Birth control isn’t just about sex — but it’s also about sex

Former Republican presidential candidate Huckabee speaks during the third session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MinnesotaAs Maya posted about yesterday, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and 2008 wannabe GOP-nominee, has sparked a justifiable fire storm with his comments about contraceptives at the Republican National Convention. Huckabee said:

If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.

It is so, so tempting to take Huckabee down the easy way, highlighting the importance of contraceptives for women’s education, careers, family lives, and overall health — it isn’t all about sex, Mike. On MSNBC Cecile Richards countered the accusation that we’re all slutty-slut-sluts by enumerating the medical and economic reasons people need birth control.

Richards is of course correct: birth control isn’t just about sex. But even if there are many reasons other why we need birth control access, helping people create the intimate lives they desire is an important goal, too. Huckabee’s comments are misogynistic and illogical on so many levels, but we don’t need to concede his basic premise — that sex is bad, and good women abstain — in order to prove their absurdity.

I absolutely get why it’s sometimes strategically necessary to hold up as the poster child for contraceptive access the patient with polycystic ovary syndrome or the hardworking mother who just can’t take care of another child and keep her job. But, wherever possible, we need to avoid drawing lines between “good” and “bad” reasons for accessing reproductive services, from contraceptives to abortions, that accept our opponents’ anti-sex moral framework as the only option. A win on their turf is an empty victory; let’s win on our terms.

Image via.
Alexandra

Alexandra Brodsky really appreciates not having to pay for her birth control.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

Read more about Alexandra

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/athenia/ athenia

    Ultimately, Huckabee is repeating the same old Republican talking points–that government policies should be promoting independence, not dependency. Which great, but not all American women can “control their reproductive system” without healthcare access. So, there’s your problem.

    Also, I find it laughable that he thinks American women are taking BC so it lowers their sex drive. LOLFOREVER.

  • http://feministing.com/members/finnthehuman/ katy rupp

    Dag. I remember a similar article on this site about abortion access…it’s tempting to push the victims of rape, incest etc to the forefront of the abortion argument. But every day women (read: women not in the throws of fantastic personal tragedy) need access to these services as well. That Huckabee would think this strategy would work is laughable, though not surprising. He’s obtuse down to his very soul.

  • http://feministing.com/members/arelys27/ Arelys

    Let’s let them know how we feel as women: petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/uphold-separation-church-and-state-and-uphold-womens-rights-reproductive-health-and-education/s9Vw4wp6