I was delighted that 1flesh got lampooned by Katie J.M. Baker of Jezebel, the “Celebrity, Sex and Fashion for Women” site. Mostly because I got to laugh aloud at their usual, deliciously crunchy snark, like their claim that 1Flesh is ”all very wannabe subversive and “now,” like a world in which Rick Santorum knows how to use Instagram.”
Good Lord, what a terrifying thought.
Still, buried somewhere deep within the fear that “omg other people make graphics too!” were some serious bits of silliness that need addressing.
Baker claims that “1flesh argues that condoms ruin sex by making it feel shittier…” Now we certainly do say that, as does the National Institute of Health. (And as easy is it may be for some to dismiss, we stand by it being a particularly lame characteristic of the devices.) But that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Condoms ruin sex by changing its very nature, by putting a physical barrier between husband and wife, preventing the natural “bonding” quality of sex in part created by the absorption of semen by the woman. We here at 1flesh hold on to that antiquated bit of folly, that the pick-up culture is degrading to men and women, and sex was meant to be forever, a promise of love as much as a good time. Condoms take away one of the primary biological features of sex that make it forever, as well as reducing its health benefits and degrading the amount of pleasure involved.
Jezebel then goes on to politely mention how we were “eviscerated” by a Patheos blogger over our claim that contraception has not reduced the rate of unintended pregnancies. His argument:
1Flesh cites a CDC statement that 49% of pregnancies in the US were unintended. They then crow that this is despite the “near universal use of contraception.” Unhelpfully for them, the CDC statement they link to directly contradicts this. In fact, unintended pregnancy is higher in those populations least likely to use contraception, namely the very young and the poor. The CDC states that these stats can be improved by both expanding access to contraception and increasing consistent and correct usage amongst the sexually active. I guess 1Flesh would have its readers believe that the CDC is a solid, unquestionable source for one paragraph, but a biased, unreliable source for the next.
Now we tried our best to feel eviscerated, but being right makes it a difficult mental exercise. See, he’s wrong in his idea that the young are least likely to use contraception. As Advocates For Youth pointed out in their 2008 analysis Reproductive Health Outcomes & Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Teens, “teens’ use of contraception and condoms mirrors that of adult women and men.” He’s right that people struggling with poverty are less likely to use contraception, but here we part ways:
For he and the CDC (and Guttmacher and just about any large, government-funded research organization) will admit that this is a problem, that “the United States has not made progress in reducing unintended pregnancy,” and will then go on to make some variation of the following riff: We should thus focus on providing greater access to contraception, and greater education regarding its proper use. (Stop me if I’m wrong.)
But this is where, yes, 1flesh does begin to question the CDC. (Hardly remarkable, using some one’s data but rejecting their conclusions.) These organizations are recommending that we continue to do what we’ve been doing for the past 50 years. They’ve been recommending it so well that, according to Guttmacher, “among the 43 million fertile, sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception.”
Yet unintended pregnancies remain higher than ever. And when the majority of these pregnancies occur amongst women using contraception, we begin to grow skeptical. More contraception? Really? Because that’s gone swimmingly so far.
In the 2011 study Trends in the use of contraceptive methods and voluntary interruption of pregnancy in the Spanish population during 1997-2007, surveys of about 2,000 Spanish women aged 15 to 49 were taken every two years from 1997 to 2007. Over this period of time, the number of women using artificial contraceptives increased by about 60%. In the exact same period, Spain’s abortion rate more than doubled, from 5.52 per 1,000 women to 11.49.
The English government implemented their Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in 1995, spending over $454 million promoting the use of artificial contraception. Yet teenage pregnancies and subsequent abortions continued to increase. All this calls for a reminder:
I suppose we could just keep trying the same old thing, but let me ask you this, Jezebel: Is it entirely ridiculous that there’s are those of a younger generation who are fed up? Is it entirely absurd that there are those advocating a contrary position?
(Baker went on to note our removal of an infographic. We did this for editing purposes, as it was not clear in the graphic what our interpretation was of a certain study. We hope it has been made entirely clear here.)
And finally, Baker seems to be infuriated with the idea that 1flesh is promoting abstinence-only education. We are not, or at least not in it’s typical “sex will kill you with warts and send you to hell” sense. We support individual human beings making the choice to ditch contraception, and to take up an effective, side-effect free, natural form of family planning within the context of mariage. We do this by informing the world of the ills of contraception, and of the benefits of natural methods.
In fact, I myself find it odd that Jezebel would take it upon themselves to totally reject our message. Their site constantly features articles that celebrate women as the awesome beings they are (I particularly loved this one), bare-bones, no pretense, take it or leave it. That some of the main efforts of 1Flesh is to inform women of the risks of birth control pills, to call out pharmaceutical companies for their life-endangering, false and manipulating advertising of the drugs, and to promote the concept that women can understand and work with their own fertility instead of relying on pharmaceutical companies — am I totally off-base in assuming these are things we could have a beer over?
Anyways, we’re thankful for Jezebel’s attention. Between being picked up by r/atheism, Planned Parenthood and Jezebel, we’re certainly going through a trial by fire, which is excellent, as it keeps us honest and thinking.
You stay classy now.