The subject of birth control should be far from controversial. To many women, the only thing controversial about it is that we’re still fighting this battle.
I’ve loved Cyndi Lauper since I first watched her video, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. This was back in the eighties, and she was the most outrageous person I’d seen up to that point. She had obviously dyed hair cut in a punk cut, loud makeup, funky clothing, and gaudy jewelry. In addition, she had Asian women in her video. I’d never seen that before! Cyndi was unapologetically different, and she seemed so comfortable in her own skin. Plus, she could fucking SING.
Watch the video and try not to smile and sing along. You can’t do it; you simply cannot. She brought some much-needed color to my life and even though I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, she was the first woman to show me that being a freak wasn’t necessarily a negative thing.
She had another song that came out in 1993 but that I didn’t hear until much later called, Sally’s Pigeons. The tone of this song is much more somber, as is Cyndi herself. It’s the story of two best friends growing up and doing the things that girls that age do. Their girlhoods are normal until the best friend, Sally, gets pregnant.
She left one night with just a nod, was lost to some back alley job.
That’s just one line, tucked in the song, but the impact is powerful. I’ve used this song when posting about this topic before because it’s one of the few songs that actually mentions the reality of life before Roe v. Wade. I’m not saying this was a true-life story of Cyndi’s though it feels authentic; I’m just saying it hit me hard because I could imagine this scenario, except with me in the role of Sally.
This is my long-winded way of saying I love Cyndi Lauper. I don’t know much about her other than her songs, and it’s not like I have a shrine set up to her, but I appreciate her much more than, say, Madonna, another female icon of my youth. I’m sure I’m just projecting, but Cyndi felt real to me in a way that Madonna never did. Any time I heard of her or checked in on her, she was doing something awesome and today’s no different.
Today, Cyndi came out against the Hobby Lobby ruling, and she didn’t mince words about her displeasure. She made it clear that this isn’t about religious liberty, but about keeping women firmly in our place as second-class citizens in our own damn country. The quote at the beginning of this post is from the link, and it echoes my own thoughts on the matter. How the fuck are we still doing fighting this fight?
Here’s the thing. I can understand, barely, the objection to abortion. I completely disagree, obviously, but i at least understand the reasoning. When it comes to contraception, however, I’m utterly out to sea, especially as more contraception means less abortions. “It’s preventing the babies from being made.” Well, so does natural planning, but the Church encourages that. So do vasectomies in a big fucking way, and yet, vasectomies aren’t considered controversial. In fact, a vasectomy is the one form of contraception that is solely for the purpose of not making the babies! So, if any procedure/contraception shouldn’t be covered, it’s this one. I mean, think of all those slutty men wanting to have sex without dealing with the consequences of it! How dare they think they have the right to ejaculate if the end result isn’t a fertilized egg? In fact, they shouldn’t even be masturbating because they’re wasting MILLIONS of potential baby-makers every time they squirt outside a womb!! How selfish of them!
What, that’s ridiculous? No more so than thinking that a woman should only have sex to procreate. If it’s good for the goose, then it’s good for the (not) fucking gander. Otherwise, it gives lie to the professed belief that this isn’t about keeping women in our place and treating us as brood mares.
Cyndi mentions how much lives were improved by the availability of birth control, something I mentioned in my Hobby Lobby post as well. In this post, Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, enumerated several concrete ways women’s lives have improved with birth control and how states with the most restrictive access are highest in infant mortality, HIV, and unintended pregnancies. From the post:
Birth control is a part of life in the United States: 99 percent of sexually active women in the United States have used it at some point in their lives. It wasn’t always like this. Before birth control became widely available, it wasn’t unheard of for women to have 12 or more children. In the decades after the pill was legalized, maternal deaths in childbirth declined by more than 52 percent.
The bolding is mine. I emphasized it because one thing the religious extremists pooh-pooh is that pregnancy is fucking hard. It’s not sperm meets egg, bake for nine months, and out pops baby. Women die giving birth, and it used to be a common thing in America. So, if sanctity of life is important to religious people, then something that cuts the death of women giving birth in half should be embraced.
In addition, when a woman can choose when/if she procreates, her economical life is better. And, it stands to reason that if her economical life is better, so are those of her children. This isn’t rocket science, folks. Because of the pill, more women are able to work, which not only helps them, but helps the economy as well. In addition, from the same link, for every dollar spent on birth control, three dollars of our (taxpayers) money is saved from having to be spent on pregnancy-related costs.
I know none of this will sway the religious extremists who believe that a woman’s place is pregnant and in the kitchen making their husbands dinner, but you know what? Fuck them. Fuck them with my rusty pitchfork™. Longtime readers know that I was raised fundamentalist and while I’m now apathetic,* I’m furious that these religious bullies are succeeding in making their way of life more valid than my own. Oh, sure, they whine about their religious freedom as if they’re the victims because they have the martyr attitude down pat, but when it comes down to it, what they want to do is control the sex lives of women. The owner of Eden Foods, another rabid Catholic, says it’s against his conscience to have to pay for something that would prevent contraception. Again, putting aside the fact that he didn’t include vasectomies in his lawsuit, it’s not fucking up to him to make that moral decision for another person. Here’s something my boon friend, Ian, wrote on the topic back when the mandate was first enacted. He was born into the religion and knows a thing or two about it. He neatly dismantles the notion that one person can be responsible for the morality of another person’s actions, and it sparked an epic debate in the comments that nearly set Angry Black Lady’s blog afire.
In rereading Ian’s post, I stumbled across a link he included to one of John Cole’s** epic rants in which Cole tears apart Douthat’s whiny Obummer is oppressing my religious freedom by making me pay for the slut pills post, and believe me, Cole is absolutely righteous when he’s ranting. In this postt, he says exactly what I think when it comes to religion. As I said earlier, I’m mostly apathetic about it, and I don’t go out of my way to antagonize. My family is deeply religious, and I try to keep my mouth shut when I’m at family gatherings. Basically, I ignore anything religious, and I hope that they pay me the same favor. Somewhere along the line, however, the more fanatical of our country’s Christians have decided that it’s not enough for them to practice their faith – the rest of us have to follow their bullshit, too. They have a moral objection to birth control? Well, I have a moral objection to assholes who think they should get to decide what healthcare choices I make for my own damn body. My body, my choice. That’s MY fucking religion, can I get an amen from the pews?
The attorney of Eden Foods’ owner, Michael Potter, said that his client couldn’t keep going against his conscience in providing contraception to his employees. Well, Mr. Potter doesn’t have any problem taking money from my slutty hands, now does he? How does he know that I didn’t JUST have an abortion before dropping by the Wedge to buy his shitty soy milk? Yes, I’ve tried his soy milk, and no, I didn’t like it. I don’t like soy milk in general, which makes me a bad Asian, but I digress. How does Mr. Potter know that I didn’t pay for my soy milk with the money left over from said abortion? HUH?? ANSWER ME THAT, MR. EDEN FOODS ASSHOLE! Or doesn’t it matter to him that the majority of his customers are most likely liberals who are pretty fucking pissed off at his discrimination? And, yes, it’s discrimination. Because he is a for-profit business owner, Mr. Potter is bound by the laws of the land, which forbids discrimination based on religion. So, if a Unitarian Universalist (believes in the right to choose) applies for the job, what is Mr. Potter going to do then? Probably just not hire the UU, to be honest. But, that would be discrimination, which as of yet, is against the law. That’s what’s really irritating about these assholes – they want to reap the benefits of doing business in this country without following the rules that go along with it. In addition, they think their religious bullshit should be the law of the land, and they’re becoming increasingly less shy about voicing those thoughts in public. Why shouldn’t they feel emboldened given how many laws are springing up in support of their viewpoint? And, given that the highest court of our land just agreed with them that their delicate religious feelings should be considered above the law, who can blame them for going for broke?
Still. 99% of American women of reproductive age have used one or more forms of contraception. For Catholics, the percentage is 98%. This does NOT include natural family planning, by the way. We are the majority by far, and it’s high time that we stop letting these asshole men tell us what we can and can’t do with our bodies. These are the extremists. As I noted in my last post, most Christians want birth control to be covered under healthcare, and they need to make themselves heard.
The assholes count on the fact that we will not fight the way they do. My evil brain says we should start agitating for laws restricting vasectomies and see how fast some of these assholes back off. However, the rational part of me balks because I believe that everyone has a right to choose what to do with his/her reproductive health, including men. Circling back to Cyndi, she urged people to go to Planned Parenthood and join in the dissent of the Hobby Lobby ruling. That’s a good start and so is donating to PP, which I did right after I heard about the Hobby Lobby ruling. In addition, we need to boycott any company that doesn’t want to provide healthcare for its employees and let them know exactly why we are boycotting them. In addition, those of us who’ve stopped speaking up on these issues (meaning me, really), need to start yapping again. We need to push back on the religious nonsense, even if it’s uncomfortable to do. I’m still thinking what steps we can take beyond that, and I’ll get back to you if I come up with something truly inspired. Let me know your creative ideas in the comments below.
The religious right has been allowed to dictate this conversation for far too long. We have to step up our game and fight back twice as hard. We are the majority – not them. We have to let them know that we will NOT go back to life before Roe v. Wade. I’ll leave you with one last Cyndi Lauper song, a remake of Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Thanks, Cyndi, for speaking up on this issue. You’re still a rock star to me.
*The question of whether there’s a god or not doesn’t interest me in the least.
**The procurer of Balloon Juice, a lefty blog filled with snark, internecine fighting, eighties videos, and a love for animals.