Economy or Contraception?

I get so annoyed with the shoddy writing, careless arguments, and unreliable research of mainstream journalists that I’ve been canceling my subscriptions left and right (pun intended). The only two EngIish-language subscriptions I have left now are The London Review of Books and The Nation.

Today, I open The Nation and try to accompany a raspberry mocha with the perusal of some interesting political commentary. And what do I find on Page 1? The following profound insight regarding Sandra Fluke’s Congressional testimony: “For most women, it is the economy, not contraception, that is the paramount concern.”

Headdesk, headdesk, headdesk.

It is only in the confused mind of this journalist that the recent discussions about contraception and the state of the economy have somehow ended up as completely different and even competing concerns. Everybody else (if we are going to generalize anyways, then I’m entitled to my generalizations) has managed to notice that the issue is precisely whether women with limited financial means will have access to contraception through their employers’ insurance.

Contraception is and always was indissolubly linked to the economy. A certain segment of the population will always be able to buy contraceptives, no matter how expensive they get and travel to an abortion clinic that is located in another state or even abroad. The war on contraception does not affect us all equally, which is why choosing whether we care more about the economy OR the contraception is completely useless.

While contraception is linked to the economy, the connection works the other way round, too. For women, the only way to acquire the simple capacity to compete in the market is to have constant and reliable access to contraception. Undermining women’s access to contraception equals removing women as valid competitors for jobs and resources. As a woman, you can’t care about the economy without caring about contraception. It’s physiologically impossible.

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45 comments on “Economy or Contraception?

  1. “I get so annoyed with the shoddy writing, careless arguments, and unreliable research of mainstream journalists that I’ve been canceling my subscriptions left and right (pun intended).”

    Wait until you read next weeks cover story in Newsweek. It’s about the assertion that the more equality women get in the economy, the more submissive they want to be in bed. Caveat – I haven’t read the copy and this is second hand but from multiple sources. They also quoted research from Psychology Today that suggests that most women have rape fantasies. PT got the stats from a rather poorly written abstract in the Journal of Sexual Research. Of course your fellow intrepid blogger read the original complete text of the paper. In the conclusions, the paper stated that although rape fantasies were “not the most prevalent” and “infrequent”, they were the most popular. To paraphrase Arthur Dent in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe novel by Douglas Adams, this is some new usage of the word, popular, which I haven’t come across before!

    • I know, this must mean they are the most popular among women-hating journalists who have nothing else to write about.

      And I’ve seen the piece on women who enjoy to be dominated to compensate for their success or whatever. It’s filled with my favorite “as everybody knows” and “many people realize.”

      What a disgrace.

      On the positive side, though, this massive anti-women campaign we are witnessing is evidence that feminism has prevailed and there is no way back. Hence the rage of the haters.

  2. This is why I wish Sandra Fluke and other well-meaning liberal women would either keep their mouths shut, or at least quit using their own lives and those of their (possibly hypothetical) “friends” to illustrate their concerns. All she accomplished was to get people to make fun of her and thus diminish the cause of reproductive freedom, because it’s obvious to anyone who has eyes that Ms. Fluke is not a person who will ever have trouble getting contraceptives or abortions or anything else she wants. She’s not a poor woman of color who can’t afford to get pregnant. She’s an upper-class white liberal. No door will ever be shut for her, laws or no.

    One thing that gets me about this whole fuss over contraception is the fact that what we are doing is basically demanding that the poor be more moral and more careful than the well-to-do. Conservatives are always on about how they’re the ones who know about human nature, unlike those rose-colored-glasses-wearing liberals, but they seem to have no trouble believing that poor people can live like celibate monks while being told by the culture (which is created and directed by rich white liberals) at top volume 24/7 365 days per year that sex is the pinnacle of human experience and the only true happiness. Poor people see people like Sandra Fluke and know she can get it on whenever she feels like it, and their response, quite understandably, is to decide that they’re going to do the same thing. Why shouldn’t they? And then conservatives have the nerve to complain about all the out-of-wedlock pregnancies and abortions among the poor.

    This is why I not only think contraceptives should be on every insurance plan, I think they should be given out free to everyone. We’re not going to put the genie of sex back in the lamp — it’s too late for that. We say we don’t like abortion — well, then pass out the pills! No pregnancy = no abortion. We have to get off this bandwagon of punishing women for wanting to have sex. It’s not working.

    • How much do contraceptives cost? The general libertarian in me says that if people want contraceptives, they should just buy them on their own, same as with other goods and services. For example, everyone (to hold a job) needs to bath, but we buy our own soap. Are contraceptives too costly for everyone?

      • I had to pay $35.00 per month for my prescription back in 1999 as I recall. I had a job but my insurance didn’t cover birth control. And yeah, that’s a lot for someone who lives in some of the poor neighborhoods in this country. Even if they did what libertarians and conservatives seem to think they should do and live like Carmelite nuns, that’s still a lot of money. Only someone who has never been down and out and female understands. Men think women spend all their money on frivolous things, as if we didn’t need to eat, pay rent, or wear clothing. Not to mention every month we have this thing called a “period” where we need to buy supplies so we won’t bleed all over the place — that’s an expense men don’t have. I neither smoke nor do drugs but there have been times when I needed menstrual pads and I had to scrape together a pile of change to buy the generic brand. I’ve lived on ramen noodles and water. When my fiance dumped me what if I had been pregnant? Oh I’m sure he would have “helped,” but still, time missed from work and inevitable health problems of pregnancy (because pregnancy is very demanding on the woman’s body) would have eaten into what little money I had, and then there would have been a kid. Don’t give me that libertarian “just pay for it” bullshit. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • I think it’s a disgrace that in a rich society like ours – because come on, we are a rich society if measured based on the amounts of money Pentagon pours down the drain – contraception is not massively available to everybody for free. We can create drones and nuclear missiles but can’t open a few pill-making and condom-making factories on the government’s money?

          The hypocrisy of a president who foamed at the mouth against abortion yet didn’t open such factories to give free contraception to people is mind-boggling.

      • Hey twisted spinster, that’s why I was asking a question about the cost. I didn’t just make a blanket statement that women should pay for contraceptives, I said that the general libertarian in me is inclined to say people should pay for such things, but I wasn’t sure of the cost of contraceptives.

        As for government contraceptives factories, I don’t know if I’d trust those :) Better to leave that stuff to the private-sector and just subsidize contraceptives for people having trouble affording them if necessary.

    • I agree completely on the absolute complete and total necessity of handing out contraceptives for free. I can’t wait for the day when we’ll see condom-dispensing machines in schools.

      I alsi think you are definitely onto something important with your critique of Fluke’s testimony as a story of a friend’s trouble. I think that this idea that women need to share personal stories that appeal to emotion to be politically effective to be outdated and counterproductive. We can make intellectual and philosophical arguments instead of peddling in these sob stories of “I’ve got a friend who’s got a friend.”

      • Yeah, I mean, I don’t currently have any friends who are having any trouble with anything like this, and I myself don’t currently have a relationship so I’m not taking the pill. And though I’m not rich I could probably scrape up the money for birth control if I needed to. This is just me sitting and thinking about this in a rational manner.

      • PS: I’m pretty sure the state college I went to had condom dispensers (25 or 50 cents per, I think) in the girls’ bathrooms, don’t know about the boys. That was about nine years ago the last time I was there.

  3. Also one quick thing, but Sandra Fluke never testified before Congress. She wanted to testify before Congress, but was rejected, so then Nancy Pelosi set up a media event made to look like a Congressional testimony.

    • I never said she testified before congress. I don’t care where she testified. I’m just tired of well-off white liberal women putting themselves at the forefront of this struggle. They’re not the ones who have problems during anti-feminist backlashes because all they have to do is cry and a white knight will come to her rescue with money and under-the-table medicine etc. It’s the poor who suffer every time something a liberal does causes society to have a shit fit.

      • //all they have to do is cry and a white knight will come to her rescue with money and under-the-table medicine etc

        Which white knight?

        What you say isn’t true for teen girls (even from rich families), if their parents have moral principles against abortion or birth control.

        You don’t have to be very poor to be unable to easily get abortion in US today.

      • Want to add that at middle school (7-9 grades) in Israel, one teen girl got pregnant, went to school counselor and got abortion without telling her parents. In US a teenager must get permission of both parents to get abortion and in cases of divorced parents with a father far away and not feeling like sending a permission … (read once a blog post about the issue)

        A school teacher in US (almost?) got sued for providing a morning after pill to a teenage girl. Clarissa wrote about the case not long ago.

      • If a pregnant teenager has access to Planned Parenthood, then they don’t need to get permission from either parent for an abortion. Some clinics will also offer the same thing, but most hospitals require permission from the parents.

      • I was talking about grown up liberals (like Fluke and her college-going friend; college students are considered adults in charge of their own life and health as long as they are eighteen or over). When it comes to minors, it’s a gray area, and I’m not qualified to speak about that. I discourage under eighteens from having sex, not so much because they are emotionally immature (some people are that way until they are dead of old age) but because what societal aids exist for grownups aren’t always there for people who are not considered legally independent of their parents or guardians. It’s just less trouble to wait. On the other hand, I know that it’s not easy to stand against the tide of emotion and the cues from every aspect of society telling them that sex is the only way to happiness and if they don’t have it when they feel like it their brain will explode and they’ll die or something. (And then the older cues that we still have infecting our culture tells the girls that they are nasty, dirty sluts once they’ve had sex.) So I’m in favor of gradually giving teenagers more control over their lives as they approach majority age — like we already do with driving. You can get a learner’s permit at fifteen and a regular license at sixteen. So why not start considering them at least semi-adults when it comes to something even more important than driving — their bodily health? Some parents will go nuts, but a lot of parents will actually be relieved that their kids have some sort of protection.

        • I think that normal parents will simply make contraception available at the onset of puberty and then butt out of their children’s personal lives until they are asked for assistance.

          I can’t say I’ve met many such normal parents, though.

      • “I think that normal parents will simply make contraception available at the onset of puberty and then butt out of their children’s personal lives until they are asked for assistance.”

        I completely agree, although I think parents should be ready to protect children from sexual predators, whether said predators are adults or other teenagers.

  4. I’m actually a bit surprised that Republicans don’t favour free contraception for poor people. It seems such a wonderfully Malthusian strategy for reducing the number of welfare recipients in the long run.

  5. The right to control what’s going on in your own body is like the right to health care or the right to decent education: it’s too important to be dictated by your own personal income.

  6. Pen, above, is misinformed. Planned Parenthood can’t do anything against state law, and won’t. If you are in a state which requires parental permission for minors to have an abortion, you need parental permission. Straight from the PP website:

    “Teens are encouraged to involve parents in their decision to have an abortion, and most do have a parent involved. But telling a parent is only required in states with mandatory parental involvement laws. Such laws force a woman under 18 to tell a parent or get parental permission before having an abortion. In most of these states, if she can’t talk with her parents — or doesn’t want to — she can appear before a judge. The judge will consider whether she’s mature enough to decide on her own. If not, the judge will decide whether an abortion is in her best interests.

    “In any case, if there are complications during the abortion, parents of a minor may be notified.”

    • I’m only repeating what I was told by Planned Parenthood representatives in school. Where I live, we don’t have parental involvement laws–they didn’t bother telling us that these laws exist. They also have safe havens for minors who run away from home or who are abused–again, in my state, they have no obligation to communicate with the parents in any way unless the child states otherwise. I realize now that it is different in other states and apologize for my misinformation.

      • Yes, many laws in US are by state and they differ. Organizations like PP have to really obey the law or get shut down. What kinds of services there are for runaways, etc., also depends on state and other funding.

        My mother was always adamant that I would be able to get an abortion from PP without telling anyone, but PP reps at school informed us that (a) our state was a parental consent state and they certainly could not let us get abortions without the consent forms, and (b) they didn´t have their own licensed clinic, but were only an abortion referral service. That´s how they were in N.O. too, last I checked.

        PP is good but is not your only or last stop. You also don´t have to go through them to get an abortion (I´ve met people who think that, too).

    • This quote is a pinnacle of barbarity. The judge will decide for her??? The parents will decide??? Because her body belongs to them? I’m shocked, disgusted, and horrified.

      • Yes, that is how it works in US, in the states with parental consult laws. (You need more maturity to have an abortion than to have a child, the theory goes.) It´s all part of the anti-abortion thing, yadda yadda.

      • The laws of when a child is considered no longer a child but a fully mature adult are very unevenly applied in this country. We have a situation where you can consent to sex at say, sixteen, but can’t get an abortion on your own until you are eighteen — and in no state now, I believe, can you legally drink alcohol until you are twenty-one. And voting age is eighteen, and you can join the army at eighteen, and you can get a driver’s license when you are sixteen. But every time the subject gets brought up paranoid parents’ groups who seem to do nothing but sit around all day imaging all the horrible things that will happen to the country’s children if they aren’t kept on a tight leash at all times rise up and make a fuss, until everyone is sick of the subject and nothing gets resolved. (That pretty much describes politics in the USA for everything, actually.)

  7. “This is precisely why the nasty folks want to destroy planned parenthood?”

    I think it’s more because they advocate for abortion. But they still tell people that the best way to avoid pregnancy and STD/I’s is through abstinence. They just realize that people are going to have sex no matter how much you preach abstinence, and so inform them of other options as well.

    • // But they still tell people that the best way to avoid pregnancy and STD/I’s is through abstinence.

      True for married folks too. May be the message should be brought also to them by abstinence advocates? Such a huge unexplored new market to sell their ideas.

      I mean,
      1) what ignoramus wouldn’t know that?
      2) it’s annoying and very dangerous (anti-women & anti-teen laws) how good ideas for 13 year olds are fully transferred to 17 year olds and even beyond.

      //They just realize that people are going to have sex no matter how much you preach abstinence

      Sounds so tragic. But why should the utopian ideal be for all 17 year olds to be virgins? Imo this ideal is not fully a right one and prevents from really teaching teens.

      Why not then wait till 25 f.e. or beyond, until the age when you’ll have means to support a child?

      • I think that the entire debate as to when OTHER people should start having sex is extremely unhealthy. Whenever the desire hits them, is the only right answer. For some people, it will be 13, for others 23, and for some, 33, etc. This is the matter of individual desire which cannot be legislated or pinned down in any way.

        The one sentence about sex that I repeated to my sister as a mantra since she was 9 was, “Only when YOU feel the need for it and only with a condom.” (We didn’t have anything other than condoms available at the time in our country.) Other than that, it was all up to her.

        The strategy worked out extremely well.

  8. California has had a family planning subsidy program known as “Family PACT” since 1996. It provides free to low cost birth control, abortion, STD screening/treatment and adoption services via Planned Parenthood, county clinics and teaching hospitals for anyone who is a CA resident. More states need to take the initiative to establish such types of programs.

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