The discussion is about contraception:

Hormonal birth control pills, taken by women, chosen by women, under the control of women.

The discussion is about contraception.

Hormonal birth control pills can be used to combat acne, endometriosis, irregular periods.

Nevertheless, the discussion is about contraception.

Every hearing in which the witness focuses on non-contraceptive uses of birth control pills diverts the discussion.

The discussion is about contraception.

Every poem about the tragedy and brutality of rape or incest, no matter how moving (and the pieces are moving), dilutes the discussion.

The discussion is about contraception.

Every event at which men dictate how women should behave, how women should defer to men, how women should follow God’s will and become pregnant every chance they get, evades the discussion.

The discussion is about contraception.

What most women use hormonal birth control pills for is contraception.

The vast majority of women (many of them married) in stable, happy relationships use contraception to plan the spacing of their children.

The vast majority of women who aren’t in long-term relationships use contraception to avoid pregnancy.

The vast majority of women who enjoy recreational sex use contraception to avoid pregnancy.

The vast majority of women who find themselves with unplanned pregnancies have not used contraception, oftentimes because they’ve been denied sex education, because they’ve been denied knowledge about contraception, because they’ve been taught that thinking about sex is evil bad and nasty.

Why is the discussion being diverted to other subjects?

Because it’s easier. It’s easier to talk about acne than about family planning. It’s easier to talk about endrometriosis than about choosing when to have children. It’s easier to dismiss pregnant teenagers and single mothers as morally deficient than to discuss sex education.

It’s easier to talk about anything than to talk about women who control their own sexuality. It’s easier to talk about sluts, trollops, and prostitutes than to talk about women who enjoy sex. It’s easier to talk about money than it is to talk about preventing the implantation of gametes. It’s easier to talk about death than it is to talk about diverting sperm cells, by women choosing to use contraception. But that is what the discussion is about: Women who use contraception for the purpose of contraception — preventing pregnancy — so women have more control over their lives.

That is what the discussion is about.

— Vonda N. McIntyre

DreamsnakeVonda N. McIntyre is a founding member of Book View Café. She is the author of  A Seven-Question Quiz on Domestic Tranquility, Supreme Court of the United States Defines Personhood, and the Virginia General Assembly Twitter Novel.

Her Nebula-winning novels Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun are now available as BVC eBooks, as is The Starfarers Quartet, the SF novel series that began as the best SF miniseries never made.

For autographed print copies of The Moon and the Sun and McIntyre’s other SF novels, visit her website’s Basement Full of Books.



Contraception — 13 Comments

  1. What you said, absolutely. The point is that women have the right to choose what to do, how to use their own bodies, when or if to have children. Bringing up acne or incest or whatever is buying into the far-right view that any woman who has sex when she isn’t ready to have a baby is a slut and deserves whatever happens to her. Too many people supposedly on the side of making contraception available are letting the bigots control the conversation and set the rules. Frustrating. :/


  2. It seems to me that there’s a lot of magical thinking associated with babies and children, still, in this day and age.

    Whereas death and violence are de-personalized. Industrialized. Trite, almost.

    I wonder how much that factors into it.

  3. Exactly. While all the other discussions and uses for birth control pills are valid and important, that is not the point, and that is not the debate. Regardless of your beliefs on contraception, that is the topic on the floor and that is where we need to focus.

  4. Silly you and me. No, it’s not about women having happy safe sex without pregnancy. It’s about how birth control pills give white men prostate cancer. I know it is so because an old white male Idaho state “legislator” told me so.

    Because in this country at least it’s always about old white men who are republicans or religious patriarchs or something who perceive women making decisions and controlling their own bodies as the worst threat there has ever been to the Right Way.

    Love, C.

  5. And it is.

    Because give a woman a choice and she will, if educated and encouraged to think her own thoughts and not those of the patriarchs, make up her own mind.

    Can’t have that. Oh no no no.

    Silly wabbit. Free will is for boys.

  6. But the sheer ignorance these men are displaying about this most basic of human existence, how reproduction works, women and their bodies, and that these bodies don’t work like men’s bodie — I am just boggled. All these men are surrounded by women and they nothing of the most basic facts about women’s bodies and the frackin’ Facts of Life! NOTHING AT ALL. How have they survived and not even SEEN?

    So think about what they don’t know about, o say other facts of life, like water …. and they’re making laws and regulations about all these things too, including education. They are too ignorant to reproduce, much less making laws. If that sounds like eugenics, so be it.
    Love, C.

  7. They’re enormously proud of their ignorance. Plus they see the world as centered around them. It really does terrify them to think that women might be thinking about other things than, oh gasp, THEM.

    Even good men can be completely blind to what goes on around them. The one collaboration I ever did with a male writer (and I’ve done a bunch) that failed did so because he had this great idea about sexual dimorphism in an alternate Earth and wanted me to do the women’s side. Discussions broke down completely because he could not imagine any world in which the women would have their own language, culture, and existence separate from that of the men. He wanted them to exist solely at the men’s discretion and for the men’s pleasure. But the way he’d set things up, that wouldn’t have happened. When he realized how far I was going to take the setup, he bailed.

    Scared him right off. He honestly did not know how women interact when they’re not catering to men. It simply wasn’t in his world view. And yet it was happening right under his nose, in his own family.

  8. An interesting article that contributes to the discussion, by asserting that contraception is one of the most revolutionary changes in human history ––_and_why_we%27ll_still_be_fighting_about_it_100_years_from_now?page=1

    And one reason why your male writer friend didn’t know how women interact when they’re not catering to men –

  9. Pretty much every one of my SF novels has as its background how the world might be different if contraception (for women and for men) were a given. It isn’t necessarily spotlighted, though one whole episode of Dreamsnake is about exactly that, but it’s important in the books.

    I can’t for the life of me understand why so many SF and fantasy novelists lovingly and carefully create a misogynistic society for their protagonist to escape or overcome. Why spend 300 pages in abusing women when you could spend 300 pages creating a culture in which the conflict came from some other source than abusing women? Why create a culture for the protagonist to escape from, when essentially what she’s doing is leaving her sisters, her mother, all the women in her society, behind to continue suffering?

    It’s a mystery to me. If I wanted to write about abusive cultures I could write mainstream novels. It was hard enough to write The Moon and the Sun, in which the protagonist had an unattainable goal: to be considered seriously as a natural philosopher in 1693. She could help with her brother’s work. She could support her brother as he did his work. She could be ten times the scientist her brother was. She could do his work for him. But she could not be taken seriously as a natural philosopher.

    That’s what women interested in science did, until very recently. It’s straight out of the historical record. (And yet I was criticized for creating an unrealistic character, by people who apparently know nothing about the history of women in science.)

    SF gives us endless ranges for speculation. Too many of us restrict our imaginations.


  10. Vonda, you’ve explained why I ended up writing SF. I wanted to write stories about women who did things without having to write about the fight over whether women could do those things.