Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Man Who Couldn't Stop Talking About His Nuts

wrote about my vasectomy over at The Heat Lightning because it gave me an excuse to draw awareness to the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.  Not so much because I support their cause - although I agree most of the earth's problems can be traced to overpopulation - but because I think the idea of VHMT is so peculiar.  Finding them on the internet one night was like getting lost in a strange city, stumbling into a theater, and seeing a show which you're not sure is madness or genius.  The verdict is out, but in the meantime you hand out directions to that theater.

I've never given the procedure a second thought in almost seventeen years.  I got it for myself, because I didn't want to bring another child into the world.  If I adopted one day, that would be another matter.

When children came up in conversation - and when you're in a committed relationship for a number of years, children come up often - we'd get around to my vasectomy sooner or later.  People refused to accept "there are enough humans in the world" as a reason.  For me, it's that simple.    

Soon, I started telling people that I'd gotten it done because of my ex-wife's health problems.  No children for us - haven't you ever seen what happened to Shelby in Steel Magnolias?  We can't take the risk.  My ex backed me up.  We told that lie so often that I believed it.

Then, I tumbled upon VHMT and ended up doing the math; my ex wasn't diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy until after my vasectomy.

How much of my decision to surgically never have children came not from what was best for my partner's health, but from personal guilt?  I'd entrusted two different women to handle birth control for our respective relationships, and both women ended up pregnant.  This was two or three years apart, in high school and college.  I couldn't blame my girlfriends; I'd taken no responsibility for myself, after all.  They both decided to get abortions (and I don't care what anyone says; the "father" is a bystander in that decision), so early fatherhood was not in the cards for me.

I became a staunch advocate for condom use, giving birth control lectures around Syracuse University as part of the Peer Sexuality Program, my station wagon decorated with fun slogans for National Condom Week.  At 22, I also became voluntarily sterile.

I'm sure the abortions factored into my decision, but it doesn't feel that way.  Maybe it's the gloss of hindsight, but I've always been proud to have done my part not to bring another child into the world.  I'm also a firm believer in teaching boys responsibility for their own bodies and sexuality, from masturbation to condom use to getting an enthusiastic yes from a prospective sex partner.  So many unwanted children and unwanted abortions could be prevented with a little love and understanding.

But as far as the chop?  Je ne regrette rien.  All these years later, I'm still a firm believer in adoption.  I just hope adoption believes in me.  From what I hear, it can be very difficult.

As Becky says, one thing at a time.


  1. We don't have any kids - it just didn't happen - yet it's ioncredible how often it comes up in conversation. You meet someone new and after a couple of minutes the kids question pops out. I suppose I would have liked to have kids, in fact I know I do, but not enough to go chasing the fertility gods or to curse my fatherless state either.

    At times when I used to get asked I'd feel awkward and the patronising 'Oh' response began to get to me after a while. Now if I'm asked I almost invariably say that we can't have kids and when the sad 'oh' comes I tell them.....

    "Because we have white furniture!"

    I applaud your reasoning on the matter and your decision to exercise personal choice as is your right. As you might know I do voluntary work in child protection and I'm always depressed by the frequency with which unsafe and unfit {in the parental sense} people pop out children who are so often destined for a life of neglect and chaos which no human being deserves.

  2. Um - Shit! Not that that applies to you obviously!!!

  3. He said while furiously backpedalling...

    Children are such a conversational tentpole, part of every relationship which can be picked to death. When you moving in? When you getting married? When you making babies? How many? You want a boy or a girl? What position do you plan on using to conceive? On and on, and I blame the media. Plotlines, I mean. Folks get used to talking about the fictional folk they see on screen and decide your life is up for discussion on an equally intimate level.

    Of course here I am blogging some very intimate things. But it feels different, somehow.

    I've seen a couple of your posts on the Children's Panel. It kind of reminds me of the work my mother does for Catholic Charities (except she's paid; not much, but she's paid). Basically, she trains parents who had terrible upbringings on how to keep house. They had no home-training, so she steps in to see that their children do. She's seen some horrific shit, testified in court more than a few times, and has been in danger of violence on a couple of occasions (which she's shared; who knows how dangerous it really is). The normal burnout rate is 4-5 years. She's been doing it more than twenty.

    I think if I'd been forced into parenting at age 17 (if irresponsibility and lack of education can be called "force"), I would have tried my damnedest to be good. Parenting might even have pulled me out of all the stupid shit I did in my 20's, giving me a much different path in life. But more than likely I would have had to do all of that stupid shit anyway, only with a child in tow - and certainly my girlfriend and I didn't have a whole lot in common. Disaster, it would have been. I, we, whatever, would have fucked that child up royally.

  4. With maturity comes the understanding that problems are actually challenges; rising to the challenges teaches and strengthens you.
    Fortunately you rise to them now. You are a good man.