A local columnist, in her a recent article, in the Omaha World Herald states: "I really believe that if we, as women, treat our bodies like big, gross secrets, we make it easy for men to treat us like big, gross, mysterious liabilities." I am not really sure how the detailing of the various physical difficulties women may suffer will prove that our bodies are not liabilities. Isn't it a rather pathetic way of saying, "look what a liability my body is.... which is why we women need to have free access to chemicals and procedures that will suppress or remove this liability?" In the blink of an eye, we are distracted from constitutional issues, and again buying the lie that health care for women is birth-control, and men (non "delightful" "open- minded" men) are standing in the way of it.
Please, most men were sold on the need for the Pill because it meant sex without babies, which is still the main reason the Pill is used. It's just really nice for them to be able to look like delightful, open minded men when they also claim that in order for women to progress in "equality" they need unrestricted, unquestioned access to the "health care" the Pill provides. They neither need nor want all the details.
My question is: if the progress of women in society cannot take place without suppressing normal body functions, maybe we should ask ourselves where are we progressing to? And, doesn't that ratify the notion that our bodies are liabilities?
This column took issue with Rush Limbaugh's crass comments about 30 year old student/activist Sandra Fluke's testimony before a bunch of politicians. Ms. Fluke testified that she is financially oppressed in having to shell out $1,000 a year (or $3,000 over the course of her studies) as a student of the Catholic university, Georgetown. The columnist dismissed the comment as ignorance about how the birth control pill works. In fact, Limbaugh's comments were based on the egregiously high dollar amount that Ms. Fluke gave for the cost of her contraceptive prescription. Maybe he should have more directly questioned if she knew how they worked, I mean how many pills are you taking a day if you are spending that much money? Because the numbers do not add up when you look at the price of contraceptives offered at places like Target and other pharmacies, not even if you factor in a physician's examination.
Most importantly, Mr. Limbaugh is right to question the necessity of forcing a Catholic institution to pay for contraceptives for reasons of a lifestyle choice. And that is why most women use these pills, so they can have sex without babies. Moreover, this HHS contraceptive mandate it not about women's health at all, it's about control and power. We women should be smarter than this. We should not allow our bodies to be used as a power grab for the government.
Since we are so easily diverted from the issue of governmental tyranny, lets lay it out on the table: Is free access to birth control pills the best way to love and honer the women in your life? Does it increase our knowledge, respect and compassion for women and their health, or does it sow false fear and false compassion? Is the widespread use of a chemical, considered a Group 1 carcinogen, as the go to treatment for so many of a women's reproductive health problems worth giving up some constitutional rights for?
Yes, some women use birth control pills because of health issues, serious ones like poly cystic ovary syndrome. Even here, the blanket use of birth control pill is a disservice to the women suffering with this debilitating disease. She needs targeted hormonal therapy, natural hormones that will preserve the health of her entire body and soul.
If anything, the Pill has stalled advances in women's health because the Pill can suppress many symptoms of reproductive disorders, and allows women to be less attentive to subtly nuances in their cycles that can help alert them early to serious health issues. The above link is to a Pope Paul VI website on fertility care, there are wonderful things happening in Dr. Hilgers' clinic and research facilities. Here, a women's body is definitely not seen as a gross liability. Check it out.
As far as the major use of the Pill, which IS for contraception and not the other reasons that are so emphasized, there are problems here as well. It will not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, which are a terrible epidemic in some areas, and which are far more devastating to a woman's body. There are also many other documented problems with the Pill.
The cultural damage it has done has been devastating. Divorce, single motherhood, fatherless children (why, because the Pill encourages risky behavior, and it is not 100% effective), and of course, when the Pill does not work, abortion is a "solution", Planned Parenthood banks on it. Men are so taken in by a contraceptive culture that they assume that infertility is the default setting of intercourse. Does this make them more "delightful", or "open minded" (qualities of men who the columnist feels are very worth while)? Are these men that you can rely on for strength when you are facing a crises?
There are men out there who know about their wives cycles intimately. These men practice Natural Family Planning with their wives. These men are more than merely "delightful, open minded men", they are courageous and committed. They value their wives in their integrity, mind body and soul. These men appreciate the gift of a women's fertility and would not seek to suppress it's natural function through a artificial, environmentally destructive, libido suppressing carcinogen (the Pill). If intercourse results in a scary pregnancy (all methods to regulate birth have failure rates), they have the strength and fidelity to man up and protect and provide, which I do not see as patriarchal or oppressive, but as necessary if women want to be truly free in their marriages and society. Yes, this demands more of them, but it also deepens his commitment and compassion to his spouse, and vice versa. They are real partners.
Fear of fertility is also a real cultural issue as well, fear is an pathway for oppression. So, while it may seem that taking the Pill is a way to relieve this fear, it really only weakens the virtues of fidelity and courage. We see the material things of this world as our way to freedom and security, anything that interferes with that is our enemy. Contraception pits women against their fertility, but, , a woman's body is not her enemy; her body is not a liability!!
Are we truly a more compassionate culture with birth control already, so readily (and cheaply) available. Why should men bother with the every day happenings in a women's cycle when the Pill means even the women can worry less. In many ways the birth control pill have made all of us more ignorant, and it seems that we are happy to be so. So, "delightful, open minded" men, who accept the premise that women ought to be able to see their bodies as an enemy that should be manipulated and controlled are not really what we need. This type of complacent compassion underwhelms me, and will devastate our country.
How about an honest discussion that has more depth than complaining about our bodies and our cycles to men (you know, as a way to let them know that our bodies are not liabilities ~ really, does that make sense?). Lets discuss how Misogyny masquerades as women's health and how women's rights are connected to barrenness. Lets talk about how how men no longer have to be respectful and watch how they speak about women ~ well, "delightful, open-minded men" don't anyway, men who agree that a women's fertility is a liability.
Misogyny will not go away if women are forever de-feminizing themselves, or throwing their body function and sexuality out for vapid and vulgar public discourse. We cannot continue to be arbitrarily outraged by some men, but not others who speak appallingly about women; inconsistently demanding respect for only certain kinds of women; not you Bachmen or Palin, you are clearly enslaved to your biology!
Lets discuss what women's health care could look like if we stop treating out healthy, functioning bodies as liabilities that prevent us from fully using our intellects, our sexuality, and even prevent us from being a better person, (you know, we get cranky at certain times of the month, the Pill helps that too!) What if we demanded better, more targeted treatments of disorders of the female reproductive system, rather than dismantling or hormonally altering it?
Oh, and there are some very intelligent women speaking on this issue: Try Elizabeth Scalia's blog, The Anchoress, or read Dr. Janet Smith, Kathryn Jean Lopez, or Jennifer Fulwiler . Watch this articulate women, Gloria Purvis, speak on this issue:
Read this poem, posted on the Patheos blog, called The Myth of Sex: Sex and Christianity, by Tim Muldoon. Here is one powerful stanza.
"Fertility becomes the enemy of their lust for power. Instead of learning compassion they learned more and more how to subdue their fertility. And when their fertility was fruitful, they killed the children they conceived."Really, read it, the whole thing!
Finally, and more importantly, the crux of the political issue is not birth control at all, it is about power. It is about expanding the power of the federal government. They get to determine what is a ministry of a religious institution, not he institution itself. They get to determine what will or will not violate the conscience of employers who hold to certain unalterable teachings of their faith. So, not only are women demeaned by capitulating to the idea that we must control and subdue out femininity because it is a liability to our full participation in society. We women are also being used and manipulated by this administration to grab more power than should ever be granted in a nation that values the freedom.
Photos taken by Catherine Tardeiu Schroeder
at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally/OmahaMarch 24th 2012