The Pill turns 50 this month [May, 2010]. Such a significant anniversary prompted cover stories, histories, celebratory remembrances, and calls for expanded access. None of this attention is surprising: the Pill was and continues to be an enormous source of social change in demographics, sexual activity, social mores, divorce, gender roles, and the economy. What is surprising is how mixed some of these assessments have been.
While one expects criticism of the Pill from some religious and political groups, the commentary found in mainstream, non-religious journalism has been remarkably subdued, with many essays expressing a sense of mixed blessings and paradox, moderating praise with frequent discordant notes of social problems, the rise of illegitimacy, the failure to make women happy, sexual dysfunction, and the Pill’s unhappy correlation with HIV/AIDS, among other hesitations.
In fact, so honest are the accounts of the Pill’s failure to deliver as promised that one might expect serious reservations about the Pill’s future. One Los Angeles Times story on the Pill’s dismal results in reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions paraphrases James Trussell, director of Princeton University’s Office of Population Research, who “thinks that the pill’s time is passing.”
Imagine: the very occasion of celebrating the Pill’s legacy to the world also brings a strong sense that the fruits have not been unalloyed, and even that the Pill might have seen its best days behind it.Continue reading>>>