Thursday, June 21, 2012

Birth Control Hypocrite?

o         I lost about 100 followers when I switched blogs.  I was surprised by how little this really mattered to me.  I still have one more blog switch up my sleeve anyway, so there's no point in stressing about it now.  Plus, all the best followers came along for the ride ;-) 

            Oddly enough, though, even though I have fewer followers now, I've been getting a lot more private messages and emails about the blog and our lifestyle.  I've even picked up a freelancing position with a women's health website (more on that in a future post).

            Yesterday, I got a message from a friend of ours with whom we have an interesting relationship.  This friend, who I will call the Church Lady (I'm not sure if that would amuse or offend her, but my inention is not to offend her), is very, very Catholic.  Now.  Back when we first met, she mentioned she was Catholic, but wasn't too emphatic or outspoken about it.  We were pretty close to her and her husband until the Marine Corps pulled us our separate ways, but we stayed in touch and even went to their Catholic wedding - at which I got the pleasure of explaining to Punky why we were asked not to participate in certain parts - a year or so after we changed bases. 

            It was shortly after their wedding that she became much more outspoken about her religion - mostly on Facebook.  Church Lady is a super nice woman and I still consider her a friend, but we have very differing views on a lot of things - mainly tolerance.  Homosexuality and reproductive rights being the biggies, not shockingly I'm sure.  We've had many volleys back and forth - all respectful, and neither of us ever swaying the other.  MacGyver has had some very detailed exchanges with her on Catholicism since he was raised Catholic and is now, um, not.

           So we've had these respectful discussions.  Respectful, but strained.  She feels very strongly that it is her duty to save us sinners from Hell.  I obviously don't agree.  But we're friends and I respect her opinion and will remain friends with her as long as she remains respectful and somewhat restrained in anti-gay speech.  The only time I've really been upset with her was during a situation where I perceived an implication that she may have felt that trying to stop animal abuse and cruelty were unimportant, what with all the gays running around and women exercising their reproductive rights.  But I chose to stay out of that one.  I knew it would not end well, and I think remaining in contact with someone with such vastly different views who can communicate them with some degree of equanimity is good for me.

            Anyway, that is a long lead up to say that she sent me a Facebook message yesterday.  I thought the message and my response would make for a good post.  So, without further ado:

       Lately, a question has been laying on my mind, and reading your article (which was very interesting and congrats on being published by the way) made me think you would be an excellent person to ask. First of all, this is not a religious based question, to me it seems to be more of just a logical question, at least in my mind. I have many friends who are very concerned about the environment, being green, health conscious, vegan, etc....along those lines. Yet, they use the birth control pill, which are riddled with chemicals. Please allow me to stress the fact that I am not even beginning to try to assume that I know what you do or do not do, I just know others of similar mindsets to yours that do use the birth control pill. Isn't this a bit hypocritical? Or maybe not as extreme as hypocritical, but definitely goes against the natural ways in other areas of their lives that they preach? Just thought you would be able to give me a good opinion on this topic. Thanks!

      You raise an interesting point, and I think some of your logic is quite accurate on its face. There are two sides to my response:

      On the one side, I agree. I don't like hormonal birth control as I feel it is introducing unnecessary chemicals into my body and disrupting my natural hormone balance.  I have used hormonal forms of birth control, and I did not like the way they affected me, particularly with respect to my moods.  For a few years now, I have used a non-hormonal (copper) IUD, which I love.  Whether you want to consider copper a chemical or otherwise unnatural is a judgment call for the individual.

      That said, I wouldn’t necessarily call someone of my - we'll say "green" - mindset a hypocrite for using hormonal birth control in the same way I wouldn't call them a hypocrite for taking an OTC headache painkiller. While the goal is to introduce as few chemicals into your body and the environment as possible, that is a goal, and for many people it can be a nearly unattainable one.

      While this isn't a religious question, I think religion presents a useful analogy. In the same way that a Christian strives to avoid sin but sometimes fails - sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly - the same goes for those who try to avoid chemicals or abide by similar "green" standards – they sometimes fail. Where a Christian might say that the world and our culture are rife with sin, so a “Green” person might consider the world (and our culture in particular) to be rife with chemicals and other non-green conveniences. To avoid any of these things, one would have to remove themselves from society completely.
      So we try. We do the best we can, and we make amends when we fail. Also similar to religion is the fact that what is considered "green" varies from person to person and group to group. Baptists and Catholics classify sin differently. Vegans and Locavores have differing views on being green.

      My use of the word green is admittedly general, as I think you'll agree. I see calling myself green as vague as you might see calling yourself religious or spiritual as opposed to Catholic, but the idea is rather clear.
      Not every item I buy is free of preservatives, pesticides, or artificial colors, but I do my very best to avoid them.  I am usually successful.  But once in a while, I drink a Pepsi Throwback or buy some conventional produce if I can’t find what I need organic.  Lucky for me, my way of life is not a religion (though it sometimes feels like it ;-)).  I may feel guilty knowing I’ve used a chemical cleaning product because we ran out of vinegar, but there’s no threat of eternal damnation.

      I’d like to make one final caveat, which is to say that there are many who would consider medical decisions to be a very significant exception to certain standards of “natural” living.  There are religious sects that consider any type of intervention to be against God’s (or another diety’s) will, but by and large, most religious people accept medical care, with occasional random exceptions (biting my tongue here).  I would guess the same goes for most of us “green” or “natural” types.  While I use a lot of natural home remedies – teas I grow and make myself, special soups, herbs and poultices for various maladies – if those don’t work, I would rarely hesitate to use western medicine.
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This is not cut and pasted directly from Facebook.  I fixed both our spelling errors, and I reworded my response a little bit because I had typed it on my phone and done brilliant things like leaving out words.  The bulk of it, though, is straight from our Facebook exchange minus any personal information.

6 comments:

Katherine said...

It's an interesting topic. I think that if a person were criticizing other people for taking medications, eating processed food, and such all the time, and then that person took hormonal birth control, that would be a little hypocritical. But like you said, most of us do the best we can, making the exceptions where we need to.

Diandra said...

Wait, you typed all that on your phone? I am impressed!

Yeah, good old birth control... tried it, did not like it. Was bitchy All The Time. Tried different brands, did not work. Finally the gynecologist suggested I might be one of those odd women where that happens.

(Me? Odd?)

And as for the true content of this post... I think it is important to realize that we will never achieve perfection, neither in religion nor in ethical living, but that we should always try to do our best as long as it does not harm us - and is feasible. We're only human, after all.

momto8blog said...

I think I understand ? an artificial "pill" that a woman takes everyday to suppress her "natural" body functions is not green. can formula feeding our babies from a synthetic plastic bottle be considered green? and saving baby animals and killing baby humans (fetus does sound better ) doesn't make sense if your green or not. just my own thoughts...I have never understood granola eating vegan women who take birth CONTROL pills and smoke cigarettes.. seems like a contradiction.., and then they support limiting sugar drinks that they think other people shouldn't be able to drink...a world gone mad! I would like to understand, because someday i would like to write and write about human nature...but this is confusing.

Colleen said...

SINCE you are a no-reply blogger, momto8blog, I will respond here. You make some good points. It does seem rather contradictory for us "granola eating vegan[s]" - and I'm assuming you didn't mean that in a sarcastic or derogatory manner - to do things like smoke. I don't smoke because the chemicals and the effects they could have on my children horrify me. That said, I understand addiction and feel sad for those who are fighting one.

Most women I know who are of like mind to me on these matters breastfeed. But neither I nor any of my friends would critisize a woman (or man) who can't breastfeed - for whatever reason - for using synthetic formula. As for the bottles, there are many chemical free or lower chemical versions - even glass - available. Like I said, we do what we can.

Sugar is bad for you. I very stringently restrict how much sugar - especially sugary drinks - my family partakes in. The fact that I give my child a tylenol when he has a high fever doesn't change the fact that sugary drinks are aweful for you and are contributing to rampant health problems in our country. People pick what they're passionate about, and, honestly, I've never met anyone who gets it 100%. We all fail, but we all do what we can - even us "granola eating vegans."

(I rarely, by the way, ever eat granola because most of the store versions are fairly high in sugar. So maybe I'm not the kind of person you're talking about. I'm more of a veggie eating vegan, if you please.)

Lastly, WHAT THE EFF IS "and saving baby animals and killing baby humans (fetus does sound better ) doesn't make sense if your green or not" SUPPOSED TO MEAN? Who the hell is advocating killing babies????? I sure as hell am not. And yes, babies and fetuses are different. I'm not a fan of abortion, but I've worked closely with women who have had them as well as women who were unable to get them, and based on first hand experience and extensive statistical study, I feel that it should be legal and accessible. BUT THAT IS NOT AT ALL - NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT - WHAT MY POST WAS ABOUT.

BIRTH CONTROL IS NOT ABORTION. I've been in this debate before, and trust me, you don't want to tangle with me on these topics. Not that I would. I doubt I have the time or energy these days.

But back to the point - "and saving baby animals and killing baby humans ... doesn't make sense if your green or not"

W T F?????

Let me make this clear: I am opposed to the infliction of suffering - baby animals, baby humans, adult animals, adult humans, all ages, races, and species - I am opposed to the infliction of suffering. Per-i-od. I am opposed to cruelty, abuse, and neglect. It is, in my opinion, absolutely and completely asinine to try to say one is a compassionate individual because they don't like birth control or abortion (or any other human specific cause) without batting an eye at a puppy having it's face blown open by a firecracker or a cow being gutted ALIVE. THAT is hypocritical. You don't want to fight against animal cruelty? That's your choice. We all have our causes, and it's better to have many people fighting many different ways to end different forms of suffering, but saying animal cruelty is ok because it isn't YOUR chosen cause is sick and absolutely hypocritical.

Now, if that's not what you were saying, please forgive my tone. I was responding to a number of people who have made comments about animal abuse lately, not just to the comment above.

And don't try to make this about abortion. That would clearly be completely missing the point. This post was about birth control and green lifestyles. Trying to flip it to an abourtion debate is just obnoxious.

greekwitch said...

Oh boy! Being green and talking about sure has its toll, huh?
I understand why some people are passionately against abortion. I am pro choice but, i would never do one except for health reasons. But the birth control pill issue in the modern society of 2012 simply baffles me. Not to mention the sexual orientation based descrimination! That just makes me sick!
Summer Solstice blessings to you a bit late!

openbiteblog said...

So glad I came across your blog from the comment you left on mine. I love the way you look at things and growing up attending many Catholic schools with a catholic family could have easily set me to live in the paradigm I grew up in. Instead people sometimes need to take certain lessons from religion but also shape their ways and their lives to suit themselves and to better the world overall.