Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

50 years of The Pill

May 9th, 2010 by Chris Hitchcock

Today’s the day, ironically enough on Mother’s day, that marks half a century since the FDA approved the pill for contraceptive use in the USA. And, for better or for worse, it’s become part of the fabric of our culture, and allowed women to have both family and a career by providing reliable family planning. Although, as many have commented, the pill may get more credit than it deserves, it serves as a powerful symbol of women’s liberation and sexual freedom.

Recently, in the Vancouver Art Gallery, I learned that, around this time, feminist painters were bringing the body back into art, challenging the largely male trends of abstractionism. Ironically, at the same time, feminist psychologists were working to remove the body from the psychology of women, challenging the prevailing wisdom that the narrative of woman is the narrative of her womb, and that when it ceases to be productive, so does she. How does the pill, with its chemical silencing of women’s reproductive endocrinology, fit with this interplay between owning and disowning our female bodies? And how can we own our bodies without allowing them to be our only defining features?

  

One Response to “50 years of The Pill”

  1. Re: “How does the pill, with its chemical silencing of women’s reproductive endocrinology, fit with this interplay between owning and disowning our female bodies?”

    I’ve seen reports lately of more progress on a pill for men – I’m interested to see whether the discussion (in some form) of owning/disowning male bodies comes up – also potential future scenario of men on the male pill for years, and then switching over (or adding in) Viagra – so potentially you could have female/male partners who are both chemical silenced (or muted), the male pill for birth control and the female pill for menstrual suppression, for years –

    Re: “And how can we own our bodies without allowing them to be our only defining features?”

    Hmm, great question. Yesterday, Ms. magazine tweeted: “Isn’t it time we speak honestly about the reality of violence? http://ht.ly/1JmgN,” I thought wow, let’s see what this is – turned out to be a story about Yeardley Love, the murdered lacrosse player. It starts out:

    “I have always held the torch so high for my alma mater the University of Virginia (UVA) that I was pretty much blind to any criticism: perfect UVA in perfect little Charlottesville where perfect students study.”

    Today I also read about Avondre Donel, a 15-year-old honor roll student in Detroit, who was murdered on Mother’s Day – one shot to the chest. http://tinyurl.com/24q8z7f

    I bring this up in relation to “own[ing] our bodies without allowing them to be our only defining features,” in that – I feel, perhaps, some feminist thinking about and response to violence has “women’s bodies” as its defining feature – as women, we only care if “one of our own” gets hurt…anatomically female…I think of it as “anatomic feminism” – I (neologistically – is that a word?) like to think of myself as a “geographic feminist” – and therefore, “one of my own” includes anyone within 20 miles? 50 miles? The same state, country, planet?

    Oh well, probably going off on another tangent – just trying to work out some ideas for essays, in the blogosphere…

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