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Sweetening the Pill

Holly Grigg Spall

Carolyn Moynihan - MercatorNet - published on 10/16/13

Then, having done their damage to women’s health – Grigg-Spall lays the blame for that fact that some 30 percent of women in the US have some type of vaginosis, or vaginal infection, at the door of the pill and its assault on body chemistry – these sectors cash in on the remedies. One could add as another beneficiary of this chemical roulette the fertility industry, which has thrived on the infertility caused by delayed childbearing and the diseases contracted during a decade or two of sexual relationships supposedly “protected” by the pill.

Then there’s the whole wide area of the commodification of female sexuality, whereby the inwardly de-sexed, hormonally neutered woman is “sold back” her femaleness piece by piece in the form of must-have products to make her outwardly “sexy” – an idea Grigg-Spall picks up from another feminist author.

Body literacy and natural family planning

Sweetening the Pill falls far short of the critique of contraceptive culture some of us would like to hear from a smart and angry young woman. The author does not see that the copper IUD, the condom and the rest of contraceptive paraphernalia – not to mention abortion – are also an insult to the body, if not to its chemistry then at least to its integrity in the sexual act. Breaking away from the medical establishment’s grip is hardly a liberation if you fall straight into the arms of condom and cap manufacturers.

However, Holly Grigg-Spall’s great discovery – the ability to track her menstrual cycle through the fertility awareness method (FAM, or NFP to those who know it as natural family planning) – may yet lead her to new philosophical insights as well. She has already picked up on the way this method can improve the relationship between spouses or partners. For the moment she is anxious to dissociate herself from the philosophy of “the religious Right” and seems to think it is a shame that Catholics perfected the method before feminists tumbled to it.

But, if her book did nothing else than encourage other young women to pursue body literacy and fertility awareness, it would have performed a signal service.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet. Sweetening the Pill can be purchased here.

Originally published by MercatorNet on 15 October 2013.

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