The Pill has always been a paradox. Think about it - down the centuries you’re forever fumbling with smelly bits of rubber and eye-watering spores of metal if you want to avoid the patter of tiny hooves and prolapsed uteri.  Then one day - WHAM!! - in the Day-Glo Sixties some sexed-up boffin creates this perfect tiny lust-lozenge which - in theory - means you can have no-muss, no-fuss horizontal fun in one short swallow.  That’s IN THEORY. Till you READ THE LEAFLET. Wait - what Cornucopia of carnal enhancement is this…

Acne, breast tenderness, breast lumps, breakthrough bleeding, bloating, blood clot in leg, blood clot in lung, decreased sex drive, depression, headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hives, hypertension, jaundice, leg cramps, leg/foot swelling,liver damage, migraines, nausea, numbness in arm/leg,  rash, speech changes, stroke, upper-right abdominal pain, vomiting, wheezing.

Do I hear the opening notes of that grand old standard ‘I’m In The Mood For Love’?  Damn right the Pill is the greatest contraceptive device ever invented! Who the heck is going to want to do the deed with you  with this hellish smorgasbord of sexual appetisers all laid out on show? In fact the only effects making one more inclined to do the nasty would appear to be ‘changes in vision’ and/or ‘changes in eye that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses’ - i.e. permanent beer goggles.  And it’s not just a physical thing; our little friend can apparently play mind-games with you, too. Last year the Times ran the promising headline THE PILL MAY YOU OFF SMELL OF YOUR MAN AND RUIN YOUR RELATIONSHIP. And now scientists at the University of Sheffield (hometown of such fine, if varied, specimens of manhood from Sean Bean to Jarvis Cocker) have announced that forty years of oral contraception have changed women’s taste in men from strong, silent and violent to sappy, yappy and sweet.  So the Pill lowers your sex drive and makes you fancy girly-boys whereas SURELY the point in taking it is that you can be a total truck-stop slut without getting knocked up!

Personally, I think it’s got more to do with economics than hormones. Over the past forty years, women’s ability to make their own living has steadily increased. We were attracted to ‘strong’ men when we had to rely on males economically - which is a nice way of saying ‘prostitution.’ Now that we can bring home the fat-free bacon as well as cook it, we prefer playmates to beefcakes  - a thoroughly healthy development rather not something to worry about.

Anyway, women haven’t gone off REAL men at all - show me a girl who doesn’t dream of dating a soldier or a fireman and I’ll show you a sexless little mule who can only have an orgasm in a shoe shop. What we have rejected is ACTORS who PRETEND to be real men when we’re well aware that celluloid tough guys wear just as much make-up and strike just as many silly poses as their pretty-boy colleagues. It was that late great example of old-fashioned masculinity, Richard Burton, who once claimed that all male actors were gay, as no ‘real’ man would want to spend so much of his life in a make-up chair, getting dressed up in costumes and poncing around pretending to be someone they’re not.

Of course women still love cowboys - I don’t know one broad who hasn’t worn out at least one DVD of Brokeback Mountain! We’re just a lot fussier these days, and far less likely to be fooled by a screaming Martha trying to convince as a smouldering Arthur. Maybe the reason that ladies don’t go for the likes of John Wayne and Rock Hudson anymore is that the first one’s real name was Marion and the second one used to knit between takes! While Sean Connery and Steve McQueen, that brave brace of wife-beaters, are thankfully repulsive to any woman with a speck of self-respect.
These days, any woman worth her salted popcorn wants to watch handsome men kissing each other - not ugly ones pretending to kill each other. And if that ain’t progress, tell me what is.