All hail the pill! Flagship chemical of female emancipation! Weeny tab of compressed hormones that lets you enjoy heterosexual sex without your body making babies! And stops you having periods (but creates a withdrawal bleed so it feels like you’re still having periods)! And sometimes gets rid of acne! And makes millions and millions of dollar for those nice pharmaceutical companies who definitely DON’T ever put money before human health (you can tell because they sometimes sell little pots of paracetamol for 19p)! I’ve also heard there’s a brand called Yasmin that makes your boobs grow bigger.
I’m sure the pill has loads going for it. I’m certainly a fan of that particular shade of metallic moss-green my friends’ blister packets come in. But I don’t trust it. I don’t trust the pill one little bit, which is a massive moral conflict for me and probably not, now I come to think of it, unrelated to the state of sexual affairs I was moved to report on this very blog a couple of weeks ago. You see, on the one hand, the pill – like abortion and emergency contraceptives – is completely important for all the single ladies (and the married and attached ones too). We should definitely, wherever possible, be able to control what grows inside our wombs – especially when it’s a miniature person who will likely depend on us to ensure it doesn’t die.
I am down with that.
On the other hand, it is a serious and mostly over-looked problem that in order to enjoy sexual freedom healthy women have to walk around drugged up on hormones that interfere with important bodily functions and might give them a stroke. Also, the advent of the pill does seem to have contributed to a cultural paradigm in which you’re kind of expected to do it with the caddish alpha male you only just met in All Bar One. Even when you’d rather go home and finish reading that copy of Gwynne’s Grammar you bought second-hand on Amazon.
Because taking the pill means women are walking around every day, prepared for imminent sex without unpleasant reproductive repercussions – and because the modern lady is pretty much expected to take the pill (or be fitted with the contemporary, slow-release version of it in the form of the implant) – I feel it is entirely the pill’s fault that I have experienced frequent and mostly unwanted pressure to appear sexy and sexually available at all times since developing breasts. (I’m sure it will come as no surprise to regular readers to discover that I have very often failed to be either of these things).
But the real beef I have with the pill is that it reduces sex down to its most basic, uninspiring parts. There are plenty of sensual sexual activities that don’t result in sperm swimming up one’s cervix (just ask lesbians). The reports I hear from the front line are that these ‘other’ activities (’m feeling too coy to be specific) are a lot more enjoyable for most red-blooded women than straightforward intercourse. So wouldn’t it be more emancipating to encourage heterosexual couples to find ‘alternative’ ways to sexually connect on the few days of the month when she’s fertile – if they really can’t bear to use a condom?
I don’t understand how developing a medicine that promotes penetrative sex above all else can be considered a Good Thing for women. (And, as you might remember, I’m not anti-penetration). But there you go. Capitalism has led to the existence of many things that others understand and I don’t; such as the Simpsons, Reggae Reggae Sauce and the career of John Simm.
What is fortunate is that I’ve realised I am anti the pill while I’m single; because, as you know, not being on the pill is a whole lot easier if you’re a single lady than if you’re one with a steady, faithful lover. I’m not going to preach about the importance of barrier protection here, but of course you’ll agree that it makes literally no sense for the promiscuous single lady to be taking oral contraceptives. For the celibate, it makes less sense still – when you’re sexually abstinent contraception is something you literally never have to think about. Unless you’re moved by idiotic social rhetoric to blog on the subject, or a friend calls to tell you about the blundering doctor who tried to remove her coil.
This is lucky because it means I can now close my laptop, eat a bit of cheese and cease thinking on such things until my libido is revived.
I’m kind of hoping that won’t be soon.