“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.