On women’s rights and contraception.
There’s a video of Gloria Steinem defending free access to contraception that’s been circulating. Here is a quote:
“Whether or not women can determine when and whether to have children is the single biggest element in whether we’re healthy or not, whether we’re educated or not, how long our life expectancy is, whether we can be active in the world or not.”
Here is why this is problematic, FOR WOMEN.
What that quote right there says, out of context? I can get on board with that. But let’s revisit something that I thought was pretty common knowledge, but apparently has been forgotten by anything influenced by the sexual revolution (oh I mean everything in society): Sex naturally leads to pregnancy.
I know, I know: Go back to the 19th Century you Bible thumping woman oppressor! Not everyone believes in your religion! But hey, the premise that the natural end of sex is pregnancy is not a primarily religious one. IT’S SCIENCE. IT’S PHILOSOPHY. In the animal kingdom, mating occurs in order to further the species. When a male anything inserts his reproductive stuff into a female of the same anything, a new anything is conceived. I don’t think this is too controversial.
Real talk with Aristotle: the four causes, anyone? You can analyze the nature of anything by looking at the four causes: you have the material (duh, from what it’s made), the formal (the form it takes), the efficient (what brought it about), and lastly the final cause, the telos, the purpose of the thing. For what the thing was intended. The cool part is, they’re all related. My stapler’s telos is to hold my papers together; that affects its material and formal cause. The need for my papers to stay together is the efficient cause and the source of its final cause. Sex’s telos is to bond with another and create offspring - look at the material causes in sex: PENISES! DELIVERING SPERM! VAGINAS! CARRYING EGGS! That, friends, is a recipe for a baby.
So blah blah blah fast forward to now and we have the contraception issue on the table. Contraception attempts to detour around that final cause of sex. Ok, fine, there are so many more implications of that to go into, but here’s the thing: we can’t change the nature of sex any more than we can change the nature of eggs and sperm. So while you might have sex without the thought of pregnancy, indeed while trying to thwart pregnancy, you are still engaging in an act into which pregnancy is written in the coding.
So back to the original quote. Steinem wants women to be able to choose if and when to get pregnant, and so do I. But to say that we need contraception to do that is to say that there is something wrong with our female natures. It says that women cannot be healthy, cannot be educated, cannot be active in society the way we are naturally. In order to do those things, we must take pills. We must be injected with hormones. We must have plastic and metal devices surgically implanted in us, in order to be “free” and “functioning” women. And on this, I call bullshit.
And the best part is that I’m not saying that EVERYONE SHOULD BE PREGNANT ALL THE TIME EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. And although abstinence is one of those taboo words right now, right up there with “moist” and “Voldemort” (is moist just me?), what I will say is that we don’t have to be slaves to our appetites. This is not the suppression of sexuality; it’s the acknowledgement that sometimes we don’t indulge in things because we want to avoid the consequences. I mean, I want to eat a bowl of bacon for breakfast every morning, but that inevitably leads to heart attack and obesity, if not vomiting, and so I don’t. And sure, who doesn’t want to have sex? But if that leads to (indeed, intends) pregnancy, and I don’t want that, then I don’t have do it.
I get that the oppression of women because of the fact that they bore children was rampant at one time (and still occurs even now) and is severely unjust, and I don’t wish that for my gender. But I will not be told my natural body and it’s capabilities is a hindrance to my functioning in society. I will not entertain the lie that I have to alter myself if I want to get anywhere. A woman scorned because of her pregnancy is an outrage, but it’s the scorning, and not the pregnancy, that is the problem.