Traditionalists warn that women who exercise "too much" sovereignty over their bodies (by utilising contraception, availing themselves of abortion or new reproductive technologies) risk making men irrelevant. And men who feel irrelevant will behave like perpetual teenagers, refusing to make lasting commitments, cheerful in the certainty that whatever happens sexually, a "woman will take care of things".
We socialise women to be afraid of one thing more than anything else: being alone. The anti-feminist opponents of progress are masters at exploiting that fear, urging women to resist the siren song of technologically assisted autonomy lest they find themselves growing old without a man. The anecdotal evidence that a great many men in Britain and the US do seem stuck in what the scholar Michael Kimmel calls "Guyland" – an enduring adolescence that seems to last decades – seems to legitimate the shrill jeremiads of the traditionalists.
But the opponents of progress are wrong.
Leaving aside their wrongness on the larger questions of women's autonomy and reproductive ethics, they're wrong about men. They're wrong in their insistence that with female vulnerability, men will rise to responsibility, while without it, men will invariably sink down to drifting, predatory fecklessness. While it is absolutely true that we've raised men to believe that their worth is contingent on how well they take of vulnerable women, it's also undeniably true that traditional gender roles have exacted an enormous cost from men.
Male privilege is not a guarantor of either happiness or health, and trying desperately to play the part of protector and provider has robbed generations of men of both. Feminism, in concert with these many new and exciting reproductive and contraceptive technologies, offers men a chance to rethink and re-evaluate their worth and their purpose. It offers them an opportunity to be intimate allies with their female partners, to forge relationships based on more than duty and dependency. It gives men a chance to be loved for the wholeness of who we are, rather than solely for what we can provide.
I am so glad that there are voices against the outdated "traditionalist" thinking Hugo cites. To read more about traditionalism and why it is short-sighted, read the full article here.