Respecting Women as Women: Part II of II
Last week, we shared Part I of Jeanette Flood’s discussion on the “feminine genius,” what makes women and men different, and how respecting each sex involves respecting our differences. Here is Part II, discussing how Fertility Awareness-Based Methods are the method of family planning that best respects women.
Losing Our Way—and Finding It
Considering the history of women’s health these past decades, I have become convinced that Fertility Awareness-Based Methods are the safest and most natural methods of family planning for women, because they were designed to respect what makes women unique, not attempt to make women more like men.
While the women’s liberation movement made important strides in the twentieth century, it went astray in two ways in the ’60s and ’70s.
Wrong Turn #1
The first mistake was agreeing with men that a person’s true value is found in, if not equated with, their career, output, achievements, and so on. Connected with that mistake was a bad response to a bad opinion. Chauvinists asserted, “Men and women are different; therefore men are better.” This is clearly false. Unfortunately, the loudest opponents countered with another error: “Men and women are not different—or not much—therefore they are equal; where they’re different, women are superior.”
Of course, the truth is this: Men and women are different and equal. Women are just as intelligent as men and just as valuable in building a better society, bringing gifts and insights that complement those of men.
With this view, society is best off when we celebrate our gifts—women’s, men’s, individuals’ gifts. We don’t need to we deny our own gifts or accept their denigration to reach equality or win chauvinists’ good opinion (those who are persuadable can be persuaded without our self-denigration; those who aren’t persuadable aren’t worth our concern). Neither do we need to downgrade, denigrate or limit anyone else’s gifts to celebrate our own.
It is when we appreciate and promote the feminine genius that we can bring our special gifts to the table and put them to work. We don’t have to make a choice between equality and owning our femininity; true equality for women will only be gained along with a real appreciation of feminine gifts.
Wrong Turn #2
Secondly, some of those working for women’s rights went astray in championing the effort to model female sexuality on male sexuality: i.e., the possibility to engage in sexual activity with the certitude to never experience a pregnancy. Despite claims to the contrary, hormonal contraceptives are one more facet of the denigration of women—and a major one.
All contraceptives counteract the natural functions of someone’s reproductive system, but most women’s contraceptives can also cause health and fertility problems—some quite serious. Men’s contraceptives disrespect their fertility, but just about every contraceptive for women not only disrespects but directly attacks a woman’s fertility—sometimes permanently.
Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, in contrast, respect a woman’s body, her well-being, and her fertility, help her understand her body, and even help uncover health or fertility problems, which may lead to their being healed. In sum, FABMs are all about giving women (and men) the reproductive respect they deserve.