Monday, 12 March 2012

it's late, but i feel strongly about this

I'm a swinging bag of inconsistencies.  Not the sort of jauntily swinging bag a girl with a floral dress and sweet wee shoes might tote at her side, but a giant, pleather, lumpy and overfilled bag of which the owner has lost control (owner's dress: unclear, but she definitely has a spot on her chin).

I think I've already referenced the fact that I took some time off oral contraceptives recently.  My return to the world of daily prescription meds has not been smooth sailing.  The mood swings are problematic; underscored by the fact that I was further enraged on realisation of the cause of the mood swings because there is almost nothing worse than telling your husband/lover/significant other that the reason you're so extremely cross about [fill in the blank] is because your hormones tell you so.

As it dawned on me that there was probably more fuelling my mood swings than P's intransigence, and as I appreciated that my moods were, perhaps, not entirely justifiable, I read some more about Rush Limbaugh's comments regarding Sandra Fluke, the student who testified concerning the cost of contraception before Congress.  And then I completely lost my shit.* 

You guys!  Rush and the Mum off Everybody Loves Raymond are gonna think I'm a slut as well as a self-identified hormonal bitch!  I'm even worse than Sandra who was seeking to have an insurance company cover contraception - because I'm a big, fat Whorey McHoPants who, for a significant portion of her young adult life, leeched money off taxpayers in order to have sex!  

I believe I am very lucky that I live in a time where there is the knowledge and ability to choose with respect to contraception.  To choose on my own, if I so wish.  I know this. 

In New Zealand, Family Planning offers free visits and contraception for those under 22.  My university in New Zealand subsidised the cost of doctor's visits and contraceptives.  Once I was employed full time in NZ, I paid for them myself.  The compulsory health insurance I had at my university in the US meant I received free doctor's visits and contraceptives.  In the UK, I pay a minimal amount for contraceptives prescribed by an NHS doctor.   Monthly NHS contributions are deducted from my salary. 

Quite aside from the other possible health benefits, these different bodies/organisations/policies helped me and will continue to help me to make an informed decision about motherhood.  I may become a mother if I'm ever good and ready to be one. 

And let's be straight about this.  Sex can be good.  Sex can be fun.  Lots of people want to do it.  Lots of people want to do it without a possible biological consequence (I'm talking about babies, not UTIs - though if we could have sex for fun without UTIs too I'd be supremely grateful).  Sex can come with a host of complications but I never, ever thought that I'd effectively be labelled a prostitute for having sex using contraceptives that were funded by the tax payer.  I bet you P never thought that either when he availed himself of subsidised condoms.   

The net result is that I don't regret a single cent of tax revenue going to help women and men (let's not forget they're part of this too - they too have the right and ability to choose to prevent pregnancy) make informed decisions about whether or not they want to have sex.  Informed decisions about health, wellbeing and parenthood.  Men and women who, for whatever reason, might not have the financial wherewithall to access contraceptives otherwise.  You might say that's purely because I've availed myself of that service.  Sure, I benefitted.  But the availability of those services gave me the right to choose - and one of those choices was not to have sex; not to use them. 

Now that I've outed myself as the second coming of the Whore of Babylon, let's just take a minute to think about Sandra.  She wants her Jesuit college to continue to cover contraceptives as part of the compulsory medical insurance the college provides for students.  What, exactly, about that makes her a slut?  There might be a place for a discussion about the economics of contraception in there, sure.  A 'user pays' argument isn't completely out of sight.  There might be a place for a discussion of respect for respecting the religious beliefs of the founders of a private place of education, I can see that.  But at what point did Sandra say anything remotely like "I want the pill so I can get my freak on with all and sundry on and off campus" leading to the belief that she's a 'slut'?  AND WHAT WOULD BE WRONG WITH SANDRA IF SHE IN FACT DID SAY THAT? 

This debate has so many levels… but expressed at its most basic, I think Sandra was articulating a simple wish for students to retain the right to make decisions about their bodies within the context of compulsory insurance and expensive contraception.  It must be fairly obvious that in my view, making a decision about your body is personal.  Fundamentally personal - encompassing your own belief and value system.  There is just no need for public discourse about these issues to denigrate to a level whereby we label people with loaded terms. 

[NB I hope I've not been hypocritical, inconsistent or just plain awful in discussing this.  I know I've called people names in the past for their views on different issues and I'm conscious that I might just be hypocrisy in action.  I trust that the names that I've used have been generic and not loaded with particular bias or history, but correct me if I'm wrong.  This post merely picks at the edges of my views on sexual health and associated matters.  I do understand that people might feel differently than I do, or might be offended by the use of borderline humour in my discussion of Rush and co's reactions to Sandra.  I know Rush has apologised (sort of) and I apologise (sort of) in advance.  I'm now having real trouble conceptualising the use of insults on my blog and the use of insulting language in public discourse in general...OH DEAR.  A post for another day!] 

*I appreciate I'm a little slow off the mark reacting to this one, and the whole of the internets has probably already had their say.  OH WELL - it REALLY steamed my broccoli so WARNING: RANT AHEAD.

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