With the Hobby Lobby ruling still fresh in my mind, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how society views women and the very basic need for birth control. I’ve heard many women get defensive about how they use birth control. “It helps with endometriosis.” “It helps regulate my periods.” And all of this is very true– 50% of women use birth control for reasons other than, erm, birth control… But I think it is really sad that it is 2014 and we still have to get defensive about this. SO WHAT IF WE USE BIRTH CONTROL FOR SEX? So what if you use the pill and you aren’t in a committed relationship? Can we stop shaming women once and for all? Sex is as natural as breathing. Birth control pills are considered one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century in public health according to the CDC because they enable families to better control family size, improve quality of life and decrease infant mortality rate. The availability of birth control also decreases the need for abortion. Go figure! Birth control pills have changed our lives for the better. It is a very basic reproductive health issue and access to them should never be blocked. Even though Hobby Lobby (right now) is only barring 4 items, all contraception options need to be available for women because, as you might know if you are a woman, what might be right for one woman is not right for the next woman.
We are so frightened by the idea of
young women older women ALL women being sexually active that we shut our eyes tight and cover up our ears and scream “LALALALA!” but I can assure you, it is happening. It will always happen. Ignoring it doesn’t make it disappear. We don’t want to have those uncomfortable conversations with our daughters about sex or about birth control because having that conversation, we fear, might make it so. It might encourage her to sneak away in the dead of night to do god knows what. But these conversations are important and planning for if/when she decides to become sexually active is even more important. Studies even show that having conversations about sex delays teen sex and keeps them safer. We are doing them a disservice by perpetuating the myth that if they have sex, they are being bad or doing something wrong. It is the responsible thing to do to prepare them for that road so that they are confident, assured, and with high levels of self-esteem so they don’t feel ashamed about their bodies or their choices.
They keep chipping away at the rights of women because the thought of us owning our sexuality scares them. Planned Parenthood has seen drastic cuts and closings so critical access that has helped many has become difficult, the Supreme Court ruled against the 35 foot buffer zone at abortion clinics, and we are already seeing the effects of the Hobby Lobby decision. More than 70 other companies followed suit and are trying to drop coverage of contraceptives. It is commonplace to treat women with overtones of misogyny that is despicable and the growing number of rulings and laws that seem to scream at women that they are less than and that their health doesn’t matter because they are just “common sluts, anyway, pay for your own damn whorepill” will continue to shape the way our girls view themselves and how society views them as well.
When are we going to stop sex shaming women? When will it be okay for us to take control of our reproductive health without sarcastic/shamey comments? When will we all be able to collectively agree that reproductive health and the medications that go along with it are a basic right?