On Not Being a Knee-Jerk Liberal

Yesterday I read a story on Beliefnet about a woman who "saved herself for marriage," and discovered after she got married that sex wasn't as great as she had expected, and it became a source of frustration and tension between her and her husband ("When the Wedding Night Isn't So Great").

This continued for some time, until after she came off the birth control pill, and found that it had been suppressing her sex drive.

What struck me as interesting about this article was not the story itself (which is somewhat predictable), but a comment made by one of the Beliefnet members. He complained that this felt like a "not-so-subtle jab at birth control," and, asserting that a "lot of Evangelicals have been lining up with the Catholic Church on this issue lately," concluded that this story "has the stink of propaganda."

Whoa! Read the article yourself, and try to find a single sentence that suggests there is anything morally wrong with birth control -- you won't find one!

I quickly responded with my own comment, pointing out that it is widely known that some women experience a loss of their sex drive as a result of using the pill. There is nothing controversial about this. (Google "birth control pill" and "sex drive," and you'll find tons of information about this, from decidely secular sources).

The hostility towards this woman's suggestion that coming off the pill improved her sex life is something I find very intriguing. It wasn't just one comment, either, there were several people who took issue with this.

Why are people so hypersensitive toward this, so paranoid that they see anti-contraception propaganda where it doesn't exist? I'm not going to psychoanalyze someone based on a single comment on a website. But this is an example of a broader, fairly recurrent behaviour, I find, which is a little disturbing. I'm talking about the knee-jerk reaction against anything that even appears to support a conservative position rather than a liberal one, or vice-versa, without even bothering to determine if, in fact, it does so.

It is impossible to suggest that the Darwinian notion of natural selection is anything less than a perfect and complete explanation of how life has evolved on this planet without having some people suspect that you're pushing a creationist agenda.

Likewise, to suggest that a so-called "partial-birth abortion" is morally different than, say, an abortion in the first trimester, is "anti-choice" according to some people.

And now, apparently, to point out that the birth control pill might have some serious drawbacks is, I guess, anti-contraception "propaganda."

I guess it's not just the conservatives who have their dogmas!

[Update: my comment on Beliefnet has since been removed. I have no idea why, there was nothing inflammatory in it, so far as I remember. Whatever!]

[I've shared some of my own views on contraception in an earlier explication of Bernard Lonergan's letter on contraception (they are 'my' views only in that I agree with Lonergan, not that I orginated them). In case you're wondering, I'm very pro-contraception.]



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