Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Pill Turns Fifty

One of CNNs lead articles this morning is the anniversary of the Pill turning Fifty.

My, that makes me feel old. I do remember my mother telling me that you are not a woman until you have had a pregnancy scare.What advice! Living month to month to see if God gave you more children. Hmmm.

I came of age in 1970.

The pill had been talked about and was relatively new, as a birth control method. It was difficult to obtain for a single girl. Planned Parenthood was new then too. Family planning clinics were on the rise. Like so many other milestones in human development, this one too was given to us by the generations that preceded. My mother's generation stayed at home because pregancy was always around the corner. A woman's income was not considered on a mortgage applicaton because her employer could dismiss her due to pregnancy. That's why men ruled the roost economically. They had the only "steady" means of bringing home an income.

Birth control pills changed that, empowering women with the idea that they could control their bodies, and plan the course of their lives. IUDs  and diaphragms were available at that time as well. They were not effective, but they were available. I remember going to the Library of Medicine with a college friend to research birth control options well before we needed them, just in case. We were liberated women!

Condoms worked, but you had to ask the clerk in the pharmacy for them. No woman in her right mind would do that. There was no Wal Mart or self checkout to maintain your privacy. Conversely men would sheepishly have to ask the pharmacy clerk for Kotex for their wives. Very embarassing. A sign of true and enduring love............

My mother started to invite neighbors to her living room for "conciousness raising" events. They would talk, argue, tell their stories, and I absorbed it all. That was the living room that changed the mantra, marry a doctor to be a doctor. I was too young to really understand what was going on, but as a modern young woman, I obeyed.

The pill changed EVERYTHING.

It changed economics. Women were in the workplace, classrooms of higher learning not to get an MRS degree, but a PhD. They crept into boardrooms, doctors lounges, and military uniforms. I have cared for women who have been pipeline welders, crop dusters, police, soldiers, CEOs, surgeons, Avon ladies, professors, authors, business owners, and Moms. These are women who had choices previously denied by biology.

I consider the advent of the Birth Control Pill as significant for humanity as the invention of the wheel. It enabled people, women and men, to cast off shackles of biology and allow them to explore themselves as people first. As noted in the CNN article, much positive and negative has resulted. No longer is the family the same as it was, the divorce rate has exploded, men have women as equals in the home, and the social experimentation continues. It has only been fifty years. I wonder what the next fifty hold.

Until next time.................

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