Jonathan Stack, Founder of World Vasectomy Day
Wf1: What was your inspiration in deciding to create World Vasectomy day?
Jonathan Stack: Years ago my best friend was trying to fundraise for a school in the Amazon that would train indigenous people how to become environmental activists. It happened to be around the time he was due to get a vasectomy so I came up with the idea to do a fundraising campaign based on doing his vasectomy live on the internet. I immediately said, we’ll call it the ‘Story of a man willing to put his balls on the line for Mother Earth’. By the time I got home that evening, my friend’s wife had left a message… “Absolutely not! My husband is not having his vasectomy done live on TV!’ And then of course, if you think it’s such a good idea do it yourself..
Well, it took a few years, but eventually, I did decide to make a film about my own vasectomy, but I was a terrible subject. In fairness, it is hard to be a subject and a director in a documentary. Anyhow, along the way, I met Doug Stein, the world’s leading provider of vasectomies and knew instantaneously that he would make a great subject. We started traveling the world with him and I saw that a film about vasectomies was not only about the personal choice a man can make, but about the biggest issue we face on this planet.. the human conundrum.. We are both the cause of the trauma we are experiencing on this planet (war, climate change, poverty) and the solution.
Wf1: What is World Vasectomy Day?
Jonathan Stack: WVD is an idea that is evolving every day. In it’s most basic iteration, the idea is that we’ll find 1000 men on this planet in 25 countries who will dedicate their vasectomies to helping Mother Earth. The vasectomies are an in your face action that gets media attention and actually makes a difference. Professor Murtaugh at Oregon State University is a statistician who has calculated the carbon reduction associated with a vasectomy. In fact, one vasectomy is the equivalent of 28 life times of recycling, reusing and reducing by the best environmentalist on the planet. On WVD we anticipate lowering our collective carbon footprint by 10 million metric tons. That’s enough to reforest Manhattan. Of course, it’s a drop in the bucket, but over time that’s how buckets get filled and real change happens.
And it’s important to emphasize that we’re not saying ‘don’t have children’. What we are saying is men need to take on a much more robust role in family planning. In many parts of the world the single greatest cause of death for women aged 15 – 35 is pregnancy. They also say 50% of pregnancies are unintended. We can all do a better job. But men especially have to step up to the plate.
Wf1: What are your future goals for your project?
Jonathan Stack: I have no plans to start my own organization, but my sincere hope is that having succeeded in making an amazing event, somebody else or some other organization, comes on board to keep the momentum going forward.
I do believe that population is going to be one of the most, if not the most important issue, we’ll face in our life time so in one way or another this is not going away. I have said over and over, talking about population is very sensitive. Silence is deadly.
Just this past month, the estimated rise in population by 2050 went up to almost 10 billion. Can we manage that large a number? Probably, but think of the quality of life and the impact human life has on other life forms? There is a limit to growth and ther is no other planet that we can escape to.
The population challenge is one we’ll only resolve by working together.
WVD is our effort to get men engaged!
Wf1: We at Women For One work strive for authenticity while also encouraging our community to do the same? What is your personal definition of authenticity?
Jonathan Stack: Authenticity for me is like truth. It’s not absolute or stagnant, but a constantly evolving set of principles that guide our journey. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new about myself. This is both my blessing and my burden. For I am alive, I also suffer. I am truly a work in progress and accepting the truth of this is how I tap into my own authenticity.
Wf1: How do you think your project will help serve the world?
Jonathan Stack: Humans are dialogical and we are formed in ‘relationship’; to our parents, our siblings, our children, our community and our world. Every encounter is an opportunity to experience the infinite possibility of what is it to be a living sentient being.
World Vasectomy Day is its own chance to communicate the most intimate aspect of life which is making more life and the incredibly brilliant notion that what we do matters; not just to ourselves and our families but to future generations and the world I hope that the day is filled with awareness. Some of this is pure knowledge; learning bout vasectomies and how they work and how they might work for you and learning about the complex web of which we are a part.
One really important thing I learned along the way as that humans are a small group species. For millions of years we migrated this planet in packs of 75 -150. There’s a lot of talk about ‘survival of the fittest’ and not as much as there is about cooperation. Yet, in a group of 150, we survive and thrive, only when we do work together. The group would not stick together if there were 10 – or 15 doing amazingly well and a majority just getting by. No, we have to embrace basic evolutionary principles of empathy. As long as we can find our way to the best of who we are, we’ll be fine.
There’s no one way to summarize all that WVD is about That said, just this past week I wrote down ten reasons to support our cause. I think it summarizes pretty well the principles and spirit behind the campaign.
1: I support World Vasectomy Day because for men who no longer want to have children it is the best option available.
2: I support World Vasectomy Day because eliminating the fear of unintended pregnancy improves our sex life.
3: I support World Vasectomy Day because it’s time for men to share the burden of family planning.
4: I support World Vasectomy Day because a vasectomy is a less invasive than tubal ligation and healthier than taking hormones or chemicals.
5: I support World Vasectomy Day for the sake of our children’s future.
6: I support World Vasectomy Day, not to deny the joy of parenthood, but to increase the quality of life for those who are already alive.
7: I support World Vasectomy Day because the health of the planet depends on respect for all life forms.
8: I support World Vasectomy Day because regardless of gender, nationality, color or creed, we all share this one magnificent planet.
9: I support World Vasectomy Day because I believe we have to do a fairer job of sharing the planet’s finite resources.
10: I support World Vasectomy Day because communication is the key to overcoming any obstacle.
Wf1: How can our community support the work of The Vasectomist?
Jonathan Stack: Thank you for asking. It’s hard to imagine but there are only a few of us doing all of this work and it’s overwhelming. So.. for one, just sharing information is huge. Getting people to sign up and share their ideas. How about screening our film on October 18th and connecting to our headquarters in Adelaide, Australia? Or maybe reaching out to urologist or a vasectomist who’d be willing to donate one or more vasectomies to the cause? Or spreading the word through each person’s own social network.
At the end of the day, WVD is a conversation and a conversation is only as good and as valuable as the people who participate. So the most important thing to do, is participate!
And Yes, we do need help financially and that’s why we’re doing an indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. And yes, I know there are many incredible causes out there that your community already supports and a lot of people struggling on their own. So any help, any contribution, from the heart, the soul, the spirit or the wallet is deeply appreciated.
Wf1: What few words or piece of advice do you have for the Women For One community?
Jonathan Stack: Early in my career I found myself sitting with Gloria Steinem at an awards ceremony. I had little to contribute to the table’s conversation and a lot of time to listen, but when I was finally introduced, I bleated out. “if you ever run for political office, you might want to use the following slogan, ‘THE FUTURE IS FEMININE’. She smiled.
I still believe that and in fact, I now believe that if it’s not ‘feminine’ there’s not going to be much of a future. My advice is more like a request… Don’t give up on men. We love our masculine side plenty and that doesn’t have to disappear, but as women have had to expand their definition of feminine, men have to redefine their ideas of masculine. You help us do that by being the incredibly loving, kind and generous souls that make our lives so much more amazing.
And we are changing and World Vasectomy Day is one way to celebrate that shift in consciousness. We are not less men if we’re no longer procreating. In fact we’re better men when we don’t take our fertility or our women’s health for granted.