Posted on | July 6, 2014 | 59 Comments
Holly Grigg-Spall (@hollygriggspall) is a British feminist who last year published a book called Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control. The term “hormonal birth control” includes not only The Pill, but also Depo-Provera and Yasmin/Yaz, the latter of which is the target of lawsuits that blame side effects of the drug for causing nearly two dozen deaths.
It would seem to be just common sense that the long-term use of artificial hormones — for birth control or for anything else — could have harmful side effects. When I was in college, a guy who was into weight-lifting called me over to his dorm room one afternoon and asked me to read the very detailed warning included with the steroids (Dynabol, as I recall) he had somehow obtained on the black market.
These warnings were written in a lot of scientific jargon that my buddy didn’t understand, and he asked me to translate them into plain English. So I was reading along through this lengthy list of potential side effects and reached the phrase “testicular atrophy.”
Oh, hell, no.
Do you see what I mean about common sense? You don’t have to be a research scientist to figure out that if “testicular atrophy” is a potential side effect of a guy injecting himself with synthetic male hormones, maybe it’s not such a good idea for women to be gobbling down a daily dose of synthetic female hormones. Even if it weren’t for my other concerns about the Contraceptive Culture (see “Sex, Science, Nature and ‘Choice’“), I would still be dubious about hormonal contraceptives on the basis of common-sense health issues.
But don’t take my word for it. Let a radical feminist explain:
My own experiences with HBC began in my teens when I began taking it for acne. I remember that once I started taking it, it took me about a month for my over-the-top emotional hormone swings to lessen. . . .
Once my emotions leveled out, I was very good at taking the pill once per day at the same time every day. . . .
I stayed on the pill for a decade at least.
I discovered radical feminism in 2011 and, like so many of us, it changed my life. . . . About that same time I decided to go off the pill. The last straw came when doctors thought I had had a pulmonary embolism, which is a condition made more likely by HBC. A CT scan indicated that it was actually pneumonia, but that was a very scary experience for me. I decided to finish my pack and be done with the pill.
Over the next year as my body detoxed from the pill I developed acne all along my jaw/chinline that hadn’t been there before. Large bumps protruded on my face, which was embarrassing as I was well past adolescence. I also experienced weight gain, which I was told wasn’t a *real* side effect of going off the pill. It was frustrating not to [be] believed when I reported my symptoms.
Think about it: If the Pill is powerful enough to prevent pregnancy and relieve adolescent acne – i.e., to make a woman’s body stop doing what it normally does — what kind of less noticeable changes does it also cause? What are the potentially harmful side effects of using these synthetic hormones on a daily basis for 10 years or more? Holly Grigg-Spall started asking questions about this and guess what the reaction was from the feminist establishment?
Liberal feminists have called her book “dangerous” and use name-calling techniques in attempts to push Griggs-Spall to the margins of feminist discourse. As many of us know, being insulted and told to keep quiet are tools used to keep us away from discovering truths and maintain the status quo. Grigg-Spall is referred to as a “crank” (how feminist!), and potential readers of her book are warned that discussing female biology and women’s experiences is inherently “essentialist”. . . . There are several critiques of this book that have similar tones and I found the pro-pill apologism quite transparent.
My belief is that the pharmaceutical industry is threatened by Griggs-Spall’s book and that discrediting her is a way to maintain the status quo. I also contend that rejecting the pill goes against sex-positive/mainstream feminism, which is why there’s push-back as well from its representatives.
Hmmm. So the radical feminist believes that the arguments of “sex-positive/mainstream feminism” are just coincidentally aligned with the interests of the pharmaceutical industry that promotes hormonal birth control. I’d bet that if a diligent researcher looked closely at the financing behind institutional feminism, they would discover that this alignment is not entirely coincidental, like how “mainstream feminism” sold out to the porn industry in the 1980s. People need to be more skeptical. Not everybody who says they’re your friend is actually your friend.