I just picked up my issue of “Yes!” Magazine from the library today. (It’s the fall 2012 edition, because I can’t rent the newest releases.) There are some things I really like and enjoy about this magazine – it’s all about sustainability and organic food, challenging traditional ways, and embracing humanity with compassion. I like that.
But I also find I love and hate this magazine at the same time. I support local gardens, I think communities should place more time and energy in preventative health than capital gains in treatment. (Espousing healthy lifestyles so instead of dealing with bone loss, or type 2 diabetes, or heart problems when they arise, work is done before these issues strike to either prevent them entirely when possible or lessen the severity.) I wish eating a truly organic diet was more cost-effective for a 22 year old in school full time. (It’s not.) These ideals are something we should at least strive for and I appreciate reading about them.
But especially this last issue, I had some real issues with a couple articles. The theme of this edition was “It’s your body – how to take charge of the thing that matters most.” This caught my eye instantly, seeing as I am particularly fond of health issues. I thought, “Taking charge of your body? I wonder if they mention anything about taking charge of your fertility? Fertility Awareness, after all, puts the power in your hands. Not a pharmaceutical corporation, not the government. Surely there’s a mention, they are all about organic, no-chemical lifestyles…” I eagerly read it cover to cover. Not a single mention. What was I thinking? Why would they mention natural alternatives to hormonal contraception?
According to this edition, “taking charge of your body” means: eating hormone free, non processed foods, not ingesting “estrogen mimicking chemicals – like BPA in plastic bottles”, using vinegar and lemon juice, rather than bleach, and reclaiming positive images for body image. Sounds good right? All of these things are exceptionally good natured – and I am not discrediting that. But there’s a glaring inconsistency in all of this. What’s the point of aiming for an “all natural” lifestyle if you’re consuming a synthetic hormone every day?
I know, I know – there are studies abound saying either synthetic hormones are a death sentence or they are practically harmless. I’m not here to make the final say, I’m just saying if we’re concerned about “estrogen in BPA plastic” why don’t we think twice about a birth control pill?
If your cycles are irregular, if you have inconceivable cramps, if you bleed mid-cycle – I can assure you there’s an explanation for it. Fertility awareness (namely, groups like NaPro through Creighton) aim to diagnose what causes these irregularities and then treat them naturally – how is this a bad thing? Why aren’t we investing more money in this?
There was a story in this edition written by a father (Tomas Moniz) – subtitled “What I really want to tell my daughters about sex”. He writes:
“In an attempt to provide positive examples of responsibility and body image to my younger kids, I’ve looked around to see what’s out there for them. Other than a few notable exceptions, I’ve discovered a surprising effort to disempower women from owning and controlling their own bodies. I read on Jezebel that 1,100 reproductive rights related laws were introduced in 2011. Most of them aimed at controlling women’s choices, their bodies, and access to information.”
In another story written by Eve Ensler (author of the Vagina Monologues) called “Why Freedom Starts with a V” she explains:
“There are a lot of people who don’t trust the body – who see it as something shameful or something to be controlled….I think our distrust of sexuality is equal to muting life itself. I have great faith in the body. I believe in sexuality. I think it’s gorgeous, not shameful. I feel like my body has been so good to me. When I’ve listened to it, it has gotten me out of very dangerous situations.”
Eve, Tomas – let me tell you, I feel you. I think women severely lack access to information on Fertility Awareness. I know, because I was one of them. I think the medical profession and the ubiquitous pharmaceutical companies send a terrible message to women that we can’t trust our own bodies. Eve, I feel like my body has been the best to me. By charting, I have learned to trust and love (and own) my body in a way I previously never thought about. I know pure, unmedicated sexuality is beautiful. And quite frankly, I don’t think modern society gives it nearly enough credit.
You see, we have the same intentions, the same compassion for humanity. I want freedom for women*, I want a healthy, natural lifestyle, I think celebration of human sexuality and the feminine genius are necessary if we hope to have positive body image. Can we please work towards this?
*I still believe strongly in the power of choice. Freedom to me means freedom to choose, in which case, I still think contraception has its place. But all of the messages I’ve received from doctors, media and educators has been nothing close to what I get from an NFP instructor. If we increase access and knowledge to contraception, access and knowledge to NFP should increase with it.