The XX Factor

The Pill Does Trick Us

I’d like to make a couple comments on Amanda’s criticism of my New York magazine article this week about infertility , which I really don’t think was a retread of previous “hand-wringing” articles or followed any sort of “formula”-it was as heartfelt and original a piece of work as I can write, on a topic which I care about a great deal.

In my world, the way that I grew up (the daughter of a feminist artist, a single woman through much of my 30s), I never heard the pill criticized. It was only when I got older that I began to feel that I would have liked to have at least considered different avenues before committing to the pill in my teens. There’s nothing cute about a woman in her late 30s or early 40s not knowing when she ovulates, or what cervical mucus is, etc. I am aware that there are other causes of infertility, as Amanda has mentioned, but there’s a lot of age-related infertility out there. It’s shocking for me to watch so many people I know go through this; for my 38-year-old friend from my childhood to go to an RE after three years of “trying” and find out that she’s in premature ovarian failure. She’s so despondent that she’s wrecked her relationship and almost lost her job. It just sucks.

I see where Amanda thinks my argument is bolstering a quack viewpoint and “naturalistic fallacy,” and I’m sorry it came off that way. I meant for it to be compassionate. I do think that feminism needs to take into account that a lot of 30- and 40-something women are losing two or three years (emotionally, financially) in a desperate struggle to conceive late in life. That’s not cool, and it’s part of what’s led to an insane, cloying mommy culture once they are successful, as far as I’m concerned. Women aren’t “dumb,” of course-it’s just that no one thinks infertility will happen to them, just like no one thinks they’ll contract some terrible illness. We see stats like “30 percent of women over blah blah age will experience miscarriages” and think we can’t possibly fall into that group, because falling into it is just too painful to even consider.

Photograph of contraceptive pills by Wikimedia Commons.