Why Did a Supposedly Feminist Website Advocate Using Plan B as Regular Birth Control?
A little over a month ago, Latoya Peterson of Racialicious submitted an all-too-ripe-for-criticism article to Carefree White Girl. After reading it and writing my normal perfunctory response, I quickly pressed the “delete” button, feeling that it was just some stale scrawl. Days, and then weeks went by and I still hadn’t composed the post I wanted. I blamed it on not having Internet in my new home (got it today), and having to work too much (still have that problem). At the same time I began to look at the unwritten entry as my chance to craft some sort of revelatory tome on the radical social effects of the Carefree White Girl’s image. I began to feel dejected. I, as many who are normally steeped in the goings-on of the Internet wondered if the post was irrelevant. I even began to second-guess the work I do here, believing it to be futile in its crassness.
But then this morning happened and I decided, actually, ehh, this shit is mad important, right? As I was waiting for the 4 train on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn, I overheard a group of High School aged African American and Latina women talking about their recently impregnated classmate whose “tiny white-girl body that be lookin cute” in today’s fashions would be forever changed by the advent of her first born child.
I know man, sad, right?
On October 13th Cat Marnell of XOJane, a popular women’s beauty, lifestyle and fashion website, posted a flippant, sardonic piece saluting the emergency contraceptive pill known as Plan B. Hers was a self-congratulatory send-up to the drug’s efficiency that “zaps the sucker [baby] at its source.” Marnell compiled a list of alternatives to Plan B that she could use, but doesn’t. Why? Welp, Birth Control “makes [you] fat,” Condoms “Nope!” and Diaphragms, “The Wild Card!” she fielded during her collegiate “slutty,” “cocaine and champagne” hazed years was just too inconvenient. Lets go to the text, shall we?
The first line reads:
OK, so for the exactly three women left in this world, apparently, who don’t know what Plan B is, it is sort of the world’s greatest contraceptive
At its best, the hyperbolic opener is a (not even funny) joke, and at its worst, a grave postulation. Marnell presumes her readers already know what Plan B is, and if they don’t then they are basically subhuman and should probably be “zapped” off the earth’s rapidly warming surface; all have (financial and physical) access to Plan B; and all abide by her same moral code.
I know man, sad, right?
I decided it best to handpick highlights from her text:
1. “AND you can get [Plan B] WITHOUT a prescription, for like $50, at any pharmacy. So it’s genius.
2. But WOMEN. We are clearly abusing it. OK, at least I am. Once I took it three times in one month! And that is seriously extreme; I know; I know. So besides that horrible month — I was f*&king around with someone REALLY sexy; what can I say — I’d say that I take it once every, like two months, and OMIGOD I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M WRITING ABOUT MY SEX LIFE. I meant to be writing all of this to condemn all of YOU.
3. Women of New York City and the world: resolve to step up. Fifty bucks is fifty bucks — that’s practically a new fall fragrance!
Marnell’s gaffetastic post makes the on-line publication, XOJane - started by Jane and Sassy Magazine’s founder, Jane Pratt - seem completely out of touch with current cultural trends that shun the type of reckless spending Marnell embraces. On the basis of that alone Cat Marnell wins Carefree White Girl offender of the fucking year. But there are other more glaring issues in her post and thankfully throngs of feminist bloggers have identified them.
In her rightfully and awesomely damning response, Jane Peck of The Gloss, criticized Marnell on several points. Firstly, she called her out for embodying “the exact type of entitled, irresponsible, bratty woman-child that the people on the wrong side of reproductive rights want to hold up as evidence as to why women can’t be trusted to make their own choices.” True, but but but but also if that aint the definition of Carefree White Girl, awno what is! She goes on to chide Marnell for blithely participating and encouraging “fatphobia” - the hatred and fear of becoming, being or seeing fat - that has dominated popular culture for the better half of the last century.
Peace to Peck and others that got at Marnell, good work. However, some critical analysis ismissing. Underneath Marnell’s humorous cloak lies a dangerously racist and classist commentary dismissing the current war on women’s reproductive health. As Health editor of XOJane it is Marnell’s imperitive to keep her readers abreast of the current political climate that this country’s poor and working class women, a disproportionate number of whom are of color, face today.
Over the last year, there have been some major campaigns and proposed legislation to curtail working class and young women of color’s ability to procure adequate healthcare. Yes, Plan B isavailable over the counter at the not-so-cheap-rate-of $50.00 a pop. But when women of color are 5x more likely to have an abortion than white women, it is clear that, somehow, access to Plan B isn’t universal. And it’s not their fault.
In the early 20th century the Eugenics movement circulated the belief that black Americans were biologically inferior to whites and that the only way to create a better and more functional universe was to weed them out. Their solution sounded similar to Hitler’s but was more focused on suppressing the black birthrate as a means to control the population. Subsequently, Black access to affordable and adequate healthcare was almost non-existent.
In response to the attack on the Black body, some black churches, with the financial backing of (mostly white run) anti-choice extremist organizations, created campaigns like “Radiance For Life,” that render it nearly impossible for women to access comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Instead, anti-choice orgs have plastered vile anti-choice posters in blighted communities of color. Marnell, thoughts? Don’t have those? Thank god some do.
Recently in Mississippi, devoted Pro-Choice organizations and citizens were able to combat those misleading advertising campaigns and prevent a proposed “Personhood Amendment” from being passed, a law that would have effectively eliminated a woman’s right to choose. Yeah, so, Marnell forgot about what’s been going on legislatively. Or maybe she just never knew about places like Hidalgo, Texas, where up to 75% of black and Latino people live under the poverty line and whose funding for public health clinics - which provide basic services like pap smears and STD testing (ABORTIONS NOT INCLUDED) – have been slashed in half. Where does the money go to? CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS, an overwhelming amount of which CAN’T EVEN GIVE WOMEN ANY TYPE OF ACTUAL CARE. YEAH, THEY LITERALLY JUST TELL YOU TO JUST HAVE BABIES AND FUCK OFF.