By Steve Stajich
Or at least, those were the opening lyrics from singer Maureen McGovern’s 1972 hit single that was initially written for the movie “The Poseidon Adventure.” In that film, a cruise ship turns upside down after being hit by a big wave and needless to say few of those on board are ready for the experience.
Which is probably the most oafish metaphor one could make in wanting to write about the availability of the so-called “morning after” pill, a contraceptive that works after sexual intercourse. Or, if you will, being hit by a big wave… of youthful desire on campus. Now students at UC-Davis can purchase emergency contraception from a vending machine in the Activities and Recreation Center. Well, young love certainly qualifies as an activity and form of recreation, so why should there be a problem?
Emergency contraception became available to women of all ages without a prescription in 2013. Campus officials had suggested Plan B could be available at the school bookstore. But according to reporting in the L.A. Times on April 26, a male senior at UC-Davis was determined to get the Plan B pills into a vending machine. Parteek Singh, 21, and a former university senator, pointed out that buying Plan B pills from fellow students working in the bookstore could be “problematic.”
The Times describes UC-Davis as joining a “handful” of other universities across the country that offer the morning-after pill outside the school health center, including Pomona College in Claremont.”
At a time when forces inside government appear to be mounting a campaign against Planned Parenthood and medically safe abortion availability, it’s both noble and pragmatic that college campus officials reinforce the status of their schools as institutions of higher learning by offering that which is necessary to maintain sexual wellness. At least for now, until said forces or citizen-based organizations get wind of this Times article and start moving against that. (See “Villagers; reaction to Frankenstein.”)
All of which functions as a long-winded opening to my central concern: How in the Mike Pence – uh, I mean heck – can American society simultaneously shut down family planning and medically safe abortions and then work so furiously against the survival of American families from almost every angle? Why, it’s as though the right hand was not talking to the other right hand as the third right hand strangles the American middle class.
My college days in the 1970s benefitted greatly from the unfettered dispensing of “the Pill” (oral contraception) which came on the heels of women’s liberation and much social upheaval in the 1960’s. Call it a hard-earned souvenir, if one was a participant in all of that. But I don’t want to sound like what we earned was a ticket to hedonism. It was about women controlling their own bodies and subsequently their fates. Without it, college campuses back then would have been places where women had to leave their educations to raise children while the men that impregnated them – You know what? Read Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and get back to me.
That terms of language such as “control over our own bodies” are still resonating in present day discussions reminds me of something said recently about the L.A. riots during the media surrounding that anniversary. And that was simply, how did traveling to the moon benefit us when our cities were seething with anger and burning? And that many if not all of the same issues still fan flames today.
With contraception and birth control, we’ve taken a long walk around the block only to end up back where we started: with men in bureaucracies and positions of power acting against the health rights of women. There is something very 21st century about Plan B pills in vending machines. But what does it benefit us if those in our central government still reach for the switch to the Wayback Machine to appease a vocal minority of voters clearly living in another time inside a revival tent, if not on another planet altogether.
On that planet, apparently, everyone is so content they are never stirred by desire or sexual appetite. So there’s no need for contraceptive freedom or availability because the kids are all at home, eating pie and listening to Fibber McGee and Molly on the radio. And Dad’s out on the front porch, smoking his pipe and reading about how the President is going to bring back the coal industry.