I’m going to say something, and for some people, it might be hard to read. But here it goes: I use birth control because I want to have non-procreative sex.
I know. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that surely, I must have mis-typed. That I must want birth control not to control birth, but for my acne. Or for my ovarian cysts. Or for my menopause. Or for all of the other reasons that women have been forced to say they want birth control just to make it OK in the current, sex-negative climate. Because if you were to believe most of the rhetoric swirling around these days, you might start to think that preventing pregnancy is, in fact, a pleasant side-effect of hormonal IUDs, pills, patches, and rings. That the millions of women who use some form of hormonal contraceptive every day are doing it for some reason other than preventing pregnancy.
But that’s not true. I want my birth control covered by my insurance or available at an affordable rate because I want to have sex and not get pregnant, because a pregnancy would bankrupt me. That’s the reason. And I’m not alone. Regardless of how many people try to smooth it over, and make birth control about other health matters, the fact is that most women are taking the pill, or sticking on a patch, or putting a ring into their vaginas because they don’t want to have a child at this time. And I can’t believe that we’ve reached a time in this terrible, regressive conversation where it’s not okay to say that.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, most American women only want two children. To achieve that goal, she will have to use contraceptive for as many as three decades. Or, if she can’t afford the $10,800 that that would cost, were she to pay out-of-pocket, she has two other options: lie and say that the pill is for “other reasons” (to ensure, in states like Arizona and others, that her health care will cover it or that she won’t get fired), or become celibate.
These seem to be the only choices for women looking to have any kind of control over their uteruses. They can either take birth control, if they say it’s for some other purpose or if they can afford it themselves, or they can abstain from sex. Which is why, it seems, so many people are so quick to hype the non-contraceptive purposes for the pill. But what that does is makes every woman who wants the pill so that she can have sex–whether it be within a marriage, a committed relationship, or with whomever she pleases because that is is her right as a free American woman–into a “slut.”
So, hi. I’m a “slut.” And I’m one who’s paying for my own birth control, out of pocket, every month, so that I can have sex without getting pregnant. And I’m lucky that I barely make enough to be able to do that. A lot of women don’t. For them, if they are also lucky, there is Planned Parenthood, to make it affordable. If they are unlucky, like half of American women of childbearing age are, they live in a state that is hostile toward women’s health. Where they can’t get the Pill at all. And thus, they are forced to either remain celibate, or pray like crazy that they don’t get pregnant.
Over and over again, politicians and pundits, many of whom have never had to decide whether or not to buy birth control or, say, food, voice the same sentiment: if you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. If you can’t afford birth control, don’t have sex. If you don’t want children, be responsible and don’t have sex. And my personal favorite: I don’t want my hard-earned money to go to you having sex.
That last one was from Rush Limbaugh, who has been married four times and has no children. I can only assume his partners were all either abstaining, or had enough money to pay for their birth control.
The assumption seems to be that it is only young hussies who want birth control, so that they can go and have all the unmarried, sexy sex they want. And if they can’t afford it, then they just shouldn’t have all that sex. But it takes two (or more) to have a sexual encounter that could end in pregnancy–which means that the men that these trampy broads are sleeping with also need to abstain, or need to pony up the money for birth control. And, for the record, about 26 million American men routinely are having sex with women.
If the argument is “I don’t want to pay for someone else to have sex,” does that apply to your own sexual partner? Would those millions of men be more willing to pay for birth control if they knew exactly how many women they’d had sex, but not children, with who had been on the Pill or some other form of hormonal contraceptive? Because about 10 million women in the U.S. will take the Pill today. That’s a lot.
And why not condoms, I can hear readers asking? Men often purchase condoms and use them! Which is true–about a quarter of unmarried men regularly use condoms, and condoms are the third most-used form of contraceptive, following…are you ready? The Pill and sterilization, which, as I’ve already written, no one will give me. Which means that women are still, by and large, taking the birth control bullet, while men get to have all the sex they want, without fear of being labeled a slut.