Some chick who calls herself the Design Mom wrote a Twitter thread the other day that has some good points but also a load of false information about human biology, as well as personal responsibility. Since it went viral, it merits a response. Women deserve better information and guidance about something so important.
I will group and quote from Gabrielle Blair’s tweetstorm as if it were an essay, for visual simplicity, but you can see the whole thread here and in a blog post she wrote here. Let’s begin at the top.
“I’ve been listening to men grandstand about women’s reproductive rights, and I’m convinced men actually have zero interest in stopping abortion,” she wrote. So far, so good. Abortion absolutely absolves men of their duty to care for women they helped turn into mothers, and of their duty to care for any children they create together.
Yet I would certainly not say that “men” en masse have zero interest in stopping abortion as, for example, my husband’s excitement about our first child, an unplanned pregnancy, was key to helping me want our baby, and my father is one of the most strongly pro-life people I know. Men like them prove they care about women by putting themselves on the line to provide for their wives, economically and emotionally, during pregnancy and early motherhood’s special time of vulnerability, and beyond.
But it is true that abortion enables the cowardly, feckless men who exploit women for sex, and this is one of the myriad reasons abortion is horrible.
“If you want to stop abortion, you need to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And men are 100% responsible for unwanted pregnancies. No for real, they are,” Blair continued. “ALL unwanted pregnancies are caused by the irresponsible ejaculations of men. Period.”
Okay, we’re already in crazy territory. Why? Because — and I know this is hard to understand, but it’s a basic fact of life that all adults need to come to grips with — sex makes babies. Sex requires the two halves of humankind: male and female. There is no method, including vasectomy, that can make sex completely, 100 percent baby-proof. The only way to completely ensure you will not have a baby is to not have sex. Life finds a way, indeed.
I know we’re leaving the era of science behind for another era of magical thinking, but babies simply do not spontaneously generate. So if you don’t want to be pregnant, the only way to be sure you won’t get pregnant is to not do the thing that makes pregnancies. For those of you who went to public school, that’s sex. Which, despite what they tell you in public school, requires two opposite-sex people. Okay, proceed.
“Let’s start with this: women can only get pregnant about 2 days each month. And that’s for a limited number of years. That makes 24 days a year a women might get pregnant. But men can _cause_ pregnancy 365 days a year. In fact, if you’re a man who ejaculates multiple times a day, you could cause multiple pregnancies daily.”
More false information. Yes, a woman releases an egg that is available to make a pregnancy within her body for about two days each month. But sperm can live inside her body for up to five days, meaning sex up to five days before she ovulates and up to five days afterward is highly fertile. So childbearing-age women are actually highly fertile for about 12 days per month, or nearly half of their cycle. Further complicating things, the two-day ovulation period is slightly variable, meaning that a woman can’t be 100 percent sure which 12 days of her cycle are her highly fertile stretch.
If you are going to act like you know about human reproduction, get your freaking facts right. There’s enough false information floating out there.
“But what about birth control?” Blair asks, still on her ill-informed, man-blaming tirade. “If a woman doesn’t want to risk an unwanted pregnancy, why wouldn’t she just use birth control? Modern birth control is possibly the greatest invention of the last century, and I am very grateful for it. It’s also brutal. The side effects for many women are ridiculously harmful.”
Thank you for saying what women hardly ever hear from mainstream media sources or even doctors: birth control often sucks. The side effects are real, and for many women they are indeed “brutal.” And it is entirely unfair for women to have to bear the brunt of self-sterilization. We fully agree on this. But Blair then turns this sane and needed observation in a ridiculous direction.
“In contrast, let’s look at birth control for men, meaning condoms. Condoms are readily available at all hours, inexpensive, convenient, and don’t require a prescription. They’re effective, and work on demand, instantly… So why in the world are there ever unwanted pregnancies?…Oh. I remember. Men _don’t_ love condoms. In fact, men frequently pressure women to have sex without a condom. And it’s not unheard of for men to remove the condom during sex, without the women’s permission or knowledge. (Pro-tip: That’s assault.)”
Pro tip: Condoms are also not a 100 percent method for preventing pregnancy, even with perfect-use pregnancy prevention at 98 percent. With typical use, 15 out of 100 people who only use condoms will get pregnant in any given year. So even if men did what Blair wants them to do it would not prevent all unplanned pregnancies. Therefore, even by her logic men are not to blame for all undesired pregnancies.
Not only this, she goes on to advocate another sexually illiterate method for preventing pregnancies: pulling out. She argues that a man separating from his partner before climaxing will prevent all those unwanted pregnancies that are entirely men’s fault. This is idiotic to the point of hilarity.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but for a man to get to the point of climax he has already emitted fertile fluid. If that fluid has gotten near the vagina — I’ll leave you to speculate on all the various possibilities for that conjunction — then sperm are already inside the woman pre-ejaculation. This is why pulling out is an extremely unreliable birth control method. It is also why, unless you want sex like the following video, all sex has the potential to create a baby.
So the assertion in following tweet is also wildly false and ridiculous. Again: Male arousal is fertile. Perhaps what she’s going for here is men pleasuring women while fully clothed (perhaps body fully coated in plastic for good measure?) and receiving nothing in return. Either way, this is an argument based in prejudice and ignorance.
What this means is a women can be the sluttliest slut in the entire world who loves having orgasms all day long and all night long and she will never find herself with an unwanted pregnancy unless a man shows up and ejaculates irresponsibly.
— Gabrielle Blair (@designmom) September 13, 2018
Blair’s anti-fact “blame men for everything” sex fantasy doesn’t stop there. She in fact amps it up.
“So… there are men willing to risk getting a woman pregnant — which means literally risking her life, her health, her social status, her relationships, and her career, so that they can experience a few minutes of _slightly_ more pleasure? Is that for real? Yes. Yes it is…Men regularly choose to put women at massive risk by having non-condom sex, in order to experience a few minutes of slightly more pleasure.”
If you combine Blair’s logic with the reality that all sex is potentially fertile, then any time women themselves choose to have sex they are “literally risking their lives, health, social status, relationships, and career, so they can experience a few minutes of pleasure.” Although it may be true, and is another reason sex is such an adventure, I’m not sure that’s the look she’s going for here.
But sex-negativity is where falsely assuming sex can be completely decoupled from babies leads. She hilariously functions on precisely that assumption while “generously” noting that she’s not as mad “as I should be about this” because “we’ve trained men from birth that their pleasure is of utmost importance in the world. (And to dis-associate sex and pregnancy.)”
What it really sounds like Blair, and all the people retweeting her, want is for people to be able to disentangle sex from pregnancy entirely at will, with the woman’s will receiving pre-eminence over the man’s, and men taking the “blame” for any natural, unpreventable results like, erm, creating a whole new human being. This view of sex not only attempts the impossibility of separating sex from babies, but it also assumes that a baby is a bad thing unless baby’s parents deigned to give their consent to its existence atop the implied consent of, you know, doing the thing that makes a baby.
How about we go for equality instead, rather than victimhood? In consensual adult sex both partners participate, and therefore both should be responsible for the results. It would be responsible and adult to think about that beforehand. If women don’t like the results they’re getting out of sex, then they should think long and hard about whether their sexual priors are getting them into situations they actually don’t prefer, rather than trying to blame men for their choices.
Blair’s view of sex leads to couples treating each other essentially as sex toys rather than as human beings to love with the deepest and most fullest amount of self-giving possible. Her attempt to compensate for men using women as sex toys is to have women use men as sex toys instead. I’ll leave it to you to ruminate on whether a self-giving or self-grabbing attitude leads to better sex. (Luckily I already know the answer! Woot woot!)