“We teach girls that they can not be sexual beings, in the way that boys are.”
(Morgan Goldwich / Rowdy Magazine Online Writer)
BREAKING NEWS: It’s 2020 and old white men are still trying to control women’s bodies.
In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on birth control, which upheld the Trump admin’s regulation allowing employers to deny birth control coverage under religious or moral beliefs, I posted on my Instagram a call for anecdotes about how contraceptives have made people’s lives better.
I got some really important medical reasons:
(Editor's note: responses were edited for clarity)
But there was one response which stood out to me over all of the other responses to how birth control improved people’s quality of life:
“Prevented multiple pregnancy scares with my toxic ex so… hell yeah it did!”
When I saw this in my inbox, a lone beacon of sexual freedom among the sea of perilous and pain-filled responses, I wanted to scream, “YES!!!!”
I’m so tired of and saddened by people with uteruses having to constantly divulge stories of their most excruciating menstrual symptoms to justify needing access to birth control.
It’s undoubtedly important for people to be aware of the many, many other benefits birth control provides aside from preventing pregnancy — but contraception, on its own, should be a valid enough reason, too.
There has never been a massive (and enduring) political debate over the accessibility of condoms or even Viagra in the way there is over women’s reproductive rights. It’s not even a conversation. So it begs the question — is the denial of birth control really about “a violation of natural law”?
Of course not.
As a society, we should be well past the point of having to pretend like sex doesn’t feel good and there are plenty of reasons to have it that don’t involve reproduction. But to this day, the idea that bodies capable of growing a baby can have sex purely for the purpose of pleasure is coopted by slut-shaming and demonizing of their character.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in a speech iconically sampled in Beyonce’s “Flawless,” said it best: “We teach girls that they can not be sexual beings, in the way that boys are.”
When dorms, nightclubs and clinics can offer bowls of condoms like candy, while people are being actively denied coverage for hormonal birth control, it’s apparent that there’s a double standard in the attitudes about contraceptives.
People with uteruses shouldn’t have to be riddled with agony to deserve accessible birth control. Wanting to enjoy sex without the anxiety of a pregnancy you aren’t prepared for should be enough.
We have a long way to go before the medical and sexual good of birth control can be held equally in conversation and validity. And while it’s important to understand the health reasons someone may need to use birth control, we should move beyond the narrative which tends to heavily center pain to also talk about pleasure, and female pleasure in particular.
If you have more questions about birth control that weren’t answered here, or if you need other sex or relationship advice, fill out this form (anonymously or not) and we’ll give you our hot take in the next Rowdy After Dark.
Morgan is an online writer at Rowdy Magazine and a fourth-year journalism and women’s studies student at UF. You can usually find her at a local coffee shop, petting her latest foster cat or on social media @morgangoldwich.