When I first heard about billionaire and Rick Santorum supporter Foster Friess offering contraceptive advice on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show, I checked the Onion. My own grandfather made a similar comment once-upon-a-time, but it was decidedly before 1986. And there was no question that Grandpap was making a joke. I understood that at the ripe old age of 12.But sure enough, soon every major news outlet was on the air reporting Friess’ famous words:"I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed; we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about; and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are. And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it's [so] inexpensive. Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly."
I slapped my forehead and yelled at the TV, “Do you know how many sexual positions are actually possible with your knees closed?” The message is clear: Women need to keep our knees (and our mouths) shut. (Never you mind that pregnancy requires input, if you’ll pardon the pun, from men to actually occur). Frankly, it’s insulting.Beyond the insult, Friess’ "advice" is downright irresponsible in the wake of abstinence-only education because there’s still a lot of sex (and therefore a lot of baby-making) that can occur with a small pill between the knees. Trust me, I tried it. After repeating, “Do you know how many sexual positions are possible with your knees closed?” for about the millionth time, a friend took me to task: “No, I don’t. Why don’t you tell me?”As I started naming positions, she took a sip of her martini and upped the ante. “So are you telling me that you’ve tried to do all those positions with an aspirin between the knees?” she smirked.She was joking, of course -- but I couldn't back down from that kind of challenge. So game on -- DARE ACCEPTED. I decided to try as many sex positions as possible while trying to keep a tiny little white capsule securely in place between my knees. Luckily, my partner was OK with being a sexual guinea pig. “Anything,” he said, “to help strike a blow for feminism and equal rights!”We started with a few ground rules. First, I’d have to use an aspirin substitute. I’m the mother of a small child so aspirin is a no-no -- but I figured I could make the switch without losing any dare integrity. So we used a Tylenol instead. Tomato ToMAHto. Next, I had to choose a position list beforehand to make sure we were hitting (pardon the pun) all the right moves. After flipping through a few books at the bookstore, I opted to go with SexInfo101.com’s list of positions -- because, let’s face it, any of the folks suggesting I can control pregnancy with an aspirin are going to consider the Kama Sutra to be just plain old un-American. Third, even though penetration isn’t required for pregnancy, I decided that I would still use it as my benchmark for testing. If penetration can happen, then I consider the position aspirin-proof. And, finally, my partner and I would have to both get into and get out of each position with the "aspirin" intact. With those caveats in place, it was time to get our dare on. SpooningWe decided to start easy. Good, old-fashioned spooning, or lying on your side with your partner entering you from behind. It's a favorite for lazy, early morning sex because it’s very easy entry, which is something we took advantage of to keep a Tylenol wedged between my knees. But we soon realized the one downside to aspirin-knee-sex: My partner was going to have to bear the brunt of the work while I kept my back arched and my legs shut. He didn’t mind as much as I thought he should.The Bent SpoonThe Bent Spoon, a position where my partner was on his back and I was on top of him facing away, seemed like a piece of cake -- or so we thought. But to manage the position, we’d have to start from traditional spooning and then try to roll over on to our backs in one fell swoop. Twice, we shot the pill across the room while we attempted this maneuver. The third time was a charm, though -- with a little finesse (and a good bit of upper body strength on his part), we were able to accomplish the closed-knee version. Unfortunately, once we got there, we didn’t really have the energy to do much more than high-five and move on.Deep ImpactIn theory, this position, with me on my back and my partner standing on the side of the bed, should have been easy peasy. And getting in and out of it was. But this was the first position where I was not precariously balanced on top of the man so he started to really get into it. And every time he did, he'd pelvic thrust the pill right into my cleavage. Apparently, all the consequent giggling on my part killed the aspirin-sex mood. My bad.The Monkey BarI’d like to say that we were able to try the Monkey Bar, a variation of standing sex with the addition of some indoor monkey bars. Alas, we had no access to indoor monkey bars. (And frankly, I don’t think my partner could do that combo pull-up/thrust move without knocking me over and spilling the aspirin in the process. Sorry, baby!) So, there you have it: Sex is, indeed, possible with an aspirin between your knees. All told, we were able to manage about 13 different positions (with the occasional closed-knee tweak) without dropping a pill. We also just about peed our pants laughing as we made our attempts. And it was pretty damn exhausting. But, for the sake of women’s rights, we managed it.Outdated and potentially dangerous notions about sex and birth control get us nowhere -- whether made in jest or not. This is 2012, not 1958 -- and aspirin, as demonstrated, is no alternative to education and proper contraception. (Though, admittedly, it can make for an interesting Tuesday night).