We all know birth control was a catalyst for more women entering the work place. It’s increased our independence, given us greater command of our own bodies, and improved our sociopolitical standing. We know this.
We also know that the recent changes to the Affordable Care Act eliminate requirements that not only make birth control more accessible but also promote women’s health in general. We know this change will come as a blow to at least 62 million women who stand to lose access to their birth control, not to mention anyone with a functioning uterus as pregnancy may once again be considered a pre-existing condition. We know there’s been a stay of execution, so to speak, with a nationwide preliminary injunction filed two days ago to keep the administrative changes from going into effect.
We know all of this. Right? Major media outlets have all but ignored the issue, as they often do. And we know what – or rather, who – else they ignore, don’t we?
Come on. You know this one.
Women. The answer is women.
Women’s voices, to be precise. For example, there’s one group of women who should be part of this conversation but never are. These are the women who probably know the most about pregnancy, birth, children’s health, family planning, etc.
Most of the young mothers I know use some form of birth control. This number includes the traditional nuclear family types with the husband and the house and the dog and usually a side gig like an art studio or 15 hours with a local non-profit. They’ve built relatively comfortable lives for themselves with careful planning and responsible behavior. They are civic-minded and care about the future they are leaving for their children.
These women are rarely included in the conversations about birth control and women’s reproductive health, which is especially weird when you consider that they make up a statistically significant portion of the population. Instead, the focus is usually on some imaginary woman – the likes of whom I’ve never met – who screws around constantly and gets pregnant 14 times in a year. Supposedly, giving this woman birth control eliminates any need to regulate her urges. Thus, she spreads disease and sin throughout the land.
Where is this woman? Why have I never seen her? Could it be because she doesn’t exist?
Here’s an actual person who actually benefits from birth control: a 13-year-old girl who gets large, painful ovarian cysts that at times require surgery and leave her sterile. Yes, I am sure this is an actual person. It’s me. I was the 13-year-old girl with a prescription for a birth control pill, which I took for years to avoid these cysts – cysts that, left untreated, increased my risk of ovarian cancer.
I was no longer a teenager when Rush Limbaugh said women who use ACA birth control should be required to film themselves having sex so men could watch and “get something out of it”. I immediately thought of my bony 13-year-old body. When the comment aired, I had a niece around that same age. This violent sexualization of women and girls made me livid, and it made me gag. Apparently, the majority did not feel the same because he kept his show and many of his sponsors.
In fact, his show gets higher ratings than any other talk show in the United States. That’s the show hosted by the guy who’s biggest problem with feminism is that it gives “unattractive women easier access to mainstream society.”
I’d love to know which women he considers unattractive.
My point is, men like Limbaugh have no idea what they’re talking about. Literally. No idea. This guy’s been divorced three times, and his current wife publicly cheats on him to his irritation (according to the link, he still hopes to become a father through her). Dude clearly knows little about women or their bodies yet feels his opinion on all matters relating to the two are important enough to broadcast to the world.
That he publicly and shamelessly devalues human lives for the sake of attention is everything wrong with white male privilege. It’s the reason that term exists in the first place; there is no shortage of clueless meatheads running their mouths because it’s never occurred to them that they are not required to verbalize every thought that pops into their sausagy domes.
These are the people who think rolling back Affordable Care Act requirements regarding access to birth control and women’s health is a great idea. These are the people who believe it is morally and ethically right to police women’s bodies but not men’s bodies. (Erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra are still covered under the ACA, by the way.)
These are the people who don’t think women should have any say in the matter. The result is a backwards logic that actually hurts the people it’s supposed to protect: the traditional nuclear family.
Yes, Henrietta Housewife needs access to cancer screenings, birth control, mammograms, and reproductive health in general. She needs it just as much as the woman who’s going to get her career started before she even thinks about having kids. She needs it as much as the teenage girl who might have endometriosis.
This is the truth. We keep repeating it. Keep repeating it. Repeat it. Repeat it.
I’m ending on a call to action for women everywhere: whatever your thing is – music, art, marketing, etc. – make one of your projects about women’s rights and the danger of restricting half of our population’s access to health care.
Here’s a prompt: One-in-four mothers is raising her kid(s) solo. What happens to these kids when Mom gets sick?
If you want more inspiration, look for all-women events and activities. Keep an eye on women-owned businesses that support these events. Any place women gather is an opportunity to find ways to reclaim our rights and sociopolitical autonomy.
We can take action every day.