A Few Quotes to Make You Puke

29 Nov

I’m reading a book right now about the history of attempts at controlling the world’s population (Fatal Misconception by Matthew Connelly – I recommend it) and just came across some pretty disturbing quotes related to promoting IUD use in developing countries. I’m not exactly a fan of any birth control method, given that they all seem to pose much greater risks to women than men (yes, even condoms), but I have an IUD and don’t completely hate it. However, having it inserted might have been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I think doing it to someone against her will, without informing her of the potential dangers, or without providing follow-up care ought to carry the death penalty. But for the men of the ’50s and ’60s hubristic enough to think they ought to be in charge of who would reproduce and in what conditions, women’s bodily sovereignty and health seemed not to matter quite as much as their desire to live in a world in which they weren’t out-numbered by brown people. Check this shit out.

Alan Guttmacher, then president of Planned Parenthood-World Population, at a 1964 conference on the safety of IUDs (205):

As I see it, the IUD’s have special application to underdeveloped areas where two things are lacking: one, money and the other sustained motivation.  No contraceptive could be cheaper, and also, once the damn thing is in the patient cannot change her mind. In fact, we can hope she’ll forget it’s there and perhaps in several months wonder why she has not conceived.

That’s fucked enough, but check out this quote from J. Robert Wilson, then chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Temple University (202-203):

We have to stop functioning like doctors, thinking about the one patient with pelvic inflammatory disease; or the one patient who might develop this, that, or the other complication from an intra-uterine device. [It] may well be that the incidence of infection is going to be pretty high in the patients who need the device most. Now, obviously, if we are going to use these devices, they are occasionally going to be put in the wrong patient. Again, if we look at this from an over-all, long-range view (these are things that I have never said out loud before and I don’t know how it’s going to sound), perhaps the individual patient is expendable in the general scheme of things, particularly if the infection she acquires is sterilizing but not lethal.

I know it’s no surprise that men in power in the US in the 1960s (and, really, at all other times in all other places) didn’t think women — especially non-white and poor ones — were human, but Jesus Christ, dude.

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33 Responses to “A Few Quotes to Make You Puke”

  1. SargassoSea November 30, 2009 at 2:42 AM #

    “In fact, we can hope she’ll forget it’s there and perhaps in several months wonder why she has not conceived.”

    That just – literally – made my jaw hit the floor.

    This crap somehow never ceases to boggle my pathetic fe-male mind.

  2. berryblade November 30, 2009 at 4:40 AM #

    Again, all I have to say is holy shit, dude.

  3. Imaginary November 30, 2009 at 6:05 AM #

    What. The. Balls. I still think it’s weird that the people who are apparently most qualified to speak about womin’s health are men. Weird as in totally fucking misogynistic and moronic. I think I have to scrape my throat out from reading that aloud.

  4. Roxie November 30, 2009 at 7:29 AM #

    You should check out “Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present” by Harriet Washington

  5. rj November 30, 2009 at 2:08 PM #

    Care to expound on this

    “I’m not exactly a fan of any birth control method, given that they all seem to pose much greater risks to women than men (yes, even condoms)”

    the condom part–I’m very curious

    • Nine Deuce November 30, 2009 at 3:36 PM #

      Yeast infections. Latex allergies.

  6. derrp December 1, 2009 at 6:45 AM #

    On the other hand, pregnancy and childbirth – especially in areas where women do not have access to medical services – is WAY more hazardous to women’s health than are IUD’s.

  7. Nine Deuce December 1, 2009 at 3:15 PM #

    So then maybe these assholes ought to have been providing women with health care that they actually wanted and needed.

  8. Andrew December 1, 2009 at 5:50 PM #

    It’s this kind of shit that actually informs most of my worldview and convinces me that belonging to trying to further any sort of positive ideology is really misguided. I can’t think of a time when people in actual positions of power actually undertook to think about anything other than that position of power. You hear this kind of totalitarian bullshit all of the time, whether it’s directed at race, gender, sexuality (president of Uganda, anyone?), disability, etc. It doesn’t even always have to be a matter of privilege. Africa (although at the behest of it’s much privileged overlords) has been destroying itself for centuries. Look at Darfur, the same shit.

    These people thought they could maintain political control of an area by forcing IUDs up inside of women. If that failed and nobody was looking they probably just would have shot them. (China)

    I think the only reason the first world isn’t like the rest is because we make better debt slaves and paper pushers than anything else. The fucked up thing is though I don’t think the world could go on any other way.

    That might make me an asshole, or something, but I am actually convinced the way the world works, and the best way to make it in such a world, is to be as slimy as you can while looking clean as possible. If you need evidence of this, look at the assholes cited in the article. Turning the hippocratic oath into a warrant for genocide must be one of the last few steps somebody takes before everyone should loose faith in the good of humanity.

  9. ScratchyDoll December 1, 2009 at 10:38 PM #

    Um, how about sterilizing the MEN?!?! Men can fertilize countless eggs per day, whereas women are QUITE A BIT MORE limited!

    For survival of our species, we need many fewer men than women – proportionately.

    I think the uber-rich and the uber-poor should be sterilized alike. The number of useless, elitist cry-babies would seriously decline.

    (only half kidding)

  10. veganprimate December 2, 2009 at 2:38 AM #

    Cripes. I remember reading something about how doctors would wheedle consent for hysterectomies from black women in the throes of labor. They purportedly called them “mississippi appendectomies.” Sick shit.

  11. James December 2, 2009 at 3:00 AM #

    There was some case where a gypsy was co-erced/conned into giving consent for a hysterectomy not long ago, but I can’t recall where.

    Certainly an eye-opening find, however for the sake of context it should be noted that this was from the era where shoving ice-picks into the inside of people’s skulls was still seen as a respectable form of medicine & male genitals getting sliced up at birth was so entrenched in routine that they didn’t even ask parental permission. Stuff was fucked up all over.

    Anything was possible, so long as you wore a white coat.

  12. isme December 2, 2009 at 1:04 PM #

    “Um, how about sterilizing the MEN?!?! Men can fertilize countless eggs per day, whereas women are QUITE A BIT MORE limited!

    For survival of our species, we need many fewer men than women – proportionately.”

    That’s the problem…sterilising men would be less effective than sterilising women, because a man can impregnate any number of women, whereas a woman can only be pregnant to one man at a time (normally).

    It could just be racism and classism, rather than sexism.

  13. rj December 2, 2009 at 3:03 PM #

    thanks for answering re condoms. do you have any research evidence or consensus among some women about the yeast infection part?

    and i’ll probably get the book, i’m on a roll right now after finishing reading two great ones over the weekend, maybe you’d like

    Woman in Residence, by Michelle Harrison, MD, and This Lovely Life, by Vicki Forman

    • Nine Deuce December 2, 2009 at 3:51 PM #

      I was reading about it some time ago, but the deal is that spermicide causes a pH change in the vagina that can cause yeast infections, and if a woman has a latex allergy, the results for her will be worse than those for a man.

  14. veganprimate December 2, 2009 at 4:35 PM #

    There was some case where a gypsy was co-erced/conned into giving consent for a hysterectomy not long ago, but I can’t recall where.

    Certainly an eye-opening find, however for the sake of context it should be noted that this was from the era where shoving ice-picks into the inside of people’s skulls was still seen as a respectable form of medicine & male genitals getting sliced up at birth was so entrenched in routine that they didn’t even ask parental permission. Stuff was fucked up all over.

    Oh, yeah. Circumcision is just as bad as frontal lobotomies and non-consensual major-organ surgery designed to make a person infertile.

    Men are such whiny-ass babies.

  15. veganprimate December 2, 2009 at 4:36 PM #

    I got recurrent UTI’s from spermicidal condoms, b/c the spermicide will often kill bacteria as well, although not e.coli.

  16. polly December 2, 2009 at 11:26 PM #

    There are always issues of eugenics when we’re talking about birth control. The problem basically is that – like all resources, access to it is controlled by white males. So the ‘right’ women must be encouraged to have children, the ‘wrong’ women must be stopped.

    They’re blahing on about marriage in the run up to the election here, I can barely look.

  17. bellacoker December 3, 2009 at 12:14 AM #

    I am in library school and have to respond to this kind of fuckery all the time, on a less invasive scale. It’s still considered pretty radical in some circles to suggest that people are the best judges of what they need and that if an ESL class in the middle of the day where children aren’t allowed is poorly attended it might NOT be because the patrons are lazy.

    veganprimate,
    Is bodily autonomy really open for debate?

  18. thebeardedlady December 3, 2009 at 4:52 PM #

    Yep. One of the women I work with lost her baby at 8 months pregnant because she had a coil in that the doctor hadn’t bothered to either tell her about, mention in her notes, or remove, and it literally tore her baby up and her womb with it.

    She now suffers severe depression and ptsd, the consequences of which are that she can’t always make it to her esol class, for instance, whereupon she also has to deal with the added pressure of being racistly stereotyped as ‘lazy’ and one of the sort of people that ‘shouldn’t be allowed’ to reproduce.

    It’s fucking sickening.

    • Nine Deuce December 3, 2009 at 5:17 PM #

      That’s terrible, ABL. I’m very sorry to hear that. This book was full of similar stories and of quotes by these asshole men in charge of the programs that caused so much individual suffering in the name of some “greater good” that in fact never materialized.

  19. thebeardedlady December 3, 2009 at 5:54 PM #

    Yeah, 9/2, sadly I could tell you a lot of stories like that. I hear stuff like that all day every day. Breaks your heart, doesn’t it?

    the overpopulation thing is a racist myth, anyway. Apparently the most overcrowded country in the world is Denmark. It’s the US and Europe that use a disproportionate share of resources and energy, and create most of the world’s toxic waste. Less brown babies isn’t the answer – all it means is that there are less brown people, which is surely only a good thing if you’re a racist. It’s not Bangladesh or Congo that are responsible for the problems of our planet.

    It’s just a way of blaming poor people for their problems, and avoiding taking any responsibility. Ethiopians starved because there were too many of them and not enough food? So the answer isn’t ‘more food – how do we do that?’ but ‘less Ethiopians’. This is fucked up, and it’s the main problem I have with green politics, which often seem to focus on the idea of ‘overpopulation’.

  20. thebewilderness December 6, 2009 at 7:31 PM #

    “Caliban and the Witch” provides a broad historical peep at the efforts to control reproduction by controlling women.
    It’s amazing what horrors people can justify for their greater good.

  21. wiggles December 6, 2009 at 8:52 PM #

    isme
    December 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    That’s the problem…sterilising men would be less effective than sterilising women, because a man can impregnate any number of women, whereas a woman can only be pregnant to one man at a time (normally).

    It could just be racism and classism, rather than sexism.

    So mathematically, it seems to make more sense to sterilize men. Since one man can impregnate several women at once, sterilizing one man can prevent several pregnancies. Plus a vasectomy is easier to do than a tubal ligation or an IUD insertion – and certainly much easier than a hysterectomy.

    ———————————————–

    Andrew
    December 1, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I am actually convinced the way the world works, and the best way to make it in such a world, is to be as slimy as you can while looking clean as possible.

    That only works if you’re white and male.

  22. isme December 7, 2009 at 12:09 PM #

    “So mathematically, it seems to make more sense to sterilize men. Since one man can impregnate several women at once, sterilizing one man can prevent several pregnancies. Plus a vasectomy is easier to do than a tubal ligation or an IUD insertion – and certainly much easier than a hysterectomy.”

    Well assuming that the women won’t be made pregnant by anyone other than their “assigned” man, I suppose so.

    I hadn’t put all that much thought into mass sterilisations, but if sterilising men is significantly easier, I suppose that’d make more sense.

    “I am actually convinced the way the world works, and the best way to make it in such a world, is to be as slimy as you can while looking clean as possible.

    That only works if you’re white and male.”

    Not sure if that’d only work for men, only that the examples of where it has worked best tend to be.

  23. Taybeh Chaser December 7, 2009 at 8:10 PM #

    Oh, yuck, is all I can think. The parts about the patient “foretting it’s there” (the implication that she’s just like a dumb animal, being a woman, and probably of color) and the hope that any infection will be “sterilizing but not lethal” especially.

  24. J December 13, 2009 at 5:50 PM #

    That ad is bad. But, Have you seen this?

    http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/12/07/ad-rant-how-to-stuff-a-manly-man-into-soft-khakis/?icid=main|aim|dl3|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.walletpop.com%2Fblog%2F2009%2F12%2F07%2Fad-rant-how-to-stuff-a-manly-man-into-soft-khakis%2F

  25. Kelly January 26, 2010 at 2:02 PM #

    I just came across your website. You are awesome and inspiring.

    You may also know that in its early days Planned Parenthood made some forays into eugenics proposing to sterilize black women in the low-income neighborhoods of U.S. cities.

    Also, Hitler’s ideas about eugenics actually came from Americans in the late 1800s.

  26. MLF January 26, 2010 at 10:31 PM #

    Kelly – I remember hearing about that too. I also heard that they were sterilizing women in jail in the early 1900’s in the US. Attempting to stop the “crime” genes. A lot of the women were never even told that it was being done to them…. Pretty messed up shit.

  27. Immir March 7, 2010 at 8:15 AM #

    Those… fuckers. Honestly, all they needed was to say “For the greater good” & it would have been cartoon evilery.

  28. OrangeCanine May 19, 2010 at 11:47 PM #

    thebeardedlady-How horrifying. How is this possible? Is she getting help with her depression and ptsd?

    I’ve also read that in recent decades South American governments have administered mandatory vaccines which were known to cause sterility.

  29. Gowan October 22, 2014 at 11:54 AM #

    Ugh, that’s horrible.
    However, contraception that is not noticeable to the men who have sex with the woman who uses it does have its uses in the fucked up world we live in. Regardless of whether there are too many brown babies or too little food, I think it ought to be the decision of women whether to have yet another child they cannot adequately feed.
    That’s where I think those hormone implants would be useful – Planned Parenthood should ensure that all women have access to those. By which I mean, they should hand them out for free.
    IUDs, though, always seemed somewhat icky to me. And you have to get them out, while the hormone implants just cease to be effective. Especially in developing countries, where a woman might not be able to get medical care when she changes her mind about wanting to get pregnant, that is important.

    (Of course, that’s only a makeshift solution, the real solution is to end rape, but I think ending unwanted pregnancy is an important step in enabling women to get away from abusive men.)

  30. Gowan October 22, 2014 at 12:11 PM #

    Just noticed that I might not have been clear enough in my previous comment: I do suspect that most if not all women who “have too many children” are actually at high risk of marital rape / date rape. That’s because I believe that women are human and intelligent, and thus, would prefer to not have more children than they can afford. (Also, I read something about a study that proved that unwanted pregnancy rates go down if someone tells men that violence against women isn’t cool. The implications of this are horrifying)

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