Sexual health


Stances on abortion and women’s healthcare are more than just differing opinions. Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump WILL become our next president, and that president will appoint not just Scalia’s open Supreme Court seat, but potentially 3 others who will retire during the next term. There are also many federal judge seats that Congress will have to approve, and since most abortion restrictions and fetal personhood laws are made and challenged at the state level, these are also incredibly important. Having a president who doesn’t respect women, doesn’t respect the right to choose, doesn’t believe that women’s healthcare is an issue, and does believe that women should be punished for their decisions about their own bodies is NOT the kind of leader we need. It is the kind of leader we will get if enough people decide to stay home or vote 3rd party on election day though.

The consequences

There’s more than just rhetoric about whether abortion is right or wrong, evil or acceptable, sad but necessary or the downfall of society. For half of the population who are potentially affected by pregnancy, this isn’t simply a debate of competing philosophical ideas. These ideas have some so enraged, ideas like women actually having agency over their own bodies and being able to make their own decisions, that the right is enacting laws to not only restrict but to criminalize those decisions. Ridiculous restrictions like waiting periods treat women like children who just need to go home and calm down and think rationally about their choice (because obviously there’s only one rational decision that every woman should make). Unrealistic and unnecessary requirements like admitting privileges are closing many clinics and making access to abortion an undue burden. Luckily, the Supreme Court agrees, like the recent case in Texas showed, but even that ruling came too late for many shuttered clinics, and many other states are still battling the same issue. 

Even if you don’t choose abortion, simply being pregnant is a legal risk nowadays. “Fetal personhood” laws treat a part of my body as if it’s a separate entity with separate rights to the rest of me. It’s like if a lawyer were to advocate for the kidney I wanted to donate. This happened to Alicia Beltran when she was arrested for a drug addiction she had before she got pregnant. Her fetus had legal representation at the hearing and she was forced into rehab, but she was denied counsel. 

This is becoming more and more of a concern and fear for pregnant women. 38 states have feticide laws, meant to protect a pregnant woman from abusive partners and dangerous, unlicensed abortion providers, but they have begun to backfire on the pregnant women themselves. Those laws in 23 states even apply to the very early stages of pregnancy.

One terrifying example is Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old woman in Indiana who was convicted early last year and sentenced to 20 years in prison for having a stillbirth. Recently, the conviction was overturned, but not before a lengthy legal battle and a scary precedent to use feticide laws against a pregnant woman.

Also take the case of Bei Bei Shuai, another Indiana resident who was charged with feticide.  She became depressed during her pregnancy after her boyfriend abandoned her and refused to help raise the child. She attempted suicide by taking rat poison. At the hospital, doctors were able to save her but not the fetus, and she was arrested.

There are countless other stories of pregnant women’s civil rights being taken away. Some examples from this NY Times piece

“Based on the belief that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.

In Utah, a woman gave birth to twins; one was stillborn. Health care providers believed that the stillbirth was the result of the woman’s decision to delay having a cesarean. She was arrested on charges of fetal homicide.” -Lynn M Paltrow and Jeannie Flavin

Pregnancy dystopia

My high school English class read Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World, and afterwards we had to write our own short story dystopia as an assignment. I remember that I wrote one in which pregnant women were locked up for the entire 9 months on strict diets and daily regimes, separated from the dangerous outside world but also from their lives and loved ones. These pregnancy prisons were billed to the public as spas meant to protect and pamper women and their fetuses, but the reality was that the women were captives with no rights of their own. Many lost their jobs upon re-entering the world (something that is not uncommon with just regular maternity leave, if one is even offered by the employer). Pregnant women were punished for breaking the rules, causing stress to mother and fetus that those running the centers clearly didn’t care about. Many women tried to break out or commit suicide. Outside, women tried to hide their pregnancies for as long as possible before the police came and hauled them away. The emotional disregard for these women resulted in poor physical health and severe mental problems, as well as many medical complications and deaths of the babies, for which the women were of course blamed.

This came from the mind of an imaginative 14-year-old, but it’s really not that far fetched. Pregnant women are already so criticized, when does that criticism cross over into being controlling? When pregnant women can’t even be trusted to take care of themselves and their fetus, when does the state just take over? We already see cases where pregnant women who admit to taking even safe drugs are arrested if their babies are completely healthy.  Women are strapped down and forced to have c-sections against their will. Child protective services can be called and the child taken away if a laboring woman doesn’t agree to a c-section in some cases. 

These abuses of our civil rights are done in the name of saving babies, except it doesn’t actually happen that way. For example, 32% of women in the US undergo a c-section, and some specific hospitals have even higher rates. Most are allegedly for medical emergencies, and have in fact been a great medical advance that have saved countless mothers and babies. But studies show that a c-section rate of up to 19% is optimal, but the US’s rate has increased 50% in the last 15 years. An entire third of births do not require them. “Better safe than sorry,” some say, “doctors just have the best interest of mother and baby in mind.” If that were so, you’d think that we’d be really good saving the lives of mothers and babies, when in fact the US has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any developed country.  A lot of this has to do with insurance and liability, doctors trying to cover their asses in case something were to happen, at least they can say “well we tried something.It cannot be denied that ripping open a woman’s body solely for convenience and saving face is an utterly dehumanizing disregard for these patients’ well beings.

Solutions

I can certainly commend the theory of trying to enact laws to protect pregnant women, especially since murder is the number one cause of death among pregnant women. Not the number one non-medical cause of death or non-pregnancy related death. Number one. Period. Statistically, I am more likely to be killed by my husband than I am to die of preeclampsia or childbirth. The way to help though is not to give rights to a fetus and treat it like a separate, autonomous being, but to make pregnant women themselves a protected class, so that crimes against them are treated more seriously and prosecuted more severely. When an abusive partner comes after a pregnant women, he’s not trying to hurt the fetus and leave his partner out of harm’s way. He’s angry at her and wants to hurt her, but all right wing lawmakers seem to care about is the fetus inside of her. The laws should reflect the crime, that of trying to hurt the pregnant woman. That way, pregnant women themselves aren’t faced with prosecution.

For those “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fans, I’m sure you’re familiar with the D.E.N.N.I.S. system. For those who don’t know, the character Dennis makes a 6-step, fool-proof plan for how to seduce women and get laid, using the letters in his name as an acronym. I am in no way advocating this system, because he uses, emotionally abuses, and then abandons these women once he’s slept with them. He’s a complete asshole. However, due to my lack of ability to write a proper blog post in the past few months, and given how much I miss writing the Sex and the Dimple column for The Wheaton Wire, I’m going to discuss the K.A.T.I.E. system of sexual seduction. Disclaimer: I will be talking about stereotypes of heterosexual relationships, so I fully acknowledge that this is not typical of all heterosexuals, and I also apologize for not touching upon homosexual relationships. Perhaps that will be a separate blog post.

Most people, especially women, think that if a woman “puts out” too soon in a relationship, the man will lose respect and interest in the woman. They think he’ll have no reason to stick around since he already got what he wanted. (Apparently, all men want is sex, and women do not in fact want it, at least according to this theory. And obviously men can get it whenever they want, seeing as they will cease to call said woman once he gets sex and thus go elsewhere.) My theory is that if a man does abandon a woman after sex simply because he “got what he wanted” and has lost respect for her because she was too “easy,” then he’s a complete douchebag and not worth dating. But hey, at least she (hopefully) got a good lay out of it!

That’s the positive spin on it: everyone comes out a winner. Man gets the sex he wants; woman gets sex, too, and avoids wasting her time dating an asshole who was only going to use her for sex anyways. And yet, many women see a problem with this scenario. So, let’s change it.

Woman withholds sex for the first few weeks. Jerk of a man seduces her during said period and spends lot of time, effort, and money wining and dining her. Woman feels flattered and eventually gives in and has sex due to the over-abundance of material investment man has made. Jerk Man is disappointed, thinking the first encounter awkward sex (because let’s face it, first sex is always awkward) was hardly worth all the time, effort and money. Woman gets emotionally attached because she thinks she’s finally made an emotional connection with jerk man. Jerk Man loses interest. Jerk Man dumps woman. Woman is heart broken.

Granted, if he wasn’t a jerk, perhaps he’d form an emotional connection with the woman during the no-sex period. However, if he wasn’t a jerk, he also would never use the woman for sex to begin with, so the time frame in which first sex occurred wouldn’t matter. Basically, the moral of the story is that if you’re dating a jerk, he’s still going to be a jerk no matter how long you wait to have sex with him, and will probably get hurt in the end. In my opinion, it’s better to get it over with sooner rather than later to avoid the emotional heartbreak, and possibly get a good shag out of it.

This is not to say every woman (or man) wants to “give it up” so soon. Some people just personally aren’t ready to until they’ve formed an emotional attachment to the person they’re with. That’s fine; everyone has personal preferences. All I’m saying, is that women shouldn’t feel pressured to withhold sex because they think they have to. Newsflash: Women like sex just as much as men do.

Sometimes, if you have sex soon into a relationship, the man has such low expectations and is pleasantly surprised by the furtive romp in the sack. He thinks, “Wow, this chick is awesome! Why wouldn’t I want to call her again?” This is, of course, assuming he understands that the women does not get emotionally attached to every man she sleeps with and he is thus not scared of a commitment he is not ready for. (Disclaimer: I want to reiterate that some people, women and men, do get emotionally attached to every person they sleep with. There is nothing wrong with that, although it can lead to more heartbreaks if one is not careful. That being said, there is also nothing wrong with people who are able to detach their emotions from sexual acts.)

After said couple engage in multiple acts of coitus, they are able to form an emotional connection. At least in personal experience, the post-coitus state of mind is much more relaxed and allows for more open and honest conversation and connection with one’s partner. Perhaps after this casual, sexual relationship ensues for some time, the couple will realize that they actually have developed feelings for one another, that perhaps they want to make their relationship something more than casual dating and hooking up. Perhaps the prospective of future casual hooking up will keep the man interested until he realizes his true feelings for the woman. This may not be the case, and the relationship may dissolve. Again, at least they got a good lay out of it.

I see nothing wrong with casual sexual interactions. Given that said encounters are safe and responsible, meaning that birth control and communication are key ingredients, why should a woman not “give up” sex? What is she in fact giving up? Why isn’t a man thought of giving something up when he sleeps with someone? After all my experiences, I still have my dignity, my pride, my self-confidence, self- esteem, and have been pregnancy and disease-free. Heck, I might even be more self-confident knowing that I’ve been able to have such successful relationships, both casual and serious.

I think it is also worth noting that not all women are looking for relationships, and not all men are looking for casual sex. But again, I said I was talking about stereotypes.I also want to touch upon this idea that a man loses respect for a woman who’s too “easy.” Whether or not he stops seeing her after sex begins, if he doesn’t have respect  for her simply for being a sexually secure and confident female, then he’s still a jerk and not worth dating. Along with birth control and communication, respect is vital to any relationship.

I was going to think of a clever acronym, maybe Kick Attract Tame Initiate Enjoy. Kick them to get their attention (just like in kindergarten). Attract them by flirting. Tame their desires with playful kisses. Initiate sex (men love women who take control). Enjoy the ensuing encounter, which may or may not evolve into something more. But then again, I don’t want to sound too much like the douchebag Dennis.

Women, the only person who won’t respect you after sex is yourself. So if you are able to enjoy safe, responsible casual sexual encounters, by all means do it! It’s your sex life and that’s all that matters!