In a recent article on Buzzfeed, 24 women outline the reasons that they do not use birth control. It’s exactly the sort of thing that you would expect from Buzzfeed, in that it’s more insulting than it is helpful or informative.
The article seems to have three different types of women: those who insist that I should be grateful for my period because it makes me a woman, that I should accept the “consequences” of my actions because my body is a gift to give my husband children, and those who think that birth control goes against the natural order of things.
According to this article, I should be grateful of my period, perhaps throw it a monthly parade with flowers because it’s arrival announces to the world that I am, in fact, a woman. I’m supposed to be happy about the cramps, bloating, acne, and back pain that stop by once a month to remind me that I am, in fact, not pregnant. But there are two things wrong with this way of thinking. First, I am under no obligation to enjoy being in pain once a month. The decision to help lessen the pain that comes along with a period isn’t anyone else’s concern. Second, and more important, having a period isn’t what makes anyone a woman, and the implication that it is is incredibly transphobic. Are women who are unable to to have periods no longer women? What about trans women? Are trans men who use birth control to stop their periods not men? If my period were to stop tomorrow and never return, I would still be a women. No one else has a say in how anyone else chooses to experience their period.
Equally horrifying are the next set of women. One woman goes as far as to take a picture with her two children in order to impress upon the reader that children are a gift, and women who are capable of getting pregnant (because not all women are) shouldn’t do anything to prevent pregnancy. The largest portion of this article seems to consist of women insisting that children are a gift that we should be grateful for, or that a woman who becomes pregnant should accept the consequences of their actions.
Let’s make one thing clear – the only person who gets to decide what is done with my body is me. If you, as woman, decide that you only want to have sex with the person you marry, you are allowed to do so. But telling other woman that their body is a gift to give to their husband is incredibly judgmental and shaming. It punishes other women who don’t make the same decisions that you do, implying that there’s something wrong with them for choosing not to wait. There’s nothing wrong with waiting, and there’s nothing wrong with not waiting. Having sex is a private decision between the participating parties.
Furthermore, you may think that your child is a gift, and you are allowed to think so. But telling an outside party how they should view having children imposes your view on them. Maybe I don’t want to have children. Maybe I do, when I am financially capable of taking care of one. Maybe I want to adopt a child. No one else is allowed to have an opinion on anyone else’s child bearing choices.
Here’s the thing – people take birth control for a variety of reasons, not all of which are related to sex and pregnancy. And even if the sole reason someone chooses to take birth control is to have sex and prevent pregnancy, that doesn’t make them a bad person. And it’s also nobody else’s business. There is nothing wrong with you if you choose to use birth control, just as there is nothing wrong if you chose not to. There is nothing wrong with choosing if, when, and how a person decides to have children. This isn’t a morality issue. It’s a matter of shaming the people who don’t live their lives the way that you (the patriarchy) want us to.
So to the 24 women who seem so concerned with my sexual choices and birth control methods, I want you to know that you don’t get to decide what I do with my body. You don’t get to decide when I get pregnant, or who I have sex with, or what I put in my body. You can only make that decision for yourself.