I was on the bus early this morning seated next to a young woman who looked about my age, mid-twenties. When she got up to get off at her stop, she accidentally kicked her bag over, spilling some of the contents onto the floor. The contents included a pack of birth control pills and she scooped them up quickly, looked at me and stammered, “It’s…. it’s to make my periods regular.”
I’m fairly certain I was the only person in close enough proximity to see the pills — not that this matters. When confronted with the mere suggestion that they might be having sex, some women immediately go on the defensive by insisting that their birth control pills were prescribed to them for any reason other than that they want to have sex and not get pregnant. A woman’s decision to take birth control pills should be lauded as a responsible one; instead, thanks to constant shaming and an intensely misogynistic world view towards women’s sexuality, I’ve heard women blurt out things like, “I’m on the pill ….. FOR MY CRAMPS!”
I am not blaming this woman. It isn’t her fault. Women who are open about having sex are routinely subjected to slut shaming, judgment, nasty rumors, and may open themselves up to men who think they “want it.” And it hurts me that this woman, who is a complete stranger to me, felt the need to rationalize the fact that she takes birth control pills, lest I judge her for being a filthy, slutty slut. Like I said, I can’t blame her for her rapid-fire statement. Ask any woman how misogynistic some of our fellow women can be towards one another, and I’m sure you’ll get an earful of unsavory stories.
In my imagination, every woman and girl who meets me automatically knows that I am on their side, that I don’t require any justification for any choices they want to make. I want them all to know that I don’t believe in the concept of a slut. I want them to know that the decision to take birth control pills is a decision that should be praised, no matter the reason for taking them. I want this woman to know that in a world where so many young women get pregnant because they are too embarrassed or too ashamed to talk to someone about birth control, I commend her for being responsible. Even if the pills are for her cramps.
But I didn’t have nearly enough time to say all that as she rushed to get off of the bus.