R H
  • R H
  • Chicago, IL
  • United States

This conversation is closed.

The technology of birth control: Has it been boon or bane socially?

The tech of birth control (BC) over the last 50 years has revolutionized our view of sex. Within this framework women have achieved control over the impact of sex on their bodies. It's arguable that this has greatly improved the lives of women, so therefore has contributed to the betterment of society. Has it? Some would say yes. Women are 'freer' now to pursue other endeavors besides child nurturing. They can 'choose' and have control over their own destinies, and can now decide the fate and auspicious timing of their families. Others cite that sex has become like silent gunpowder, in that date-rape has become epidemic - along with STD's. Women (and men) are now more than ever considered in media (and some feel in most professions too) primarily for their alluring sexuality and attractiveness (with younger and younger 'actors' referring to a thinly veiled sexual allure). Pornography is rampant. Abortion is in the millions annually. The perceived value of human life has declined precipitously parallel to the development of BC - with its myriad effects and ramifications - and there is no more commercially effective, nor now more widely utilized, marketing theme than the enticement of sexual promise. So on the whole, has our shifted focus on sex as a result of the tech of BC been a boost or a bust socially?

  • May 20 2014: I'd say it has generated it's share of business and that's all corporations care about. For people it is just another tool to solve another problem.
    • thumb

      R H

      • 0
      May 20 2014: Thanks for responding Keith. I enjoy your comments and really like your logo... The business side is understandable - if there's money to made, business is interested. Also (just to note), the business wouldn't exist if there weren't a market - if someone didn't want was was being sold. Therein lies the business justification - providing what people want. But what about 'the problem'. The problem is that offspring are the result of copulation. People reeeeally want to copulate, but (presumably) don't want the responsibility of offspring so they now can invest in BC. This causes a tremendous backlash of effects and costs, which are spread throughout the whole population, therefore diluting the true complete effects of BC for the user. This then becomes the 'that's not my problem' syndrome. So in essence have we not transferred our 'problem' to the society at large, hidden by anonymity from any responsibility? From a business perspective, that's a great 'deal'.
      • May 20 2014: I know this is sort of off subject but not really. I think that birth control is just another symptom of the "real" problem which is a dysfunctional human species. I believe the real problem started almost from the beginning of our existence when we started adding meat to our diet.
        Example: What would happen if you started mixing more and more water with your gasoline for your car? It would start by running rough and eventually would just die, am I right? That is because the engine was made to run on gasoline and almost anything else you pour in the tank will adversely affect it's performance, and eventually kill it.
        Now think about the human body which is made up of mostly water, the body is about 60%, the muscles 75%, lungs 83%, heart 73% the brain 80% so as you can easily see, we need a lot of water to function properly. It is no coincidence that fruits and vegetables are very similar in water content plus have "all" the other essential components needed for health. So what do we feed this engine, sticky, gluey meat and sugar! By the way what happens where you mix sugar with gasoline? Yep, you should be getting my point by now.
        The point is if our engine is failing, why would we expect any thing else to go right from then on? Crazy behavior? Of course.
        Violent behavior? Of course.
        Disease and premature death? Absolutely.
        What else would any semi-sane analyst expect?
        Birth control? Just another symptom of a very disturbed species spinning out of control and getting sicker by the minute!

        Until we solve the most important problem, our fuel, don't expect anything else to go right, it won't and history has proven this point over and over again. BY the way, those who has solved the problem, "vegans", are the healthy people on the planet.
        • thumb
          May 20 2014: i stand up for milk, milk is really good on the water tip?
        • thumb

          R H

          • +1
          May 21 2014: Not 'off subject' at all. Once again, you get right to the heart of the issue - in this case, our twisted sense of life and how we fit in it. For me, this very sensitive subject required a 'delicate' approach (also, since TED has declined 2 of my conversation topics in the last 2 weeks). I am hoping some women find the discussion interesting. But as you point out, the underlying theme is our fundamental views of life and how it works. Many have described the 'age' of our species, if you compare our existence in 'geological' time vs. a single human lifespan, as being pre-teen. Whereas we have learned we can 'do adult things' but have as of yet no knowledge of the repercussions and limitations of our actions. I think that's a fairly accurate assessment too.
      • May 20 2014: Greg, milk is 85-95% water. Go Greg Go.
        • thumb
          May 21 2014: Keith, if we are what we eat, and we eat vegetables and fruits, we are..............?
      • May 21 2014: ........ smart.....!
  • May 23 2014: Boon.

    I challenge all of the 'negatives' you stated. Date-rape probably was greater in the past, it just wasn't reported. Today's drugs probably make it easier, however. STD's are less - we didn't understand microbes/infections a few hundered years ago, nor did we have proper treatments. I find it curious you would BLAME BC for an increase in STD's, as they prevent transmission. Sexual appeal has always been used to sell or inspire - remember Helen of Troy? Porn has dramatically increased, with availability changing since the Internet to levels previously reserved for Roman orgies, yet we don't have hordes of horny porn-zombies roaming the streets. Abortion allows for management of pregnancies that never existed before, at least 'never existed safely.' Using 'millions' is meaningless as there has been more people than ever - give it as a percentage of child-bearing age women and you might have something to compare to. Human life is the cheapest thing on the planet and always has been. Sex sells, so if you have a complaint bring it up with Capitalists, not lovers.

    Whew. Now that is out of the way, in one of your earliler replies you were asking about 'psychosis of escapism'. I think you got that all backwards too. Sex and alcohol has historically been the ONLY recreation the common man could have. Since we have so many more forms of escapism available today, sex should be decreasing in frequency if your theory is right.

    I'll end with a personal example. A friend of mine's 14-year old daughter recently got pregnant. Now, we can argue over what age is appropriate to start sex, but the reality is that she ignored BC, made bad choices and was about to ruin her life by having a child while still a child with no Father and no financial support. Abortion gave her a chance to go on with her life. Socially, she would have been a burden FOREVER. At such a young age who knows what contributions to society we would have lost if all she ever was was 'Mommy'.
    • thumb

      R H

      • 0
      May 23 2014: Great answer. Thanks. Just what I was looking for. This is a 'question', not a manifesto. I wanted to see opinions on the subject. I may not agree with your perspective, but thanks again for contributing to this conversation. I'm still waiting for a female to way in...
  • thumb
    May 20 2014: would the alternative to birth control be rampant overpopulation? That seems more problematic than the problems you mention?
    • thumb

      R H

      • 0
      May 21 2014: Thanks greg for responding. That's an interesting question, isn't it - would the alternative be more problematic? Has bc really held our population in check, or has the availability of bc merely created more copulation, creating the problems mentioned? And with that increased copulation (if it exists), what motivates us to do so? Is it strictly a natural need and/or drive to reproduce, or is there some underlying psychosis that creates a mania?
      • thumb
        May 22 2014: well, from what reasoning would you think birth control hasn't held our population in check? But I can't find anything on this subject doing a quick internet search, maybe you can, RH? I would think that if bc has resulted in more copulation, it would be exactly for that reason, that it makes it easier to prevent a birth (available, safe abortion would figure in here, too.) I don't know that a motivation to copulate more would have to involve reproduction, it could just be that copulation is pleasurable, and when you take away the possibility that it will lead to reproduction, with all the pressures and responsibilities, people will want to do it.
        • thumb

          R H

          • 0
          May 22 2014: yea. that's how I see it too - especially with young people. Since the fear of having a child is taken away, we now fell free to 'enjoy' ourselves as much as possible. Then, what happens (in my opinion) is the pressure builds up between couples to 'do it' more often - especially from males. Then male aggression, and yes even male/female manipulation, kicks in because the perceived 'need' is so strong and potent. This is where my 'mania' reference comes from. These 'drives' that were previously held in check because of the consequence of actual reproduction have now been unleashed as 'ok' to exercise. So like a drug, they entice us to do this 'pleasurable' act with the (now recognized) side effects. This, I also believe, spirals into a disregard, or 'not needed any longer' attitude for committed relationships. What's the purpose any longer of staying with one partner, really, if there are no children to care for - notwithstanding simple mutual regard? Hence, skyrocketing divorce rates (tapering off now at an equilibrium +50%), and a general self-absorption (again, my opinion) of 'my way or the highway' and petty things becoming huge concerns and relationship destroyers - along with the other maladies I mentioned in the description for the question. That is where my 'psychosis' theme comes in. I have no proof, no research to back me. But, this is just a conversation, not a manifesto. Thanks for responding, I always enjoy reading your views...
      • thumb
        May 22 2014: well, you still didn't answer my question, R H, you were questioning whether birth control has led to population control, and I asked with what reasoning could one say that it hasn't, I would enjoy hearing your thinking there.

        I really don't talk to people much about their sexuality. One hears that people are more promiscuous. Personally I would not be promiscuous because I have a real terror of contracting AIDS, even with birth control I believe it's a possibility. I would rather just wait until I have a wife where she and I both know we don't have AIDS and are faithful.

        If you take AIDS out of the equation, I don't think it's so wrong to have multiple partners, it seems to me it would give you more experience and variety of experience. One might wonder if people are really so promiscuous as they claim. For instance, the actor Jack Nicholson has a reputation as a ladies' man, yet I was reading one of his friends who said an awful lot of what Jack has claimed is not true, he has deliberately lied, perhaps to build his stature or myth. If you really want to know what people are doing, perhaps you might first want to look at yourself. Are you sexually active, R H? What effect has birth control had for you?

        Personally I don't see the great emphasis on sex that you do. I think movies and TV show more sex, but just as one facet of the story. In general I think they take up a million themes, just like they always have.

        It sounds like you're down on birth control. What alternative world would you want?

        I'm glad you enjoy reading me. I haven't seen you enough to quite differentiate you. Are there any particular topic areas you're drawn to? I'm drawn to "soft" sociological ones, plus food and nutrition.
        • thumb

          R H

          • 0
          May 22 2014: I don't think I was ultimately asking whether bc has led to population control (which you contended as the alternative to 'rampant overpopulation'), but rather which was more probable - that, or are people just having sex more now that they have bc, and because of this 'extra sex activity', causing all of the other ills I mentioned. In other words, if 'pre-bc' was 1 -10 in activity with relatively minor fallout, then post-bc is 1 - 35 in activity , with the extra 25 causing the problems. Make sense?
          Also, I do see a great emphasis on sex in modern post-bc culture. I say so because I compare it's predominance in media communication with the pre-bc era - where there was nowhere near the same emphasis. But that's me.
          Regarding my 'being down' on birth control and offering an alternative, that takes me into the 'psychosis' assessment. Very hard for me to put into words, but I'll try: First, for me, women without question have the ultimate right and responsibility to determine what happens to their own body - and her child's - up until the child is born. Only then should the child be protected by self-rights and the state. I draw the line at birth. Conception 'prevention' is a form of birth control. But we must look deeper into the psychology of rampant sex. As I asked, is our level of sexual activity strictly based on a natural need, or is there some mass psychosis that has driven us to see this activity as a 'go to' relief, or satisfaction, or balm for pain in other areas of our life? We hear a lot about 'repressed sexual psychosis' from the pre-bc era, but is there a new psychosis of escapism into the potent release of sexual euphoria, which results in an over-emphasis on sexuality, and increases the need/desire for bc when there was no exaggerated awareness of a desire for sexual activity before this presumed psychosis? This would not make me 'down on bc', but questioning why we need bc in the first place.
      • thumb
        May 22 2014: well, do you believe that date rape is epidemic? I only occasionally see cases of it reported in the newspaper. What would you consider a time when sex wasn't so emphasized? I wonder what the percentage of STD's was then versus now? What did you mean here: "The perceived value of human life has declined precipitously parallel to the development of BC"?

        Are you convinced that people are escaping so much into sexual euphoria, or is it possible that people lie and claim they have sex more than they really do? If you are convinced, what makes you so?
        • thumb

          R H

          • 0
          May 23 2014: Wow. This is a great conversation. No emotional baggage or confrontation. Just a nice back and forth of ideas and opinions. Now you're not going to ask me why I think some conversations are have 'emotional baggage', are you? Or you're not going to ask me what makes me think some conversations are confrontational, because you haven't seen many reports of confrontation? Yet maybe you wouldn't ask me those questions because you already have witnessed the answers yourself. Allow me the same benefit of doubt. (you can also tell me I'm full of crap. It's just a conversation.) Let's do a couple of definitions - Date-rape: any coercive sexual act performed out of guilt, peer-pressure, 'cultural' influence, intimidation of any kind, or force. Epidemic: a gross increase in amount. As I said already, I don't have research or data to back me up. These are my impressions for the sake of conversation. With all of the pornography available, with the availability of high visibility abortion services in every town, with the plethora of mainstream media focus on sexual provacativeness and innuendo, all over the last few decades just to name a few, what has changed to bring this about? My view is bc is the progenitor, followed by a subtle yet general diminished regard for human life. Whether this is good or bad for society is the question I asked. With that said, you have not answered my question either (you just asked more questions), do you think bc has been a boon or bane to us socially? All the best...
      • thumb
        May 23 2014: what would be the connection between bc and more pornography? Well, I think bc has been more boon socially. But it depends on how broadly you define "socially." If you think overpopulation has dire social consequences, as I do, and bc curbs overpopulation, that's why I think it's more boon than bane. I also think that abortion prevents unwanted children coming into the world, and in fact that increases regard for human life, not decreases it. R H, you may be correct that media emphasize sexuality more. But media have always emphasized appearance and love, haven't they, isn't talking about sex really only taking it one step further? Think of the Andy Griffith show. Andy cut a decent figure in his uniform, and part of the story was his relationship with women, dating, and so on. Or, I suppose if you want to start talking about subtexts, you might imagine there was a little homosex in his relationship with Barney. If you did the Andy Griffith show today, you would have more sex, but that doesn't seem different in kind to me from the old show, just taking it a step further.

        My mom and I went to see "Neighbors" with Seth Rogen and were talking afterward. She thinks emphasis on sex has to do with people leaving the farm and creating cities, on the farm people were more aware of each other and held each other to a higher standard, whereas in the city you're more anonymous and can be more promiscuous.

        Personally I think emphasis on sex has to do with there simply being more people, where there are more people, living closer to each other, people talk more, and one of the things they talk about is sex. But you're right, birth control has freed people to be more sexual. But I agree there shouldn't be pressure to be sexual, aren't there campaigns in schools to tell kids they don't have to be sexual.
      • thumb
        May 23 2014: another reason might be more women working, in older days maybe the guys were all working in the outside world, and the women were at home minding the home. Whereas today women and men are working together in the outside world, and that probably leads to more sexual feelings and activity?
        • thumb

          R H

          • 0
          May 23 2014: Very interesting. Thanks for your response once again. We agree that there is more overt sex in media than before, and we agree that anonymity can also contribute to increased bc usage. Your point of more people living closer together is interesting too, as is the 'women working' aspect. But for me, these are all contributing symptoms to a possible underlying 'psychosis' which is self-reinforcing. And that's the main reason why I asked the topic question.
      • thumb
        May 23 2014: well, I believe above you did mention "escapism." Do you have any thoughts on what people might be escaping from with sex?
        • thumb

          R H

          • 0
          May 23 2014: Thank you greg for continuing this conversation. It's helping me to see that I'm not being clear. I have this vision in my head of what I'm trying to convey, so I try to describe it as accurately as I can. But in that, I'm using my own understandings of the vision therefore choosing words and images that 'make sense' (presumably) only to me. This is not good communication skill for conversation, especially for such heady topics. Let me try to answer your 'escapism' question a different way: People drink too much. People overeat. Arsonists like to burn things. Pedophiles stalk children. Dictators murder. Hoarders keep acquiring. We get elective cosmetic surgery. Etc. For me, it's not these 'events' that are the issue. It's what is it that drives us to do such things? What underlying motivation, what unfulfilled need or desire - usually sub-conscious - pushes us to such extreme expression? We know, somewhere deep inside, that these activities are not necessarily healthy, and that if we were 'healthy' we probably wouldn't be doing them. But we don't know consciously so we seek a method of expressing the underlying need by choosing such 'satisfying' activities which are, to 'healthier' people, psychotic. The 'escape' into sex, if it exists, would be a similar/parallel dynamic. This view could be interpreted as 'harsh', but I'm just trying to clarify my point using a comparative method. I'm not accusing anyone of anything.
      • thumb
        May 23 2014: well, sex seems healthier than alcoholism. It seems healthier than overeating. Healthier definitely than arson, pedophilia, or murder. Healthier than hoarding. Healthier than elective cosmetic surgery. I really don't know if you can generalize, r h, I would think you would have to look at each person's use of sexuality and see if you think it's healthy or not. But let us say that our culture is escaping from something by turning to excessive sex. What would they be escaping from? Or is it a case where you have a feeling they are escaping, but you don't know exactly what they're escaping from? Are they escaping from dealing with global warming, for example, is that the kind of thing you're talking about? Although there is some work going on about global warming, people working on alternative fuel sources and so on. But really, I don't see our culture as just being preoccupied with sex, I mean people watch the news, the news is not all sex, people go to work, work is not all sex, people go to church, church is not all sex, people talk on TED, TED is not all sex, people eat food, eating food is not all sex.....the list goes on and on? But personally I feel liberated by being able to talk publicly about sex, and I think it's also interesting to think that everything has an aspect of sex: eating has an aspect of sex, breathing has an aspect of sex, thinking has an aspect of sex, shaking hands has an aspect of sex, and so on.