Contraception. Personhood. Let Me Say This… About That.

I’m just trying to read my Sunday Times.

And enjoy perusing my fave Must-See sites.

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 ofthe 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?

Seriously?

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? 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.

 

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Comments

  1. I am trying to understand both sides of this issue but the only thing I can see is ignorance and ridiculous religious notions. Most of the religious people against contraception are also rabid anti-Planned Parenthood and all things abortion. I have nothing against religion, yet it is the religious right that is fueling this debate. They cannot see the illogical fallacies they are fighting for. We can’t have contraception, it inhibits babies! But we can’t have abortion, because it kills babies! So we advocate that people not have sex because clearly that’s our business.

    I feel like I am foaming at my mouth right now because the absurdity of this argument! And the archaic notions that fuel it! Like you said, it seems this fight was won long ago by you and other blessed pioneers in feminism yet there are forces that refuse to let it go. I believe that fuel fears them. As if they are thinking, if we let go of this one last tenuous hold on women and femininity we will lose all control on women. Or maybe this is their last ditch attempt to gain control once again? I don’t know but it has me furious.

    More than that, I have seen women come out FOR this legislation and support the slut thinking of the Limbaugh-ites. Women are our worst enemies.

  2. Karen R. says:

    Actually, the Oklahoma proposed legislation was a protest against the personhood bills.

    Otherwise, yeah….

  3. “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.”

    Psst. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been breaking the law since I was 11 years old. Of course, at that age I was known as a cereal killer.

    Rush Limbaugh represents a wake-up call for our society to get a hold of its sexuality. No wait! To get a grip on the issue. No! To seize the initiative! *slaps forehead* Oh my God, I give up!!!

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Mr. Belle, I am trying to wipe the smirk off my face… And as Karen R was right to point out (now clarified in my rant), that particular proposed bill was to exemplify how absurd everything becomes when the government attempts to dictate what we can and can’t do with our sexual/reproductive systems.

  4. Best I’ve read on this subject so far. I’m not so sure that any of this debate is about contraception but more about an abnormal fixation on what others do in the privacy of their own bedroom.

    Rick Santorum doesn’t believe that sexual pleasure is a right given us under the constitution. He wants to legislate what is and isn’t allowed in the sex lives of all of us. As Bill Maher said, the man thinks life begins at “erection” and wants to tell men and women both how to best put that erection to use.

    As for Rush, once again it is about sex, not contraception. If it were about contraception he would not have turned it into a tirade about the poor woman’s character. His offer to watch videos should she make any gives him away.

    They are all dirty, old men who aren’t getting any and as a result don’t want anyone else to either.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      All of my word play aside, Cathy, the bottom line is that the issue of women’s health is what is on the table, and always was, in Sandra Fluke’s testimony (which was initially disallowed by the male panel). And what is most astonishing (as Rachel Maddow pointed out) is that Limbaugh (and Romney?) don’t seem to understand how certain forms of contraception work, ie the Pill, regulating hormones, and taken once daily. Limbaugh seems to think you pop a birth control pill each time you have sex. Huh. And Ms. Fluke’s testimony was about a friend who was unable to afford and access contraceptives prescribed for medical reasons, and she ultimately lost an ovary as a result.

      A health issue. Not one of morality, but morality and sexuality dragged into it. Still. And how is it that the men who take this route in their political diatribe keep forgetting that even if they are addressing the birth control aspects, this also affects married women? And there is no issue if the men aren’t having sex?

      It all seems absurd.

      As for the issue of “opting out” (which was also the point – the fact that insurers should not be able to “opt out” of coverage for certain things) – what if we said it was okay to pick and choose? Opt out of covering circumcisions on new baby boys? Or opt out of picking up the tab for prostate cancer screening?

  5. Great piece. Everytime I think about these old f**ers in Washington I have to go to my happy place. The animosity they apparently feel against women kills me!
    It makes me wonder If they call us ‘the bleeders’ behind our backs. Sharing on fb.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Pennie. What concerns me is not only how many of these… gentlemen… are in Washington, but how many others are among us, would never use purposely inflammatory language, but who nonetheless still hold these beliefs, or something close.

      And what about the women who are equally judgmental of other women’s reproductive choices? And the broader (real) issues of women’s health?

      On a related note, one of my readers who is a very thoughtful and provocative writer is fond of saying he is “pro-choice and anti-abortion.” Any discussion around a woman’s reproductive concerns is likely to incite some, but it is rarely black and white, which is why sweeping decisions (made by men?) are nonsensical. And this latest (un)civil discourse, even more so.

      Can anyone say “elephant in the room?”

  6. I do remember being outraged that Viagra was so quickly covered by insurance. Inequality, much?

  7. I want this on a bumper sticker: “It seems to me that the Founding Fathers would have benefited from a few mothers in the room at the time.”
    Brava, well said, couldn’t agree more!

  8. April, that is great! This is a fantastic piece, spot-on. I’m sharing, too.

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