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It’s STD Awareness Month–Do you know where your junk’s been?

17 Apr

Alternate Title: Check yo self before you wreck yo self

Happy STD Awareness Month, everyone!  Even though we all know that we should be aware of our sexual health every month, let’s pay really close attention this month.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, people age 15-24 are responsible for almost half of new STD (also referred to as STI–Sexually Transmitted Infection) cases every year.  There could be a few reasons for this:

1) We’re having more sex, with more people, than our older counterparts.  Stands to reason that mathematical chance alone would account for some of the higher prevalence.

2) We’re not given the information or tools necessary to take charge of our own health.  Take sex ed, for example.  Only 21 states mandate sex ed in schools, and many teens are still having to sit through medically inaccurate, BS abstinence-only lessons.  As far as access to services, every state theoretically allows teens to consent to sexual health care, but barriers still exist.  The recent firestorm in Springfield over the School Committee’s decision to allow condom access and education for students illustrates the overwhelming resistance to acknowledging the sexual health needs of teens and young adults.  The problem with shooing teen sex under the rug is that not addressing an issue doesn’t make it not exist.

3) We’re being stupid.  Even with information and access, some people still choose to engage in unsafe behavior, or behavior that puts their partner(s) in an unsafe position.  That is just nonsense; stop it.  I recently read an article in which the author bragged about lying to her gyno.  What!?  I mean, I know doctors can be somewhat intimidating (especially if you’re in the younger end of that 15-24 age bracket), but come on.  Would you lie to your PCP about flu symptoms or to your dermatologist about a mole?

Bottom line: get tested, get vaccinated, and get a condom before you get it on.


Dani’s HOTD (Happiness of the Day)

6 Apr

It’s this.

To me, Tumblrs are the best internet distraction since, well, blogs I guess… (cue Keanue-esque “whoa” here.  Or, if Blossom’s more you’re thing, the Joey Lawrence “whoa.”).

In the past 48 hours, this meme has shown up everywhere, and even though I’ve always been an Obama gal myself, I’m totally digging it.  Funny and showcasing a woman in power? Check.  Add a Ryan Gosling cameo and I’m in love!

TSA Posts Info for Trans Travelers (re-blog)

19 Mar

In its new post (TSA Posts Info for Trans Travelers), the blog of the National Center for Transgender Equality summarizes a new info page that the TSA posts to make traveling easier for transgender people.

I’m glad to see another step forward being taken in terms of transgender equality (who’d’a thunk I’d be giving props to the TSA?), but there is much more progress to be made.

For example, now transgender folks will (hopefully) face less hassles while traveling, but in almost twenty states they still face obstacles in voting.

Idea: How about everyone flies into D.C. to lobby their legislators?

Laugh to Keep from Crying

7 Mar

… or, in this case, screaming.  How can anyone not be incensed at the offensive, hateful (not to mention illogical) statements that pundits and politicians make about women on a regular basis?

Last week, law student Sandra Fluke delivered an eloquent testimony before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee about Women’s Health and Contraception.  Then, she impressively conversed with the chair and other members of the Committee, maintaining a slightly informal but respectful posture.  After having been blocked from testifying at an earlier hearing, it seemed as though her well-thought-out position was finally getting some consideration.

Until she got called a slut that is.  Oh, and a prostitute.

Wait—what?  This woman writes a pages-long testimony about health equity that incorporates both published findings and personal anecdotes, and she’s dismissed as a slut seeking free OCPs?

Ugh, I’m so sick of this!  Rush and other “shock jocks” trade in the currency of dehumanizing soundbites, of which women almost always bear the brunt.  Words like “slut,” “whore,” “bitch,” etc are ubiquitous in popular lexicon.  Invalidating the argument of an intelligent woman in any scenario is practically shooting fish in a barrel–pick one of the many insults at your disposal, apply it with a creepy laugh, and immediately have the support of half the blogosphere.

To engage with such antics easily devolves into angry blogposts (^whoops…).  It’s pretty hard to counter such absurd attacks with reason, so what to do?

I don’t know if it’s the optimal solution but, for now, I just gotta laugh.

See link above for video!

Just two things: A quick lesson for Komen

3 Feb

Well, it’s been a whirlwind week in women’s health indignation.  To recap briefly: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, self-proclaimed “global leader of the breast cancer movement” (roll eyes here), decided early this week to sever ties with Planned Parenthood.  Immediately, outrage and backlash against this unwise, politically suspicious move proliferated across social media (TMMV’s twitter and my personal Facebook page included), and even reached NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s pockets.

As a result of all the bad press, Komen decided to back-track.  Trying to save face, they came out with an apology statement today, in which they reinstituted ties to PP and promised to “amend” their policies.

While I’m glad that Planned Parenthood will not lose those much-needed funds, there’s still a lot of BS that Komen needs to be called on.  To start, Komen would benefit from learning two simple things:

  • The definition of pinkwashing.  Pinkwashing (n):  A term used to describe companies that position themselves as leaders in the fight against breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease.  That perfume that Komen was hawking?  Filled with phthalates.  That cute lipstick with the pink ribbon on the cap?  Probably contains some lead.
  • The fact that health–especially women’s health–is political.  That concept is often lost in the sea of pink, but you can’t deny it.  So when Komen issues statements that say things like “We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics,” they sound more than a little naive.  And by naive, I mean clueless.

Truth is, Komen is the global leader of the breast cancer “movement.”  The foundation has a big voice in the national conversation about women’s health, and has the ability to steer the discourse toward one of genuine empowerment.  We need better preventive health care; we need better health policy.  What we don’t need is another bag of pink M&Ms.

Dani’s MOTM (Movie of the Moment)

28 Jan

In addition to being one of my favorite movies of all time, Beautiful Girls (directed by Ted Demme) is my movie of the moment.  I got a chance to gush about it at work today when a colleague mentioned it, and nobody else knew about it.  Or, more likely, they just hadn’t seen the movie in its entirety, so never placed the quote from the Taking Back Sunday song, or recognized Knight’s Ridge when it showed up again in the short-lived series October Road.  

But I digress.  The movie follows Willie Conway (played by my celebrity-crush Timothy Hutton) as he returns from NYC to small-town Knight’s Ridge for a high school reunion.  He finds everything as he left it, and spends cold nights in warm pubs shooting the shit and making “a decision about life.  A life decision if you will.”  A gorgeous out-of-towner and a prepubescent neighbor both complicate and clarify matters for him.  [Warning: spoilers, and anything of substance actually worth reading, after the picture].

As the movie follows this group of guys so utterly preoccupied with physically flawless women–and one inappropriately preoccupied with a thirteen year old–the tension between idealism and realism shows itself in multiple ways.  Ten years out of high school, these guys cling to the memories of their proverbial glory days full of promise.

On the surface of things, this movie should infuriate me.  Why “Girls” and not “Women?”  And who are these schmoes to think that anything less than Uma-Thurman-hot is just a let-down?  And I do get mad watching it; I practically yell “sing it, sister!” as Gina rails against unrealistic images of beauty:

But it’s easy to see that the perky implants and shaved pubes of the PentHouse model are just a metaphor for all the other unrealistic expectations we hold in life.  As this group of friends enters their late twenties (ancient, I know!), they need to decide what they should hold on to, and what they need to let go of.  A life of working all day, drinking all night, and ogling models isn’t quite as fulfilling as sharing ice-cold martinis and Van Morrison with the love of your life.

There’s one scene in this movie that always depresses me.  When he, Paul, and Kev are sitting around rating women (ugh!), Willie rates his current flame Tracy as “a good…solid…seven and a half.”  The sigh in his voice always sounds to me more like resignation than contentment.  He realizes that it’s foolish to forgo his current, perfectly adequate situation in hopes of something more promising down the road.  On the plus side, Willie’s decision to commit to Tracy represents his willingness to start living life instead of waiting for life to happen to him.  He sees his friends stagnate as they wait for “tens,” and consciously decides to move forward.

That sigh, though, gets me every time.  Where’s the line between getting your head out of the clouds (or, in the case of this particular group of guys, getting your head out of your ass), and just giving up?  How do you know if you’re accepting reality or just settling?

If promise is truly “the single greatest commodity known to man,” when is the right time to stop hoarding it, and finally trade it in?

Adults Only, Please

14 Jan

What does it mean for women when preteen girls want to look 25 and grown women want to look 12?

For the actual twelve-year-olds, the picture’s pretty scary.  Kiddie lingerie and Bratz dolls are just two parts of a pervasive culture of hypersexuality that has damaging effects on girls’ health and self esteem.   For the grown women who want to look twelve, well, I have no words.

Actually, I have quite a few words, beginning with WTF?  Now, I’m by no means any sort of fashionista, but I do flip through my roommate’s magazines every once in a while.  The other night, for about an hour that I’ll never get back, I was bombarded with the message that cutesy is sexy.  With Dakota Fanning on the cover (a decision that has stirred more than a little controversy), this month’s issue of Cosmopolitan gives its readers plenty of tips and products for achieving that oh-so-alluring look of pre-pubescence.  This bothers me on two fronts.  First, as I just mentioned, is the rush to turn girls and young woman into objects of sexual desire.  Second is the reinforcement of the idea that helplessness and frivolity, not self-assurance and competence, are what’s really sexy.

Their caption says it all...

Want a baby-soft pout to match those doe eyes?  There’s a product for that.  Ever wanted to find out how a dude likes you?  Well, don’t ask him or be straightforward about it (God no!); read the secret signals he’s sending you via his hand placement on the table.  Speaking of hands, make your mitts middle-school-dance-ready with the ombre trend.

Can we please get a few things straight?  Cute and cutesy are not the same.  Looking like a taller, more buxom version of a twelve year old does not make you a good role model for her (in fact, just the opposite…)

I’m not pleading for a return of the shoulderpads of the 1980s, but at least the babydoll dresses of the 90s were paired with some ass-kicking Doc Martens!