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Frankie Says Submit

By Amanda Marcotte
Saturday, August 16, 2008 19:32 EDT
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The Austin-American Statesman had a profile of Protestants who, unsatisfied with the overly pro-woman ways of mainstream Protestantism* have decided to embrace the Catholic view of birth control. That is, to not use it, because if women’s lives aren’t fraught with fear of getting pregnant, then they are getting away with something.** It’s an okay story—it’s good to see the mainstream media give some coverage to how anti-woman evangelicals are turning on birth control—but they could have gone a step further and explained that for the activist branch of the religious right, female submission is seen as something that the law should mandate for all women, regardless of religion, by banning birth control.

What I liked about it was that it’s impossible for the wankers who push “natural family planning” (which can only work if a woman is fully empowered to say no during her fertile times, which is unlikely in the male dominated marriages that lead to NFP use for religious reasons) to hide how this is all about their views of women and women’s proper place—prone before their husbands, both in the physical and symbolic sense.

Taylor, a fresh-faced 28-year-old who would blend in easily with South Austin bohemians, ruled out taking birth control pills after reading a book that claimed the pill could, in some cases, make the uterus uninhabitable after conception occurred. She viewed that as abortion, which she opposes.

“I just wasn’t willing to risk it,” she said.

Emphasis mine, to show how the whole “the pill is an abortion” thing is rationalization. If she wanted to know the truth, she could have contacted an actual doctor and found that, if keeping fertilized eggs from dying was her concern, she needs to be on the pill. Because while there’s a remote possibility of shedding a fertilized egg on the pill, it’s all but inevitable that you’ll be shedding a few if you don’t use anything at all. Because the pill works by stopping ovulation, meaning you don’t have eggs to fertilize. But not using anything means that your body is fertilizing and rejecting eggs on a regular basis, before one takes.

But it’s more than that. You don’t want to use the pill, so your only other method is NFP? What about condoms? Ummmmmm…… Gosh, how to say this while concealing that this is about making your man your lord and master?

Before getting married, she took the pill to regulate her menstrual cycle, but she said it had negative side effects. Other forms of birth control such as condoms didn’t appeal to her.

You fudge a little and pretend your husband isn’t involved is how. Or that your decision to go off the pill when you got married was done sans pressure from the very same guy who refuses to wear a condom. Oops, did I say “refuse”? Did I suggest, god forbid, that men take a shred of responsibility for how they treat women?

I highlighted the word “uninhabitable”, because I think that’s the thinking that’s the key. Uninhabitable for a fertilized egg? Or for the sperm? I think it’s more the latter, and everything else is rationalization.

All that Bible talk about how women are supposed to look on their husbands like men do on to god isn’t just for fun. That means you have to worship your husband, and be completely pliable to his will. It means that women’s place is to glorify men. That means a lot of things—from pillow-fluffing to ego-fluffing. But it’s weird, if you think about it, for man-centered, man-worshipping marriages to draw the line at treating sex like a game of “conquer the womb”. If a woman is using contraception, she’s not making her uterus habitable, or more importantly, submissive and pliable. Her body is for his enjoyment, but also so he can demonstrate his virility to himself and the community. For a woman to interfere with that is just not done.

Luckily, the emphasis on how refusal to use contraception is about conquering women and making them submit is all over the article.

With a pill, he said, people are in control. But “what does it mean to submit your physical bodies to God’s sovereign care? … God has given us power and freedom to exercise that decision. We can say, ‘God, we’re going to respect the rhythms you have given us.’ “

I love how suddenly it’s about making “people” submit to “god”. Uh-huh. Except that it’s women who do the submitting, and their bodies that are used for this purpose of glorifying their husband’s cock power god. What do men have to do to submit? Let’s not look at that too closely, just like we don’t want to look at how it just so happened that the wedding night was the night one woman decided she didn’t need to control her cycle any more.

The weird thing is that if you want children, I don’t see why not just go off the pill and try. Oh wait. I do see the problem with that—if a woman gets pregnant while trying to get pregnant, her pregnancy is an active choice of hers, not a symbol of her mind-and-body submission to her husband.

*Which still fall far short of what I’d like to see.
**Being female without routine punishment.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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