Greening up your Bedroom
Happy Earth Day, readers!
Surprised to hear that from yours truly? Well, let the record state that while I remain miserably apathetic about recycling (because it’s stupid and it uses more energy to break down and refashion the original materials than it saves), I am totally and 110% crunchy when it comes to avoiding – and helping my family avoid – hormonal pollution.
On a practical level, that means we make careful choices with our dairy and meat purchases, we don’t drink the appalling tap water available to us here in bella Roma, and I don’t use hormonal contraception. Now, I have one or two other reasons for refusing to pop the Pill, but for the sake of this post, let’s focus on the simple fact that it’s bad for you.
Like very, very bad. And also pretty terrible for the environment and surrounding inhabitants, e.g. your neighbors. Human and animal alike.
So without further explanation, I offer to you (and I will permanently link this on the header bar at the top of the blog) my semi-infamous ‘Green Sex’ talk.
When I was a FOCUS missionary and way back even before that when I was a grad student at good ‘ol Steubie U, I began to draft and then revise this talk, giving it every couple of months or so to varying crowds of (mostly) college-aged audiences at conferences and at colleges around the country. While I’ve been off the speaking circuit for a good long while now, popping out babies and moving overseas and whatnot, the content is still relevant – perhaps more so with all the HHS nonsense still brewing at home – and so I want to share it with you here.
So why aren’t we hearing more about it? It seems like the green thing to do – in light of mounting evidence of the effects of chemical contraception on the natural environment, would be to cease and desist all chemical contraceptive use at once. Or else. But… that doesn’t seem to be on anybody’s political agenda these days.
But the consequences of contraceptive use on the environment – both externally, in nature, and internally, within the human body – are staggering.
First, a little background on who is “using:” From a report by the Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood), issued in January of 2008, we have the following statistics:
Good to know. Let’s build upon this information with some facts from the front line, taken from
the drug info packet of Ortho Tricyclen – the number one prescribed oral contraceptive in the United States:
1. “may increase your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer”
But I haven’t thought of a more fitting name for it yet, so “green sex” it is.
Some food for thought:
Why aren’t we hearing more buzz about “greening” our sex lives? Why hasn’t there been public outcry over the massive amounts of environmental pollution produced by hormonal contraceptive use? And perhaps most disturbing of all, why aren’t women up in arms about the ramifications that even short-term contraceptive use has on their health?
Because going green – in the bedroom – is not the most convenient option. Because we don’t really care what we’re doing to our bodies, as long as our bodies are performing exactly as we tell them to.
- If you miss 1 pill, take it as soon as you remember.
- Take your regular pill at the usual time, even if it means taking 2 pills in one day.
- Continue taking your pills, but use another effective method of birth control (in addition to your pill) for 10 days, even if you begin a new pill pack or have your period.
- If you miss 2 pills, take two pills at once, then 2 pills the next day.
- Continue taking your pills, but use another method of birth control for 10 days.
- If you miss 2 or more pills at the start of a new pack of pills and have had sex, you are at risk for pregnancy.
Sounds rather complicated. But what if you are taking your dose on time? Read on:
So by convenient, I suppose the manufacturers mean mind-numbingly complex. If Tylenol had such stringent dosing practices, I wonder whether it’d be the number one painkiller on the market.
Myth # 2: Contraception is responsible:
Our waterways are becoming saturated with astronomical levels of estrogen, decimating animal populations in the surrounding ecosystems. Case in point: Boulder Creek – (yeah, this town gets a lot of weird press) is now home to a bizarre, mutated kind of “transgendered trout.”
Boulder, Colorado is turning a blind eye to one to the mutation of one of their beloved indigenous animal species for the sake of … convenience? A strange phenomenon for a city known to be infatuated with all things animalia… but then, stranger things have happened in Boulder.
Myth # 3: Contraception is liberating
Truth: Contraception is anything but freeing. Need we revisit the tedious litany of instructions for proper use of the Pill?
The truth is, contraceptives have made women less free, not more. Because for every claim of convenience –
There is an equal and opposing consequence – take the following three examples:
And while it would seem that while there most certainly are individuals and companies who are benefitting from the tremendous sales of contraceptive products, we – the women who use them and the environment in which we live – are not making out so well.
Perhaps the biggest myth enshrouding the practice of contra-ception, Latin for against the beginning (of life) is the unshakable claim that somehow those little pink pill packs have made us, as women, free.
To read much of recent modern feminist literature, one might very easily assume that the entire achievements of equality enjoyed by the fairer sex in the past century were accomplished thanks to the invention of the Pill.
Truth be told, the assumption that any woman could be, potentially, ‘protected’ from the dangers of an unwanted pregnancy and available for sex sans consequence has led to the expectation that every woman is exactly that: available.
A girlfriend of mine was recently dating a guy – very casually – and they ended up back at her apartment one evening after dinner, chatting on her couch. After a few minutes of small talk this ‘nice guy’ got down to business, asking if they were, you know, ‘safe’ to hook up.
“So are you like, on something? I mean, are we safe?”
“Are we safe?” she wondered incredulously..
He turned red (to his miniscule credit) and elaborated “You know, are you like, on the pill?”
“Um, no, I’m not. And is that seriously how you just asked me to sleep with you?”
The conversation – and the brief relationship – ended about 3 minutes later.
The point was, the assumption, the entire burden of ‘responsibility’ was on her shoulders. Only difference between this guy and a million other dudes on campus was that he had the crass to say it out loud.
And neither a condom nor a chemical contraceptive can guarantee ‘protection,’ whether from deadly disease, unwanted pregnancy or no-strings-attached sex. Despite what you may have heard in health class, or down at the campus health center (which very conveniently stocks loads of free samples from dozens of pharmaceutical companies hawking product and brochures from Planned Parenthood hawking, you guessed it, product).
According to a 2010 economic analysis of contraception by economist Timothy Reichert entitled ‘Bitter Pill,’ “Contraception creates a demand for abortion.” He likens contraception and abortion to complementary forms of insurance that resemble primary insurance and reinsurance. “If contraception fails, abortion is there as a fail-safe.”
Data collected from 1960 to 2005 confirms his thesis that the practices of contraception and abortion should rise until equilibrium levels of sexual activity are reached – and indeed, the statistical evidence shows a strong correlation between the rise in legal abortions and the rising use of contraceptive technology.
But we are not simply a target demographic, potential customers and consumers. Women in particular have been gifted with a unique and complex sexuality which lends itself to long term investment in a lasting sexual relationship.
Because of the widespread availability of contraceptive technology, a woman is now compelled to enter the sex market at a younger age and ‘compete’ while she is a scarcer commodity, while at the same time driving the cost of abstinence for other women to an historical high.
Women who choose to delay their entrance into the sex market until they desire to marry find themselves at a profound disadvantage, both from the perspective of availability of potential mates and the stiffer competition from younger sexually active women who, by nature of their suppressed fertility, are available for consequence-free sex.
In plain terms, what this essentially means is that from a strictly economic perspective, the availability of contraception compels women to make themselves ‘sexually available’ in order to compete with their peers for a rightful share of the market.
It’s a rather grim way of looking at romantic relationships, but there’s evidence of it in every aspect of modern society. Sex has essentially become the currency and women the desirable product or service. Not an especially attractive scenario, from a feminist perspective. Which is why I would advocate that authentic feminism must embrace the whole person rather than reducing her to parts or performance ability.
Being a woman, having the capacity to conceive and nurture new human life, is not a design flaw. It doesn’t need to be sutured, suppressed or tied off in order to ‘protect’ men from the consequences of intimacy with us.
Similarly, we needn’t defend ourselves against the scourge of male fertility by means of barriers or chemical repellants. We are not at war with one another.
But we are making war on our own bodies, and on the environment in which we live.
As human beings we are entrusted with an awesome responsibility to till and keep the garden of the natural world. We are to be stewards and guardians, not polluters and consumers. Not of the environment, and not of each other.
So the next time somebody engages you on the topic of responsible environmental stewardship, ask them what they’ve done for the planet lately, and maybe think twice before popping your morning Pill.
Because you never know who’s downstream.
Christy from fountains of home
Whoa Jenny. This is so good! I’m glad you saved it from your missionary days-I know I’ve given talks and I would gladly burn them again if they were around…they were so bad…
All fabulous reasons to invest in a copper IUD. Mine has been working wonders for 4 years now. I’ve never worried about “protecting men from the consequences of intimacy.” So much so as I worry about the consequences of bringing a child into the world when I am unprepared as a mom! I look forward to the day when I’m not still seeking a degree in higher education and will have the emotional time and energy to devote to a sweet little one. But until then, I’ll just keep enjoying my IUD, another really wonderful and personally as well as worldly responsible way to protect our earth!
I respectfully disagree with you, Anon, as IUDs are both dangerous to the woman using (uterine perforations, etc) and are intrinsically abortifacient, as they do not prevent conception like contraceptives do, but rather prevent a newly formed human embryo from implanting on the uterine wall.
So they don’t prevent those sweet little ones from coming into existence, but rather, they snuff them out by means of a very early abortion. I hope you’ll do some research for the sake of your own health, and for the sake of your unborn children.
Here’s a quick and informative reference for what an IUD is and how, exactly, it works:
I acruay did some great research around them before I made the decision to get one and I am still pleased with the choice. Did you know that copper acts as a natural spermicide to begin with? That’s the first measure f prevention. And yes, they do prevent newly fertilized eggs from planting in the wall, which prevents pregnancy. It may be uncommon for you or others to hear about but women do actually do reasearch and come to different confusions. For my sake and the sake of my unborn kids I also don’t eat GMO foods, adhere to a healthy diet, exercise, buy organic food, try to minimize my carbon footprint, avoid medications of any variety when possible since ALL medications (not just birth control) have a massive carbon footprint and are tested on animals. I make many well-researched decisions every day that I am proud of!
I guess we can’t have much more of a scientific discussion then, if you don’t recognize the beginning of human life as conception. Secular and religious sources concur on this point as a given, so I’m a little confused by the rationalization that affords you peace of mind over the IUD decision.
A fertilized egg is a human zygote, which in turn matures into a human embryo, and then a human fetus, human infant, human toddler, human teenager, etc. At what point in the biological development of the human person would your worldview allow you to recognize the humanity of another person?
And yes, IUDs were designed to function in a spermicidal manner, but do very little in that area, if you will read the fine print on your device’s packaging. Their primary means of success is via early abortion.
Not to mention the possibility of copper toxicity. http://www.paleoforwomen.com/the-birth-control-series-vi-the-iud/
Dear Anon, I think I love you. Turns out people CAN have different opinions and make well-informed and thoughtful decisions. AAAANNNDDD people can make decisions that are not dictated by a church and still be good and kind people! What a concept! I’m glad you’ve made a decision that works for you. And how brave of you go voice your opinion to a blogger known for being snarky, narrow-minded and generally un-Christ-like in her interactions. Kudos.
Nothin’ snarkier than anon-comms on someone else’s blog. Way to keep it real ‘Christ-like,’ party people. So much love and peace from ‘anonymous’ sources, I think I’ll just save the world the saccharine and stop posting them 🙂
Jennifer @ Conversion Diary
Fantastic post, Jenny.
And I feel obliged to jump in and note for the record that I was conceived while my mother had an IUD. So…be careful with those things — sometimes they lead you to give birth to Catholic religious fanatics!
Well informed and thoughtful are arguable statements as “proper” discourse doesn’t usually involve crass attacks on others. Additionally, “thoughtful” also doesn’t involve slaughtering a small child who in just a few short months would hope to whisper the words “i love you.” Research has shown cases of copper causing teratogenic effects in BABIES conceived while copper IUDs are present. Do the research, here let me help you Graham et al. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. Fortunately, we tend to utilize research performed on animals to help us decide if drugs are safe. Are you aware of the ghastly effects that were caused in rats and guinea pigs? How thoughtful. In addition to the teratogenic effects on a baby, did you also know that copper accumulation in the bloodstream has been reported to cause many ill effects such as Wilsons Disease. The treatments for Wilsons Disease are often chelating agents that are NOT environmentally friends. So maybe before you go to attack someone, remove the large tree from your own eye. That is if we are to be thoughtful, kind people like you.
Did you also know that women for centuries have been using primitive forms of the IUD?! They used chicken bones. I’m glad that I don’t have to resort to that!
Wow! This was great! Would you mind if my husband and I use it in our marriage prep classes that we teach for our parish? I love to hand out thought provoking information that really drives home the church’s view on NFP and contraception. This would be perfect!
We’ve used NFP, sometimes lazily and sometimes vigilantly, for the entirety of our 11 year marriage. We have 4 children and couldn’t be happier about the way NFP has drawn us closer and protected me from putting dangerous chemicals in my body.
I wish I would have seen this talk in person! Great stuff, Jenny. Thanks for sharing!
Jenny, I hear you. I was always concerned about mothers putting their girls early on on the pill thinking they’re protecting them when they’re really EXPOSING them to all the STDs that are around and passing on the wrong values by implying that sleeping around is ok. They choose a trip to the gynae over discussing the complexities and the beauty of a proper relationship. Yet I never realised the damage the pill causes to the environment. Thank you for your lucid arguments. You should syndicate an article.
To the Anons, I’d just like to say any time you insert a foreign object into your body there are risks involved. Ask any medical professional. The end.
Love this post. Great job!
When we took our nfp class twelve years it was full of Catholics and hippies. It was pretty hilarious, but it makes sense.
And as for your Anonymous visitors, how exciting that they’re reading your blog. Let’s just try to be more pleasant than they are, shall we, and hope that something that they’ve read here plants a seed that will grow in God’s time.
I also must respond to the Anon (and anyone else) who commented that she will wait until she is finished “seeking a degree in higher education until she has the emotional time and energy to devote” to a child. I wish to say this as charitably as possible, with the understanding that everyone’s circumstances are different: I had my first baby in my first semester of my master’s program, and will be having my second baby a few weeks before my doctoral program starts. I have found it absolutely possible to devote time and energy (both physical and emotional) to my children and my studies. Contrary to our contraceptive culture’s attitudes, it is possible for women to succeed in their careers and in the vocation of motherhood with out contraceptives. I don’t need birth control to “liberate” me from children while I pursue my career.
Abortion is the number one marker for Breast Cancer… so if the IUD or any intra-uterine device ejects a pregnancy (a child) then the mother has statistically upped her chances for breast cancer… Her breasts are under the influence of estrogen until the end of the second trimester… at which time… the estrogen starts to decrease and progesterone increases..until birth… When an abortion occurs the breasts are left under the influence of estrogen.. which stimulates cell growth and change from non milk producing cells to milk producing cells… but the process gets stopped in mid-stream… and so the result is an increase in breast cancer cases..
It’s not nice to “fool” mother nature… she always fights back.. and she always wins.. God help us
This is a fantastic post. There is a lot of great info here that I hadn’t even considered until recently and I’m happy to find it all in one place!
Great post! We’ve used NFP to both prevent and achieve pregnancy and it’s always works wonderfully.
Artificial contraception is designed to prevent the body from working as it should…which is just crazy to me. It’s like purposely breaking a leg or something..it’s purposely breaking the reproductive system.
Bravo, Jenny! I wish I had your elegance to explain such topics!
Great post. I would agree that NFP is relatively cheap but I don’t know if I would call it easy! (Not as newlyweds, at least, which was when we were avoiding.) In any event, this post was well researched, straightforward, and debunked a lot of common assumptions and rationalizations about using contraceptives. (I don’t think anons read to the end… or at all…) I will be sharing!