Episode 4 of the Human Machine is out now!

In the last episode of the Human Machine, an examination of smartphones as a part of the modern brain, Kieran Yates discussed the issue of control. Who’s in control, really, when you use a phone? You, or the person who designed and sold it to you? Is it wise to trust a device like a smartphone with thinking for us?

Our latest episode of the Human Machine is also about control. This week, Hannah Harris Green is exploring the infamous “male pill”—the name given to a number of chemical methods for blocking sperm, usually in the form of an injection, but as easy to reverse as most female contraceptive methods.

Such a pill has been a theoretical possibility for decades, and there have been some trials of drugs and injectable gels that have shown great promise. But it's still not here yet—it’s not a mass market product, manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Charities put a fraction of the money into researching the male pill as they do into all other kinds of female contraception, including sterilization.

Contraceptives are an extremely intimate part of the Human Machine—a way for humans to fundamentally shape the way that we create other, new humans. The problem, though, is that the systemic forces that influence access to contraceptives around the world lead to the prioritization of profit and controlling women’s bodies. True equality would mean not just men and women sharing choices of contraception, but also sharing pain.

As Hannah explains:

“When I’m alone with other women, contraception is such a normal conversation topic, and we’re usually talking about which method's painful adjustment period or side effects are the least difficult to deal with. There's definitely a sense that dealing with contraceptive options is a very normal and natural part of a woman’s life, but also an annoying, painful part of it.

I wrote about how we came to see these methods, which are actually technologically pretty amazing when you think about it, as just another burden what naturally falls on women, and what could happen if we were to seriously give some of that gendered burden to men.”

Check it out

As always, there will be discussion of this and more, including ongoing of last week’s reading club assignments, over on the Facebook group.

Until next time,


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