Birth Control Is Not a Women's Issue: It's a Human Right
Our national conversation about birth control has veered into bad science fiction lately, as Rick Santorum has declared the prevention of unwanted pregnancies wrong and Rush Limbaugh accused women who utilize birth control of being sluts. Flirting with some kind of misogynistic dystopian vision of a “new America,” far right radicals are trying to use the weapons of their words to undermine a hundred years of progress.
Woman-hating is nothing new in this country, but these men are going about it all wrong. Preventing pregnancy isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a human right; and one men want as much as women.
What exactly does the far right believe about most men…that they want to impregnate their partners with as many babies as possible and then support a large family? Some couples are into this, and the large family is making a comeback in conservative communities. But everyone I know would prefer to be accidentally sterilized to accidentally pregnant, especially after having a couple kids. Many married men I know signed up for vasectomies rather than risk adding one more babe to their brood. Is that a sin, Santorum?
The “guy culture” I observe in the media and in real life is far different than the fevered fantasy of masculinity preached by the religious right. Most guys I know just aren’t into that whole male dominion over women and families thing. It doesn’t float their boat. A woman who uses birth control isn’t a slut… she’s his wife or girlfriend.
Life in the 21st century is more responsible in some ways, and looser in others. I hypothesize the far right feels extraordinarily threatened by the casualness that most people regard birth control and sex. Couples have sex before marriage now, but also uncoupled people hook up. For most of us, there’s no shame in sexuality any longer, and if there is, a round of therapy will clear it up. This attitude doesn’t feel correct to the right, and so they rail against it for everyone else.
The far right goes after birth control, and specifically Planned Parenthood and insurance coverage of the medications, because they want women re-subordinated. But they’ve overstepped. Most men are involved in decisions about birth control. They are involved because they have the right to control the creation or size of their families as much as women do.
There are more options available for women in the prevention of pregnancy, which is why they usually seek it, but I’ve never dated a man who didn’t bring it up. Everyone has “the talk” in sexual relationships now to figure out how not to get pregnant. Accidents happen and there is no fail safe method of prevention; but responsible use usually yields happy results both for men and women.
I challenge Rush and Santorum, and everyone in politics and the media with a similar worldview, to keep talking about sluts and the immorality of birth control. This will piss most women off; which will encourage them to get involved in politics. Also, it’ll convince every reasonable Republican man to vote against his party in the fall. Birth control is every man’s right, just as it is every woman’s.