The great difficulty explaining the intrinsic evil of contraception to a generation suckled on the milk of the extolment of choice is this: to do so requires a fundamental schematic re-framing, a shifting of the mind so jarring that black and white are in fact inverted. If contraception – the greatest good of the 20th century and beyond – is evil, then the very fabric of our modern morality has been stretched across a framework constructed of lies.
This is what we’re dealing with, a poverty of understanding originating not from mere ignorance, but from misinformation and distortion. To preach to the uncatechized is difficult; to preach to the indoctrinated is near impossible.
Which is why preaching alone ain’t gonna cut it.
The real enemy of understanding is the carefully calculated campaign of misinformation that has been steadily waged since the mid-60’s (and earlier) in an effort to de-stigmatize and even divinize contraception, both in the pews and in the bars.
And oh boy, has it worked. Just try to raise the issue in a classroom or examination room, merely inquire whether there might be some valid cause for concern on a biological level… ask whether the use of synthetic hormones or artificial substances might be harmful to a woman’s body, and then sit back and wait for the explosion.
“You, you, you ignorant fundamentalist zealot!” they’ll sputter, red-faced and incensed, uncomprehending your ability to even go there. Just try dialoguing with most gynecologists about potential negative side-effects of different contraceptive methods, and then wait for the fireworks.
They will come. Or if they don’t, in their place expect a smug elitism reminiscent of the media’s recent treatment of our gal from the North, a kind of “oh you poor simpleton, didn’t you go to Haaaahvard? Don’t you know the advancements science has made over the past century?
Either way, the typical response indicates two things:
1. Contraception is a dogma, foundationally essential to the religion of secular relativism
2. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. (Your habit of questioning will get you labeled as you as a detractor or worse… an “F-word,” a fundamentalist with no concern for the rights and the dignity of women.)
So how do we work within this framework? First, it is necessary to dispel the mysticism and the holy shroud surrounding the doctrine of “freedom of choice.” If there are health care professionals out there who are truly unbiased in their pursuit of professional excellence, than let us draw them into well-reasoned, well-researched dialogue regarding the facts. Do not respond to emotionalism and sensationalism with more of the same. Instead, arm yourself with the facts, with the results of accredited and relevant studies.
Do your homework, and approach the problem the way you would have in college, you know, for that one class with the professor who may have thought you to be an ideological stranger, but with whom you could converse nonetheless after careful hours of independent study and a little extra elbow grease. Even if you’re worlds apart on an issue, two adult human beings ought to be able to have a rational and temperate discussion using facts and figures rather than feelings and flippant one-liners. (and I know I step on my own toes with this last one, but this is but one post in a vast sea of passionate and provocative blogs, which are primarily intended to spark conversation and thought.)
Secondly, if contraception is ever to be exposed for what it truly is: an affront to the intrinsic dignity of the human person, then we must come across not as the accuser, but as the advocate.
Women (and men) are the victims here, and whether or not they self-injure, the results are the same: a human person who is suffering tremendous physical, spiritual and emotional damage.
When you come to the table to discus contraception with a woman who is actively contracepting (or has done so in the past) be prepared to encounter tremendous hostility bred from guilt and no small amount of anger, whether or not she possesses the insight to recognize it as such.
It’s a hard thing to see, particularly with the oft-accompanying vitriol masking the real personality underneath, but generally (and particularly in the case of a woman) when someone is passionately advocating for something that has harmed them in some way, it becomes all the more essential that they defend it to the death. In the world of psychology, this is know as “identifying with the aggressor.”
There are layers upon layers of complexity here, subtle and deep-seated indoctrinatory effects, and residual emotional baggage from childhood and beyond… not to mention one of the most terrifically funded and brilliantly marketed propaganda campaigns in the history of humanity.
All this, and we’re expecting to enter into a conversation with any kind of victory in mind?
In a word, yes.
Because there’s something that all the flashy ad campaigns and private and federal funding and good press in the world can’t compensate for: truth.
We’ve got that going for us. And when you speak the truth in love, there is nothing on this earth more powerful, or more effective.
So keep talking.