Monday, 16 May 2011

The Pill- a woman's world?

Firstly, apologies for my prolonged absence! April was taken up by a busy internship at Vogue, and now I'm in the throng of university exams. This blog will return in all its glory on the 24th May 2011.

Family Planning Clinics are the sexually-active, seventeen-year-old female’s saving grace. They are a sanctuary of safety where, unbeknown to many a male of a similar age, women are given comfort, liberty, and perhaps most importantly, choice.

In the early sixties the combined oral contraceptive pill, simply known as ‘the pill’, was introduced. With what I would hope should be an obvious effect on the concept of ‘creation’, the pill also transformed female culture and the lives of women as it was rolled out across the world.

Of course the pill is widely available beyond the Family Planning Clinics of Britain and to women of all ages. But living during a time where the consumer is king and all manner of contraceptives are available over the counter, it’s easy to understate the difference that the pill made for couples and women in particular. Do women, on their mad morning dash to the nurse’s room, really understand what the consequences of a frenetic one night stand once were? Do we know how lucky we are?

I would argue no. Despite the condom’s induction in the late nineteenth century, the pill gave women autonomous control over their bodies, and the ability to submit to their carnal desires, rubber or no rubber. The liberating effects of the pill were dramatic, as women were able to protect themselves from pregnancy of their own volition.

But men have a right to be anxious. The degree of independence that the pill permitted gave women an unprecedented amount of power to wield. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but condoms are mutual. You know if he’s wearing one, and you’re well within your rights to refuse sex if he isn’t. However, as far as my limited research has informed me, guys just don’t get and often don’t trust the pill.

And with good reason. The culture of women abusing the power that the pill allows them exists and is breeding. Sadly, as if sex isn’t enough of a weapon, it’s not unheard of for women to control their fertility through erratic and deceptive use of the pill. Some admit to using men to provide children, saying they’re on the pill when they’re not, others even get pregnant to ensure a permanent connection between themselves and the father of their child. Whilst the pill undoubtedly represents a huge advancement in the fields of medicine, technology and women’s rights (more people have taken it than any other prescribed medicine in the world) one might be hard pushed to establish a basis upon which the pill furthered sexual equality. After all, surely sexual relationships are more equal when both the male and the female have tangible control over their contraceptive choices.

For many men, the pill is just too invisible to trust and condoms are just fine, thank you very much. We should credit the male species with the intelligence to realise that enhanced sexual pleasure perhaps isn’t worth it when an unplanned pregnancy is the alternative option, and if men refuse to wear condoms, then we can refuse intercourse.

It most commonly argued that the pill meant that preventing pregnancy was in a woman's hands; she could take the pill at her discretion, without anyone knowing and without depending on a man. But since when were condoms the sole responsibility of the male sexual partner? Perhaps the real issue was that women did not know how to have their say in the bedroom and the pill gave them that voice.

As for where that leaves the pill, I would be the first person to advocate that the little white tablets have made sex a more enjoyable experience for those in long-term, healthy and trusting relationships. The pill is a tool and a symbol of female emancipation, but it wasn’t invented so that women could sleep around easily and frequently and it certainly wasn’t supposed to keep men in the dark. However, a wider choice of contraceptives that take the pressure off women to have sex without condoms definitely has positive implications. With or without the pill, responsibility should be the first thing on everyone’s minds- there’s no excuse for relying on the Family Planning Clinic any more.

No comments:

Post a Comment