Holy Hormones Journal: Time to re-post my favorite Germaine Greer quote:
“A woman’s body is the battlefield where she fights for liberation. It is through her body that oppression works, reifying her, sexualizing her, victimizing her, disabling her.”The Whole Woman, 1999
Ever wonder why you feel in the dark? That is because women’s history –THE record of events concerning women’s mental, emotional, and physical state of being a woman has been erased from the books – PERIOD. This is why so many women feel ‘lost in – yes, a lost world.’ Lost because our voices and our history has been whitewashed.
Our voices? I call it the “Take Two Valium and Go Home Honey Syndrome” otherwise known to so many women as the “It’s All in your Head” phenomena that is told over and over again every time we go to the doctor.
Our history? How many of you know women’s history. Unheard of – untold until it was introduced at the college level as a studies course – maybe 20 years ago? Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? Did you know that the pill you are taking was used not only to sterilize Puerto Rican and African American women but also Native American women? That is called gendercide. And it is part of women’s history as much as the witch burnings, and the suffragist movement that won women’s right to vote.
Marcie has written an excellent commentary raising the issue if BCP’s were developed to free women from pregnancy – or to control our body and reproduction in the name of eugenics. If you do not know this history – then you are a participant in the gendercide. Harsh? Think about it.
Once piece of history Marcie did not mention – that I will bring up here. After the pill was trialled in Puerto Rico – and the women there rejected it because of all of the side effects… it was fast-tracked onto the market anyway. Remember the initial pills contained way more estrogen than pills on the market today. Not sigh of relief – there – our mothers passed all of that estrogen in-utero to the next generation and so on and so forth.
A Senate hearing was held in January of 1970 – on the safety of the pill. Many feminists and other concerned women attended. But they were forced to sit in the gallery (balcony) and none were allowed to testify. A medical expert stood up and said: “Estrogen is to cancer like fertilizer is to wheat.” At what cost is gendercide and eugenics? Our freedom.
The Dark History of Birth Control That You Haven’t Heard
The pill. Freedom in a tablet. The cause célèbre of the women’s rights movement. Particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in 2014 and the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act, no other issue, perhaps barring campus sexual assault, has dominated the contemporary feminist agenda as much as birth control.
Despite this focus, the history of this relative freedom is something about which many advocates seem ignorant. More women (27.5%, according to recent data from the Guttmacher Institute) rely on the pill than any other type of contraception, yet public discourse suggests that most, on the pill or not, have no idea about its past anchored in eugenics, sexism and racism.
The irony of the pill is that it was tested on women, specifically women of color — many of whom were forced to undergo sterilization — before later being marketed predominately to white women in America as a symbol of independence.
“Controlling gender and race”: Contrary to some popular celebratory writings, such as Jonathan Eig’s recent The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, the pill’s story should not necessarily be one of hero-worship.
“Guinea pigs”: There were a handful of reasons why Puerto Rico became “the ideal setting for pill trials, which were the largest series of clinical tests ever performed,” Preciado writes. As PBS reports, government “officials supported birth control as a form of population control in the hopes that it would stem Puerto Rico’s endemic poverty.” In 1937, the passage of Law 136 legally sanctioned sterilization of Puerto Rican women for such purposes. What’s more, the pill trials that later began in Puerto Rico in the 1950s also expanded to other “pseudo-colonial locations” like Haiti and Mexico, Iris Ofelia López points out in her book Matters of Choice: Puerto Rican Women’s Struggle for Reproductive Freedom.
“The pill has functioned as a technique not only for controlling reproduction but also for producing and controlling gender and race,” scholar Beatriz Preciado writes in her book about gender in the age of pharmacology, Testo Junkie. Indeed, Dr. Gregory Pincus and Dr. John Rock — two of Eig’s “crusaders,” funded by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger — effectively sterilized hundreds of women, from non-consenting psychiatric patients at the Worcester State Hospital to destitute Puerto Rican women living in the housing projects of Rio Piedras, by testing variations of the pill on them.