For years it's been argued that birth control closes the gap in gender inequality; that until birth control was widely available to women, we were still unequal to men because of that one thing that can happen to us as a result of sex that doesn't happen to men: pregnancy. Oh the horror!
A woman who is pregnant or rears children faces considerable challenges when it comes to continuing or seeking a career. Will she be hired? Will she be fired? Will she be able to take time off from work when baby is born? How can she afford childcare when she wants to go back to work?
And those are all legitimate concerns for a woman who works.
But why is it that being able to work or have a career, particularly outside the home, is what makes women equal to men? Seriously, why is that our standard? (Because, in my humble opinion, that is a low standard). Women are far more valuable than the title they carry or the career they choose. My worth as a woman comes from something more than the job I do. And my equality has nothing to do with my paycheck, my career or even my purpose. Instead, it has everything to do with the Creator who made me.
The problem with arguing that birth control gaps gender inequality is that we are essentially claiming that women, by their very nature, are unequal and inferior to men. I don’t buy it. It's just not true. And it sells women short. We don't need the assistance of some pill, an IUD or an abortion to be equal. Why is that? It's because we are created equal. By our very nature, women are equal to men.
To argue otherwise, to say we need birth control to be equal is to argue that women are created as lesser human beings. That we begin life at a disadvantage, hindered, burdened. Do we really believe that? Is that what we want our daughters to think about themselves?
"Here honey, you aren't as good as your brother, but take this pill. It'll level the playing field."
For that reason alone, birth control is not empowering, but degrading.
But I think the issue is more than our society viewing and treating women as unequal. The issue is that we have come to equate “inequality” with “different.” Do men and women have different rolls? Absolutely. Were men made to do things that women can’t and vice versa? Yes. This does not mean one sex is unequal to the other. Having a uterus does not, in any way, make me inferior to a man. Having the ability to become pregnant does not make me inferior to a man. Giving birth to children does not make me inferior to a man. Choosing to raise my children at home does not make me inferior to a man.
I’m disgusted that the idea of being pregnant, nurturing and supporting the life of a human being as it develops, breastfeeding and caring for children, have become a liability, a weakness. Why isn’t a man inferior to a woman because he cannot do these things? After all, men cannot bring new life into the world. Men cannot nurture and sustain a human life with milk that their bodies make. But I would never suggest that they are unequal, because they are simply different!
Instead of seeing these amazing, beautiful, incredible things as blessings, assets, and strengths, they have become weaknesses and deficiencies. Why is that?
It's because we have an aversion to children, especially multiple of them, as a society. Why else would abortion and birth control and sterilization be so popular? Apparently, pregnancy makes us inferior (thanks for that Margaret Sanger!). Bearing children and raising children are a weakness. Fertility is a liability so we suppress it as best we can. Oh how the stay at home mothers are attacked and chastised. It’s all so backwards. What happened to the day when fertility was worshiped as a goddess?
Women have a God-determined purpose to nurture life. To say we need to suppress that in order to be more like men does nothing for equality. It only denies the women-ness, the femininity, the very essence that God has given to each of us as women. The world needs both men and women. That’s why God said man shall not be alone and he created Eve. If all Adam needed was someone like him, He would have just made another man. But He didn’t. He made a beautiful and unique person, the crown of creation. He made a woman. And He made her as an equal, out of man's side, to stand next to him, only with a different purpose.
As women, we need to stop buying that lie that being a woman sets us at a disadvantage. It does no such thing! Think of all the ways you are unique from man. Why would you want to conceal and change the very things about you that make you a woman? Instead of fighting our femininity, we should do more to embrace it.
We should work to build a culture that promotes, appreciates and praises femininity.
We should view children, and the women who carry them, bear them, nurture them, teach them and raise them as blessings.
We should seek to empower women, not by encouraging the use of a synthetic drug or the ending of their own child's life (those things do nothing to empower), but by educating women about their fertility, childbirth, breastfeeding, and the natural biological processes of our bodies.
We should embrace those natural biological processes.
We should teach our daughters to respect their bodies, and to demand respect from others because they beautifully and wonderfully and uniquely made.
And most of all, we should each, as individual women, personally accept, affirm and value our call as women.
Women, stop believing the lie that without the aid of something or someone else you aren't as good as someone else. You have as much value as every single other person on this earth. No assistance required. You were created equal, with just as much love, purpose, wonder and value as your husband, your brothers, your father, and your male co-workers. And yet completely unique. Embrace it.
For more information on how hormonal birth control can be dangerous and potentially unethical, read this post. And why we need to think twice before using an IUD.