The Contraception Debate: Where My Ladies At?
When I think about reproductive rights, something weird happens. I stop being able to breathe, my heart skips a beat or three and I start sweating profusely with the adrenaline rush of pure anger.
Do not imagine me this way. Imagine that I’m cool, calm and collected right now, as cool as I was when I read about the Obama administration’s plan to make religious institutions just as responsible for contraception coverage in health care as any other institution.
My family’s Catholic, in a Christmas Eve mass, give up something for Lent but still eat meat on Fridays kind of way. We’re a pretty big family, but even if an older relative did once give my sister and I a book on “Natural Family Planning,” we’re not birth-control-is-a-sin big. Not a lot of American families are these days.
Frankly, I think the debate that exploded last week over contraception was a lot of hot air, political posturing more than real debate on fundamental issues. This is not a question of whether Catholics want to use birth control. They do. And though I’m a huge proponent of religious freedom, I couldn’t give two shits about how this mandate might play into that particular fight.
This is a question of who has the right to debate what goes on in my uterus. And what saddens me is that it’s not anyone that knows what having a uterus is like.
The Catholic Church, our big player here, is not run by women. In fact, it bars women from its leadership. But that bias is well known. The less obvious offender is more worrisome.
Last week, Think Progress counted 146 commentators who were invited onto news channels to discuss the contraception controversy between Monday and Thursday. How many of them were women? 55. On Fox News and Fox Business, 70 percent of pundits that spoke on the issue were men. CNN was the most balanced network, but still the balance was skewed: nine males to eight females.
I’m not saying that men aren’t allowed to have opinions. But are women not capable of talking about the issues that affect them most directly? Let’s talk about sourcing here. Shouldn’t this “debate” involve the people most invested in it? The ones with a financial, emotional, physical stake, who pop a pill every evening, insert a ring, wear a patch, have a surgically implanted device?
Quiet, honey, let the men sort this out.
Lack of access to contraception does not say “Men, stop having sex.” It says, “Women, stop having sex” or “Women, have more babies.” This matters for women because it will be women who will bear the result. You can be a responsible baby daddy all you want, but that baby is not growing inside of you. You will not be the one paying for the birth control your insurance won't cover.
I am afraid of pregnancy. It freaks me out. It changes you, physically. You might end up with a different shoe size or not like pickles anymore by the end of it, not to mention actually pushing an infant out of your body. So yes, I have a vested interest in not getting pregnant. Just like a million other women out there who for whatever reason do not desire to play host to a growing embryo this month.
As far as I can tell, a Catholic university isn’t in my future. I’m not even taking birth control. This issue doesn’t affect me. Two truths and a lie.
This issue affects every woman who thinks that our political system represents her. To me, this is a bigger threat to freedom than any Internet piracy act, and I wonder why there wasn’t the same level of protest.
This is an issue of who runs the world, and I’m sorry Beyoncé, but it’s not girls.