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Bodily Autonomy, Sex and Relationships with Dr. Theresa Gallagher

Nov 21, 2022

 

Since the recent Supreme Court overturning of Roe v Wade in the United States, the topic of bodily autonomy has become a common area of discussion. Many uterus owners, especially those who live in states with restrictive abortion laws, are terrified for the impacts this decision will have on their mental and sexual health, relationships, and reproductive rights.

 

In this episode, Dr. Kate and Dr. Theresa Gallagher talk about bodily autonomy as it relates to sexuality and gender. This subject matter is particularly relevant on the heels of misogynistic policies enacted globally that infringe on a uterus owners’ right to their body.

 

This episode of Modern Intimacy talks about a shift in uterus owners knowing Roe v. Wade is overturned and options of putting into effect one’s own choices that are limited now. Women are feeling unheard, disconnected, anxious, and alone. There is also a question of if they feel supported by their partner.

 

As therapists, the Doctors have been hearing fallout from Roe v Wade, such as how the uterus owner’s partner may never understand how helpless they feel. They may also be looking for empathy for the feeling of having sex being risky now. It has impacted and hindered feeling sexually curious, available and how their partner understands this downshift.

 

There are so many side effects of this decision on women and ultimately it affects their partners as well. We hope this shines a light on these new results from a “no choice” decision. And can help define what you may be experiencing but haven’t been able to define where it’s coming from.

 

What Does Bodily Autonomy Mean?

 

Body autonomy refers to the notion that one’s body is their own and should not be infringed upon by anyone or anything outside of the body-owners’ own decision making. Bodily autonomy means that you have the human right and agency to make choices you believe are best and do not need permission from any person, institution, government, etc. Bodily autonomy can look different from person to person, but some common examples are having free choice over the food/drink you consume, what you wear, whom you have sexual relationships with, medical interventions, body modifications, and much more.

 

One of the most conversional conversations around bodily autonomy includes the right to an abortion. It’s a topic that has been argued through generations, but until the year 2022, no tangible action was taken to remove the option of abortion off the table for anyone seeking the necessary medical care.

 

The topic of abortion usually is talked about in the context of religion, even though we don’t all share the same religious beliefs, values, and some might not even follow any form of spirituality. When it comes to bodily autonomy, it’s important to remember that bodily autonomy means you and only you get a say in what you do with your body. Other peoples’ religion, personal beliefs, and experiences do not get the influence your own desires and decisions.

 

In the framework of bodily autonomy, you do not need a “good enough” reason behind your decisions, nor should you be forced to explain the reasoning behind the decisions you make about your body. Some will say uterus owners only have a right to an abortion in certain cases, and that is not bodily autonomy. There will always be a peanut gallery of people defining their own valid reasons for individual’s decisions, but that does not mean that their beliefs about bodies are right for your individual needs.

 

Bodily Autonomy, Sexuality, and Gender

 

Bodily autonomy is a reproductive and gender rights issue as restricting bodily autonomy typically seeks to control the sexual and reproductive rights of those who have uteruses. Historically, people with uteruses have faced discrimination in many ways including voting rights, financial control, targeted violence, and reproductive control. In 2022, this vying for control over uterus owners’ bodies is still happening and at increasing severity. Bodily autonomy does not stop at the mention of abortion. Some people believe they should have a say in who is allowed to take contraceptives like birth control and set parameters around who doesn’t qualify, meaning bodily autonomy keeps getting stripped away, leaving uterus owners with less and less rights over their own bodies.

 

Infringing on bodily autonomy is also an attack on sexuality as it takes away the safe choices uterus owners have access to if they decide to use birth control or terminate a pregnancy. If contraceptives and abortion are denied of people, it becomes extremely possible that the number of unwanted pregnancies will skyrocket and sex, specifically sex for the sole purpose of pleasure, will plummet. This increasing limited choice and control is intentional. It is a way of policing uterus owners’ bodies under an authoritarian patriarchal system. If uterus owners do not have access to reproductive resources that they need to have a safe and fulfilling sex life, sex decreases as a means for uterus owners to protect themselves and their body.

 

Your Body, Your Choice

 

The law, government, religious institutions, and the patriarchy should not be allowed to make decisions on behalf of your body. They are fighting hard for that opportunity, but hope is not lost. Uterus owners and allies have been fighting just as hard to preserve the human right of bodily autonomy. There are actions we can take on a micro and macro level that allows us to fight for our rights and reject this attempt at sexual and reproductive control. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard.

———

Dr. Theresa Gallagher, Psy.D is a Licensed Psychologist in NY. She earned her Psy.D at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, and received training in trauma-informed therapeutic techniques, Forensic Psychology, and psychological assessment. She believes in empowering individuals to find strength within themselves. Dr. Gallagher helps clients break free from cycles of the past and move into the future with confidence and self-efficacy. Dr. Gallagher is a Clinical Associate on the Modern Intimacy team.

In this episode, Dr. Kate and Dr. Gallagher talk about Bodily Autonomy as it relates to sexuality and gender.  This subject matter is particularly relevant on the heels of Roe v. Wade being overturned and other misogynistic policies enacted globally that infringe on a uterus owners’ right to their body.

Bodily autonomy means, “My body is for me; my body is my own.” It’s about power, and it’s about agency. It’s about choice, and it’s about dignity.

This episode of Modern Intimacy talks about a shift in uterus owners knowing Roe v. Wade is overturned and options of putting into effect one’s own choices are limited now. Women are feeling unheard, disconnected, anxious, and alone. There is also a question of if they feel supported by their partner.

As therapists, the Doctors have been hearing fallout from Roe v Wade, such as how the uterus owner’s partner may never understand how helpless they feel.  They may also be looking for empathy for the feeling of having sex being risky now. It has impacted and hindered feeling sexually curious, available and how their partner understands this downshift.

There are so many side effects of this decision on women and ultimately it affects their partners as well. We hope this shines a light on these new results from a “no choice” decision. And can help define what you may be experiencing but haven’t been able to define where it’s coming from.

All of this is discussed in this important episode of Modern Intimacy.

Website: www.Modernintimacy.com

IG:  @themodernintimacy and @drkatebalestrieri

TikTok: @modernintimacy and @drkatebalestrieri

This is the cover for the Modern Intimacy with Dr. Kate Balestrieri podcast.
Dr. Kate Balestrieri, host of Modern Intimacy, a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist, helps people live more fulfilled lives by shattering stigma and erasing shame. Dr. Kate invites you to join her as she investigates the relationship between sex, mental health, relationships and modern society.

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