Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fifty Years of the Pill: Two Perspectives



Two radically different perspectives on the 50th anniversary of FDA approval of the contraceptive pill. One is mainly celebratory--though it acknowledges that the pill--widely available in Saudi Arabia--is no guarantor of women's liberation (as it used to be called 50 years ago--I remember!). Still it uses familiar terms like "furious [sic] socially conservative backlash" to forestall consideration of alternative viewpoints, which is tiresome. But she does acknowledge, more or less, the evil wrought by that racist, eugenicist champion of contraception, Margaret Sanger, as well as the opposition to the pill for decades by the authors of Our Bodies, Our Selves and the advocates of Black Power who saw it as a form of genocide (which suspicion was understandable in view of Sanger's position).

The other uses social science techniques to argue the following proposition, so contrary to received opinion:

With this essay, using the language and tools of modern social science, I will articulate the position that contraception is socially damaging. I will also demonstrate that contraception is in fact a sexist practice. Using straightforward microeconomic reasoning, I will unpack the behaviors engendered by artificial contraception. I will show that the contraceptive revolution has resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth and power from women and children to men.

So both pieces are interesting and go beyond the usual shouting past each other of these kinds of arguments.

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