A Conservative Argument for Birth Control

Conservatives like to say that they care about saving money, right? And that “Obamacare” is going to bankrupt the nation, the way that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security apparently already are? Well here’s a great way to save $1.32 billion annually: Fund birth control.

Author: has written 5281 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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99 Responses

  1. JetGirl
    JetGirl March 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm |

    Oh, that’s just silly. The joy of shaming slutty slut sluts is worth way more than $1.32 billion!

  2. Seth Eag
    Seth Eag March 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    Odd that this even required a study. I just don’t understand, “I don’t care what you do, but I don’t want to have to pay for your birth control with higher premiums!” Would you rather pay for a birth? If pregnancy is not going to be dangerous, than it has to be expensive. And that’s just before the baby is born. Afterwards, you have roughly 18-26 (<—Thanks Barack!) years of benefits for someone who doesn't pay into the pot. I would think insurance companies, mandated or not, would push BC on you the same way they push driver safety courses and quit smoking programs.

  3. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    Thanks Barack!

    Our President got you pregnant?

  4. Jennie
    Jennie March 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

    Would you rather pay for a birth? If pregnancy is not going to be dangerous, than it has to be expensive.

    Ah, but you are applying a form of logic that they aren’t using. They don’t want birth to be safe. They want as many women as possible to get pregnant without maternal health benefits. After all, if we’re meant to be moms, then we’re meant to live through our pregnancies. (Which is why they don’t want abortion even in cases of life of the mother.) They don’t care if we die, because if we can’t be incubators we can’t fulfill our only purpose as pseudo-humans.

    They’re probably annoyed they can’t find a way to indirectly kill infertile women.

  5. Seth Eag
    Seth Eag March 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

    Our President got you pregnant?

    Heh. Maybe I, uh, worded that incorrectly. I meant that the raising of the minimum age to be covered under your parent policies has benefited me directly. I’m a waiter, so, no actual benefits of my own.

  6. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

    Darn those actuaries and their well-reasoned analyses, how dare they! We all know they’re just tools of the sinning slutty sluts and their plan to make everyone take birth control pills and fornicate willy nilly.

  7. emily
    emily March 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    Oh, that’s just silly. The joy of shaming slutty slut sluts is worth way more than $1.32 billion!

    Same with the joy of controlling women’s bodies.

  8. karak
    karak March 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |

    Now, Jill, don’t be silly. They don’t want to pay for birth control, prenatal care, your hospital visit, or any care that child is going to need anywhere in life.

    See, if there’s no social support system, you have to appeal to the informal system–the church. Poor people are meant to beg churches to help them care for the children they don’t want and can’t afford, and give up all autonomy in their life to wealthy men who run churches. That’s the point.

  9. Jennie
    Jennie March 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

    See, if there’s no social support system, you have to appeal to the informal system–the church. Poor people are meant to beg churches to help them care for the children they don’t want and can’t afford, and give up all autonomy in their life to wealthy men who run churches. That’s the point.

    That’s definitely how they think. Which is ridiculous, when you think about it, because in reality most churches don’t have the resources for that kind of thing. Some churches, definitely. But smaller churches in smaller towns? Especially ones not tied to a hierarchy that can hand money back to them and have to depend solely on their (mostly poor to middle class) congregations for funds? Nope. And I’m sure that’s something they’re aware of. It’s almost like they want poor people to remain in poverty. Huh.

  10. Seth Eag
    Seth Eag March 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    I agree with everyone that religious social conservative types don’t care much for economic sense, but aren’t their concerns supposed to take a back seat to the kind of conservatives who care very, very, very much for bottom line type thinking? Isn’t that kind of “the deal” of the coalition? Working-class white voters will support laissez faire policies that close factories and send jobs overseas and in return they’ll be given small platitudes to religion and values every four years? It seems strange that on this issue the “moral” position would win out over the profit-creating one.

  11. Jennie
    Jennie March 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

    Isn’t that kind of “the deal” of the coalition? Working-class white voters will support laissez faire policies that close factories and send jobs overseas and in return they’ll be given small platitudes to religion and values every four years? It seems strange that on this issue the “moral” position would win out over the profit-creating one.

    It’s possible I’m off base here. But I really think that’s what it used to be. Unfortunately, the political rhetoric used in that system has created a whole new group of uber-social conservatives whose only concern is making sure other people live by their standards. Basically, instead of paying lip service to the Moral Majority, they’ve created a group that actually believes that stuff and has the political clout to make it happen.

  12. Iris Tyto Alba
    Iris Tyto Alba March 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

    Bookmark this post for the next time you’re wondering why poor women don’t call themselves feminists, everyone.

  13. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

    Bookmark this post for the next time you’re wondering why poor women don’t call themselves feminists, everyone.

    What? There is serious problems with classism in feminism, but I don’t think this article is a good example.

  14. Donna L
    Donna L March 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

    Maybe Iris’s point is that universal sex education promoting safe sex (rather than the grotesque failure of abstinence “education”), and government-funded birth control, are “eliminationist” because they’re designed to reduce the number of poor people. Kind of in the same way people were arguing that prenatal testing is bad because it reduces the population of people with Downs Syndrome.

    And besides, with all that safe sex and other birth control, there will be fewer people for evangelical churches to proselytize.

  15. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

    Fair enough. I can see that as an argument. I was just really confused.

  16. debbie
    debbie March 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

    I think Iris’ problem is that Jill didn’t add any critique to her post, so it seems approving. I read the post as saying that Republicans arguments about the cost of providing birth control don’t make sense, but I can see how someone might reach a different conclusion.

  17. Chiara
    Chiara March 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

    Maybe Iris’s point is that universal sex education promoting safe sex (rather than the grotesque failure of abstinence “education”), and government-funded birth control, are “eliminationist” because they’re designed to reduce the number of poor people. Kind of in the same way people were arguing that prenatal testing is bad because it reduces the population of people with Downs Syndrome.

    Except that being poor is objectively bad (being rich is not so good either but a middle ground is the perfection). Being non-neurotypical however is not always objectively bad. Some non-neurotypical people experience far greater aptibility in the maths and such like. Though down’s is perhaps objectively detrimental yes. Though I’m still very uncomfortable with the idea of systematically removing fetuses with down’s.

  18. Krystyna
    Krystyna March 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm |

    The hardcore conservative opposition to covering the costs of birth control is more an opposition to women having sex without the intention of procreating.

    Anyone who has sexy times for fun is a total whore, (unless they’re men of course) and if they just stopped having sex entirely, there would be no unwanted pregnancies or a need to cover birth control.

    So even economic arguments like these won’t get through, since their solution of “just don’t have sex” while completely unreasonable, comes out cheaper.

  19. Donna L
    Donna L March 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

    And here we go again.

  20. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

    Round three!

  21. Iris Tyto Alba
    Iris Tyto Alba March 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm |

    Where’s the income cut-off for where reproducing becomes “objectively bad”?

  22. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

    I’m pretty sure the aim is for family planning. Family Planning is a good thing.

  23. debbie
    debbie March 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm |

    Chiara, I was going to say this in the other thread, but I’ll say it here instead:

    I choose to interpret your comments in good faith, and assume you’re really naive, relatively privileged, and haven’t been exposed to a lot of feminist writing. That being said, you need to step back and do some listening before you can be a productive commenter here. Until that time, your constant derailing is really irritating. This is not my blog, and I have no authority. This is just a suggestion.

  24. Jen in Ohio
    Jen in Ohio March 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm |

    It’s almost like they want poor people to remain in poverty. Huh.

    It is very rare that someone wins a thread in less than 10 comments, and using less than 15 words. Very well played indeed.

  25. Emolee
    Emolee March 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

    Where’s the income cut-off for where reproducing becomes “objectively bad”?

    What I hear a lot is that people should not reproduce when the parent(s) know upfront that they have or will have too little money to provide for the child(ren)’s basic needs. I am interested in people’s thoughts on how to respond to this.

  26. Natalie
    Natalie March 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    Iris I don’t think the overall point is that “the poor” whatever one choses to classify that as, should not reproduce, but rather that they should have the same access to things like birth control, abortion, etc that those in the middle/upper class do. That is just my interpretration however and I would be interested in knowing what parts of this article/converstion that lead to you belief that we as feminists are being classist-that way we can avoid such things in the future. And yes I do realize that feminism has been known to through poor women under the bus…

  27. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm |

    I’ll come right out and agree with Chiara here. Being poor is objectively bad. That doesn’t mean that poor people shouldn’t reproduce. What it means is that poor people should organize and fight back and expropriate the money of the rich for themselves so that the poor are no longer poor and the rich are no longer rich.

  28. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm |

    What I hear a lot is that people should not reproduce when the parent(s) know upfront that they have or will have too little money to provide for the child(ren)’s basic needs. I am interested in people’s thoughts on how to respond to this.

    I would reply that that having opportunity to freely choose whether to reproduce or not without being constrained by oppression is a human right. Rich people in government, business, and other instituions are choosing to prevent poor people from meeting their basic needs, and that’s a problem. It’s a problem caused and perpetuated by rich people. It shouldn’t be on poor people to surrender their basic human right to reproduce to adapt to this problematic situation. It is, rather, on rich people to stop preventing poor people from having adequate food, housing, education, medical care, etc.

  29. IrishUp
    IrishUp March 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm |

    “What I hear a lot is that people should not reproduce when the parent(s) know upfront that they have or will have too little money to provide for the child(ren)’s basic needs. I am interested in people’s thoughts on how to respond to this.”

    My reply to this is that it’s NOT having children that represents wealth, access to resources, and freedom to choose.

    http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2004/07/feminism-101.html

  30. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm |

    My class consciousness is slipping. WTF. I may have grown up in a suburb and attended college, but as of now, I’m definitely poor. Replace all references to “their” in my previous two posts with “our.”

  31. Chataya
    Chataya March 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

    Would you rather pay for a birth? If pregnancy is not going to be dangerous, than it has to be expensive.

    Well, obviously poor people have no business having sex, which is purely for reproductive purposes between married people. So the poor have to remain abstinent until they pull on their bootstraps hard enough to be considered worthy of basic human rights. And they better not have to rely on any government-funded programs to raise that child, because then they’re a subhuman drain on the system (a system which wouldn’t exist if these conservatives had their way, because bootstraps).

  32. Natalie
    Natalie March 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

    because bootstraps

    Seriously fuck bootstraps. That shit isn’t even possible. Because Physics.

  33. EG
    EG March 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

    What I hear a lot is that people should not reproduce when the parent(s) know upfront that they have or will have too little money to provide for the child(ren)’s basic needs. I am interested in people’s thoughts on how to respond to this.

    1) Having a family that includes children if they are desired is not some kind of luxury reserved for the wealthy. It is not a diamond-encrusted swimming pool. It is an essential part of life–part of what makes life worth living–for many people.

    2) Who gets to decide what counts as a “basic” need and how much it’s reasonable to expend on it?

    3) Many, many people will never make enough money to be part of the “middle class.” Never. Are they just all supposed to give up on having a family with children? What else are they supposed to sacrifice to keep the capitalist system running smoothly for the comfortable and the wealthy? The point of any social structure should be to maximize opportunities for happiness for other people; it’s not people who have to sacrifice to maintain a social structure.

    4) Many other people think that they do have enough money to take care of a child. And then somebody–maybe even the kid–gets very sick. Or laid off. Or hey, the economy crashes–didn’t that just happen somewhere? Or some other disaster strikes. It’s amazing how quickly that can destroy somebody’s savings and quality of life.

    5) It is not our business to be telling people when they can and can’t have children. It is our business, as a society, as a community, to make sure that all the children in our community get what they need to grow and make the most of their lives. Otherwise, I have some thoughts on who shouldn’t be able to have children: I’d say that Christian Scientists and members of other religions who will refuse medical care for their children should not be allowed to have them, for instance. Those children are in as much, or, I would argue, more danger than those born to poor parents who will do what is important to keep them in good health.

  34. Seth Eag
    Seth Eag March 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

    It’s possible I’m off base here. But I really think that’s what it used to be. Unfortunately, the political rhetoric used in that system has created a whole new group of uber-social conservatives whose only concern is making sure other people live by their standards. Basically, instead of paying lip service to the Moral Majority, they’ve created a group that actually believes that stuff and has the political clout to make it happen.

    Yes, I think this can quite accurately explain what’s going with these primaries (for example), the lunatics have literally taken over the asylum, the sideshow has become the main event.

  35. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

    the lunatics have literally taken over the asylum

    This is an ableist expression that conveys prejudice toward the mentally ill. It’s also a bad analogy. The extreme Right pushing back against all social progress is the exact opposite of “lunatics” taking over the asylum. “Lunatics” taking over an asylum would would be a case of oppressed people fighting back against their oppressors, which is the exact opposite of the a group of oppressors (in this case the Christian Right) launching a counter-revolution against oppressed people.

  36. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

    EG, your entire post @33 is brillant. Well done.

  37. Caramella
    Caramella March 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm |

    It’s driving me crazy that these attacks on contraceptive users are coming mostly from middle-aged men who are likely on Viagra, & likely have insurance coverage for it. All male anti-contraception pundits & politicians (especially Rush) should be publicly pressured to announce whether they have used or would use something like Viagra, & whether they would accept insurance coverage for it. Can someone start a campaign???

  38. Emolee
    Emolee March 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

    thanks for your responses, very helpful

  39. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers March 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm |

    Where’s the income cut-off for where reproducing becomes “objectively bad”?

    At the point where the woman herself feels that she is not making enough money to be able to give her children the life she wants to give them, and would prefer, herself, to be able to remain childless until such time as she is in a better position.

    In other words, there is no specific income where reproducing becomes “bad”, but there are plenty of incomes where reproducing is bad *for a given woman*, because it would be her preference not to reproduce until her economic situation improves. Women have a much, much better idea of how capable they are of managing pregnancy and child-rearing at their income level than public policy wonks who don’t know them personally and can’t possibly know them. Giving women the tools to make the decision for themselves is a good thing… and giving women the tools to make the decision for themselves will lead to some of them deciding not to reproduce when they’re on the taxpayer’s dime, because they *prefer* to put off pregnancy until they have a better economic circumstance.

  40. noiselull
    noiselull March 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm |

    The argument has been addressed here. The far better way to do this is to tax childbirth.

  41. noiselull
    noiselull March 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

    And see here. Things are often not as simple as they appear.

  42. EG
    EG March 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm |

    The far better way to do this is to tax childbirth.

    How is that in any way “better” or less coercive?

  43. Donna L
    Donna L March 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

    Considering that noiselull’s link is to a blog post referring to those who advocate insurance coverage for birth control as “contraceptive sponges,” I suspect that trying to engage in a good faith discussion with hir is a waste of your time.

  44. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm |

    The argument has been addressed here. The far better way to do this is to tax childbirth.

    I think the best solution would be to pass a law requiring all politicans, high level bureaucrats, and corporate media personalities to wear clown suits every time they appear in public. People like Rush Limbaugh, who are known more for their vocal performance, would be required to inhale helium at all times before speaking on the radio. I’d wager within a few years most of our problems would start to clear up, on this issue as well as many others.

  45. Natalie
    Natalie March 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm |

    I think the best solution would be to pass a law requiring all politicans, high level bureaucrats, and corporate media personalities to wear clown suits every time they appear in public. People like Rush Limbaugh, who are known more for their vocal performance, would be required to inhale helium at all times before speaking on the radio. I’d wager within a few years most of our problems would start to clear up, on this issue as well as many others.

    This is literally the best idea I have ever heard about how to fix the US political system. You win the internetz.

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  47. Clytemnestra's Sister
    Clytemnestra's Sister March 7, 2012 at 12:35 am |

    To everybody going back and forth about poverty and childrearing, take a step back.

    Your average woman in the US (average, lumping in the intentionally and unintentionally child-free) hits childbearing age about 14, menopause about 45, and has between 1 and 3 kids. That means she has 30 years of her life in which she can be pregnant, and assuming 2 kids is either pregnant or trying to be pregnant for a total of 5 years. In other words, she spends 25 years of her life (statistically a third of her whole life!) trying to NOT be pregnant. Regardless of her age or her income level, that’s a whole lot of her life that she’s trying to not be pregnant.

    If we, as a society, make it very difficult for a woman to not be pregnant, from abstinence-only sexual and health education laws to restricting access to safe and effective contraception to restricting voluntary sterilisation to doing everything possible to make safe, legal abortion unobtainable, then we shouldn’t turn around and act surprised when women get pregnant. And as usual, the biggest burden of policies that make it difficult for women to be not-pregnant falls upon the shoulders of the poor. They are most likely to receive poor sex-ed, poor medical care, most likely to find the cost of care out of reach, and least likely to stick with good-quality long-term contraception because they just don’t have the money. Wealthier women have access to abortion, contraception, and education that poor women don’t. It’s that simple. Increasing that access to all women happens to have huge benefits to society, from saving money on health care costs to better outcomes for the children already here to the lives and livelihoods of the women here.

    And leave the argument over whether poor women have the right to have children or not. It’s irrelevant to the conversation, which is, are we making sure that ALL women have equal access to care and treatment? Arguing over whether it’s okay for poor women to bear children in the context of a discussion on how providing universal family planning saves money is essentially an argument that because of their income level, it’s okay to say, no, you don’t get equal access to care because you’re poor. Baloney with garlic.

  48. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 7, 2012 at 2:18 am |

    This is literally the best idea I have ever heard about how to fix the US political system. You win the internetz.

    Thanks! Although it’s not totally original. Dead Kennedy’s singer Jello Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979. One of his campaign promises was to require all businessman to wear clown suits whenever they were within the city limits.

  49. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 7, 2012 at 2:20 am |

    require all businessman to wear clown suits

    Not “businessman.” “Businessmen.” Or better yet “business people.” Simaltaneous spelling and feminism fail.

  50. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated March 7, 2012 at 9:44 am |

    I’ve been feminist all my life, I’m from a poor Appalachian family, and I remember the Second Wave’s fight to stop compulsory sterilizations. Working-class people did not support offshoring; most were silent because they saw other workers fired for activism and made insufficient wages for an emergency fund or for legal representation. Two at our factory wrote letters to the editor, and yes, I was one. My second letter on a different subject earned me a layoff slip.
    The average low-income women recognizes the need for contraception. We do have a huge problem with recreational drug users who love all that reverential attention pregnant mothers get, but who hand off the baby to grandma and stick her with the expenses and responsibilities. Grandma, whatever her color, should have a say in any issues surrounding gestation and its consequences, since she increasingly bears social costs.

  51. EG
    EG March 7, 2012 at 10:06 am |

    Grandma, whatever her color, should have a say in any issues surrounding gestation and its consequences, since she increasingly bears social costs.

    Whoa. Do you mean personally, legally, the mother’s mother should have legally binding input on how or whether a pregnant woman delivers? As in, my mother’s abusive mother should’ve been able to interfere in her life even after she was an adult, to the point of affecting her childbearing choices? Or do you mean in policy issues, where I also have a problem. Being a grandmother doesn’t make you a more just person, and I’m not even sure how you would do that, anyway. Extended family doing child-raising isn’t a new trend, and I suspect it’s not even on the increase if we take a long view.

  52. Sandy
    Sandy March 7, 2012 at 10:10 am |

    They’re probably annoyed they can’t find a way to indirectly kill infertile women.

    They want us to be childless, because that’s what their god has chosen for us, and nevermind what we might want. We certainly shouldn’t seek out reproductive technology, because the man in the funny hat says that puts us in the arrogant position of the Creator.

    Oh, but hey, maybe if we’re heterosexual, married, white, appropriately Christian and rich, we can adopt the baby of a less worthy, less deserving person who was pressured or coerced into adoption.

  53. Sandy
    Sandy March 7, 2012 at 10:18 am |

    Grandma, whatever her color, should have a say in any issues surrounding gestation and its consequences, since she increasingly bears social costs.

    Bwah?

    Yeah, I can’t agree. Reproductive decisions need to stay with the owner of the uterus.

  54. Rob in CT
    Rob in CT March 7, 2012 at 10:32 am |

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/loving-state.html

    I think that sums it up rather well.

  55. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated March 7, 2012 at 10:38 am |

    The problem with Grandma presents a huge dilemma, and the ramifications are appalling, but if your neighboring property owner decides to put in a pigsty, he will definitely not keep the flies and stench on his side of the property line. Self-government is the best kind, but some uterus owners do not take kindly to reproductive responsibility. Both Grandma and society at large have been stuck with huge bills for this.

  56. EG
    EG March 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    if your neighboring property owner decides to put in a pigsty, he will definitely not keep the flies and stench on his side of the property line. Self-government is the best kind, but some uterus owners do not take kindly to reproductive responsibility. Both Grandma and society at large have been stuck with huge bills for this.

    But human bodies are not property, and the right to put in a pigsty is not a fundamental human right, so the analogy just doesn’t work.

    I’m happy for society at large to foot the bill for caring for kids when the parents can’t or won’t. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what society is for. And Grandma does not have to foot the bills; she can put the kid up for adoption. And what happens when the kid grows up and wants to have a kid of its own–all of a sudden the bad mother becomes the good grandma, and gets to have a say? No. This is a fundamentally bad policy. If a mother in a married couple abandons her family, responsibility for the children falls on the father, but that doesn’t mean we give him any say whatsoever in her decisions about pregnancy and childbirth.

  57. IrishUp
    IrishUp March 7, 2012 at 11:30 am |

    We do have a huge problem with recreational drug users who love all that reverential attention pregnant mothers get, but who hand off the baby to grandma and stick her with the expenses and responsibilities. Grandma, whatever her color, should have a say in any issues surrounding gestation and its consequences, since she increasingly bears social costs.

    Self-government is the best kind, but some uterus owners do not take kindly to reproductive responsibility. Both Grandma and society at large have been stuck with huge bills for this.

    Citations please! Otherwise this is no more than a confirmation bias type of observation. The plural of anecdote is NOT data. And the bias is not a particularly feminist- or social-justice friendly one! But it’s good (for ironic values of good) to know there are always people willing to carry forward variations of Regan’s mythical Welfare Queen, and let the sperm-owners and Grandpas off the hook.

  58. IrishUp
    IrishUp March 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |

    WOW! Was that some block-quote fail or WHAT?
    The bottom paragraph is mine. The top two are duplicates of Angie unduplicated.

  59. DP
    DP March 7, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    Bookmark this post for the next time you’re wondering why poor women don’t call themselves feminists, everyone.

    You do understand that one of the best ways to prevent women from falling into poverty and to help poor women already struggling is to make contraception and abortion widespread and inexpensive?

    I get that you come from some peculiar liberal Catholic place where social justice is super important (yay!) but ‘mainstream’ feminists are SO ICKY because they support reproductive rights (bleagh!), but if you’re homeless and you get pregnant, odds are very high you’re going to need and want an abortion! Because as hard as homelessness is, it’s a billion times harder with kids!!!

    If you’re scraping by on one job and raising two kids and you’re having sex, contraception is probably going to be *super important*!

    It’s pretty notable that all around the world, in the poorest countries and the richest ones, where family planning is accessible and available women overwhelmingly try to take advantage of it. One of the most important ways to manage poverty is not to be forced to care for extra mouths you can’t afford to feed, after all.

    You do understand this, right? Otherwise…

  60. DP
    DP March 7, 2012 at 11:40 am |

    Also, for @Iris – Facts! There’s nothing they can’t do!

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/the-economic-impact-of-the-pill/

  61. Iris Tyto Alba
    Iris Tyto Alba March 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

    Would you talk to a woman you perceived as upper middle class in such an appallingly condescending fashion? I’m just trying to gauge if you’re more of a stealth misogynist, or just really classist.

  62. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    @ Iris

    I really want to know what exactly is your problem with this article. Now, I am serious. I want to know what you think. I’m not trying to be condescending or sarcastic, I know tone is hard to see in type. I am just curious to have a clearer understanding of your position.

  63. Donna L
    Donna L March 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm |

    Since Iris Tyto Alba seems to spend a remarkable amount of time outside Feministe vilifying this place (and Jezebel, since she seems to lump the two places together), including both the posters and the commenters, and ascribing to them all sorts of bad faith motives — as well as classism, and racism, and condescension, and hostility to “women of faith,” and being entirely white and upper-middle class and pretty much caricatures of mainline feminism, and engaging in excessive identity politics, and failing to discuss the important issues, and various other kinds of cluelessness — I imagine that it shouldn’t be too difficult to get an idea of her views. Which, at least at first glance, appear to reflect a Catholic social justice, Dorothy Day-type perspective.

    Not that she’s actually willing to engage with anyone here, or make any substantive comments, or pay attention to what people say about themselves, or do anything much here besides insulting people. In other words, she’s content to be the functional equivalent of a troll, so she can go back “home” and vilify people some more.

  64. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    In other words, she’s content to be the functional equivalent of a troll, so she can go back “home” and vilify people some more.

    Yeah, but I always hope that people who would accuse me of any bad “ism” would be willing to engage in discussion. I normally try to, if the person is really just stuck in privilege and willing to try and see more.

  65. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date March 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

    I really want to know what exactly is your problem with this article. Now, I am serious. I want to know what you think. I’m not trying to be condescending or sarcastic, I know tone is hard to see in type. I am just curious to have a clearer understanding of your position.

    Me too.

  66. Daisy
    Daisy March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

    From the article:

    These programs can save taxpayers anywhere from $2 to $6 for every $1 spent, according to Adam Thomas, a visiting associate professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute who wrote the paper when he was research director at the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution.

    I realize he actually wronte the paper when he was elsewhere, but there’s a certain irony there…

  67. konkonsn
    konkonsn March 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    @Krystyna

    The hardcore conservative opposition to covering the costs of birth control is more an opposition to women having sex without the intention of procreating.

    Anyone who has sexy times for fun is a total whore, (unless they’re men of course) and if they just stopped having sex entirely, there would be no unwanted pregnancies or a need to cover birth control.

    So even economic arguments like these won’t get through, since their solution of “just don’t have sex” while completely unreasonable, comes out cheaper.

    *trigger warning: mention of rape*

    Yup. The thing I can’t get is that, there’s hardly anything ever said about men. And if men slip up, well, whoopsie, don’t do it next time, ‘kay champ? But…who do they think these men are having sex with?

    Of course, I know the answer is obvious: they’d just blame the woman no matter what happened (it’s even in the Bible, right? about women having to marry their rapist), thus allowing ‘boys to be boys’ without consequence.

    I just can’t get over the whole “Men have strong urges, but it’s up to the women to control those urges on the part of the man.” Maybe this goes on the Evangelical thread, but what other sin is like that (serious question)? When someone steals or lashes out in anger or boasts, isn’t it always framed as the individual who needs to control that?

  68. Chataya
    Chataya March 7, 2012 at 11:30 pm |

    I just can’t get over the whole “Men have strong urges, but it’s up to the women to control those urges on the part of the man.” Maybe this goes on the Evangelical thread, but what other sin is like that (serious question)? When someone steals or lashes out in anger or boasts, isn’t it always framed as the individual who needs to control that?

    I think this does belong in the Evangelical thread, but I was taught at church* that it is a woman’s duty to be a loving supportive wife to her husband and exemplify good Christian behavior to him, no matter how horrible he was. His personal failings just meant she wasn’t a proper Christian wife.

    Temperamental and/or abusive? It is her cross to bear until he accepts Jesus into his heart+, at which point he will magically become kind, loving, and patient. Alternatively, it’s because she is too domineering and controlling, thus emasculating him and causing him to lash out.

    Stays out all night drinking? She’s not a good enough homemaker/a nag/domineering, so he doesn’t feel in control and welcome.

    Sleeps with other women? Her sex drive must be too low/too high, causing him to lust unnaturally after others.

    Vain and boastful? His home life is obviously lacking, so he needs to feel masculine and dominant some other way.

    But yes, to certain subsets of Christianity, basically every failing of a man can be traced back to a woman.

    *Southern Baptist, if you’re curious

    +Pretty much a direct quote from a lesson discussing if divorce was allowed in cases of abuse. The conclusion was “only if he puts you in the hospital, otherwise stop whining, Jesus was crucified for your sins and HE didn’t whine.”

  69. Elena
    Elena March 8, 2012 at 7:49 am |

    I dont get it why bc is reduced to being a ‘female’ issue.
    Every man in my personal environment (ex boyfriends, fiance, father, co-worker, supervisors, subordinates, etc.) is benefitting from me specifically, but women in their lives in general, having access to birth control and are happy to pay for or support this via their insurance payments.

    1. Angie unduplicated
      Angie unduplicated March 8, 2012 at 9:02 am |

      Elena-yes! I required my then-fiance to get a vasectomy before I would consent to marriage. City clinic did it. Does private insurance pay for these? If not, why not?
      Apparently a redneck superstition exists that vasectomies increase risks of cancer, and they’ll be happy to tell you all about it with a cig hanging out of their mouth. Others claim it decreases intensity of orgasm, denied by my ex.

  70. Tapetum
    Tapetum March 8, 2012 at 9:30 am |

    Yeah, the whole “just don’t have sex” thing doesn’t work so well within most marriages either. Especially in a lot of the evangelical, or other strongly patriarchal denominations, where it’s a wife’s job to keep her husband happy. It’s easy (if you’re conservative and misogynistic) to dismiss unmarried women who want contraception. It’s a bit harder to call a woman whose been married a decade a “slut” because she wants to be able to have sex with her own husband.

    The total price tag for the birth of my two children (covered by insurance, or we’d still be paying it off), was more than $80,000. That would cover a lot of contraception.

  71. Chiara
    Chiara March 8, 2012 at 9:37 am |

    Apparently a redneck superstition exists that vasectomies increase risks of cancer, and they’ll be happy to tell you all about it with a cig hanging out of their mouth. Others claim it decreases intensity of orgasm, denied by my ex.

    But doesn’t it increase the vocal pitch?

  72. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date March 8, 2012 at 9:43 am |

    But doesn’t it increase the vocal pitch?

    @Chiara, I often find it very difficult to perceive tone on the Internet. Can you please clarify whether you are making a joke or whether you are serious?

  73. Chiara
    Chiara March 8, 2012 at 9:59 am |

    Yeah I was just kidding.

    However quite a lot of people do believe that — I believed when I saw it in a film but then I found out that the vocal chords stay elongated after they have already been elongated. (Although old men sometimes have higher voices? Does the vocal chords start to shrink again when peeps reach ancient ages?)

  74. Caperton
    Caperton March 8, 2012 at 10:45 am | *

    Chiara, vasectomy has little to no effect on testosterone production, and thus no effect on things influenced by testosterone. Changes in the voice in old age are generally the result of fatigue to the vocal cords and surrounding structures, not a decrease in hormones.

  75. Shoshie
    Shoshie March 8, 2012 at 11:20 am |

    it’s even in the Bible, right? about women having to marry their rapist

    I totally agree with pretty much everyone in this thread because birth control = AMAZING, but I see this tossed around a lot and it always bothers me.

    As far as I know, there is no “raped women must marry their rapists” thing in the Bible (well, at least the Jewish parts, which is normally where I see the quote taken from). There’s a law that if a man rapes a woman, he must offer to marry her. This is generally taken to be a *protection* for women. Given the perfectly terrible stigma against non-virginity, not only would a raped woman have to deal with the trauma of rape, but she’d also have to deal with the social repercussions of not being able to find a husband and being SOL when her father died. Therefore, rapists had to offer to marry their victims, so they could at least be offered that protection. Note that non-consensual sex was still definitely prohibited, and rabbinic commentators have some very strong words about men who rape women.

    As you were.

  76. Donna L
    Donna L March 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

    rabbinic commentators have some very strong words about men who rape women.

    And they even, if I recall correctly (at least in the medieval commentaries), recognize the concept that coerced consent is not genuine consent, for example in recognizing that a woman in captivity who “agrees” under duress to have sex with her captor was nonetheless a victim of rape.

  77. Donna L
    Donna L March 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

    Chiara, I accept that you were “kidding,” but that really wasn’t funny in any way. People have asked you before not to comment based on what you’ve seen in old movies, and to limit yourself to things you actually know about or have made a good faith effort to find out about. (And not just by asking here.) And I want to repeat that request. The old, somewhat homophobic trope of a man being injured in the groin and then suddenly speaking in a high voice has nothing to do with vasectomies (obviously); it’s a castration joke — the “joke” that if someone’s testicles are injured they’ll become a “eunuch,” and that eunuchs all speak in falsetto. A joke that probably dates back at least to the days when castrati were around.

    And I hope you realize that even injury to someone’s testicles, and even castration (chemical or surgical), have no effect whatsoever on the pitch of an adult voice. In other words, Caperton pointed out that vasectomies have no effect on testosterone production, but the point is also that even removing the source of testosterone production has no effect on someone’s voice after that person has finished going through puberty. Castrati, obviously, were castrated in childhood, so they never went through a male puberty.

    All of which is why, contrary to what some people seem to assume, trans women who transition medically and/or surgically in adulthood do not achieve higher, more “female”-sounding voices by virtue of hormone therapy or surgery. It would be nice if it were that simple, but it doesn’t work that way. Most trans women have to train their voices, sometimes quite extensively depending on how deep their voices were, in order to be perceived as women through their voices, as on the telephone, so people call them “ma’am” instead of sir. (In that respect and in several others — but certainly not in every respect; the trans fairy is capricious — I was incredibly fortunate that my voice didn’t ever change as a result of puberty to a voice that was perceived as that of an adult male, so that I was able after transition simply to continue speaking in my original voice. Not that my voice didn’t create horrible embarrassment for me all those years I was trying to live as a man and people I spoke to on the phone rarely believed I was actually “Mr. L—–“.)

    So your comment was totally off the mark, Chiara, and I wish you’d stop it.

    Thank you.

    PS: Trans guys’ voices usually do get deeper from testosterone, even after puberty. It works in that direction, but not the other.

    Not only is that sort of

  78. Donna L
    Donna L March 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm |

    Darn, I was hoping that long comments weren’t still going into moderation automatically. Anyway, I just tried to post a response explaining why Chiara’s presumable reference to old movies in which a man gets kicked in the groin and starts speaking in falsetto (and when, Chiara, are you going to stop using old movies and TV shows as a guide to life) not only has nothing to do with vasectomies, and not only is offensive, but has nothing to do with reality even on its own terms, because even actual removal of testosterone does not affect the pitch of an adult’s voice.

  79. Chiara
    Chiara March 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    Sorry I didn’t mean that I was talking about a guy’s voice getting higher as being the joke. What I was trying to do was like ‘this is what some people believe’ and the joke being on them. Like someone said something about rednecks believing that vasectomies gave cancer and I was trying to imply that perhaps they also believe that it will make guys’ voices higher. The joke is supposed to be that that would be an absurd belief not that a guy getting a high voice is the joke.

    These things don’t come across so well on the internet.

  80. QLH
    QLH March 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm |

    Donna L, you make such valuable contributions, I look forward to your comments and usually walk away a little more open-minded, a little more educated, a little more empathetic. Thank you. I’m glad that you spend time here.

  81. Donna L
    Donna L March 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm |

    Thanks, QLH, you’re very kind.

  82. Chataya
    Chataya March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

    Donna L: I knew that about castrati and eunchs (thank you, terrible fantasy books I read as a kid) and about testosterone treatments, but never realized that estrogen treatments didn’t work the same way.

    I also really enjoy your posts and find them very educational!

  83. konkonsn
    konkonsn March 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

    @Shoshie

    Ah, sorry about that. It’s been some years since I’ve read a Christian Bible, and lately there’s been this .jpg going around pro-gay marriage that shows the various “marriages” accepted by that bible that aren’t as traditional as people like to believe.

  84. checksix
    checksix March 8, 2012 at 11:22 pm |

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

  85. Shoshie
    Shoshie March 9, 2012 at 9:32 am |

    konkonsn- No worries. I saw it on the jpg and it irked me there too, even though I agree with the basic sentiment. =P

  86. DP
    DP March 9, 2012 at 11:13 am |

    Iris:Would you talk to a woman you perceived as upper middle class in such an appallingly condescending fashion? I’m just trying to gauge if you’re more of a stealth misogynist, or just really classist.

    Mostly I reserve this tone for people who are as catastrophically wrongas you.

    I can see how you’d perceive that as “classist” though. What with the being incredibly wrong. All the time.

  87. checksix
    checksix March 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm |

    @kon and Shoshie

    I believe the passage in question is Deuteronomy 22:28-29. There’s certainly room for grammatical semantics about whether “he must marry her” and “she must marry him” mandate the same thing, but I see no mention of “he must offer to marry her.”

  88. maggiemay
    maggiemay March 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm |

    the man is required to marry the woman he has violated precisely because of the premium placed on virginity in that time and culture—it also says that if her father absolutely refuses to allow him to marry her he still is required to pay the bride-price

    we tend to judge these things thru our own cultural lens—as a 21st century woman i sure wouldn’t want 2 live w the man who violated me—but for the young girl in that cultural context, she would be facing starvation if she didnt marry—of course, this really highlights how horrific the old system was—and that many conservatives want to go back to

  89. checksix
    checksix March 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm |

    I agree it had an objective within that culture, and was probably considered a mercy of sorts due to the emphasis on virginity. I’ll try not to derail into a discussion of religion and moral relativism, though. I just wanted to point out that this law was, in fact, in the bible since there seemed to be some uncertainty.

    I have been unable to find a translation that adds the option of refusal on the part of the father, though. Could you point me towards that?

    1. maggiemay
      maggiemay March 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm |

      i read the new living translation—the deuteronomy verse may not have the father’s refusal clause, but there is another similar scenario in either exodus or leviticus—i’ll check it out tonite and get back 2U

  90. Shoshie
    Shoshie March 12, 2012 at 8:47 am |

    I have been unable to find a translation that adds the option of refusal on the part of the father, though. Could you point me towards that?

    I’m pretty sure it’s in the Talmud, but I’m not familiar enough with it to point you where. Yonah might know, if she’s reading this thread. Obviously, that has relevance from a Jewish perspective and not from a Christian perspective, but Jews at least pretty rarely consider the straight text as an end to itself. And, as practical law, the Talmud is almost more important.

  91. checksix
    checksix March 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

    Okay. Would you agree that it’s fair to say that the bible itself does require female rape victims to marry their attackers, then? I’m sorry to harp on the issue, but I think acknowledging the easily-recognized irrelevance and badness in the source text is important in undermining scripturally supported/instigated bigotry.

    1. maggiemay
      maggiemay March 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

      well, yes and no—the old system of mosaic law is not binding on christians today—but you wouldn’t know it by hearing some of them preach—i’ve become very selective about who i listen to these days

  92. Shoshie
    Shoshie March 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    Would you agree that it’s fair to say that the bible itself does require female rape victims to marry their attackers, then?

    No, because I don’t think it’s fair to read the text outside of its context. Doing that, particularly with the Jewish Bible, has been historically used to defend and instigate anti-Semitic attacks, which is why I’m pushing back so hard on this. I think it’s important to realize that these texts aren’t just the property of the disgusting conservative Christians who use them as a defense of bigotry. They were ours first, dammit.

    Anyways, sorry for the derail. As I said before, I’m totally on board with the original post and even the image that originally used the verse.

  93. checksix
    checksix March 13, 2012 at 6:07 am |

    The nuances and discussions of the Talmud and other important Jewish texts aren’t a part of most Christian theology, and it’s very much the Christian bible(s) that are being talked about in the examples above. I haven’t seen this presented as “this is what Judaism advocates,” but rather “this is what a literal, fundamentalist version of adhering just to what the Bible states would advocate.”

    It’s the fact that reactionary Christians will grab at Leviticus or Deuteronomy to justify homophobia et al, but ignore that two pages later it said something like this that they’d (hopefully) be horrified at applying with the same sort of unmediated literalism. I took the graphic (and this claim) as a stab at that kind of myopic cherry-picking.

    I also think it’s an important argument against not just Christians who use it as a defense of bigotry, but also those who have it as a source of said bigotry.

    1. maggiemay
      maggiemay March 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm |

      well said—but my humble opinion is its not really about belief at all—some ppl R just N2 power and control

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