ME (to Ann Friedman, via email): I am upset that the feminist conversation on birth control consistently neglects to consider the insidious politics and influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the perception of synthetic hormones, specifically the long term and far reaching consequences on fertility, the municipal water supply, and the profiteering that comes with marketing unnecessary medication to women who are taught to believe that taking an industrially manufactured chemical substance is the de facto way to express her sexuality safely and responsibly, or to take control of her reproductive system and life. I think there are many parallels to many other issues - sustainable vs industrial agriculture being the most obvious one.
I want to confront this issue in an essay but I’ve never done journalism before. What do you think?
ANN FRIEDMAN: I agree with this so wholeheartedly. I wrote about it ages ago, and once even entertained the idea of doing a whole book about why the science behind birth control has stagnated so badly and is stuck in just “hormones hormones hormones” mode.
It is something that every heterosexual woman I know complains about, but remains super under-the-radar. Some ladies interviewed me for a documentary they are making on the subject, but I’m not sure how far along in the process they are.
ME (via text message): Can I post our email conversation to my Tumblr? I am so pissed, I want to start a conversation about this RIGHT NOW. There is some raging “feminist” birth control bullshit all up in my Twitter feed and I can’t take it.
ANN: Sure. One thing to add: I also dislike “natural” as a defense of non-hormonal methods. Here’s something I wrote about that language many years ago:
I am really torn. I want accountability for the pharmaceutical industry. I want more research and better options. But I also don’t want to shame or indict those women for whom hormonal birth control is working, those who are happy. Mostly I just want MORE research, more education, more access, more options. Not more delivery methods for a hormonal option that most women are unhappy with.
I interviewed a lot of contraception researchers as prelim work on this book I didn’t end up doing. It was fascinating how timid they were. Not innovative or trying to be. Aand I’ll stop now! Going to sleep…
ME: Ok thx
ANN: Also, use any of this! :)
ME: I’m gonna post everything you said, will you reblog it in the morning so we can see what people think? I think the best thing to do is talk about it openly and candidly.
ANN: Of course.■
Ann Friedman is a journalist from Iowa who lives in LA.
And me, I’m a filmmaker from Wisconsin who lives in Oakland.
General Février, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2010
Photo by Richard Mosse
Part of his Infra series shot on Kodak Aerochrome
More at richardmosse.com
James Halliday (alias Substack), Hacker
Brought: Settlers of Catan
Oakland, California 2013