Ann Althouse blogs about this — apparently the pill just got approved — and the discussion in her comments is very interesting.
My thought: It's perfectly sensible to be concerned about the pill's safety, even despite the approval. But some of the other concerns strike me as entirely misguided. Here's one comment (from commenter "galvanized"), which exemplifies this:
[M]enstruation, like childbirth, is just part of being a woman. If another woman would want to escape it, then sure, she should go for it. But, not being punny, it just wouldn't feel right to sidestep it.
Secondly, we're a pill culture. We now have yet another pill for another condition. I think we're way too dependent on medications. The further one goes from what is natural then the more chance for negative effects. Also, just doesn't feel right to pop a pill for this reason....
It seems that superfluous medicating is right up there with cosmetic surgery. I think that this pill is really a byproduct of our culture's quest to be aesthetically perfect, a spillover from magazine covers and television. So, yes, I do consider this a feminist issue, a suppression of sorts even if it is women doing it to themselves. I don't want my daughter to think that anything that occurs in association with being female is disgusting and should be eradicated. It's negating a not-so-pretty part of femininity. Maybe androgyny is what we're after?
The third is that there, as always, could be longterm effects that aren't known yet. Plus, it's more money for big pharm companies. That's all I need to know. Big business has made our culture pill-dependent, and we buy it up....
Again, concerns about long-term health effects are quite sensible. But I don't see any justification for the feeling that it's not "right to sidestep" something that's "part of being a woman." I suppose it could be some esthetic judgment that argument won't much drive; but setting aside esthetics, why on earth should we want to accept natural but painful or unpleasant things?
Disease is a part of being a human. Headaches are part of being a human. Excruciating pain in childbirth is part of being a woman. They are bad parts.
A good part of being a human is being able to prevent disease and to ease pain. Why embrace the harmful, painful, or uncomfortable parts of human nature, and reject those parts of human nature — our species' intelligence and resulting scientific acumen — that diminish harm, pain, and discomfort?
The cosmetic surgery analogy seems quite flawed, too. I have nothing against cosmetic surgery myself, so long as the health risks don't outweigh the benefits. At least, however, I can see the argument that instead of changing our appearance we should change our mentality, and stop caring as much about appearances.
But menstruation isn't about appearance. Women don't dislike it chiefly because it "occurs in association with being female," because it's "disgusting," or because it's "not-so-pretty." They dislike because of the cramps, because of the mood swings, because of the hassle. (I suppose that the desire not to get blood on one's clothes, and the concomitant need to use various products to prevent that, can be cast as a question about what's "disgusting" or "pretty," but both men and women generally and understandably don't like bloodstains of whatever sort. And in any case, as I understand it the physical discomfort associated with menstruation is a much greater concern for most women than just the universal desire not to get blood on things.)
And, of course, "it's more money for big pharm companies. That's all I need to know." Of course, what more would anyone need to know? If you want to decide whether some product is good, don't ask whether it eases your pain, protects your health, or whatever else. Ask whether some business you don't like will make money from your buying the product. Have cramps, and when you do, feel good about it: "I'm in pain, but at least Big Pharma is making less of a profit." Brilliant.
Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.
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