TMI appears to be an ongoing theme. I’m not even sorry about that, because those things that have been deemed as “too much information” are things that many men feel no problem talking about in generalized terms when making policy decisions. Here’s the thing: I recently realized that I have PMDD. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a pattern: around that “time of the month,” my anxiety disorder would make it nearly impossible to function, and my cramps would get so bad that I would be afraid to move from my bed lest I vomit. As a “young urban professional,” you can imagine this puts quite the damper on my work life.
Now, why did I just tell you all that? I wish I didn’t feel the need to. I wish I could just tell my mother and my gynecologist, and get the meds I need and be done with it. I wish this could just be an issue between me and my doctor.
But, no, because of our current, A-MAH-ZING political climate, I talk about my period a lot. Far more than I was raised to be comfortable with, frankly (remember, my parents like to call things “private parts”). Because the more I talk about it – the more I put a real face on the issue – the harder it becomes for those choruses of voices to shout “Birth control isn’t health care.”
When my gynecologist and I figure out what works for me as a medication – it will likely be something like the Nuvaring or the Patch – I will be taking the same medication that (often married, monogamous!) women around the United States take in order to prevent pregnancy. There is no scientific difference between the birth control that I take to get my moods/hormones/periods under control and the stuff that my friend takes so that she can have sex with her husband without a surprise baby.
I say all this because men are still telling me that my birth control pills aren’t health care, that they’re extraneous and simply are used to enable a wanton, slutty lifestyle. Somehow, there’s still this narrative that women shouldn’t be allowed to make their own reproductive choices, and as collateral damage to that, those of us who rely on the pills for medical reasons get called liars and get to have their privacy invaded by their employers or government.
There’s a continued, frustrating, bothersome narrative in the health care debate that women are incapable of making their own decisions on their health care and must have every decision vetted by some higher authority.
There’s a continued, frustrating, bothersome narrative in the health care debate that women are conniving, evil, stupid, little things.
We need to have transvaginal (read: penetrative) ultrasounds before abortions because “women don’t fully know what they’re doing.”
We need to have the government making health care decisions because apparently our fertility is like pigs or cattle.
We need to have employers vetting birth control decisions because women might be pulling a fast one on their employers. (This one, thankfully, has been dropped).
We need to have a waiting period of 72 hours before an abortion procedure because women need time to “think this over.”
We need to have preventative health care funding pulled because women might just be smart enough to go get birth control and gynecological appointments to make reproductive decisions to prevent the need for an abortion.
We need to condescendingly tell women that they shouldn’t have sex if they don’t want to get pregnant – even if you’re married.
We have consent laws around abortion telling teenagers that they need parental permission to seek an abortion (even if impregnated by a parent!), but have no problem considering them capable of raising a child.
We need to plan laws that allow a doctor to lie to a pregnant woman about a potentially life-threatening part of the pregnancy, in order to keep them from running off and aborting a pregnancy at the first sign of trouble.
We have this ongoing narrative that we women are naïve, childlike beings who need the paternalistic hand of the state and local governments in order to guide us through our life decisions like birth control and reproductive health, only to be told in the next breath that we must all be lying sluts who can’t be trusted to tell the truth about whether or not we were raped.
Apparently, we’re all that kid from the Shining: screaming “redrum” one moment and riding around on Big Wheels the next.
I’m tired of not being trusted with my own health care decisions. I’m tired of discussing birth control with men who have little to no understanding of the range of purposes for which women use this product. I’m tired of jumping through hoops to get to a medically necessary medication that allows me to function for 10 days out of the month.
I’m tired of being treated like some weird morphing between a devil and a moron.
I am a woman. I am a human being. I have medical needs and a large part of those medical needs are related to my reproductive health, which yes, includes insuring that I don’t have a baby before I’m ready to have one (or, in my case, ever). Regardless of your religious beliefs or doctrine, regardless of your personal feelings on the issue, you cannot stand between me and my doctor and tell me that my health, my life, is a matter of public policy.
I need birth control because I have a medical condition. My friends need birth control so they can have sex without any oops babies. If anyone besides my doctor feels the need to know and vet that information in order to make policy decisions, then they ask for too much information.