When I was fifteen, my doctor prescribed me birth control. Fifty years ago, that might have been a shocking statement, but today, it is not so surprising. When I was fifteen, I had uncontrollable cystic acne; I was about to go on Accutane, an extreme fix-all oral acne medication, which required patients to go on birth control in the event they became sexually active. At fifteen, at least for me, there wasn’t much of a chance of sexual activity but, as the saying goes, it was better to be safe than sorry. I finished Accutane after five months of treatment with clear skin and an overwhelming feeling of confidence. After I finished my treatment, I did not stop taking birth control with full support from my parents to stay on it. Why? I felt like it kept my hormones in balance and what if I did become sexually active? Again, it was better to be safe than sorry.
Recently, writer and actress Lena Dunham took to Twitter and asked her followers why they use birth control. This was, of course, a response to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision on employer paid birth control. Many of the star’s followers responded with strong voices and convictions and, as a girl who is going on almost four years taking birth control, I found myself agreeing with many of the reasons: lighter periods, less cramping, fewer mood swings, so many other valid reasons, and obviously, preventing pregnancy. Already a fan of Dunham’s, I was appreciative for her reaching out to her female fan base; I was even more appreciative when I saw some men tweeting back with positive responses.
So why is there even a question about the necessity of birth control? To me, it is almost as absurd as asking whether the education system is necessary or not. Birth control is education.It allows girls to make smarter decisions not only about their sexuality, but also their own health. As I said before, birth control makes me feel more hormonally balanced and it is, whether statistics can prove it or not, a way for a girl to make decisions about how her one health.
Going off to college, there are a lot of things a girl has to think about. Protecting herself from rape really should not be one of those things. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will experience campus rape, a statistic we have all heard in some form or another.It is absolutely baffling that this seems to have no effect on the men who have committed or are at risk of committing this heinous crime. The bottom line is that a lot of men do not see the validity of women’s rights. It is because of this problem that many employers within corporations such as Hobby Lobby do not see it as necessary to provide their female employees with proper birth control methods. As harrowing as it is, this is the world of post collegiate employment that the Millennials are going into. We can only hope that the debate about birth control will have changed by the time we graduate.
We are the ones who are supposed to bring about this change, but it is bewildering when the ones making these decisions are usually middle-aged men who forget they that have daughters, sisters, and mothers. It is disconcerting when it is simple to get condoms, but it is so difficult to get approval for birth control. Speaking from personal experience, it is a long process to get another three-month approval for my own prescription.It causes me to think sometimes, do they want to make it difficult so that I just give up and stop taking it? How are we supposed to make a change when all we want to do is protect ourselves? Should that not be our first and foremost concern?
The truth is there will always be naysayers to birth control. The thing is, to a lot of men, “no” is a flexible word. In not so distant history, the hashtags #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen polarized the social media sphere. The conflicting arguments were truly thought provoking; yes, all women have experienced similar veins of harassment, but no, not all men participate in demeaning women. However, there are still men in this world like Elliot Rodger. There are still men who, yes, think like all men. Ideally, the world would be without those types of men who only aim to remain, in their minds, superior, but there is still work to be done.
Perhaps the question to raise to those who are so adamantly against birth control is, “Why do you think it’s not necessary?” The answers will be backed up with statistics that pale to the story of the woman who is asking the question. To me, there is no question of whether birth control is a necessity; my question is how can we change the minds of those who are against it? The beginning of the answer begins with perseverance and patience. As for me, I will stay on birth control for a variety of reasons, but at the top of my list is that no man can tell me what is right for my body.
Gunter, Jen. “The Medical Facts about Birth Control and Hobby Lobby, by an OB-GYN”. New Republic. New Republic Magazine, 6 July 2014. Web. 9 August 2014. < http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118547/facts-about-birth-control-and-hobby-lobby-ob-gyn>.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “Statistics about Sexual Violence”. National Sexual Violence Resource Center. National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2013. Web. 9 August 2014. <http://nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence.pdf>.
Image Credit: Monik Markus, Flickr Creative Commons