If you have social media of any kind, you have probably heard about Ian Somerhalder recently. His wife Nikki Reed gave birth to their daughter Bohdi on July 25, according to People magazine. In an episode of Dr. Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy podcast, the couple talked about their decision to have a baby and Somerhalder revealed that, after a discussion of over the desire to have children, he flushed all of his wife’s birth control down the toilet. Somerhalder filmed himself flushing the birth control, and according to Buzzfeed he stated, “By the way, it was the beginning of the pack, so I had to pop all those suckers out. It is a lot of work, especially after a little bit of sangria.” He also filmed his wife freaking out after finding her birth control was missing.
That is abuse. The technical term is reproductive coercion. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Reproductive and sexual coercion involves behavior intended to maintain power and control in a relationship related to reproductive health… This behavior includes explicit attempts to impregnate a partner against her will, control outcomes of a pregnancy, coerce a partner to have unprotected sex, and interfere with contraceptive methods.” Even though the couple had “decided” they wanted a child, Reed did not agree to have a child right away. Somerhalder was the one who made the decision to have the child and took away Reed’s immediate access to contraceptive methods.
The couple released a joint apology on their social media accounts, which is ridiculous because Reed shouldn’t be apologizing for her husband’s abusive actions. An additionally bad piece of this situation is that Reed does not seem to think that there is anything wrong with her husband’s actions.
Even if she doesn’t see anything wrong with his actions, that does not mean that it was okay. A lot of women have been so accustomed to subliminal abuse and internalized misogyny that this seems “cute” because he is so eager to have kids. Women must rationalize their partners’ controlling and manipulative actions. Reproductive abuse is still abuse. It’s another issue of men trying to have control over women’s bodies, and these issues need to be addressed when they come up.
Anna is an English major and Art History and Women’s and Gender Studies double minor.