Another day, another straight white man shows his ignorance about birth control and women’s rights to reproductive health.
While on vacation in Spain, Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries revealed in a recent interview that he threw out his wife Nikki Reed’s birth control pills. This is essentially how the two decided they wanted to conceive.
Yeah, you read that correctly.
Nikki’s husband took it upon himself to dispose of her birth control to get across his point of wanting to start a family. People reacted negatively (and rightfully so) to his “humorous” anecdote and the couple quickly released an apology. They are “sorry” for anyone who has been “affected by reproductive coercion” and are glad for the opportunity to shed light on this serious subject. Nikki also blamed “irresponsible journalism” for the backlash the couple received.
So a man makes a disgusting joke about taking away a woman’s right to regulate her own body, feels the heat of his stupidity, and then issues an apology with his wife that somehow transforms his original oppressive statement into an avenue for the discussion of reproductive justice and domestic abuse?
Nice try, but nope.
Ian’s intended “joke” doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
In fact, it reflects the tendency for men to make decisions about women’s reproductive rights and health without involving women in the decision-making process. It’s a trend we’ve all seen in politics and legislature, and one that women have vehemently been fighting against. Male politicians have no business taking away reproductive freedom from women, yet they seem hell-bent on enforcing legislature that harms women and families. Whether it’s President Trump’s executive order expanding the abortion gag rule or Senator Don Huffinies’ bill that would require doctors in the state of Texas “to bury or cremate” the remains of abortions, we have seen men in power using their influence to deny women basic rights to bodily autonomy. It has become a common, relentless reality that women have to navigate.
Ian Somerhalder’s “prank” serves as a reminder that men, regardless of social status or career, think it’s not only okay but funny, to take away women’s power and birth control options. It demonstrates that many men in America think they are more qualified to make reproductive choices for women than women are. One does not need to be a politician to exercise reproductive coercion. A man can “jokingly” deny birth control to a woman and think that it’s cute or funny.
There’s nothing endearing about a man disposing of his wife’s birth control without her consent. Whether a joke or not, it is a violent, degrading act that strips the woman of her decision-making power and health.
Additionally, his disturbing actions are a slap in the face to the 214 million women worldwide who do not have access to reliable contraception. Women in the United States are currently fighting an exhausting battle to ensure birth control access, abortion rights, and maternity care as President Trump and the GOP call for a healthcare bill that will be devastating to millions of women. Many women are locked out from accessing birth control due to financial, political, or cultural reasons. For Somerhalder to casually throw out such a precious, life-changing resource is revolting. Women’s reproductive health is under fire and the last thing we need is an ignorant B-list male celebrity trying to spin his entitlement as a funny misunderstanding.
I have relied on different forms of birth control since I was eighteen and I feel nauseous every time I read a headline about a Planned Parenthood being shut down or a new abortion restriction. I feel angry when I see and hear people trivializing birth control access and its positive impact on women.
I refuse to let Ian Somerhalder get a free pass because he issued an apology and tried to disguise his social gaffe as a way to bring attention to reproductive justice.
Throw out my birth control and see what happens.