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Laura Stepp

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Respect Me, Respect My Birth Control

Posted: 05/10/10 12:22 PM ET

The title of the facebook post doesn't tell the whole story. But it says a lot:

"Standing Up To Idiots Who Think They Can Get Away With This"

The idiots in question are men who sabotage a woman's efforts to keep from getting pregnant or catching a sexually transmitted infection. The post's author, college senior Anya Alvarez, called such men out last week because the week before, while she was having sex, her partner pulled her NuvaRing out of her vagina and slipped off his condom -- without her knowing it.

They were going hot and heavy when she spied the ring on the floor. She also realized that he was no longer wearing a condom. He confessed and she fled, later detailing the incident on her facebook page and forming the support group, "Standing Up To Idiots...".

For centuries, women have been accused of foregoing birth control in order to "snare" a man by getting pregnant. Yet recently it has been the sabotage of women's birth control by men that's made headlines.

Earlier this year, an article in the journal Contraception reported that among more than 1,300 young mothers in Northern California, ages 16-29, 15 percent had experienced some form of partner sabotage. The report was picked up by newspapers around the country.

Alvarez had known that such misconduct occurs. As a volunteer in a teen health clinic, she had heard girls talk about boyfriends who poked holes in their condoms to see if they could get their girlfriends pregnant.

But she never thought something like that could happen to her. She was savvy about whom she went to bed with. The day after she fled The Idiot's apartment, she sent him an email:

"The fact that you pulled out my birth control without even asking shows a complete disregard for me. I can't explain how angry that made me. I was just completely shocked and couldn't even react. I don't care about the reason why you did it. I don't even want an apology. Also, when I ask someone to wear a condom that means I want them to wear a condom. Okay? "

He responded with an apology and then, a frightening admission:

"It was what I had always done... Other women didn't say anything about it. Everyone is different when it comes to that and that was stupid not to ask. I felt bad all day."

Something he had always done? Alvarez hit the keys again:

"You mean to tell me that you just go around sleeping with different women pulling off your condom and pulling out a woman's form of birth control? The reason why we use birth control is so that when we make the mistake of sleeping with assholes like you, we don't produce another asshole."
It is not uncommon for sexually active couples to skip birth control occasionally. In a national survey of young, unmarried women and men released last year, 29 percent of women and 42 percent of men said it was at least "slightly likely" they would have unprotected sex in the next three months. Alvarez's rage was not so much a response to what her partner did -- it's that he didn't consult her beforehand.

This wasn't about daddy lust, she says. It was about power, control, and showing a woman who's boss. It was a form of sexual assault.

She is now looking for an attorney who agrees with her, and is willing to take Mr. Idiot to court. So far, she's found no takers.

One lawyer wrote, "Although wrong, there is no assault and no agreement to use contraception other than common courtesy and decency."

If Alvarez discovers she is pregnant or has an infection, his opinion might change, he said. "Then, there might be a negligence action. But until there is harm there's nothing there."

Harm to whom? one is tempted to ask. The next young woman he does this to, or the one after that?

"I believe it is important that we open dialogue about this," Anya said in her facebook post. "While there might not be a law protecting women from this, it doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it. It doesn't mean that it makes it right. Our laws should protect women from incidents like this."

Each day, more people -- men as well as women -- are joining her facebook campaign against Idiots.

(Writer's note: Anya Alvarez contributes to www.eldiablito.com and is an occasional blogger for www.sexreally.com, a project of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The National Campaign also published the survey referenced above.)