From a literal and rhetorical standpoint, m.snowe has some concerns.
Viagra. Cialis. Etc., Etc. Doing a quick browse through some of the many drugs approved by the FDA, one finds almost no drugs with names that actually hark back to the use of said drugs, i.e. ‘viagra’ isn’t called ‘elong-gra.’ But that all changes with Plan B (or Levonorgestral). Somehow, the makers and marketers of this drug in particular thought it advantageous to call it “Plan B.” The message is clear: this is what you use when you have an accident with your birth control or have unprotected sex.What the name assumes is that women are well aware of the other options available to them, and that this is indeed the course of action you take when the first options fail. This bothers m.snowe, and for a while, she wasn’t sure why–because clearly Plan B should in fact be a backup option that is used in circumstances when the pill or a condom might not have been effective. But then she realized that in isolation, that wasn’t the problem–it was thinking about drug names specifically for males (and gender-neutral drugs too), and their neutrality in terms of why and when men take them, that ticked m.snowe off. No brainy marketers at pfizer suggested to the board room (full of likely end users) that viagra be called “limp-lift,” or “second shift.” Also, Plan B clearly delineates that the person taking the drug has made a mistake…when in fact it is just as likely that the man (who may or may not have needed the help of a purple pill) could just as likely be the culprit. Yes, there probably was a malfunction of some kind–but let’s hammer home the point that you, the female, messed up–because the trama of a broken condom, or a rape or sexual abuse of some kind isn’t traumatic enough–now you have to make the woman feel like a “B” or second-class citizen. But what is even more obnoxious is that the namers of this drug probably didn’t intend any of these things–they probably named it such so as to try and appease opponents, and assure them that this was a last-resort pill that only should be taken if all the other options should fail (i.e. women should not view the advent of this drug as an excuse to be more promiscous, because high school girls especially will do so and it will create chaos…right…). Let’s look at the facts–the only people using this drug (mostly) are the women informed and savvy enough to understand that it is in fact a last resort–and are able to purchase it (which at $50 a pop is not something teenagers would do often). Because the humiliation of going to a local pharmacy, and waiting in line to declare you need Plan B, getting out your ID as if you’re trying to engage in under-age drinking and letting everyone else in the store know that you have had sex within in the last 72 hours, well, m.snowe can’t imagine a local small town kid who’s family knows the pharmacist finding that an easy task.
But all that rhetoric is kind of beside the point–it just got m.snowe thinking more about the bigger issues surrounding Plan B, after she read this report, concerning lowering the age of availability without parential consent to 17. It took m.snowe a few days to find out this was lowered. And m.snowe regularly visits feminist-bent blogs, and keeps generally aware of the major reporting in the larger press. Why was it so hard to learn, and why didn’t the current administration laud it? For one thing, probably to keep it out of the already testy debates going on, ex. international diplomacy, etc., etc. But the problem is that m.snowe is an informed and aware citizen when it comes to her reproductive rights, and many of the people that could really benefit from this drug are not going to seek out this kind of information (which m.snowe professes to having a monomanical focus on). This is a problem to be wrestled with–m.snowe and many others love feministing, but shouldn’t we wonder whether we understand that any movement of thought is meant to inspire those outside it–not preach to a choir? The same thing happens in the music and literary communities–we become so focused with impressing and one-upping and commenting on each other’s work, the sense of enjoyment to a general population gets lost in the shuffle, and the very work done to promote the field ends up alienating and disloding it further from social consciousness. So maybe we can still call it Plan B–but can we come up with a campaign of awareness? A Plan A?