Monday, July 30, 2007


The contraceptive device that Seinfeld put on the map -- and immortalized in its demise -- has returned. In the episode, Elaine is horrified to hear that the sponge is being discontinued, so she buys a case and interviews potential lovers for their sponge-worthiness.

But now the sponge is back. Why that's great: because the more options, the better, even if they are always for the woman. What's bad: The sponge was never really known for being highly effective. I mean, it is called a sponge, after all. Doesn't exactly elicit huge confidence that sperm can't get through, does it? And, of course, it doesn't stave off STDs.

Still, choices are good. What next? Hey, maybe they'll bring back Seinfeld.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Make Chaste

There's a mini-trend spotted by the Education Life section of the New York Times today. Seems that some students at Ive League campuses (Harvard, Princeton, M.I.T.) have started up chastity clubs. Brings new meaning to abstinence-only education.

Aside from the fact that this idea sets women back a few hundred years, I take issue with the article that describes these campuses as liberal. Liberal compared to what? Some Christian college in the mid-West? Does anyone remember Harvard's last president being quoted as saying women weren't as good as men in math? And what about Princeton's eating clubs (mentioned in another story in the same section), which only started admitting women in 1991?

While feeling the need to bond over trite, moralistic pap and discussing mutual abstinence is misguided but relatively harmless, the idea that all of this is quietly veiled in religious zealotry that is bubbling up in campus life in mainstream collges is worrisome. Two of the campus societies are named for Elizabeth Anscombe, a Roman Catholic who, according to the Times "condemned contraception." Not sure, as the Princeton anti-sex club promises, that forswearing contraception helps with empowerment or dignity. Fewer choices are exactly the opposite of empowering, sex or no sex.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Still No Condom Ads on Fox or CBS

Check out my pitch to The Simpsons that combines both their love of pigs and subverting Fox on my post for Women in Media and News. Hey, it beats another story on Lindsay Lohan.
More Boobs from New York

So Ms. Magazine is getting in on Cleavage-Gate. They're asking people who want substance, not support stories, to write in to the Post and give them the what for. Turns out, Clinton hasn't just gotten flack for showing a little flesh. She's been hounded by the media in a pretty pervy way. Her hair style, her suits, her supposed Botoxed skin have all been points for pundits. Now, I have my problems with Hill. But let's face it: we'd all be better off if the media spent half as much energy focusing on policy statements as fashion statements.

You can speak your mind to the Post here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The D from New York

It really does take a major media outlet like the Washington Post to state the obvious: women, they have breasts. But that's what readers who happened on their site got to learn today with an article on Hillary Clinton giving us a --very small -- peek at her endowment. Check out my post on the WorkingForChange blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cowabunga, Dude

I admit it: I'm a fan of the Simpsons, the yellow TV-sitcom family who refuses to age or change. I've been counting down the days till The Simpsons movie opens at the end of the month. To get me in the mood, my local 7-11 is becoming a Quik-E Mart. (With signs like They're Not Called Don't Nuts. And squishees.) And I even have my own Simpons alter-ego -- courtesy of the Simpsonmaker. Take a look.

Cool, huh. Of course, I always considered Lisa Simpson a suitable representative, because let's face it, she does represent. She's the smart girl, the top of her class, the top of her town, really, the one who can be forgiven to occasionally Vassar-bash. Who was the first female-cartoon president, at least. It does drive me bananas that this irreverent, subversive show is on the most Orwellian of networks.

So I have a pitch for the show: Hey, Simpsons writers, since your network won't air the Trojan condom ad, why don't you run a cartoon condom ad on an upcoming episode. I won't even charge for the idea. Don't like it: eat my shorts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why Abstinence-Only Education Sucks and Blows

I really don't know why they bother. The Republican party -- the ones who sleep with prostitutes, children and other people's wives -- really blather on about abstinence-only education. They wouldn't dream of funding anything that had, um, science, involved.

No. They prefer the kind of "education" the way they take their "science," with neither, pleasantly divorced from fact. The New York Times today put a damn good story on its front page today all about lack-of-sex-ed classes in high school. Abstinence-only gets $17 million in funding in Texas alone. A class that does not discuss sex or contraception. To teenagers. So, what's happened despite this stupid waste-of-time class that probably most kids skip anyway? Well, teen pregnancy rates have been on the decrease, that is, going down, since 1991. Before abstinence-only education. Before Monica. While everyone hates to say it, I'll just go ahead and point out the obvious: contraception.

Because, when all else fails, a condom usually does the trick.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fox and CBS Don't Have Protection

The drama continues for the Trojan condom ad spurned by the TV networks Fox and CBS. This time, according to the New York Times, it's the affiliate networks in cities like Pittsburgh and Seattle who want a say. In Pittsburgh, they're saying no. In Seattle, they're rolling out the welcome mat.

Maybe Trojan really knows what it's doing: the ad is getting plenty of play on YouTube, with 100,00 hits, and 400,000 hits to the Trojan ad's Web site. Planned Parenthood sent out 44,000 e-mails to the network chiefs in protest. Everybody seems to get that it makes no sense, as I've said before, for ads to run about Viagra, but not to run about condoms. We see plenty of sex on your networks, people. But here's the reality: next year 4 million people will get an STD, according to Planned Parenthood. But what exactly is it about this condom ad that has these two networks running the other way? I think it's the frank discussion of sex -- use a condom every time. It seems that fantasy is fine, and reality programming about salacious issues, also OK. But suggesting that you be safe while partaking in any of these activities. Well, that's just downright subversive.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I just finished reading Peggy Orenstein's New York Times magazine story about the increasing use of donor eggs for infertile couples. And I know that I probably shouldn't do this, but I can't help it. I judge. Why? Maybe because I recoil at the idea of harvesting eggs from younger women so that older women can have babies out of their own bodies. Maybe because even in Orenstein's piece, the egg donors are pretty much nameless, faceless egg givers, irrelevant except for their behind-the-scenes role. The story wasn't about them, but about the agony the infertile woman goes through in going through an egg donation.

The infertility industry is a multi-billion-dollar business. If you're willing and able to plunk down $25-$35,000, you too can have some 20-something's eggs put into your 40-something body. I see ads to recruit egg donors in the BART train on my commute to work. To me, it's like we're in this strange, new world where an older woman is reduced to her uterus. And a younger woman is reduced to her young, healthy eggs. A few shots here, an AIDS test there, a Web site to scope out the young, mainly blond, (Ivy League and Jewish? even better) mainly high SAT-scoring Bettys, and you've got yourself an insta-family.

But just because modern medicine can give you this option, does not mean you should take it. Women over 40 can stall the inevitable aging process with botox, breast lifts and lipsuction. And now they can add to that list birthing babies. Orenstein's argument is that by keeping the egg donor detail under wraps only adds to the stigma of having an egg donor baby. Bust this out in the open, she says, and just make it one more option for couples who want kids. After all, she tried it, and she wrote a book about it.

But once again, the New York Times is showcasing an procedure that is not universal and is not without controversy. It is an option for couples who can afford it and aren't saddled with ethical dilemmas that science has created before philosophy has caught up. In this area, we're barren.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


What is up with all the man words these days? A male nanny is a manny. A man's sandals are mandals. And let's not forget the word that started it all, mimbo, a male bimbo. It's not like we were lacking in words for men. But I mean, what's next -- a male geisha could be a guysha. A man gynecologist, a mancologist. And a male manicurist, oh, wait, that's kind of taken care of.

It's not enough that professions or possessions associated as femme get de-girled to be more suitable for men. We've worked hard to de-gender words (waitron, anyone?) and now they've come back cute. Why? Because no man in a ghettoized female role wants to be stuck with the girls. He wants his own title, and maybe even a promotion and a raise.

Maybe the ultimate test will be if -- when -- the next president can change her title to Madame. Which makes her husband First Man. Let's see how manly that role can be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fox and CBS Still Abstaining

Remember the Trojan ad with the pigs in a bar? Well, no pigs are seeing air time on CBS and Fox networks, which still contend that a bunch of pigs wearing condoms to pick up chicks is not a public health message, but a pregnancy prevention message, therefore, does not fly with these holier-than-thou network execs. And yes, seems that they'll air the damn things when pigs fly. That would actually be fine, as long as they weren't wearing protection.

Planned Parenthood is asking us what the next step should be, since their letter-writing campaign seems to leave those at the top unmoved. You can suggest an idea here. My idea: giant billboards of condom ads across from network headquarters. What's yours?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Feel Like Dancin'
So I just got back from L.A. and let me tell you there is nothing like dancing with my fellow Smith alums to make me feel like it's 1989 again. It's the healing power of dancing, or maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was Justin Timberlake. (Say what you will about the guy, you cannot listen to his tunes without busting out.) So what if we're all on the high end of our 30s, one of us has a kid, one of us is divorced and all of us can't seem to let a few details like that get in our way of showing our moves. There is nothing like good friends, good music and lots and lots of dancing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Princess Diaries

I have a confession. I just bought the July issue of Vanity Fair, the one Bono guest edited. And the first article I read wasn't about Kenya, or orphans in Malawi. It was about Princess Diana, an excerpt from Tina Brown's new book, The Diana Chronicles, on a hardly new subject: the Princess of people's hearts.

At first the placement seemed odd and even in poor taste. But then I realized that the whole issue was chock-full of celebrity humanitarians -- and that entire category was essentially created by Diana herself. Without Diana, there could be no Angelina Jolie.

Sure, the chapter is full of juicy bits, like how Di was so mad about losing her H.R.H. title after the divorce from Prince Charles; how she leaned on her son Prince William more than a mother should. And how she used the press to hide and flaunt her lovers. But it also reminded me of the good she did: publicizing the horror of landmines, humanizing children with AIDS.

I'm not sure what the Diana Chronicles will do to pump up the rep of the princess; her life and death are hardly a secret. But the book is certainly doing wonders for the career of Tina Brown. Another win for the princess.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Remembering Carolla

There are lots of dates that stick in our brains: birthdays, anniversaries, national holidays. But the one I hate to acknowledge but can't ever forget is the night my sister died. It stays with me the way I can't shake a bad dream. Three years is a long time and not very long at all.

I ate a fortune cookie today that chided me: time heals all wounds. But it's not true. Grief and loss are non-linear. I wish it weren't so. But I can tell you from experience, it is.

My sister didn't want to be remembered as the one whose life was cut tragically short by cancer. If I can just get past losing her, I can pick up and help the world remember her the way she'd want it. Not starting at the end, but at the beginning.

Carolla, I'm trying.

State of Our Unions

It is so fitting that the Style section of the New York Times, the one on Sunday that features the Vows column and the paid wedding announcements, would also be tracking how well these marriages turn out. A front-page article trumpeted a Pew Research survey that the wedding bells are ringing far shorter than you may think. The length of your happy nuptials after all that wedding business is three quick years. The reason? Women's economic independence, for one. That's what the Times said, and I think they even meant it as a compliment. But it's not really. It means that women don't have to be married, so we split if things don't work out our way. We only stay if we're happy, see.

Another reason: women and men are actually not getting married, or getting married later. Or having kids out of wedlock.

My favorite wedding advice has always been: wait 10 years. It's what Larry and I did. And hey, our fifth anniversary is coming up, so my theory must be working.