The Pill & I

pillsI love birth control.

I also hate birth control.

Stay with me on this one. Hormonal birth control is, obviously, one of the most important medical innovations ever. Margaret Sanger, contraception advocacy pioneer, is one of my personal heroines. I love that women can plan their families and have more control over their bodies. I love that people can have sex, without worrying about creating tiny humans they’re not ready to take care of. I love that girls with irregular cycles can get their hormones under control.

However, sometimes, the whole thing makes me mad. When I take my pill at four-o-clock every afternoon, it’s a reminder that the only thing standing between me and an unexpected bundle of poo joy is a little blue tablet. My future plans rest on my phone staying charged, so that a “Take your pill, harlot!” alarm goes off. Such irrational bitterness comes down to two things: pregnancy terrifies me and guys don’t have to deal with this.

Babies are scary. Y’all are probably tired of me saying this, but they are! No amount of squishyness or tiny toes can currently outweigh my terror. I don’t want to be responsible for another human life. When I first got Remy le Super Dog, my amount of love for her just barely outpaced my resentment. There was this adorable ball of white fluff who needed things all the time. Not an hour went by that she wasn’t wanting to play or walk or go outside or eat something. Rationally, I knew that’s how puppyhood worked, but the reality of it had me strung way, way out. Just be quiet for five minutes, so I can nap, you stupid/adorable puppy! Of course, if I wanted a nap, I could put Remy in her ex-pen and ignore the whimpering. With a baby? THERE WILL BE NO NAPS. Bienvenue, Grace’s personal hell.

What’s really annoying, however, is that it’s all on me. If I accidentally get knocked up, it was some error with my pill. Perhaps I forgot to take it one day, or I just fell into that totally-not-as-exciting-as-the-other-more-famous 1%. Either way, the blame lies with my uterus. What the fuck, science? Isn’t there some way we can throw a little responsibility toward the guys? Condoms are all well and good, but they do break. So, where is the pill men have to obsessively take at the same time everyday? Where is the pill that costs $40/month, isn’t completely covered by insurance, and causes anxiety about blood clots? Hormonal birth control is more complicated for guys, but—Come the fuck on, Bridget!— if we can make a pill that lets old dudes have more sex, surely we can create one that mitigates the consequences of said sex.

If I were a billionaire, this would be my cause célèbre. Let Angelina have the starving orphans and Sarah Machlachlan have the sad puppies. My great ambition is to rid the fornicating world of blame inequality! With our powers combined, my uterus will be inhospitable and your swimmers will drunkenly backstroke downstream. We’d all be so much calmer. Of course, biology isn’t fair and women have been stuck with the blame and the baby for only eleventy billion eons now. So, suck it up, Grace! Science is going to keep making boner pills, because that’s what society wants. Babies are still for you women to prevent.

Feel free to roll your eyes at my tirade. It’s just that sometimes, having lady parts is a legitimate hindrance. At least once a day, I have the thought “Oh, geez. Please don’t get pregnant yet.” What’s more, I know I’m not alone. Being a woman is complicated and messy and, thanks to the genetic lottery of matching chromosomes, often all too unfair. Grumble, grumble, grumble

I would rant on a bit more, but my phone just imitated a Russian submarine sonar. Slave that I am to my nap love, I need to go take that damned little pill. Stop the ride! It’s the most important ten seconds of my day! Does anybody have a tequila shot that can help wash the bitterness down?

– Grace

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43 thoughts on “The Pill & I

  1. “your swimmers will drunkenly backstroke downstream” – Funniest thing I have read in a long time!

    It is frustrating that all the onus to stop unwanted little people seems to be squarely on us ladies. But then maybe that’s because the universe know that we’re the infinitely more responsible gender? Possibly.

    • That’s an interesting theory, Jaina! There are quite a few benefits that nature has given us, along with les bebes: our pain tolerances are remarkably higher, we live longer, etc. I don’t know how I feel about nature also deciding I should be the responsible one, though. Fetal Grace would have like a choice, despite how irrational and impossible that is.

      • My lab whined, chewed my shoes, chairs, everything, and ate her own turds. ATE HER TURDS!!!! Gross!! Babies won’t eat their own turds unless you breed with a real idiot and they can gum the crap out of your shoes with minimal damage. I’m not saying the trade off after that first year is worth it, but for that first year…baby has my vote! Lol.

  2. AMEN! I was JUST thinking about the same thing. It is very frustrating (read: expensive, inconvenient, exhausting) to be a woman sometimes and have all the responsibility, and I’m not totally on board with the pill to begin with because of all of the hormonal issues it can cause. I’d definitely get behind a pill for men!

    • That’s another big issue I have, TNR. Hormonal birth control is so pervasive for women, that there aren’t many non-hormanal treatments out there, besides the copper IUD. Nor does science seem to be actively working on any. I would really prefer not to mess with my body’s chemistry, thanks!

  3. I’m with you in theory, but it reality I think I’m probably too much of a control freak to trust a guy not to get me pregnant.

    I’m more bitter about that fact that no one in science seems to be working on a way for men to give birth instead.

  4. I’m 100% with you on this, and I was just venting about this very issue a few days ago. It pisses me the hell off that dudes bear no responsibility in the process of not getting us gals knocked up. And oh, if we do get knocked up unexpectedly, *we* are the ones who get labeled as sinners and whores for getting ourselves into that mess. (Because obviously, we’re the ones who failed. The onus lies entirely on our shoulders.) There are little to no repercussions or pejorative labels for the menfolk, and the double standard is infuriating.

    And this is from a woman who wants desperately to get knocked up in the near future. So, y’know, perspective.

    • Amen, Lillian! I don’t want to give up my own responsibility in the matter, but some equitable effort on their side would make me so much less bitter. We get every negative side effect of pregnancy, both from society and science.

  5. I agree SO MUCH with everything here. I hate being the one accountable for the lack of babies in our relationship situation. I hate paying the 40 dollars a month, I hate being shamelessly probed by a stranger once a year for the privilege of paying that 40 dollars a month, and I hate being to blame for the fact that I have the ability to produce other people. It’s a nuisance to remember, and horror to forget. I don’t like being forced to take drugs by someone else, and at times i feel like that’s what it is. Just another form of control, however ‘liberating’ at can be a times. And if one more person refers to them as my “Slut pills” in a derogatory sense they’ve got another thing coming. Sorry for the rant…but thanks for the great post.

  6. I’m not sure I’d welcome putting *all* the trust to not get pregnant into a guy’s hands – but having the option, or being able to make it a joint responsibility, would be a great thing. Gender inequality is something that really bugs me. It takes TWO to make a baby, and yet it’s the women that end up (sometimes quite literally) holding the baby. Well said Grace 🙂

  7. Sigh. I prefer that my uterus be manned by armed Pinkerton guards, willing to shoot down any rogue swimmers who dare attempt a breach. Alas, hormonal birth control sends me into a murderous rage and all other options are basically Russian roulette. I hear convents are actually quite comfortable, though.

    Male, female, or shared force field, I can’t imagine a future without birth control that doesn’t suck.

    • Charlotte, this is another giant problem with the pill: the side effects of hormonal birth control are awful for so many women. Other viable options would be much appreciated! As it is, if you’re allergic to copper and can’t be on hormonal bc, there isn’t much recourse.

  8. See, while the maths would suggest that both men and women taking pills would result in reduced rates of unintended pregnancy. However, I bet that actually 2 people thinking “ah yeah I’d better take it even though he/she has taken it” as compared to a woman thinking “I HAVE to take it” would actually lead to a higher rate of pregnancies. I know it’s unfair and all, but I’m the one who might get pregnant so I don’t think I could trust someone else to remember a pill.

    Also, I’m in the UK where every other medicine I have to pay (a reasonable amount) for, but the pill is free which I think is amazing and brilliant.

    Tampons on the other hand, are insanely expensive and there should definitely be a tampon tax on the menfolk!

    • Really great points! I would never put all my faith in a guy’s contraception, but it would be nice to at least have a male back up, you know? If my pill fails, I want to have the chance that his will work. Also, I’m so freaking jealous of UK healthcare in many respects!

  9. I am do glad someone else also compares raising a puppy to a tiny human. I know I’m not ready for mommyhood because you can’t put a baby in a kennel when you want a nap…. Errr… At least you shouldn’t.

    XOXO. Great blog!

  10. I think men should have to deal with some of the crap we go through. But I have a little implant in my arm that doesn’t need to be changed for 3 years so no babies or remembering pills for me! ;D

    • Woohoo for the implant! I am so jealous of your ability to use it. My hormones are difficult to get under control, so the pill is my only non-IUD option, but the implant sounds like a magical wonderland.

  11. Nice article and very funny. You raised several good points but I think that “a male pill” is something that’s bound to happen because of the advanced era that we live in. Men also need to be given options when it comes to prevention and not just what colour and flavour condom they choose to use.

    • I do hope you’re right, Namhlasm! I think science is getting there, but the push to get them off the ground was so much slower, which is what truly angers me. We all need better and more options, in the long run.

  12. I’m sure this is also very frustrating for men. I can’t see how it wouldn’t be, since they have to either trust us completely (which is awfully nice but not always the case) or use condoms (which feel different, unless you’re lying). I think this “counts” as a feminist issue since it’s very different from the female side of things, but still I have to holla to the menfolk.

  13. So glad to know that someone else is terrified of getting pregnant too! People think I’m crazy when I tell them that actually carrying around a tiny human inside my body is the scariest thing I can think of. I am convinced that IF I ever get pregnant (working very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen) I will have terrible morning sickness and other ailments I will not be able to remedy and I will be bed ridden by month 6. I’m sticking to dogs 🙂

  14. Two words: Hormone IUD! Sounds just about right for you, given your level of freaked-outness about little people. Not sure about the cost in the US but in Germany it is actually cheaper than the pill over the period of use. They last for about 5 years, are much less of a hormonal whammy because their impact is only localised, you don’t have to remember taking them every day (or using them every time you intend to have sex), and to add that extra little cherry on top, they get rid of the messiness of being a woman. And if for some strange reason the urge to have babies pops up before the end of your 5 years you just have it taken out early, no problem.

    PS: With our target of propagation without multiplication (i.e. 2 children) being met, my husband is actually the one who offered to get himself fixed in order to avoid future surprises. I found that a pretty decent compensation for about 20 years of hormonal contraception on my shoulders. He’s such a keeper 🙂

  15. This is really interesting. As someone who qualifies to be a doctor in 5 weeks (eeeek!) this is something that has actually came up a lot over my training. The reality is that there are these pills in the making. But it would involve a man having to take two pills. One to stop the little sex hormones that make the sperm, and another to produce exogenous sex hormone to make sure they don’t completely demasculinate.
    We’re lucky in the sense that we just give ourselves more of lady hormones, on higher doses, at regular times and it sorts us out. There’s no way I can feasibly see how this could be so easy for men.
    Secondly, there’s the whole compliance thing. Why would a man take a pill when the consequences just aren’t that high for them. Of course, maybe in a stable relationship with lots of trust this could work. But would you really put 100% trust in any man, knowing that you just couldn’t know for certain.
    Having been at the receiving end of failed hormones (yep I qualify to be a doctor in 5 weeks, and I’m due a baby in 8 weeks…) I definitely think it sucks that it all lies on us.
    That being said, after this baby is born I’m getting all over the wonderful invention that is the Mirena coil and putting all this worry to the back of my head.

    Such a good read though!

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