While I agree with all of Sarah’s broader points in her critique of the recent New York magazine cover story, “Waking Up from the Pill,” I do think the article makes a valid point about how many young women are, in varying degrees, ignorant about their reproductive system.
As Sarah points out, there are many reasons women put off having children to their mid to late 30s — from their professional and personal ambitions to the fact that they lack the financial and domestic stability required to raise kids in this country today. And it is indeed foolish to claim, as writer Vanessa Grigoriadis does — and Double X’s Amanda Marcotte points out — that women are somehow too stupid to realize that delaying pregnancy decreases their fertility.
I don’t think women are too stupid to realize this, but I do think that these issues aren’t discussed or taught as much as they should be. I know that I didn’t know too much about my reproductive system until I took a women’s studies class in college, where the true wonders of the vulva and her interior components were revealed to me for the first time. As someone who has since taken a real interest in understanding what it means to be a woman today, I have since made it my business to know about my business. But what about all the women that didn’t sign up for women’s studies classes and haven’t spent the last few years pouring over the feminist blogosphere? Where and how would they learn?
I have gone to a few different gynecologists as I bounced around the country over the past decade (which was my fecund 20s), and not one of them sat me down and discussed the implications of delaying pregnancy as they prescribed me the Pill. Maybe this is a coincidence, and somehow I found myself in the hands of a series of inadequate doctors. But something tells me that that is not the case, and my experience wasn’t unique.
It’s is dangerous and wrong to assume that the Pill is the problem and women are ignorant. But it’s also worth considering how much information is really out there beyond the walls of the women’s studies department and the virtual community of feminist bloggers.
What Women Don't Learn About Their Bodies
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.