Feministe friend and former guest blogger Monica Potts takes a look at the decrease in life expectancy for low-income whites in the Southern United States. She doesn’t come away with any definitive answers, but paints a picture of desolation, few opportunities and lack of access to decent health care and good food as potential culprits. It is a heart-breaking must-read....read more
This week at the Guardian I’m writing about the gay conversion therapy ban passed in New Jersey, and how religious freedom is too often used as an argument for abusing kids — at the expense of children’s own equal protection under the law....read more
On Tuesday, the NIH announced that they have been working with the family of Henrietta Lacks to establish new rules and standards for use of cells that were stolen from her and used without her consent as the foundation of six decades of scientific discovery....read more
We live in an era of unprecedented access to information about sex, imagery of sex and health care related to sex. Internet porn is ubiquitous. Sexual health information, though not always easily accessible, is more accessible online, in mainstream publications (hello Cosmo) and at doctor’s offices than ever before. Frank discussion of sexual pleasure is standard on television and in movies. There are entire university departments dedicated to the study of human sexuality. That’s all good, and we have early sexual pioneers and researchers to thank for it. But we still have quite a long way to go. I’d love to see us embrace a vision of sexuality that isn’t transactional or gendered or capitalist:...read more
I’m sure Jenny McCarthy is a perfectly nice person and I have perhaps laughed at one of her poop jokes once or twice, but she’s the biggest anti-vaccine celebrity out there, spreading all kinds of misinformation. And as far as I can tell, beyond her anti-vax activism, she’s never had even had a passing interest in current events or politics. So why put her on a show where her job is to intelligently discuss current events?...read more
I’m not ashamed to menstruate. I’m not afraid of menstrual blood. But menstrual blood, to me, is gross, in the same way that any other bodily fluid is gross, and I don’t see why I should have to make an exception for menstrual blood, just because it was hanging out in my uterus beforehand rather than my blood vessels or my sinuses. There’s a sense among some women, though, that menstrual blood should be seen and treated differently. Specially. Reverently....read more
Abortion restrictions are being introduced, debated and mostly passed across several states in the U.S. Texas has been the most notable, but many others — Ohio, North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi and North Dakota — are ramping up their anti-abortion legislation. But while the GOP claims to focus on “life,” many of the states dedicating enormous amounts of time, money and energy to limiting abortion also see incredibly poor health outcomes for mothers and children. I outline some of them over at Al Jazeera; here’s a bit:...read more
Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years — and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.
Holy cow is a lot, according to this New York Times feature. In fact, it’s more than any other nation in the world, but our health outcomes aren’t substantially better....read more
Too often we are led to believe that work must be something separate from pleasure: that we are to do what we love on the side, in our spare time; that pleasure is an extra-curricular activity, a hobby, a side gig. As if only a privileged few are supposed to do work that is fulfilling and passion-driven. As if pleasure is a luxury, not a necessity.
Know: these are lies....read more
I’m sure many Feministe readers have been closely following the story of Beatriz, a young Salvadoran mother with lupus who was pregnant with an anencephalic fetus. The pregnancy, which was doomed because the fetus had only a brainstem but no brain, was killing her. Her kidneys were shutting down, and the longer they were under stress, the higher the likelihood that if she didn’t die, she would need to be on dialysis for the rest of her life — a major hardship and almost definitely a life-shortener for a woman living in rural El Salvador with very limited access to health care. Doctors said Beatriz needed an abortion, but El Salvador has some of the strictest pro-life laws in the world, and their courts refused her the procedure under the logic that her life wasn’t imminently threatened (apparently since she would die in a few days or weeks, not minutes) and that it’s never ok to prioritize a woman’s life over a fetus’s life. Doctors in El Salvador got around the law by waiting until the 26th week of pregnancy and then performing a Cesarean section — a procedure everyone knew would result in the death of the fetus (which it did) but which can be construed as a “birth” instead of an abortion, even though the end result is the same. Of course, a C-section is significantly more dangerous than an abortion (and especially more dangerous than an earlier abortion, which Beatriz could have had two months ago if she didn’t live in a “pro-life” nation). C-sections are invasive surgical procedures, which are significantly more complicated than early abortions, and pose much higher risks of infection or complication, especially when performed on someone whose health is already compromised by lupus and potential organ failure. They take longer to recover from, and they’re more expensive. Beatriz, thankfully, seems to be doing fine. But she was still legally compelled to undergo a more dangerous, invasive and complicated procedure — and forced to have her body suffer through declining health — so that ideologues could feel better about the intent of a more dangerous procedure that everyone knew would have the exact same outcome as an earlier, safer one....read more
Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about the new stat that 40% of breadwinners in American families are women. With women making up half the workforce, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re an increasing proportion of primary earners. But the 40% stat doesn’t tell the whole story. For starters, the majority of that 40% are single moms — the breadwinners in their families, yes, but not because they’re married to men who make less. Those women make an average of $23,000 per year. The third of breadwinner women who are married to men are significantly wealthier, with a combined family income averaging $80,000. And when you look at divorce and marital satisfaction stats, the happiest couples are those who both work, but where the husband makes more money. Stay-at-home moms have higher rates of depression and marital dissatisfaction, and unhappiness comes in again at the end of the spectrum where a wife out-earns her husband. A strong majority of Americans also believe that the best situation for a child is with a mom who stays home (only 8 percent believe the same about a kid with a dad who stays home). These problems are complex, but traditional ideas about gender play a strong role, and those ideas shape the social policies that leave working parents between a rock and a hard place. Our particularly American gender traditionalism coupled with our idealization of individualism-as-freedom (without recognition that such individualism has generally been a male pursuit, enabled entirely by an unpaid female at-home support system) creates major cultural disincentives to implementing the kids of policies that could actually help families. The full piece is here, and a section is below:...read more