Things women should know
26 Thursday Jul 2012
The education of women is largely cultural – women are made, not born and the tropes that sustain “womanhood” rarely challenged. Being woman means wearing a bra, controlling fertility by hormonal means, using disposable sanitary protection and sitting down to pee. None of these are requirements of women, but they are heavily promoted and culturally normalised.
Reclaiming power over being a woman, means reclaiming power over body, for that is where our cultural narrative is written. More seriously, access to abortion is still not a legal right in all parts of the world, nor even in all parts of the UK. Although accessing the service risks prosecution, the ability to terminate a(n early) pregnancy is now available internationally.
Bras increase the likelihood of breast cancer
A woman who wears a bra 24h a day is 125 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t. Even those who wear a bra every day for less than 12h is 113 times more likely to develop breast cancer. The bra is to Western society what the hijab is to Muslim society – only far more dangerous. It is a modesty garment that is culturally promoted, but has no practical or health benefits, in fact quite the opposite.
There is reliable female barrier contraception
In addition to the more modern femidom, female barrier contraception includes the diaphragm. In the days before the pill, which has become the most popular form of female contraception, those working for women’s reproductive rights distributed diaphragms (or the older version of caps). Highly reliable and under female control they allow women to control their fertility, while also providing some limited protection against sexually transmitted infections.
Sanitary Protection need not be disposable
In addition to the more modern versions of rewashable “rags”, menstrual cups offer a more sustainable form of sanitary protection. Available since the 30s, they carry no risk of toxic shock syndrome, have much greater capacity than disposable alternatives, with added environmental and cost benefits.
You can pee standing up
Almost all women are capable of peeing standing up. It takes a bit of practice, and little girls don’t usually get the benefits of instruction that little boys get, but there is no reason for the majority of girls and women to sit down to pee. Yet women’s bathrooms do not have urinals.
There is a safe abortifacient available for home use
In Scotland, abortion is free and legal on the NHS up to 24 weeks: that is the safest and most effective option. For women living in countries where abortion is restricted (such as Ireland) and who have pregnancies under 9 weeks, an safe clinically recognised abortifacient is available through the Women on the Web service.