With all of the legislative attacks on women’s rights and women’s health, I find myself wanting women in politics to stop trying to play nice and put things diplomatically. I want them to come right out and say things that we’re all thinking. In fact, this is what I would want to say if I were ever in office, though I’d be blushing furiously the whole time:
I’m a woman. I like sex. I like sex a lot, the same as any man. I happen to be a happily married woman, which makes my appreciation for sex with my husband “acceptable” in the eyes of the fundamental religious zealots, but let me be clear. Their religion is not my religion. And it’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to enjoy sex outside of the marital bed – whether that’s before she gets married, if she’s decided not to get married, or even after she gets married. Although that last part is something she needs to work out with her husband, and it’s no business of ours to judge.
Sex is fun. Sex is a natural biological urge. Sex has proven health benefits: sex is cardiovascular exercise; it improves women’s bladder control, lower’s your blood pressure, and heart attack risk, eases stress, decreases pain, helps you sleep, and decreases men’s risk for prostate cancer. We should not be demonizing sex and attempting to legislate other people’s sex lives based on our personal beliefs.
There has been a long history of slut-shaming when it comes to the arguments over birth control and pregnancy rights. For a moment, let’s ignore all of those single ladies who are being judged for exercising their sexual freedom and look at married women. If you block access to birth control and family planning options, there are a lot of married women you’re expecting to stop having sex with their husbands when they want to prevent pregnancy. In theory, these male politicians preaching against women and their libidos do not have Duggar-sized families. Are their good Christian wives sleeping in separate beds for months or years on end to prevent sex from happening when they don’t want (more) kids? I’m guessing the answer is no, that they’re using birth control in some form. I’d love it if these Tea Party wives stopped submitting sexually to their husbands – the way the Bible describes it – when they aren’t expressly trying to have children. I’m guessing a lot of them would change their tune concerning the morality of sex without procreation.
Unplanned pregnancy isn’t just a single lady’s issue either. It’s an issue for women who are already mothers. In fact, 60% of women who had an abortion in 2010 had previously given birth. Yes, a high percentage of women seeking abortions are unmarried, but these women, these mothers know the value of human life. They know how pregnancy and birth affect their bodies. They know how capable they are of taking care of their children. They know how their finances stand, and how expensive it is to actually raise a child. They understand the status of their own mental and physical health, and how that affects their existing children.
Myself? I’m a mental and physical mess. I rely on a variety of prescription and non-prescription drugs to get me through each day. Just one of my antidepressants is linked to some pretty serious birth defects, and some of my other medications are too. If I were to get pregnant again, I feel I would be harming my baby if I didn’t stop taking all of my prescription drugs due to the risks involved. But there are even more risks involved with untreated depression during pregnancy, not to mention my ability of function with the combined effects of untreated depression, anxiety, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and a yet-undiagnosed illness causing nerve pain. For all of these reasons, I am being proactive about my health and using an IUD as birth control. But nothing is 100% effective, and I would have to make a heartbreaking decision if it ever failed. I know that my body would not fare well with another pregnancy, and I don’t believe I am capable of taking care of an infant again. It would be irresponsible of me to bring another child into this world.
But I’m not going to stop having sex with my husband because of the remote chance our birth control might fail. And yet that’s what so many politicians are suggesting for any woman who doesn’t want to get pregnant. They shouldn’t have sex. Period. Have a chronic illness associated with poor pregnancy outcomes? Don’t have sex. If you can’t afford birth control, don’t have sex. If you used birth control and got pregnant anyways, well, you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place. Because you never know.
Right. Eventually, these self-righteous men will realize that birth control and a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her own body affect men, too. The same men who don’t blink when it comes to employer-sponsored prescription coverage for Viagra and other “sexual health” drugs will remember that the same women they’re telling to keep their legs closed are the ones they are sleeping with.
I am a woman. I have a right to have sex. To enjoy sex. To say no to sex. To protect myself against pregnancy when having sex. To seek and obtain proper medical treatment for my sexual health. To terminate a pregnancy if I need to, without harassment – and to grieve for my loss afterward. To teach my son, when he gets older, to respect women and their bodies, and that sex isn’t shameful but does come with a lot of responsibilities for both partners.
Christina Gleason is a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger, although she holds a Master’s degree in Psychology. Her (unprofessional) blog is called Well, in THIS House. She’s a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. She’s a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Words with Friends.
I love you. I had my tubes tied because I was tired of the IUD, pill, etc. I got confirmation my decision to stop at one child was correct this week; when I held a four month old for 20 minutes before handing her back to her mother… and when I wanted to run to the ends of the earth to escape my good friend’s two year old’s blood curdling screams. I know my body, my wallet, and my psyche could not handle another baby, any more than my marriage would survive over the long term without sex.
Having said that, there’s still a minuscule chance I would conceive, but if I did, an even more so chance I’d have to terminate to save my life….and I’d do it without a second thought.
YES! Yes This is what they should stand up and say! I’m so tired of the men in politics talking about things they know nothing about! Thank you for this!