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take a pill? not bloody likely

June 30th, 2006     by Anna Leventhal     Comments

I’ve been reading a bit about the new birth control pill called Anya, which carries the rather dubious benefit of completely stopping the period of any woman who takes it. The Montreal Mirror just praised it as “Angel of the Week”, suggesting that women will be universally delighted to rid ourselves of the dreaded Aunt Flow. Periods have long been a huge cash cow for companies who need to convince us of the importance of keeping our monthlies discreet and under wraps, mostly by telling us they’re nasty, shameful occurances best kept secret. “Menstrual suppressants” seem to be the latest thing being touted to women as empowering and liberating, and quite frankly the whole deal sketches me out.

Now, I’m not going to get all earth-goddess on you here; I don’t necessarily see my period as a beautiful gift from Mother Nature that should be protected at all cost. But I refuse to buy into yet another product-pitch that seems to want to convince me that the way my body has functioned since age twelve is messy, inconvenient, and gross.

Marketers love to use the feminist language of choice to convince us that the latest technological or pharmaceutical development is in our best interest, if not downright empowering: we can now choose whether or not we bleed, just like we can choose to pump up our breasts or snip our labia. But is it really women who are going to benefit from this? Or is it just another attempted cash-grab off of women’s insecurities?

Macleans published this article last year, which offers a rather more nuanced take on the drug. It seems that, since no one is entirely sure why menstruation exists, evolutionarily speaking at least, the health benefits (or downsides) to stopping it are anyone’s guess. And it looks like the next generation of pubescent women will be the guinea pigs.

As one health practitioner in the Macleans article points out, ejaculation is messy, inconvenient, and in most instances unnecessary. I wonder how many research dollars have been allocated to develop a pill that will suppress it.

N.B. I sent a letter along these lines to the Mirror; we’ll see if it makes the light of day.

Tags: body politics

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