When you hear the phrase “reproductive health,” it’s instantaneous. You think women’s health. You think feminism. You see a female silhouette, a pack of pastel pink pills, a flower in bloom.
And to a great extent, it’s only natural that these come to mind. The issue of reproductive health has always been intrinsically linked to women. We have the wombs. We bear the babies. Our bodies are the ones beholden to the information, products, and services a proper reproductive health law can provide.
In turn, women are the ones who ultimately suffer when reproductive rights are yanked away, which is, unfortunately, what is happening now, thanks to the years-long delay of the reproductive health law’s full implementation.
But the issue of reproductive health should not be exclusive to women. It is an issue that affects everybody, and men should better understand that the stakes are great for them as well.
Here are two main points every man should keep in mind:
The baby bump
It still takes two to tango. It is just as much a man’s responsibility to make sure that sex is safe, if having a child is not in the plan. Making sure that all possible methods of birth control are accessible before a round of whoopee is a concern of both individuals.
In fact, if you are a woman in a relationship and are on some form of birth control, you should strongly consider splitting the cost of the contraceptives with your partner, if you aren’t already. Both of you are benefiting from the ability to choose when and when not to have offspring; why should you have to shoulder the full cost? You can’t make a baby without sperm!
Furthermore, when it comes to the bigger picture, it is clearly not only women who should ensure that every human who comes into the world is wanted and cared for. A society with a significant chunk of children who can’t be brought to their full potential is a terrible one to live in. Whether you are a man or a woman, it’s only right to want every person to be sheltered, fed, and educated, as well as empowered to contribute positively to the community. A world lacking in these rights for unplanned children can't be headed in any good direction.
Labor of love
Secondly, any romantic partner would want the best for his loved one’s well-being, and birth control pills may just be a factor in this. Many women take these pills not just for birth control purposes, but also to quell other health issues.
10% of women of child-bearing age, for instance, suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, wherein a hormone imbalance gravely affects a woman’s menstrual period and fertility. Birth control pills are a standard treatment for PCOS, helping to regulate menstrual cycles and treat other symptoms such as acne and hair loss.
Women also rely on birth control pills to prevent debilitating dysmenorrhea, or the intense cramping and pain that occurs during menstruation. Some women get dysmenorrhea so badly they can’t even get out of bed. It’s the kind of pain that can stop them from working or studying altogether.
If your parter is reliant on these pills to live a healthier, easier life, you most certainly would fight for their ability to access contraceptives. No one in his right mind would just let his partner suffer.
Ang tunay na lalaki ay tunay na makatao
In the end, yes, it is understandable that the fight for reproductive health in the Philippines has been geared toward women; there is an urgent need to get the attention and concern of the ones most affected by the issue. But that, in no way, gives men the leeway to ignore the fight altogether.
Reproductive rights are human rights; to have access to reproductive health is to have access to health, period. A good person wants everyone to be able to make his or her own choices in life in general, and that goes beyond any kind of niche you put yourself in.
In fact, more and more men these days are identifying themselves as feminists without a twinge of irony, because they understand that to be a woman who can fully realize her worth is, essentially, to be anyone who can fully realize her worth.
It’s not about what gender you are, but about what values you hold. – Rappler.com
Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon heads Rappler’s Opinion section, and is (happily) wrangled into voice over and hosting work. She has been with Rappler since 2013, and also served as its social media producer for 6 years. She is also a fictionist.