I have been having discussions about responsible sexuality since I became sixteen years old and my future mother-in-law (a registered nurse) sent me to a gynecologist to put me on birth control pills. She knew that I planned to marry her adult, employed son as soon as I graduated from high school, and she wanted to make sure that my graduation took place before I became pregnant. Sadly, she died before we produced her first grandchild, but I am eternally grateful for her wise action.
In my religious school and family upbringing, the only thing we were told repeatedly is that sex without marriage was a sin. There was no attention paid to the fact that marriage is not a magic spell that produces resources for childcare. In many marriages, the spouses are simply encouraged to remain children as they produce more children. This may have worked well in farm families who saw their children as extra field hands and household help, but it is past time that we rethink the purposes of human sexuality.
We have been taught that our own immortality is based on procreation, and with high mother and child mortality, we are afraid of not passing on our own genetics. We aren’t taught to stop and think about the welfare of our children, even when we know that our genetics may be passing on deadly and debilitating diseases. We also aren’t taught to pay attention to the types of parenting partnerships we are forming. Two people without the resources to take care of themselves don’t magically become productive in human society because they have produced offspring.
The animal instinct to reproduce is built into us, but we are taught that humans can channel and control our animal instincts. In our technological societies, there is less need for human manual labor, but we continue to produce children who will be disrespected as slaves or sent into battle to win territory and other resources for the most vicious animals in human forms. Better maternal and infant healthcare has made it possible to hope that all of one’s offspring will survive into adulthood, so there is less need to fear loss of our children.
There is less manual labor to do and more people than are necessary to do it. Whenever there is a surplus of anything, including humans, the value of each “unit” goes down. Why do we continue allowing despotic leaders to convince us that the only value for a virtuous woman is in accepting their seed and those of their minions and ministering to them and their progeny? Our brains, not only our bodies, are meant to be fruitful, share, and multiply our sacred energy, with or without union with a man. I know that our fertile bodies cry out for procreation, but there is a difference between motherhood in an animal sense and human nurture. What other animal takes over 18 years to train their offspring for their individual survival? This is a commitment that takes, not only a mother, but also responsible, committed parenting partners within a greater committed community.
How is it that we don’t see unwanted, unplanned children as the victims in our irresponsible procreative habits? There are ways to stop this desecration of full humanity with the advent of better and more effective, temporary forms of conception control. Several of these methods are now virtually undetectable, in that they are injected. Some of them prevent pregnancy for several years at a time. Some are even effective after unplanned sex and simply prevent the fertilization of the egg to occur.
Rape is simply another way to dis-empower a female. The rape does not have to destroy a woman, but the results will always be permanent if the girl or woman is impregnated. In areas where rape is endemic, implants could be used to protect the girls and women until they are ready to support themselves and make their own informed choices. At the very least, morning after pills should be freely distributed to the girls and women in the areas.
I am not advocating that we women stop having sex in our responsible, committed relationships. I believe that responsible, compassionate sexuality is an avenue to peace between people and an avenue for couples to increase their sacred energy to a point that they simply must share this energy with others.
I am imploring all women, for the sake of responsible compassion for all innocent children, all over the earth, to empower ourselves with ways to support ourselves and realize our full human potential, other than as wombs and nursemaids, before we bring babies into the world to become slaves and soldiers for those who despise them. Toni Morrison wrote a powerful book, Beloved, about the dilemma a slave mother faced upon learning she was pregnant and the terrible decision she made to “protect” her child. I weep simply thinking about her solution, but I understand, as a mother, why she chose to take her own child’s life rather than be forced to bear witness to her child being treated as less than a fully human being. We now have better solutions in the form of conception control.