.- Advocates of President Obama's contraception mandate should admit that its main purpose is sexual liberation and not âwomen's health,â according to a feminist author who supports the mandate.
âThe phrase 'womenâs health' in the birth control dispute is the latest nimble euphemism,â author and blogger Pamela Haag wrote in a Feb. 17 essay published on the âMarriage 3.0â blog.
Access to contraception, she said, âisnât really about my 'health.' Itâs not principally about the management of ovarian cysts or the regulation of periods.â
âBirth control isnât about my health unless by 'health' you mean, my capacity to get it on, to have a happy, joyous sex life that involves an actual male partner,â wrote Haag, criticizing White House supporters for discussing contraceptives mainly as âpreventive servicesâ for women's health.
âThe point of birth control is to have sex thatâs recreational and non-procreative,â wrote Haag approvingly. âItâs to permit women to exercise their desires without the 'sword of Damocles' of unwanted pregnancy hanging gloomily over their heads.â
Haag, a supporter of âreproductive rightsâ and âwomen's sexual liberty,â is the author of three books, most recently 2011's âMarriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules.â
A graduate of Swarthmore College with a Ph.D. from Yale University, Haag has contributed to a variety of publications and media outlets including Ms. magazine, the Huffington Post, National Public Radio, and the Antioch Review.
In her Feb. 17 essay, entitled âBirth Control Isnât Really About 'Womenâs Health.' Itâs About . . . ,â she accused âmainstream liberal voices in Congressâ of publicly ignoring the real purpose of mandatory contraception coverage.
âBarbara Boxer frames the birth control issue 'a la mode' as about 'defending womenâs health,'â she noted. âEMILYâs List refers to the 'war on womenâs health.'â
âI understand why theyâve done this, in terms of narrow political expediency. Weâve been on the defensive about reproductive rights and women's sexual liberty for decades. Weâve used a euphemism of 'choice' for years.â
Haag said these mainstream political voices âtiptoe around the heterosexual womanâs unsightly libido, and end up with a strangely euphemistic rhetoric, a defense of birth control that seems to involve no sex, desire, sperm, or men.â
The author went on to indicate her support for consequence-free, government-enabled sexual liberation and promiscuity.
âWhen deeply-settled rights are most in danger, itâs not the time to euphemize, or retreat from assertions of sexual liberty and self-governance. Itâs time to gun it instead,â she declared.
âSo hereâs the subject I advocate for, because no one dares to speak her name: Itâs the 20-something unmarried heterosexual woman who wants to have sex, has sex, enjoys a good sex life with her boyfriend, and, in that sex life, uses birth control. Or, she accidentally gets pregnant.â
âI advocate for the slut who sleeps with lots of men, as well as the woman who sleeps with only one, ever. Promiscuously heterosexual, and happy about it? Iâve got your back.â
Haag's view may find little public support among âmainstreamâ backers of the president's contraception mandate.
The policy, which forces religious institutions to provide services they oppose, has been consistently defended on âwomen's healthâ grounds. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius referred to the concept 10 times during a Feb. 10 PBS NewsHour interview about the mandate.
There are surprising points of convergence, however, between Haag's perspective and that of the U.S. bishops â who have consistently argued that contraception is not health care, because fertility and pregnancy are not diseases.
In a July 2011 letter voicing early opposition to the contraception mandate, the bishops' pro-life chairmain Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo argued against its imposition â on the same grounds that Haag used to âgun itâ in favor of âsexual liberty.â
âPregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible,â the cardinal wrote in the letter.
In that same letter, the bishops' pro-life chairman also voiced suspicion about the real motives for the Institute of Medicine's decision to recommend mandatory contraception and sterilization coverage in all health plans.
âI can only conclude that there is an ideology at work in these recommendations that goes beyond any objective assessment of the health needs of women and children,â he said in the July 19 statement.