A lot of major women’s magazines like to talk about sex, and some even discuss birth control options. But rarely do they take a stand in the politics of birth control access, abortion, or insurance coverage. So when Women’s Health launched a special report on birth control laws and your health, and asked readers to share praise for contraceptives on twitter with the hashtag #birthcontrolrocks, it raised some eyebrows around Blisstree. It’s a bold issue for a major magazine to cover, and it could be unpopular with advertisers and even some readers. But it’s also something we think any publication that claims to care about women’s health should be talking about right now. So: Women’s Health, we salute you, and thank you for talking about birth control and politics.
Sex sells–that’s why Cosmo has told us a thousand and one ways to give a blow job, and it’s also why even health magazines rarely go an issue without discussing weird sex positions (which, sorry WH, are hard not to laugh at sometimes), or at least which foods can spice up your sex life. And advertisers are generally pretty okay with putting their name next to benign articles about your sex life; shampoo and conditioner aren’t ashamed to be seen near a story about lingerie, and other products would actually prefer it.
But the politics of birth control aren’t nearly so popular, and they’re certainly not benign. Companies may decide against buying ad space in a magazine that promotes a candidate they don’t like, and readers may unsubscribe from a magazine that comes down on the opposite side of political issues like health care and contraceptive access.
We obviously don’t know which advertisers may or may not have a problem with Women’s Health writing about birth control laws and your health. We also don’t know where the majority of their readers stand politically. But if our own experience says anything, talking about reproductive rights can be really unpopular. Just look at the comments section in our post about Paul Ryan yesterday. Or check out our Facebook wall any time we discuss contraceptives, abortion, or personhood laws. We’ve been told it doesn’t have to do with our mission of cutting through the clutter to make healthy living easier, and we’ve been chided for blatantly supporting access to birth control. Birth control is not, it seems, an easy pill for many to swallow.
So while we believe that writing about the issue is what every women’s health publication should do, we also get why a lot of writers and editors shy away. And that’s why we think it’s awesome that Rodale and Women’s Health are going out on a limb for their readers and doing it anyway, and without glossing over the seriousness of the issue. Go check them out and join us in supporting their #BIRTHCONTROLROCKS twitter campaign.