Dr. Joycelyn Elders is so fucking cool.

Contributed by Kate Harding.
NOTE: Here’s Kate reporting from the second day of the SisterSong conference…
Wow. Dr. Joycelyn Elders is so fucking cool.
For the young’uns around here, in 1993, she became the first African-American and second woman U.S. Surgeon General. After she publicly (at a UN conference on AIDS) stated that masturbation “is a part of human sexuality” and “perhaps should be taught” (as, you know, a healthy alternative to the kinds of sex that transmit disease and cause pregnancy — go figure) the wingnuts went so insane that Clinton asked for her resignation.
She’s 74 years old now, and as she puts it, “I’m not agin’, I’m sagin’.” I don’t even know where to begin covering everything she just said as today’s keynote speaker.
How ’bout a few — or several — quotes of the day?
“We’re sexual beings from the time we’re born until we die, and we need to make sure we understand our sexuality and realize that sex is about more than procreation.”
“If men went through menopause, we’d know everything about it, but we still don’t even know if we should be taking hormones.”
“I want every child that’s born in the world to be planned and wanted.”
“People tell me girls want to have babies so they can get a welfare check — have you ever known anybody to get rich on a welfare check?”
“If you say children wouldn’t know anything about masturbation on their own, you’ve never changed a little boy’s diaper.”
“If you can’t control your reproduction, you can’t control your life.”
On why we should be focused on promoting contraception: “I never knew a woman who needed an abortion who wasn’t already pregnant. Let’s get real.”
On people who say condoms aren’t 100% reliable: “Condoms will break, but I can sure you that vows of abstinence will break more easily than condoms.”
On politicians who promote abstinence-only education: “They are boycotting common sense.”
And, finally: “It’s like dancing with a bear. When you’re dancing with a bear, you can’t get tired and sit down. You have to wait for the bear to get tired.”
She got a standing ovation, twice.
Kate Harding is a Chicago-based writer who blogs about feminism and fat acceptance at Shapely Prose and about books at The Bibliophilistines.

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