No, Ricki. No, Ricki.
You know how the invention of the contraceptive pill was one of the most defining moments of the women’s liberation movement, allowing women control over their own bodies and the freedom to choose when (and whether) to have children?
Well, 90s talk show doyenne Ricki Lake reckons it – along with the many other ‘unnatural’ modern forms of contraception, such as contraceptive rings and implants – needs to go. Lake’s warning women off hormonal birth control (and encouraging periodic abstinence — AKA the rhythm method) is a stance widely promoted by conservative Christians.
Lake suggests women instead learn more about their fertility cycles, so they can simply abstain from sex during their fertile period. Apart from the inconvenience of attempting to track when you may or may not be ovulating, most women aren’t exactly champing at the bit for messy period sex, which leaves about two weeks at best per month for sex. Or, you could use the other non-hormonal alternative – male or female condoms – she says.
Lake and director Abby Epstein are basing their documentary on Holly Grigg-Spall’s book, Sweetening the Pill – which was filled with since debunked scientific claims about the certain side-effects of the pill, Slate reports.
The magazine says the genuine risk of increased blood clots from the pill was minor and still far below the risk associated with pregnancy.
On their Kickstarter fundraising page, Lake and Epstein say traditional entertainment companies have been unwilling to touch the controversial documentary, so now their crowdfunding it.
And it looks like it will go ahead, with the women already amassing more than $92,000 of their $100,000 target.
“We were amazed to discover that all women are altered by these medications – and often in profound ways,” Lake says.
“As feminists, we know that it’s tough to be critical of hormonal contraceptives when they have given us equality and freedom. But as documentary filmmakers, we want to be able to empower women to be able to make informed choices when it comes to their contraceptive.”
In the short clip, they claim a woman died because of her contraceptive, a NuvaRing. Yet the number of women who die during, or as a result of childbirth, is not mentioned.
Nor are the numerous other reasons that women take the Pill – like using it to regulate irregular cycles, skip periods for various reasons, or to help control acne.
Lake was heralded a feminist hero following her 2007 documentary, The Business of Being Born, which advocated a woman’s right to birth children at home by arguing that common medical practices may be doing a mother more harm than the ‘natural’ way.
Check out this clip of the iconic 90s host for some midday TV nostalgia (post continues after video):
But it seems her aversion to medical intervention may now be taking women’s rights back to the dark ages.
On the Kickstarter page, she says we are “coming into a moment where many women are seeking more holistic and empowering forms of birth control”, such as increased knowledge of fertility.
But when it comes to empowering forms of birth control, the idea of counting the days on a calendar to deprive ourselves of sex is not particularly inspired or appealing.
The former queen of the talk show circuit is trying to persuade us to give up our sexual freedom. Her new project is doing women a disservice. And we’re funding it.
Would you rely on the rhythm method as contraception?
For more on contraception, try these articles: