Sex. . . It is a very troublesome subject. It has been a constant worry for people. They fear not having it.
And finally, how about the consequences, according to Mother Nature the great biologist, who declared that when women’s parts meet men’s, the result might be a baby.
This was a difficult outcome to avoid if it wasn’t desired. It was not unusual for men to use sheep intestines in sheaths. Poor lambs, poor women.
The rubber, later latex, made matters better. In anticipation of their so called conjugal rights, the barbershop questions made boys blush and men smile.
A woman cannot feel completely free if she doesn’t have control over her fertility.
Meanwhile, anxious girlfriends and wives hoped they’d remember because — no doubt about it — the men were (mostly) in charge.
Keep going until the Pill. Hallelujah! The groundbreaking oral contraceptive, which was legalized in Britain 60 years ago today, gave rise to the desire for women’s liberty. It doesn’t matter how much equality legislation is put out there, women will never feel completely free unless they can manage their fertility.
Women could take over the government in 1961 if they wanted. It wasn’t possible to take control of the entire situation, certainly not immediately. Who needs the French letters of a man when his own small group of sweeties can change everything?
Although there are some limitations to how the Pill affects women’s lives, I won’t deny that I would never choose to return to pre-Pill times. It’s hard for women to remember what life was like before the Pill. Our family was always concerned, sometimes even afraid.
For all those women who had given up on love in the hope of lasting affection, and were worried about how they would feel when it was over, The Shirelles’ 1960 song, “Will you still love me tomorrow?” became an anthem.
Believe me, I’d been there, done that — and hated myself.
But in November 1967, six years after the oral contraceptive was first prescribed — for married women only — my new boyfriend took me, all anxious and embarrassed as I was, to our Student Health Centre at University College London.
Six years after the oral contraceptive was first prescribed — for married women only — my new boyfriend took me, all anxious and embarrassed as I was, to our Student Health Centre
At that time, this was seen as quite bold (yes even one or two of my female friends I shared) The free prescribing of the Pill by Student Health was controversial among some more conservative college students.
For a young woman like me (recently turned 21, then the age of majority) it felt incredibly radical to tell a strange doctor that I was now having regular sex — as it happened, with the man I would be married to for 35 years, who gladly paid for the prescription.
In 1967, the Pill was available to all women, not just married ones — but it didn’t become free until 1974.
Student Health only asked me one question: Why did I want it? “Because of my inability to get pregnant,” was their only question.
That was what I had seen. One of my school friends was pregnant by her boyfriend. She gave up her place in teacher training to live on the farm with her parents until she had the baby. The boyfriend then left and the child was given up to adoption.
A man made another member of our small group pregnant, and he left her in no time. In her determination to preserve her child she was “chucked out” by her parents. She lived in loneliness until her rescue with a loving family.
Another girl I know drank gin and took hot baths before jumping down the stairs in an attempt to get rid of her unwanted foetus. She then refused to marry its father.
Although unwanted pregnancies are joyous, they can also be a scary fate.
Before the Pill, sexual activity was only a form of servitude to fertility. My sex history was marked by centuries of weeping before women could confidently stash those blister packets in their handbags.
This is exactly what I meant. The fate of wives was to have child after child until they (in many cases) died. Desperate, pregnant women ended up on the streets with their infants.
London’s Foundling Museum tells the sad stories of unwelcome babies who were left behind with only half-tokens, in the hope that the mothers could be reunited one day with their child.
Hardy’s Tess Of The d’Urbervilles was a novel about seduction and shame. One of Ireland’s most notorious Magdalene Laundries might cruelly treat a ‘fallen woman’.
“Shootgun” weddings were a way to bind men and women in loveless relationships.
Prior to the Pill, sex was a servitude for fertility. I slept for centuries before the Pill was available to women.
Concerning illegal terminations . . Numerous women tragically died from back-street abortions. The BBC’s beloved series Call The Midwife has given insight into the horrible lottery of childbirth and pregnancy in the middle 20th century.
To change centuries-old women’s fate, it took visionaries. Katharine Mccormick (a biologist) and Margaret Sanger (an obsetric nurse), were both brilliant Americans. They knew from first-hand what women went through and believe that family planning is essential for improving their lives.
McCormick had a very large personal inheritance, and mostly thanks to Sanger’s lobbying and McCormick’s money — she contributed the majority of funds for development through the 1950s — biologist Gregory Pincus was able to make the Pill a reality. These are the heroines.
Enovid was the first birth control drug and it was legalized in America in 1960. It was legalized in Britain the next year.
To prevent ovulation, the drug gave the body an additional boost of hormones. Women took the new drug, told their friends and — mostly — didn’t look back.
Professor Carl Djerassi (one of the first to research it), reflected on Woman’s Hour 1992, “We set out in order to develop an effective contraceptive. Never dreaming that so many people would adopt it so rapidly and so easily.” They would, of course! The Pill would open the door to freedom — and women were just waiting to dance through that doorway.
The U.S. legalized the drug in 1961. There was an immediate increase in women’s college enrollment and graduation rates. Only one year after the legalization of the drug, the U.S. saw a dramatic increase in women taking the drug from about 400,000 in 1961 up to 1.2million in 1963.
We can now control our fertility for the first time without having to sacrifice any career or education plans. The liberated woman could play an even greater role in the economy. This good news was quickly shared across the Atlantic. It was the first drug that could be considered a ‘lifestyle’.
The Pill transformed sex and changed how women lived their life. Only ten years had passed since the Pill’s introduction in the UK. In 1971, only 47% of children were born to mothers under 25. This percentage was 25% by 2008. Nearly 30 is the current average age of a woman who has her first child.
One downside to women having control over their fertility is the temptation to delay pregnancy, perhaps for career reasons. But this can lead to unintended consequences.
Although you can read all about the decline in fertility, many women don’t realize that it is a real problem until they have to go into IVF at 38. They are worried that the procedure might fail. Some women miss the chance of motherhood because they leave that stage of their life too soon.
The Pill transformed sex and changed how women lived their life. Only ten years had passed since the Pill’s introduction in the UK. In 1971, 47 percent of children were born to mothers under 25.
IVF is now more popular among women. This has led to a greater dependence on IVF and a decrease in the interaction between generations.
It is clear that the Pill has had a profound impact on social dynamics. So it’s not surprising that the religious leaders reprimanded the small packets of tiny sweeties found in handbags.
Their 1961 ruling that Pills were only suitable for women who had a ring on their third finger proves that they weren’t prepared to accept free love. They didn’t treat good-time girls any better than they ought to.
The evil invention that separated sex and procreation was opposed by the Men of God, who were always men.
In 1968, the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae reiterated Catholic teaching that artificial contraception distorts the true purpose of sex — which is the conception of babies within marriage.
However, it was too late. It was too late. The 1960s saw a revolution in sexual and social attitudes that helped to define it. Moralists could not close the doors.
Some people protested against the Pill, while others acknowledged that there were risks. Promiscuity and pre-marital sexual activity sparked intense debate.
The Pill launched shortly after U.S. studies linked it to strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks.
A study found a 125% increase in breast cancer risk for women who had used hormonal contraceptives more than four years before they became pregnant. Studies from the 1990s also confirmed the danger. Even though reports from the 1970s indicated that both smoking and Pill use increased blood clot risk, many women, like myself, continued to smoke and carry on.
Due to safety concerns, the number of users started to decline in the 1980s.
So you went to the doctor or the family planning clinic, got a diaphragm (or cap), hated the messy thing — and went back on the Pill.
While the Pill has a higher risk of breast cancer and blood-clots, the Pill remains the most used birth control method in the UK. It is currently being used by over 3.1 million women.
Many women wonder why they still have to take hormones even after decades. This, many believe, causes weight gain. Men shouldn’t have to ingest hormones, why not? It has been said that men won’t like the hassle, so there is no need to create a male pill.
Individuals who weren’t in stable relationships found that the one night stands were as stressful as their period waiting. However, there were now signs of a shift.
However, it seems that women want control. One survey showed that 70% of the 134 respondents didn’t believe their male partners would remember to do so. Sexual liberation is worth the price. After only three months of knowing my husband, I got married my second year in university. I felt secure. I felt like an adult after my visit to Student Health. He wanted me to pursue a career and study.
Not so my friends — still on the sexual roundabout. For those not in stable relationships, the one-night stands were as concerning as their period waiting. However, there were now signs of a shift.
One man once believed he could get lucky with a date by showing up on the first date carrying a rubber Johnny in his hand. In the new and exciting dawn of joy and freedom, he would protest. ‘Oh what? I thought you’d be on the Pill’ — and carry on regardless.
The contraceptive coin had two sides. One was that women were ‘in charge’, while the other was men believing they have no responsibility. This was your free love; it was given away to those who subscribed to Left-wing articles of faith that ‘a woman is beneath’.
There are some things that don’t change, such as the fact that women still feel pressured into having sex. The one-night stand, as we’ve been taught, is a declaration of freedom and allows women to ‘own up’ their sexual desires.
This is all well and good, but who really benefits? But what about the commitment aspect? I will never be convinced that most females feel satisfied with having sex only on request from men.
It’s still 60 years later! This 1960s-era feminist celebrates the Pill that transformed women’s lives. In the 1950s, women longed to have labour-saving devices in their homes. Let’s not forget about the men who invented the vacuum and washing machine.
But the Pill — the little tiny tablet in its blister pack, the chemical friend which allowed you to enjoy that troublesome thing called sex — yes, the Pill was an even greater thing for women.
‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ was the slogan — and still is.