edit as of 10/14/09: Please read the updated post that will appear sometime 10/14/09 evening (US Central time) for a clarification of what I intended to get across with this post before commenting on this thread. Comments from here on out yelling at me about my tone will be deleted. Thank you.
Amanda Marcotte wrote an article about how she’s irritated by all of the criticism of the Pill, and claims of scientific studies proving that hormonal birth control is harming women’s health and the planet. She doesn’t believe the claims, and believes instead that because the Pill symbolizes “female sexual independence,” it should remain on the market, for everyone, no matter what the silly studies say.
I usually really appreciate Amanda Marcotte. She’s an intelligent and insightful writer, her book is hilarious, and I just generally know that if she writes something, I’m likely to enjoy it. But jumping on the bandwagon of feminists who can rant all day about right-wing ass holes not believing in global warming and other proven scientific facts, and 15 minutes later are closing their eyes and sticking their fingers in their ears when someone says they ought to be informed and look for another form of birth control (there are a whole lot of choices out there, ladies and gentlemen) because this one is proven to be detrimental to most women’s mental and physical health, and also fucks with the ecosystem, is not progressive. Not in the slightest. And when they do acknowledge that all of those things can be true, they are very quick to claim that, regardless of all of the known dangers even to people who don’t take the Pill, we would have no right taking it away from the people who wish to continue using it.
Why not? We expect that once it was proven that cigarette smoke not only causes lung cancer in a smoker, but also in non-smokers via second-hand smoke, that cigarette smoking will no longer be allowed in an enclosed public space, in order to protect the people who are not choosing to do something dangerous to their health. In most Western industrialized nations, it is.
We expect that once we learned about the dangers of DDT to the workers who sprayed it, the people who ate what it was sprayed on, and the environment, that it would be banned. It was.
We expect that if it’s discovered that spinach has E.Coli, it’s recalled and stricter safety regulations are enforced. It generally is.
But feminists of the so-called “third wave” or contemporary persuasion, for some reason, love the crap out of Big Pharma. You can’t pry those precious prescriptions for all of their many problems out of their claws. They can’t seem to grasp the idea that many prescription medications are bad for you, and bad for the environment. If they can grasp it, they try as hard as they can to find a reason why it would be wrong, immoral and sexist to ban them. Or, how, Who cares if it’s bad, what you said made me feel fat!
Amanda discusses some study done somewhere that proved that while women were on the Pill, they were attracted to more “domestic” men than they were when they were off the Pill. She blows it off, eventually seeming to call people who are predisposed to consider what anthropologists have to say silly for believing what she clearly thinks is hogwash.
She also finds a way to make sure that it looks like someone is leaving out lesbians: “I’m also sure lesbians in the audience will be amused to hear their hormones direct them to this man or that, depending on their cycle.”
No. While the article is clearly hetero-centric and doesn’t take into account the fact that lesbians ovulate just as much as heterosexual women do, Amanda doesn’t take into account the fact that “domestic” and “rebellious” are not traits that only exist in heterosexual people. If the study is more or less accurate in it’s hypothesis, then lesbian women would be more attracted to more “domestic” women while on the Pill.
There was a thread on Feministe a while back, reviewing a book about all kinds of lefty-natural-green-save-the-planet things. Like how antibiotics in your system will kill fertile soil when it goes from your body to the earth. The author found this out by pooping in his yard regularly, and noted the difference when he pooped while taking antibiotics.
Everyone got mad at me, and the author or the post told me not to comment on that thread again, because I was too snarky for them (I was of the belief that there was nothing too snarky for Feministe commentariat) and “condescending” because of what I said in the comments about the reviewer’s criticism about the author’s claim that the Pill is bad for the planet. I heard all kinds of reasons why I should be just totally fine with toxic chemicals in my drinking water:
also your call for eliminating antidepressants and other drugs “for the good of the planet” is pretty damned ableist. i think my not committing suicide from uncontrolled depression takes priority here.
I think that if I am going to be called an ableist for understanding that many chemicals in anti-depressants are bad for those using them and also, eventually, for those who choose not to use them, then it could be argued that you could be labeled selfish for choosing to save yourself from the magnitude of your depression rather than the health of 6 billion other people.
he is causing MAJOR environmental issues by possibly introducing foreign bacterial colonies to local soil populations. VERY BAD idea to be eating things from ALL OVER the planet and then pooping them out on the surface of the soil.
“Foreign bacterial colonies”… Hmm. I guess hormonal birth control doesn’t count as something foreign to introduce to the local soil populations… I guess soil just evolves happily with synthetic hormones, but not with this guy’s poop?
Why are all of these feminists so reluctant and angry and unwilling to admit that sometimes, these things are bad, and that even if we think they’re bad, we should keep them around all the time for everyone anyway? Ok. Science knows nothing? Then why not let the religious right have what they want, and teach Creationism in schools? That’s a good idea, then, right? If we follow the proposed logic, anyway.
I get the concern about people who are dependent on prescription medication, and I’m not proposing that we make prescription medication illegal. I also think that it’s very important to consider that many people are dependent on prescription medications because of conditions caused by pollution, toxins used in our household cleaners, baby formula, and poor health decisions that didn’t exist 100 years ago. Do we want to eradicate this trend, or perpetuate it? Again, I’m not advocating forbidding medication to those in existence who need them, but there has to be another option. Am I willing to say that having the Pill is an even trade for the slow, inevitable death of our planet, if we keep it up?
It’s time for feminism to get out of bed with the pharmaceutical companies and think about their health, the health of other women, and the health of the rest of the planet that we all claim to care deeply about.
The catch is that there are women who genuinely suffer from excruciating pain when they have their periods, who haven’t been able to find comfort in anything but hormonal contraceptives. This, I understand. I’m not trying to advocate taking your only comfort away from you. But that isn’t the end. “Some people neeeed them” isn’t a good enough reason to ignore the fact that Big Pharma, the FDA, and the rest of the government really don’t care about you or me or anyone else. It isn’t a good enough reason to keep up production and not demand regulations and absolute, 100% safety in these products. That’s what they are: products. Have we forgotten that we, as a users of oral contraceptives, are not people with a problem that you’re taking a pill to treat or “cure,” but a consumer of a product? I think we have. Consider, then, that manufacturers of these products are going to do what they can to manufacture these drugs as cheaply as possible, which will create the highest profit, which means the product will be sub-par in quality. A trend that has always led to adverse effects on our health, and everyone else’s that manages to inadvertently come in contact with it. Under-regulated drug designers are concerned with their profit, and only with their profit. They are in the business they are in, not because they care about increasing the quality of the lives of the people who purchase their products, but because they know that there is a demand for oral contraception, and they want to get in on the profit. Even the religious suppression of the Pill in the United States has never overcome its demand.
I was on The Pill for a few months. I figured I might as well, since I was in a monogamous relationship and it seemed terrifically convenient to pop a pill a day and say goodbye to condoms. I imagine that’s the way most women feel when they go on The Pill for contraceptive reasons.
My experience, however, was less than pleasant I grew incredibly depressed. My breasts hurt constantly, and I had cramps that were worse than the ones I got with my period. My doctor asked me absolutely zero questions and basically just handed me the prescription that she figured would be best, and I therefore had no idea what to expect or what to do, other than take the thing at the same time every day. I didn’t ask her any questions because I trusted that she knew best. When I got to the end of the first 3 weeks, and took the placebo pills, I started to bleed, as though I had my period. From Wikipedia, explaining the placebo pills:
The placebo pills allow the user to take a pill every day; remaining in the daily habit even during the week without hormones. Placebo pills may contain an iron supplement, as iron requirements increase during menstruation.
Failure to take pills during the placebo week does not impact the effectiveness of the pill, provided that daily ingestion of active pills is resumed at the end of the week.
I guess it just didn’t occur to me that I’d need to be reminded to do the thing that stopped me from possibly getting pregnant while I bled. Oh, but I didn’t even need to bleed:
The withdrawal bleeding that occurs during the break from active pills was thought to be comforting, as a physical confirmation of not being pregnant. The 28-day pill package also simulates the average menstrual cycle, though the hormonal events during a pill cycle are significantly different from those of a normal ovulatory menstrual cycle.
So I took a pill so that I didn’t get pregnant. My breasts grew one cup size (permanently) as a result of the extra estrogen that my body didn’t need or want to produce or accomodate; everything hurts; I’m depressed as hell. Fuck this– there are plenty of other ways that I can prevent myself from getting pregnant when I don’t want to be. And don’t even think of telling me that one way to help the depression while still taking The Pill is to start taking an anti-depressant. Just don’t bother.
I know that my experiences are not the same as every woman’s, and I wouldn’t presume to tell other women that they shouldn’t do something simply because I had a bad experience with them. On the other hand, many women report problems with The Pill. Many women need their PIll’s estrogen level increased or decreased because what they’re doing is introducing more of one hormone (actually, two; progesterone is the other active ingredient in The Pill) into the body, that the body doesn’t naturally produce, that the body does not want. Since the body does not produce it and does not want it, it creates negative effects. Like depression, tender breasts, cramping (fooling your body into believing it’s pregnant, so it doesn’t think it needs to let you get that way), blood clots, breast cancer.
Once I realized that my depression was so severe and I couldn’t figure out why, I had a spark of curiosity and Googled The Pill. When I read about the depression, I stopped taking it. When I read about how my “period” while on The Pill was not in any way real (I knew something seemed quite off), I got mad.
It’s time to stop blindly trusting the corporations that produce toxic chemicals and tell us that they symbolize our freedom. It’s absolutely nonsense to allow these corporations to get away with it, just because we can’t think of a better solution. Let’s focus on a different way to help women with reproductive freedom; The Pill is clearly more detrimental than beneficial.
update: Lookie here! I’m already called an ableist because I write a post that dares to discuss the negative side effects of oral contraceptives!
Shocking! Heaven forbid we allow ourselves to consider the larger environmental impact of our rampant pharmaceutical usage.