Chaper 11: The Pill

Only in the last century or so has the survival rate of children been so high that the need for birth control was extremely evident. This problem caused the million-dollar search for reliable, and preferably oral contraceptives. The result of this hunt eventually became known as the pill, one of the most widely used steroids in today’s society. This pill has been credited with the sexual revolution of the ‘60’s, along with the increased percentage of women in the workplace and the rise of feminism.
While many “cures” have been tried over the centuries, e.g. herbs, fruits, flowers, and even spiders’ eggs, none have been successful. Finally, in the middle of the twentieth century, a substance was found that was much more potent than the natural birth control. This steroid was called norethindrone. This synthesis of this chemical came out of the hormone progestin, a pregnancy hormone that keeps the egg from dropping during pregnancy to prevent becoming pregnant again. The only problem was the complexity of this chemical. It, like all of the sex hormones only had a small difference separating it from testosterone and estrogen (you wouldn’t want that to prevent pregnancy).
It had the steroid rings like all steroids, with three six-carbon atoms and one five-carbon atom. The problem was the elements outside of this ring that were so close together. Also, this molecule had to be injected, and no one wanted that, so a man by the name of Russell Marker took on the task of synthesizing a working oral contraceptive. He found the sarsaparilla natural steroid, Sarsasaponin. This compound had the steroid ring plus some easily removed sugar molecules and some extra elements that posed a problem to remove and get a pure sample of the steroid. It was eventually done, and voila, the pill was created.
I do agree with the author in the fact that this pill shaped the history following its creation. I mean look at the work force now, and then look at it in the early 1900’s. What I don’t agree with is that this pill was not the only, or really even the main cause of this rise in feminism. The vote went to women in the twenties due to their responsibilities during the civil war. This is when women really started taking control of their own lives, the pill just made it that much easier. Now their whole character has changed. How many stay-at-home moms do we have now? The pill did have a huge role in this, but not the greatest.

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One thought on “Chaper 11: The Pill

  1. laurelap17

    Kami, I think this is wonderfully summarized. I admire your ability to be so concise yet so informative. I, also largely agree with your point about the liberation of women after the *first world war. (I assume that’s what you meant.) I do however believe it played a larger role than you seem to. It did allow women to easily control the amount of children they have, and as a result, allowed them to work when their kids were a little older without the fear of becoming pregnant again. Overall, I think your voice was great and you kept it simple.

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