“This contraceptive thing. My gosh, it’s so inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.” Foster Friess Feb. 16, 2012.
Poor Foster Friess has taken such a hit for his comments about birth control. He should be commended for bringing to light what most people don’t know about those early days, the 1950s and 1960s, when children were raised with an entirely different ethic about birth control. First, no one in the 50’s talked openly about the pleasures of contraception. This was wrong because from the time they were infant boys squirting the parents who diapered them, men have always had contraception on the brain.
Second, as boys grew up, they became insecure teenagers, locking themselves in bathrooms for extended times to think about contraception. Which condoms should I use? Large size? Extra-large? Jumbo? Industrial size? How far should I let a girl go? Just show her a condom package? Take it out of the package and let her look it over? Let her see me in a condom? Would she ever want to go out with me again if she sees me in a condom? Will my reputation be ruined if I do that? How do I stop thinking in italics?
In high school young men played baseball or football to take their minds off contraception especially when they became excited thinking about the thrill of withdrawal or rhythm methods.
Men of the Boomer Generation reading this will undoubtedly deny they ever thought about contraception then or now. They won’t admit they thought all day about having contraception with a girl they liked. Or that they were too embarrassed to ask other guys how a diaphragm worked as a contraceptive, since it was so high up in the airways. Some men will actually confess today that they used to look at photos of women in magazines—even Sears’ foundation garment ads— to fantasize if the woman was taking the Pill or enjoyed the combination of condom and foam.
Another source of a young man’s frustration and fear: choosing a movie to attend with a date. Guys might be talked into seeing films with allusions to contraception like From Here to Eternity, with actors Deborah Karr and Burt Lancaster lying in an embrace on a beach, the tide washing over them, and the spellbound audience uniformly wondering if salt water prevents pregnancy. Or Lady and the Tramp, where two dogs hook-up off-screen, but out in the audience guys are worrying if either dog was neutered.
Fortunately young men grow up and become responsible members of society. Whether teachers, taxi drivers, construction workers, doctors, company executives or congressmen, men never forget, that with their contraceptive urges, they must be vigilant. For example, congressmen and company executives can’t attend meetings wearing condoms, no matter how well-meaning and responsible. Both sets of men realize that women may stalk them and insist on physical relationships, but fortunately rare are the Congressmen or executive who succumb. Even if these men do die, their reputations are sterling because, despite feeling cheap and exploited by women who refuse birth control products, the men no doubt demanded contraception.
I have it on good authority that Foster Friess was such a responsible man all his life. As a high school student, he was valedictorian, class president, captain of each of the following teams: basketball, track, golf and baseball. As a Boy Scout, he earned a badge in Pregnancy Safety. As a student at University of Wisconsin, he was named one of the most outstanding senior men since he’d been president of his fraternity, served in ROTC, and worked part-time as a salesman for Bayer Aspirin.
The current debate among presidential candidates as to which man most strongly opposes birth control is an effective cover. Who among them would want to admit publicly their lust for contraceptive devices? Yet all of the candidates and their male supporters, like men everywhere, have at one time or another been preoccupied with contraception.
My father’s greatest concern, after Mom died and he kept company with a woman living a few doors away, was that his friend Sam secretly drive to the drug store and buy Dad condoms. It didn’t matter that people tried to discourage him, because Dad had been a responsible consumer of contraceptives all his life.
And so he got his condoms and felt better for that.
He was 93 and his girlfriend 92.