Monday, December 29, 2014

Stahp Controllin Muh Fertility

You’ve probably seen it floating around your preferred window into cyberspace lately: “Topless FEMEN activist kidnaps Baby Jesus from Vatican nativity scene.” So the story goes, a woman bearing the phrase “GOD IS A WOMAN” across her bare chest snuck into the Vatican nativity scene, rushed to the manger, took the little Baby Jesus statue, and darted off. She was quickly chased down and apprehended by a security guard who covered her up with his cape, but FEMEN has called for similar stunts to be pulled around the world, their website offering the following reasoning:

“The maniacal desire to control women’s fertility is a common trait of many religions…Abortion is sacred!

“Control women’s fertility?”


I have to admit, when I first heard about this story I was furious, but when I read that bit, I couldn’t help but laugh … and laugh … and laugh. Rarely can such a brazen display of hypocrisy be observed so succinctly.

I’m sure the “radical” feminists of the 21st century would hate to all be grouped in with the likes of FEMEN, and I would hate to do that to them; but let’s not be na├»ve – the ladies of FEMEN totally consider themselves radical feminists. They’re all about some birth control, and their own website proclaims their ideology that “abortion is sacred.” Now, let’s be real – women’s fertility is definitely being controlled, and in fact, there are many in the world who strive to completely impede it, whether temporarily or permanently. Women’s fertility is under attack constantly in a world that doesn’t even realize it’s doing it. But FEMEN is looking for the villain in all the wrong places.

I don’t want to toot my little Catholic horn for too long in this post, but the Catholic Church isn’t exactly out to control anyone’s fertility. There is no great Vatican conspiracy to see to it that every woman everywhere gets pregnant at exactly this time on exactly this day and if she doesn’t off-with-her-head. I mean, if there is, I haven’t heard about it. Not a single Vatican official has ever contacted me to make sure I’m maintaining strict obedience to a conception-or-not-conception schedule, is all I can say.

But, I am regularly told by people of all sorts that I “need” birth control. People ask “how I’ll keep myself from having kids” if I never plan to use contraception when I’m married, and I’m constantly reminded in the media and politics circus which surrounds me that contraception is something I *need* – something I *need* so badly it should be free – even provided by my employer. When I tell people I plan to use NFP and work with my awesome body when a baby just isn’t feasible, I’m told “that sounds like too much work, why not just take a pill every morning and not think so much about it?” as if education about my body and the way it works is somehow a waste of time in a world where I can just pop a pill or get something implanted into my arm and be done with that pesky womanhood inherent to my existence. Not to mention, I’m constantly grouped under the umbrella of “young women” who “need” abortion in order to be successful people – some even have the audacity to claim that I’m not equal to men unless abortion is accessible to me (as if the equality of the sexes is situational and not inherent). The amazing things my body is capable of – like, you know, making people – are considered a waste of time and money that will hold me back if they aren’t chained down and drugged into a state of manageable torpidity. And should all these efforts to imprison my fertility fail, I’m offered the “comfort” of knowing that, it’s okay … there are ways to “take care of” that.
Who was trying to control women’s fertility again?

It is a serious and deeply-held belief of mine that women will not be truly liberated until womanhood is. And as long as female fertility is treated as a disease with useful benefits when its primary function is restrained, and as something that’s nice for a while but then needs to be tamed and shut down, I really don’t think we can consider women, or womanhood, truly liberated. How can anyone claim to be for women and against patriarchy and at the same time say women “need” contraception and abortion to be successful – to have the same opportunities as men? Is a culture that does not afford the same opportunities and freedoms and considerations to women with children as it does to men with or without not misogynistic at its core?

Here’s how I see it: as long as an organization aims to protest oppression by freeing their breasts while calling for the submission and restraint of the female reproductive system by force of chemicals and devices, and considering “sacred” the act of deliberately eliminating the natural consequence of female fertility – they’re hypocrites. Or, at very best, dramatically inconsistent in their claims; not to mention, quite frankly,altogether useless to any serious movement for women’s rights and equality anywhere in the world.