this is a companion piece to the first installment of my vasectomy experience writing. if you are bored reading philosophical/psycho-social editorials, then you may want to move on from this installment. it turns out not to be very cheerful, either.
while the first piece focused on the experience of the physical vasectomy procedure itself, i also wanted to dedicate space to describing the intangible, mental/psychological aspects involved in such a procedure. dividing them into distinct writings prevents the muddying of either aspect, in my opinion offering more clarity for each. so here we go.
at this point in u.s. history, no one is forced to experience a vasectomy. sex offenders–probably the only demographic at this time that would conceivably be forced to go through such a thing–are still safe from state-induced sterilisation, at least to my knowledge. and yet, the procedure has been developed and to some standards perfected as a near-flawless measure in birth control. my particular doctor explained to me that the only way someone with a vasectomy can make another pregnant is if they have unprotected sex with a woman before a “clear” semen sample has been acknowledged by the lab, or if somehow the cauterized ends of the vas deferens re-connect. in my mind, if someone wants to sire absolutely zero children, this is the way to go.
much to my surprise, it’s that notion of not wanting to sire any children that often causes friction to develop with others. their most common arguments will be identified below, and i will provide a response (adequate, at least, to me).
won’t it hurt?
yeah, it does hurt; i mentioned as much in my previous writing. however, though noticeable for a time, it is definitely temporary. in any case, the pain lasts a lot less time than the length of life for any child you may bring into the world; some people say that’s a pain in the ass that doesn’t go away until you’re dead.
in all seriousness, anything you believe worthwhile has a price that needs to be paid. in my case, my health insurance covered the monetary concern, leaving me to put up with the physical pain (and a bag of frozen peas sitting on my crotch), eliminated after about a month. there are anecdotes out there describing post-procedure pain and various complications, but from the evidence I’ve seen, this is by far not the majority.
on the contrary, is suspect they have an ulterior motive for poo-pooing the vasectomy procedure, considering their research is dated and the only links provided (that I could find, anyway) are for conservatively-aligned, “natural family planning” websites. they’re also against tubal ligations (female sterilisation), by the way. apparently any surgical procedure that prevents new additions to the flock. pacemakers are okay, though…
i don’t want anyone else–including a doctor–touching my genitals.
then you don’t want a vasectomy, either. it’s all about your genitals, by definition. the good news is that–apart from shaking your hand once the procedure is complete–your balls will be the only thing the doctor touches (and even then, only with surgical implements). out of all the people (other than myself) who have touched my genitals, honestly i trust that doctor the most out of the whole lot. that’s all he studied in school, after all… not just practical experience, but book learning. that means something, eh?
i admit this is a silly answer, but it’s a silly question.
why go the permanent route? why not just use birth control?
most commercial birth control methods damage women on a chemical level, or are largely ineffective (such as the “rhythm method”). condoms suck as a means of birth control, and are not flawless. finally, birth control pills and IUDs and what not place the onus of birth control on the woman. i intend to take the responsibility into my own hands, taking pressure off my female partner. it’s not just up to her.
so it seems as though you still want to have sex. what if your future partner wants kids?
well, that’s terribly unfortunate, isn’t it? but alas, they’re my balls and my sperm, and i’m keeping ‘em. not to be completely peurile, but there are other options, such as insemination or adoption. it wouldn’t be my preferred choice, but my partner can still ‘enjoy’ the pregnancy experience if she wishes.
but you need to carry on the family name.
says who? my parents? my religious book? the universal law of man? get real.
but you’re missing out on a beautiful phenomenon / it’s humanity’s destiny to populate the earth / you won’t have a real family if they’re not your own children / i can’t imagine life without my kid in it / etc.
you know what all this is? it’s imposition of value judgments. in other words, you’re attempting to force your own world view into mine. when you encounter something or someone that doesn’t match up with your own paradigm, resistance is normal and natural. but, as an intelligent human being, i’m certain that you can move beyond that and begin to critically think about the situation. i can’t say just how it is you came to such a conclusion (religion? your own family traditions?), but rest assured that i’ve dealt with it in some measure in my own life, and still came to this decision.
for example, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin. i call these “my case for a vasectomy.”
i like sex! why complicate it?
this is the answer that all you ‘religious conservatives’ have been looking for. yes, i enjoy the sexual experience and all that it entails. as the great maude lebowski says, “i believe it is a natural, zesty enterprise.” i’m in complete agreement with her on that. i am not married (anymore), so by definition i am now back to having pre-marital sex, a notion that lots of religious folks are up in arms about–not about me personally, but just the idea of it. whatever.
but, then there’s the spectre of an unwanted pregnancy. i’m not in a financially-secure position to the extent that i could confidently raise a child. however, i still want to have sex. i will ensure that i take steps to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
i have an acute history of cancer within my family. i don’t want to pass this on to a future generation.
on it’s own, this is a somewhat baseless case for a vasectomy. for instance, though my father died at the age of 48 due to cancer, and his brother died of cancer in the same year at 52, my grandparents didn’t die of it. and none of my father’s other siblings have died of it either. however, i’m still of the opinion that there’s a chance i could pass along that ‘little black seed’ of cancer genetics on to my progeny. by having a vasectomy, i know that will not happen.
plenty of children without parents already exist.
not to throw any boring statistics your way, but the internationally-active agency UNICEF reported that in 2007, the estimated number of children (age 0 to 17) orphaned – having lost both parents – in the united states alone was 2,700,000. that’s a lot of human beings without any mother or father that can raise them as one of their own. in this case, i see a vasectomy as a worthwhile way to reduce the amount of orphaned children out there. in other words, if i or my partner and i ever want to have children, the path of least resistance is to adopt. i will be doing my part to reduce the number above.
still, adopting a child does not require that one have a vasectomy. i need to go further than that.
the planet cannot sustain the number of humans already here.
all right, as i said before, the main cases against having a vasectomy are value-based; it stands to reason that some of the cases for a vasectomy would be value-based as well. but, in addition to my belief that the world is overpopulated and cannot sustain itself, there are a few others who feel the same way, and have published their findings. it is important to mention that we’re not talking about the “maximum number” of humans able to be on the planet (which, to some preposterous accounts, is close to 140 billion sardine-packed people); we’re talking about human beings on the planet able to have enough food, water, and shelter for reasonable chances for survival.
see here for notes and commentary regarding the current population being far too large. see here, at everyone’s favourite information source, for additional definitions, charts, and other collected data that substantiate the current world population–approximately 6.7 billion–causes widespread abuse and depletion of natural resources and essentials such as food and water. below is an excerpt from an article written when the Earth’s human population had topped 6.8 billion:
The effects of human overpopulation are multiple and ominous. As birth rates climb, natural resources get used up faster than they can be replaced, creating enormous economic pressures at home while the standard of living plummets throughout the rest of the world. As the result of having so many people who do not understand our reality and its behavioral demands, we have created an interrelated web of global environmental problems. We are depleting our natural resources: our forests, fisheries, range lands, croplands, and plant and animal species. We are destroying the biological diversity on which evolution thrives (this is being called the sixth great wave of extinction in the history of life on earth, different from the others in that it is caused not by external events, but by us).
another website keeps track of world population estimates (as of this writing, cited to be 6.6 billion people), as well as starvation deaths (currently cited to be 22.5 million).
having all these people around wouldn’t be so bad, if only we could feed everyone. also, see here for additional info. but in the meantime, as a citizen in one of the most wealthy countries on the planet (and at least by association one of the top consumers of the earth’s natural resources), i think i’ll hold off on making a kid. thanks.
the world is a fucked up place.
this is most likely the main reason for wanting to sterilise myself, and no amount of religious balderdash and humanocentric prattling has yet convinced me otherwise.
do i really want to subject another living thing – one that comes into the world utterly defenseless and completely dependent on me, and remains so for practically a decade and a half or more – to the horrors and abominations of life under governments that routinely oppress, denigrate, imprison, attack, and kill their own citizens? can i say with a straight face that i can keep my child safe in a world rife with corruption, a startling lack of ethical leadership, and constant war? more importantly, do i think that conditions will improve in the lifetime of a child i help bring into the world?
unfortunately, my answer to this question is an unequivocal, unwavering NO. one can do their best to show me pictures of the cutest, most adorable baby i’ve ever laid my eyes on, and although at that moment i would be overwhelmed by the immeasurable cuteness of such a child, when i lay down at night i will still feel the pangs in my heart of the tremendous uphill battle that child will face as it meets the inescapable obligation of growing up.
this flies directly in contradiction to my own personal values, but it cannot be denied. i want to create a world that is full of joy, happiness, equality and opportunity for all. before i close my eyes to sleep at night, i proclaim my gratitude for yet another day of the fortunate, opportunity-filled life i live. i just don’t see it happening: humanity finally straightening up and flying right.
establishing my own little anarchist enclave in the wilderness (a frequent fantasy of mine and as best i can tell, a reality by the time i reach the age of 48) would only be a temporary respite from oppression via government. thinking otherwise would be dishonest to myself.
i could go on, but dwelling on this topic is depressing. there are plenty of other authors who have done much better in promoting antinatalism, anyway (here’s one of my favourites).
so go ahead. go and have your kids. just don’t try and convince me that i should have some of my own; you’ll be pissing up a long, long rope.