‘The pill is a badge of honour for some girls, but that still doesn’t make us sluts’

‘The pill is a badge of honour for some girls, but that still doesn’t make us sluts’


A US study has found being on the pill doesn’t make girls any more promiscuous – as some critics have suggested. Well, duh, says Daisy Buchanan, as she praises the NHS for always giving out free contraception

By Daisy Buchanan

Excellent news from the US! Apparently, the availability of free or affordable hormonal contraception does not turn women into insatiable succubi who, given the excuse and opportunity, will become promiscuous enough to make Anthony Weiner look like a giant panda. A study released in the Obstetrics And Gynaecology journal found that, over a year of birth control courtesy of ObamaCare, 70 per cent of women reported no change in the number of partners they slept with – and most of the 13 per cent of women sleeping with more people said it was because their numbers had ‘rocketed’ from zero to one.

You wouldn’t think the effects of contraception on promiscuity would even merit a study, but then you probably wouldn’t think it was OK to say that being on the pill makes a woman a slut – as Rush Limbaugh did before he apologised. Or imply, like Republican Mike Huckabee, that women who need financial help with contraception simply can’t control their sex drives.

When I was at school, being on the pill was a badge of honour – and dishonour. The girls with steady boyfriends who were rumoured to be ‘doing it’ but couldn’t be drawn on the subject could sometimes be tricked into revealing the details of their choice of hormonal contraception. Bags, lockers and pencil cases were regularly searched for sexy evidence. Anyone who asked any suspiciously attentive questions in biology class was suspected.

Of course, some poor girls were on it just to regulate heavy periods, but we wouldn’t listen to the boring, practical truth. As far as we were concerned, if you were on the pill, you were a slut, and we whispered about you and judged you. The obvious feeling we failed to articulate was jealousy. The girls on the pill seemed thrillingly adult, and we knew we weren’t cool enough for their world, so we excluded them from ours.

Of course, after a couple of years, everyone was on the pill, or the implant, or the coil, or, for the adventurous, the Nuva ring. Using hormonal contraception doesn’t make me feel like an edgy rebel – but having just renewed my Nexplanon implant for the fourth time, I feel full of thankfulness for the NHS, who make the procedure easy as well as free. Giving women autonomy over their bodies and allowing them to choose to start a family if and when they’re ready is one of the most enlightened, progressive things any country can provide for its ladies. Sadly, we know that we have sisters all over the world who don’t have so many straightforward options.

In the States, Planned Parenthood clinics are being shut down at a record rate. This is partly due to direct pressure from anti-abortion activists, and partly down to a lack of funding – although the centres provide contraception as well as abortion advice and services, they are targeted by pro-life activists. As the NHS faces drastic budget cuts, I fear our sexual health clinics could be under threat too.

The recent, chilling story from Wonder Women about unregulated crisis centres giving women inaccurate abortion advice is a reminder that our right to judgement-free family planning is one that’s definitely worth protecting. Pregnancy should be a joyful life event, and not a biological punishment for having sex, and daring to enjoy your body in an independent way.

Being on the pill doesn’t make anyone a slut. It does demonstrate that you’re responsible enough to plan ahead, work out what your priorities are and focus on your education, career or any one of the hundreds of other important things you might want to do before, or instead of having a child. The pill doesn’t just give women the freedom to have sex without experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. It allows them a life that would not have been possible at the start of the last century.

Daisy Buchanan is a freelance journalist who can be found tweeting @NotRollerGirl

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