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Tackling Women's Issues

by Ethan Thompson

[commentary by Carrie Clemens]

For Women Only: Birth Control is a 1968 30-minute episode of the NBC series dedicated to tackling women’s issues. To discuss reproductive health, the network assembled a panel of six experts, made up of five men and only one woman, ranging from medial doctors to leading university researchers. The all-female crowd featured few women below the age of 30, some even appearing to be elderly, and very few women of color. As seen in the clip, the single female panelist presents birth control as not only a primarily female responsibility and duty, but as a means to maintain a stable relationship with a husband by preventing pregnancy. In this clip and throughout the entirety of the program, sexually transmitted diseases are ignored. Sex functions as merely a tool for reproduction, and female sexuality is seemingly non-existent or shameful.

While educational, the doctor’s discussion of birth control is somewhat exclusionary and reflects largely conservative attitudes. Single women are not in the audience nor are they considered, and LGBT women are not referenced at all. While confronting birth control, the program often approaches women’s health as a whole in the context of a partner’s or societal concerns. As we see often in media today, the discourse about women’s health is then diverted away from women themselves, and a program that was made “for women only,” ignores their overarching needs.

"Tackling Women's Issues" But Ignoring Women

In this clip, an expert panel addresses concerns about birth control methods but ignores larger women's health issues.

from For Women Only, Birth Control (1968)
Creator: NBC
Distributor: Peabody Archive
Posted by Ethan Thompson
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