I’m just trying to read my Sunday Times.
But it’s impossible to avoid news coverage on contraception and the ongoing battle of wills and words over health insurance, abortion, personhood, and related subjects.
For most of the women I know over the age of 40, and of course for me as well, it’s a strangely anachronistic (outlandish?) debate.
For one thing, the premise of not covering contraception is akin to punishing women for their sexuality. And it’s illogical. If men abstained from sex, women would have no need of contraception.
There! Problem solved!
Don’t care for that approach? Better to specify that men should abstain from sex outside of marriage? Of course, we know that won’t fly… Besides, even within marriage, putting the kibosh on contraception might mean more children born into families where it’s difficult to make ends meet as it is.
Then again, my mind wanders to the LBP (Little Blue Pill) which hasn’t been around as long as the LBD (Little Black Dress) yet, it’s certainly made its mark! Viagra has been available for some 14 years, and best I recall that’s purely about personal pleasure (not procreation), unless of course the man in question is on his second or third (younger) wife.
Slut, By Any Other Name
Silly me. I thought women (and families) made a few strides 30+ years ago.
Yes, it was a time of many mistakes (of course), but also legitimate progress for women when it comes to eradicating hypocritical sexual standards. Then again, apparently we’ve only driven them underground, and occasionally words like “slut” pop up – surprise, surprise – in the strangest places!
Dare I digress slightly to that recent mention which may rival J Lo’s wardrobe malfunction for media attention? Apparently a woman is promiscuous if she engages in sexual acts prior to or outside of the institution of marriage. (I seem to have dropped through a wormhole in time, and find myself in the 1950s!)
As for those who are against abortion, may I remind them that no one likes abortion, and that contraception, while not 100% reliable (hello, human error?), nonetheless reduces the likelihood of conceiving, in or out of marriage?
Walk the Talk?
I rarely speak plainly on such blatant political issues, and I find myself wondering why women in their reproductive prime aren’t as outraged by this state of affairs as those of us who are no longer looking to bring children into the world.
Why are we still politicizing a woman’s body? Why are middle-aged and old men most likely to do so? Aren’t they the very ones who feel free to play as they will, not pay for the thrill, and only fess up when caught with their pants down?
And the belief that human sexuality is for reproductive purposes only – as espoused by Mr. Santorum?
Must we list all the politicos whose philandering is legendary – and on both sides of the party divide?
Viagra, Contraception, State Insurance
As to contraception being covered by health insurance, how does it make sense that Viagra – which is purely about a man’s pleasure into his older years – be covered? And it has been, virtually from the beginning. Yet that’s not the case for contraception, which would reduce the likelihood of the newly reinvigorated older man impregnating the (younger?) woman he’s in bed with. (A reasonable assumption at least some of the time, or why else would he bother with Viagra?)
May I quote from an old ABC News article (2002)?
Within weeks of hitting the U.S. market in 1998, more than half of Viagra prescriptions received health insurance coverage. If many women weren’t already outraged that they had to pay for birth control out of pocket, they were infuriated at the preference given to the anti-impotence pills.
The article goes on to state that 20 states allowed women to receive health insurance coverage for the pill. That was 10 years ago.
And why is health care managed at the state level again? (While we’re at it, the same question goes for family law – marriage and divorce. Oh right. We’d have to dismantle the associated monster insurance and divorce industries. My bad!)
Our Bodies (Not Ourselves)
Returning to my preoccupation with, well, last I checked… my body and my health… may I ask – Why is male “pleasure science” essentially government-subsidized but female reproductive rights are continually threatened? How can those spouting religion and The Constitution in the same breath not recall a little notion known as separation of church and state? Why isn’t this common sense?
From that same article, 10 years ago:
But today, a congressional subcommittee is taking up a bill that would fill what women’s groups say is a gaping hole in birth control coverage by requiring plans that fall under federal law to reimburse for contraception.
Although the bill has been introduced for several years in a row without being passed, women’s rights activists are more optimistic this time around.
How is it possible that we’re still on this merry-go-round? Apparently, no one should have been optimistic a decade ago.
More (Weird?) News
And in case you’re wondering, currently, according to research I just saw, insurance covers contraception in 26 states. And I won’t even mention the issue of all the uninsured Americans without access to affordable health care to deal with contraception or anything else.
Care for another amusing (nauseating) resource? Recall this little item from 2008, on Crooks and Liars, and an assertion that impotence is a “medical condition” (thus Viagra is covered by insurance), while birth control is a “lifestyle choice?”
Go figure. But doesn’t it take two to tango, unless the Viagra-va-va-voom is “handled” solely by the gentleman?
And yes indeed, the aforementioned discussion was during an election year as well. Quelle coincidence!
Responsible Adults Enjoy Sex – Responsibly
Listen. I’m all for adults being responsible and honorable. I’m all for committed relationships, and for those who choose it (with their eyes open) – marriage.
I’m concerned that teenagers seem to be doing a better job at condom usage than their parents, or for that matter – their grandparents – and we all know that condom usage is protection against STDs as well as pregnancy.
As for the embryonic personhood debates, may I say that I’m baffled? Are we headed toward attributing personhood to every egg in a woman’s womb? Oh wait! We’re doing exactly that – or nearly. And we’re almost doing so in equitable fashion.
No, we’re not exactly subjecting men to a sperm count and keeping records of those particular comings and goings, but it seems we are attempting to prohibit semen destruction.
Whew! That makes me feel better. Equality! But you’d better watch out, you Semen Assassins!
Oh dear. That rules out self-pleasuring for the guys, not to mention All Good Wives must be wary of their willingness to engage in just “any” amorous absorption or concupiscent consumption!
Think I’m kidding? I quote, from the referenced news item:
It [Oklahoma proposed legislation] read in part: “However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.”
Yikes! And we would enforce that how, exactly? And would this apply to condoms which help fight against disease? Is this a whole new barrier to entry for creative marketers of various personal products?
Allow me to clarify. (Thank you, kind reader.) The bill introduced was:
merely trying to prove the point that radical right wing religious extremists who think The Handmaid’s Tale is an instruction manual are crazy and out of control.
And isn’t that exactly where all this is heading?
Serious Issues for Serious People
On the one hand we admit that sexuality is healthy for both men and women – a vital element of a full life for most of us. We nonetheless continue to hold a woman’s reproductive rights hostage, in effect, perpetuating the double standard.
Moreover, we have far more important issues that need our collective attention – like caring for those children who are alive and in need, like doing something about the 46 million Americans living in poverty, and any number of other challenges to do with our humanity as a nation.
It seems to me that the Founding Fathers would have benefited from a few mothers in the room at the time. We seem to have plenty of (masculine) mothers in the mix at the moment, but not of the right sort.
As to God – in whatever variation you believe, if you do – personally, I imagine that he or she would prioritize differently – concerned with the living in need of a decent life and a rational government.
Thankfully, there are many men who understand that an adult woman who owns her own body makes an excellent partner. This doesn’t mean we don’t value and appreciate our differences; rather, we admire, respect, and recognize them – without one sex trying to subjugate the other.