Talking About Birth Control and Abortion Doesn’t Make You a Slut

birth control pills 2For some reason, and no one intelligent knows why, far too many conservative men think that women talking about insured and covered birth control and available abortion means we are whores. Sluts. Loose women who cannot control our libidos.

The most obvious question is just who IS it all these loose women are screwing, anyway? Because clearly, it isn’t the men who are screaming the loudest about keeping us virgins or pregnant against our will. They might be a little… calmer if that were the case. It really can’t be those men because research shows that sex can actually make you smarter. And the men like Limbaugh, Huckabee, Ron Paul, Akin and countless others are not only not getting any smarter; they clearly wish to keep themselves and women as dumb as possible. Which can only be done if they keep calling us sluts and loose women and assuming that there is no way in which we are intelligent enough to make choices concerning how we care for our bodies and whether we are able or willing to care for a child.

And since available, accessible, affordable birth control reduces abortion one might think — if one were a sentient being — that that would be a good thing. But to too many men (and some women) it simply isn’t.

Birth control is bad. Abortion is worse. And women needing or wanting either of those are sluts, they reason.

The obvious inaccuracies that the men above keep shouting into the wind: The more sex you have, the more birth control pills you have to take; the pill is only for contraception and never used for other medical issues is another; rape can be “legitimate.” Yet men with even a smidgen of power operate by trying to shame women, which is bad enough, and trying to enact laws about birth control and abortion rights, which is even worse.

Second wave feminism coincided with the availability of the birth control pill for a reason: For the first time, women could control over how many children they had and when instead of being beholden to chance or luck or barrier methods which often failed. Roe v Wade, which made early abortions the law of the land in 1973, further helped women economically. Because it meant that they could further control their reproductive issues and could work and support themselves and their families. It also meant that illegal and back alley abortions (which killed hundreds of women and left many others scarred or infertile) would not happen.

In other words: birth control and abortion are not about who you f*ck and how many times you f*ck or even if you f*ck at all. They are about leveling the playing field a little more (equal pay would also help) so that women can be productive members of society and use their minds to the good of themselves and the world. They are about access to proper medical care.

Not so many years ago, very recently in terms of history, women had as many babies as nature allowed. Ten, fifteen, sometimes, over the course of their 40-year reproductive lives. They lost a lot of those children to childhood disease, too. And thousands and thousands died in pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, two women shockingly died this year in a Boston hospital. Young, healthy women giving birth. Dead. And a young woman was in the news for months because she died but the child inside her did not and she was kept on machines as a womb.

Pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous. Having and raising children is a huge and expensive responsibility. One should be able to make those decisions as choices, personal choices. A bunch of men who seem to know nothing about pregnancy and even less about sex should not be tasked with making laws which take away the rights of women to be people who can have some measure of control in their lives.

Women who run for office are already singled out for their bad hair choices and fashion faux pas. Now, like Wendy Davis, they are being called whores and bad mothers. Sandra Fluke’s decision to run for office makes her just about the bravest woman on the planet because from this moment on nothing will be held back. The ugliest names in the world will be permanently attached to her name.

This is not a country run by a church. One or another church (tax exempt, mind you) does not get to make physical health choices for their employees and pretend they are the moral choice. Political parties should not get to decide that abortion, the law of the land, is to be no longer allowed. But they are trying, day after day, to do just that. And at the same time, they are conflating sex and birth control and abortion as if every single sex act were somehow any of their business. And as if access to abortion and birth control were really about sex and not about inequality and equal rights and feminism: those really really scary things that some people look for under the bed at night.

We need to educate our men one at a time and then again and again and again: We are not sluts or whores or loose women. We are scientists and writers and doctors and teachers and waitresses and truck drivers and retail workers and nurses and like everyone else who works in this country, we need to be able to do so while we raise our children and to decide especially IF we will have them at all.

Think about this hard: The birth control pill was approved for use in 1960. 54 years ago. 54 years. Not even the lifespan of the average human being. But it changed women’s lives and it made it possible for us to go to college in record numbers, to postpone marriage, to choose how many children to have, to push for equality. 54 years ago. Less than 50 years before that, women were still diagnosed with “hysteria” and being institutionalized and lobotomized against their will. Women who were divorced were seen as easy, any profession like nursing in which women saw men’s bodies was suspect. It isn’t hard to see the past and right now, it isn’t too hard to see the future unless we stop it.

Everything we have fought for in order to live as equals is in jeopardy if we allow, for one moment, men in power to judge us and control us by our libidos instead of respecting us for our minds. Access to affordable birth control, access to abortions when necessary are not sexual issues, they aren’t women’s issues: they are health and economic issues. And that is how they should be discussed. Keep the loose woman red herring out of the equation.

Contributor Lisa Solod is an essayist and fiction writer who writes for the Huffington Post and blogs at middleagedfeminist.com.  Her website is lisasolod.com. Follow her on Twitter at @lisasolod

Image via Wikimedia Commons/CC License

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