Many women are afraid they will “sound crazy” if they openly criticize contraception.
That’s because there is a strong belief that contraception critics are:
-speaking strictly from religious revelation (and therefore “irrational”);
-and enemies of women’s freedoms outside the home (e.g. educational and employment opportunities).
When airing criticisms, therefore, it’s particularly important to demonstrate truth, nuance and realism. (I know… you’re wishing that our naysayers would do the same. Well, we can’t control that; but we can ourselves be admirable and intelligent).
An article on the “Psychobehavioral Effects of Hormonal Contraceptive Use” was an excellent reminder to me to use this tone when criticizing contraception, which is something that most people take for granted to be a social good.
Here’s an easy 5-step process you can use when airing your views about BC:
- Acknowledge the truth of the “other side.”
The above article acknowledges that some researchers believe that hormonal contraceptives are possibly associated with some “non-contraceptive health benefits” like reduced risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, anemia, pelvic inflammatory disease and acne.
You can acknowledge these benefits, too.
You can also acknowledge the common belief that it’s quite possible that as many women would not be in certain work or educational institutions without contraception. It’s just likely true.
- Then, pivot to the rest of the truth…
At the same time, it is also true, as the article points out: that hormonal contraception has been associated with strokes, heart attacks, weight gain, higher blood pressure, breast cancer, decreased interest in sex, and altered mate selection to the disadvantage of marriage and the genetic fitness of children.
- …and explain how even when BC does not directly cause health problems- it causes more women to make riskier choices with serious consequences.
Research regularly cited by WSFT shows how contraception’s “messaging” about the unseriousness of sex, and the disconnection of sex from children has significantly fueled a dating marketplace where casual sex is expected.
In this new “marketplace” women pay the prices of depression, nonmarital pregnancies, abortions, post-abortion distress, cohabitation and later—and less—marriage.
- Explain that even when individual women “successfully” avoid pregnancy with BC, it causes unalterable wide-scale social problems
While individual women may have used contraception in order to experience sex outside marriage without the fear of pregnancy, or inside marriage to avoid pregnancy, and may even have thereby avoided abortion…the biggest problems with contraception are on the larger, social scale.
That is, the meaning of all sex has been reduced for all women and men because it will most often be torn from its link to their full union, and their willingness to be unified forever in the form of a living child.
And all women are on average subject to a “marketplace” for relationships in which the physical exchange of sex becomes the normal price of entry.
And all women on average experience greater pressure to cohabit, and will marry likely later than they wish to, given their fertility constraints and men’s measured and relatively lower impetus toward marriage.
Even within marriage, contraception can tend to bifurcate a couple’s experience of their marital union. A social commentator named Walter Lippmann said this best in a book authored around the time that Margaret Sanger was getting visibly active on behalf of contraception as a “rights” issue for women. In his A Preface to Morals, Lippmann ( a non-Catholic and a socialist at one point in his life) wrote about the risk that, with contraception, sex would devolve into a matter of “adult erotic gratification, unlinked to family, and conception” (292), and that parenthood as a vocation would be split off from the whole notion of the love between the couple. (301)
- Explain how women can be healthy, happy, and free…without BC
Women could avoid the health risks of contraception and have the educational and employment futures they wish—and avoid contraception’s trampling their preferences for the union of sex and marriage and children—if they exercised control over their fertility without contraception and with sexual restraint and natural fertility methods.
Photo credit: Brandon Kowitz