Monday, March 26, 2012

Because I'm Not Sure You've Considered This, Either (Part II)

So, let's put aside for a moment the sticky issue of whether or not conscientious objection should apply to employers and institutions who feel contraceptive devices are morally problematic. After all, for that issue the question is: how far does religious freedom go? At what point does protecting someone's religious freedom begin to interfere with someone else's freedom?

I think there's a larger issue at hand.

Why should birth control be copay-free for anybody? Antibiotics are not copay free! Birth control, at least in the vast majority of cases, is not a life-saving medication. It does get prescribed for many conditions other than 'the potential to become pregnant', which, by the way, is the natural, healthy state of a woman in her child-bearing years, so the idea of altering that and calling it preventive healthcare is pretty freaking laughable, but one could argue that the societal important of preventing unwanted pregnancies, and the feminist issue of women having the freedom to make decisions regarding their sex life without the looming spectre of parenthood being too large, could dictate the necessity of affordable birth control for the citizens of this country. But really? Free? Planned Parenthood offers a full range of birthcontrol options for between $15-$50 a month. Wal-Mart offers birth control for $10 a month. As of 2008, 86% of insurance policies offered by employers covered hormonal birth control, and no discrepancy was found between coverage for viagra, and coverage for contraceptives. The urgent need for affordable birth control for all appears to be at least partially a myth. And at the risk of being hated on, I'd like to point out that viagra changes a diseased body and allows it to function normally so the person can have sex, and birth control, changes a healthy body to make it function abnormally so a person who is already quite capable of having sex can do so with less consequences. Those things are not comparable.

Ok, maybe you can already tell...the whole feminist stance that women NEED the freedom to have sex just for the sake of enjoying sex without worrying about pregnancy is a big eye-roller for me. I get that the whole point is that we should be equal to men. We SHOULD be equal to men in terms of treatment, opportunity, etc., and we absolutely are not yet there, but we CANNOT be equal to men in terms of having the exact same issues, the exact same lives. Having control over what happens to your vagina is not the same thing as wanting to pretend half of the biological functions affiliated with that vagina are illegitimate and shouldn't happen. We are different in important ways. Sometimes birth control fails, and a woman gets pregnant, and even if she's very comfortably pro-choice, and is prepared to terminate the pregnancy, she still has to terminate the pregnancy. The man does not. He may be there for her, but the surgery, the intrusion into the intimate spaces of another, and the stopping of a beating heart, is happening to her, not him. If she's not very comfortably pro-choice, things are a whole lot more complicated. Even if we're talking loving, committed partner who is a part of the decision-making process, going through the pregnancy and giving birth, or not as the case may be, the woman has a different, more direct experience than the man.

I find it highly offensive when it's suggested to me that our differences can be cancelled out by taking medication to keep me from ovulating.

I'm really terrified to live in a society that thinks sex shouldn't have consequences. Especially one that thinks by throwing the pill at everybody like confetti, we can make it that way.

Sex is a big deal!!

And has it occurred to ye feminists that men, the patriarchy, The Man, has a whole lot to gain by making sure all the women in this country can afford to artificially keep themselves from becoming pregnant? How about the health risks of being on birth control? An increased risk of breast cancer, and blood clots, among others. This is our indispensable preventive healthcare? How about the terrifying hormone levels being found in our water supply because of the quantity of excess hormone the millions of women on birth control are peeing out every day? What about the girls going into early puberty? And what about their breast cancer rates? Where the hell are my liberal protect-the-children-and-the-environment-at-all-cost petitions addressing those issues? We all turn a blind eye to those risks and those very real, measurable consequences in the name of women getting to enjoy casual sex. Well, thank God[dess] our priorities, are in line, huh?

You know what a woman's primary form of control over her reproductive health is? Not condoms. It is her FREEDOM to choose if she has sex, with whom, and under what circumstances. I am very nervous about anything that may lull women, and I'm talking about women who are young or naive enough for this to happen, into thinking they don't need to practice that primary form of control.

I just...I may be naive, old-fashioned, or both, but I don't think nearly as many people are doing whats best for themselves by having casual sex as are doing it. I suspect the vast majority of people would be better served if they didn't have sex until they were in a relationship both partners were committed to making permanent, at least in cases where the person is interested in eventually having one permanent, monogamous relationship. I'm not prepared to say that no one is capable of having sex without complicated hormonal and emotional reactions that result in a big mess when a safety net of emotional intimacy isn't present, but I suspect most of us are just mere mortals, and becoming very physically intimate with another person sort of tricks us into assuming the emotional intimacy is there when it isn't, and then it sucks really bad when it becomes clear that it wasn't after all, or even that it was at some point, but now it's not.

And sure, there's the argument that the pain and complications are worth the experience, that you shouldn't let fear of heartbreak keep you from having great sex with someone if you have the opportunity, or experiencing sexual intimacy in a healthy, positive but non-permanent relationship...that argument doesn't hold water if you ask me, but I suspect a lot of people disagree.

I hate that our society has swung so far toward sexual freedom that suddenly there's something wrong with you if you aren't really interested in sexual freedom. Abstinence shouldn't be the only option on offer, sure, but it should be a respectable option that is talked about, yes? It DOES in fact prevent pregnancy, STDs, a certain level of heartbreak, a whole lot of anxiety, awkwardness, etc. It DOES lead to a deeper level of trust and intimacy in that eventual permanent, monogamous relationship (again, assuming that's what you're aiming for), it DOES greatly reduce your statistical chances of divorce or unfaithfulness, your own, or your partner's. This makes sense to me. If you've never had sexual variety, you aren't going to miss it. You aren't going to feel entitled to have sex with different people, and have to retrain yourself to only have sex with this one person now, forever. People do it, of course, there's no excuse for infidelity (again, an honest, agreed upon open relationship is a different thing altogether), but it sounds really hard to me.

I think it gives you more freedom. Whether they know better or not, how many women and men have stayed in a shitty relationship because of the sex? How much collective time has been wasted over sex?? Sex may be awesome, but really, is it worth that?

So my convoluted point is, the assumption that free hormonal birth control is something that women are entitled to, and that anyone who gets in the way of that is anti-feminist, or anti-healthcare, is built on a lot of pretty rickety scaffolding, and instead of having a discussion about all this, we're throwing around words like "prostitute!", and "war on women!" Both equally inflammatory, and meaningless, because clearly a woman who wants access to birth control so she can live her sex life as she sees fit minus having to pay to prevent pregnancy is not a prostitute, whether you agree with her or not, and a political party who is anti-legislating healthcare is not waging a war on women by saying tax payers shouldn't be paying for birth control for everyone, whether you agree with them or not.

Thoughts?

Live Omily,
~em

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