The original title for this post was “Women want sex too!” The only reason I changed the title was to pursuade corporate filters to let the URL through. Does anyone remember how I had to re-title “The Naked Face” to “The Bindi-less face”?
I found this post by IHM quite thought provoking. I’ve been trying to work some things out in my head about this whole women as sexual beings thing and this post came at the perfect time! Anyway, on we go to the actual stuff…
I feel that society, at some level, has not come to terms with the empowerment brought about by the invention of female birth control (and to some extent, disposable hygiene products). Imagine society before the Pill was invented and birth control lay in the hands of men. Imagine society where abortion was illegal and/or unavailable. A society where a menstruating woman could not step out of the house simply because there was no way for her to. Of course, in such a world it was women who had to be “careful” because it’s ultimately a woman who pays for an unwanted pregnancy.
Cut to today. Yes, the ads for sanitary pads
border on the are obnoxious. But they exist. And their very existence proves that we’re starting to acknowledge women have periods. Something does happen down there. We have a birth control pill that a woman could even take in secret (if need be) and not get pregnant against her will. A woman could use the morning after pill. In India, at least, she can legally have an abortion as soon as she knows she’s pregnant but doesn’t want to carry the embryo to term (yes, dear anti-abortionists, it’s not a baby at 8 weeks, it’s not a fetus even. It’s just an embryo. And a fetus is not a baby until it’s born). Abortions are perfectly legal until 12 weeks and an adult woman in India can opt for one without anyone’s consent. So says the Punjab High court.
Now that we don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, we can actually think about having sex when we want to, not just when we are sure it’s ok if we do get pregnant. There’s a second, more dangerous implication lurking here. Now that we have birth control, even an “illegitimate” child can be a choice, not a curse. In other words, a woman can decide whether she wants to be a single mother. How empowering is that?
I’ve heard a lot of apologists for backwardness say, “Oh! But maternity is a fact and paternity is faith”. No, idiot. It’s not. Have you heard of something called a DNA test? You can now be perfectly sure who the father of the baby is. Or to be precise, who isn’t.
Where does that leave us? In a world where women can finally separate child-bearing and sex. And, just like the ads say, do whatever they like during their periods.
Here comes the twist. Society hasn’t caught up yet. We also live in a world where women have been conditioned to not want sex because, as the Telugu proverb goes, “Whether the leaf falls on the thorn or the thorn on the leaf, it is the leaf that suffers”. Where women are the leaves and men are the thorns, get it? Even though a woman can finally go ahead and do everything she wants to, society still wants her to be the child-bearing family nourisher. Worse, a woman is still considered defective goods if she can’t get pregnant. A good example being an angry mother-in-law who called up my MIL (a gynecologist) and demanded to know what was wrong with her daughter-in-law. The poor DIL had produced one child (presumably a girl) but was unable to get pregnant again.
Of course, this birth control explanation is an over-simplification but I do think there’s some merit to the idea. I remember how, in any “periods education” session conducted by Whisper representatives in our school, all questions would ultimately be, “If I do X, will I get pregnant?” Getting pregnant was the ultimate scare (can’t find the right word but I need to wrap up soon) against getting into a relationship. Take that away, and poof! half the monster crumbles.
The question is, what do we do with the other half?
ps: I will be editing this post later. It’s totally unfinished but I’ve run out of blogging time!