Sex Shaming and the Rhythm Method


According to the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the proponents of abstinence-only can count one success in altering teenage sexual behavior.  No, they didn’t lower the rate of teenagers having sex, which the CDC indicates has stayed steady at around 4 in 10 teenagers (with 18 year-olds having sex at double the rate of those ages 15 to 17, despite media panics about younger teenagers having sex). Ab-only fans weren’t able to convince teenagers to marry younger.  Nor did they convince them that condoms are scary items that you should never touch unless you want to get cancer and rabies; most teenagers use condoms the first time they have sex. 

But despite all these failures, abstinence-only proponents have had one success.  The CDC also found that the percentage of teenage girls who use the rhythm method as birth control (at least some of the time) jumped from 11 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2008.  It’s high enough of a jump that it might explain why the teenage pregnancy rate is still as high as it is. 

Why blame abstinence-only proponents for this?  Don’t they just blithely tell young women to “just say no” and leave it at that?  Well, yes and no.  No one is under the impression that abstinence-only texts or speakers generally push the rhythm method, so much as they push the wedding ring as the cure for all your ills.  How you’re expected to control your fertility within marriage is rarely discussed at all in these programs.  Still, the rhythm method is associated with the prudish strand of Christian moralizing that also drives the abstinence-only movement, and so the more popular that kind of thinking, the more likely the rhythm method will be seen as a legitimate practice by teenagers. 

Additionally, we have to understand that periodic use of the rhythm method usually means telling yourself that you’re in an infertile period so that you can have sex without condoms, and not just abstaining during certain times, which is where the Catholic church tends to focus, due to the obsession with finding excuses to tell people to keep it in their pants.  Why would a young woman take the risk of guessing when she’s not fertile in order to skip the condoms?  Two reasons come to mind: Shame about sexuality and pressure from a male partner.  Let’s take these one at a time, and look at how abstinence-only increases the likelihood of both. 

Sexual shaming can dramatically increase the likelihood that an individual will look for excuses and rationalizations for not using contraception.  If you’re ashamed of having sex, every instance of buying a condom can be fraught with fear and shame—fear of being caught, shame of having to admit that you’re having sex, shame at what the cashier thinks of you.  In turn, this makes it easier for you to say, “We don’t need a condom this time; I don’t think I’m in a fertile period.”  The prevalence of abstinence-only programs only means that your average teenager is receiving a much bigger pile of shaming and fear-mongering about sex.  If the only message you’re allowed to receive about sex in school is one of shame, it becomes easier to imagine that every adult around you is judging and shaming you for sex, and thus, more important to you to minimize the amount of time you spend revealing this fact by doing things like buying condoms.

If you know much about sex education, or even if you’ve just been out in the world enough to know much about how people have sex, you probably know that condom negotiation in heterosexual encounters is often a responsibility that falls on female shoulders more than male ones.  Which is a nice way of saying that women are far more likely to have to demand condoms in the face of male resistance than the other way around.  This makes sense—between biological realities and sexist indoctrination, men are far less likely to be considering the risks of sex when in the mood to get to the pleasure part. 

This can make condom negotiation extremely hard, especially on younger women, who often don’t have enough experience to develop the tools to stand up for themselves. Abstinence-only can make this worse. The programs push extremely sexist views about gender roles, and put a special emphasis on how men only like women who are submissive and people-pleasing.  When you teach young women that no one will love them if they’re too self-assured, what do you think she’s going to feel when a young man is pressuring her to go condom-less?  In many cases, she’ll feel fear that demanding a condom will make the young man not like her anymore, and generally speaking, when you’re just about to have sex is not when you’re at your least vulnerable to wanting to be liked.  In many cases, it’s just going to be easier to say you’re probably not in a fertile  period. 

Why can’t we trust that teenage girls using the rhythm method are simply experts in their own fertility?  It’s possible a few are, but let’s face it.  To use the method effectively requires more than counting the days in your cycle.  You also have to take your temperature and measure mucus levels—all the sort of things that few teenage girls are unlikely to do.  Merely counting days is ineffective in women who have regular periods.  For teenage girls, who often have irregular periods, it’s basically a waste of time. In addition, the rhythm method offers no protection against STDs. 

Abstinence-only is still kicking after being snuck into the health care reform bill after the Obama administration defunded it through other channels.  But its impact is softened every time right-thinking politicians strike a blow against it.  Hopefully the next time the CDC takes this study, there will be more comprehensive sex education, and we’ll see improvements in contraceptive use amongst teenagers.

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  • jesskm

    Continuing to hear such bias and ignorance in regards to fertility awareness (aka “the rhythm method) coming from the progressive sex movement is both frustrating and marginalizing to those of us who believe that women (regardless of their age) can find such intimate knowledge of their bodies both liberating and empowering.

    What if we put a different story with the statistic?  What if these teens are in monogamous relationships (at least serially so) and have access to and are using STI diagnosis and treatment?  What if they have discovered, through knowing their bodies, that hormonal methods are not healthy for them?  What if, like many women, they find barrier methods to vary from uncomfortable to down right painful?  What if they have had the opportunity to recieve education on non-shaming FAM use, such as the work by Toni Weschler http://www.cyclesavvy.com?  By using the combination of the above they have decided, like many progressive, liberated older couples that by using FAM they can avoid barrier methods when they are not needed and decide between using a barrier or choosing non-genital penetration methods of sex when they are fertile?

    I am both a women who has used FAM (along with multiple other birth control experiences) and a mother of a teenage daughter… (specifics of the poster’s conversations with her daughter have been removed at the family’s request).

    Do not think our family is an anomaly.  While it may not be the norm in the general population, the vast majority of my daughter’s friends (both girls and boys) have had similar conversations with their families.

    Interestingly enough, many of these families are part of our homeschooling community – so perhaps the fact that we have already taken responsibility for the academic education of our children we are more likely to take responsibility for providing other information to our kids? 

    Regardless, it would be much appreciated if you refrainded from using such a broad brush when discussing women who choose non-hormonal, non-barrier methods of birth control – no matter what the age of the woman.

     

  • crowepps

    There is a huge difference between being aware of your fertility and cooperating with your partner to refrain during fertile periods and being unable to reconcile the congitive dissonance of shame about being a sexually active ‘bad girl’ and shame about not using barrier birth control ‘because the boyfriend doesn’t like it’ when that’s the responsible thing to do, and saying that you are using NFP to EXCUSE oneself for failing to use more effective, more STD safe methods.

     

    With intense vigilence about ovary gazing and lots of partner cooperation, NFP may be effective for faithful married couples who won’t be devastated by an unexpected pregnancy.  To suggest that it is a reasonable option for teenage girls would be grossly irresponsible.

  • prochoiceferret

    Continuing to hear such bias and ignorance in regards to fertility awareness (aka “the rhythm method) coming from the progressive sex movement is both frustrating and marginalizing to those of us who believe that women (regardless of their age) can find such intimate knowledge of their bodies both liberating and empowering.

    No one is arguing against people using the rhythm method, given that the choice is made freely and not out of ignorance. But that is not usually the case, and there are well-known shortcomings to your preferred MO that makes it really problematic if people choose the rhythm method out of ignorance or coercion.

    What if we put a different story with the statistic?  What if these teens are in monogamous relationships (at least serially so) and have access to and are using STI diagnosis and treatment?  What if they have discovered, through knowing their bodies, that hormonal methods are not healthy for them?  What if, like many women, they find barrier methods to vary from uncomfortable to down right painful?  What if they have had the opportunity to recieve education on non-shaming FAM use, such as the work by Toni Weschler http://www.cyclesavvy.com? 

    That’s a whole lot of what-ifs.

    I am both a women who has used FAM (along with multiple other birth control experiences) and a mother of a teenage daughter.  We have talked extensively about the pros and cons of each option as she considers genital-penetrating sexual activities.

    Then the article isn’t even talking about you and your daughter.

    We also discuss how STIs fit into the picture.

    Which, incidentally, the rhythm method provides no protection against whatsoever.

    Do not think our family is an anomaly.  While it may not be the norm in the general population, the vast majority of my daughter’s friends (both girls and boys) have had similar conversations with their families.

    “The norm is the general population” is the whole point. The folks here at RHRC aren’t going to consider their work done just because some kids growing up in a hippie commune in Fresno are getting good sex ed.

    Interestingly enough, many of these families are part of our homeschooling community – so perhaps the fact that we have already taken responsibility for the academic education of our children we are more likely to take responsibility for providing other information to our kids?

    Oh, so you don’t need to work at a paying job during the day to make ends meet? How very privileged of you!

    Regardless, it would be much appreciated if you refrainded from using such a broad brush when discussing women who choose are coerced into using non-hormonal, non-barrier methods of birth control – no matter what the age of the woman.

    There, I fixed that for you.

  • jennifer-block

    I don’t understand why the CDC is using the antiquated and scientifically imprecise term “rhythm method” in its survey–it doesn’t tell us much, does it? Is there an uptick in the number of teens using the ineffective calendar method, or is there an increase in teens who are actually using Fertility Awareness Method, who are charting and checking temps and cervical fluid? The latter has been studied and is an effective contraceptive–not sure why this isn’t acknowledged in the piece. And you’d be hardpressed to make the argument that women who are comfortable checking their fluid are expressing shame about their sexuality. Regardless, I second the above commenter. The progressive sexual and repro rights community should lose this old, unscientific, and frankly derogatory term “rhythm method.” And we should be asking why the CDC hasn’t.

  • amanda-marcotte

    I’m so glad that NFP works well for you.  But it’s not for most women.  Please respect that most women aren’t in a position to accept the 20% failure rate, or are as willing as you are to expend the effort or refrain from sex periodically.  The more labor-intensive a method is, and the more it relies on limiting sexual pleasure, the less effective it will be.

     

    Again, SO GLAD it works for you.  But not all women are you.  Those of us interested in lowering the teenage pregancy rate have to look at real world sexual behavior, not push ideals that teenagers will fail to live up to.  I’m also completely unconvinced that NFP lives up to some ideal besides the naturalistic fallacy, so I can’t really be moved to care.  Why is someone in the wrong for being on the pill or using condoms?

    • bookbear

      After reading through the original article and piles of commentary, I have a few thoughts.

      1) I think the article is likely correct in finding that unfortunately, in an effort to avoid thinking/talking about sex, many young girls will default to ‘rhythm method’ or worse, nothing at all. This is often in an effort to avoid being labelled a slut or something similar for having considered birth control in the first place. Readings I have done would confirm this approach in both teens and adults when dealing with shame based or fear based thoughts.

      Check out the book “The Politics of Lust” by Paul Ince for an insightful look at this process.

       

      2) As a pro-choice secular instructor of Sympto-thermal Charting, I really would like to stress that Fertility Awareness methods (and there are several, not all equal in effectiveness) is *NOT* the Rhythm Method of which she speaks in this article.

      Rhythm Method, based on counting days, previous cycles and averages between women, is about 70-75% effective.

      Symptothermal charting, based on scientifically backed tracking of cervical fluid, basal body temperature and cervical changes, if used correctly is 97-99% effective. Correct use means you were properly, thoroughly taught, and you follow the rules. That means no unprotected intercourse on fertile days–note that in a secular sense this means you can use condoms on those days,  or engage in alternative sexual behaviours that do not allow sperm to touch cervical fluid. (Then of course the reliability becomes that of the condom itself.)

      As there are relatively few grown adult women (outside of the catholic church) that have ever heard of cycle charting, it is very doubtful that the average teen has.

      If you are interested in reading some scientific backing for this, type in “symptothermal charting” into Medline or Ovid or any other reliable medical database at your local library.

       

      3)There is a great need for more studies to be done on the possible effectiveness of FAM training for young girls in terms of it’s effects on better quality decision making, body image and self esteem. Simply in terms of the arguments for comprehensive sex education in general, we know that correct and supportive information helps teens with healthy sexual decision making skills.

      Many of us who have learned to chart feel that giving young women a richer and deeper appreciation of their body and how to understand it can make sex education even more comprehensive and beneficial. However, we need to have scientific studies that follow through finding the long term outcomes of such training.

      This preliminary study showed some interesting results, but more is needed:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12315578?ordinalpos=3&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

       

      Note that within the group of teens taught to identify their cervical fluid as a primary fertility sign “Postprogram follow-up of early leavers [changes in class schedules] showed only 1/3 the expected rate of onset of sexual activity and pregnancy. Parent involvement correlated positively with postponement and/or discontinuation of sexual activity. Reported movement away from peer group pressure appeared 3 months after entry.” For a preliminary program that ran for only one year, this may be compelling data for follow up!

       

  • amanda-marcotte

    The knee-jerk belief that NFP users are more upright citizens than the rest of us and think about this seriously.  If you seriously believe that 17% of teenage girls are measuring their mucus levels and studying long books on how to use this method, well, you need to meet some teenage girls.

     

    Far more likely is that they’re two days after their period, they think they’re safe, and they forgo the condom.  That gets measured as the rhythm method.

  • juliesunday

    this is great, amanda. rhythm method, combined with withdrawal, are incredibly popular among teenagers and college students–WD is consistently the 3rd most popular method in our univeristy’s data specifically and in the national college health assessment’s national reference sample overall. we don’t ask about the rhythm method by name (although clearly we should) but in the section where people could write in why they had had unprotected sex, 53% said that they ‘didn’t think they would get pregnant/partner would get pregnant.’ and when they could write in for ‘other,’ these came out: ‘i trusted my partner and her judgment of her cycle;’ and ‘she was on her period, so it was safe.’ they definitely think they can suss out the menstrual cycle but i agree with you, without serious training teenagers are totally not capable of doing this correctly. but the good news, i guess, is that with the rhythm method and withdrawal they’ll pass the catholic church’s mandatory marriage counseling class with flying colors!

  • jayn

    I’ve usually heard the two referred to as separate methods.  FAM/NFP means actually learning how to determine when one is fertile, even if that isn’t the same time each month.  RM, on the other hand, is more of a WAG-based approach–”Okay, it’s day 14, so I’m probably fertile”.  Personally, I consider that a pretty important distinction.  (Even so, although I’m not oppossed to NFP myself, having it promoted by one woman with four kids, one with eight, and two with fertility problems did little to sell my husband on it.  I wouldn’t be able to talk him into using it as a contraceptive if I did decide to pursue it.)

     

    As far as RCC marriage prep goes, IME they don’t care if you use it, they just require that you learn what it is.  And hell, even they will make the RM/NFP distinction.

  • jesskm

    No one is arguing against people using the rhythm method, given that the choice is made freely and not out of ignorance. But that is not usually the case, and there are well-known shortcomings to your preferred MO that makes it really problematic if people choose the rhythm method out of ignorance or coercion.

    “What if we put a different story with the statistic?  What if these teens are in monogamous relationships (at least serially so) and have access to and are using STI diagnosis and treatment?  What if they have discovered, through knowing their bodies, that hormonal methods are not healthy for them?  What if, like many women, they find barrier methods to vary from uncomfortable to down right painful?  What if they have had the opportunity to recieve education on non-shaming FAM use, such as the work by Toni Weschler http://www.cyclesavvy.com?

    That’s a whole lot of what-ifs.

     

    The original piece is also filled with what-ifs, as is your response to me.  Many women *choose* to use FAM for a variety of personal reasons and not out of ignorance or coercion.  The study that was the foundation for this piece did not ask these teens why they choose FAM.  The author of the blog post assumed that teens where choosing this due to coercion and shame; drawing coerlations between its use and the lack of decline in teen pregnancy with no backup data.

     

    Then the article isn’t even talking about you and your daughter.

     

    The article purports to be talking about teens who site the use of FAM as a birth control option, which may potentially be my daughter someday.  Everything else was a conflation of issues in the blog post.

    We also discuss how STIs fit into the picture.

     

    Which, incidentally, the rhythm method provides no protection against whatsoever.

    Uhm, and that would be the how it fits in to the picture.

     

    “The norm is the general population” is the whole point. The folks here at RHRC aren’t going to consider their work done just because some kids growing up in a hippie commune in Fresno are getting good sex ed.

     

    No one is asking anyone to consider their work done.  My whole point is that Amanda Marcotte (pardon me as I do not know how the author would prefer to be referenced) is making a large leap in reasoning in equating a survey which reported that an increase in teens report the use of the “rhythm method” to an increase in shame and ignorance with regards to their sexuality.

     

    I know the work is far from done.  I attend local school board meetings to speak in favor of inclusive sex-education, I am in contact with my legislators at the state and federal level express my support for education, birth control, and abortion rights, I volunteer with my local planned parenthood, and have stood face to face with the so-called Operation Rescue on the several occasions I had the honor to meet and support the late Dr. Tiller.

    Oh, so you don’t need to work at a paying job during the day to make ends meet? How very privileged of you!

    Yet another assumption you make about me and mine (a previous one being that my life on a hippie commune – sorry “fly-over” state here).  I am conflicted as to how much personal information to share here – my story may help to diffuse some of the stereo-types you seem to hold, but may also be used to flame the anger you seem to be expressing at my request to allow space for FAM to be a respected choice for all women.  I will leave it to the statement that our ends rarely meet, I have consistently held jobs for pay, and my family’s financial story is also not unique among our community and the general homeschool population.

     

    I also wanted to add that as I reread how I had worded things above, the world “responsibility” may have been heard as a judgment against those who choose other paths.  I did not intend it to be such and was simply mussing as to why the correlation may exist within our community.  Upon further thought I also see it among our schooled friends, most of whom we know from our UU church, so perhaps it is a common value for allowing others to write their own stories?

     

    Regardless, it would be much appreciated if you refrainded from using such a broad brush when discussing women who choose are coerced into using non-hormonal, non-barrier methods of birth control – no matter what the age of the woman.

     

    There, I fixed that for you.

     

    And what research are you citing to back that up?  I know women who are coerced into using hormonal methods of birth control (“Show me your patch before we have sex, or I will leave you”).  Shall we talk about if the choose to use such birth control is made freely and not out of ignorance too?

  • jesskm

    I don’t see anyone here saying the NFP users are more *anything* except for those saying that they are more ignorant, coerced and shamed about their sexuality.

     

    I am taking issue with the original post  because I ant NFP to be afforded the same respect as other *choices* that women make.  Your statistic of 80% success rate is much lower than the 96% that is found with correct (not perfect) use.  This matches easily with most barrier forms of birth control.

     

    And I have met and hang around regularly with teenage girls.  For some this would be an appropriate method, for others not.  The whole point is that *we* don’t get to make assumptions for the girls and belittle the choices if that is what works for them – we provide *accurate* information and women (including teens) get to make the *choice*.

  • jesskm

    You are correct that there is a very important difference.  Unfortunately as Jennifer pointed out, this survey used the old outdated term of “rhythm method”.  If a woman taking the survey had only that choice it would encompass FAM/NFP/Billings and many other variations on the theme.

     

  • crowepps

    The study that was the foundation for this piece did not ask these teens why they choose FAM. 

    Actually, the study didn’t ask about NFP or FAM at all, but instead used the phrase “rhythm method” which as I understand it means ‘avoiding sex in the middle of your cycle’ which has poor efficiency.

     

    I will agree with you that having an objective outsider teaching teens NFP or FAM as well as the other methods would be a really good thing.  However having them attempt to figure out either on their own using information from their friends or from the internet probably is not going to help them achieve good results.

    I know women who are coerced into using hormonal methods of birth control (“Show me your patch before we have sex, or I will leave you”).

    That’s coercion?  Why?  Is it because the male partner doesn’t ‘like’ barrier methods and is asserting the female has a responsibility to give him a 100% guarantee or because it isn’t any of the male partner’s business if the woman gets pregnant and he shouldn’t be ‘controlling’ over what birth control she uses or doesn’t use?  Frankly, if a man said that to me, I would thank my stars for a lucky escape and wave bye-bye pretty cheerfully.

     

    Can we at least agree that coercion and pressure, whether it’s to use NFP or hormonal methods or any other method is wrong?  There are a lot of different methods out there, and different women at different stages of their lives might use several different ones depending on what the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy might be, particularly if they want to avoid using abortion as a backup method.  I would hope we could also agree that partners should choose the method together and take equal responsibility for ensuring its success since BOTH of them have an interest in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

  • crowepps

    I am taking issue with the original post  because I ant NFP to be afforded the same respect as other *choices* that women make.  Your statistic of 80% success rate is much lower than the 96% that is found with correct (not perfect) use.  This matches easily with most barrier forms of birth control.

    It does not, however, compare favorably with hormonal contraceptives.  According to the CDC, with PERFECT use the standard days method has an effectiveness of 95%, the two day method 96%, and the ovulation method 97%.  That is, out of 1,000 women, 50 will get pregnant with the first, 40 with the second and only 30 with the third.

     

    With perfect use hormonal contraceptives have an effectiveness of .3% which means out of 1000 women only 3 will get pregnant.

     

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr59e0528a1.htm#tab1

     

    In addition, hormonal contraceptives are much, much easier to use perfectly and require only getting a shot or taking a pill at the same time every day although I will grant you that side effects can make them inappropriate for some users.

     

    It would be my observation that the most important thing in choosing a method would not be whether it is ‘natural’ or whether it ‘celebrates fertility’ (with all the implications that women who DON’T do so aren’t ‘real women’) but rather just how important it is to prevent unwanted pregnancy and avoid needing to consider abortion.

  • harry834

    yes

  • prochoiceferret

    Many women *choose* to use FAM for a variety of personal reasons and not out of ignorance or coercion.

    Oh, sure. Many women beat their husbands, too. That’s not what usually happens, however, and it’s a poor criticism of an article that covers the much more likely scenario.

    No one is asking anyone to consider their work done.  My whole point is that Amanda Marcotte (pardon me as I do not know how the author would prefer to be referenced) is making a large leap in reasoning in equating a survey which reported that an increase in teens report the use of the “rhythm method” to an increase in shame and ignorance with regards to their sexuality.

    If Ms. Marcotte didn’t live and breathe this subject professionally, your point might have more weight. Between her view (“more teens are using FAM because ab-only education has left them averse to using more effective methods”) and yours (“more teens are using FAM because they weighed the various options, wanted to get to know their bodies better, and are happy to mess around with charts and cervical mucous”), I’m going to have to go with hers.

    I know the work is far from done.  I attend local school board meetings to speak in favor of inclusive sex-education, I am in contact with my legislators at the state and federal level express my support for education, birth control, and abortion rights, I volunteer with my local planned parenthood, and have stood face to face with the so-called Operation Rescue on the several occasions I had the honor to meet and support the late Dr. Tiller.

    And yet your first reaction to this article was not concern about teenage women being coerced into using FAM, but defensiveness about a contraceptive method with a lot of downsides that some powerful anti-feminist institutions just happen to like. I’m afraid this really hurts your odds of winning the Pro-Choicer of the Year award.

    Yet another assumption you make about me and mine (a previous one being that my life on a hippie commune – sorry “fly-over” state here).  I am conflicted as to how much personal information to share here – my story may help to diffuse some of the stereo-types you seem to hold, but may also be used to flame the anger you seem to be expressing at my request to allow space for FAM to be a respected choice for all women.  I will leave it to the statement that our ends rarely meet, I have consistently held jobs for pay, and my family’s financial story is also not unique among our community and the general homeschool population.

    “If we can do it, any poor family can! They don’t homeschool only because they’re lazy.”

    And what research are you citing to back that up?  I know women who are coerced into using hormonal methods of birth control (“Show me your patch before we have sex, or I will leave you”).  Shall we talk about if the choose to use such birth control is made freely and not out of ignorance too?

    If the topic is coercion and ignorance in sexual relationships, then yes. If the topic is contraceptive methods, then we’ll talk about how FAM leaves a lot to be desired compared to the alternatives.

    I’m confused as to the hostility….

    Your defense of rhythm/FAM methods without regard to the circumstances of their use, as well as your utter lack of self-awareness as to why defense of these methods is problematic in a reproductive-health/freedom context, may have had something to do with it.

  • austin-nedved

    Why is someone in the wrong for being on the pill or using condoms?

    I’m not concerned with condoms right now, although I do oppose them.  Someone is in the wrong for being on the pill because they are (probably) killing babies.  That’s how the birth control pill works.

  • colleen

    is there an increase in teens who are actually using Fertility Awareness Method, who are charting and checking temps and cervical fluid

     The only teen age girls who are charting, taking their temperatures every day and checking their cervical mucus and on and on and on are teen age girls who are trying to get pregnant. In this they are like almost every other woman using FAM.

    What the reproductive rights community needs to do is recognise that FAM has a typical failure rate of 25% or so and that this is unacceptably high.

    What wit ab-only sex miseducation and touting NFP as a ‘contraceptive method to teenagers it’s getting more and more difficult to deny the conclusion that what the religious right wants to see is more single teenage mothers and more unwanted pregnancies.

  • jesskm

    I know women who are coerced into using hormonal methods of birth control (“Show me your patch before we have sex, or I will leave you”).

    That’s coercion?  Why?

    It is coercion in the way the original post used the term in the view that girls were claiming to use the “rhythm method” because their partners refused to use condoms and the girl did not feel able to assert her choice to do otherwise.  In both instances the use of the word coercion could be philosophically argued.

     

    Can we at least agree that coercion and pressure, whether it’s to use NFP or hormonal methods or any other method is wrong?  There are a lot of different methods out there, and different women at different stages of their lives might use several different ones depending on what the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy might be, particularly if they want to avoid using abortion as a backup method.  I would hope we could also agree that partners should choose the method together and take equal responsibility for ensuring its success since BOTH of them have an interest in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

     

    Count me in!

  • ahunt

    Someone is in the wrong for being on the pill because they are (probably) killing babies.  That’s how the birth control pill works.

     

    Cites please, and spare us the crap.

  • jesskm

    Tone is so hard to convey with the written word.  It is difficult for me to read your “So glad” without hearing sarcasm and it seems that you read some sort of judgment from me about those who choose to use barrier or hormonal methods.

     

    Please believe me when I say that I have no such judgement.  I am thrilled when women feel great with various hormonal methods.  I am thrilled when women don’t have allergic reactions to condoms or sponges – and that is real joy, because I know for many, many, many women of all ages STI’s are a real and constant threat, only protected against by the use of condoms (assuming sexual activity).  I know that many women have been helped in ways other than pregnancy avoidance by hormonal contraceptives.  In my hypothetical story I was speaking about the experiences of a specific girl who was not satisfied with hormonal and barrier methods – not making a blanket statement that everyone isn’t (satisified) or shouldn’t be.  If a women of any age stops taking the pill because she’s gained 20lbs and doesn’t want to use condoms because they make her vagina burn for days how are we helping her by thumbing our noses at a potential alternative?  How are we any different than the abstinence-only crowds who mangle the research on other contraceptives?

     

    I am simply feeling frustrated at the line that was drawn between the use of FAM and sex shaming.  Of course they *might* go together, but there is nothing inherent in FAM that leads to sex shaming (though I could potential so the opposite existing and I do agree that it deserves further study).  I am asking that a blanket, causal link not be drawn on the basis of some of the characteristics of some groups that use FAM.

  • jesskm

    Good heavens you managed to quadruple the size of my post with what you have read into it!

     

    It is unfortunate that the discussion has taken such a turn because I think it would likely be a lively debate if we could have it in person.

     

    As it is I am not willing to continue to correct the incorrect assumptions that you are making about my life, my choices, my experiences, and my intentions.  I imagine that we both have better ways we can be serving women than debate my reality.  I would like to put in a little winky face to indicate “no hard feelings”, but am concerned that you would take that to mean that I wasn’t taking the subject seriously.  I do take it seriously, as I imagine most who bother to read and/or post here do.

  • squirrely-girl

    Yay for trolls! 

  • ahunt

    Wait until Austin learns the ugly truth about breast-feeding.

  • prochoiceferret

    As it is I am not willing to continue to correct the incorrect assumptions that you are making about my life, my choices, my experiences, and my intentions.  I imagine that we both have better ways we can be serving women than debate my reality.

    What I know is that you claim to be this energetic and experienced pro-choice activist—to the point of having met Dr. Tiller personally!—and yet you completely failed to see a need to qualify your defense of rhythm/FAM/NFP methods in light of the fact that it’s usually anti-choicers making that argument. Which tells me that either you’re doing a lousy job of concern trolling, or you just happened to be ignorant as to why NFP tends to come up around here only when the Catholic Church and its policies are being discussed. Charitably assuming that the latter is the case, consider yourself de-ignorant-ed.

  • bj-survivor

    I’m not concerned with condoms right now, although I do oppose them.

    Then you are not “pro-life” but decidedly pro-abortion, pro-suffering, and pro-death. Condoms prevent pregnancy by imposing a barrier so that sperm cannot fertilize an ovum (i.e., no fertilization = no “baby”), thus reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy and, subsequently, elective abortion. Condoms also help to reduce the transmission of sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV (which causes AIDS, a fatal illness, if left untreated or if treatment fails) and hepatitis C, which causes severe debility and is fatal if left untreated (there is still no vaccine for hep C at this time and it is also treated with antivirals, as is HIV).

    So what, exactly, is your objection to condoms?

    Someone is in the wrong for being on the pill because they are (probably) killing babies. That’s how the birth control pill works.

    No, birth control pills, including emergency contraception (commonly branded as Plan B) do not work by “killing babies,” contrary to Roman Catholic Church and pro-lie propaganda. Here are links to the National Institutes of Health and to Columbia University, which are evidence-based, peer-reviewed sources for information, unlike pro-lie propaganda sites. Hormonal contraceptives work primarily by:

    [1] Preventing ovulation – no egg to fertilize means there is never a “baby” to eventuall kill via elective or spontaneous abortion. In other words, hormonal contraceptives result in far fewer “dead babies” than using FAM or no contraceptive at all.

    Secondarily by:

    [2] Preventing fertilization by decreasing sperm motility within the woman’s reproductive tract.

    And tertiarily it is speculated that they:

    [3] Thicken the lining of the uterus to create a hositle environment for a fertized ovum (which some forced-birthers call “abortion”). Of course, forced-birthers ignore that there is no pregnancy until the blastocyst has implanted. Or

    [4] Change cervical mucus to inhibit sperm from entering the uterus and thus preventing implantation.

    #3 is specious speculation, at best, since use of hormonal contraception has absolutely no effect on an already established pregnancy (i.e., implantation has occurred). There is no proof that hormonal contraception does not create a hostile uterine environment, so this speculation is left in. Sadly, reality- and science-challenged forced birthers latch onto this as a way to claim some truth to their assertion that hormonal contraception is “abortifacient.”

  • jesskm

    Unfortunately my screen time is limited, so I am planning on bowing out of the conversation. 

     

    Before doing so I did want to say something that I regret not saying at the beginning.  I share the concerns of Ms. Marcotte with regards to abstinence-only curriculum (cannot be called education) and even more so the potential of anyone to be coerced or shamed with regards to their sexuality.

     

    My critique was not intended to take away from the work she has done to call attention to and prevent the above, but to stand separate from it on the specific issues that I addressed.

     

  • grayduck

    “Why blame abstinence-only proponents for this? …the rhythm method is associated with the prudish strand of Christian moralizing that also drives the abstinence-only movement, and so the more popular that kind of thinking, the more likely the rhythm method will be seen as a legitimate practice by teenagers.”

     

    I think this argument needs to be developed a bit more. It is neither clear nor convincing. Are you saying that prudish Christian moralizing is becoming popular among teenagers? If so, why are they still engaging in fornication at the same levels (assuming they are doing so; I did not see that assertion in the page you cited)?

     

    “Sexual shaming can dramatically increase the likelihood that an individual will look for excuses and rationalizations for not using contraception.”

     

    Then how do you explain the study’s finding that use of contraception has not become less prevalent?

     

    “The prevalence of abstinence-only programs only means that your average teenager is receiving a much bigger pile of shaming and fear-mongering about sex. If the only message you’re allowed to receive about sex in school is one of shame, it becomes easier to imagine that every adult around you is judging and shaming you for sex, and thus, more important to you to minimize the amount of time you spend revealing this fact by doing things like buying condoms.”

     

    If they are hearing a message of shame about sex and are reacting to it, why are they not engaging in fornication and rape less often?

     

    “If you know much about sex education, or even if you’ve just been out in the world enough to know much about how people have sex, you probably know that condom negotiation in heterosexual encounters is often a responsibility that falls on female shoulders more than male ones.”

     

    Humor me, please.

     

    “Abstinence-only can make this worse. The programs push extremely sexist views about gender roles, and put a special emphasis on how men only like women who are submissive and people-pleasing.”

     

    Could you please be more specific about which of those quotes supports this assertion? And how do you square it with the following quote? “[A] ‘real woman,’ ‘knows herself, is confident…?’”

     

    “Why can’t we trust that teenage girls using the rhythm method are simply experts in their own fertility?”

     

    Why trust that they are experts in using condoms? Condoms have a failure rate that is nearly as high as the rhythm method or its variants.

     

  • emma

    ahunt, IIRC, Austin was informed about breastfeeding and the killing of teeny tiny babies (’cause zygote = baby, of course. They’re exactly the same, only smaller) in a Pandagon thread last time he was trolling both sites. IIRC also, he responded by saying breastfeeding women should abstain. (Austin, btw, is a first or second year university student who recently graduated from a Catholic high school – he has no idea wtf he’s on about.)

     

    When informed that the pill is also used for medical reasons (endometriosis etc), his response was that if he became dictator of the US (srsly!), he would allow this, as, when used for medical reasons, the pill ‘works differently’ and doesn’t kill teeny tiny babies. He does not believe that the pill works by suppressing ovulation – although perhaps he feels that suppressing ovulation also = killing teeny tiny cute little babies (and why should the Slutty McSlutSluts be allowed to suppress ovulation anyway, right?).

     

    Austin also wants the US to implement a trade embargo on the entire world in order to convince everyone else not to perform abortions on American women, and if that doesn’t work, ban US residents – or perhaps just female ones – from leaving the country. He plans to do this when he becomes dictator of the US.

     

    I’ll leave you to reach your own conclusions about Austin Nedved. ;-P

  • emma

    …as soon as I saw the word ‘fornication’.

     

    It’s all part of the leftist Jewish conspiracy, GrayDuck.

  • princess-rot

    I would also like to hear again Austin’s expert knowledge on how plants reproduce, and how we should execute poor mothers who are deemed by some faceless bureaucrat as not being sufficiently nurturing (how we’d enforce that standard, I don’t know). Oh, and also the mentally-ill who neglect their babies should be executed on the most spurious evidence, instead of getting treatment in a mental health facility.

  • pashtangi

    This is typical in a society where people are so distant from their own bodies.  Talk about shame.  We are all so ignorant about our own bodies.  

    The FAM is a way that women can both empower and embrace themselves and their fertility.  

    I am a woman who cannot take hormonal birth control.  It has numerous negative side effects.  Depending on the type of hormonal birth control, some of these side effects are severe and potentially dangerous.  

    I am also a woman who finds sex with condoms to be sub par at best.  I find it insulting that the article suggests that the only reason a woman would not want to use condoms is from shame or pressure from a man.  That is ridiculous and sexist.  Is the woman not supposed to enjoy the sex also?  

    Thank you jesskm for your reply to this offensive article.  

     

  • pashtangi

    ProChoiceFerret, your posts make you seem very closed-minded.  I thought that we liberals were supposed to be the open-minded people.  You come across as extremely hostile and judgmental.  Based on your posts I would guess that you are very young because it is through life experience that we learn not to be so quick to judge people that we don’t even know.  

  • crowepps

    Austin was informed about breastfeeding and the killing of teeny tiny babies … he responded by saying breastfeeding women should abstain.

    I don’t suppose it occurred to Austin for a second that if breastfeeding women announced they were abstaining from sex out of concern they might possibly imperil a blastocyst, their male partners would insist that was the end of the breastfeeding.

     

     

  • prochoiceferret

    ProChoiceFerret, your posts make you seem very closed-minded.  I thought that we liberals were supposed to be the open-minded people.  You come across as extremely hostile and judgmental.

    Yes, I guess I’m a closed-minded, hostile and judgmental little ferret when it comes to concern trolls—or people who just happen to act like them.

    Based on your posts I would guess that you are very young because it is through life experience that we learn not to be so quick to judge people that we don’t even know.

    Sorry, but it was a long time ago that I learned to judge arguments based on what people write, and the context in which they write it.

  • crowepps

    I am simply feeling frustrated at the line that was drawn between the use of FAM and sex shaming.  Of course they *might* go together, but there is nothing inherent in FAM that leads to sex shaming

    There is no connection whatsoever between promoting FAM leading to sex shaming, the association works the other way around.

     

    Once girls are convinced that ‘good girls’ do not plan to have sex, that girls who do plan to have sex must be ‘bad girls’ who should be ashamed of themselves, then proactively seeking and obtaining contraception becomes something only ‘bad girls’ would do.  At the same time, girls are aware that it’s considered grossly irresponsible to have sex without using any form of birth control at all.

     

    In those circumstances, the “rhythm method” has one obvious advantage, in order to claim that one is using it, one does not need prior planning, medical appointments, taking pills or buying anything at the pharmacy – all one needs to do is announce that fact and say ‘this might be a risky time’ once in a while.  Such claims have absolutely nothing to do with the fertility awareness methods you are talking about but instead are basically  guessing with the intent to resolve the cognitive dissonence inherent in considering oneself a ‘good girl’ while being told your actions are those of a ‘bad girl’ because you didn’t wait until you were married.

  • crowepps

    I would guess that you are very young because it is through life experience that we learn not to be so quick to judge people that we don’t even know.

    So you must be young also? Since you are quickly judging someone you don’t even know?

  • crowepps

    I’m not concerned with condoms right now, although I do oppose them. 

    And WHY do you oppose them?  It’s a little difficult to have a coherent conversation about your views on reproductive issues if you insist on discussing each one in isolation.  If your opposition to condoms is religious/opposition to the “contraceptive mentality”, knowing that helps inform us as to the underlying reasons for your positions on other issues.

     

    And speaking of opposition to the “contraceptive mentality”, happened to run across a link to the California Judge’s order for final arguments in the case about Proposition 8:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-jacobs/equality-on-trial_b_605176.html

     

    The Judge asked a very interesting question:

    “Why is legislating based on moral disapproval of homosexuality not tantamount to discrimination?  … What evidence in the record shows that a belief based in morality cannot also be discriminatory?  If the moral point of view is not held and is disputed by a small but significant minority of the community, should not an effort to enact that moral point of view into a state constitution be deemed a violation of equal protection?”

    I think that question applies to issues of reproduction as well.  Your decision based on your moral conclusions to forego the use of condoms yourself, or any other contraception yourself, is absolutely your free choice and right.  Legislating that moral point of view and insisting that other people who have different moral beliefs also forego those things is a violation of equal protection.

  • crowepps

    Are you saying that prudish Christian moralizing is becoming popular among teenagers?

    What else is Abstinence Education but prudish Christian moralizing?  Certainly ‘Chastity rings’, ‘Jesus wants you to wait’ and ‘God wants you to keep your body pure’ qualify as exactly that.

    If they are hearing a message of shame about sex and are reacting to it, why are they not engaging in fornication and rape less often?

    The reason it has no effect is that it’s a lot easier to make people feel guilty than it is to get them to stop having sex.  The promotion of the myth that women have to be ‘modest’ because men can’t control their lust when they are ‘tempted’ JUSTIFIES rape and encourages male fools to believe that the rape is the fault of the victim.

     

  • ahunt

    they might possibly imperil a blastocyst

     

    So Austin would bar women from the hot tub?

  • crowepps

    But if Austin were King, pregnant women would undoubtedly have a lengthy list of prohibitions, and breaking any of them would undoubtedly generate charges of “reckless gestating” and convictions result in serious prison time.

  • crowepps

    There is no proof that hormonal contraception does not create a hostile uterine environment, so this speculation is left in.

    Actually, there have been a number of studies that have shown minimal changes in the uterine environment, which certainly explains why missing one pill or taking it late can result in an egg being released and becoming a blastocyst which seems to have NO PROBLEM implanting, however the ProLifers insist that ALL of those studies are flawed, that the researchers are all ‘pro-abortion’, etc., etc.

     

    Since most of the research is being done by those working on infertility issues, it’s a little difficult to see how they reach that conclusion, but then ideology usually trumps common sense.

     

    Edited to provide a link to a PRO-LIFE site that agrees:

    http://www.lifeethics.org/www.lifeethics.org/2006/08/plan-b-not-abortifacient-but-doesnt.html

  • ahunt

    But if Austin were King, pregnant women would undoubtedly have a lengthy list of prohibitions,

     

    Not to mention pre-pregnant women…after all, how do women know when an ovum has been fertilized until evidence exists?

  • crowepps

    All females would have to maintain optimum health at every moment – after all, even those not actually sexually active might be raped at any moment and they have an OBLIGATION to always be the best possible resource to any zygotes that might be inflicted on them.

  • crowepps

    June 8, 2010

     

    Evangelicals OK with birth control

     

    Evangelical Christian leaders overwhelmingly support artificial means of birth control, according to a pair of recent surveys touted Tuesday by the National Association of Evangelicals.

     

    “Most associate Evangelicals with Catholics in their steady leadership in pro-life advocacy, and rightly so,” NAE President Leith Anderson said in a statement. “But it may come as a surprise that unlike the Catholic church, we are open to contraception.”

     

    Nearly 90 percent of respondents to the monthly Evangelical Leaders Survey of NAE board members in April said they approved of artificial methods of contraception. That tracks closely with the 90 to 91 percent of Evangelicals who told Gallup last year that hormonal/barrier methods of birth control were morally acceptable for adults.

     

    Sseveral leaders included caveats, the NAE reports, including objections to drugs or procedures that terminate a pregnancy once conception has taken place. George Brushaber, president emeritus of Bethel University, said contraception should be used “with proper biblical and medical guidance.”

     

    Added Randy Bell, of the Association for Biblical Higher Education: “Personally, I don’t believe there are any Scriptural prohibitions to most common methods of contraception. I can say from personal experience that God can defeat such methods if he chooses to do so.”

     

    Read more at nae.net.

     

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/faith/2010/06/evangelicals_ok_with_birth_con.html

  • ahunt

    Oh look… PRESS!

     

    …as the media finally gets around to reporting reality.

     

  • crowepps

    Must admit, I was amused that they reported this, probably because they could get ‘evangelical’ in the headline. Wow, what a shocker! Most people think birth control is a GOOD thing!

     

    You certainly see enough coverage of the fringe nuts holding looneyfests like The Pill Kills. Too bad that coverage is always structured as ‘on the one hand/on the other hand’ and doesn’t make it clear that 95% of Americans are standing on the one hand and only a tiny minority opposes contraception. And, yes, I know the male Catholic HEIRARCHY and the male Opus Dei extremists oppose contraception, but they fit neatly into the 5% along with the 1% who rely on NFP. The majority of female Catholics are as likely to use The Pill as anyone else.

  • grayduck

    “I knew this was GrayDuck as soon as I saw the word ‘fornication’.”

     

    Hah! Fornication is my favorite word.

  • ahunt

    Hey…ya think?

     

    Admittedly, the Catholic/SBC hierachies are loud…SBC being a more recent bullhorn.

     

    The rest of us have been have been going about our own business, quite happily and with blessings of our “churches” for…oh, the last forty years.

     

    Outside of bizarre cults, and fairly normal true believers…the majority of Americans are making fertility decisions in keeping with their understanding of their faith, and in the best interest of their families.

     

    Dull/uninteresting report at 10pm.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • emma

    Oh yes, of course. When Austin becomes dictator, women with eating disorders or who are taking medications that cause a pregnancy to terminate will be executed without trial. He also believes women who refuse to breastfeed should be executed (yeah, I’m pretty sure he is actually a fascist, and one with some minor [haha] issues with women, at that). Given that record of idiocy, god only knows why Austin thinks anyone is going to take him seriously.

  • ahunt

    He also believes women who refuse to breastfeed (while simultaneously abstaining) should be (imprisoned with their infants and monitored 24/7to enforce appropriate xtian maternal behavior …)

     

    Fixed that for you, Emma. The guy has yet to advocate execution…but we’ll give him time.

  • wendy-banks

    I couldn’t use BC’s because of side effects (massive and constant N&V) so I aways had to rely on cream/barrier etc. And got pregnate once and miscarried because of the medication I was on (miscarried was far better than a kid with birth defects in my book) And my one doctor refused to give me a IUD and I’ve had more than one refuse to tie my tubes. I finally got to get one to tie my tubes– painful, but worth it.

    And I think personally the only reason why the catholic church likes NPF is because there is such a HIGH risk of pregnacy (the old punishment for sex thing). And I’m WAY to much of a fertile myrtle to rely on something with a high failer rate. And as I nearly bought the farm with my only kid, I’d never risk going through that again EVER.

  • wendy-banks

    Please don’t be like e.e.cummings Julie dear, o.k.?

  • wendy-banks

    Good thing I wasn’t drinking anything either…

  • crowepps

    Given that record of idiocy, god only knows why Austin thinks anyone is going to take him seriously.

    Probably because even the most ignorant, uninformed, clueless man who fails to earn respect from other men on any other issue still thinks he is qualified and has a divine right to decide what women should be doing.

     

    Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?  Women have the benefit of getting an uncensored, upclose and personal insight into the sense of entitlement conferred by the Y chromozone and all that nonsense about ‘respect’ and ‘chivalry’ and ‘the most noble thing a woman can do is be a mother’ is revealed as the sham it really is.  While it is alarming to find out that to so many men woman as a class are considered interchangeable breeding stock, better to be aware and be skeptical of protestations of good intentions.