The Pill turned fifty years old this year and Time magazine has an incredible piece detailing our tumultuous, misunderstood relationship with it. If you read anything today, let this be it:
It was the first medicine ever designed to be taken regularly by people who were not sick. Its main inventor was a conservative Catholic who was looking for a treatment for infertility and instead found a guarantee of it. It was blamed for unleashing the sexual revolution among suddenly swinging singles, despite the fact that throughout the 1960s, women usually had to be married to get it. Its supporters hoped it would strengthen marriage by easing the strain of unwanted children; its critics still charge that the Pill gave rise to promiscuity, adultery and the breakdown of the family. In 1999 the Economist named it the most important scientific advance of the 20th century, but Gloria Steinem, one of the era’s most influential feminists, calls its impact “overrated.” One of the world’s largest studies of the Pill Ã¢â‚¬â€ 46,000 women followed for nearly 40 years Ã¢â‚¬â€ was released this March. It found that women who take the Pill are less likely to die prematurely from any cause, including cancer and heart disease, yet many women still question whether the health risks outweigh the benefits.
We take it for granted nowadays and its refreshing to take the time to stop and consider those who struggled for it and what the Pill itself helped catalyze. It almost makes us feel guilty for bitching about taking it every morning.
Then we read that Susan B. Anthony quote, here reiterated by Gloria Steimen: “Our job is not to make young women grateful. It’s to make them ungrateful so they keep going. Gratitude never radicalized anybody.”