On Birth Control, Rush, and Double Standards

Isabelle Davis on the double standards of society.

“It’s a double edged sword isn’t it?  If you say you haven’t, you’re a prude.  If you say you have, you’re a slut.” –The Breakfast Club

Girls in high school are under incredible pressure to fit into the very small box of society’s accepted norms.  The difference between being “easy” and “cool” is too small for comfort.  The real question is why.  Why do women have a different set of rules from men?

The double standards are at their most obvious in the teens and early twenties, when people start to realize their sexuality.  For guys, this does not seem to be a big deal to anybody; it’s just a part of growing up.  But for girls, having sex or dressing in a way that is seen as “provocative” is results in accusations of loose morals, name calling, and other attitudes that would never be put on men.  Think about it, the worst thing a woman can be called is about her gender or sexuality.  Over the past couple of weeks, the debate about how contraception affects us has been getting even more heated in politics.

On his radio show several weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh called a law student, Sandra Fluke– who testified in favor of contraception coverage in medical care– a “slut” and a “prostitute.”  Apparently not satified with name calling and slander, Limbaugh went one step further,  “So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.”

It’s disgusting, chauvinistic attitudes like this that lead to lower confidence in young women.  And it does not stop with Rush Limbaugh, in almost all of the billion Republican Nominee Debates contraception has been a topic for debate.  This is the first that that’s happened since the 70s.  And here’s another problem: nobody is protesting the converge of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction pills.  So every time a man needs help for little blue pills, they should post it online for all of us to see.  Oh wait, nobody wants to watch that.

The fact is we live in a society where men’s rights to have sex whenever they want is supported by the government, but when a woman wants the same freedom her morals are called into question.  She is called degrading and incorrect terms on national radio and television for simply wanting to enjoy that aspect of life without having to worry about having a kid she cannot support or simply does not want.  The idea that covering birth control is a waste of “our tax dollars” is simply ridiculous.  When, in fact, a woman having an actual child would cost much more money, including  for health insurance.

According to school psychologist, Jennifer Hahne, the idea of slut shaming (when young women are bullied because of their sexuality) can be very harmful, “It definately hinders self-esteem.  Girls end up being ashamed of themselves and that results in a lot of girl on girl bullying that can cause long lasting damage,” said Hahne.

Also, why is it that the average person deciding what should be on health care plans for women are 70-year-old white men who are missing something very important when deciding what women should do.  They are our bodies, our lives, so the use of birth control is our choice.  All three candidates for the Republican nomination have stated that funding for Planned Parenthood would go out the window if they would be elected president, and apparently not just in protest to abortion. (Do not even get me started about that.)

Then, there’s the other side of the story, the thousands of young girls who take birth control to help with things that are not at all related to pregnancy or sex: regulating periods, controlling acne, and controlling other hormones.

“I started taking birth control when I was 13, before becoming sexually active, because my doctor recommended it to help with my acne, and while the side effects were not always pleasant, it really did help with that aspect,” said Courtney*, a Niles West student.

So there you go conservatives, a medical reason for girls to be on birth control without ever seeing the lower half of the opposite sex.  Are people really trying to say that these people are missing some part of their morality because they want to fix health problems?  But a man can have a drug that’s sole purpose is the help with sex–recreational or not– and that is not an issue?  Surely the double standards are glaringly obvious.

And the fact is that a lot of the women on birth control are on it because they do not want their uteruses to be inhabited by a fetus for nine months, and they do not want to or they are not able to raise children (given their health or their financial situation).  The reality is that 7 out of 10 teens will have had sex by their 19th birthday, and unless we want a million teen moms running around birth control is one solution.

“I’m not anywhere near ready for having a kid, I have nightmares about that.  Birth control gives me a 99 percent protection rate and we’re still not really comfortable with that, so my boyfriend and I always use a condom,” Courtney said about the issue.  It is not easy being a teen mom, and women should have a right to protect against that risk.

It may against some passage in the bible to use contraceptives, and those who believe that can stay off the pill if they want to, but they cannot control other people’s bodies.

*Names have been changed due to the sensitivity of the subject and the desire to remain anonymous.

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  1. avatar

    I would also like to point out, as Zarin has, that birth control helps to protect against breast and other types of CANCER. These are not small things. Rush Limbaugh’s behavior about the topic (as with pretty much everything) was and continues to be disgusting as well as sexist af.

  2. avatar

    My mom takes birth control pills to keep herself from getting tumors. If it weren’t for the pills, my mom would probably be either in a very dire situation or dead.

  3. M.C.

    First, this was a nicely written article, I just don’t agree with it at all.

    Ok, so people take birth control. Yes, it is a fact of life, but the government shouldn’t have to pay for it. The country is already in more debt than we can ever pay back, yet people still want more benefits that the US just can’t provide. We have to be cutting back on government spending, not adding to it! Also, I know acne is horrible, but people can live with it. This will sound harsh, but acne medication isn’t a necessity, even though it may seem like it sometimes. I know, in a perfect world, everything would be free and available. However, that is not a reality, and the sooner people realize that the government isn’t responsible for everything, the better. We have freedom in this country and we shouldn’t have to be relying on the government to provide and pay for our luxuries.

  4. avatar
    Pro-Life Supporter

    I agree with Emma’s idea about having some articles about the presidential campaign, because I would like to know how my fellow teenagers view each of the GOP candidates. Also you made a mistake by saying that there are only three GOP candidates when there are actually 4: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum, and the from the Democtratic Side there is Barack Obama.

  5. avatar

    I read this great article about a 100% effective method to avoid pregnancy: don’t have sex. I know people, particularly liberals, will deem this approach to be ridiculous, but there are a lot of people out there who can control their sexual urges. In fact, self-control is one characteristic that differentiates humans from animals. Men and women alike should practice self-control instead of relying on American tax dollars to fund contraceptives. I for one would rather see my money going to more pressing issues like education. Not funding birth control pills to help girls who can’t control themselves.

    • avatar
      Isabelle Davis

      I hope you realize that the majority of this column is about other uses for the pill besides birth control, such as regulating periods, lessening cramps, and clearing acne. The rest of it deals with the fact that a woman should be able to have sex if she wants to and not worry about having children, and when there is a drug that makes this possible, there is no reason to prohibit it. Realistically, most teens are not a big fan of “controlling their urges”. Also, it has been proven that having birth control can often save taxpayers money: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/03/06/148042609/how-birth-control-saves-taxpayers-money .

      • avatar

        Acne and cramps aren’t medical reasons, though that’s what you referred to them as in your article. And I never suggested that the government should prohibit birth control. I simply said it shouldn’t be paid for by the government. Also that npr article is not proof; it’s simply speculation.

        • avatar


          Cramps are a medical issue for me. By my senior year of high school my cramps were so bad that I stopped participating in gym class one or two days out of the month. Since PE classes grade almost entirely on attendance, this “cost” me. I didn’t realize at the time that this wasn’t normal, so I never spoke to my male gym teacher about it (he may have made some accommodations if I hadn’t been too embarrassed to tell him) or got a doctor’s note excusing me from gym; I just stopped changing for gym on those days.

          Now three years later, my cramps have gotten so bad that I usually experience all of the following for 1-3 weeks out of the month: severe back pain; leg pain; trouble walking; and nausea. Additionally, during my last period (and this is the first time this has happened to me), my abdomen was so swollen that I couldn’t zip or button my pants. I was on the pill for 2 1/2 years, and while it won’t fix what’s going on with me, it kept these symptoms at mild-to-moderate. Now I range from severe to time-to-go-to-the-ER. Sorry if this was “TMI”; I presume that you will one day be – or possibly are – a voter, and the best thing a voter can do is educate him or herself on both sides of issues. Since you want to limit the medications I have access to, I think you have an OBLIGATION to know how you’re affecting me, and thousands (if not millions) of other women.

          Thanks for your time.

          • avatar

            So because of anecdotal evidence, or in other words, a girl with really bad cramps, the government should pay for birth control.

            That doesn’t sound right. Not everyone who takes birth control does so for cramps, in fact, I would venture to say that most don’t take it for that reason.

          • avatar

            The article hardly says that the majority of people use the pill to manage cramps, it says that is one reason why people might beyond birth control. Besides that, who cares? Women have a right to do what they want with their bodies, and if Viagra gets covered by health care without complaints, then healthy family planning should be supported and suggested if anything.

    • avatar

      If you would rather have your money go to “more pressing issues” than birth control, then you should be outraged by the fact that Viagra is already covered by insurance. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but I think a man who can’t get it up is going to be better off than a junior high, high school or college student who has to take time off from school for doctors appointments, labor, and all other things associated with having – and potentially raising – a child. Also, consider what kind of an effect this could have on the life of the child.

      Yeah, abstinence is effective but, as the statistic from the article shows, it’s not always how things work out. This is often from personal choices, but sometimes a result of things beyond our control. I don’t want to scare anyone, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “[n]early 1 in 5 women has been raped at some time in her life.” Of those, the CDC says that approximately 80 percent of them were first raped before age 25. (You can find those 2011 statistics, as well as statistics about male rape victims, intimate partner abuse, and victims of stalking here: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p1214_sexual_violence.html) One in five…great odds on a scratch-off ticket, but downright horrifying when I think about all of the women who I care about – family, friends and neighbors – and how easily it could be one of them, or even me. Sometimes controlling your own urges isn’t enough to prevent sexual activity…or pregnancy.

      • avatar

        That statistic is so very inflated. One of every five women have not been raped.

  6. avatar

    I’m confused. Is this article about the injustices of the “double standard” or a rant about why it’s unfair that women should have to control their sexual urges?
    Aside from the confusing thrust of the argument, this article is saturated with faulty claims, the most blatant being that birth control pills are necessary for medical reasons. Acne is not a medical problem; it might look bad, but that’s simply an issue of aesthetics, not health.
    And finally, I don’t believe the government should have to subsidize contraceptives. I am one of those who believe in that “some passage” in the bible, but I’m not suggesting that I “control other people’s bodies.” What I am suggesting is that people control their own bodies and their own urges. If a man or woman wants to avoid the burdens of raising an unplanned child, they should practice self-control and not rely on tax dollars so that they can engage in sexual activity without consequence.

    • avatar
      Isabelle Davis

      Actually, serious acne can leave physically painful scars on serious cases when someone does not use medication to lower the severity. Also, you completely ignore the other uses for birth control, a complete list of which can be found here for those who are interested: http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/med-uses-ocp.html

      • avatar

        Okay, then people who actually need birth control pills for medical reasons, as prescribed by a doctor, can have access to it, and it can be paid for by the government. However not just anyone should be able to get free birth control because the government paid for it, as you are suggesting is a bright idea.

    • avatar
      Half in half

      I agree but shouldnt people get to choose? people should try to control their urges but what if they are ready? that should be their choice.

  7. avatar
    A. W.

    I do agree mostly with this article, like Emma said I view abortion and birth control as completely different issues, so I don’t think it’s really fair to bring that to the table in the article. I’d also like to point out that birth control is also used as hormone replacement therapy for girls who cannot produce estrogen normally, as well control hormones regulating your period and reduce acne. To just say that birth control is only used as a contraceptives is a very narrow view on the issue, and our health care providers need to rethink how they’re portraying these drugs.

  8. avatar

    Gotta love the “Breakfast Club” quote (:

  9. avatar

    This is a really interesting and insightful article. Really well written overall.

    I do wanna point out two things though. At the beginning, you say men are never subject to criticism for the way they dress, and that they don’t have those attitudes pushed on them. I’d say that while men aren’t subject to this brand of criticism as much as women, they can still get judged by their clothes. I’ve heard plenty of people rag on guys for wearing pants that don’t fit and let their boxers hang out. They can dress “douchey” sometimes too. And then there’s that whole thing with hoodies and gangs. Those are male related clothes problems.

    I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t think it’s 100% fair to claim a problem like that as pertaining solely to girls. That’s all.

    (Also, and this is a more personal thing that I’m sure plenty would disagree on, I think of birth control and abortion as two completely different issues so when you threw abortion in there like that it was a little conflicting to me)

    Other than those two little things, this was such an interesting article. The parts discussing the republican candidates was particularly interesting! Maybe the NWN should do some presidential campaign coverage of their own???

  10. avatar
    Rebecca Yun

    I strongly agree with what is being said.

    Honestly, it’s stupid that the fate of Planned Parenthood funding is being entrusted in the hands of older men. Why are we even allowing that? Should 70-year-old women be allowed to decide the fate of male enhancing pills? I’ll take a wild gander and say that if that were to happen, men everywhere would revolt.

    If teenage girls need the Pill to regulate their periods, we should let them.

    Bottom line, it’s hard for men to know exactly what it’s like to have a horrible period, so they shouldn’t be given the right to decide on a topic that doesn’t concern them. End of story.

  11. avatar
    Alyssa Guzman

    This is a great article, Izzy.
    I didn’t know half of the facts about the republican debate before I read this, and it really opened up my eyes to how ignorant some people are for being so closed minded. Waita speak the truth! :)


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