Crazy on Contraception

Kathryn Jean Lopez:

A Bush administration HHS nominee is getting grief for his involvement with a pregnancy center that believes: “that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness.”

Passing out contraception without any deeper context or conversation is degrading and disrespectful — to men and women. Tell me I’m crazy.

I second Andrew Sullivan here: She’s crazy.

The ability to enjoy a healthy sex life while minimizing the risk of an unwanted pregnancy is anything but “adverse to human health and happiness;” indeed, it contributes tremendously to both. If you want to see a society that’s degrading and disrespectful to women, randomly pick one that bans or ostracizes the use of contraceptives. Women there are usually, quite literally, barefoot and pregnant, from roughly the onset of puberty until menopause. They are also virtually without power economically, legally, or politically.

The taboo against contraception remains from an culture wherein girls were married off at age 12 or 13 and had their first of a dozen or so babies (presuming they survived childbirth) a year or so later. These days, advances in health care and nutrition have sped up the onset of puberty while the move away from an agrarian economy has postponed marriage and child rearing ten, fifteen, or twenty years. In this context, the idea that people should wait until they’re married to have sex–and then only if they are trying to get pregnant–is indeed crazy.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Religion, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    Of course, K-Lo is speaking from the vantage point of someone who never has to worry about pregnancy unintended or otherwise.

  2. […] Andrew Sullivan and James Joyner also agree on the state of Ms. Lopez mind. What an incredible trinity we form. LOL. At least none of us support Rick Santorum. […]

  3. […] Andrew Sullivan and James Joyner also agree on the state of Ms. Lopez mind. What an incredible trinity we form. LOL. At least none of us support Rick Santorum. […]

  4. Cernig says:

    The second most ridiculous notion invented by the mind of man is that sex is inherently sinful R.A. Heinlein.

    But unfortunately, that’s where thinking like Lopez’ begins. It then continues with another holdover from prehistoric agrarian superstition. A set of magical rituals (marriage) is built around the act to break the taboo and make it unsinful. At the end of the day, that’s why extreme social conservatives are against gay “marriage”, especially if it is actually called marriage. It threatens the magic of the ritual, threatens to make it “unclean” and therefore inefective in breaking the taboo for everyone.0

    Nice post, James. I agree wholeheartedly. (That’s a rare enough thing that I had to say so 🙂

    Regards, Cernig.

  5. Dave says:

    Straight out of the Taliban manifesto.

  6. […] Outside The Beltway and Andrew Sullivan have finally found their common ground. This was rather disappointing since OTB never cites the source of the quote being considered and didn’t digg for the context of the position Eric Keroack have taken on contraceptives. “A Woman’s Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness,” the group’s Web site says. […]

  7. Did anyone bother to read the actual website or look at “A Woman’s Concern”? From the article and comments… I don’t believe you did.

  8. Anderson says:

    Let’s see: passing out contraceptives, on the assumption that adult women are clueful enough to know what they’re for and how to use them, “is degrading and disrespectful.”

    As opposed to lecturing the recipients on their proper use & on sexual prudence?

    What an idiot. Isn’t she the same person who thought Rick Santorum was the great GOP hope? No wonder.

  9. James Joyner says:

    CC: I take issue with K-Lo’s statement, which stands on its own merit. Neither my post nor Sullivan’s has anything to do with Keroack or AWC. The WaPo link is from her post and I include it in my blockquote of it.

    As Sullivan notes, K-Lo isn’t talking about teen sex but about sex generally. Further, if one includes condoms in the category of “contraceptives,” I would say they are the best means of preventing STDs out there.

  10. Berto says:

    Most women in “barefoot and pregnant” societies view the way we treat women as degrading and disrespectful. We use women as sexual objects in advertising and entertainment. Don’t tell me that ain’t degrading.

    Women in traditional societies aren’t necessarily unhappy. In fact, surveys show that people in those societies are generally happier than in modern societies. Nigeria ranks #1 in a recent survey while the U.S. trails in 16th place. In the U.S., traditional stay-at-home mothers report higher levels of happiness than women who’ve embraced the sexual revolution.

    One of the critical dangers of easy access to birth control is that most industrialized nations are dying out. Their birth rates are below the level of sustainability. So there’s a cost to birth control to both the society and individual and I think y’all are the crazy ones for not wanting to discuss it.

  11. Arcs says:

    He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are “designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons.”

    What grates me is that the appointment is going to an ob/gyn MD. That’s overkill. Any turban-covered 7-11 minimum wage clerk would have been sufficient.

  12. Kent G. Budge says:

    I don’t have any problem with the judicious use of contraceptives, but you lost me when you said

    In this context, the idea that people should wait until they’re married to have sex … is indeed crazy.

    Call me crazy. After all, it’s a great way to dismiss anything I have to say.

  13. James Joyner says:

    Kent: K-Lo not only invited the description but takes as obvious the contrary position. My point is that it’s rather silly to pretend that people who are waiting until their late 20s and later to get married are going to wait that long to have sex. Further, with responsible use of birth control, there is no practical rationale for doing so.

  14. anjin-san says:

    >Most women in “barefoot and pregnant” societies view the way we treat women as degrading and disrespectful. We use women as sexual objects in advertising and entertainment. Don’t tell me that ain’t degrading.

    Actually I would argue that our culture of marketing & “entertainment” is kind of degrading for all parties involved, not for women in particular.

    But, as a wise woman once said, “No one can take away your self-respect without your permission”.

  15. Cynthia says:

    I am not sure if I am welcome here, but since there does not appear to be any females commenting, I just wanted to state that MOST women just want to be left alone to make their own bloody decisions about sex, contraception, and their health in general. If you want to subscribe to the above mentioned superstitions, and taboos….go right ahead….it’s still a free country. Barely.

  16. Anderson says:

    I just wanted to state that MOST women just want to be left alone to make their own bloody decisions about sex, contraception, and their health in general.

    Amen, sister.

  17. anjin-san says:

    I am with Cynthia on this, women are the ones who have to live with these choices,and they need to be the ones to make decisions regarding their own bodies…

  18. Berto says:

    Cynthia,

    I don’t have any problem with that until women insist on government mandated health care, contraceptives, flex time, daycare, welfare, etc. Once you start demanding those benefits then I think you open yourself up to judgement by others.

  19. floyd says:

    this is aPARENTly[sic] a deep subject for such shallow minds to comment on.[lol] smoking is less dangerous to one’s health than premarital sex, yet we condemn smoking, and condone promiscuity?? our society no longer has the moral grounds to expect anyone to follow; socially or legally.our capacity for commitment is infantile.