Feminism. It's a buzzword that I first really delved into last semester while taking a course on gender and communication. The issue that bothered me towards the end of the semester was that modern feminism is often associated with the pro-choice movement, access to 'safe and healthy' abortions and access to contraception. Because I understood the term feminism to mean equality between men and women, I found that incredibly ironic and infuriating. I am anti-abortion, pro-life and anti-contraception. And I don't think you can be a feminist and be for any of those issues. Here are five reasons why you cannot be a feminist and be pro-contraception.
01. All on the woman
Feminism strives for equality between men and women in all areas of life. This could manifest itself in the fight for equal pay for equal work, but in the sexual lives of feminists, contraception has squished any chances for equality. When a woman is on the pill, or any other form of oral or surgical contraceptive, she is responsible. It is up to her to make sure she takes the pill daily or schedules doctor appointments to install or maintain an internal contraceptive. Meanwhile, men are not filling prescriptions for contraception, and are instead reaping the benefits of contraceptive sex without an investment in a relationship.
Dr. John Littell, an OBGYN, wrote:
"But now, it saddens me to see the effects of the Pill at play in unsuspecting lives. How often have I seen one patient after another frustrated by what has come to be viewed as a "necessary evil" for all women, if they ever hope to be a good wife, a good girlfriend, a good sexual partner. What is so "liberating" or "empowering" about feeling miserable, depressed, increasing one's risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, blood clots, strokes, and heart disease, while the male partner has not a worry in the world?"
The answer to these issues is not to simply have men fill prescriptions for male contraceptives. Rather, a form of family planning that requires the effort of both men and women is the ideal solution. In this way, both partners can know the health life of the other better and work towards a common goal side by side. The family planning method that has proven to be successful in this area is Natural Family Planning. The man and woman chart the woman's fertility together, and the man becomes hyper-aware of the inner workings of the woman's fertility system. In this way, the shared goal of achieving or avoiding conception bonds the couple together, instead of having one or the other feel the weight of the responsibility.
02. Health risks
Feminism should never support something that harms the health of women. This is why we should fight against the brutality and objectification of social problems such as pornography, sexual trafficking, and female genital mutilation. However, we can add contraception to that list of issues considered normal in society that actually do great harm to women.
Take for instance The Pill. The small, white pill contains the side effects of vision impairment, yeast infections, blood clots, increased risk of strokes, increased chances of breast and ovarian cancer, mood swings and depression. Any of these side effects alone are alarming, but the problem is that any woman who takes an oral contraceptive is at risk for all of them. The reason for this secrecy around the actual effects of the pill on women's health is that pregnancy is considered a larger threat to a woman's life than the issue that the doctor prescribed the contraceptive in the first place. So while a woman suffers from a higher risk of strokes and cancer, doctors see the benefits of her low risk of pregnancy as a greater good.
03. Freedom from Oppression
Oppression results when there is a lack of choices. When it comes to feminism, the desire for freedom has manifested itself in many ways. The right to have a voice and choice in the political system through the suffrage movement was the first way feminism strove against oppression of women.
However, in terms of their sexual lives, women's health is oppressed by the lack of choices that are presented to them in the average medical care center. In today's medical offices, women's health issues are quickly fixed with a contraception prescription. In the visits that I have made to the doctor's office for issues such as acne, sever PMS cramping, and fainting spells, each time has resulted in another effort of a doctor or nurse to prescribe the pill. This leaves women feeling like the only choice they have in terms of answers to their health problems is contraception. This is oppressive - a lack of choice - since women are not only denied informed about the health risks of contraception, but also denied a conversation about the multitude of answers that could range from vitamin supplements and diet changes to fertility charting and NaPro technology .
Additionally, long-term prescriptions on contraceptives can ruin a woman's fertility. Without the ability to conceive children, simply because one has synthetically tricked one's body into thinking they were pregnant for so long that conception isn't possible. This lack of choice in terms of conceiving a child ruins the pill for being pro-woman, and places it into a category of oppressive medication that fuels the anti-women and objectifying state of today's culture.
04. Natural is Better
In a world where we strive to leave less of a carbon footprint by driving fuel efficient, cars, cleaning with non-chemical cleaning supplies and eating organic, we are still stuffing women's bodies full of unhealthy chemicals simply for the convenience of sex-on-demand without the results of a pregnancy.
Essentially, when a woman takes birth control pills, she imposes synthetic hormones onto her fertility cycle which is most of the time simply naturally doing what is supposed to do. Birth control contains estrogen levels. This hormone tells a woman's pituitary gland that she is pregnant - which explains a multitude of the side effects of the pill. Fatigue, nausea, migraines, and general soreness are all experienced by naturally pregnant women. In the case of women on contraceptives, their body is chemically pregnant but without any of the natural good effects of an actual pregnancy.
05. Future Women
Although many will lean on the radical feminist and pro-choice view of "my body, my choice," it turns out that the body of a conceived child is not a woman's body to oppress. Women have seen oppression in their political, active and sexual lives in the past, they cannot continue the vicious cycle of oppression (lack of choice) when it comes to the next generation of women.
If all humans, regardless of their sex, have the right to a choice, what about the choices of the unborn child in the womb? If the unborn baby is a girl, her chances of dying from abortion are steadily climbing. The contraceptive mentality towards women (in or out of the womb) is the reason for gender-decided infanticide. For instance, in China, partially due to the one child policy, there are now 120-140 boys for every 100 girls despite the governmental ban on sex-based abortions. And it's not just China. In 2014, The Daily Mail ran a story that claimed women are disappearing on the national census due to sex-based abortion. They wrote,
"Official figures suggest as many as 4,700 females have disappeared from the latest national census records of England and Wales, raising fears that it indicates the illegal practice of sex-selection abortion has become prevalent in the UK."
Contraception, and the resulting abortions upon failed contraceptives, are killing women. Literally. Both mother and their unborn children are suffering greatly from the effects of objectification of women in what Pope Francis has labeled the 'throw-away culture' and what Pope John Paul II talked about when he mentions a cycle of use due to viewing people as things.
No person who claims to be pro-woman and defines themselves with the label of feminism should be pro-contraception.