By 2050, we will be having sex purely for fun – hooray! – and not for boring procreational purposes. All the vital but arduous baby-making business will be conducted in clinics via IVF. These are the predictions of Professor Carl Djerassi, 91, one of the developers of the contraceptive Pill. Djerassi believes the Pill will be made obsolete as it becomes routine for young people to freeze their eggs and their sperm and then seek sterilisation. This will leave sex as recreational only.
Obviously, this slightly overlooks all the non-fun reasons why men and women will carry on having sex, such as: “I am having sex with you as your erection is in my back and I’m aware I've not put out since last Wednesday,” or, “I am having sex with you as it is cheaper sleeping here than a 2am cross-town taxi, and if I don’t put out you will suss I am in love with your friend Carla,” or, “I am having sex with you as I’m in a dry spell and I want to see if my equipment is still working but, Jesus, can you not make direct eye contact as you remind me of a pretty Tom Baker.”
So yes, human beings have non-baby-making sex for a lot of reasons other than fun, although Djerassi, in his rather dystopian prediction, has identified that the future may be lacking in “trying for a baby sex”, which is the least fun sex of all.
Indeed, some babies are made in an earth-shattering crash of mutual orgasm, but many more are born after a demented-looking woman in a coffee-stained dressing gown, clutching a urine-drenched stick shouts: “I don’t bloody care if your car is about to get clamped and you have gastroenteritis, I am only fertile for another 19 minutes, hop on and look lively!” Most men weeping at the announcement that their partner is pregnant are partially crying with joy that baby-making sex is temporarily suspended.
Still, it is hard to see Djerassi’s speculation – millions of young people rejecting natural means and cheerily planning future IVF – and think of it as anything less than a massive man-made systemic mess. I do wonder, however, when thinking about the current pressure men and women suffer to combine real life with the brief fertility window, if Djerassi’s “mess” is less chaotic and unworkable than the mess many British women are actually in.
Presently, following the past 50 years of progress in female equality, we are instructing our bright young girls, quite rightly, to concentrate at school and stay until at least 18. Then they should hop off to university, take time to travel, avoid pregnancy during their twenties, find a rewarding career, one with room to grow, try not to balls their careers up by falling pregnant in their early thirties. And then, at the age of about 35 – and not before a baby-friendly house is purchased via the combined incomes of themselves and a partner – they should perhaps try for a baby.
At this point, many women realise that although they feel very young – and their friends say they pass for 29 – their ovaries and those nitpickers down at the assisted fertility clinic disagree. And if only achieving one baby was enough – it’s only a family in many people’s eyes when you've managed two. Currently, women are snookered.
Perhaps, instead of spending 20 years of anxiety over the bind that equality has given us, we could have the entire thing spelled out to us at GCSE age, along with some handy leaflets for the nearest egg-freezing bank?
Of course, one of the flaws in Djerassi’s neat solution is that this paints IVF as a rather jolly, routine procedure, a bit like having a deep-tissue massage or one’s eyebrows tinted. Clearly this is, medically speaking, bollocks. A quick visit to the waiting room of any IVF clinic will show you a group of women even more pissed off with life’s hand than the women who fell pregnant “stupidly” when aged 28, wrecked their careers and have spent the last decade holidaying in a static caravan in Rhyl.
The IVF process – and I can’t help think it won’t be much different in 2050 – is an arduous, never-ending hospital rendezvous where strangers in white coats invite you to cast aside your knickers, climb into stirrups, then inject you with booster hormones that might make you sick or hairy or weepy or all three at once. It is a loveless cacophony of prodding with cold instruments with invoices for approximately £487 every time so much as your gusset is ruffled.
It is a tiring expedition into the land of medics who never quite meet your gaze as your gaze says: “Will I have a baby?” And these people are not in the business of making actual promises and they’re very busy and they've seen 87 vaginas since 10am and they've not even had time for their Pret a Manger porridge.
I have thought about Djerassi’s bright new IVF vision and have concluded that for future generations, having babies the very, very old fashioned way – shagging, with little thought about future plans other than the fag afterwards – may be really rather preferable.
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