When They Say Birth Control, They’re Talking about Me
Why every time I hear them say “birth control” do I erupt like a geyser?
For decades of my life the given was that strangers could control my sexuality. Legislators. Doctors. Health insurance companies. Employers.
To be specific: male legislators—there were no females legislators back then. Male OB-Gyns, too, who would ask whether you were married before writing (or maybe not writing) a prescription for contraceptives. Health insurers that covered vasectomies but not birth control. Male employers who covered their wives’ pregnancies (man, do you know how expensive it is to have a baby?) but not your birth control pills.
Still, you ask, why does it make you so angry, today?
Because they aren’t talking about birth control. Not then, not now. They are talking about me. My choices. Underlying their decisions—all these strangers who had the right to say yes or no—was the judgment that I shouldn’t be in the workplace, anyway. They did not cover/prescribe/allow/insure birth control because I didn’t fit into the norm that they wanted to encourage. If I chose to step outside that norm by pursing a career, I was on my own. They didn’t have to help me do that, and, honestly, most of them didn’t want to.
So when Rick Santorum waxes eloquent about God’s ideal plan (read that: him working and her at home with seven children), I take it personally. When he says birth control interferes with that plan, I know what he’s talking about. Not some theoretical idea about when life begins. He’s talking about me. He’s sharing his view of the role of women in society. A role that doesn’t include me, a lawyer for 19 years who never had children.
If you think it makes this better to cloak it in religious freedom, then all you’re doing is raising the specter of my church that once told me I wasn’t good enough to be ordained, not smart enough to serve on the vestry, not important enough to have a Girl Scout Troop to match the Boy Scouts. No, you can’t carry the cross down the aisle, you can’t even carry the damn flag.
I do not want to return to that world view. I do not want that photo of an all-male House committee deciding women’s issues. I don’t want to give up my female representative, female Ob-Gyn, female priest, female news anchor—if you don’t see the connection, you’re not getting the picture. I’ve been in that place, and I cannot tell you how mad it makes me for you to even talk about going back.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .