Am I a Feminist?

Am I a Feminist?

Possibly not a post for the menfolk…

The other day I sat chatting with a friend and we ended up on the topic of men and how easy they seem to have it when it comes to the whole having kids thing.

I mean really….they get to erm…have their fun and then we are left with a baby to nurture and grow inside us for nine months.

We increase in size drastically, often suffer sickness or nausea, sometimes other health related problems too – we are told we have to change our lifestyles in regards to food, alcohol, smoking – and suffer severe social alienation (is that the word?) if we buck the trend and rebel even a little sometimes.  Just ask Stacey Solomon.

Eventually we become the size of beached whales, and just when our bodies can’t take it anymore we have to squeeze the baby through our bits (none-technical term), which can often take hours if not days, whilst in absolute agony resulting in a beautiful baby – but also commonly resulting in injuries that we are told to accept because ‘it’s all worth it’.  Which it is, but that doesn’t devalue what we have to go through.

I can completely relate to women who decide not to have children because of what it does to their bodies, not just for vanity’s sake, but for their health.  Since having had the kids I’ve had the delights of piles, stretch marks, fatigue, saggy boobs  (If that’s too much information for you, you’re on the wrong blog) and other issues that even I won’t go into. To be frank, having kids knocks the stuffing out of you.  Me personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but still – we do have a raw deal.

Men on the other hand, get to debate whether or not to be there at the birth and can they handle the blood, and will they ever see their partners in the same way ever again etc etc etc.  They still have choices after the baby has been conceived, they can even simply run off if they feel that way inclined.  As for us women, we can’t just say ‘Actually no, I don’t want to give birth to this baby after all’ at 8 months gestation, ‘the thought of giving birth scares the crap out of me’ – we have to go through with it.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have those thoughts, I was terrified, but I had to go through it anyway.  Not that I’d have had it any other way, but you see my point.

After the kids arrive, you have sleepless nights where you wake constantly with the baby, have pain from the after effects of giving birth and have to look after your baby – which you obviously do.  If your husband / partner helps with the housework and changes nappies they’re looked on as being exemplary fathers, like they’re doing something amazing – when we do that, we’re just looked on as being mums, which is part and parcel of it all.

And then it comes to birth control….. We have a huge variety of pills and potions and implants that we have to deal with, along with the accompanying hormone ups and downs, weight gain and mucked up cycles.  I personally went on the pill and became even more obsessed with food than I normally am.  The moment I woke up I began thinking about what I’d have for lunch for example; I went so far as to have lust dreams about cake like those M & S adverts.  Couldn’t be arsed to ‘do the do’ though.  My hormones were completely messed up.  I know that’s not the case for everyone, but it’s surprising how many people report the same or much worse responses to birth control methods.

Despite all the developments in female contraception, how many options do men have?  As far as I know they have the condom or a vasectomy.  That’s it.  What I would like to know is how much time and money has gone into finding out about contraception for us women, and how much in comparison has been spent on finding effective contraception for men.  Is it because as women we are the baby carriers and are therefore considered responsible for the reproductive cycle?  Should we have to look after ourselves and pump ourselves with god knows what chemicals, simply because men are not considered targets for scientific research because they don’t physically carry a baby.  Is that fair?

Should we accept this?  I recently griped about how unfair it is that we have to go through so much in regards to birth control to a couple of friends of mine,  both said that it’s up to us as women to look after ourselves.  Is this because men simply cannot be held responsible for their own reproductive organs?  Why should they be allowed to get away scot free when we have to go through so much? I know that not all men are the same and not all women are the same and experiences in life differ – but when I look at the way birth control  in particular works in society as a whole, it brings about an overwhelming feeling of injustice.

Maybe it is just the way life is, maybe getting stroppy about this kind of thing changes nothing, but I’m going to say my piece anyway.  Should we really lie back, think of England and take on all the responsibilities because men simply can’t be relied upon to take a ‘male pill’ or whatever it is that scientists have been looking for for the last 50 years or so, or use a condom, or have a vasectomy?   We shoulder all of the burden when it comes to carrying a child in the womb; is it really fair or reasonable for men to expect us to carry on surrendering our hormones and our bodies to prescribed birth control medication and all the known side effects too.

Does this make me a feminist?

7 responses to “Am I a Feminist?

  1. Kay, I’m going to say this against myself: if the girl and the guy had to ‘take it in turns’ (girl first) then families would have three children. (Think about it.)

  2. dont know if it makes you a feminist but being a mum is hard work. would you trust your husband/one night stand/ if he told you he was on the pill anyway? not him that gets landed with the consequences if he forgets for one day.
    I know I made my ex have a vasectomy as I considered I had been through enough and I was not getting sterilised and if he would not agree then separate rooms were on the cards till he did ( though I did after we separated as I made it clear to any potential new partners there would be no more!!)

  3. You forgot to metion those “lovely” blokeys whobleat on and on for you to have a baby, then promptly leave you for a younger “unmaimed” model when they realise the damage it can do to a female body, AND THEN DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!

  4. I think that contraception is aimed at women prely because we are more reliable and stable. I also prefer to be in control of birth control, as then I know it’s taken care of and I have to rely on nobody but myself. But I can see why you may feel that way and yes it could be considered as unfair, on the flip side though- it could also be an indication of how far women’s independence has come in the last 50-100 years.

  5. Phil, you are probably right. It’s just that men seem to think because we’re women we’re automatically built to cope with the pain of childbirth and have endless reserves of patience with children and babies too – but we don’t. Well I didn’t / don’t anyway. I think even women say ‘No way!’ to more kids because of what they go through. If that’s what you meant?

  6. Elaine, the thing is, I trust my OH with my life and my kid’s lives, I don’t see why I couldn’t trust him to take a male pill too. My own memory is like a sieve and I trust him far more when it comes to reliability. He’s married to me and committed to me, so he’d get landed with the responsibility too, even if not the physical responsibility.

    Mel, I see your point, but I know for a fact that my OH is far more reliable and stable than I am! It all depends on the people involved I suppose. I’m looking at this from a married point of view by the way, I’d in no way trust a one night stand if he said he was on any kind of contraception. It does give us power over our reproductive lives, but then again, does it damage our physical health so badly that we actually lose that implied power. Some people suit birth control, others suffer as a result of the methods that scientists have devised for us. (sorry I’m getting all wordy!)

    Linda, my point exactly! Physically, men are unscathed by the whole experience of child raising. Even if they have the ‘snip’ that’s all it is, a snip, they don’t change dramatically and irreversibly as a result of having kids do they? And they can go and do it all over again with whoever if they decide to, leaving us ‘holding the baby’ as they say.

  7. Kirsten Murphy

    Having conceived both my 2 cherubs while on the pill I’m a bit of cynic about contraception that doesn’t involve a physical barrier to those pesky little sperm! My lectures about condoms have become legendary amongst my boys & their friends (& most of the youngsters at the local rugby club!) I think it’s more important than ever that we teach our children to take responsibility for their own sexual health AND contraception!

    Yeah yeah I know I’ve swerved off topic slightly & probably most of your followers will think their children are too young to be concerned with such things but BE WARNED – one day you have a cute toddler & two days later you wake up to a grunting obnoxious teen! If you talk openly & honestly with your kids about the birds & the bees when they’re young they are more likely to pay attention as teens – stopping you becoming a granny prematurely!!!

    Oops sorry for the rant but more in line with your topic. I told my OH that if I went through childbirth he would be the one having the snip. He thought about objecting until I pointed out I did childbirth with nil pain relief so if we were really aiming for equality….!!

    Kirsten x

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