Today, I’m not playing that “sorry for talking about vaginas” game. VAGINA. If you’re uncomfortable with words associated with the female reproductive system, you should probably bail now. CLITORIS. This post just ain’t for you. MENSTRUATION.
That said, Birth Control, readily available, affordable, reliable Birth Control is incredibly important. The fact is, access to contraceptives is going to change the future; how, is up to us.
So why is it important?
Independence through Birth Control comes at two levels. On one level, it allows women control over their bodies and sex lives. It takes away the dynamic that can exist when a woman replies on their partner to use Birth Control.
On a larger scale, access to Birth Control means independence in careers, education, and life goals for women. In the US I’ve noticed this manifesting as women making the choice to pursue higher education levels and career paths and putting off having children.
This means that women have the choice to do more before becoming mothers, or to opt out of motherhood all together. Society has to choose how to react to all of this change, but Birth Control makes it possible.
While I was working in Peru, it became very clear that most women had little or no over their bodies when their husbands were around. If asked, most husbands said they wanted a lot of children and their wife would raise them. When asked, most wives didn’t seem to have much of an opinion.
However, when I sat in the clinic during gynecological consults where women were offered contraception options that their husband might not need to know about, they took it. IUDs and injections were pretty popular because they only needed to be cared for at the clinic a few times a year. Sure, it would be great if marriages were equal partnerships, this wouldn’t be an issue but Birth Control at least gives some agency to women until that day comes.
Education about the Female Body
During 9th grade Volleyball I was watching the varsity play and heard a girl behind me tell another that Tara had lost her tampon inside her. Pan to my face, pale and shocked, I had no idea that could happen.
Because it freaking can’t. Vaginas are not black holes of doom. By college I was pretty confident in that fact but it wasn’t until I started using Birth Control that I was really sure.
Birth Control, really in any form, requires some understanding of the female reproductive system and the menstrual cycle. If you start using the pill, you’re going to get comfortable with your cycle. If you get an IUD, you’re going to understand that your vagina doesn’t go forever because there’s a cervix up there somewhere. If you use injections or implants, you’re going to get to know your hormones.
In many countries, including many parts of the US, sex is still quite taboo. I was raised in a small and widely religious community where the message that sex was dirty reigned supreme. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop young people from having sex, it just stopped them from doing so safely.
Access to contraceptives means there is simply more information about safe sex out there. The more people talk about something, the less taboo it’ll be.
Ok I know, there are flaws and asides for every one of these points. I didn’t even get into equality, sexism, parenthood, or consent. Not to mention STD ad STI protection…And those are all astronomically important aspects to creating a world of gender equality. However, the resources to put contraception into the hands of every person exist and through this we can begin to push toward those bigger goals.
First the tangible issues then the bigger changes.
Best of luck.