In which the government makes me feel slightly ill - Tactical Ninja
May. 8th, 2012
09:55 am - In which the government makes me feel slightly ill
OMG, they actually did it. Our government is going to fund free contraception for (and I quote) "Women on benefits - including teenagers and the daughters of beneficiaries."
"What, condoms?" I hear you say. "After all, surely if a government was going to subsidise access to contraception, they'd realise that making it easily accessible to everyone would be a good idea."
Nope. We're talking IUDs and implants, mainly. Long-term reversible contraception usable only by women.
Last year I wrote an essay about Project Prevention as a state crime. The essay is now being used as an example to other students on how to write about state crime.
Project Prevention is a charity in the US (and now internationally) that offers money to women with histories of problem drug use to get sterilised or use long term contraception. My argument was along the lines of HELLO EUGENICS (which any targeted contraceptive program is likely to facilitate), HELLO COERCION because, you know, power imbalance and how that affects the capacity to contract, and HELLO COMMODIFICATION OF PERSONHOOD - you know, like selling reproductive capacity?
The state crime part was Project Prevention's a) continued existence in contravention of the US's responsibilities under human rights agreements and its own case law, and b) support by the government through tax-exempt charity status.
Anyway, that's not quite the same as what's happening here, is it? After all, free contraception isn't the same as offering money, and beneficiaries aren't the same as crack addicts, right?
Well, in terms of whether the authorities think they should have the agency to decide for themselves whether they have children or not, apparently they are.
Now here's a thing. Free contraception is a damn good idea. Part of what I discovered when writing my essay last year was that in the US there are 3 million women who don't have access to contraception - as you can probably guess those people come from marginalised groups, generally living in poverty. Well that certainly sounds like beneficiaries! And I'm all for improving access to contraception for everybody.
Not just beneficiaries.
Not just women.
Not just long term contraception.
I ask, why? OK so cost can be a barrier to beneficiaries, more so than to other people. But in this economy there are people who are working whose income is in the same bracket as a beneficiary. They could do with help to avoid the extra cost of having more children too. By targeting beneficiaries with this subsidy, it's making it clear exactly who the government thinks should be discouraged from having children. They made that clear when the Welfare Working Group made its report - having more children while on a benefit is a no-no, and as of later this year there will be sanctions for anyone who does it. This isn't about helping people avoid having children, it's about stopping certain groups from having children.
And why only women? Yes, we know it's easier to make women responsible, after all, more money's been spent on researching ways of controlling women's fertility, and thus there are more options for women. You can shove something in our arm and we'll not breed for 6 months. You can shove something in our uterus and we'll not breed for 5 years. That's convenient! And you can shove something in our daughter's arm too, apparently, to stop her breeding - because we all know that if you're a single Mum your daughter should be on contraception, what with the inherited promiscuity and everything.
Sorry, got a bit carried away there. This makes me spit tacks. Condoms are not only an effective method of contraception, they also help prevent the spread of STIs, and are available as an option to EVERYONE. Not.Just.Fucking.Women. By this move, the government has made it very clear that it thinks we are the ones responsible for ensuring children don't happen, and by its policy it's clear the government will punish us if they do. As usual, no requirement for men to play their part. How about, if we're going to be draconian in our harrassment of beneficiaries, a forced paternity test on any child born to a female beneficiary? And some sanctions applied to said pater? Oh yeah, that'd be too hard, let's just slap some Depo in the women and job's a goldie!
And why, when the Welfare Working Group's own figures show that teenage pregnancy isn't really a problem in New Zealand, is there such a hooha going on about making sure young women can't get pregnant?
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that people who previously may not have been able to access contraception will now be able to. That is awesome. But when those people are only women, and only beneficiaries (and their daughters, let's not forget them), it smacks of perpetuation of stereotypes at best. When you include the power imbalance associated with the beneficiary/case manager dynamic, and the sanctions that will be applied to ensure people comply, it becomes something different. It becomes eugenics under coercion. And last time I checked, having a family was still in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I suggest that Ms Bennett and her cronies consider including condoms in this subsidy, and making it available to anyone who qualifies for a Community Services Card (card offered to those on a low income to subsidise healthcare). It would achieve the same purpose, probably at not much greater cost - and it'd be a great and wonderful thing instead of this travesty of poor-shaming.
No doubt the conservatives will love this. After all, women shouldn't have sex, and poor people are inferior, right? Being a woman AND poor just won't do! Such people should be controlled for the sake of MAH TAX DOLLARS WAH!
I'd also like to suggest that Ms Bennett stops saying 'we' when she means 'the government'. It makes my skin crawl.
Argh, I can't do this any more. Here, have an ugly cat:
I'm told this face-shape on Persians was selected for with the aim of making them 'cute'. I don't think this is cute, it just looks deformed to me. Is there a point where it's gone too far? Is this cat it?\
Meanwhile, my shiny LED knitting needles (courtesy of @pixelbrid) have been getting a workout:
They really work! And are available here.