Women’s bodies are always controlled, and they’re the ones that are controlled with reproduction. So the pill is the female pill. We still don’t have a male pill. We still don’t have a male pill.
And if we did, would we trust them to take it? That’s the kind of argument. So let’s
trust the women to do it because we know the women are reliable, kind of thing. And because
we embody the child as the child grows, then naturally, we’re the one who then carries
it around all the time after it’s been born. And so I think it has all kinds of knockon
effects for just putting women in a particular place. Yeah, if there’s only a reliable male contraceptive pill, I think– yeah, I think
men would take the pill. Because they want to have sex without pregnancy, I think. I actually think that’s terrifying. I think having the pill, even though it’s
not a great option, sometimes, I think it’s one of the areas where women feel they have
some kind of control over their body. So if that wasn’t an option for women, I think that’s
a real kind of scary power shift. I think about the menopause. I’ve
been reading about that recently. And this natural process that happens to women has been medicalized for decades now. It’s been a subject of much attention from pharmaceutical
companies, because they can make a lot of money out of hormone replacement. So you get
things like, our ovaries are failing, and things are in decline. And actually, it’s just a normal biological process. It does have some symptoms for some
women that are very unpleasant. But this idea that it’s unnatural and needs to be controlled,
is something that’s very powerful. And again, personally, I’m experiencing
leading up to the menopause at the moment. So I’m going through this. And it’s something
that, even though it’s kind of like now we can medicalize it, we can treat it, we can,
as you say, treat this natural event. Actually, what would be more helpful is to have wider
understanding about the impact of it. We don’t really want to talk about
periods. That’s why period adverts or sanitary towel adverts have– Blue water. blue blood, not real blood. And
there’s this sense that it’s this hidden, scary thing, I think, still. I was listening
to Women’s Hour, and they were talking about gushing. And I had never heard that being
talked about in a kind of public forum. And there is this idea that women’s health is
unspeakable and kind of hidden and shameful still. Although we’re much more open in many
ways, there are still particular aspects of women’s bodies that we don’t talk about.
And I think the problem that I have is then that doctors have so much power over us, that
they have the specialist knowledge by our bodies, and we don’t actually even understand
our own bodies very well. Because it’s not taught to us very well. And our hormonal cycles
are a source of great knowledge, if you understand them. But if you don’t, they’re just something
very scary and something that can be held up against you by a man. Well, you’re behaving
like that because your hormones are crazy today. Your real emotions very much dismissed. So if you could click your fingers and solve something today for women and women’s health,
what would it be? Do you know, I think one of the best
solutions to– it’s all to do with the patriarchal society that we live in, isn’t it?
Mm-hmm. And I think one of the best solutions
would be just to somehow magically give all men periods, as well. And then they would
experience it. They’d experience the pain. They’d experience the disruption. They’d experience
not being able to wear certain clothes or go to certain places or not being able to
leave the house if they’re gushing. The world might change quite radically. I was watching Fleabag recently, and she talks about how women’s bodies are
sites of pain from very early on. And I think we should celebrate the fact that we’re kind
of free from bleeding every month. And actually free from male sexual attention might not
be such a bad thing. I think if it was men that had periods
instead of women, I think for one, it would be seen as less of a sign of fertility and
more of a sign of power. And it would be used in competition with other men and a way to
compare themselves, as opposed to other women, as well. There would be a leave for the men, like say, four-day leave for your period.
And that wouldn’t be part of your sick leave. It would just be leave for that purpose.
reckon if men had periods, particularly around them being young adolescents, it will
be kind of a rite of passage, a bit like the bar mitzvah. It will be like the equivalent
of you becoming a man. And it’ll be something that would be, I think, among the youth, something
that you might be actually quite proud of and you’ll talk about a lot.
And it will be really celebrated. They’ll be parallels between, oh, it’s the blood coming
out of you, and like war, and really kind of masculine, traditional ideas of violence
and power from the past. So I think if men had periods, it would be kind of moving towards
that way of thinking. If I could click my fingers and solve
something today for women’s health, I think it would definitely be mental health, in relation
to body image and diet culture. I think there is a lot to be said for that. And I think if that could be improved, I think that would change people’s lives. Just in the media, less objectifying
women as a whole, and just appreciate who
they are beyond how they look. If I could click my fingers and solve
one thing to do with women’s health today, I would basically change the access to abortions.
I think at the moment, we have to speak to two doctors. There’s a big social stigma around
it. It should be as easily accessible as, say, the morning-after pill. If I could click my fingers and solve something with women’s health, I would make
more affordable options for couples that couldn’t get pregnant. I think for me, it’s still about reproductive control, and being from Northern
Ireland, the fact that women in Northern Island still do not have the right to access abortion.
Even for cases extreme that are about foetal abnormalities that mean the child will not
survive, you still have to travel to England or Scotland to achieve that. So I think we
still, have a long way to go. And the control that is exerted over women’s bodies is something
we need to fight against. Get more from the Open University, Check out the links on screen now.