Birth control is not a women's issue. It's a people-who-have-sex issue.
Forgive me if I don’t understand the resurrected fuss over women’s access to birth control. I thought this issue was resolved decades ago.
Earlier this month, Arizona legislators decided to practically rally against women. They advanced a radical bill that would require women who wish to have their contraception covered by their health insurance plans to prove to their employers that they are taking it to treat medical conditions — not prevent pregnancy. The bill also would have made it easier for Arizona employers who object to the use of birth control for non-medical reasons to fire female employees for using it.
I write “would have” because luckily someone injected a dose of common sense into some of the representatives in Arizona. On Monday, the bill stalled in the state Senate because of increasing opposition from ticked-off women — and a few men like U.S. Senator John McCain — who feared they would have to turn over their medical records to their employers. You could practically hear (some) women in Arizona exhaling.
This isn’t the first attack on birth control — weeks back Rush Limbaugh was recently in hot water for “slut”-shaming a Georgetown student who advocated for universities covering birth control — and surely it won’t be the last. I do wonder, however, at what point we’ll find men en masse stepping up beside women to counter these attacks. Largely they’ve been silent, especially the unmarried ones, and I can’t figure out why.
Here’s the deal: If a woman is taking birth control for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, she is at some point sexually active with a man. Most men are not looking to start families at the time, no matter their level of commitment to a relationship. And they, like their female partners, enjoy the art of “practice.” Often, since there’s a preventive measure in place to keep women from getting pregnant — i.e. the Pill — some couples don’t use condoms with the regularity that they should, if at all.
Okay. That’s not ideal for health reasons and it’s certainly not encouraged… but it happens. Caught up in a pleasurable “moment,” both women and men can get lax about condoms when they know they’re protected from pregnancy. And since men get so much joy out of “raw sex” too, I can’t help but wonder why the majority of their bass-y voices have gone suddenly silent when it comes to legislators attempting to take measures that get in the way of that. Is it that they want to go back to using condoms for every encounter? Maybe they’d rather run the risk of impregnating every woman they have sex with every time they want to have sex. Maybe they’re looking forward to couples vacation being “ruined” when a woman’s cycle arrives, since she can’t manipulate it with her regular access to birth control. I dunno.
The attacks on birth control are not a women’s issue. They’re a people-who-have-sex issue. I need the guys to step up, and put those booming voices to good use.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk
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