Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Hello, World.

Remember that ad for Ultra-Slim cigarettes, targetted at women?  "YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABE!"  Even then the tobacco industry knew cigarettes were killing us.  But, hey.   It was a multi, multi-billion $dollar business.  And it was run by men.  (Of course,  cigarettes were killing men, too.)

Well,  recently I came across a similar ad in an old Glamour magazine from the 1980s.   Half of the photo  showed a turn-of-century chrone with six kids hanging on her apron.  The other half showed a  girl driving  a Porsche convertible,  hair flying in the wind.  Caption?  "CELEBRATE YOUR FREEDOM!"  It was an ad for Birth Control pills.  Those little miracles that  wiped out centuries of female oppression,  allowed  women  sexual freedom, and a way to finally chart their own reproductive kismet.  The Pill,  which celebrated its 50th birthday in October,   created  the most  radical  change in human history. It was of course manufactured by  colossal,  multi-billion $dollar  drug companies,  an industry run by men.

Enter a new era,  "The  Age of Infertility." An age  of bestselling books entitled EVERYTHING CONCEIVABLE.  TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR FERTILITY. A world of  Fertility Centers, ovulation kits, infertility shots,  and  bioethecists telling women they should have planned ahead.  A new kind of  medical and bureaucratic Hell of doctor's waiting rooms and  insurance companies that are  lasar leaps  away  from the Liberation we thought we had achieve with the Pill.

  Hello?  Did I miss a segue?  Yes,  I'm afraid  millions of women did.  Now younger women in their 30s who've been on the Pill for 10 or 15 years,  refer to the  pills  as 'Death Pods.'   Because those 10 or 15 years were their  prime child-bearing years.  Now that they want to have children  their bodies are in REPRODUCTIVE BACKLASH.  Inadvertently,  infertility has become the Pill's primary side effect.

Why does this suprise us?  Because in our eagerness to be stand-alone human beings,  empowered with our reproductive rights,  women forgot basic biology:  fertility is an offering of Youth.  The body we woke up with after 10 or 20 years on the Pill is,  putting it mildly, not the one we started out with.  Body rhythms change, so do organs,  and cells. Our stockpile of eggs becomes depleted,  what's left is not exactly prime quality.

(Let me say that I  was one of the lucky ones.  The Catholic Church forbade the Pill,  so I got pregnant instead. Only after my child was born, and I rebelled and left  the Church,  did I go on the Pill.   So in some wacky, Byzantine way, the Church  may have saved me from being childless.)

Now,  granted,  the Pill did not directly create the field of infertility medicine,  but it has turned it into a gigantic  multi multi-billion $dollar  industry.  Run by men. (Sound familiar?)  Childless couples and single women are now  depleting their savings accounts investing in  in-vitro fertilization,  or test-tube babies,  which has been the  last word in infertility treatment since  the late 70s.  But only now has the attempt at  IVF become almost epidemic,  a last ditch-try at  biological parenthood.   Success  rates are  dismally low if you're over forty.  Mid-forties only a 12% success rate.  Over forty-five the odds,  less than 2%.

And with IVF we have the risk of birth defects especially with women over forty. Worse,  insurance companies will not cover  costs, which  range from $12,000-15,000 per cycle. When IVF fails, there is grief and mourning,  and women berating themselves for their lack of foresight. And only now,  after the fact, are doctors telling women, "Oh! You should have frozen your eggs in your twenties."  In fact, young women in their teens and twenties ARE now freezing their eggs for future fertilization.  But for the  infertile over-30s and 40s and evern 50s  that information comes too late.

 (Yes, there is always adoption,  which I wholeheartedly endorse.  But we are talking about the Pill and infertility  here.)  What I want is someone to tell me that the geniuses behind the research and develop-ment and  marketing of the  Pill,  DID NOT KNOW, or anticipate,  a future of infertile women.  I want someone to tell me that women were not used as guinea pigs.  And that even now,  they are once again being used as guinea pigs  in this latest  tango with infertility shots, and infertility pills,  and the whole new cornucopia of medicalized technology promising to produce viable fetuses,  but not guaranteeing  children born without defects.

I want someone to tell me, fifty years after the advent of the Pill,  why even  Margaret Sanger's grandson publicly demands to know "WHERE IS THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL FOR MEN?" It would be so easy.  But,  again,  the drug companies,  those Goliaths profitting so magnficiently  from women,  ARE RUN BY MEN.  When confronted by legions of women  demanding  the Male Pill,  drug company spokesmen turn  coquettish and shy.  The cost of clinical trials ' would be  astoundingly high.'  'The impact of upending cultural norms would be global, and would reverberate for generations.'  They have not yet found a male pill with 'zero side effects.'  After fifty years?   Oh, ladies, lets  face it.  The real rock-bottom  truth is the  same as it was in the Bible.  Men don't want their reproductive organs fooled around with.

Yes, the Pill saved our lives.  I embraced it.  I embrace it now.  Yes, it brought women's rights  out of the Dark Ages.  The right to  serial sex partners, equal pay,  the right to run for President of the United States.  But, look. Our bodies are still under the control of the Goliaths -  the drug companies.   Who, by the way,  long ago perfected the Male Birth Control Pill.   They just won't release it.  Think of the billions and billions  of $dollars LOST  if, finally, the Goliaths  allow women to have drug-free bodies.  If, finally,  they give us back the right to our reproductive selves. The Pill took a certain biological control away from us, and that control was  Empowerment.

 Release the Pill for men.  Freeze their  young,  unadulterated sperm,  and then let them deal with potential sterility for a few decades.  IT'S THEIR TURN.

Last month we watched a movie about a  Pill-taking career-wife who has been rendered infertile.  Her husband divorces her for a younger woman who can give him children. She drives herself off a cliff.  A few nights ago we watched an old Turner Classic from the 50s,  THE BEST OF EVERYTHING.  An unmarried woman becomes pregnant and, out of shame,  suicides with sleeping pills.  Oddly,  the theme song of both movies was  something sentimental called,  "Its a Woman's World..."  

Oh, really?


  1. Well written and extremely thought provoking. i would say scary. This piece should be printed in a newspaper for the younger everyone and especially the younger crowd to read. They whom often race by without blinking. Wouldn't it be something if much like the cigarette packets with billings about damages to your health, they would print something similar on the pills and shots to take; this pill may make you barren if used heavily (yeah right). "Fertility is an offering of Youth" has a great punch and quote like summation.

  2. I agree to the fullest. My wife got off birth control a few years ago and she's still feeling the effects of what it has done to her body.

  3. What was the first movie you mentioned?

    Agree with almost everything you say, but I'd have to add I don't think adoption is wonderful.

  4. Dear Donald Carreira Ching...thanks for feedback! Important for men to be aware becoz this infertility thing has affected them too, as far as ability of couples to have children. More attention needs to be paid to the drug industry and how they run our lives. Meles and pules to you and your wife! alohas for now, Kiana

  5. Dear ScarletManifesto..thanks for feedback! That's a brilliant idea, warnings on Birth Control Packets, like the ones on cigarette packs! 'IF USED TOO LONG, THESE PILLS CAN CONTRIBUTE TO INFERTILITY.'


  6. PS TO DONALD CARREIRA CHING...Has your wife tried lomi lomi massage?
    It helped my cousin become pregnant! Imua to you both! Kiana