Feminism Fridays: Death to PMS, Long Live the Pill

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Yesterday The Belle Jar posted her reaction to a Buzzfeed Community post titled We Asked 24 Women Why They Don’t Use Birth Control And These Are Their Answers.* I suggest you read her response. It’s very funny, but it’s also very sad that she needs to write a response at all. Anyway, I thought for today’s Feminism Fridays post I’d give you my take on birth control.

From the time I first got my period, I had the worst PMS symptoms, the kind that perpetuate the stereotype. I became hyperemotional. I cried at everything, overreacted to everything. I knew my emotions were irrational, but I couldn’t help myself. I was a bitch. I broke out all over my face. My breasts were so tender and sore that putting on a bra or sleeping on my stomach was excruciating. I had ovary cramps and back cramps, both of which were sometimes so bad I had to take four Advil at a time and wear an Icy Hot back patch for days. Sometimes the pain was so intense I had to take sleeping pills to relax enough to fall asleep. Occasionally the pain made me vomit.

Finally, after years of these horrible symptoms, I decided to go on the pill. Even then, it took another year before I found one that was right for me. The lower-hormone pills didn’t work. My body is so self-regulated that I would get my period during the week I was on the placebo pills and on my regular 28-day cycle. Yes, that means I got two periods a month. It was horrendous. Finally, though, I ended up taking Reclipsen, a pill with a higher dose of estrogen. It’s strong enough that the artificial hormones override my natural ones. Now I’m back to one period a month, thank God.

My PMS symptoms have also significantly decreased. My emotions are much more in check, and I don’t feel like I’m losing control for two weeks every month. My cramps only last a day or so, and they’re much less noticeable. Although I still get bad days every few months, they’re not nearly as bad as they were before.

That’s just what the pill does for my PMS symptoms. I haven’t even mentioned that whole thing where I have a 99% chance of not getting pregnant while taking the pill. Hello, how awesome is that? I still use condoms, because the pill doesn’t protect against STDs, but in the event that a condom breaks or what have you, I have an excellent safeguard against an unwanted pregnancy.

Birth control is great. It gives women the option to have more control over our bodies than we would normally. Now, I’m all for doing things as naturally and as chemical-free as possible (I mean come on, I make my own shampoo), but in this case, bring on the drugs. Taking something that gives me control over my body is empowering, and no one other than myself should have the right to decide what I do with my body.

There are a lot of birth control naysayers out there, but so many of them are religious zealots or are simply uneducated. I myself am religious, but God needs to stay out of my vagina. As for the uneducated, this is just one more reason why we need more in-depth health and sex education classes. Until that happens, though, I’ll keep fighting the good fight. I just hope that when I do finally decide to get pregnant, my significant other will forgive the raging hormonal beast I will become for nine months.

 

*This post was created by a Buzzfeed user, not by a member of the Buzzfeed staff.

Feminism Fridays: Guys, Learn How to Take a Hint

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For me, one of summer’s quintessential activities is watching Big Brother. Laugh if you like, but I’m shamelessly obsessed. Everyone has their reality TV show achilles heel. Big Brother is mine. As much as I could ramble for hours on the minutia of this show, though, today I just want to cover the fact that one of the houseguests does not seem to understand that most basic principle of “no means no.”

Caleb, or, as he refers to himself, Beast-Mode Cowboy, has a bit of a crush on Amber. At first it was cute. He told all the other guys how beautiful he thought she was, how she was the kind of woman he would take home to his parents. Then it got annoying. He wouldn’t stop talking about her, doing things for her, describing her to the other houseguests as if he’d known her for years when he’d only known her a couple weeks.

Then it got aggravating.

He called her his queen, his girl, as if she belonged to him. He put himself in a position of danger in the house to save her, even though she specifically asked him not to. He continued to ask her out on dates even though she said no every time. And this conversation happened:

Caleb: “There’s a certain way you like at me throughout the day and I’m sure you feel the same way. You look at me a lot. Am I wrong?”

Amber: “I don’t know. I didn’t know I looked at anybody a lot.”

Caleb: “Everybody sees you.”

Amber: “This is all news to me.”

That was the first time Caleb brought up his so-called “love” for Amber. She was understandably a little flustered and didn’t make herself  very clear. Since then, however, she has done everything she can to make sure Caleb knows she’s not interested. At one point he asked her what else he had to do to get a date. She told him again how she didn’t want him to do any of the things he did in the first place.

Go away, Caleb. I’m tired of you.

What really pissed me off recently, though, was that Amber and Cody have a little thing going, and Caleb is pissed. He confronted Cody about it, demanding that Cody tell him if anything was going on. He also follows Amber around the house, looking especially sullen if she’s with Cody.

There are a lot of guys with Caleb’s problem. None of them seem to realize that women are not possessions, things to be put on pedestals to show off to everyone in the land. You can’t call dibs on one and expect her to be with you because you did so. Women are people with free will, who can decide who, if anyone, we want to be with. We don’t need the help of men to make our decisions. Caleb claims to treat Amber with nothing but respect, but the mere fact that he won’t let go of the idea of them being together says otherwise.

So, just in case anyone missed it earlier in this post, NO MEANS NO. Just because a women is friendly toward you does not mean she wants, or is obligate, to go out with you. Also, we women can stand up for ourselves. If we ask you not to do something on our behalf, listen to us. That’s not to say I don’t want my boyfriend to come to the rescue if I’m being mugged or something. But if it’s a matter of defending my honor or something of a lesser severity, I can handle it myself, thank you very much.

This won’t sway me from my irrational love for Big Brother (trust me, last season was even worse), but it will remind me to make my voice, and the voices of all women, heard. Our voice is one of our most powerful tools.

Now, Caleb, GTFO.

Feminism Fridays: Go Home SCOTUS, You’re Drunk

I would be remiss if today’s post was not about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In a nutshell, the decision stated that the government cannot require closely held for-profit companies, like Hobby Lobby, to violate their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby, which is owned by the Green family, who are Christians, felt its religious beliefs were being violated by having to provide coverage to employees for four types of birth control, including morning-after pills and IUDs. These forms of both control are abortifacients, which means they work after an egg has been fertilized. That, under the beliefs of the Green family, is a violation of Christian principles.

The biggest problem with this decision (in my opinion, anyway) is that for-profit companies have now been given the same status as religious institutions. Now, if a religious institution wants to take certain forms of birth control off their health-care plan, that’s fine by me. The people working at those religious institutions almost certainly hold the same religious beliefs as the institution. For-profit companies, however, hire employees who need a job, not employees who are there for religious purposes. And if these family-run companies now have the ability to make health-care decisions based on religious beliefs, how long will it be before all for-profit companies have the ability to make the same decisions?

Salon published an article about the highlights of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, which address some of these same issues. According to the article’s summary of Ginsburg’s dissent:

“Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. … The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.”

Also:

“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

Salon ends with Ginsburg’s views of how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been distorted:

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent.”

This decision has opened the door even wider for religion to take precedence over women’s rights. Every time it seems like women gain ground on our right to control our bodies, something like this happens, and we have to fight that much harder to regain our rights.

I am not protesting religion. I myself am a practicing Jew, and I find great comfort and community from religion. I also know many Christians who are great people and great friends and with whom I have wonderful and intellectual discussions regarding religion. But I also believe we live in a day and age where we have realized that those living in the time the Bible was written lived under very different circumstances. If we still followed the Bible to the letter, we would be killed for cursing our parents. Seriously. According to Leviticus 20:9, as it is written in the New International Version, “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.” According to that law, how many of us would be dead now? I certainly would.

The decision has been made, and now we, those women who believe that we, and we alone, should be able to control our bodies, have a decision to make as well. We have to decide whether we will sit back and continue to allow decisions like the Hobby Lobby case to be made or whether will stand up and fight for rights. What will you decide?