solid commitment to not getting distracted or losing track of whatever he is supposed to be doing, during a moment that (AS I UNDERSTAND IT) can be kind of distracting! (I AM REFERRING TO THE MALE ORGASM. In case my incredible tastefulness and subtlety are working against me.)

AMANDA: this is a point that Quan made as well, and I agree that for a lot of people withdraw would not be a good option for this reason. But all forms of birth control come with a degree of human error, or in some cases, shit ripping inside your vagina error. say you're a couple who doesn't want to use condoms. and the woman takes her birth control pills, but the man, like you, can't trust her---for whatever reason---to take them at the same time every day. maybe she forgets sometimes!

SADY: fair enough!

AMANDA: he might not want to rely on her, either. and so if you forget a birth control pill, or a condom breaks, or you ejaculate into a vagina, you know, you can take emergency contraception as well. one of the interesting things to me about this study---and i'm just going to assume the study is accurate for argument, because i don't know anything about methodology with these things. is that it placed withdrawl slightly below condoms, right? and still, most of the response has been, 'there's no way this could ever work, this is some frat dude conspiracy.' and so perhaps what this study reveals isn't that withdrawl is a very good option, but rather that we have a bit too much faith in condoms

SADY: a fascinating point! and i agree, some of this may have to do with the fact that, as long as i've been alive, anyway, Birth Control has been less important to the discussion than Safe Sex. and most of the sex ed i have ever received has been like, "USE CONDOMS, also there are other methods but seriously just USE CONDOMS." and i'm still a fan of the condom, because it is cheap and does not require a prescription and has a lower failure rate and higher disease protection rate than other things! the withdrawal method, to me, requires what is (in many or most circumstances) a perhaps unrealistically high level of trust for one's makeout partner. but maybe this just has to do with the fact that i have been culturally conditioned to trust other people less than i trust the Trojan corporation.

AMANDA: of course. and the method is really counter-intuitive, because pulling out is something that irresponsible 15 year old boys are supposed to do, when really it's something that would be more appropriate for, say, mutually monogamous STD-free old people.

SADY: right. it is odd for me that something which is the centerpiece of much heterosexual porn is now a meaningful expression of committed monogamous trust. NEXT UP: how having sex on a bus can keep you from getting cancer!

AMANDA: hhahaha. yeah. i heard if you put a donut on it and then seductively bite it off it lowers the risk of kidney failure, or something

SADY: WOW. a doughnut, you say! i guess i've been doing it all wrong with the bagels.

AMANDA: i'm with the critics of Quan with this one, though - something that PEOPLE DO turning out to be less sexually risky than we thought is probably a good thing. she says a bit of anxiety is good, but i actually have a lot of that! and so reducing that is probably a good thing for a lot of people. maybe not for Quan, but it's not like we're getting rid of condoms! The Trojan lobby (sponsored by Tiger Beatdown) would never allow that.

SADY: true enough. i guess i am just concerned with the fact that there is already pressure on girls to be the "cool" ones who don't "make" the dude use condoms. i do not know why i think that the sort of dudes who apply that pressure are all going to show up with scientific studies and go through a careful risk-benefit analysis! yet i do. in conclusion: withdrawal is totally fine, if you want to do that and are reasonable about it, and not fine if you do not. CONTROVERSY!


SADY: there, problem solved. everybody does what they want to do. the real winner? the paper towel industry. hurrah!


  1. I, too, worry about the dudes being all, "No, srsly babe, it's cool. Science! Come on!"

    Then again, I also think that every woman should use Fertility Awareness and chart her cycle and know when she's ovulating and how long her luteal phase is and be totally fascinated by the interplay of the different hormones that cause this magical dance of different mucosal substances coming from her cooter at different times of her cycle. Because that shit is awesome!

    Also use condoms because of the STIs!

  2. I have to say, I'm struggling to overcome my frat-boy conspiracy theory tendencies. It really just seems to good to be true - really? withdrawal works? I mean it really works? I feel sort of betrayed. I stood by this condom cause, was a strong supporter of the trojan lobby, and then they turn around and bite me in the arse. Because, you see, the lusty young pricks have been right all along, withdrawal is okay, and you, you foolish young female, have simply been, in your insistance on the latex barrier, PARANOID and INCORRECT.

    You know what, I'm fan of scince. ONWARD I say, go forth and experiment etc. But if you happen to disprove a theory that encourages the use of happily anti-std protection methods, maybe, just maybe, you want to keep that to yourselves. Because a world with less chlamydia is a better world, and I dont like the frat boys winning. Ever.

  3. This is a "smart" blog?

  4. Actually, the statistics that suggest withdrawal is equal to condoms are quite misleading.

    Condoms are a better birth control method.

    My piece explains this on page two. I interviewed Charles Westoff. He is a serious fellow who knows his stuff. The frat boys are still nowhere.

  5. I think the study concluded that typical withdrawal use was only slightly less effective than typical (not ideal) condom use.

    And the reason the study is a big deal is not that doctors are going to start recommending pulling out instead of condoms, but that when condoms are not an option (i.e. you can't afford them, your partner refuses to use them - and this is the reality for a lot of women around the world if not so many in the United States) it's a not-terrible second choice. One can speculate, for instance, that if withdrawal were combined with a basic form of the rhythm method, the result could be very reliable birth control that is totally free, which would be a big deal in a lot of parts of the world.

    Prior to this, the official medical line was that withdrawal was pretty much useless. Now we know it's actually pretty useful, and that's good news.

  6. @ChelseaWantsOut
    Yeah, I never got why fertility awareness gets hated on so much. Also, why is it such a foreign concept that this method can be a fantastic adjunct to condoms? Like, if you suspect you're ovulating, abstain altogether, use condoms the rest of the time, that's pretty fucking (ha!) effective, both reinforce each other. But it's as if people can only think of going nude when you don't think you're ovulating, then using a barrier method when you are, which I think is actually more akin to using condoms inconsistently than using two methods right. Rambling? Yes, I am. But my point (and I do have one!) is that for all the hating that gets piled on fertility awareness, you can't deny that getting in touch with your own body is an inherently good thing.

  7. @QL But withdrawal has been found to be an effective form of BIRTH CONTROL, not infection protection, the two are not one and the same. Even if the frat boys do win on the one thing about withdrawal being effective, you can still point out that only condoms prevent STIs. Also, two methods are better than one, why not use both? Me, I like the idea of condoms + withdrawal + fertility awareness.