In yesterday’s Health section of the New York Times is a very informative article entitled Weighing the Health Benefits of Birth Control. Despite the title and the solid information it contains, however, it’s not about the pros and cons of taking BCPs, it’s about how the Pill’s side health benefits are being touted as an incentive for women to use it. Apparently Big Pharma emphasizes the positive side effects over the real reason women take the Pill, because, y’know, none of us are comfortable ‘fessing up to that:
Whether it’s reducing the risk of cancer, easing cramps or enhancing complexion, it’s nice to have a medical excuse for using birth control.
WTF? Who says you need a “medical excuse”, much less a “nice” one to take the Pill? Here’s why you take the Pill: contraception. That’s your medical reason; always has been, always will be. I realize that BCPs can help with other problems–my sister uses it to treat endometriosis, for example–but birth control pills are first and foremost intended for birth control.
Of course, it’s “nice” to have a “medical excuse” because otherwise we’re just dirty sluts trying not to get knocked up. Oh, they’re not going to come right out and say that, but really, we all know why women would rather have an “excuse” to take the Pill. There are plenty of women–like the nice Southern Baptists at my alma mater–whose Pill-popping slipped under the parental and pastoral radar with the excuse, “oh, I need it for medical reasons.” Yeah, sweetie, you need it so your medical egg doesn’t get fertilized by some frat boy’s medical sperm.
Consequence-free sex is a worthwhile–and moral–reason to use contraception. Women have desperately sought it for generations–and still do in many parts of the world. But even in the liberal New York Times, there’s a subtle implication that we should be glad there are other reasons for taking the Pill so that we don’t have to admit to its true purpose.
I’ve been using the Pill for 15 years and I don’t care who knows it. And while I enjoy the positive side effects, I am using it to prevent pregnancy. I don’t need to justify my contraceptive choices to anyone or hide behind a “nice medical excuse.” None of us do.
And while we’re at it: does anyone ever say it’s “nice” to have a medical excuse to take Viagra?