I started answering this latest example privately and then decided, ahhhhhhhh, fuck it.
I’m going in.
I was very disappointed when I saw your reaction to the many emails you received concerning NFP. Your reaction was bitchy and immature. I mean, we’re all adults, so we’d better behave like adults…”
Bitchy, immature, and not behaving like an adult. Noted, Gentle Reader. Noted.
“1. NFP is not hard, if learned properly”
1) NFP is not hard FOR YOU. Great. Rock on with that.
“2. Just because she didn’t use it properly, it gives her no right to bash the method for her mistakes”
2) People who can’t remember to take the birth control pill every day at roughly the same time should probably look into a method that doesn’t depend on strict adherence to a daily routine.
People who don’t do well with hormonal methods should look into other methods (including Naturally Family Planning).
People who don’t trust themselves or their partners to have 100% reliable condom hygiene or who aren’t able to reliably plan for and place a barrier like a sponge or a diaphragm before sexual intercourse should use a backup method.
If you’re allergic to latex, then latex condoms probably aren’t your thing.
Some people don’t tolerate the IUD well. Insertion can be difficult on very young women and women who haven’t had children, and you’ve gotta check the strings hanging out of the cervix every so often to make sure it hasn’t moved. Those people should look into something else.
And people who can’t or don’t want to commit to NFP should find the thing that works for them, even if they were “never taught properly,” even if the issue is or was human error, even if the issue is or was specifically their own error.
Even if the Letter Writer‘s situation was a case of “Welp, I’m clearly not doing this correctly” (which by the way I am not assuming here), she doesn’t owe it to you or anyone to double down on that method before moving on to one that will give her more reliable results with less effort from her and more peace of mind. She can switch methods for any reason, including “I enjoy sex and do not want so much hassle or uncertainty associated with it” or “Dunno, felt like it I guess.”
“3. It is not just about her. This is public on the internet. People with similar problems will look for advice there. You should have set the record straight for them. NFP doesn’t deserve such a bad reputation and you should not take part in bashing it.”
3) This is where you are flat fucking wrong. It’s her body, her literal body, of which she gets only one, of which she is the sole boss and driver. It could not possibly be more about her.
She doesn’t owe allegiance to a method of birth control. She doesn’t owe it a positive spin, or further consideration. She doesn’t owe you or me or anyone ever having tried it in the first place.
Additionally, stating “This method didn’t work for me and I need to be done with it” is not “bashing” the method. Choosing a different method than the one you chose for yourself is not “bashing” your method. Choosing not to let people endlessly promote a birth control method when a Letter Writer has clearly said “I’m not interested in that anymore” is not “bashing” your method. You are projecting so hard it’s visible from space. You are doing the Internet equivalent of:
Letter Writer:“I’m having a problem with my PC, does anybody know how to fix this error?”
You/The League Of Very Concerned Citizens:“Well, you shoulda bought a Mac, there’s your problem right there.”
I would have blocked you on Facebook by now if you did that in my feed, but let’s say the Letter Writer is a nicer person than me and continues:
Letter Writer: “Ok but my work computer is a PC and I have to figure this out today, so, does anybody know about fixing this problem on a PC?’
You:“Well, on a Mac this would never happen. You should convince your company to make the switch to Macs.”
Actually, THIS is what you sound like:
Image description: The cover of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Light red writing on a dark red background with an abstract desert image in the middle.
Letter Writer, on social media outlet of her choice: “Ugh, I have my period, it’s like a Cormac McCarthy novel down there and I bled through a super plus tampon and my pad in an hour.”
You: “You should use the Diva Cup!”
Letter Writer: “Thanks, I tried the Diva Cup for a couple years, it wasn’t a good solution for me.”
You: “But did you try this kind Diva Cup? Or this kind? Or this other kind?”
Letter Writer: “Can’t say I have, but the one I tried, I really didn’t like it.”
You: “Well, it takes a lot of practice to get it right. Maybe you weren’t inserting it correctly!”
Letter Writer: “Cool, you’re probably right, but like I said, it wasn’t my thing.”
You: “Well, it works for me perfectly! I don’t see what your problem could possibly be, unless you’re just not very good at Diva Cups.”
Letter Writer: “I’m glad you found something that works so well for you! I wasn’t asking for advice on period control, I’ve found what (mostly) works for me. I was just venting that it’s like Bryan Fuller directed a Very Special Episode of Hannibal in my vulva.”
You: “HOW DARE YOU BASH THE MOST HOLY AND AMAZING DIVA CUP, WHICH WORKS PERFECTLY FOR ME EACH AND EVERY MOST HOLY DAY OF MY CYCLE?”
Letter Writer: Wut
You: “It’s not just about you, you know! This is on the internet! Anyone could be reading it and you are lying about how great the Diva Cup is.”
Letter Writer: “Ok, that’s clearly enough menstruation chat for today, have a good one!”
You: “Why do you hate the Diva Cup? Why are you trying to stop me and others from using it or finding out about it?”
Letter Writer: “I don’t? I’m not doing that?”
You: “Now the uninitiated will be MISINFORMED about the Diva Cup. All because of you, and your choices. Because this was the sole possible venue where they could find out about the Diva Cup. You have been unfair! I demand an accounting!”
Letter Writer: “Have we even met before? Who even are you?”
You: “Once you try the way of the Diva Cup, you are forever sworn to its service and glory. I demand to be allowed to share a tutorial on proper Diva Cup usage, that all may know.”
Letter Writer: :block:
You: “How immature.”
That is what you sound like. NOT GOOD.
There is good news to be had here, though! You could create your very own website all about NFP and how great it is, and people could read that if they are very interested in finding out more.
“4. The lady from the letter has bigger problems than birth control, namely a pretty messed up marriage, that she and her hubby should fix before talking about future family planning.”
4) I’m glad you brought up problems in the relationship. The Letter Writer has been trying to talk to her husband for 2 years about finding a different family planning method. It hasn’t worked, to the point that she is scared to bring it up again because it might cause a huge rift between them or that he might try to withhold family funds from her. If there are problems in a relationship, where the partners need to work some things out as they figure out family planning (as you so aptly point out), one smart thing to do would be to put a reliable birth control method that does not rely on the participation of the partner who can’t get pregnant into place…so that you don’t accidentally have another kid while you work out any marital problems.
“5. NFP also allows to control one’s own fertility without any health risks, if learned properly.”
5) It allows you to control your own fertility…to a point.
You could do whatever NFP practices are currently working for you 100% faithfully and “properly” for the rest of your fertile life, and if your partner does not respect your “Nope, not today, today is unsafe!” request, or if you’re having what you think is going to be non-penetrative sex but all of a sudden he’s all “C’mon, just the tip, it will feel so good” in the middle of things without warning you, or he pressures you into sex a lot and sometimes it would be easier to just go along than to have another fight about it and you don’t 100% trust him to stop in the middle of things and don’t want to risk finding out for sure that he won’t…and also it just feels soooooooooooooo good…just this once….and shazaam!!!!! Rogue semen. Inside your body. Makin’ a zygote.
That doesn’t even get into reproductive coercion, or rape, or the connections between unplanned pregnancy and intimate partner violence.
If only there were a way for a person who can get pregnant to be self-aware about their own reproductive needs and to put a failsafe in place during times of unsteadiness and disagreement in a relationship, one that doesn’t rely on the participation and compliance of a partner and isn’t vulnerable to human error or sabotage!
“A mature and informed response would have provided the information that NFP is a safe method, and even if it is not the perfect method for the letter lady, it is still one of the best methods available and by telling that NFP is not safe, she’s basically lying.”
She is not lying, you unmitigated asshole.
“Please stop being a triggered feminist and return to the facts.”
Please enjoy this parting gift on your way to find a website where you’ll be more comfortable.
Photo by me, of an art piece that hangs up at my hairdresser’s. Image description: There is a bag marked “dicks” and the words “Here’s that bag someone told you to eat.”
A very angry NFP user (with no unplanned pregnancies so far)”
Very angry NFP user, I’m glad you found something that works for you and I hope you have only the babies that you want to have when you want to have them. Your happy anecdata about how NFP works for you remains irrelevant to the choices of the Letter Writer, who is a separate person from you. She owes you precisely jack shit and I think you need to seriously examine why you feel so threatened by her decisions about her own body that you need to send me “bitchy” emails and accuse her of lying.
Women and people who can get pregnant bear enormous risks during pregnancy, including death. They are human beings who have a right to set their own risk tolerance. Everyone who can get pregnant should be free to find the method that works safely and reliably for them without judgment or recrimination from anyone. Everyone who wants to get pregnant should be supported in that choice, too! Birth control should be free for anyone who needs it or wants it, and so should fertility counseling and assistance.
People who have strong religious objections to certain methods of contraception should continue not using those methods on their own bodies, of which they are the bosses. People with strong religious objections to certain contraceptive methods have zero say, zero moral authority, and should have zero political authority over what other people do with their bodies. This should not even be debatable as public policy anymore! This should especially not be debatable by large groups of men. It’s definitely not gonna be debated on this blog.
So, in closing, thank YOU for once again allowing me to say that there is no moral hierarchy of birth control methods. None are 100% perfect or reliable, but fortunately there is enough variety and tested reliability that most of us can find something that works reliably and with few side effects or hiccups. We gotta keep defending our rights to this without apology and without shame.
Jennifer Women’s Rights are Human Rights Birth Control Is Great And You Should Use Whatever Kind You Like For Any Reason Planned Parenthood is a National Treasure Abortion is Necessary Healthcare Rodham Nunyabeezwax Big Fat Feminist Jezebel Every Sperm Is Emphatically NOT Sacred Captain Awkward Leigh Peepas.
P.S. Letter Writer #969 I am sincerely sorry if posting these updates brings more pressure and weirdness into your life. I continue to send you love and to think about what a great and loving wife you are, what a great parent you are and are going to continue to be, and imagining how you are going to start to slowly become the wise woman in your community that other girls and women turn to and rely on when they also need to take care of themselves around this. Please don’t let these nosy parkers bring you down.
P.P.S Do not fucking @ me about the Diva Cup.