Bedsider.org has a pretty funny PSA reminding you that you didn’t give up on sex, so don’t give up on birth control either:
I was extremely happy when I saw this article pop up from Ms. about the effectiveness of IUDs (Inter Uterine Devices) as a safe and cheap form of birth control for women. I am a huge advocate of IUDs. From personal experience I can vouch for their effectiveness over several years yet many women still have no idea this is an option as a birth control method. And I was one of these young women because not once did it come up in the several conversations about birth control I had in my teen years with multiple doctors.
When I became sexual active in a committed relationship in my early 20s and was looking into birth control I was automatically put on the hormonal birth control pill. And it was a nightmare right from the beginning. My body was extremely angry at me for this decision. But that is what you do. You want to be in control of your sexual health you go on the pill. That is what I was told all along since I was a teenager.
In addition to a major weight gain (I packed on about 40lbs in about 6 months) I was miserable. And more terrifying then this was the fact my blood pressure spiked. Hugely high for someone who was in their early 20s. I was terrified. And while most of the doctors I saw told me the high blood pressure was directly related to being overweight I refused to buy it. I had been overweight my whole life and never had a health issue like this. Read more
If you can accidentally text your Grandma on New Year’s Eve, what else can go wrong? Back Up Your Birth Control.
by Jasmine Peterson
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which sometimes I think I do, yet I still managed to hear of this) you’ve likely heard about the reprehensible tirade Rush Limbaugh engaged in on air a couple of weeks ago. During his diatribe, he suggested that Sandra Fluke, a student of Georgetown University who cogently argued before Democratic members of the House of Representatives that contraceptives should be provided free of cost under university health plans was a “slut” or “prostitute” for asking to be “paid to have sex”.
As if that wasn’t derisive enough, he then went on to suggest that Ms. Fluke and other women who, you know, want to have control over their reproductive rights and their bodies (feminazis, according to Limbaugh – because how dare a woman demand autonomous control over her own body) ought to post videos of themselves having sex in payment for their publicly funded birth control.
Limbaugh’s apology following his offensive commentary, precipitated by the backlash and consequent loss of several corporate sponsors and advertisers and not any actual remorse, is specious at best. You can read a pretty adept critique of it here. In reaction to Limbaugh’s perpetual hate speech and his weak apology, VoteVets is demanding for Limbaugh to be pulled off the air. Read more
Every night at exactly 8:55, my phone sounds an alarm and a crying baby ringtone reminds me to take my birth control. I don’t know when (or if) I plan on having children; all I know is that I don’t want any right now. So I trust my hopes and future plans (my life as I know it) to a little pill. Imagine my anxiety when I heard a major birth control supplier was issuing a recall due to a packaging error.
Gradually my racing pulse returned to normal as I learned that my brand was not affected, and that the packaging error was easy to detect. But this brush with unexpected pregnancy got me thinking about the pill and my reliance on it. It reminded me of a poem by Joyce Stevens about why she is part of the women’s liberation movement, one of her reasons being that “we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon.”
That poem was published in 1975, and not much seems to have changed. The pill was revolutionary when it was first developed in the 1960’s, and it continues to be essential still, but this can’t be the best we can do.
Of course there are alternatives, but they really aren’t a far cry from the pill. It seems if we are to avoid pregnancy, we must pick our poison. I know someone who conceived a child while using Nuva Ring. I know someone who felt sick all the time while using Yaz. I know people who experienced agonizing uterine contractions and ongoing pain after the insertion of an IUD. I know someone, a non-smoker, who suffered a blood clot.
This, of course, is only anecdotal, but these stories are part of the world in which I live and make my decisions. What are we supposed to do? Even women who want or already have children need a safe way to manage when and how many they have.
I heard about a safe and reasonably effective method called the “Billings” method (named after the scientists who discovered it, not the city in Montana) from Vancouver-based sexuality coach Kim Anami. The method involves examining your cervix for subtle changes in fertility over the course of a month. It is awesomely free of carcinogens and artificial hormones, but it is terrifyingly reliant on me to determine when I am ovulating. That is not a safe enough bet.
Forcing women to choose between having children until they hit menopause VS constantly obsessing and worrying about whether their ovaries are going to sabotage their future plans VS ingesting carcinogens does not sound like a 21st century solution to family planning. Is it so much to ask that I be able to have sex any time I want without having to worry about myself getting pregnant?
Unfortunately this luxury is only afforded to men, and that is probably the reason we’re still using disco-era birth control. Yes, there are men who are devoted partners and caring fathers, but pregnancy’s ramifications fall mostly on women. With that in mind, birth control advances beyond those for convenience are apparently not an important focus for research.
It seems in this and many other areas, we are stuck in the past. I’d better get myself a record player and some bell bottoms to complement this vintage lifestyle. Then the next time there’s a recall, we can all listen to some ABBA together while we wait to see if we’re pregnant.
Well Women’s History Month is almost over but I thought I’d post some interesting articles because women’s history doesn’t exist in a vaccum and should really be talked about all year round.
But one thing that is special about this October is that it’s the 80th anniversary of the Persons Case, when on October 18, 1929 Canadian women became officially “persons.” It’s a big milestone but something we can’t take for granted. I reminded myself today that my 92-year-old grandmother, who’s alive today, spent over a decade of her life not being considered a person!
Eighty years wasn’t so long ago. And status isn’t something we can take for granted today. Sexism and other forms of discrimination still exist and gender rights can’t be separated from other social stratifications such as class, race, and sexual orientation. There are still issues to talk about and work to do on a number of fronts.
For example, the Shriver report on women in America has been widely talked about in news and the American blogosphere. Maria Shriver points out the female-to-male ratio in the workforce as evidence of workplace equality. But many feminists like the lovely writers at Feminists for Choice point out how much inequality still exists. My “What Gender is Your Recession” article in the Vancouver Observer also touches on the misleading coverage of the “he-cession”-caused false equality.
But learning women’s history and the history of equality struggles and sexual rebels can help us contextualize what we see around us on a day to day basis. And a lot of it is fun and interesting too.
- To start, Newsweek has a great little slideshow about the evolution of birth control, where you’ll learn things about birth control from the time of Aristotle to today. Of course there’s much left out but it’s still a pretty neat resource with some interesting graphics like the one above.
- For more on the herstory of the Person’s Case, Victoria Telecommunity Network has a neat site laying out the who, what, where, and how.
- If you have more time for research, the Women’s History Network of British Columbia has tons of great resources on their site.
- Stay tuned for an article I’m doing for the Observer talking about fabulous UBC Sociology and Women’s Studies prof Becki Ross’ new book on the history of burlesque and striptease in post-war Vancouver.
- And I’ll leave you with one of my favourite women’s history sites: the online Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health. Unfortunately it’s difficult to navigate and not well designed. But it’s worth pushing through some of that to get their entertaining and informative take on menstruation through history. For example they have a very thorough collection of words and expressions for menstruation. And they have a great collection of booklets, videos, art, and ads from the history of menstrual products, like this 1948 ad for Lysol douching:
So take some time to check out some women’s history resources. And remember, you don’t have to stop when November comes along.