Getting Over the Pill

I know when the romance started for me. I was at summer camp, where all the best romances begin, getting a windbreaker or a jean jacket–some outerwear-oriented excuse for busting in where I wasn’t supposed to be. contraception_591At the sink, I saw my counselor, older, cooler, and in my memory, always blonde, popping a candy necklace pill out from a plastic flip-top compact.

I knew I wasn’t supposed to know what I was seeing. But I did. She was on the pill. Having sex. Which somehow made me feel a few steps closer to having sex myself. Inside that pink clam shell was the secret of adult life. Everything I needed to know about sex and men in its own handy dandy carrying case.

Now, of course, I realize she might not have been having sex, and I want to swaddle my younger smartypants self in a thick blanket, knowing when and how she’ll have the easy answers bruised out of her.

But there was no reasoning, then. And no reason to reason … I was in love with the pill, and as I grew up, I could see I wasn’t alone. It was the hot girl’s one and only punchline in Sixteen Candles and Roseanne’s cool-mom badge of honor, and long before that, Loretta Lynn was singing its praises for good reason. The lyrics make it clear how much the pill could change the fundamental facts of a woman’s life.

You wined me and dined me when I was your girl
Promised if I’d be your wife you’d show me the world
But all I’ve seen of this old world is a bed and a doctor bill
I`m tearing down your brooder house ’cause now I’ve got the pill

[Read more...]

Good News About Teen Birth Rates

A recent study from the National Center for Health Statistics reports that teen birth rates in the U.S. have hit a record low: “31.3 births per 1,000 girls and women” between the ages of 15 and 19. These rates have been going down for a number of years, but this represents an eight percent decline in a single year (2010 to 2011), which is pretty impressive. Overall, teen birth rates have fallen 49 percent since 1991.

While the study just looks at the numbers, and not factors that may have led to the drop, researchers have suggested several reasons that could be contributing to the decline. Teens are delaying the age at which they begin having sex, and it is becoming more common for teenagers to use contraception—including methods that were once recommended primarily for older women, such as the IUD.

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Beyond Abortion: Roe v. Wade and the Right to Privacy

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wadedecision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

Today’s guest post is by Emily Martin, Vice-President and General Counsel, National Women’s Law Center; and Cortelyou Kenney, a Fellow at the Center.

What most people know about Roe v. Wade is that it is the landmark decision establishing a woman’s right to end a pregnancy. What is less well known is that the decision strengthened the legal foundation on which other protections are based as well. In Roe, the Supreme Court solidified the “right to privacy” as part of the liberty protections under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. This protection of liberty and privacy is responsible for certain fundamental guarantees—including the rights to obtain birth control and to procreate, to marry, to develop family relationships, to rear one’s children, and to create intimate relationships. While the concept of a constitutional “right to privacy” predates Roe, Roe is an important affirmation of and foundation for these rights—rights that could be threatened if it were overturned.

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Draw the Line for Reproductive Rights

The Center for Reproductive Rights has launched the “Draw the Line” campaign, in an effort to deliver a statement to Congress and the president that reproductive rights are fundamental human rights and should be protected as such.

In addition to the “Bill of Reproductive Rights,” which supporters can sign to show their support for women’s health, the Draw the Line website has information about other ways that people can protect reproductive rights. A slew of celebrities, from Kevin Bacon, to Sarah Silverman, to Meryl Streep have also spoken out in support of the campaign – check out their video here, and help spread the word!

Ladies! Get Your Slut Pills Free Starting Today!

If I had a wacky waving arm flailing inflatable tube man, I’d put it up in front of my apartment complex today. It would have a really cool sign that said:


Or something like that.

Dubbed “No Copay Day,” today is the day when seven key preventive reproductive health services are now covered without copay. I really think that the Obama Administration could’ve come up with some better names for today, considering that it’s a milestone for women’s health and feminism. My suggestions include “The Day Freedom Died,” and “Slut Pills Liberation Day.”

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International Roundup: Let Contraceptives Live!

On 11 July 2012 the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners hosted a groundbreaking summit for a global policy, financing, commodity, and service delivery commitments to support the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020. For this occasion, here are some news about reproductive rights, its relentless struggles, and the progress to be made.

Contraceptive use averts more than 272,000 maternal worldwide deaths from childbirth every year, a new study has claimed.

The Billionaire Melinda Gates Launches Global Crusade for Contraception

Aljazeera Opinion: Let them have contraception

Liberia: Baby Blues – No Policy for Pregnant School Girls

No contraceptives  available for 1.7 million Rajasthan women

Maybe Footlooose Was Ahead of the Curve

Earlier this month, Michigan Representative Lisa Brown drew the ire of her male colleagues for using the word “vagina” on the House floor. Her comment, “Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’” was made while the state’s politicians were discussing proposed anti-choice legislation that is considered to be among the strictest in the country.

As Brown recalls, there was no immediate reaction from her colleagues until the following day, when she and Rep. Barb Byrum were informed that Republican House leaders had barred the two women from speaking on the House floor. “Given my speech, I could only assume it was because I spoke to my Jewish values or because I had said vagina,” she writes in an article published last week. “But later that day, Rep. Mike Callton told the press that what I had said was so vile, so disgusting, that he could never bear to mention it in front of women or “mixed company. … Since we share the same religion, I’m guessing he wasn’t referring to my kosher sets of dishes. Even though Callton has a bachelor’s degree in biology and worked as a chiropractor, it was the word “vagina” that did him in.”

Oh those delicate Michigan men, done in by an anatomically correct term! Perhaps they will find sympathy among equally squeamish politicians of Tennessee, who voted this week to bar “gateway sexual activity” yet were unable to verbalize just what that meant. In lieu of the bill’s supporters being able to use their words, critics of the bill – which is intended to promote teen abstinence – have dubbed it the “no hands-holding bill.” [Read more...]

The Little Blue Party Pill: Sex, Boners, and Lots of Viagra

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Saira Khan. Saira currently works in publishing but dedicates her free time to social commentary on her personal blog. She is a soon to be Master of Science candidate at Columbia University. Follow her on twitter @sairakh.

In the past two years we’ve seen an onslaught of Republican led bills to limit women’s access to safe and affordable abortions, cheap birth control, and health care. A recent Kansas bill allows doctors to lie to women in order to prevent abortions including lying about breast cancer treatments. They’re also trying to add a 6.3% tax to abortions even for rape victims. This is just one in a slew of bills we’re seeing red states draft in order to deny women the right to choose and deny them access to affordable contraception.

But it’s not just birth control and abortion that are under attack. Women and their sexuality are now in the spotlight. After the whole Limbaugh-Fluke fiasco, Bill O’Reilly went ahead and aligned himself with the likes of Limbaugh by stating “You Want Me To Give You My Hard-Earned Money So You Can Have Sex?” To sum it up: they don’t want women getting abortions, they don’t want to help women who choose not to have an abortion, and they don’t want women using birth control. Basically, they don’t want women having any sort of sex whatsoever unless it’s to procreate. What’s interesting about all these discussions is: where the hell are the men? Somehow conservatives make it sound like women get pregnant all by their slutty selves and then recklessly get abortions. Seriously though, where are the men in this equation? Oh yeah, they’re out there having lots of sex and getting cheap and easy erections…

Not only are men entirely excluded from this whole we’re not paying for you to have sex conversation, men and their overuse and abuse of Viagra is actually defended! The common excuse I hear in defense of the little blue pill is “well, Viagra is life-giving.” So, really what it comes down to is that they seem to believe men can have as much sex as they want because, you know, they’re men. And somehow birth control promotes sex and Viagra promotes, what, abstinence?

Let’s clear a few things up here about Viagra. [Read more...]

Quick Hit: Funny or Die Invites Republicans Into Women’s Vaginas

Need some humor in your week? Check out Funny or Die’s new “Republicans, Get in My Vagina!” video, starring Kate Beckinsale, Andrea Savage, and Judy Greer. A plea from the “real Republican real women of real America” to all women to “open up their legs and let the government in,” this parody cheerfully skewers the idea that the government knows what’s best for women. And the inclusion of a staggeringly stupid quote from Pennsylvania politician Stephen Friend, involving his own special brand of reproductive theory, just serves to underscore the idiocy that is anti-choice politicians making decisions about women’s bodies.


My Body: Your Choice? How men control and dominate women’s bodies

Editor’s Note: Today’s we are so luck to have another guest post from globetrotting feminists Elin and Hennie Weiss! Yay! Elin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from University College Dublin, Ireland. Hennie is currently finished up her Master’s Degree in Sociology from California State University, Sacramento. They are both very interested in women’s studies, feminism and the study of men and masculinities, especially so gender role expectations and the representation of women and men in media.

The recent Senate hearing concerning President Obama’s policy on birth control caused quite the stir as an all male panel discussed women’s contraceptive rights. As outraged as many women and men were over the exclusion of females, who are most impacted by birth and contraceptive choices, men’s control over women’s bodies is not a new phenomenon. Across time and continents, women’s rights have been contested, fought against, and denied as men have assumed a paternalistic approach to women’s own choices concerning abortion, contraception, and birth, while issuing themselves the right to decide over women’s bodies. Men’s control over women’s bodies, however, has often been damaging and unhealthy to women. In this piece, we are discussing a few historical examples that showcase men’s influence and control over women’s rights and choices. We want to discuss examples that show that the persistent male control over women’s bodies and choices has not always been based on knowledge or competence but simply has concerned men’s need to control women.

The all male panel that discussed women’s rights to free birth control included men from different races and religious beliefs, as to fairly include different opinions. This panel however lacked one crucial aspect: women and women’s opinions. After all, this was a discussion that concerned women’s bodies, rights and choices. The fact that the panel consisted of all male participants is hugely upsetting. It is not, however, surprising since throughout history there has been a strong tendency for men to infantilize women while believing that women’s opinions are less valid and competent.

Even before the pill was invented and fairly available to women, many women attempted to control their sexuality through different methods aimed at limiting or spacing pregnancy. Since for many years a woman’s sexuality was often controlled by her husband, and marital rape was not seen as problematic, many women faced more or less constant pregnancies. This was especially hard on working class women who had to perform straining work shortly after giving birth, and who lacked the finances to provide for a large number of children. Various abortion methods were looked down upon but were often performed (Abbott 2011). During this time, the most famous abortionists were women while the most focused anti-abortionists were men. A man named Anthony Comstock was one of the most aggressive opponents of birth control (Tyler May 2010). Comstock fought to rid the United States of literature discussing birth control while prosecuting abortionists. He succeeded and in 1873 the Comstock Act was accepted, declaring the obscenity of birth control devices (Abbott 2011). [Read more...]