The Male Pill: A Biography of a Technology in the Making

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Duke University Press, Sep 10, 2003 - Health & Fitness - 320 pages
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DIVThe Male Pill is the first book to reveal the history of hormonal contraceptives for men. Nelly Oudshoorn explains why it is that, although the technical feasibility of male contraceptives was demonstrated as early as the 1970s, there is, to date, no male pill. Ever since the idea of hormonal contraceptives for men was introduced, scientists, feminists, journalists, and pharmaceutical entrepreneurs have questioned whether men and women would accept a new male contraceptive if one were available. Providing a richly detailed examination of the cultural, scientific, and policy work around the male pill from the 1960s through the 1990s, Oudshoorn advances work at the intersection of gender studies and the sociology of technology.

Oudshoorn emphasizes that the introduction of contraceptives for men depends to a great extent on changing ideas about reproductive responsibility. Initial interest in the male pill, she shows, came from outside the scientific community: from the governments of China and India, which were interested in population control, and from Western feminists, who wanted the responsibilities and health risks associated with contraception shared more equally between the sexes. She documents how in the 1970s, the World Health Organization took the lead in investigating male contraceptives by coordinating an unprecedented, worldwide research network. She chronicles how the search for a male pill required significant reorganization of drug-testing standards and protocols and of the family-planning infrastructure—including founding special clinics for men, creating separate spaces for men within existing clinics, enrolling new professionals, and defining new categories of patients. The Male Pill is ultimately a story as much about the design of masculinities in the last decades of the twentieth century as it is about the development of safe and effective technologies.
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Contents

Designing Technology and Masculinity
3
How Man Came to Be Included in the Contraceptive
19
Creating a Worldwide Laboratory for Synthesizing
52
Copyright

7 other sections not shown

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About the author (2003)

DIV

Nelly Oudshoorn is Professor of Gender and Technology at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. She is the author of Beyond the Natural Body: An Archaeology of Sex Hormones and coeditor of Bodies of Technology: Women’s Involvement with Reproductive Medicine and How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology.

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