May 26 2006

Rhythm Method: Now Just As Painful To Jesus As The Pill

Shrimp enchiladas
Shrimp enchiladas at El Chile in East Austin have nothing to do with, and have the advantage of tasting a lot better than, contraception.

How about this hilarious headline: “‘Rhythm Method’ May Kill Off More Embryos Than Other Methods of Contraception”? The corresponding post in Scienceblog quotes a dude identified only as Professor Bovens, who claims that the rhythm method, lovingly embraced by the Catholic church as the only Jesus-approved form of birth control, probably snuffs out way more embryos than the Pill.

Quoth the Professor, “[The rhythm method] may owe much of its success to the fact that embryos conceived on the fringes of the fertile period are less viable than those conceived towards the middle.”

In other words, the rhythm method produces those darling, beloved embryos, all righty, and then, anti-American biological forces being what they are, kills’em as dead as a Pole eating ice cream during a papal visit. Condom use, on the other hand, kills a mere fraction of the millions of clumps of genetic material dispatched every year by these other, more “callous” forms of birth control. If this is true, well, nyah-nyah, Mr. Stupid Pope!

Thus, the mysterious Professor intimates that pro-lifers and other uterus police forces should be just as “nervous” about the rhythm method as they are about all the other ways sane people have devised in order that women may be freed from the shackles of compulsory pregnancy.

[Gracias, Trisha and Aimee]


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  1. maarmie.blogspot.com

    If we ignore them, will they go away?

  2. saraarts.com

    Please, Twisty, please: “anti-choicers” not “pro-lifers.” Never “pro-lifers.” Please.

    Whenever you use the term “pro-life” to describe someone who is actually merely anti-choice, but not at all pro-life, and certainly not pro-women’s or children’s lives, people like the Pope and the Cupcakes (thanks, Ron) chortle with glee.

    Meanwhile, please know that you are giving me intense enchilada envy. This is particularly cruel, because I have to go to work at the grocery store now where the only enchiladas that aren’t frozen are still pre-cooked well in advance of purchase. Still, it’s a lovely photo which reminds me of what’s possible.

  3. If true, this really underscores the fact that anti-abortion folks don’t really even genuinely believe their own propaganda, i.e. that fetuses are fully-realized people from the point of conception. Truly, why don’t they call for research into how to reduce the incidence of miscarriage if they truly believe that abortions, spontaneous and otherwise, represent a loss of human life? Oh, wait, some do occasionally float the idea of tormenting women who’ve had miscarriages with interrogations about what happened to end the pregnancy. Apparently, if women are threatened, that will reduce the incidence of miscarriage!

  4. Twisty

    Sorry, Sara, but here the epithet “pro-lifer” is entirely appropriate to the context of my sarcastic remarks.

  5. climactericclambake.blogspot.com

    I’m pro-enchilada. Mmmm.

  6. I would only use the term “pro-lifer” as a sarcastic one. Otherwise, I am with Sara. I make sure I never use the term “pro-life” in my classes. I always use the term “anti-abortion” when referring to those who oppose choice, but now with the current battle extending to contraception as well, I need to take Sara’s term regarding choice as the one to use. At this juncture it is looking more and more like a battle to own absolutely the female reproductive organs.

    Though this scientist is likely making a point of the silliness of the anti-choice crowd, I fear what he may have done is give them more fuel for their anti-contraception fire.

    I am compiling much information on this right now to use in class this fall.

  7. lizkos.net

    As long as we are on the topic of keeping women from having as much control over their lives as possible, how about the new legislation my unfortunate state of Ohio is trying to pass: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=126_HB_228. They are going to try to outlaw abortion without any exceptions,even for survivors of rape or incest, to preserve a woman’s health, or to save a woman’s life. I guess North Dakota emboldened them.

  8. bitchphd.blogspot.com

    The problem is, I’m sure we’re not that far away from, in fact, anti-rhythm-method campaigns. Someone’ll try to pass a law requiring married women to put out on demand, and forbidding the transmission of information about women’s menstrual cycles and all other information about their icky, sacred, naughty parts. Since after all, knowing something ruins the mystery (for men) and enables too much control (for women), both of which are obviously against god’s plan.

  9. politblogo.typepad.com

    I am captivated by those enchiladas. Want. Enchiladas. Shrimp. Enchiladas. Want.

    But I doubt one can find any such shrimp enchiladas on the Plateau of Gorgoroth.

  10. It’s not about the embryos! You don’t see them barricading fertility clinics, where they knowingly and purposely create way way more embryos than could possibly become human beings.

    Also, no one talks about banning stem cell research, they only halfheartedly talk about not funding it, and that’s only to try and cover the screaming hypocrisy.

    It’s about sex. It’s about manipulating women. And it’s very effective.

  11. Here’s the link to the cite from the Journal of Medical Ethics
    And here’s the abstract
    Some proponents of the pro-life movement argue against morning after pills, IUDs, and contraceptive pills on grounds of a concern for causing embryonic death. What has gone unnoticed, however, is that the pro-life line of argumentation can be extended to the rhythm method of contraception as well. Given certain plausible empirical assumptions, the rhythm method may well be responsible for a much higher number of embryonic deaths than some other contraceptive techniques.

    The full text costs $12.00

  12. You will breed, goddamn it, and you will like it, bitches! Breed, breed, breed!! Make the patriarchy grow in number! Provide us with more cannon fodder, you filthy sluts! Breed! And suffer a jail sentence or even death–yes, death!–should you somehow lose the fetus before it’s viable. Your lives, your bodies, your health–they mean NOTHING to us. It is your yolk sacs we crave. How we hate you!

    Ack. It’s sickness, total sickness. What women need to do is stop having sex–PERIOD. End of story–period. And if that means not getting married (oh, heavens!) so that you don’t have to be forced into mandatory sex, which is coming, then so be it. End of story! Goodbye guys! I’d rather slit my throat than be forced to breed! (And yes, I DO already have a child–by choice, not force.)

  13. cypress.typepad.com

    How about if women stop having heterosexual sex?

    Those enchiladas are so beautiful! I am filled with a flash of envy for Twisty, you have the enchiladas, I do not.

  14. lizkos.net

    Mel, you’ve totally got it right. That’s what they want us to do: breed and shut the hell up about it. Of course, if we breed and can’t afford our kids or have post partum depression or whatever, that is our fault, too. This is all about woman hating, woman blaming, and a desire to perpetuate the patriarchy by making us shut up and breed. For 34 years I have managed to avoid doing that and I plan to continue my anti-breeding campaign, even if I am the last straight married woman on the planet who foregoes children of her own free will. No one can believe I don’t actually *want* children. Well, believe it. We aren’t doing anything to contribute to the continuation of this system. I am so sick of defending myself to random people (the tax guy, a colleague at work , whatever). No, really, I DON’T WANT CHILDREN and no, I don’t think yours are cute and even if they were, that’s not a good reason to have them (as Twisty has pointed out before).

    Oh, and yeah, they don’t make enchildas like that in Ohio. Damn.

  15. Liz….I thought I was the only woman left in Ohio who refused to breed. I didn’t like children even when I was one.

    When asked about husband, children, etc….I have found the easiest way to put all of these questions to rest and make the questioner feel like a real ass, is to respond that I have been a widow for over 25 years. It’s rather fun to watch these folks sputter and apologize and run for cover. Being a widow grants you respect…I don’t know why….but I’ve seen it, felt it, and giggle at it.

    Know what you mean about the cuisine in Ohio….no decent enchiladas, but I did have some decent homemade chicken noodles last weekend. It’s a meat and potato state….possibly this explains the rather nasty conservatism…they’re all constipated.

  16. faultline.org/place/toad

    even if I am the last straight married woman on the planet who foregoes children of her own free will.

    Too late. OK, I’m not all that straight but Joe is a guy and we’re legal, so. And as I’m all tubally ligatified and menopausal besides, I figure I’m safe. Maybe I should get an ablation to be sure I don’t get drafted?

    Actually, there are enough of us around that somebody wrote up a Breeder Bingo of things that people who don’t want kids have heard over and over and over ad nauseam. And the consensus ios that women hear most of those way more often and more persistently and in angrier tones of voice than men do. I think people in Ohio get it worse than people in Berkeley too.

    Is there a correlation between nonspicy diets and general anti-anti-breeding?

  17. I love babies. I love enchiladas. I would not enjoy baby enchiladas.

    I’m past the baby-making stage. I never had babies, and thus cannot automatically be shuffled off to grandmotherly baby-sitting detail. So what am I for? What, in their world, do I exist for now? Not a damn thing. I think I am going to write a story about a bizarre futuristic society in which women who hit menopause without issue (that means offspring, ya know) are automatically directed to one of several mandatory vocations, like Landmine Search & Disposal, or Nuclear Waste Re-Packaging, unless they choose to opt out by proceeding directly to the Recycling Center.

    Leave the patriarchy. Take the enchilada.

  18. Hey, Larkspur, haven’t they sent you your invitation to visit a soylent green processing plant? Very educational, how they make that stuff.

  19. hattie.typepad.com/hatties_web

    Let the embryos decide!

  20. larkspur, that sort of happened in everyone’s favourite feminist dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale, except of course the focus was on the Handmaids, not the Unwomen. Any woman who was infertile, unfit to be a wife, and unfit to be a Martha or Aunt was sent to the “Colonies” to clean up toxic waste with no protective gear and die horrid, nasty deaths. However, Handmaids who had managed to bear a healthy child were promised to never be declared “Unwoman” and sent to the Colonies.

  21. lizkos.net

    Ron and Slade, you are making my morning. I’ve been despairing because my holdout friends keep giving in and getting knocked up, so on some days it’s hard to remember that there are others out there keeping the faith. Even in Ohio.

    And, yes, I do get all the idiot questions way more than my husband. Although he had to defend himself at length through an entire golf game recently; his playing partners decided he was selfish not to procreate and told him so for 18 rounds. Really? I thought we were being *unselfish* not to add unnecessary people to this already overpopulated and f*** up world. I thought we were being unselfish not to need to see kids in our own image or bring people into the world just to hope they’ll take care of us when we get old.

    I don’t know if that is better or worse than the grilling he got for months at work when the good old boys found out I didn’t take his last name when we got married. Every day they came to work with a different rationale for it. My favorite was: “Since she is getting a PhD, did she keep her name to honor her father?” If that wasn’t so unbelievable I would have been rolling around laughing.

    Anyway, I need that Breeder Bingo. And a drink.

  22. barlyru.blogspot.com

    “Let the embryos decide!”. That’s a good one, Hattie!

    Sometimes I go to El Chile just to buy some of their ecstacy-inducing salsa to take home with me.
    Yes, the waitstaff hates me for it but I can take a little derision. And have you had the Enchiladas de Mole Rojo? That? Is fucking unbelievable in it’s power to please. El Chile will be the ruin of me.

  23. have babies

    Unless you’re black.

  24. Liz,

    Don’t you know that misery loves company?

  25. lizkos.net

    Ron got me searching for it, so here it is, Breeder Bingo: http://www.cfpersonals.com/bingo/index.php

  26. Liz,

    I’m planning to keep my name after marriage. Holy crap! I guess it never occurred to me that anyone would be so steeped in the patriarchy (yes, I know, I still can’t believe how bad it can be) as to find it impossible that your decisions regarding your surname must always be a reflection of some male. No one’s said anything quite so asinine to me yet. I’ve been asked, but I just tell them I’m old and cranky, and have far too many documents in my current name (professional license, master’s degree listing on GeoRef, etc.), and am far too lazy and cheap to go around getting a ton of documents changed. Plus, I’m not that fond of my fiance’s last name. No one seems to question my decision after that. At least, not to my face.

  27. saraarts.com

    “the epithet ‘pro-lifer’ is entirely appropriate to the context of my sarcastic remarks”

    I understand this, Twisty, and I appreciate your verbal artistry. And yes, this “epithet” is apt since these people do in fact espouse and proselytize what amounts to a concept of life-sentencing for women and the children they’d like to force us all to have and raise even if it means increased suffering for everybody. Unfortunately, though, the greater anti-choice movement does not dine at even your average intellectual buffet. Irony and sarcasm of this sort tend to be too subtle for them. Instead what happens is that when they hear themselves described by us as “pro-life,” it reaffirms to them their own mythology about themselves.

    Although with a few exceptions wit is not in the average godbag’s lunchbox, chicanery and a certain amount of political savvy are nowadays. I do not often see anti-choicers calling us the “pro-choice” movement, preferring instead to call us “pro-abortion” and to reduce doctors who perform a whole range of women’s health services, including abortion where appropriate, to simply “abortionists.” Now, while some among us pro-choicers may be for abortions — yippee! let’s all go out and get one! — as you are well aware, most of us are really for the concept that women have sovereignty over their own bodies and are in fact competent to decide whether to use birth control, give birth, give birth to a baby every year, have our tubes tied, dance to the rhythm method, or even terminate a pregnancy whenever we deem it appropriate to do so, that these are all choices we are empowered to make, that the right to make these choices is a fundamental civil right, and that we do not have to justify these choices to anyone, ever. (Some religious pro-choicers — and they do exist — even say our right to make this choice comes from God, who is the one who gave us women the wombs in the first place, but I digress.)

    Since the anti-choicers will not grant us the courtesy of labeling us accurately, I strongly feel the least we can do is always make a point of labeling them accurately. To me this means that sometimes we must sacrifice tasty little morsels of sarcasm — so tart and bitter, and fine with a crisp, sweet citronette — for the greater rhetorical good.

    But that’s just my perspective, of course. Since cancer did once force me to choose my life over that of an unexpected fetus, even though several people who actually loved me told me I shouldn’t ’cause it hurt their religious sensibilities, it’s something I tend to take fairly seriously.

    Thanks for at least thinking about it. Blame on.

  28. It is not the fetus that is being held sacred. It is sperm that is being held sacred. Rejecting sperm or its work is synonymous with rejecting god and his work.

    So if women have control over their own bodies, they have more power than the sperm god. Which is sheer blasphemy in boy world because power is very important in boy world. In fact, it is power that the boys eroticize, sexualize and hold sacred, not women. Women are nothing more than vehicles with which to achieve that.

    Women’s bodies are, to put it mildly, very hostile to sperm. An average of 400,000,000 sperm are released with each male ejaculation. Over the course of a lifetime, the amount of sperm women’s bodies fight off and kill — even without any aid or help — becomes mind boggling. Especially when one considers how very few sperm, if any at all, reach the holy grail. Kinda makes the male warrior hero look like a joke. I mean, could you imagine a male warrior single-handedly taking on 400,000,000 enemy troops? On the average, 3 times a week?! Little wonder this might upset the boys. And why they might consider it a feat and downright sacred and holy when one of their little sperm soldiers actually does reach the holy grail. He’s all ready to celebrate and do an endzone dance and brag to his friends that it only took 39,116.666,667 sperm troops, reinforced every year, to finally conquer one woman. When all of a sudden a woman says, “Just hold on there, bucko, it ain’t over ’til the fat pregnant lady sings, ” and snatches victory right out of his hands and turns it into defeat. By simply choosing to exericse one of reproduction choices. And by doing so, proves once again that it is not males who are dominant and powerful. And gives him a negative god complex. (Not to say that there’s any positive ones).

  29. great comment, sara. how horrifying, though, to face cancer and also find that some felt your life was less worthy. my mind is busy sputtering at the audacity and ethical vacuousness required to say things like that to you.

  30. saraarts.com

    The thing is, kathy a, those people sincerely believed that there was no choice, that a choice had already been made by God and that it was a mortal sin for me to act against it, not to mention that the only choice I had ever had in the matter was whether or not to have sex in the first place. You know, it’s not like I was a virgin getting raped up the ass as bad as it can be (to paraphrase Mr. Napoli’s striking eloquence). My dying of cancer and giving birth to an illegitimate child whose father had split, which child stood a good chance to suffer birth defects as a result of existing unnoticed inside me while I was having surgery under general anaesthesia, would for them merely have been the logical consequence of the choice I had made.

    This is why I never, even in jest, use the term “pro-life” to describe people who are anti-choice. In spite of the fact that many profess to believe in a life everlasting which will ultimately render my death on this earth irrelevant when taken in an eternal context, I know what they really are, and it isn’t “pro-life.”

  31. Janet

    I’m not an expert on birth control, but I have read that researchers are not entirely sure how the pill prevents conception. It may be that the pill prevents embryos from implanting. Therefore, the pill would be “worse” than rhythm because it allows more occasions for dead embryos. If preventing embryo death is your only criteria, condoms and diaphrams would be the preferred method.

  32. I’m pretty sure that researchers are certain that the pill usually works by supressing ovulation. After all, the pill is a mix of hormones that fool the body into thinking that it’s pregnant. Pregnancy supresses ovulation, for good reason, so the presence of a mix of hormones that are like the mix present in a pregnant woman’s body would also supress ovulation. It may have a secondary effect of making the uterus more hostile to implantation, but that would be rare. There usually wouldn’t be an egg present to be fertilized at all. I mean, I don’t think the pharmaceutical researchers just accidentally stumbled across the pill one morning. I suspect they had a targeted approach to the development of the birth-control pill. PZ Myers had a very good discussion of the morning-after pill (which also works by suppressing ovulation) at his blog Pharyngula. See the post here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/05/that_great_and_arbitrary_abort.php#commentsArea

    Unfortunately, I don’t yet know how to post links.

  33. ron

    I am kind of pro-concrete bra’s for fembo nazis.

  1. Ideas For Women News Blog

    Holiday blog round up!…

    I’ve come across some interesting blog posts today and, being in a nerdy mood today, I thought I’d share them with you.
    Biology News Net has a post about how Many cleaners, air fresheners may pose health risks when used indoors.
    Tara C….

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