Every day, I get madder and madder. If the War on Women doesn’t stop soon, there will be hell to pay (and I’m sure it will be me who does the paying!).
If Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke is a slut for speaking to a Congressional committee about the need for insurers to continue covering the cost of birth control pills, then we're all sluts. Each and every woman. Married. Single. Celibate. Half dead. Any woman who has had sex, wanted to have sex or was born as a result of someone else having sex, is a slut, in the mind of people like Rush Limbaugh. (Of course, you notice women are demonized, not men!)
An early adapter to The Pill in 1963, I remember how uncomfortable I was asking Planned Parenthood for a prescription for birth control, even though I was a married woman. At the time, I don't think you could get it anywhere else and, besides, I didn't have health insurance or a primary care physician. I was just so embarrassed, so sure the truth was written all over my face: Here is a young woman who just wants to have sex with her young husband. The elderly doctor who examined me could not have been less threatening, but still…
I was 19, newly married and half way through college. My then-husband was 21, occasionally marginally employed but mostly hanging on to sanity by a loose thread. Bring a baby into this picture? No way. I wasn’t too smart in those days, but at least I knew enough to keep another human being out of harm’s way.
Some of the circumstances may have been different, but the end product of my situation was the same as it is for millions of US women today. I was young, poor, uninsured and under educated in the art of taking care of myself and others. In other words, I was ripe for making an irreversibly lousy decision in the heat of perfectly normal human passion, one that could ruin at least three lives, or keep them living in poverty and misery for decades.
I thought those risks were behind us. Today, women have access to birth control (and so do men, if they are responsible partners), so no one is forced to worry about having babies they don't want or can't take care of. (They're not forced to use birth control, either, but that's another story.)
In 2012, I thought we were past arguments over the morality of having sex for reasons other than the production of offspring. (That argument would have to include the morality of bringing unwanted children into the world.) Over the years, birth control had become a staple in every young woman’s medicine cabinet, married or not, much to the delight of young men. Lucky for guys, for 50 years, women have been willing to take the risk for blood clots, stroke, cancer and other ugly things to keep both sexual partners free of the burden of parenthood. In my book, women deserve awards, not derision.
But no, this year something happened: Obama. In a desperate effort to prevent the re-election of this country’s first (but not last) black president, the right wing pulled a tired old rabbit out of a beat up old hat it must have found in a dirty attic.
Suddenly, contraception is sinful! Nay, evil! And, all women – past, present or future – who protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy are sluts. No exceptions!
Frankly, I’m more mad than shocked. Mad at the men who have nothing to say, and even madder at those with recurrent zipper problems who consider themselves free of responsibility for the consequences of sex. I'm mad at young women who don't take the time to read the newspaper or watch the news, which leaves them in the dark about proposals that can devastate their plans for the future. I'm mad at the women past child-bearing years who must have lost their bearings, if not their minds, to go along with this crap. And, mad at religious hypocrites with no tolerance for anyone who disagrees with them, especially old men who protect a church rife with sexual molestation and abuse. In a New York minute, some have taken the heat off their own church’s offenses and put it on ALL WOMEN of child bearing age. ( And, I thought it took two to have sex. Silly me.) Amazing!
Look around you. Look at the television shows you love to watch—Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Two and a Half Men. How would any of these scripts hold up without the implicit use of birth control as part of the foundation of story lines?
Listen to the music you and your kids listen to, and the videos that go along with the hits. What’s the predominate message? Sex is great. Any mention of babies?
Look at the teetering economy. Q: Where are the new jobs? A: In industries dominated by female workers—healthcare, hospitality, back office.
Are men dying to work in nursing homes and change hotel sheets? Did I miss something here?
Pull women out of the workforce, and you pull the bottom out of a wobbly economy. Not only will women not be there to provide important services, they will not have paychecks to pour back into the economy for household items, clothes and other things women like to buy when they have money.
Do men really want women to give up a chance for an education to stay home and raise the babies? Tell that to the women who make up more than half of the student body in US medical and law schools.
Get real! The US economy would collapse without female participation, since they now make up more than half the workforce (see the recent Time Magazine cover story).
I never realized how many men there must be who want more mouths to feed. Before you vote against access to birth control, read current law regarding parental responsibility, because it may have changed somewhat from the early 19th century. Paternity=responsibility, married to a child's mother or not.
Then, imagine what will happen to the average family when it goes from two paychecks to one, and at the same time increases from 1-2 children to God-knows-how-many.
How will men make up that lost paycheck? Are they ready to work two or three jobs? Will they willingly give up their Harleys, fishing boats, snowmobiles, pick-ups and other toys in order to cover the cost of health insurance and sneakers and other expenses that go hand in hand with raising children? That’s what it would take, have no mistake.
We’re not even talking about illicit or marginally illegal sex here which, more and more, is glorified by media as a God-given right to any “player“ with the desire and means to participate. Think Las Vegas, Phuket, almost anyplace where prostitution is accepted. Sorry, fellas, babies are babies and you’ll still be responsible, no matter how superficial your relationship with the mom.
No birth control, remember? In case you don’t understand, guys, that goes for you, too – no condoms, no vasectomies and certainly no Viagra for unmarried men.
If the GOP succeeds at eliminating birth control, will it go under cover (pardon the pun)?
Why should women who protect themselves from pregnancy be called sluts by the pious right wing? In fact, they should be praised for being responsible adults, which is obvious to anyone who spends more than a few seconds thinking about the consequences of state and federal laws proposed to limit women’s access to birth control. Women who plan pregnancies (or no pregnancies) should be honored with awards and statues for having the social conscience and common sense to not bring unwanted children into the world.
For those who see all babies as God's cuddly, irresistible little angels, I can tell you -- as an unplanned, unwanted child -- that a woman does no one any favors by getting pregnant by accident. I probably was luckier than most but still carry the legacy of my mother's so-called mistake.
PS: I’ll go any place, any time to add my feet to the march to protect all women the way I was protected. Just say the word.
Son of "Beware of sluts"
Birds on a Wire Blog
A life without contraception
Dr. Jen Gunter, Wielding the Lasso of Truth
No Retreat: 101 Assaults in the War on Women
Hat tip to Birds reader nancydrewed for recommending the two pieces above.