This is a continuation of my series discussing 1flesh, an organization that argues against the use of contraceptives and promotes one method of fertility awareness. You can read the first part here. This is really more like Part I (b), because I’m still on their ‘about’ page.
In Part I, I contested their assertion that the use of contraception has led directly to high rates of divorce, abortion, STDs, and sexual assault, an argument which I found reductionist and ahistorical.
This is a dangerous idea. It’s dangerous because artificial contraception is heavily promoted by big pharmaceutical companies — like Bayer Corp. — and contraception providers — like Planned Parenthood. It’s dangerous because it’s not an idea supported by those in power. But most of all, it’s dangerous because it’s true.
I’m not sure where they’ve been the past several months. Look at the furor over the Congressional hearing on contraceptive coverage in the health care law, and the ensuing Rush Limbaugh debacle over comments he made about Sandra Fluke. There are plenty of people in power, elected officials and religious leaders with great influence over their followers, who think that contraception is morally wrong. It is absolutely an idea supported by people in positions of power. And didn’t some pundit say something about women putting a Bayer aspirin between their knees? What about all the people who seem to consider Planned Parenthood the root of all evil?
By the way, Planned Parenthood talks about fertility awareness on their website. They don’t reject it, and they stress that ‘birth control is not one-size-fits-all’.
I am as ready to take issue with the manner in which pharmaceutical companies conduct business as the next person. They can be really terrible. But that’s not a reason to reject the technology they produce. I think people need to be put before profits, and the pharmaceutical industry needs to be held to high ethical standards. I want more research into different methods, and good affordability. I want stuff like this male-user contraceptive, which is doing fantastically well in clinical trials in India.
Indeed, I often wonder if the national…conversation…over birth control would be different if there were solid male-user options for reversible birth control (other than condoms) available on the market.
1Flesh means just that. One flesh. Total union. No wrapping men in rubber or pumping women with artificial hormones. No interrupting the act of making love. Once the sex act became something in which women were “controlled” and men were “restrained” everything seemed to fall apart. Suddenly “objectification” wasn’t such a hard thing to do. Instead of repeating the mistakes of our parents, we’re trying to spread words of rebellion; that sex should be awesome and saved until marriage, that pregnancy can be justly avoided without harmful chemicals, and that love is worth fighting for.
Whoa. Who is ‘controlling’ the women in this scenario? The tone of this website makes me cringe. It seems to be insinuating that women can’t make decisions about contraceptive use on their own–their boyfriends or the pharmaceutical industry or Planned Parenthood is shoving the Pill down their throats, evidently. It sounds like an appropriation of language used by reproductive rights advocates, who argue that women benefit from being able to control their own fertility, and denying access to reproductive technologies wrests that control from them. This crops up on other pages, so more about that as we journey through their website.
Also, the thought of men being ‘restrained’–by condoms, presumably–makes me laugh. Do they think that their semen is being restrained? (Much more on that, later.) It’s just a funny image.
They seem to be making a far-reaching historical argument. How do they know sex lives started to fall apart with the development of reliable contraception? Have they researched the history of sexuality? Have they combed through centuries of letters and diaries and publications and documents?
Here’s a short answer to a complex and interesting subject: historically, some people had good sex lives and some people didn’t. Some people married for love and other people were forced into arranged marriages. Some people emphasized sex as important to marriage and thought it was mutually pleasurable. Others thought that women were basically asexual, or that a woman’s sole duty was to produce heirs, and her pleasure in sex didn’t matter anyway. Mistresses and concubines were often considered perfectly acceptable, and prostitution flourished in most societies. Homosexuality was considered normal in some societies and punishable by death in others. Pre-marital sex was often considered acceptable, or was even encouraged.
Beliefs about sexuality varied widely across time and space. Individuals’ actual sex lives varied as much as they do today.
Again with the objectification: women used to be considered property. A married woman had no legal personhood. If that’s not objectifying, I don’t know what is.
I’m honestly not sure how they posit that something so traditionally conservative is ‘rebellious’.