Today in policing women’s bodies: the Centers for Disease Control and Protection has asked sexual active women women to go on birth control or stop drinking entirely. The recommendation applies to women between the ages of 15 and 44 who drink, don’t use hormonal control, but are sexually active, and apply to approximately 3.3 million women in the US. Because obviously the sole purpose of a woman’s existence is to have babies, so she must keep her body in the most pristine of conditions at all times just in case she falls pregnant, enjoyment of life be damned.
There is a smidgen of merit in the recommendation, but just barely: excessive alcohol use can harm the health of unborn fetuses, so pregnant women should most certainly not be going on booze fuelled benders. However, it remains that it’s a lengthy, not to mention sexist, stretch to have all women, regardless of whether or not they are pregnant or whether or not they want to get pregnant, submit to pumping their body with hormones if they’d like a glass of wine with dinner. Especially considering there is no hard evidence to suggest that moderate drinking during a pregnancy harms a baby’s development.
What the CDC is suggesting goes beyond basic prenatal care (i.e. don’t binge drink) to enforce near total control over a woman’s reproductive rights and sexuality. The arguments used by the CDC in a ridiculous infographic even go so far as to slut shame women for drinking. The graphic shows the adverse effects of drinking on pregnant women, but it also provides some enlightening information for the impact of drinking on sexualy active women who are not pregnant, for instance:
Sexually transmitted diseases
Yes, because the last time I had a sip of alcohol I was instantly beaten up, an STD mysteriously jumped into my vagina along with a baby I wasn’t even trying to have--and it was all my fault for allowing that liquor to even touch my lips. Let’s break this down: at no point, ever, in the history of the world, is a woman responsible for any violence against her whether she has been drinking or not. The idea that a woman should pause her enjoyment of life to ensure she’s not the victim of violence is synonymous with victim blaming culture, and downright absurd. It’s the same attitude that says “She was wearing a short skirt, therefore she asked to be raped.” No one would ever suggest the same to a man. Likewise, no one would ever tell a man to stop drinking entirely because it might result in STDs or unwanted pregnancy--again, the onus is on the woman, using slut shaming as a tactic to burden her with severe untruths.
The report condescendingly suggests that there’s inherently something stupid and vulnerable about women who drink. That women who drink, for instance, have never heard of condoms. It also assumes that all women want to have babies--and that women don’t or shouldn’t consider abortion a convenient alternative to an unwanted pregnancy, should one arise. Most importantly, the CDC’s recommendations carry on in the grand tradition of disenfranchising women from their reproductive autonomy, attempting to eliminate a woman’s right to make her own choices, and placing the entire reproductive burden on the woman further absolving the male of responsibility. On that note, excuse me while I cheers to my right to choose what I do with my body, and when I do it.