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!
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!
AMANDA: agreed. DON’T LET HIM NOT EJACULATE IN YOUR VAGINA IF YOU DON’T WANT HIM TO NOT DO THAT, KIDS.
SADY: there, problem solved. everybody does what they want to do. the real winner? the paper towel industry. hurrah!