Earlier this week the CDC came out with recommendations that basically suggest that all women from the onset of their fist period until menopause refrain from drinking alcohol unless they are on birth control in order to reduce the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Because, well, although birth control sometimes fails, it would be ludicrous to suggest ALL women be told how to conduct their lives, as though they were 4.
So, they’re sticking to those 15-45 year old rebels, who, for whatever reason, do not use birth control. For future reference, these people will also and forever be known as Walking Potential Incubators.
“More than 3 million US women are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, having sex, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy.” – CDC
Let me just translate by suggesting the following quiz:
Do you have a uterus?
Have you reached puberty?
Have you not yet reached menopause?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of those questions, keep your legs together and stay away from the trough, you sloppy, ignorant slob.
And for the record, I’m about to burn up all of the things if I see one more “recommendation” aimed at controlling women’s reproductive lives via the banner of shame.
3 million of us are most certainly NOT at risk of exposing pretend fetuses to FAS.
You know what 3 million of us are absolutely and consistently at risk of?
Being cleverly turned into nothing more than potential baby boxes with legs.
“The risk is real. Why take the chance?” – CDC
Why? I suppose it’s the same reason I eat a piece of cake, indulge in chocolate, ride my bike, go for a hike, and dance.
Because I’m a human.
Because I am defined by more than the biological functions of my body.
Because I like to have fun.
Because I enjoy the taste on my tongue, the way my body feels, and usually, the company I’m keeping while I’m doing any of those things.
Why take the chance? It’s the same reason I get in a plane, drive my car, and walk, freely, without someone at my elbow to hold me up.
Because typically people who don’t live their lives because of the fear of all of the bad things that could happen to them would be clinically diagnosed somewhere on the severe anxiety spectrum.
And I guess because I thought we were beyond the time in which we could just slap half of the population with social disorders, like “hysteria” in order to make them comply with prescribed, acceptable behaviors.
“There’s nothing wrong with this….. if you’re deliberately having unprotected sex, you’re likely to get pregnant and therefore should not use alcohol.” – CDC recommendation sympathizer
Remember that game “One of these things is not like the other?” I always thought that game was maddening when I was a kid. The little line on the pair of pants of one of those cartoon people, or that balloon with the extra, tiny spec was impossible to find.
This scenario is kind of like that.
Except that it’s just not hard to see which thing is not like the other.
Talking about the importance of educating around the risks of FAS for fetuses – the real ones inside actual pregnant people – is exactly not like telling non-pregnant or not-yet-pregnant or maybe-pregnant people what behaviors and lifestyle choices are acceptable.
Speaking out against telling basically all 18-50 year olds who have the anatomical ability to become pregnant to keep their legs together or not drink, ever, in no way diminishes the reality and severity of FAS.
Telling people to not drink or not have sex will, in fact, not reduce the rates of FAS, but it will continue to reinforce misogynistic control of a subset of the population.
‘Well, people not trying to conceive SHOULD be on birth control. It’s just responsible.’
There are as many reasons people don’t use birth control as reasons for people who do – many of which have nothing to do with a desire or lack thereof to be pregnant.
Access, medical conditions, affordability, religious and cultural beliefs are all factors that might influence whether or not someone uses birth control.
But, the bigger problem with the whole “responsibility” language is that it pre-supposes “right” and “wrong” choices without any room for access, health, or numerous other personal circumstances that may be important considerations for people. Discussing women’s “responsibility” is nothing more than a way to vilify and shame people for everything from what they ate for lunch to how, when or if they become pregnant.
And really, besides permanent sterilization, which methods of birth control are actually 100% fail-proof? Some people get pregnant after their partner’s vasectomy or after having their tubes tied. So, by that logic, shouldn’t we should just suggest that all women not drink – ever? Maybe we could make exceptions for those who have a hysterectomy or who go through menopause.
Here’s what the CDC recommendations connote:
It’s just alcohol. What’s the big deal? What are you some kind of drunk or something that you can’t forgo a drink for like 20-30 years just in case? I mean, who’s gonna take that risk? Some selfish person?
Policies like this, though, do more than make silly connotations.
More insidiously, they affirm social perceptions of women as having low intelligence and poor self-control and bad decision-making capabilities. Such recommendations further the growing trend and ability to criminalize pregnant people for their behavior. Now, not only are women with known pregnancies liable, but non-pregnant or unknowingly pregnant people are culpable for their every day actions, as well.
I wonder how long before we start suggesting that at her first period, a girl begin being escorted by a gentleman everywhere she goes. After all, falling down holds a huge risk for miscarriage – 3 million of us could be at risk for damaging our imaginary fetuses all because we took the risk of walking down icy steps first thing in the morning. And driving? What about driving? I think Saudi Arabia may be on to something, here. Women and their fetus ghosts are definitely worth protecting. I mean, “why take the chance,” indeed.
Here’s a recommendation
Maybe the folks who should most strongly consider the benefits and fail-safe uses of birth control are those responsible for implementing and promoting this over-the-top, broad suggestion that all women curtail their lifestyle and behave like the Puritans.
And then, after they have appropriately and responsibly ensured their inability to conceive, they should drink a large martini. And keep right on drinking until they are drunk-crying over how dumb they were to suggest that women are walking vessels.