Traditional, mythological perspectives on pain and labor, and how the new sexual-economic dichotomy is forming
If nothing else, birth control is an area of great contention between liberals and conservatives. Much of this conflict stems from disagreement on whether or not birth control constitutes something which is necessary for the physical and mental well being of females in the western world. What follows will detail specifically why access to birth control in the 21st century is a healthcare issue.
Traditional gender roles have come out of the economies of the past. Our present-day system has allowed for a much more fluid relationship between the sexes. Birth control, it has often been argued, is a necessary part of this change as it may often lighten the female burden of physiological changes caused by a monthly cycle as well as greatly reduce the occurrence of unwanted or unsustainable pregnancies.
I. Mythology, Sexuality, and the Roots of Nation State Politics
From a western mythological perspective the “masculine” element in human nature has traditionally been seen, through one social lens or another, as the “active” force in the universe. The fundamentally “feminine” element of human reality has then been seen as the complimenting “passive” force which necessitates some active force that may or may not have pre-existed it.
This notion may be one elemental reason behind why, in Christian theology, -which no doubt greatly influenced the ideological construction of European and American society throughout history-evidence in the Old Testament book of Genesis for a primordial construction of gender roles is present in the story of the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The active element can be seen as the force of “physical creation” as well as “destruction,” similarly one can see it as “that which does the moving.” The passive is, then, the opposite force, that which is “receptive” yet also possessing generally more “societal valuable” and “abstract-creative” (especially in the aesthetic sense) skills, similarly, it is “that which is moved,” by the “creative-destructive” male force. Together they (symbolically) form a dichotomy wherein each complements the other and allows a maintainable human civilization capable of growth and “advancement”.
One can see evidence of the influence of this ancient type of mythological thinking today in the modern, legal institution of marriage. Traditionally marriage was a legal means to what often amounted to a financial end. This end was the household as, evolutionary speaking, having a surviving line of children is one of the main factors that define the life of any biological entity.
Civilization can be seen, once again, as being created, at least in the “mythological” sense, through a connected network or series of networks of households which one can define at different scales as such things as “cities” and “countries.” The pattern can, in other ways, be seen to dominate human behavior on the macro-scale as one can substitute the terms “nations” and “alliances” or even “western civilization” and ” universal, human civilization.”
One can most definitely see why marriage “traditionalists”-particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom-make such a fit when confronted with the prospect of changing our modern, legal institution of marriage or allowing females more control over their reproductive potential. In a sense, marriages and the maintenance of households were, in the past, seen as requirements for the survival of human civilizations.
It is then clear that females, being the biological vessels necessary for maintaining and growing societies, were given roles suited to their “socially perceived”-also, by extension, socially “dictated” and “imposed”- ends. They were also, then, in a mythological sense, heavily portrayed as being individuals meant for life within civilization (and, by extension, not being allowed the privilege to incite meaningful social reform to their own, direct benefit).
More specifically, one can see that the traditional ways in which females have been raised have sought deliberately to isolate them in the “social sphere,” thereby, once again, denying them rights to full participation in all that makes up a civilization. On the flip side, the “social” realm generally relegated to females was made out to be something inherently foreign (and often forbidden in one way or another) to males.
Females have historically been made into pawns, meant to further the human process of “socialization” (the dialectical process falls into this category) as well as reproduction. In the same sense males have been made into pawns of violence between nation states as well as dispensable utilities that produce income for households.
II. Overturning the Previous Order: Female “Liberation” from Biology
With the advent of effective birth control women began to declare their independence from the old sexual-economic order that had dominated, largely out of physical or legal necessity, for so many centuries in the past. This can and should be seen as a later result of the economic shifts undergone globally, but most specifically in the west, after the two world wars of the Twentieth Century.
Women with access to birth control were also, for the first time in history, able to pick the time when reproduction would occur, if at all, over the course of a lifetime. Today evidence for the changes undergone in the last four to five decades is everywhere. Awareness of the problems and challenges faced by women in day to day life has now also become a near-essential element of the pop culture and academic narrative of today.
If society collectively, or even in significant majority, seeks to accept healthcare’s new role in the professional, economic success of females, in as far as their “fertile” (before menopause and after puberty) years are concerned, then it is likely that in the future they will be able to see more opportunities in the workplace that have historically been difficult to realize.
This can partially be seen in the fact that, in the situation where birth control becomes defined socially as something that is identical to or very near to a human right, it would be provided to all females who elect to obtain and use it, many argue completely free of charge, females will, hypothetically, never again be forced unwillingly into an “unwanted” or “unsustainable” childcare situation.
Indeed, this issue extends far beyond healthcare, as studies have repeatedly shown that communities which have easy access to birth control and contraceptives tend to reproduce when “ready,” a state which, ideally, one is able to determine for oneself. This has shown itself to be a positive influence on the crime rate as, at least theoretically, children raised in welcoming, stable, positive, and financially capable households should tend to be more well-adjusted and less likely to fall into the “criminal” lifestyle.
In simpler terms, if males and females are to be truly equal in the workplace then a convincing argument could be made that they must face an equal number of obstacles in order to obtain their salaries. These obstacles can be constituted mentally and physically. If females are to eventually assimilate into those professions (construction, sanitation, active military combat , engineering etc.) which have been dominated by males within the traditional system, they must not possess hindrances which they have not directly chosen.
What is obvious is that the female biology often includes a hormonal cycle, unless it has not developed (in the case of prepubescence), the female is on consistent birth control, or the female has undergone the natural process of menopause wherein reproductive capability begins its sharp decline with age. In the case of standard birth control pills, which often contain placebos, the female cycle is likely to become more regular and less severe.
In the interests of giving the females of the 21st century an opportunity for liberation from a burden which they did not choose to bear (but which they may if they wish) it is evident why many progressives consider birth control to be a healthcare issue.
It is clear that the hormonal changes experienced by those females who are not, for whatever reason, on birth control, especially when put into the context of the workplace, may act as a detriment to both the physical and mental states of working females. Specifically for this reason it makes perfect logical sense that females receive equal care, this care, then, necessarily must include birth control if desired.