Femtech: Friend Or Foe?
Babes, I’m tired.
I’m tired of constantly having to defend our rights, and you should be too. But here we are—still bewildered by the mansplainers of the world who can’t get on board the “women’s bodies are NONE of anybody else’s business” train. Of course, it's just as hard to believe that birth control and family planning has been such a hot button (and at times downright offensive) topic for the last several decades…from condoms, to IUDs, to perhaps the most controversial one of all: the pill.
I can’t even begin to unpack the damage the patriarchy has done to our self-image, self-worth, and the choices we make—choices that not only impact us and our health, but innocent children and the way future generations of women and girls will see their place in society. Is it about the need to keep us barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Or is it about making sure we have sex when it’s expected—but god forbid we enjoy it? I’m just asking for a friend, because I really don’t know WHAT it’s about. My mind isn’t that twisted, selfish, fragile, or entitled (yes, I’m a straight up savage on this issue—your girl don’t play).
Image via WebMD
But I can understand WHY.
Ladies, we are strong. We are powerful. We live our best lives through the lens of the male gaze and still manage to rise above it. Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret: that is threatening to the structure of the world as we know it—one that has only ever operated on a system of haves and have-nots. Enough. The system is crashing down; glass ceilings are being shattered. We move along rightfully uncaring of whether or not others get butt-hurt because they were not clued in to the decisions we make, and (finally!) technology is on our side. Or is it?
Ta da! Birth control now comes to us in the form of an app. Not the contraceptive of your choice delivered via an app (of course, that exists too)—but an app that studies claim can be just as effective as the pill (what a time to be alive!). This boom in the intersecting lines of women’s health and innovative engineering known as “femtech”—like any other advancement—has been cemented in our lives and is not going away. Or, at least until something better comes along (sounds suspiciously similar to dating, right? If we could all be so lucky). But of course, there’s another shoe—and it just dropped in a big way.
Out of the tons of cycle tracking apps on the market, only ONE was actually approved as a contraceptive (which should already be a flash on our femme intuitive radars). It’s called Natural Cycles…and it’s failing. In recent weeks, several women have come forward, expressing disappointing and even dangerous results from the Swedish contraceptive’s (hormone-free and non-invasive) inaccuracies when tracking ovulation cycles. Some use the app’s calculations in the hopes of starting a family. Others…well, others would like to enjoy adult time with whomever they like and not have to worry about whether they will have time to shop for baby clothes in about 6 months. Mind ya business.
The setback is concerning, for more than the obvious reasons. Women’s complaints have always been used against them. We’re no stranger to it on the 9 to 5—if we don’t like what someone has said, we’re “too sensitive.” If we stand up for what we believe, we’re a “heinous b*tch,” and we just can’t win, because it’s a man’s world, and we’re just living in it. BARF. When something like this happens, no matter how big a win for female reproductive rights—it calls into question well, everything. Should Natural Cycles be looked into?
Absolutely. Should we be a little more careful before placing all of our faith in flawed technology? Duh. Should it be used to call Roe V. Wade into question and cut funding for Planned Parenthood? Ummm. If you have to ask, I’m not even talking to you. Actually, I am—but I don’t look forward to it, because you probably aren’t very open-minded, and yet, it’s precisely these painful conversations that will eventually pave the way for a less shame-filled approach to how we view women’s bodies. Think about that—we are conditioned to feel ashamed of how our bodies work. Sometimes we do, and that’s just beat (have you ever seen—or been—the girl at the office sprinting to the bathroom so no one will see you sporting a tampon? Bye, Felicia!).
For better or for worse, femtech is on the come up (even if it does desperately need to get it together) in what is otherwise a scary time for our reproductive freedoms, and everyone will just have to get over it.
I normally HATE when people say that…but in the ongoing fight for equality, I’ll risk sounding basic.
Did I mention I was tired?