Now that we’re all on the same page, I want to offer a few further thoughts on the situation of the federal government making an official, taxpayer-funded recommendation that women of childbearing age be either completely abstinent from alcohol (not sex, mind you, because that’s like, impossible.) or be continuously contracepting to ensure maximum protection from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Here’s a painfully obvious caveat: FAS is a terrible, preventable condition. Do not binge drink during pregnancy. Actually, I’m going to go a step further and say DO NOT BINGE DRINK EVER. IT’S TERRIBLE FOR YOU, knocked up or not.
(Do not smoke crack, either, even though one intrepid commenter helpfully pointed out it’s, like, way safer than wine. I’m still not 100% on that…)
The overwhelming response (and it was delightfully overwhelming, so thank you!) was fist bumps and high fives. And a few precious messages from my more liberal leaning and even, in one case, pro abortion female readers expressing solidarity with me on this position.
Which is awesome. Just awesome. Because how amazing if government overreach on recommending contraception is what unites women from both ends of the political spectrum in the effort to overhaul and reclaim authentic feminism?
Would be cool. Just saying.
But a few people were very, very concerned that I might be agitating for pregnancy benders. Let me be quite clear when I say, again, FAS is terrible. And you will not give your baby FAS if you drink a glass of wine at a dinner party.
But there have been studies!! I know, I know there have been. But there have been other studies, too. And none of the studies seem to be able to agree on a “safe amount” of alcohol, so it’s easier for the FDA, the CDC, and the other 3 lettered agencies out there to just slap a do not on it and call it a day. Because most women will only be pregnant for 18 perfectly planned, spaced and executed months, anyway, when they go off the pill or have their IUD removed. So it’s no big thing.
This is crazy for 2 reasons.
First, there are plenty of things that are fine in moderation and terrible in excess. I might venture so far as to say that applies to everything. And this applies to pregnant and non pregnant humans alike. And if we’re to believe that the entirety of human history up until this point was dramatically wrong, and that all of Europe is still wrong, and that one drink will doom your child to a life of misery, then…I don’t think there’s anything I can say to convince you otherwise.
Please understand, I’m not encouraging pregnant women to get lit. I’m not even saying they should drink.
But women who either drank before they knew they were pregnant or have the occasional adult beverage during the 10 months when baby is on board do not need another thing to obsess over. They don’t. There are enough crazy things women already believe about the tenuous grasp on control they pray they have over their lives and the lives of their children. A new year’s eve champagne toast or a Guinness with dinner does not need to be on that list.
Here’s the second crazy thing about the CDC recommendation: it presupposes pregnancy as a predictable, planned, and finite occurrence in a woman’s life, occurring when and where and how she wants it. Once, maybe twice. And then never again. And we can make sure that happens.
Our culture has shifted so dramatically since the advent of the Pill that the above statement doesn’t raise an eyebrow for most modern minds, I’m guessing.
But that’s crazy.
And it’s also the very opposite of “openness to life.”
I think this is where it got weird for some people in trying to understand the outrage from Catholic women, and indeed all women who embrace their fertility and the potential for new life: not as a fearful, high-risk gamble we take once or twice, crossing our fingers and holding our breath, but as a natural extension of our maturation and growth as women and wives and mothers.
If you’re open to life, you’re probably going to spend more time being pregnant. That’s just how it works out. And even while you’re pregnant, life happens. Pregnancy isn’t a horrifying disease or debilitating (well, usually) condition. It’s a natural phase in a woman’s life. And yes, she’s more susceptible to certain ailments and no, she probably shouldn’t be skiing double black diamonds at 8 months along, but for the most part, your life kinda does just go on, just a bit heavier.
So for the government to point a finger at women, the only people capable of conceiving and bearing new life, and say to them “you need to either shut that down or shape up and teetotal,” yes, it was incredibly disturbing and incredibly demeaning.
Because the message is twofold: you’re too ignorant to understand your own (inconvenient!) body, and you’re too reckless to be trusted to behave yourself.
It’s a patronizing, deeply misogynistic message of incompetence and belittlement.
(But then, so is the push to get all women from 13 to 50 on some form of birth control. And we’ve been living that dream for 40 + years.)
I long for the day when all women, regardless of whether they believe in God or practice any religion or even like the taste of beer, recognize that in our bodies we have an intrinsic genius which is uniquely feminine, and it doesn’t need to be turned off or shut down.