If there’s one political debate that always seems to crop up somewhere in the world, it’s the pro-life versus pro-choice debate. Generally, the conversation revolves around women’s bodies and whether or not the government has the right to regulate them. The Australian short film, 'Apprev', imagines a world where men’s bodies are aggressively regulated by women instead of the other way around.
The short takes place in an alternate world where abortion bans became so severe that mandatory vasectomies are given in order to lessen the amount of women who were sentenced to death over abortions. Every male must receive a vasectomy at age thirteen, and if they wish to have children later, they need to go through an extensive vetting process in order to reverse their vasectomy. For their anniversary, Ilona decides to surprise her husband, Thomas, with a doctor’s session for a vasectomy reversal.
Thomas quickly learns just how agonizingly difficult this vasectomy reversal is. He is asked many uncomfortable questions by female doctors and is even forced to go before a board of women and convince them that he is worthy of having children. He has to reach a certain income threshold, prove that he had a happy childhood and good parents, and prove that he is in good health. It’s all very invasive, and it mirrors the ways women who wish to have their tubes tied must go through a rigorous and unfair process in order to do what they want to their own bodies.
Unfortunately, despite the strong premise and thought-provoking social commentary at play, the short doesn’t always seem to tonally match the theme. It plays out like a standard family drama, outfitted with uplifting and sentimental guitar music and sitcom-like camera angles. Though these conventional choices may have been made to contrast the unconventional setting, it doesn’t completely sell. It winds up muddling the overall message a bit. The cheery tone of some scenes feels dissonant considering this is a story that tackles heavy subjects like abortion.
Still, overall, the short definitely leads the viewer to think seriously about the state of the world and whether or not something like mandatory vasectomies or sterilization could ever actually be valid or necessary. It also shifts the perspective and places men at the center of the pro-choice/pro-life debate. It asks what women might do if they had more power to regulate men’s bodies, and presents the idea that women would be just as quick to overly control another’s bodies if they had more power.