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New documentary makes a shaky and kinda TERFy case against the birth control pill

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How I watched the business of birth control, I remembered my own years of struggle to find an effective contraceptive method. I’ve tried multiple dosages of The Pill, just doing nothing and even the Nexplanon arm implant before landing on my non-hormonal copper IUD. It’s okay to avoid pregnancy, which is hardly a problem since my main partner is now another cis woman. My period still sucks. I am bedridden for a day or two every month because of my endometriosis.

I should be the ideal viewer of this documentary. Instead, I walked away from my laptop questioningly why This documentary was made – there were so many possible storytelling threads to pull and they stayed open.

The business of birth control– inspired by Holly Grigg-Spall’s book sweetening of the pill– is the latest Documentary from Executive Producer/Actress Ricki Lake and Director Abby Epstein. The team initially teamed up to create the 2007 film The business of being born and have continued to make films in the field of women’s health. The The documentary attempts to unravel the relationship between hormonal contraception, the healthcare industry and feminism. The synopsis sent to the press reads: “Weaving together the stories of bereaved parents, empowerment activists and femtech innovators, the film depicts a new generation seeking holistic and ecological alternatives to the pill while re-evaluating the meaning of reproductive justice Are defined.”

Although I disagreed with the assumption that reproductive justice needed to be redefined (Activist Loretta Ross did a great job of explaining what it is) I was excited to see this documentary. How to find the right birth control method for you does shit, as almost anyone who’s been to a fountain women visit can tell you anecdotally. I was so interested to see what kind of data they had found to support my lived experience, what activists would be involved, and how they would fit birth control into the larger picture of reproductive health. Instead of this, The business of birth control felt like it was made by a second-wave feminist who just didn’t want to advance her view of the world.

Arguably the most moving parts of the film are the interviews with grieving parents about their daughters who have died from the side effects of hormonal birth control. Viewers then spend so much time with these parents who are just starting a battle against big pharma with very few on-screen victories. Her biggest win appears to be attending a conference on contraception and meeting a duo of traveling sex educators. The documentary would have been better to reduce the number of talking heads (I lost count) and just focus on that to these families who are grieving the loss of their daughters and trying to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. Instead, the narrative is driven by 20- to 45-second interview clips with doctors, activists, midwives, educators, etc. that are simply less interesting than the people who have suffered a significant loss.

Viewing of this documentary cannot be done without engaging with its laser focus on young cis women. The business of birth control begins with the following statement: “The filmmakers wish to acknowledge the use of gendered language in this documentary. While menstruation is experienced across genders, the film itself focuses specifically on the historical and lived experiences of cis women who menstruate. The emphasis of this narrative is not on a deliberate obliteration of the males and nonbinary people around the world who also experience menstruation. We and those featured in the documentary are constantly learning and trying to do better.”

Discussion of the expansive view of sex is relegated to the last five minutes, but even then the phrase “people who have real wombs” is thrown around. On my broadest reading, this was an off-the-cuff remark trying to incorporate the gendered experiences.

It’s okay for a documentary to have a point of view; In fact, I would argue that a documentary that aims to show how deadly certain birth control methods can be has a different point of view. But the acknowledgment of this film’s trans marginalization (and again, ageism, the focus is on young people always) does not make the exclusion go away. It just makes his inability to grapple with the many ways people use birth control more apparent. The film still largely focuses on people who use birth control to prevent pregnancy and its hormonal side effects, such as reducing acne.

Towards the end of the film (about 10 minutes before the end) the conference participants start to mention reproductive justice. Another mentions that not all who identify as women menstruate. Throw That section at the end of the film really feels like someone told the filmmakers to focus on transphobia during the cuts and they rushed to fix the issue. Trans people have always existed; The business of birth control simply took the simplest path of storytelling by limiting their film’s focus to cis women only.

In addition to its TERFy narrative, the film criticizes birth control advocates for a lack of nuance, particularly in the area of ​​women’s health. You push back on how Liberals will not criticize birth control afraid of supplying ammunition to the right, but ultimately fails in the fight for birth control options for poor women. Birth control is largely portrayed as a problem for the middle class and up, for those with the time and money for education. Instead, contraception is a problem for all people, especially after fighting to include birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act. A more in-depth discussion of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) would have allowed the filmmakers to address their point of view on anti-hormonal contraception while presenting another highly effective option: the copper IUD, a non-hormonal LARC. The only alternative to The Pill is not to learn to track your cycle through basal temperatures or unsafe apps on our smartphones. The purpose of the sexual revolution was to give us choices about how to safely avoid pregnancy. It’s disappointing that filmmakers want to reject all birth control options, including LARCs for the laziest of us.

Instead of using The business of birth control To open the door to a broader discussion of equity in reproductive health care, they reject it. They feature a clip of Ilyse Hogue, then President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, providing a talking point that should have been addressed more heartily from the movie: The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to have immediate access to birth control. The documentation doesn’t seem to have an answer to the question, What if I don’t want to track my cycle?? More robust discussions of LARCs rather than cervical education could have substantiated their argument.

Hormonal birth control is a problem, but it’s not the Problem. As a reporter who regularly reads research, writes about abortion, researches Medicaid and all parts of reproductive health care, the problem is much bigger than this one stagnant part of science. The documentary takes almost 70 minutes before it comes to a lengthy discussion about the failure of reproductive medicine (including maternal mortality) in America – and it’s just under 92 minutes long.

To give the film some credit, a featured doctor points out: “The problem isn’t with the individual doctor. It’s actually permeated with a system that has been misogynistic from day one.”

The answer to the problem is no more female doctors or more feminist coded health clinics like Tia, a women’s health company that still doesn’t offer abortion services, whose founders are interviewed towards the end of the film. Birth control and abortion cannot be separated. Reproductive health services cannot be singled out as a focus because as soon as legal abortion is popular in this country, conservatives will move on to birth control. It’s like declaring victory over a three-headed snake just because you managed to cut off a head.

I left the film feeling that so many of these interviewees simply thought they were the first to realize that there were reproductive health issues in this country. The battle at the heart of the film is right: Science and regulators don’t care en masse about reproductive health. It’s just not the polemics against hormonal contraception that it wants or should be.

https://jezebel.com/new-documentary-makes-a-shaky-and-kinda-terfy-case-agai-1848758371 New documentary makes a shaky and kinda TERFy case against the birth control pill

Andrew Schnitker

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