A Bunch o’ Boobs at the FDA

Fake boobies: Good. Preventing untintended pregnancy: Bad.

Honestly, if the FDA approves silicone breast implants that have been proven to be safe, I don’t have a problem with it. No surgery is without its risks. Women deserve accurate information about the risks surrounding breast implants and all other medical procedures, elective or not. But it is wrong to block the approval of silicone implants if they’re reasonably safe (although let it be noted that I realize the current situation is more complicated than that, with a lot of big-money interests involved; I also certainly take offense to their appropriating of pro-choice terminology to further what is ultimately an anti-feminist cause).

The FDA’s approval of silicone implants just draws further attention to their hypocrisy when it comes to women’s reproductive health. It’s ridiculous for them to block approval of Plan B, which is overwhelmingly safe — certainly safer than Viagra, which sailed through its FDA approval. And since I inexplicably didn’t write about it before, let me take this moment to give a big middle finger to Gov. Pataki for vetoeing a common-sense emergency contraception bill.

Posted in Feminism, Reproductive Rights | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Can You Be a Feminist for Life?

Sure. I’m a feminist for life. I like life. I think mine is important enough to preserve, and I think yours is too. I think we should do all we can to sustain life and to make it as good (or at least as livable) as possible — I support life-affirming things like poverty relief programs, environmentalism, reasonable gun control laws, and universal healthcare. I don’t support things that result in the unnecessary taking of life, like the death penalty and preemptive wars based on untruths. Because I value women’s lives, I believe that everyone deserves access to medical care and family planning tools.

But the anti-choice group Feminists for Life is a different story. On the surface, they’re decent, as far as anti-choice groups can be decent. They promote education and childcare for women with children, and adequate campus housing for students with children. These are good things. But as Katha Pollitt discovers, they aren’t exactly a progressive’s dream (in more ways than being anti-abortion):

The problem is that FFL doesn’t just oppose abortion. FFL wants abortion to be illegal. All abortions, period, including those for rape, incest, health, major fetal defects and, although Foster resisted admitting this, even some abortions most doctors would say were necessary to save the woman’s life. (Although FFL is not a Catholic organization, its rejection of therapeutic abortion follows Catholic doctrine.) FFL wants doctors who perform abortions to be punished, possibly with prison terms.

They also subscribe to the theories that abortion causes breast cancer and birth control pills are “abortifacients” — despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. FFL claims that women choose abortion because of a lack of other options — if they had a better education, or access to childcare, or were making more money, they’d have that baby in a heartbeat and abortion would cease to exist. I agree that it’s tragic that some women do “choose” abortion simply for lack of other choices. I think it’s disgusting that right-wing legislators in states like New Jersey have created laws that limit poor women’s choice to have children — for example, penalizing welfare recipients if they give birth while on state assistance. Make the world a friendlier place for women by truly allowing us the fullest range of choices in all areas of our lives, and you can bet that the abortion rate will drop right along with the unintended pregnancy rate.

But if you don’t give women the opportunity to determine the number and spacing of their children, we aren’t going to be able to achieve things like fair pay, white-collar jobs and higher education on the mass levels that men have been able to. If you don’t believe that women are entitled to control what goes on within their own uteruses, if you don’t trust women to make their own decisions — indeed, if you think that the government should be allowed to legally force women to give birth — then you aren’t a feminist. “Feminists for Life,” aren’t. I’ll let the much more eloquent Katha Pollitt finish it out, but I’m curious if any feminists here think that you can be anti-choice (and I mean broadly anti-choice, in that you think abortion should be illegal, not just anti-abortion on a personal level) and still be a feminist.

Exposing the constraints on women’s choices, however, is only one side of feminism. The other is acknowledging women as moral agents, trusting women to decide what is best for themselves. For FFL there’s only one right decision: Have that baby. And since women’s moral judgment cannot be trusted, abortion must be outlawed, whatever the consequences for women’s lives and health–for rape victims and 12-year-olds and 50-year-olds, women carrying Tay-Sachs fetuses and women at risk of heart attack or stroke, women who have all the children they can handle and women who don’t want children at all. FFL argues that abortion harms women–that’s why it clings to the outdated cancer claims. But it would oppose abortion just as strongly if it prevented breast cancer, filled every woman’s heart with joy, lowered the national deficit and found Jimmy Hoffa. That’s because they aren’t really feminists–a feminist could not force another woman to bear a child, any more than she could turn a pregnant teenager out into a snowstorm. They are fetalists.

Posted in Health, Reproductive Rights | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

Curing Homosexuality

Via Neil (read his post because he’s funnier than me), James Dobson shares his cure for homosexuality.
Continue reading

Posted in GLBTQ, Religion | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Fighting the Right

A great new blog by fellow NYU feminist Lauren Schreiber: Fighting the Right.

And, because I’m a facebook stalker, I read Lauren’s profile and found this quote that I enjoyed and thought I’d reproduce here:

Because women’s work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we’re the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a “real” man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and “unfeminine” and if we don’t we’re typical weak females and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural and because we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion and … for lots of other reasons we are part of the women’s liberation movement.
~Author unknown, quoted in The Torch, 14 September 1987

Posted in Blogging, Feminism | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

In Case You Were Wondering

It appears Day One was successful.

First Day of School

Posted in Education | Tagged | 20 Comments

It Isn’t The Masturbation That Makes You Go Blind, It’s The Porn

Researchers have finally found evidence for what good Catholic boys have known all along – erotic images make you go blind. The effect is temporary and lasts just a moment, but the research has added to road-safety campaigners’ calls to ban sexy billboard-advertising near busy roads, in the hope of preventing accidents.

The new study by US psychologists found that people shown erotic or gory images frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards. And the researchers say some personality types appear to be affected more than others by the phenomenon, known as “emotion-induced blindness”.

Um, okay. Whatever.

Posted in Sex | Tagged | 8 Comments

Online Surveys Should Have Comments Systems

I might be blogging too much, but when I was solicited to take an online college survey, I truly wished there were comment boxes available for me to flesh out my answers. I took the damn thing sort of like I take a quiz on what 70s glam rock icon I am, all the while knowing that the only answers I could give were going to put me in a little box too small for my preferences.

Most of the answers I had to give on school life were completely predicated on me being a single mother at a massive land grant university. My time and attention is limited, of course I’m not seeking out places on intramural sports teams and “frequently” joining campus activities. I do what I can, which I indicated to the best of my ability, but nowhere was I able to say that although my university has plenty of things going on I don’t have the wherewithal to participate.

After all the campus life business, the political questions started: Do you consider yourself far left, left, center, right, far right? Let me think. I clicked through to the next page and my mouth gaped open. Forgive me for being a media skeptical blogger, but I can only assume how this research could be framed and used against the “liberal academic elite.”

Oh, how I wish I could have had a little box to add clarifications and critique the wording of the questions [click for screenshot].
Continue reading

Posted in Education, Politics | 5 Comments

One More Design Thing

At the request of a reader, I put our author names and timestamps underneath the titles on individual entry pages, so that way you may better attribute, praise, and mock us as individuals. Cheers.

Posted in Blogging | 6 Comments

School Days

Monday is Ethan’s first day in kindergarten. I’m so worried for him that I can’t sleep.

There have been many times where I’ve had to release my son to the world in hopes that the world would receive and care for him well. This time feels different. His old school was much smaller, more intimate. Even with the troubles I’ve had there, troubles that will be alleviated with the size and nature of entering the public schools, I’m going to miss the comfort of recognizing every soul in the school.

Ethan’s father and I accompanied him to the open house on Sunday afternoon. Ethan was at first excited to finally be on the inside of the building, but once we got into the classroom and the newness of it all hit him, E became a shrinking flower. Continue reading

Posted in Education | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Sex Ed in NYC Public Schools

Even in the most progressive areas, the anti-sex head-in-the-sand crowd seems to be taking over. New York City is introducing new sexual health education curriculum, and it’s a mixed bag. Some of it is good:

High schoolers will learn the difference between sexual harassment and flirting, how to set a sexual limit, and sexual refusal skills. Middle schoolers will learn about reproductive anatomy and the benefits of sexual abstinence.

But, not surprisingly, some of it isn’t so good:

The new curriculum doesn’t teach middle schoolers about birth control, for instance, or address sexual orientation except in the context of AIDS.

Even the good seems to be coming a little late — shouldn’t kids be learning the difference between sexual harassment and flirting well before high school? And shouldn’t they learn about reproductive anatomy before middle school? When 1 in 10 New York City public school students report having sex before the age of 13 — that’s right, 13 — it doesn’t make much sense to avoid teaching them about the naughty bits until they’re in 7th grade, and to not mention contraception until 9th.

The absense of discussion on sexual orientation is also disturbing — especially when it’s only mentioned in the context of AIDS. As Miriam Yeung, of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, says, “When you don’t see info about your life, or your behaviors or your feelings, then you don’t practice any health-promoting behaviors.” And as the article points out, the majority of parents (79%) want their children to learn about sexual orientation in their health classes.

The new curriculum also prohibits condom demonstrations in classrooms, which is just plain dumb. Condoms are most effective when used correctly, so it would make sense that we teach people how to use them correctly. What’s troubling is that if this is happening in New York City — which is pretty overwhelmingly liberal — just imagine what kids in rural Texas are being taught.

Posted in Education, Reproductive Rights, Sex | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

To Tip or Not to Tip

I always tip in restaurants, even if the service is crappy. Why? Because I know that service jobs really suck, that the waitperson is probably making less than minimum wage, and that they’re on their feet all day probably dealing with rude and difficult customers. But tipping is also awkward. What if you do get really, really bad service — as in, a waiter who is purposely rude? And how much do you tip for things like beauty treatments? If I get a haircut or my eyebrows waxed, is 15-20 percent still standard? What if it’s a more unpleasant treatment, like a bikini wax or a pedicure? Do you tip more for those?

Now, one person is advocating a European-style service charge instead of a tip — at least when it comes to the restaurant world. I’ve gotta say, I think it’s a good idea for customers and waitstaff alike. And is anyone else disgusted that waiters get paid as low as $1.59 per hour in Kansas and $3.85 per hour in New York City?

Side question: what is an appropriate tip for things like cab rides, haircuts, and beauty treatments? Does anyone know for sure? Any beauticians or cab drivers wanna give your two cents?

One cocktail waitress weighs in. At this point, does anyone not know the dollar-a-drink rule?

Posted in Business | 33 Comments

Voices of Choice

Physicians who provided abortions before Roe v. Wade: A Multimedia Project.

Worth a view.

Posted in Reproductive Rights | Tagged , | Comments Off on Voices of Choice