Before I get further into dissecting the Nelson Pill Hearings I want to pause and talk about feminism and my intent for this project. The history of the birth control pill and the history of feminism are closely tied, because, of course, if women can control when and/or whether they have children, they have power over their own lives. First-wave feminists knew this. It was Margaret Sanger after all who coined the term “birth control” and conceived (pardon the pun) the idea of the pill in the first place. And so it’s no surprise that the release of the birth control pill in 1960 ushered in the second wave of feminism.
Somewhere, somehow, many people confused the right to choose with blind acceptance of hormonal birth control as “freedom.” These may be the same people who liken questioning the government with being unpatriotic. I suggest that in a democracy it is our most patriotic duty to scrutinize whether our government is acting in the best interest of its people. Likewise, as feminists it is our duty to scrutinize what may or may not be serving women.
The F Words – Feminism and Freedom
Many people believe that having unlimited access to every kind of birth control is the only way to be a feminist and therefore speaking out against the pill or other hormonal birth control is anti-women. Let us consider for a moment the types of birth control that are encouraged, advertised, and prescribed, and with these medications, whose body is being affected? Who will pay if these methods fail? Who has to deal with the side effects? As someone who suffered a stroke while on the birth control pill, I am keenly aware of the price that comes with this “freedom.”
Anti-feminists like to write a lot of articles about how women want to have it all—as if everyone doesn’t want to have it all. That’s not a feminist concept, that’s an American ideal. So, yes, as an American I want to have it all. I want birth control that doesn’t come with the risk of blood clots. I want birth control that isn’t going to kill me, make me fat, give me acne, create mood swings, or lower my libido. Why would I want all the freedom to have sex without getting pregnant with none of the desire to actually have sex?