Weekly Feminist Reader

Katha Pollitt asks WTF is up at the New York Times.
What the word “Latina” means online.
Is the Pill going over-the-counter in the UK?
Yet another report confirms that even minimal sex ed is better than abstinence-only.
The man accused of slipping his girlfriend the abortion pill against her will has jumped bond.
Students protest the birth control price hike.
Police arrested two men in connection with the Albuquerque clinic arson. One of the men reportedly wanted to burn down the clinic because his girlfriend had scheduled an abortion there.
A woman is threatened with discharge from the Air Force for wearing her hair in cornrows.
Womens eNews counts down the top stories of the year.
There’s been a whole lot written about Juno and Jamie Lynn Spears, but I like Carol Joffe’s take.
Violet Blue has the top 10 sex memes of 2007.
RH Reality Check talks with Planned Parenthood about its list of the top women’s health stories of the past year.
Stay tuned, we’ll have our own 2007 wrap-up post tomorrow.
And as always, leave other links in comments.

Join the Conversation

  • Sappho

    The Nation article was about how the supposedly liberal NYT has hired more arch conservatives to control important sections of the paper. Which is sad, not surprising, and I agree that Bill Kristol is a schmuck that I would prefer to move to the Washington Times rather than the NYT. But I thought this quote about one of his opinions raised an interesting issue:
    On morning-after contraception: “I don’t know, I came into Fox this morning and one of our younger colleagues who works here, a guy just out of college a couple of years, said all his friends in who are still college are very happy about this — all his guy friends, his male friends who are still in college are happy about this. They have a wild night. Precautions aren’t taken. The burden is now totally off them. They tell their girlfriend to go out and get this drug and no problems at all. And I don’t think that’s a very good thing for the the country.”
    This comment, notwithstanding who it comes from and what I assume are his reasons, still has some merit. Of course I think morning after contraception should absolutely be available, but I do agree that it encourages men to take even less responsibility. I have actually been told by someone: “Oh, it’s fine, you can go take a pill in the morning.”
    Right. I’m so eager to please that I’ll have unsafe sex and then take a pill that makes me ill and vomiting for two days because it forces me to abort my fertilized or unfertilized egg that might be lurking in the wrong place.
    So again I still want morning after contraception to be available for anyone who needs it, but hopefully there’ll be some awareness on men’s part that it doesn’t absolve them of being decent and responsible partners, because that is a real risk.

  • Mina

    “Right. I’m so eager to please that I’ll have unsafe sex and then take a pill that makes me ill and vomiting for two days because it forces me to abort my fertilized or unfertilized egg that might be lurking in the wrong place.”
    …and that still does nothing to protect you from STDs. Bleh.

  • A male

    Aside from a man such as this being scum (authorities have already confirmed one drink had RU486 in it), this concerns me about the “abortion pill” spiking case:
    From another paper:
    “Dist. Atty. Carrie Schneider said Friday a positive test result could be used to support a charge of first-degree intentional homicide of an unborn child.”
    http://www.postcrescent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071130/APC0101/71130176
    How comfortable are pro-choice supporters about terminating a pregnancy (abortion) being called homocide? Scott Peterson was convicted of two murders for killing his pregnant wife. Should terminating a pregnancy (abortion) really be criminal? Or is it only lack of consent (woman’s) what makes it criminal?
    http://www.thenorthwestern.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071228/OSH/312280065/1987
    “Patel was out on a $750,000 cash bond posted by a number of his friends.”
    “According to court records 49 people made contributions to the bond. One check was in the amount of $115,000.”
    “That bond is now in danger of being forfeited if Patel is not located.”
    I would hate to be his friend.
    From the BBC bc story:
    “If you give a 14-year-old the pill she’s going to get chlamydia and gonorrhoea from the boy who says that’s all she needs to stop getting pregnant.”
    This was the kind of thinking the Japanese Medical Association had for 40 years which prevented women from getting the pill, and what many Japanese still believe today. I still recommend a barrier method in addition to any other method of contraception, to prevent disease in a new or non-monogamous relationship.
    Also, regarding that “latina” story, I tried a Google image search (SafeSearch off) for the main racial categories – caucasian, white, black, asian, latina, hispanic, etc. in combination with man, boy, woman, girl. White man appears safe for work. – woman/girl/boy woman are not. (Thai man is also ok, but the others not.) Hispanic woman/man/boy are safe. Hispanic girl is not. Black/latina/asian females were linked to pornographic imagery. Males were mainly shown alone or in gay situations.
    I agree with the point that women have been sexualized in our society to such a degree that sexual imagery is what will automatically be produced by an online search, but what that linked story that reminded me of is recently, basically any online search I perform will produce results not fit for children to see, even with SafeSearch on. Even “Honda” will result in the image “Sell-Honda-Get-Boobs.jpg” (“Boob It Now! UK Woman Selling Honda To Buy Breast Implants.”)

  • phyllisbarnaby

    I hate this website anyway, but today I got an especially telling taste of the misogynistic culture that is rampant among young college guys (and apparently now being passed along to the girls). http://www.collegehumor.com
    Visit the main page and check out the comment made by Alison Becker.

  • A male

    Hi. Why would one hate this website?
    “Alison,” if that is a female, makes poor jokes. Supposedly some young women choose to be anti-feminist. It is sad. It is difficult for me to imagine a man who would be deliberately anti-male, or why.

  • Fenriswolf

    The objection to OTC morning after pill is ridiculous. Provided your doctor isn’t an arse, the only real difference between OTC and scrip is price.
    When I was 16 a condom broke with my boyfriend, I went to the doctor and got the morning after pill. This cost me in the region of $65
    I’ve needed it twice since (once was entirely me being a moron) and it’s been OTC in the NZ since I was 17 (now 23). Go in, answer some questions from the pharmacist, get pills. Costs around $30, or $40 from after hours.
    So long as medical professionals are doing their job people still have access to emergency contraception, and keeping it prescription only makes GPs money

  • judgesnineteen

    The answer to the guy who said “They tell their girlfriend to go out and get this drug and no problems at all” and whoever said “If you give a 14-year-old the pill she’s going to get chlamydia and gonorrhoea from the boy who says that’s all she needs to stop getting pregnant” should be “Well I guess we better have comprehensive sex ed, then.”

  • Roxie

    I’m sorry, but the woman in the airforce–her hair looks like locks, at the least, twists, *not* cornrows….unless there is some kind of conrowing I don’t know about that doesn’t involve braids

  • AndromacheLamenting

    Katha Pollitt is overreacting about Bill Kristol. Yes, he’s a neo-con etc. etc., but it’s completely unfair to call The Weekly Standard agitprop – their culture section is always worth a read, and they regularly publish at least one article worth reading a week. They aren’t necessarily articles I agree with – but they’re worth reading.
    Why?
    Because it’s worth remembering that a lot of the intelligent people in the U.S. aren’t nearly as far to the left as Katha Pollit, and while we here at Feministing may disagree with their opinions on politics and so on, every now and then the Right has an interesting idea or useful point to make, because not all intellectual innovation happens only in ideologically-approved spaces.

  • A male

    judgesnineteen: You are absolutely right about comprehensive sex education, and despite his organization’s moral stance, the speaker’s comments at the bottom of the page lead me to believe he would agree with you: ” . . . It is more about the choice of partner, than whether condoms are used or not.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7141031.stm
    Pharmacies to widen pill access
    13 Dec 2007
    . . . .
    But Dr Trevor Stammers, of the Family Education Trust*, said: “The government is desperate to be seen to be doing something about the treatment of sexual health. The difficulty of this is it’s based on wishful thinking.
    “If you give a 14-year-old the pill she’s going to get chlamydia and gonorrhoea from the boy who says that’s all she needs to stop getting pregnant.”
    [end quote]
    * http://www.famyouth.org.uk/
    It sounds like some sort of family values organization.
    “The organisation was founded in 1971 by the late Stanley Ellison, a London GP specialising in preventative medicine. Dr Ellison became convinced that many of his patients were suffering not so much from unavoidable physical ailments as from the effects of the profound lifestyle changes ushered in by the ‘permissive society’ of the 1960s. Within a few years, there had been significant changes in both laws and social attitudes in such areas as divorce, having children outside of marriage, abortion and pornography.”
    Dr Stammers, “a leading GP and Senior Tutor at St George’s Hospital Medical School,” also says “It is time to end the spin on sexual health and to tell the truth about safe sex – that it is more about the choice of partner, than whether condoms are used or not. Condom use is a risk reduction measure that has been well proven to substantially reduce HIV transmissionbut for most other STIs the evidence is far less clear.â€?

  • BWrites

    How comfortable are pro-choice supporters about terminating a pregnancy (abortion) being called homocide? Scott Peterson was convicted of two murders for killing his pregnant wife. Should terminating a pregnancy (abortion) really be criminal? Or is it only lack of consent (woman’s) what makes it criminal?

    Here’s the metaphor I like to use: if I own a purse, I can do whatever I want to with it. I can throw it away, I can give it to a friend, I can set it on fire, I can love and keep it forever. My choice.
    If I’m pregnant, and someone terminates my pregnancy against my will, then I’ve lost that choice over what to do with the fetus, and whoever takes that choice away from me get to be hammered with the full force of the law. I know that some pro-lifers want to use those laws as a wedge, and not all pro-choice advocates are comfortable with that, but for me, having the woman’s decision taken away from her is tatamount to murder. From day one of my pregnancy, my daughter felt like a real person– I know it was psychological and I think I would have felt differently were the pregnancy unwanted– but the psychological loss of losing her would have been catastropic.
    On another topic, I find it awfully hard to believe that most of the kind of boys Kristol is talking about would have stayed up late at night worrying about contraception before the morning-after pill became so well-known and available. Just because they now say, “You can take a pill after!” instead of “Honey, I’ll pull out” doesn’t mean they weren’t jerks to begin with.

  • http://subtilitas.blogspot.com/ Basiorana

    I think that forced abortion is often painful and psychologically damaging to the woman and the punishment should be very high, maybe even as high as murder– but in courts of law, it should be referred to as forced abortion and assault, not as murder, to draw a clear distinction. The victim should be referred to as the woman, not the child.
    At least until the fetus is past a certain age, like six months (after which it is biologically capable of surviving outside the womb with modern medicine).

  • rileystclair

    BWrites, i like your purse analogy and i agree that having the choice taken away should be a punishable offense. however, i have a problem with treating the killing of a fetus by a third party as the murder of a separate human being, as the pro-lifers want. i would like to see these acts punished with some sort of tacked-on crime, but still acknowledging the woman as the victim, as basiorana said, not the fetus as having its right to exist violated, because i don’t believe it has such a right at all.

  • Jovan1984
  • Kmari1222

    “I think that forced abortion…the punishment should be very high, maybe even as high as murder– but in courts of law, it should be referred to as forced abortion and assault, not as murder, to draw a clear distinction. The victim should be referred to as the woman, not the child.
    At least until the fetus is past a certain age, like six months (after which it is biologically capable of surviving outside the womb with modern medicine).”
    I think I pretty much agree with this. I think the focus should be more on the WOMAN than a fetus. I also think it should be called assault or the like, but not murder..

  • incitewxriot

    On the Airman hair situation, cornrows or not, her hair is out of regulation. There are very specific rules for appearance. It may seem silly to some, but it’s just a way of life. She’s been in for seven years, she knows what is and is not regulation, and the bulk of her hair does not meet standards (I know, it seems silly that there is a “bulk” standard when it comes to hair, but when that hair can creat a leak in a gas mask, it doesn’t seem so silly).
    Also, and it may just be me being peevy, but I can’t stand it when an article or blog calls airmen soldiers or don’t know the difference between enlisted and commissioned. It’s small detail, but just seems ignorant when people don’t even attempt to research. If you’re going to make a to-do about the military take the time find out the superficial specifics. It will make you a much more reliable resource.

  • Mina

    “and the bulk of her hair does not meet standards (I know, it seems silly that there is a ‘bulk’ standard when it comes to hair, but when that hair can creat a leak in a gas mask, it doesn’t seem so silly).”
    Now I’m wondering how feasible it would be for her to reduce the bulk of her hair without undoing her cornrows, chemically straightening her hair, etc.
    Meanwhile, I had the impression that (apart from the time spent every few months braiding) cornrows, microbraids, etc. take much *less* time per day to maintain well than unbraided/unlocked/etc. hair does. Is that true? I could imagine some military out there requiring them…
    “Also, and it may just be me being peevy, but I can’t stand it when an article or blog calls airmen soldiers or don’t know the difference between enlisted and commissioned. It’s small detail, but just seems ignorant when people don’t even attempt to research.”
    I’m wholly civilian myself, but I noticed that the blog article didn’t include her rank and thought “if I had a comment to post about this, then I’d need to know her title to be respectful, right?”

  • incitewxriot

    Mina: the bulk I was referring to wasn’t the bulk created by the cornrows, and wasn’t the bulk at the crown of her head, but rather the the bulk of her pony tale or bun. Regulation states no more than three inches of bulk, and that in uniform it may not touch below the bottom of the collar. If she would just cut her hair, and reduce the length, it wouldn’t bulk to more than three inches, and it would hit the below the bottom of the collar. I’ve (white, thin-haired gal) had to cut length off to maintain regs. I’m not saying that there is no way this is a race issue, I wouldn’t know. But her hair is definitely out of regs.
    It’s not okay to hunt for reasons to harass someone (I’ve been through this myself), and it happens all the time, and this could be an instance of that. What I did, was heavily scrutinize what I did, and maintain myself inside the regulation, and when the harassment continued I had proper evidence and it could not be disputed. It’s a sad way to live (and I hate hate hate standardization), but sometimes it does lend benefit.

  • Mina

    “Mina: the bulk I was referring to wasn’t the bulk created by the cornrows, and wasn’t the bulk at the crown of her head, but rather the the bulk of her pony tale or bun.”
    Yeah, that’s what I thought you meant.
    “If she would just cut her hair, and reduce the length, it wouldn’t bulk to more than three inches,”
    See, I didn’t know enough about cornrowing to know if that would work or if she’d need to undo the coils before cutting them or what.
    “It’s not okay to hunt for reasons to harass someone (I’ve been through this myself), and it happens all the time, and this could be an instance of that.”
    Indeed.

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    I have known *many* people in the Air Force – and other branches of the military – who wore their hair in a similar fashion. I’ve also known people who have worn their hair in dreadlocks. (Not long, Bob Marley-style locks, but thin and short.) Not one of those people received any disciplinary action because of how they wore their hair. Her commander is a racist idiot. Period.

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    I’m wholly civilian myself, but I noticed that the blog article didn’t include her rank and thought “if I had a comment to post about this, then I’d need to know her title to be respectful, right?”
    She’s a Staff-Sergeant (SSgt)

  • incitewxriot

    Malaika, Prior leniency to the regulation regarding dress and appearance by *other* members of leadership does not automatically imply racism. Regardless of what *other* leadership have let slide has no bearing on the regulation, and they were wrong. Non-adherence to the regulation is what creates these debacles of confusion. I’ve had to redye my hair upon change of command because a new commander deemed it “unnatural looking” and “faddish”. Of course, this example is more interpretive than the matter at hand, but the regulation explicitly states a bulk of no more than three inches, that it may not touch below the collar in uniform, and that dreadlocks are not authorized. Those were the regulations in place before the time of enlistment, and signing the contract and taking the oath implies that you are willing to abide by and maintain those regulations. End of story.

  • http://dont-read.blospot.com Malaika924

    incitewxriot:
    The thing is, those types of hairstyles aren’t “faddish”. People of African ancestry have been wearing braids, cornrows, and dreadlocks for centuries. A Black person processing her hair with a relaxer is, comparatively, more of a “trend” because that process was only invented less than a century ago.

  • http://www.rhrealitycheck.org Emily

    Ann, thanks for including the sex ed study RH Reality Check wrote recently discussed (at http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2007/12/31/study-shows-some-sex-ed-is-better-than-none). I just want to clarify one thing: the study actually showed that an abstinence-only program in Virginia did have a degree of effectiveness (not that, as you suggest, minimal sex ed was more effective than abstinence-only). I do argue that this study shows that putting some resources into sex education leads to better outcomes than the default (very poor) public school sex education program. But ultimately, the gains shown by the cohort exposed to the ab-only curriculum were not convincing and the preponderance of evidence suggests that abstinence-only programming has no effect on the age at which youth initiate sexual activity.

  • incitewxriot

    Malaika:
    No one ever said anything about them being faddish. I said this particular hairstyle does not meet regulation criteria for length and bulk.
    I, personally, do not know why dreadlocks are not allowed. But know for a fact that cornrows are. When I was in basic training it that encouraged for everyone cornrow their hair. It kept it out the face, under your hat and was quite cooling while marching drill in the humid San Antonio summer. But, if it was too long, you had to secure the ends to be sure they didn’t touch below the bottom of the collar, and if in securing the ends it exceeded three inches of bulk, you had no choice but to cut your hair. Not because the cornrows (or for that matter any style) were faddish, but because it exceeded an established standard for length and bulk.

  • GamesOnline

    The objection to OTC morning after pill is ridiculous.games