The best way to prevent pregnancy

Re: the recent silly advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about women and alcoholRebecca Solnit says:  alcohol does not cause pregnancy, so obviously women should avoid men, not alcohol.  “A woman can be fertile as the Tigris Valley in the time of Abraham and she’s not going to get pregnant absent consort with a seed-bearing man. But if you listened to the way it’s often framed, you might believe that women get pregnant on their own.”  Also, if anyone should lay off the sauce, it’s men. because drunk men, not drunk women, are the source of greatest harm to others.

So why the panic over women tying one on?

I wish all this telling women alcohol is dangerous was a manifestation of a country that loves babies so much it’s all over lead contamination from New Orleans to Baltimore to Flint and the lousy nitrate-contaminated water of Iowa and carcinogenic pesticides and the links between sugary junk food and a host of health conditions and the need for universal access to healthcare and daycare and good and adequate food. You know it’s not. It’s just about hating on women. Hating on women requires narratives that make men vanish and make women magicians producing babies out of thin air and dissolute habits. This is an interesting narrative for the power it affords women, but I would rather have an accurate one. And maybe a broader one talking about all the ecological and economic factors that impact the well-being of children. But then the guilty party becomes us, not them.

I’ve been living in my mind in an eighteenth-century convent for most of the past five or six years, so this makes sense to me.  Avoiding men is pretty much foolproof! As far as I can tell, there were zero pregnancies in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ursuline convent in Québec.

(H/t for the Solnit piece to Jill Anderson of True Stories Backwards and @jillian6475 ).

8 thoughts on “The best way to prevent pregnancy

  1. Makes me think of John Prine’s song “Unwed Fathers.” But as for convents, my European sources suggest that things weren’t so simple. After all, the nuns had to have a confessor.

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  2. Remeber the plea for women in Zika-affected areas to avoid pregnancy for a few years: yet more magical thinking about women’s ability to spontaneously baby-make! And no suggestion of just how women are going to avoid pregnancy with little social rights and pretty much no access to birth control.

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  3. I’ve really been puzzled by the conviction of some men that women just go out and get pregnant on their own. Some years ago I was negotiating with a dean about updating our maternity leave policy. I, a childless lesbian, found myself with the bizarre sense that I needed to explain to this married father of two where babies come from!

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  4. Someone posted on FB a hilarious chart with suggested alcohol pairings for various birth-control devices (you can see it here). I reposted it asking what would go best with a hysterectomy, and a former student from way back posted: “Open bar!!”

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