“The fact is that women have been trapped. Reproduction is used, consciously or not, as a means to control women, to limit their options and to make them subordinate to men. In many societies a serious approach to reproductive health has to have this perspective in mind. We must seek to liberate women.”
Dr. Nafis Sadik
Executive Director, UN Population Fund
I graduated with a Master’s degree this year. My own intellect was the source of success, supported by insane dedication and amazing friends. But without condoms and feminism I could not have gone this far.
I know what you’re thinking. Condoms? Yes. My contraceptive method of choice allowed me to take control of reproduction and, consequently, my life.
I try to imagine worlds where sex with a man often leads to pregnancy. Or worlds without protection against STIs. The freedom to learn and develop my mind could be hindered by childrearing or health complications.
But I live in a world where I can control my reproduction thanks to technological advances.
Beyond impacting my reproductive health, condoms allowed me to explore my sexuality. With lessened sexual risks I felt free to make mistakes choosing partners, explore my own desires and figure out what pleasure meant to me through experimentation.
I have nothing but praise for the growing availability of contraceptive methods. Of course, without access this availability means nothing.
So I also want to thank Feminism.
This blog has seen its fair share of feminist bashers, quoting Valerie Solanas and Andrea Dworkin as if they represent a synthesized doctrine of Feminism. But those fools have it all wrong. In all the gender studies and women’s studies courses I took I never once read those women.
You want classic feminist theorists? Try Mary Wollenstonecraft. Try Virginia Woolf. Try Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Try Sojourner Truth. Try Simone de Beauvoir. Fuck, how about John Stuart Mill, Frederick Douglass or Henrick Ibsen? How about our modern feminists like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem or Susan Faludi?
Feminism is not about man-bashing, porn-censure or making sure every woman works outside the home.
Feminism is about choice.
And because we are individuals with vastly differing opinions, feminist theorists contradict each other and argue with each other. There is no unifying feminist doctrine except choice.
That choice is what I praise. I could turn off my laptop right now, find me a partner and set myself to a life of domesticity because I have that freedom of choice, a right won through hard struggles by previous generations of feminists in this country.
So to condoms and other contraceptives: Thanks for being there.
To Feminism: Thanks for fighting to make sure my generation of women and generations to come can choose to use that reproductive technology.
And to everyone else: just because you or I have these freedoms, don’t forget how the rest of the world’s women struggle to choose every day. I won’t say I’m lucky. Human rights have nothing to do with luck and everything to do with struggle and diligence.
The Sexademic is up and running again! I just got back from vacation so it will take about a week before I am back in my writing and posting groove again. Thanks for your patience!