Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why are We Still Fighting over Birth Control?

Recent outrages and political skirmishes over birth control access in the USA have opened up a dialogue about why we are still fighting over the right to have access to effective birth control 50 years after the birth control pill was made available to women in the US.

The recent dialogue focuses on the fact that the people who are making moves to limit access to conception are men. Why is that? And where are the women? In her article published in AlterNet titled Why Patriarchal Men are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control and Why We’ll Still be Fighting about it 100 Years from Now, Social Futurist Sara Robinson offers her unique perspective on why men remain in the forefront of the push to limit access to birth control:

Until the condom, the diaphragm, the Pill, the IUD, and all the subsequent variants of hormonal fertility control came along, anatomy really was destiny — and all of the world’s societies were organized around that central fact. Women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. With a few rebellious or well-born exceptions (and a few outlier cultures that somehow found their way to a more equal footing), the vast majority of women who’ve ever lived on this planet were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions designed to guarantee that they bore the right kids to the right man at the right time — even if that meant effectively jailing them at home.
Our biology reduced us to a kind of chattel, subject to strictures that owed more to property law than the more rights-based laws that applied to men. Becoming literate or mastering a trade or participating in public life wasn’t unheard-of; but unlike the men, the world’s women have always had to fit those extras in around their primary duty to their children and husband — and have usually paid a very stiff price if it was thought that those duties were being neglected.
Robinson makes the point that a woman's ability to control her fertility challenges historically entrenched patriarchal systems. For women this is seen as a positive development but for some men… not so much.

Flickr photo by WeNews


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Property of men. Chattel. Jailed at home. I have a friend who is divorcing her husband of 14 years because she is tired of his verbal and physical abuse. She stayed at home to raise their children, even though she was pursuing a similar line of work in the applied biology field, that's how they met, now he has all the contacts, and she has no resume. I think how not much has advanced for her when I read this blog post. Thanks for making me think on a Sunday morning!