[trigger warning: rape. please visit this delightful otter instead.]
(Also, much thanks to [redacted] who actually answers me when I sent this post, half written, and asked "where am I going with this?")
Women as gatekeepers of sex is so deeply ingrained in our society that it took me 35 years to figure out what's wrong with natural family planning- although something about it always struck me as wrong*. I just couldn't figure out what.
Oh, right, you might need some background, because you're not actually in my brain. (We're all better off that way, trust me.) According to the Guttmacher Institute, which is either an institute seeking to advance sexual and reproductive health worldwide or the world leader in the production of aborted baby lasagna, 98% of Catholic women, including women who go to church at least once a month, use some form of birth control, including sterilization, IUDs and birth control pills.
This is controversial in that the Pope says that birth control is bad and there is no excuse for it. Are you currently living in poverty, unable to feed yourself, let alone someone else? Have more babies! Do you live in an area where 1 in 2 people are infected with HIV? Have unprotected sex! Do you currently have Stage IV cancer? Moar baybeez!
Really, though, is anyone surprised that almost all Catholic women capable of ignoring this advice currently are? Apparently, some people are, but those people have some startling views on consent and gatekeeping.
I think it takes a lot of courage and faith in God to use NFP during a marriage. I say this with deep trepidation, but the biggest draw back I’ve encountered is an unwillingless on behalf of my husband to abstain. I think a lot of men who grew up in the Post Pill era have never been told that they can’t have sex, ever. It’s really hard to get someone to change in a marriage. And the times that I’ve had to give in to him, and I went to confession, I’ve never had a priest give me a hard time about it.
There are so many things wrong with that paragraph, and none of them are the birth control pill. "an unwillingless on behalf of my husband to abstain." What she means to say is that she says no to sex and he won't take that no as an answer. That's not an unwillingness to abstain, that's rape**. And it's not the fault of slutty pill-popping feminists. He's heard "no" before. Every man has heard "no" before and will hear it again. His problem is that he is a rapist.
This makes me see red: And the times that I’ve had to give in to him, and I went to confession . . .
Her husband ignored her when she said "no" and she went to confession? And the priest said anything other than "you need to leave him, now"? I'm not surprised by that, and it makes me sad that I'm not surprised by that. I hope nobody wonders about my deep-rooted cynicism.
Serious consent issues aside, this is a major drawback of natural family planning. One of many. Abusive men frequently sabotage birth control in order to gain more control over their victims. Pregnant women are less likely to leave- and more likely to be killed. Homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women in America. That's right. Murder. And that is true across all races and all socioeconomic classes. Abusive men sabotage birth control, impregnate their partners, abuse escalates during pregnancy and leads to murder a disturbing percentage of the time.
Natural family planning requires the consent of both parties to work. If one partner decides that this no thing isn't working for them, there is no birth control. In the above example, at least the husband is agreeing to use some other form of birth control (my guess would be condoms), but now this woman is carrying around guilt that she prevented a pregnancy in what is clearly a rather unhealthy relationship.
And why is she carrying this guilt around? Because women are the gatekeepers of sex. Men want sex, all the time, women do not. Women only have sex to get love or money or commitment. Men cannot control their sexual urges, women don't really have sexual urges so it's up to women to allow, but not enjoy, sex or not. This woman is upset because of the abuse, but she's also upset because she feels that she has failed at the one job women aren't supposed to fail at: gatekeeping the sex.
NFP really depends on women successfully gatekeeping, as women are the ones who suffer the most from pregnancy, physically, emotionally, financially, socially, etc. Ultimately, women must succeed at gatekeeping for NFP to work, and as shown above, gatekeeping ain't always easy.
*Other than the 25% failure rate, that is.
**I think that someone might point out that her husband isn't raping her, he's pestering her until she relents, so, in the immortal words of [redacted]: What [Faith is] trying to say in the double-star note is that all "she gave in" apologists can just not bother commenting, because badgering one's life partner until he/she gives in...is NOT getting consent. It's the gatekeeper now being responsible for KEEPING THE PEACE, TOO, SO STFU.