You only get medical care if you stand very still and never do anything beyond the bare minimum to survive, said no doctor ever.
This is hardly a new thought, but fuck it, it’s Friday and for some reason people are harassing me again on Twitter for wanting to be childless, so I’m in a “I don’t fucking care if you like it” mood. Kaili at Wonkette has drawn my attention to the fact that Lena Dunham opened up a Twitter “dialogue” about why women take the birth control pill. I think it’s a good idea, but I groaned when I saw the actual tweet:
I need birth control because I have endometriosis and it helps manage pain. Why do you?
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) July 23, 2014
She then followed it up with:
Oh, one other reason I need birth control: cuz once when I was menstruating real bad I said “my grandma only likes me cuz I’m on TV”
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) July 23, 2014
As noted, I’m not the first to say this, but I am so done with the health “excuses” for why women use birth control. Done done done. Any thread or Twitter-stream or people-standing-with-signs or whatever about birth control would lead the casual reader to believe that 75-80% of birth control users are virgins who would never but for their painful periods. You’d think we’re all a bunch of teenagers at a Catholic high school the way that S-E-X is treated like the last reason women need birth control. I have no doubt that Dunham does need it for her endometriosis, and that condition really is terrible and my heart goes out to her and anyone who endures it. (I thank my lucky stars to be spared, even though it’s afflicted some family members.) But man, every time I see someone use a “health” reason outside of the one the pill was invented for—so you could fuck to your heart’s content without getting pregnant—I die a little inside. I feel each one of those is a little victory for anti-choicers, because every time a woman acts ashamed, even a little, for having sex, they score a point.
Like Kaili says:
But you know what? I won’t. (Even though I just did.) Because my menstrual sob stories don’t mean a thing to the people who are as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, wherein “it” is “living in a world where pretty much all women use birth control,” and luckily for them, the Supreme Court has said (yep, still mad about that) you have a right to not take it anymore if you SINCERELY don’t want to.
Look, this battle is over sex and whether having sex for pleasure is a normal part of everyday life that should be made safer through health care, or if sex is an Evil Sin for which you must pay through mandatory pregnancy. So let’s stop talking around that fight and just have it. Anti-choicers mostly don’t care if you take the pill for the cramps, and a lot of antis who oppose insurance coverage for it would be okay with allowing it if you had a doctor’s note saying you needed for non-sex reasons. In fact, many of them would prefer it that way, because going through that process would “send a message” that you should be ashamed for having sex and you need an “excuse” to use the pill. And while there are a very small number of women who aren’t sexually active who are on the pill, even women who picked the pill over other contraception because of medical reasons are still using it for contraception. So let’s just have that fight.
I take the pill because I like having sex and I don’t want to be pregnant. Even the latter part seems a bit like overkill to me, because, thanks to the pill, I don’t even really think about being pregnant very much. The pill is very effective in this way! That’s why it tends to get antis pissed off more than other forms of contraception because you just take it every day and the fear of getting pregnant tends to recede from your mind to roughly the same low levels that people who wear a seatbelt religiously have of dying in a car accident. So yeah, I take the pill because I like having sex and want to continue to have more of it. Lots and lots more of it.
I suppose Sean Hannity would whine that if I like sex so much, like I was human (ew), I should go to a gas station or some other place that sounds seedy to him and buy condoms. To which I say, nah. And also, fuck you. I mean, condoms are great and all, and Hannity may be surprised to find that you can buy them in non-seedy places like grocery stores. Even Whole Foods and other upscale places that they mop every hour or whatever! I used condoms when I was single, but now I’m a boring old monogamous woman and I like fucking without condoms and I will do it because I can. You know, the reason that couples live together and sleep in the same bed is not because that’s what sitcoms told us to do. A very big reason is so that you fuck all the time and no one has to drive home in the morning. Long term, live-in relationships—marriage is a popular form, I hear—are very conducive to just constant fucking. Most people go into them expecting sex not just multiple times a year, but multiple times a week. (Though it’s unwise to keep a spreadsheet detailing your expectations.) Sometimes, if you’ve run out of shit to watch on Netflix, you might end up fucking every day. I’ve heard it happens.
Anyway, while some people prefer condoms in long term relationships, a lot of us don’t. Part of it is spontaneity, part of it is not wanting to have dirty condoms for the cats to nose through, and part of it is that you’re always running out of the damn things. It may be that some of our friends on the right have a different sort of sex life. Perhaps sex only happens on special occasions, and they pick up a small box of condoms with the flowers and the bottle of wine for the once-a-month date night. For some of us, however, separating the amount of sex you have from the amount of contraception you need is the smartest choice, bar none. Condoms have a much higher failure rate, and it gets even higher when you consider the imperfect use issue. And let’s be adults here: If you’re having a lot of sex—which most people are, especially in relationships—then the chances that you fall into the imperfect user category is nearly 100%.
(Obviously, there are more reasons to prefer condoms than simply having sex too infrequently to bother with something else, such as not being able to take hormones or having an STI you don’t want to spread. But the “just use condoms” thing, as if that’s the answer for everyone, definitely seems rooted in a total inability to realize how much sex is integrated into the day-to-day living of most couples.)
There’s no reason to be coy about any of this. Fucking is part of normal, everyday life. Sex is not special occasion behavior or only done for procreation. People have sex because they were sitting on the couch and were like, “Hey, we have 15 minutes.” Sure, it’s theoretically optional, but the notion that medical care only addresses the things we need strictly to survive is laughable to the extreme. If I screw my knee up exercising, the insurance company isn’t like, “No doctor for you, because you could have just sat on your ass from here until the end of time.” (Which is also an “optional” behavior that can cause health problems, so I guess no medical care for that either?) If I need an allergy prescription, my doctor doesn’t say, “Well, just stay inside all the time and you won’t have this problem,” even though leaving my house is, technically, optional. Same with vaccines. Insurance companies cover them even though being around other people is theoretically optional for a very simple reason: Health care is for people, and people do things, even if they could theoretically not do things. Indeed, the idea that sex is somehow exempt from medical care falls apart when you consider not just maternity care, but also things like STI testing. Incidentally, not having sex might also be a factor in health problems that insurance covers—god knows that undertaking voluntary celibacy for no good reason would probably create cause to rack up some mental health care bills.
Medicine isn’t really a practice that’s there to try to prevent you from living your life. It’s there to help you stay healthy while you live your life, and that means care that is tailored to the life you are living and not to some abstract “ideal” that some misanthropic fundamentalist came up with. And sex is part of life. I have never actually heard a good argument from a Christian as to why sex-for-pleasure should be eliminated from life, despite its myriad benefits and the fact that it’s part of being human. I mean, they have arguments, but they suck. We should encourage them to make their suck arguments more, until it erases all doubt that they are nuts, and the way to do that is to stop talking about menstrual cramps and start talking about fucking.