20 March 2006

now that Roe is almost defeated...

let's move the fight to birth control!

I've written here about the accessibility of birth control in the UK, where it's free and easily available by going to a clinic (for free) and asking for it. even if you're 16. and I noted how this would change the equation in the US were it to be the case, where it is undoubtedly not, and even wealthy folks like myself have to make sure to have multiple prescriptions on hand in order to make sure i don't have a gap in the pill--some insurance companies only allow you one month at a time, which is ludicrous, and if you, say, go traveling for 40 days, you have to get special dispensation from the higher-ups at the insurance company to get an extra month. because low doses of estrogen are so popular with the kids these days. and then there are the pharmacists who refuse to prescribe the pill. so it's not in any way easily accessible in the US, and that doesn't even include the prohibitive prices.

so it is with some horror that I read Priya Jain's article about the anti-contraception movement, a collecton of still somewhat out of the mainstream groups who are fighting to ban contraception. or more specifically, as the article cogently argues, they are fighting to impose their idea of what a proper, healthy, moral lifestyle is on the rest of us. they argue that contraception is bad for your body, it ruins your marriage, it is morally wrong. some of this might be coming from the Catholics, sure, but it seems to be a bit more widespread than that.

rather than re-hashing the article, which you can read yourselves, I'll just pull out two things:

it correctly and helpfully pinpoints part of the convoluted rhetoric of these groups, where they lay claim to be fighting for women's rights: men force the pill on women, who then (supposedly) have a lowered sex drive and are "forced" to have sex, thus we are liberating women from oppression by banning contraception. the article quotes Chris Berlet who calls this "faux feminist rhetoric"--first of all, alliteration. love it. second of all, yes! This is exactly it. the article goes on to talk about the appeal of pre-20th century gender relations, where women were protected by manly men. Now, while the article doesn't go into this, the mythical historical past which these groups call up, in which we are all happily members of a family with a mom and a dad, never really existed, not for everyone and certainly not for all classes--not to mention the extended family groupings that helped to shelter single women and their children. faux feminism that leads to patriarchy. love it.

number two: toward the end of the piece, Jain quotes Martha Kempner of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States:
Kempner thinks that, in the face of the anti-birth-control movement and Web sites like NRFC, the pro-choice side has to have "as many, if not more, places where [people] can get real information. And we have to teach critical thinking skills -- one of the most important things a comprehensive sexuality education can do is teach you how to look at information and understand what makes it scientific, what makes it biased, and what makes it opinion."

critical thinking. critical reading. critical writing. sounds like my platform on the importance of the liberal arts. reading for faux feminism, convoluted arguments, and thinly veiled attempts to restrict family choices, women's choices, place limits on women's bodies, access to health care, and the rest (don't get me started on the third plank: anti-abortion, anti-contraception and, oh, anti-child care). they literally want us barefoot and pregnant. all the time.

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