Monday, November 27, 2006

The Pill

The world changed when “The Pill” arrived. Everyone talked about this event, and some people feared what this liberator would do to humanity. The amazing part is how those two innocuous words came to represent a human revolution.

Of course you know what I'm talking about; the birth control pill. Few products have been so debated and had such an impact on how we view ourselves. And the fact that these two non-descript words are understood by everyone demonstrates how truly revolutionary “The Pill” was.

But also a bit sad; I mean, you don't think about a pill that cures cancer when I write “The Pill.” You don't associate this with a vaccine that eradicates dangerous diseases. No, in fact, you don't associate this word with any drug that cures any disease.

So if nothing else, this shows what branding can do. And so, “The Pill,” has come to represent our sexual drive and the freedom to exercise that drive. Which initially made some uncomfortable and still do.

But like anything related to women, “The Pill,” hardly stands for equality. After all, women need to take the pill, which completely alters the hormonal balance in their bodies, and can lead to a range of side effects. Here are the warnings for one of the most common birth control pills:

The use of oral contraceptives is associated with increased risks of several serious conditions including myocardial infarction, thromboembolism, stroke, hepatic neoplasia, and gallbladder disease, although the risk of serious morbidity or mortality is very small in healthy women without underlying risk factors. The risk of morbidity and mortality increases significantly in the presence of other underlying risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemias, obesity and diabetes.

Just sit back for a moment and think . . . do you think any man would risk any of this? And do you think he would feel comfortable having his sperms destroyed by a pill?

I don't think so.

Then again, he isn't the one who gets pregnant and has to live with the consequences of a mistake.

But the inequality doesn't end there.

In fact, we stick it to women more ways than one. Most of us know by now that drugs are on average twice as expensive in the U.S. as in Canada or Europe. But as far as “The Pill” goes, American women often have to pay ten times as much as European women. For the same pill.

But it doesn't stop with The Pill. When women are too old to have any use for “The Pill,” we have something else ready for them: HRT or hormone replacement therapy. Loaded with estrogen, to make the transition into menopause easier, and keep the skin smooth. With very few side-effects.

Only that turned out to be, well, not entirely true. Estrogen is still recommended for women with severe menopausal symptoms, however, when the National Institute of Health was forced to stop the Women's Health Initiative study prematurely, it taught us that what we think we know may not always be true. In fact, the results indicated that hormone replacement therapy appeared to increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer as well as heart disease, blood clots and stroke.

And of course, we also stick it to our menopausal American women. Again. HRT therapy is often ten times as expensive in the U.S. as in other countries.

American women; we want them to handle contraception with pills that may cause severe harm, we charge them ten times as much for this pleasure as we charge in other countries, and we make abortion more and more difficult to come by. And as the coupe de grace, we then convinced them to use HRT, to stay pretty and feel good, when, in fact, this was just hyperbole and may have led to an increase in heart attacks.

I'm only surprised that female coffins don't cost more than male coffins.


Anonymous said...

Now you DID it. Thanks! Surprised that female coffins do not cost more than male coffins, eh? I had just saved up enough for my funeral, and now....well, some undertaker is going to read this and charge me more for my coffin, as I am female! Again, thanks a lot. On the other incentive to live longer, I will have to.

And yes, THE PILL, available and widely used in the Western World. Not so much so, yet, in "underdeveloped countries". A matter of demographics. There will be more and more of "them" and fewer and fewer of "us". Things are always much more complicated than they appear.

Everything for females, speaking of cost, is more expensive than it is for males, or, has been until recently, such as alterations on clothes: free for men, not free for women.

So, now we have THE PILL, and we are competing with anybody and everybody, even males. We are all doing the same jobs at home we did before, and the childbearing if we do that and are "breeders", ahem. We are going to work every day, bringing home the bacon, the meals, the atmosphere, the home itself, which, increasingly, WE are buying. Men are no longr marrying women. Gay men are marrying gay men.

Women's lib and all the associated "freedoms" we have achieved. That is progress (??? ;)).

Anonymous said...

There is one biggie that 'the pill' can cure - women being able to control their own life.

There are tons of side effects to having an unwanted pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

It's also continues to be true that some health insurance plans exclude coverage for "the pill", yet Viagra (and assorted such meds) are covered.

Anonymous said...

I saw an article yesterday on the progress being made on a "pill" for guys. I wonder how popular it will be or if insurance will cover it. But you're right, doc, I don't think men will want to use it. It may have side effects.

But let's not forget that the pill is not enough - it will not protect you from disease or vermin. The best protection is one of the oldest - a condom. Learn to put one on properly and buy plenty of water-based lube. Oh, and don't expect the man to have one.

I appreciate your interest in the second-hand treatment of women. It's an old, old story though.