One woman is a total disaster; therefore, all women are total disasters - Feministe (blog)

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Dear God make this piece stop. Why, Cat Marnell, WHY?

GET IT TOGETHER, GIRLS: Every Goddamn Pharmacy in New York is Out of Plan B! Every ONE!

Yeah, I don't want to go on the Pill or wear condoms either, but it's like … come ON.

It is, like, come ON. Summary: Cat doesn't like birth control. Any kind of birth control. Except Plan B. But she has noticed lately that lots of NYC pharmacies are out of Plan B. She concludes this is because too many women in New York are making irresponsible decisions, and they need to stop doing that. Cat Marnell's evidence? Cat Marnell!

But WOMEN. We are clearly abusing [Plan B]. OK, at least I am. Once I took it three times in one month! And that is seriously extreme; I know; I know. So besides that horrible month — I was f*&king around with someone REALLY sexy; what can I say — I'd say that I take it once every, like two months, and OMIGOD I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M WRITING ABOUT MY SEX LIFE. I meant to be writing all of this to condemn all of YOU.

So I actually don't really care if you take Plan B three times in one month. I would suggest that it's expensive, though, at $50 a pop, and also stressful, and that there are better ways to prevent pregnancy. But the fact that one lady took Plan B three times in as many weeks? Not evidence that we're all irresponsible sluts. Not even evidence that she's an irresponsible slut! And even if she is an irresponsible slut (a term that could basically be applied to anyone, since no matter how responsible or un-slutty you believe yourself to be I promise there is always someone who is more responsible and more un-slutty and more holier-than-thou who would be thrilled at the chance to tell you just how much of an irresponsible slut you are), that's not much of an argument against providing Plan B over the counter and without a prescription, as I'm sure anti-choice folks will use Cat's article to argue. Irresponsible sluts deserve the right to prevent pregnancy too. And irresponsible sluts deserve the right to talk about their experiences and their choices, even if those choices make me, personally, cringe a little bit. It really is your body, and I will fight for your right to make whatever reproductive choices are best for you.

But I do care if you're the health editor (HEALTH EDITOR, yes!) of a very highly-trafficked website and you (a) take the position that all of this science stuff is HARD and therefore you aren't going to discuss it, and (b) you spread really dangerous misinformation about health issues. For example:

2) Birth control pills. NO. They will make me fat; they will make me "spot" (another thing I squeamishly just DON'T LIKE TALKING ABOUT; don't worry, though, everyone else who works here does); they will give me acne; and quite frankly, they will NOT prevent me from getting pregnant! I know this because IT HAPPENED TO ME™.

No, I didn't take my pills right; I forget things like this unless they are FUN pills, or what I BELIEVE, delusionally, to be a "fun" pill at the time; anyway, the point is, unless a pill gets me speedy or doped up as all hell I will NOT remember to take it, and then I will get pregnant! I JUST WILL. (IHTM™.)

So birth control pills are not my friend either, but Jesus H. THIS IS FACTUALLY INACCURATE. Not all birth control pills will make you gain weight or get acne or whatever. And frankly, they WILL almost definitely prevent you from getting pregnant, but you have to use them right. There are serious downsides to hormonal birth control — there are enough downsides to prevent me, personally, from taking the pill also. But that doesn't mean every form of the pill is terrible and acne-causing and weight-altering for everyone and doesn't work anyway. JESUS H.

Condoms. Nope! As if. I don't know. I don't sleep with that many people and so I just don't do condoms!

This is actually scary to me. Cat. Girl. You need to use condoms! Even if you aren't sleeping with "that many people." It is totally your right not to use condoms, and I am usually the last person to be like "you really really REALLY should make this one particular choice pertaining to your own health" and plenty of people hate condoms and I understand that, but GIRL. PLEASE USE CONDOMS, OH MY GOD, I AM ACTUALLY WORRIED FOR YOU.

Abortion. This shouldn't even be on the list though obviously I've had them. Abortions are not birth control and I hate them! I'm OBVIOUSLY pro-choice but I think they are terrible and wrong and I hate having them. And I mean terrible for everyone involved. It breaks my heart all around.

So before this paragraph I basically just thought Cat was sort of tragic and misguided, but really? Abortions are wrong and terrible and you hate having them? What, unlike all of the other women who LOVE having them because they're so fun? CAT. GIRL. It is time for some real talk: You are totally entitled to your beliefs about abortion and anything else, and you are even entitled to be a huge hypocrite by believing abortion is morally wrong and is also murder but then have multiple. Believe me, lots of people embrace that same position. But you kind of veer into asshole territory when you go onto a highly-trafficked website and get all finger-waggy at other women for using Plan B or having abortions. Also, abortion is birth control — it controls the number of births you're going to have. I know what you mean is that in your opinion abortion should not be used as one's primary means of birth control, but that's not what you said. IT IS YOUR JOB TO WRITE ABOUT HEALTH-RELATED THINGS. That requires actually doing some research and writing from a place of knowledge.

OK, my point is, I'm sleeping with someone new now and I'm going to be better about not letting anything happen. Women of New York City and the world: resolve to step up. Fifty bucks is fifty bucks — that's practically a new fall fragrance! We should all stop letting dudes come inside of us and take some responsibility because I am feeling increasingly guilty about being an AVID participant in an abortion-friendly culture.

Head. Explodes.

I mean, yes, avoid abortions! They are expensive and not fun at all. If you are against abortion in principle, there's another reason to avoid them! But oh my god "we should all stop letting dudes come inside of us" is not really the reproductive justice call to arms I was looking for, you know? The pull-out method can actually be ok at preventing pregnancy if you use it perfectly every time. That requires being with a partner you trust. That requires using it perfectly every time, which is something most people are not able to do. And even if you use it perfectly, you can still get pregnant. And it doesn't do all that much for preventing the spread of lots of STIs.

I have no problem with pulling out being Cat's go-to method of birth control. I'm not sure forgoing condoms is the best idea if you and your partner haven't been tested for STIs and if you aren't monogamous, but again, totally her call and her business. And I have no problem with her writing about her life and her experiences, as messy as they are. It is a True Fact that women are not perfect, and we sometimes (often) (always) make decisions that, when put on paper, look irresponsible or problematic or troubling. We shouldn't deny the existence of certain experiences and choices, just because telling those stories could be anti-choice ammunition, or because we feel that one woman's experiences make all of Womanhood look bad. We are human, and humans make mistakes, and what's even a "mistake" is pretty variable depending on who you ask. So I'm not saying that women, even very public women, need to pretend to be perfect on the internet.

However. I have a big problem with the health editor of a major women's site suggesting that all birth control except Plan B sucks, and so the women of New York should collectively have dudes come on our tits. Discussing one's own experiences is one thing; universalizing one's experiences and spreading misinformation is another, especially when the person doing the universalizing and misinforming is in a position of relative authority and influence.

Cat: Your honesty is commendable. But there's some responsibility that comes along with an editorial position, you know? Please consider being a little more accountable to your readers. You don't have to be, but at least don't spread bad information.

13 Oct, 2011

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