You know that social media pro-birth control blitz Lena Dunham started? With women holding signs saying why they use birth control? Well, inevitably someone asked the opposite, and it has become its own media blitz, being shared by religious groups across the internet. As I perused through the images and read the signs, I got angrier and angrier.
“I can control myself.” Nice value judgement there. What, so I can’t? Frankly I don’t want to. I have a horrible time denying myself anything of pleasure, be it sex or ice cream. Also, the Universe seems to put some natural blockages in place that prevent me from overdoing things, such as food allergies, an inability to hold much liquor, and a lack of flirtation skills.
“Because even though cramps suck and I get acne, that’s a normal part of being women.” Oh well good for you. Isn’t it nice that your cramps are tolerable and you weren’t given the choice of birth control or morphine when you were 17?
“Because it allows men to use women with no consequences.” Way to abdicate any responsibility in the situation.
Then there were ones that made me think:
“Because it treats the symptoms not the problem.” Ah yes. Like many drugs, this statement is true. It’s my main beef with mainstream allopathic medicine. In my personal experience, I’ve found that MDs who treat patients holistically, naturopaths, and chinese medicine practitioners do a much better job in diagnosing underlying problems and treating the disease instead of the symptoms. I do think birth control is overprescribed for reproductive system health issues. Instead of finding the root of the dysfunction and encouraging the system to repair itself, birth control overrides the system and does the work for it. Of course, for many people this is sufficient as a treatment. Not everyone wants to go through the years of lifestyle and dietary change required to treat a tricky disease like endometriosis. The best treatment I’ve found is having babies, but not everyone wants babies, and not everyone wants or is in a position to have a dozen.
Then there was the one statement that summed it all up for me:
“Because I don’t have to give up my womanhood to be a feminist.”
And there it is, the root issue. This birth control debate is a symptom, and so long as we give all our attention and activism to it, we will never solve the problem. The problem, like so many others, is the sense of self.
In the traditional 2nd wave feminist camp you have women who don’t want to be limited by a patriarchal definition of femininity, want career and lifestyle opportunities beyond child-bearing, and want to be treated as equals to men. As human beings.
In the other camp you have women who are proud of their traditional roles as wives and mothers, don’t want to be like men, and are sick of being treated as second class citizens because they choose these roles. They want to be treated as human beings.
Then you have everyone that falls in both or in-between.
What do they all have in common? Everyone feels like they are being personally attacked and invalidated in this feminist identity crisis.
So next time you have a knee-jerk reaction like mine to something a woman says about birth control use or non-use, remember that we are not enemies. This is a false dichotomy set up to divide us. Pitting religious freedom against non-discriminatory access to healthcare in the example of employer provided health insurance isn’t going to solve any problems. Isn’t the underlying problem here employer provided health insurance?
Until women value each other and stop demonizing each other’s life choices, the feminist movement will never create lasting positive change. Women who have lots of babies are not non-feminists, women who are conservative or religious are not non-feminists. Women who choose careers over family are not false women. Women who use birth control are not false women.
Quit invalidating each other. Because doing so only makes us part of the problem. We perpetuate sexist views and stereotypes. These are false demons. Let them go.