Women who don’t use birth control explain why not, slut-shame those who do

Hint: It's because they don't understand how birth control works

Topics: catholic sistas, Birth Control, Contraception, women's issues, Religion, Sex, Sex and love, sexuality, Hobby Lobby, reproductive health, Reproductive choice, Reproductive Rights, Health, ,

Women who don't use birth control explain why not, slut-shame those who do (Credit: Calek via Shutterstock)

In the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby ruling that will effectively allow corporations to prevent their female employees from accessing certain forms of contraception, BuzzFeed posted explanations from 22 of its own female employees about why they use birth control. The responses ranged from medical — “for my endometriosis” — to ethical — “because it’s none of your business” — to practical — “because condoms break sometimes.” All were different, but each reflected some of the most common reasons that more than 99 percent of sexually active adult women use some form of contraception.

Well, the <1 percent of women who don’t use birth control took it upon themselves to respond to BuzzFeed by explaining their own reproductive choices, listing the reasons they don’t use birth control on the faith-centered blog Catholic Sistas (not a spelling error). But instead of simply offering up their “logical” (read: totally putative) justifications, the women also illustrated a general lack of understanding of how birth control works, as well as what it means not to try to “force others to follow what we believe” by sending preachy messages about the virtue of sexing to make babies.

Most of the responses can be grouped into one of three distinct categories of scary: There are those that attempt to reappropriate feminist language to make anti-feminist points (“Because it perpetuates the objectification of women as worthless sexual objects, constantly at the disposal of men in our commodity driven culture”); those that perpetuate medically inaccurate misconceptions about reproduction (“Because I don’t want to abort any of my babies, even if they are only a few days old”); and those that can’t see past their own religious moral objections to people consensually touching each other for non-reproductive reasons (“Because if I didn’t want to have a baby, I just wouldn’t have sex”). Others fit somewhere in between, citing unrelated concerns about the environment (“Because we like our sex environmentally friendly” — does this have something to do with condoms?) and hormones flooding the earth (“Because I like my water without other people’s estrogen in it” — I actually don’t know what this means).

Oh, and then there are the ones that just can’t fit into any category, because they rely on magic. For example: “Because my fertility is my superpower.” (Emphasis original.)

Here are a few more:

“Because regularly shooting my body up with extra hormones would make it a lot harder to be a reasonable, thoughtful, and logical human being.”

“Because I really don’t think it’s healthy for my body to think it is perpetually pregnant.”

“Because I love the first little flutters of a baby growing within me.”

“Because the first thing my mom’s oncologist asked her when she was told she had breast cancer was, “Were you on the pill?”

“Because of the NFP divorce rate stats (less than 2%).”

“Because nothing in the world smells better than a baby’s head.”

What most of the responses have in common is their implicit woman-shaming directed at anyone who dares have sex without being open to the possibility of becoming pregnant. As Amanda Marcotte points out at Raw Story, each of the BuzzFeed women posted an explanation for her birth control choice that was deeply personal and applied only to her; the Catholic Sistas, on the contrary, hold signs that “can be summed up as, ‘Because I’m better than you stupid sluts.’” And it’s true: what else is there to be gleaned from an explanation like, “Because I don’t want to treat my body like a toxic waste dump when there are healthier alternatives”? If you’re a woman who wants to have sex but no babies, then you are disgusting and dangerous, and potentially radioactive. (Oh, and you also definitely hate babies — because trying not to have a baby at any point means you never, ever want one.)

The Catholic Sistas’ thinking is yet another example of twisted understandings of religion being used to control sex and sexuality, particularly for women. Just like the court briefs submitted in support of Hobby Lobby, their messages reveal an entrenched fear of separating intercourse and reproduction from one another, which teaches women not only not to want sex, but to regard it with disgust. The other lesson to be learned is that sex isn’t a way to express or fulfill love and desire, but another aspect of a woman’s self to be ceded to someone else. That isn’t just scary — it’s sad.

(h/t Wonkette)


Jenny Kutner

Jenny Kutner is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sex, gender and feminism. Follow @jennykutner or email jkutner@salon.com.

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