Let me begin by saying this is not a “no uterus, no opinion” kind of column. Since election season began, feminists all over the country have proclaimed their indignation over men’s ability to dominate on issues such as abortion and birth control. There is subtle logic in this argument: Men, who are not as directly affected by these issues as women, tend to be less educated about the intricacies of the female body. However, the problem isn’t in the Y chromosome itself, but in the lack of education about these critical areas of interest. Women’s health only seems to be a hot-button issue every four years, when in truth these topics affect millions of women every single day.
But the responsibility to be educated does not fall solely on men. Women should also be knowledgeable about the options they have for their own health. A great example is Plan B, the more colloquial name of the morning-after pill. What does it do? How does it work? Is it like an abortion? Why does it need to be taken 48 to 72 hours after intercourse? These are simple questions, but the discrepancies in answers have dramatically different implications for different people.
In Colorado, there have been two ballot referendums since 2008 alone to pass legislation to incur that a woman ovulating — naturally producing an egg (which happens every single month, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a period) with no mention of whether or not it is fertilized — will have the same constitutional rights as two fully grown people. This legislation is effectively saying popping a birth control pill (but not necessarily even having sex and causing conception) is equivalent to murder. It is mind-bendingly frustrating that people could logically put those two activities on the same level. Educating people about the scientific differences between the phenomenon of conceiving a child and producing an egg could work wonders here. For those of us who know the difference, it seems preposterous. But from the quotes of Todd Akin, Rush Limbaugh, Richard Mourdock and the riot-like effect they have had on people of this country, it is clear the confusion is not isolated.
How can we solve this? More education does not come with a simple course of action. These topics aren’t included in your typical sex education, and the subject matter is definitely for a more mature audience. The earlier we’re having sex education, however, the earlier conversation about the mechanisms of birth control becomes necessary. Sex education in the fifth grade is a decent foundation. (Although does anybody really synthesize something like that in the fifth grade?) But this kind of information needs to be reiterated at a time when it is more relevant. I guess if MTV has its way, Preteen and Pregnant will be the next series; for now, a course in these topics sometime in late middle school or early high school would be highly beneficial.
For those who oppose birth control for religious reasons, that is hardly an argument precluding a factual understanding of how it works. On top of that, boys — who turn into the men we call part of our government — need to stop seeing birth control, menstruation and the like as “women’s topics.” It can’t be underscored enough how important they are to all people. It’s a logical fallacy of sorts if men refuse to be educated about women’s bodies and functions because they’re “gross” or “not their problem” but then shoulder the responsibility of passing legislation that oppresses, judges and condemns women for the choices they make.
Sarah Gordon is a junior neurobiology and physiology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.