Opposing Female Promiscuity Is Linked to Other Sexist Ideas, Says Science

SAN ANSELMO, CA - APRIL 05: A package of Plan B contraceptive is displayed at Jack's Pharmacy on April 5, 2013 in San Anselmo, California. A federal judge in New York City has ordered the Food and Drug Adminstration to make Plan B contraceptive, also known as the morning after pill, available to younger teens without a perscription within 30 days. The judges ruling overturns a December 2011 decision by the FDA to restrict access to the contraceptive to any girl under 17 years of age. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, we seem to be getting hit more and more with the idea that women don't really need birth control, with all the accompanying undertones that women shouldn't be having a sex life because that makes us sluts. But now science has found a link between believing that female promiscuity is bad, and believing that women are economically dependent on men. And those of us who are familiar with the idea of systemic misogyny say "Duh!"

According to a study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (which sounds like it should be publishing high-brow smut, but oh well), there is a significant overlap between people who believed that women should not be promiscuous and people who believe that women are, or should be, economically dependent on men. The authors explain this by pointing out that "in environments in which female economic dependence on a male mate is higher, both a woman and her mate have a greater interest in maximizing paternity certainty." 

In other words, it makes sense that these attitudes go together because women who actually do have to depend on men get pretty screwed over if they don't know who the father of their child is. Thus the "moral opposition to promiscuity," which was the focus of the study, arises as a logical response to a system in which women are subordinate to men. 

Of course, anyone who views sexism as a set of interconnected social systems won't be surprised by this. It's like a vicious cycle: women are dependent on men, so society doesn't think they should be having sex; society doesn't want them having sex so makes it super hard to get birth control; women don't have control over their own reproduction, so they are more likely to need economic support due to reproductive health issues or unwanted pregnancy. And the whole thing just keeps going and going. And belief that women are dependent becomes support for all the things that keep them dependent.

Of course, we could have made major progress in dismantling this cycle by making birth control a standard part of women's health care, thereby recognizing women's right to birth control and thereby making it as easy to get as any other medical treatment. But instead we decided to make Hobby Lobby a medical expert instead. Way to go guys. 

But I digress.

The point is that there is now some science to back this stuff up. It's not just social scientists of feminism analyzing the ways in which the world seems to fit together. Science says there's a real connection between opposition to birth control and belief in female dependence, with people who exhibit one more likely to also exhibit the other. So the birth control critics can continue to claim they aren't anti-women, but we've now got science on our side, guys. 


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