Monday, August 05, 2013

It's Only Natural! Or: Why Would You Take A Pill When You're Not Sick?

Recently one of my ex-students, someone I respect(ed) intellectually, linked to this, which, in case you don't want to click through, is an anti-choice propaganda piece in which an pro-choice woman, seeing that it's a really true baby in there being torn to pieces for shits and giggles, coverts on the spot.

Though I have learned better than to argue on FB, I objected, pointing out the errors in the post; a lively debate ensued; very quickly one of his friends called me "angry" and wanted to know how long I had been taking "that pill"  She went onto say that the pill "causes cancer and is a known abortifacient. Are you happy about that?"

And here, of course, is where the radical anti-choice crowd always tip their hand.

They pretend it all about the babies (by which they mean the fetuses and zygotes, in fact) but in fact, as they show by quickly reverting to their core belief -- which is forced pregnancy for women -- this fuss about babies is only a ruse.

Their real goal is reactionary, as Marcotte, over at Pandagon, argues in this post.

That is, previous to the woman's liberation movement, men had a secure source of inferiors, right there in his home, and everywhere around him.  Women were always right there, to be subservient.

He knew they were inferior, because everything showed him that -- they were smaller, they were weaker, they were always pregnant and burdened with children, he could beat them up whenever he liked -- and further, his religion and his culture told him they were his inferior. Plus, thanks to all that child-bearing, they kept dying on him.  And, thanks to the laws he had written, all the money they made belonged to him.  

But then women fought for changes in the laws, and some of them worked to create these medicines, and now what's happened?  They've changed the world!  They don't have to have ten or fifteen babies!  They can get educated and get jobs!  Lots of them have decided to start ignoring the priests and not do Natural Family planning!  Lots of them don't believe the Mens who tell them Natural Family Planning actually works!  (Spoilers: It doesn't.) 

Instead, they decide to use IUDs and take that evil pill (which does not in fact cause cancer or kill babies). 

Why would women do such a thing?

And why does it make (some men) so angry?

That's the real question, and in fact it's not so hard to answer, is it?

And let's be clear about just why it is important that women have access to contraception and be allowed to choose when and if to bear children.

A woman who can't control her fertility can't choose to get educated.  For those of you who have never been a mother, I'll just make this clear: a child takes all of your time.  A child needs every bit of every hour of your time.  That's every hour of every day and every night.  Two kids need 48 hours of your 24 hours.  And so on.

If you're lucky enough to have an extended family around you (I wasn't), which is the way humans are meant to raise kids (see Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, a book I cannot recommend highly enough) this work of raising a child, and it is work, dear reader, it is the hardest work you will ever do, however much you may love your child, and I love mine more than anything, but don't fool yourself about what you're getting into, it's work.  With an extended family around you, the work will be a bit easier, but it's still work.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  With contraception, women can control their fertility.  We can decide when and if we have children.  This allowed me to put off having kids until I had finished my PhD.  This allows women to keep their families to one or two or three children, so that they can get jobs, or get degrees.  This allows (many) women not to have children at all, so that they can have the lives they want to have -- be scientists, be marathon runners, be linguists, be writers.

Why would this upset (some) men so much?

Well, it's because women are not supposed to be people, isn't it?

We're supposed to be servants.  We're supposed to be there to help men be people.

Oh, sure, a few of us can break out of the ranks and be people -- Joan of Arc.  Mother Theresa.  What's her name, that scientist who helped her husband be a person.

But most of us girls are happy being servants.  Right?

Anyway that's what these guys keep telling each other.

To a certain kind of person -- usually male -- losing these subservient ranks is very disturbing.  Virginia Woolf, I think it was, said it was because these men counted on the woman to reflect him, to be his mirror, to constantly tell him he was twice as big as he actually was, and if he lost that -- if he had to see himself as he actually was, just a regular human being, not that smart, not that brilliant, not that tough or special...just fucking mortal...well, how could he bear it?

Maybe that's it.

But you know what?

It's 2013.  Time to grow up, fellas.

We don't have time to wipe your bottoms anymore.

We've got work to do.


Anonymous said...

That's the only explanation I can come up with too. Both in the 19th century and today. Nothing else makes sense.

Bardiac said...

As I understand it, the pill reduces ovarian cancer risks slightly. Not that I needed THAT reason to take it, but it's a good side-benefit. Along with the primary benefits.

Unknown said...

Yes, that's my understanding too, Bardiac -- far from causing cancer, many forms of birth control *reduce* the risk of getting cancers significantly.

And then (for comparison) we saw what happened when the vaccination for cervical cancer was approved. So we know that the anti-choicers don't, in fact, give a toss about preventing cancer in women.

Anonymous said...

These are the same people who were against anesthetics, and are still quite sure that if you take pain medication it means you're addicted.

Somebody, somewhere might be having a good time. Oh my! --L

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I just wanted to say that I have no idea what Clarissa was on about, unless maybe the autism got in the way of understanding some of your points. But you didn't deserve that. Not that I'm going to get into it over there.

Carry on . . .

delagar said...

Ah. I wasn't aware of the autism. Thanks, DEH.

But seriously, I'm not bothered. It just seemed a very odd reading, and as though she were angry about some issue that had nothing to do with anything I had written, though -- as I said -- I had no idea what that issue was.

Maybe just a misreading, then.

Radiant Sophia said...

I like this, but I need to say something. As an ex-pro-lifer, the anti-choice movement is composed overwhelmingly of women. That doesn't disagree with anything in particular you wrote, but your use of phrases like "why do (some) men..." suggests that it is men who are the driving force behind the movement. They are not. They are simply the ones who benefit.

delagar said...

Thanks for the correction, Sophia.

I don't have any experience from the inside of the Pro-Life movement, obviously!