*Disclaimer: For those of you who find talking about women's reproductive health taboo or are repulsed by a woman's right to make informed decisions about her body, this post is not for you.*
Several years ago, I called my mom sobbing because my time of the month began selecting times that were not my time of the month and acting anyways. It was miserable and I was losing my mind. So I marched myself down to the health center and put myself on birth control to take control back of my body -- and my life.
It wasn't because I was sleeping around. In fact, I had never even had sex. It wasn't because I wanted to gain weight or lose weight or grow boobs. It was because I wanted a schedule. I wanted a plan.
For years, me and my birth control worked together to keep things managed. We had a great relationship. I'd take my pills every day like clockwork at 10:30 am. Maybe it was in class. Maybe it was in my dorm room. Maybe it was at a dining hall. It didn't matter. I thought nothing of it. Almost every female I knew was on birth control, and every male I was friends with understood why a girl would choose to be on birth control.
Then one day, long after I graduated from college, I was sitting in my cubicle. The clock struck 10:30, so I popped out my pills and took one, just as a coworker was peeking into my cube. They backtracked so quickly, you would have thought I showed them my boobs. I stood up to follow them out, and they kept apologizing, like they walked in on some intimately personal moment.
Why is it uncomfortable that someone in their childbearing years is taking birth control? I'm appalled to think that in 2015 the stereotype that a woman who needs birth control is a slut, but I'm pretty sure there's still some slut shaming happening.
Taking birth control doesn't mean a girl's a ho: It mean she's choosing to wait to have children. It means she's choosing to control her body in a way that greatly helps ease her time of the month. Hell, maybe it just means she likes popping pills every day. Who cares?
We have a right to take our reproductive health into our own hands, and we should do it unapologetically. Recently, the male coworkers around me poked light fun at me popping it everyday at work. Why is me taking birth control something that I should have to hide? Am I supposed to run to the bathroom so I don't offend someone's sensibilities? I don't see anyone with a headache hiding the ibuprofen they're taking. Or take the guy coughing: we're practically pouring the medicine into their mouths for them.
And it's not that easy to change my timing on birth control. I've taken it at 10:30 for years now, and unlike late evening or early morning, I am always conscious and able to take my pills at that time. Get over it.
But even more than get over it, get behind it. Instead of shaming someone who takes birth control, be happy for them. Even if they are a huge ho and are using the pill primarily to prevent pregnancy, shouldn't we applaud the fact that they can avoid littering the earth with unwanted babies simply by taking one free pill a day? Can't we all stand behind women making a choice to wait until they are financially and emotionally ready for a child? Regardless of your views on birth control, what a person is putting into their own body, and the reason behind it, is solely their responsibility and concern.
If we as a society can't even feel comfortable seeing a female take a birth control pill, how are we ever going to make progress in ending more dramatic women's reproductive inequalities like female genital mutilation, child marriage and the other atrocities women face worldwide?
Today is International Women's Day. There's a million ways that we've made progress for women, but we're nowhere near the finish line. If you do nothing to help women who are marginalized, at least make a pact with yourself to stop shaming women who are confident enough to make decisions that are right for them and their body. Stand up for a women's right to control her own reproductive health. We owe it to our mothers, sisters, coworkers, friends, lovers and neighbors to respect their choices.