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Feminism is the movement to liberate women from patriarchy.
We stand up for the rights of women as a sex-class. Women have a right to bodily autonomy and to set their own boundaries and have them respected. We resist efforts to limit women's reproductive autonomy. We condemn the men who exploit and abuse women in prostitution and pornography. We oppose all harms and forms of exploitation of women and girls, regardless of whether or not they're sold as "choice" or re-framed as "empowering." We oppose the movement to redefine "women" in a way that erases the realities of our lives and makes organizing for our liberation as a sex-class impossible.
"In the radical feminist view, the new feminism is not just the revival of a serious political movement for social equality. It is the second wave of the most important revolution in history. Its aim: the overthrow of the oldest, most rigid class/caste system in existence, the class system based on sex – a system consolidated over thousands of years, lending the archetypal male and female roles an undeserved legitimacy and seeming permanence." –Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex
Pill is responsible for: unsatisfying sex, men choking woman during sex and...turning the frogs gay. Is the pill actually the zodiac killer? Did it kidnap the Lindbergh baby?
The pill is a medicine. It is suitable for some women, and not for others. There are risks and benefits, that need to be weighed by each individual, just like literally every other medicine. The pill is not just for birth control, and has helped many women immensely.
The default position of the pill being poison in feminist communities, radical or otherwise, is very disappointing.
Antidepressants save women’s lives. They have serious side effects that need weighing up against the benefits and often takes many attempts to get the optimal dose of the most effective one for an individual.
If they are taken when they aren’t needed there will just be awful side effects with no benefit to see.
If women who don’t need them argued that they should all be removed from the market and we should rewild our mental health then feminists would not be impressed.
How can it be feminist to argue against women having control of our reproductive health!? That’s just cockshit. Completely great that women avoid it if it isn’t for them and any risks shouldn’t be down played, but the idea it is all bad is delusional.
And antidepressants would work a lot better if they were actually tested on women so women could get the correct dose instead of a massive overdose. I know several women on antidepressants who suffered serious consequences because of getting a massive dose since everything is tested on men and men are the standard in medicine
Antidepressants actually don't work better than placebo and they're disproportionately prescribed to women
That's what it is designed for. You can use it for other purposes, but it is likely not ideal for those purposes. It was recommended to me as an easy fix for too high testosterone - I am sure there is a better solution.
And sorry, the pill is not medicine. Being fertile is not an illness.
I totally agree that the side effects of the pill might be worth it in some cases, but it cannot be truthfully called medicine, because medicine is something used to treat illness.
There’s other medicines that weren’t designed as such, but are licensed and used as medicine.
There’s medical treatments that began as alternative treatment but have the evidence based to be licensed as medical treatments, like acupuncture with tens electrodes for pain management.
Some hbc is only licensed as medical treatment- yazmin is only licensed for hormonal acne.
Retin a is prescription treatment only in the U.K. even though aging isn’t a medical problem in itself. (And only private prescription/private pharmacy-nhs won’t do it unless in combo cream with antibiotics for acne)
Menopause isn’t a medical problem yet hrt is licensed to treat symptoms of it. Or to be used to prevent the risk to bones, heart, dementia etc even if there are no difficult symptoms.
Hbc is used as medical treatment for plenty medical issues. It works very well for those of us it works as medicine for, but not for others.
It was the only thing that worked on my hormonal acne, so yes it is medicine. There are millions of women with irregular periods or heavy, long periods that the pill helps, please educate yourself on the medical uses of hormonal bc before saying it is not medicine.
Birth control saves lives. Full stop.
Yes there are side effects. That doesn’t erase the incredible power of women to control their family sizes. Birth control is the ONE factor that can bring a country out of poverty.
Amen, sister. Women should be the gatekeepers of fertility. They are, on average, far more invested in the well-being of their children than men are.
Birth control isn't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than the alternative.
There are other methods though, not just the pill. IUDs for example
Barrier methods like the diapraghm, contraceptive sponge and condoms deserve mention too. I am one of many millions of women who used barrier contraception from when I turned 18 to the end of my "childbearing years" and never once in that time considered using a hormonal method (or in my case, an IUD either).
The view that birth control = hormonal birth control that's prevalent today just goes to show the extent to which contemporary society has come under the dominance and influence of the pharmaceutical industry - and how willing most of the population has become in recent decades to putting products manufactured by Big Pharma into their own bodies and their kids' bodies without any hesitation, research or second thoughts about any negative consequences down the line.
The total trust in, and reliance on, Big Pharma is an entirely new development that I have watched unfold in my own lifetime. Used to be, the pharmaceutical industry and a great many of its products were regarded with suspicion, even scoffed at as so much snake oil. Now the prevailing ethos is to take drugs for pretty much everything, and when the drugs you're already taking don't solve the problem, or they actually make you worse, then the doctors who prescribe drugs adjust the dose and add new drugs to your regimen.
I wonder what is responsible for this sea change in attitude. I know that prior to the early 80s, pharmaceutical companies were prohibited from advertising directly to consumers, so I imagine that's had a significant impact.
I remember funding my mom's diapraghm in her bathroom I'm the early 1990s and wondering what it was 😂 Now, after not wanting to go back on hormonal BC, I'm interested in reading up on other methods that are so rarely used nowadays.
IUDs are recommended for women who have given birth (because once our cervix opens for a baby to pass through it remains a teeny bit open forever, which makes it possible to insert them). They are very, very painful to fit even then. I had diazepam, codine and naproxen to get mine done and it was up there with stretch and sweep pain (which is worse than birth, although admittedly it only lasts a couple of seconds, but it’s still awful if it can be avoided).
The copper coil increases blood loss and anaemia and the mirina is hbc. It goes straight into the uterus so needs lower doses but it does go into the blood stream in small amounts and it takes 3-6 months for the heavy periods post insertion to settle down normally, for those of us it works for (I’ve known some women who never stop bleeding painfully after insertion and have it taken out a year later because of this. Or women who the first one works great for but the second comes with this risk). Given peri comes with much much heavier periods the copper coil is often not an option for older women also (although combined pill isn’t by then either generally, but progesterone only options are).
If the pill doesn’t work well it can be immediately stopped also. The injection has a month effectiveness, the implant will need an appointment to remove it as will a coil. The pill or patch or ring works out best for those who need to see how they react and stop it or change to another type quickly. Much easier to get a prescription than have an iud fitted for any survivor of sexual abuse and easier than needles or needles and stitches for anyone scared of medical procedures. It’s the least invasive option other than barrier methods or FAM which aren’t as effective or rely on a man cooperating.
Not anymore. Source - I have one and I have never given birth
I had some very negative experiences with Skyla (low-dose hormonal IUD) and the copper IUD... that I couldn't possibly experience effects from the Skyla because it was "localized" to the uterus (why all the migraines and vomiting then?). That I couldn't possibly feel the copper IUD, which caused near constant moderate cramps with one horrific, dizzying contraction that felt like a lightning bolt through my cervix every day.
My IUD almost killed me.
Did you get TSS and the doctors didn't even know to look for it because they've been told IUDs don't do that anymore against all evidence? I only ask because I've read at least half a dozen stories of women not being listened to while they're going septic
also, Fertility Awareness Methods work just as well as birth control, if followed properly
No they don’t. Not for any woman with an irregular cycle or other medical conditions that change symptoms of fertility.
2-23% failure rate. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm Which is definitely no where near the 99%+ success rates of hbc.
"if followed properly" is key for nearly every contraceptive, some are much harder to use properly. Fertility awareness requires education, continual tracking of body signs, a consistent menstrual cycle with normal signs, and crucially, the ability to abstain from sex during ovulation. Unfortunatley women are most horny during ovulation, so even with a decent male partner, you have to have good self control. Many women dont have decent male partners, or just male partners that are within the norm for pushing and whining about sex. It isnt a great option for a large proportion of women, because it is a behavioral modification, not a means of mechanically preventing conception.
It's usually not
They do…if you’re totally infertile like me. I was really disappointed once I started IVF 😆
Being on hormonal birth control for me as a teen was like having a railroad spike shoved through my head. BLINDING headaches and perpetual vomiting for months! When I ask my doctor if it was the birth control pills (because the timing seemed to coincide with my symptoms,) he dismissed me multiple times, "No. It's not that. Probably just a really bad bug."
Stopped birth control on my own and it all went away. It was my first experience of listening to myself over a medical professional.
How about all males get vasectomies at the onset of puberty. If a woman ever agrees to get pregnant by a particular male, his sperm can be extracted and the woman inseminated. No man could ever impregnate a woman against her wishes and no man could ever say that a woman tricked him into getting her pregnant.
I’ve been saying this for years too!
Can women here address the fact she isnt making a feminist criticism of the hormonal effects of hormonal birth control pills but the fact she believes sex that risks pregnancy is inherently better for women. She isnt saying, use a diaphragm instead. She's talking about sex without contraception.
Saying risking conception is the only true eroticism is awful.
Even in my long term, very secure and sexually satisfying relationship I find the idea of risking conception terrifying and the exact opposite of erotic.
Before we had children I knew he would stand by me, but I would have been terrified to be pregnant before we planned it, before we had saved and bought a house and had both decided we wanted a child at that point. I wanted any baby we had to be wanted and chosen by both of us.
Then we had twins and any further pregnancy and birth would have been a huge risk to my life and been impossible to care for the children we had (due to the impact on my underlying health conditions). There’s nothing erotic or arousing about risking that.
I breastfed so it wasn’t an issue until my periods returned years later, but I would have been far too exhausted to try and map my cycle even if it had been regular prior to children. The idea we might get a rare night they were asleep and we could have sex but I would have to check my dates and take temp and so on…. Not erotic at all to take that risk.
Risk and erotic don’t go together for me in any way. I doubt I’m unusual in that respect. I get the pill really doesn’t work for some women and changes desire and sexual response, but it doesn’t for me at all. I can’t feel desire without feeling safe and I can’t feel safe if pregnancy is a risk, or a higher risk. Feeling in control of my body is more erotic for me.
I'd like women, sympathetic to Harrington's article (book excerpt), to discuss this part:
Harrington is functionally saying, the reason why men and women accept practices from porn and BDSM, is that they are a substitute risk-seeking activity to the risky activity that is procreative sex. I mean, she literally calls fertile heterosexual sex, a "power exchange", for fucks sake, without spelling out what that means for the female end of the act.
PS the number of women who die in childbirth, or during pregnancy, during any particular year is far higher than the number of women dead from "kink" influenced sex. The original risky sex is just literally just sex. Harrington knows this but thinks one risk is not just better than the other, but is inherently fulfilling and erotic to women. I cant think of anything more insulting to our sex, at the bottom of it.
She’s basically saying women are asking for it. That it’s our own fault we get choked and beaten, because we took the pill.
Your last para though- presumably you aren’t including all the kink women don’t consent to and do die from -rape/beaten/strangled to death by partners dv or stranger violence. That figure is 3 per week in the U.K. which is higher than the numbers who die because of pregnancy or during birth I think. Women choosing to take part in this who die will be low, but those who don’t get a choice will be high.
Harrington's article doesnt address any partner, domestic, or sexual abuse or violence other than BDSM or porn practices either. Compelled pregnancy is in itself a kind of male violence, regardless of how dangerous the pregnancy itself is to a womans health. Just was pointing out, that if we are targeting kink specifically as a deadly danger (which it is), it would be seirously amiss to not mention how dangerous pregnancy is.
Numbers appear comparable in the UK for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/nov/10/sharp-rise-in-number-of-women-in-uk-dying-in-pregnancy-or-shortly-after
Would imagine it might vary significantly, which one is more dangerous depending on health care access, and social factors. Male violence during pregnancy, the double whammy, is exceptionally common as well.
Certainly women were never subjected to sexual violence before birth control! /s
Somehow the fear of potential death, disfigurement or having my life ruined by an unwanted child don’t strike me as adding to the thrill of heterosexual intercourse for women. Killing it completely, I would have thought.
So like, "He might cause you to die in childbirth. Take that thrill away from him, and he'll need to strangle you to get off." But the pill is the problem here?
Gives me vibes of, male author of historical fiction novels writing sex scenes from female character POV.
Yeah, I found it a weird take that she thought the only options were: hormonal birth control pills or sex without contraception.
That's right, Mary Harrington is a conservative. Catholicism actually requires that women never use birth control.
I'm not sure if she is Christian, but her views in this article are completely consistent with conservative Christianity.
From Rebel Wisdom-After graduating from Oxford University in 2002 with a first-class degree in English Literature, she was an early adopter of millennial precarity, via a twenties spent experimenting with gig economy work, intentional communities, gender nonconformity and unconventional relationship forms. From this article: Church Times Mary Harrington interview: the failure of liberation 17 MARCH 2023 "Under the influence of theory and activism, she joined a start-up and called herself Sebastian for a while. Then came the crash of 2008: her start-up went, her social circle, and all her belief system with it. Now she is married, with a child, living in the provinces."
So basically, she's selling her own copium.
After all that youthful academic achievement, it must suck being poor, obscure, and financially dependent on your husband. No need to drag down the rest of us, though.
I watched an interview with Mary Harrington and I can really see where she’s coming from in this. Firstly, it’s obvious her take is about putting women’s interests first. She wants to make women’s lives better.
She makes the point that the pill has meant that the only way women have been able to participate in society and be seen in equal terms to men is by artificial interference with the natural functions of their bodies. And they’re expected to make this intervention from teens to menopause. No such thing is asked of men. Is it really feminist to say that for women to be accepted they need to switch off part of their biology rather than demanding that the default setting that accommodates men who don’t have the same life cycles actually be changed to so it can include women with their biology intact?
She is also right that hormonal birth control does affect you profoundly, including in mind. If we’re upset about children getting puberty blockers and cross sex hormones, then we have to take seriously the fact that exogenous hormones taken for women to not relieve an actual medical disorder may not be an unmitigated good.
I’m not sure I’m 100% convinced but she definitely makes good, well thought out points.
The very profound effect is why I needed to take it. Without this profound effect my pmdd was ruining my life and the excessive blood loss and 14 day cycle meant I was so dangerously anaemic as a preteen/teen I needed blood transfusion. Just because I have EDS, which can’t be fixed.
Saving my sanity meant my adhd was more manageable also, because the pmdd stretch of cycle meant much worse adhd symptoms.
I never lost sexual desire, never had any negative side effects (on the ones that work well for me, some others v bad reactions but they were changed quickly), only very positive ones. Coming off it and living through early peri (genetics unfortunately) reminded me how unwell I was when I had no choice as a young girl dealing with puberty. Hrt and mirina has helped massively and I feel like myself again. Although not before my iron got dangerously low and I caught every bug going, including long covid that ducked my immune system. Which in hindsight my anaemia may have played a role in why I was so vulnerable to glandular fever at 10 or perhaps partly why I ended up with post viral fatigue that wiped out my early teens. (No one else in my school caught it despite us all being around the kid I knew I caught it from).
Access to this profound effect is what saved my life and meant I was functioning well throughout my fertile years. For every woman who reacts very badly to hbc there will be one of us who thrives on it and suffers without. It shouldn’t be expected that women take it, but taking that choice away from us is the opposite of feminist.
I never gain weight on it either. Her whinging about women being fat and sexless is gross misogyny. If fat women are so unfuckable or lacking in desire pressumably we all skip many months of sex while pregnant then 🙄
I’ve taken hormonal birth control for my PCOS and PMS. It helped because my hormones in their natural state are not optimal ie there was a medical need for intervention. But this also isn’t what Harrington is talking about when she’s talking about the pill and its principal use.
My hormones in their natural state, when tested, were perfect according to the doctors. I had cysts on my ovaries at ten but never since, no pcos, no endometriosis, no fibroids. My hormones weren’t the thing that was wrong in themselves- I have EDS which means less collegen in my veins which means increased blood loss of every type. It’s common for hyper mobility syndroms to go hand in hand with various other disabilities like my adhd, so maybe it’s a combination of these that made me more sensitive to my supposedly perfect hormones and make pmdd. But according to every test my hormones or female health wasn’t something that was wrong exactly, just the way the effected me was. So the profound effect others need to avoid I needed to live. Equally my daughters have as heavy blood loss as I did at their age and no hormonal problems, but given their autism it’s unbearable for them and stops them accessing school and sport, so the pill means they can access daily life again, which matters. Plenty women will want to use it to manage pmt, not as severe as pmdd, plenty for acne, which there’s plenty will deem not worthy enough (despite the other medications given with much greater risks) and some find it suits them best for bc. MH can’t say who’s deserving and who isn’t and she’s batshit claiming the pill caused porn and violent men. Women should have greater choices that are informed and accessible.
I’ve known plenty women who have no idea that PMT or PMDD aren’t something they must just put up and shut up with until they take the pill for hbc and realise the positive impact it has for them. There would be no recognition of struggling with this mattering when it’s near impossible to get a gp appointment at all in the U.K. If they want to take it they shouldn’t need to fight to have tests and investigations and so on, when a prescribing nurse or family planning drop in can do that and let them have control over their fertility and weight up if it benefits them to stop pmt.
Except the point Harrington is making is not true! Many sexually active heterosexual and bisexual women who have participated very fully in society and have made great strides in achieving equal opportunity and staus over many decades did so without taking or relying on the pill or any other form of birth control that inferfered with the natural functions of our bodies. I am one of them.
After the pill became a big success in the USA following its introduction in 1961, only a few years elapsed before the pil began generating a lot of negative word of mouth as rumors spread that that the pill in its original formulations was having damaging effects on women's health. By the end of the 1960s, there were many stories in mainstream women's magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook and Cosmopolitian about the healdth dangers of the pill.
As result, a lot of women of the baby boom generation who were involved in and/or influenced by the women's liberation movement admantly and consciously eschewed the pill (and IUDs too). We used diaphragms, condoms and contraceptive sponges instead.
Women who used barrier methods of BC in the late 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s might have been a minority compared to all the women over that time period who used hormonal BC and IUDs, but we were a very significant and sizable minority all the same. Some of us tried the BC pill initially, but decided to discontinue it because we had negative "side effects" and/or health concerns. Others never took the BC pill at all.
So the idea that we were all on the pill and the contention that this proved that
Is a total distortion and a big fat lie. A distortion and lie that is fucking insulting to women of older generations. Aargh. The very idea makes me want to throw my laptop across the room in rage. It's bad enough when TRAs erase women, our history and "lived experience." But it's doubly infuriating when women like Mary Harrington are the ones doing the erasure, and they're doing it in the name of creating a better brand of "feminism" than the sort of feminism of stupid women of earlier generations who supposedly only achieved anything coz we were all on the pill.
Some background info about the backlash against the pill amongst American women in the 1960s and 70s, which helped make other methods of BC popular, and caused many women influenced by and involved in the women's liberation movement of the 70s to adopt the diaphragm as their preferred and main or sole method of contraception:
Mary Harrington is 44. Which means she was born in 1979, and she turned 21 in 1999. I don't think she has much grasp of what actually happened after the pill was introduced. Harrington's mistaken belief that women of earlier generations were only able to participate in society and be seen as equal to men because they/we were all on the pill suggests to me that the famous Seinfeld episode "The Sponge" from 1995 would go right over her head. A main reason that episode had such resonance, and worked to such comic effect, is that a great many successful, pioneering, feminist women of Elaine's and Jerry's generation and earlier generations consciously decided not to use the pill or any other form of BC that "switched off" part of our natural biology - yet we still had plenty of sex with men and avoided unwanted pregnancy anyway.
And in the 60s and 70s, most women smoked which added additional risk. I was on the pill for a short time and got scared because of the side effects. Went to the sponge and then got my tubes tied at 25 thanks to planned parenthood.
She is also talking mainly about the UK context where 9 out of ten women who are prescribed contraception are prescribed the pill.
I've taken the pill, several different brands and strengths of it, and it absolutely did affect my mental health (depression -- severe with Ortho-Novum, low-grade with the lowest-dose pill on the US market), my physical health (it jacked up my cholesterol, and when I stopped taking it I lost 10 pounds in about a month with no effort), and my sexuality.
So that's n=1 but I'm just posting as counterpoint to VestalVirgin.
I honestly do not think that the pill affects women's choices that much.
Now, I admittedly never took it myself, but when I look at the mediocre men with whom the women around me start relationships (in some cases the first relationship, where presumably they weren't on the pill before), I get the impression that the social pressure to get a man, regardless how shitty, just to have a man, is affecting womens' choice (or lack of choosiness) more than the pill.
Do women become less choosy when taking the pill? Possibly. But ... does it even make a difference, considering the overall readyness to get with mediocre to outright horrid males?
you've never taken hormonal birth control, personally, but want to shrug off the very real and serious side effects of these drugs on women.... right
I think @VestalVirgin is saying that taking the pill doesn’t make women make poorer choices in men. I don’t see where she’s shrugging off any side effects, just pointing out how ridiculous a claim MH is making when she says women taking the pill chose meaningless and unsatisfactory sex with empty relationships and that to have meaningful, satisfying sex women must not take the pill.
The risks of hbc are awful for plenty of women, but not having hbc comes with awful risks for those of us who need it to treat medical problems. Pregnancy women don’t have a choice in is equally awful and hbc is one of the ways women can take control over this. But whatever option of bc any woman opts for won’t magically change her choices in men or her lack of choice, as is often the case. Men being abusive or porn addicted or inadequate or selfish has nothing to do with hbc women take or don’t take.
Women can be as choosy as they like, with or without the pill.
I think along with the liberation from pregnancy that women were able to fully control themselves, not relying on the man to wear a condom, or do it properly, etc., was excellent.
However it came about when women were still even more oppressed than now, and once again, when we got something for ourselves, we were sold that it was a benefit that should be shared.
We had less “excuse” to turn guys down. We should “give him a chance”, we were being “frigid” and “prude” if we didn’t want to screw any guy who wanted it, while also being labeled as sluts if we did. But society really pushed the former bet that’s how men can get laid.
My mum, who was of the first real generation to be sexually “liberated” by the pill once told me about “pity f*cks”, men that women were supposed to sleep with because he was having a hard time, or whatever. It was considered a “kind” thing to do, even though it wasn’t much fun for the woman.
It never occurred to me to sleep with a guy out of pity. But before I came of age the song “No Scrubs” by TLC came out and it really set the tone for me and my friends. 🤣
What we need is to allow women to have boundaries.
I’ve said this before, women don’t need a reason to decline sex with a man. The default is we’re not interested. We need a reason to be interested.
It’s not like there’s a state of “we’d sleep with him if it weren’t for XYZ.” and those reasons are just arbitrary or shallow or sometimes justified. When asked why we might come up with these reasons, but even then those aren’t the real reasons. The real reason is we don’t want to, there’s nothing drawing us. Some guy might be perfectly fine, but I’m just not interested. Get over it.
Men though seem to be willing to sleep with almost any woman, unless there is a specific turn off. Or there is an environment where there is that expectation, and they’re mostly ok with it.
We don’t work the same way though.
I agree with the point that the pill may be facilitating mostly dreary anorgasmic "plastic sex" at the expense of the mind-blowing emotionally integrated kind you can have with a man who isn't just playing the numbers.
I didn't use the pill myself in my single days, for exactly this reason. Plus, it was during the AIDS crisis and you needed a condom anyway.
You still need birth control. I searched for the word "condom" in this article and could not find it, nor could I find any acknowledgement whatsoever that an unwanted pregnancy will, you know, completely ruin your life.
Or men, who cause pregnancy, could take more responsibility in the form of condoms and vasectomies, but we all know they can't be depended on to not be selfish and lazy about it.
I'll consider this when the US dramatically lowers its maternal mortality rate and makes abortion legal again.
I’m straight, and she’s talking bollocks.
Definitely not just you! She sounds downright masochistic, or like she thinks women in general should be/are.
Think it’s more a case of her being either religious, conservative or both, and wanting to remove women’s agency so their only choices are abstinence or marriage with an expectation of (numerous) children
The whole article is insane.
This is a conservative view, that planning for sex takes all the fun out of it.