Making a movie is crazy work. You work hard, you work long, you find yourself in cramped places (like a 5X5 bathroom) with 4 people, a camera and a microphone, meanwhile, the frame is crisp and clean as a whistle. We’re a few weeks into production now – things have been moving along nicely. As we compile more and more footage, I can envision that, yes, we are making a film. It’s not as abstract anymore. (Although I once had a professor that said all movies are just light bouncing on a screen. Billions of dollars are thrown annually so light can move on a screen. Kind of crazy to think.)
I am constantly challenged by this film. From calling into question and challenging my best friend’s use of hormonal birth control on camera (a tense moment in my life to say the least, what was best for the film wasn’t necessarily so for the friendship) to interviewing someone with such intense dysmenorrhea, she’s been hospitalized 3 times in the last 6 months, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I feel about the landscape of women’s health.
I constantly oscillate between “More people need to know about FAM” and “Well actually I don’t think anyone cares.” I’ve definitely felt defeated on more than one occasion, deducing that for the most part, you can’t make women want to care about their fertility. For many, the bottom line is that pregnancy doesn’t happen. Women will go to great lengths to feel the security of knowing that they won’t be a mom anytime soon. And who am I to judge that?
So where does that leave me and my film? I never wanted this movie to be an anti-birth control film. I’ve never liked propaganda films, and I never had an intention to make one. But there is something to be said for the lack of education that still exists in our society. When we did “man on the street” interviews the overwhelming majority of people had no idea that women could only get pregnant for a window of time. That says something to me. Even if women happily pop a pill every day, the problem is education – not the medication itself. But how do those two play together? That’s a question that needs more exploring, in my opinion. Can the contraception mindset and culture be stunting the growth of education? Perhaps.
Sometimes, I think we’re still being objectified into a number that if we don’t have an unplanned pregnancy, then we are doing due diligence as a citizen. As if every pregnancy should be planned to a tee. I think especially in sex ed classrooms, efficacy is number one. Making sure pregnancies don’t happen is placed of higher priority over true education. That’s a tricky situation.
All in all, the good thing about making Miscon(tra)ception is that it constantly makes me think. Hearing many, many different women’s stories has allowed me to consider all sides of a situation. Charting has been life changing for many women. I know because my inbox has been flooded with their stories. Hormonal birth control has been a catastrophe, and I don’t use that word lightly, for many. I’ve heard success stories of how charting allowed someone to heal PCOS to someone who had vaginal dryness and extremely painful intercourse on the pill to someone who was finally able to conceive. Their stories give me immense gratitude. But on the flip side, there are some who swear by their pills. We have to let women decide on their own. We can’t make decisions for them, but gosh darn it, we better educate them.
Does hormonal birth control cause breast cancer? Are blood clots a real threat? Can it alter your attraction to someone? Can it cause hormonal imbalance? Can it prevent some cancers? I don’t know. Research is contingent on so many things and while I may have my hunches, I am not qualified to answer any of the above. But thankfully, that’s not what my film is about. My film is about exploring FAM and where it fits in. Giving access to women who want to know about it, but don’t. I know FAM will never be the popular way for women to manage their reproductive health. Never. But I think it’s certainly not reaching enough women as of now. 1.1% of women currently use FAM, what if there’s 5% more who want access to it, but don’t have the knowledge? That could be thousands of women.
Think about it.