Monday, October 29, 2007

EC Needs ED

So, if Emergency Contraception is legal and available, but nobody knows about it, does it matter?

That's what Barbara Boxer, my senator in California, wants to know. And she's cosponsoring a bill that funds a public education campaign to let women know it's here, it's near, get used to it.

We fought so hard to get EC approved -- and the facts are indisputable: 3 million pregnancies in the U.S., and half of them unintentional. Half of those end in abortions. So guess what: get EC out there -- Plan B for failed birth control or no birth control. It's so innocuous -- just an extra large dose of birth control pills -- not as some mistake it for, RU-486, which is an actual abortifacient. EC prevents prevents fertilization before pregnancy, if taken after soon after sex. So all those abortions? They go away. If abortion is the third rail of politics, think of EC as the third way. Not pro. Not anti. Just necessary.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fashion Primer for the Primaries

Obama may not have beat Clinton in the fundraising this time around; but if you want a cute T-shirt, Obama's your man. The fearless (or at least incredibly thorough) reporting of the New York Times today tells us that the Obama campaign is the only one offering baby Ts. Well, there may be something to that. I mean, the Wellesley Women for Hillary lapel pin will have a built-in fan base, but a good fitting T-shirt is hard to find. You know, finding the right fit T-shirt could help point the way to a candidate who's a good fit, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fun with Latex

Condoms can be such useful things. Prophylactic. Water balloon. OK, actually, that's all I really thought condoms were good for. But from China, I guess I've been taught that I have a very one-dimensional mind. Have no idea what I'm talking about? This has to be seen to be believed.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Adopting a New Outlook

When I was about 12 years old, my best summer friend asked me in passing how many kids I wanted when I grew up. I told her I didn't want kids. "Mom!" She yelled, like I had just stolen out of her wallet, "Claudine doesn't want kids!"

It's funny how people get so affronted at this. And at 12 I was just so sure. Now I'm less sure, but at pushing 40, some things have a way of working themselves out. My friend who was so appalled at 12 that I didn't want kids, doesn't have them either. But she's trying to change that through an international adoption in Kenya. All it takes is a lawyer in the U.S. and one there. The embassy. Massive amounts of paperwork, a willing orphanage and massive amounts of money. And then, the odds are still not all in her favor.

I like the idea of adoption. But international adoption makes me queasy, not least because of the stars who have popularized it recently. And like any fast-growing business, one that markets in people can attract some unsavory characters. If you think you know about adoption, or want to know more, this brutally honest account of one adoptive family in Mother Jones, "Did I Steal My Daughter?" jumps right into the issues that anyone of good intent but uneasy conscience must undoubtedly feel when wading into the uncertain waters of international adoption: is it a good deed or a risky venture with someone's messy life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Civil War Sing-Along

Thursday night I witnessed history in the making: a new work from the San Francisco Opera to commissioned just for them: Appomattox. With music by uniquely American composer Philip Glass,(whose sort of haunting repetitive themes are almost ubiquitous in his movie soundtracks), the opera stages the most significant event in American history: the surrender of the South by General Lee to General Grant at that famous site, and takes us from the lead up to the surrender to its aftermath, 10 and then 100 years out. History doesn't really lend itself so well to a good story arc, so the momentum wasn't there in the opera; nor does it lead to much of a build-up. Not to say it didn't move me: In fact, being reminded that this struggle over slavery was so recent as we fast-forward to a presidential race, which, at least on the democratic side, features a black candidate and a woman as the two lead contenders -- seems highly improbable given the disaster post-Civil War Jim Crow laws, not to mention the struggle for civil rights and women's equality. It is a tragedy with a happy -- or at least hopeful -- ending.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This Just In: Men Heart Feminists

A new research study published by researchers at Rutgers concludes that feminists are cute, lovable and oh-so-heterosexual, contrary to ongoing stereotypes.

According to Science Daily:

They found that having a feminist partner was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported both more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction. According to these results, feminism does not predict poor romantic relationships, in fact quite the opposite.
Maybe I live in a bubble, well, I mean, I do live in a bubble, San Francisco for god's sake, but who is sitting around worried that feminists aren't date-able? Feminists fight for equality, and back in the day, brought us birth control, sexual liberation and pants! They're not only sexy, pretty much sex is brought to you by feminists. Hello. But don't just take my word for it. Now science says so. You can read more here, if you want more proof.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nobel Prize News You Can Use

So technology that won a Nobel Prize for Medicine last year is the future of birth control for women (of course): a hormone-free patch that keeps you baby free. The bad news: It's a decade out yet, but birth control without hormones could be worth the wait. Or even if you're in menopause by then, at least your secret love child could take advantage.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Enough with the Pink Platitudes

It must be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Either that, or some deranged preschooler has been set loose on, well, every consumer product out there. Everywhere I turn the Pepto-Bismo "we care" pink has shaded everything from cell phones to running shoes. When I mentioned in passing to a friend I had seen pink candy corn (admittedly a refreshing alternative from the orange) she asked if it was for breast cancer awareness. She may have been right.

I don't know what it is about the month of pink that makes me see things without rose colored glasses. After all, the awareness campaign did remind my mother to get a mammogram, and that's a good thing, since early detection is what it's all about. Maybe it's sour grapes, since my sister had a cancer that wasn't cool and pink with a ribbon. It wasn't in a cute part of the body that has implications about sexiness. (By the way, men get breast cancer, too, and they can't appreciate the ribbons much).

Maybe I would feel better if breast cancer were something that lots of people died from. But when I read that if detected early, 97 percent of breast cancer is curable, it made me think: that's great. But your best chance of surviving any kind of cancer increases the earlier it's detected. Let's put the pretty pink campaign to use for another disease that could use a little sex appeal.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Clinton Gore '08

I just have to come out and say that right here, right now, Clinton Gore is the winning ticket for '08. I may be getting ahead of myself, or on some crazy Gore kick, but that man is unbeatable. Even after having the 2000 election stolen from him, he's a big winner. Now with an Oscar, a Nobel Peace Prize and who knows what else coming his way, this man is unstoppable. And let's not forget that everything the man says turns out to be right. About the Iraq War. About climate change. He's a Gore de force, and Hillary should hop on it. The man's got enough alternative energy for the both of them.

Also, I just would love to watch the right wing tie themselves in knots over that team. The right fears and loathes Hillary and guess what? Gore can take that same badge of honor, too.

So, in the words of John Kerry: bring. It. On.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dying for Abortions

A global study looking at abortion rates worldwide shows that the rates of abortion are the same whether or not they're legal. So much for the illegal equals deterrence argument. The bad, bad news: where they're illegal, they're unsafe, and women are dying. How to decrease abortions? Access to contraception. Hardly mind-blowing. Hardly high-tech. But these kind of simple solutions that would save women's lives are impeded by the Catholic church and the zealous anti-abortion -- oh, I mean "pro-life" crusaders in the U.S.

According to The New York Times article,

The Bush administration’s multibillion-dollar campaign against H.I.V./AIDS in Africa has directed money to programs that promote abstinence before marriage, and to condoms only as a last resort. It has prohibited the use of American money to support overseas family planning groups that provide abortions or promote abortion as a method of family planning.

Worldwide, the annual number of abortions appeared to have declined between 1995, the last year such a broad study was conducted, and 2003, from an estimated 46 million to 42 million, the study concluded. The 1995 study, by the Guttmacher Institute, had far less data on countries where abortion was illegal.

Some countries, like South Africa, have undergone substantial transitions in abortion laws in that time. The procedure was made legal in South Africa in 1996, leading to a 90 percent decrease in mortality among women who had abortions, some studies have found.

Abortion is illegal in most of Africa, though. It is the second-leading cause of death among women admitted to hospitals in Ethiopia, its Health Ministry has said. It is the cause of 13 percent of maternal deaths at hospitals in Nigeria, recent studies have found.

Friday, October 12, 2007

DIY Abortions

This announcement in the UK Telegraph made me think that maybe science will trump the abortion debate in the near future. Abortion by pill taken at home, not at an obvious abortion clinic. Sure these are happening now, but not without doctor visits. The article suggests that there may be a move in the UK to allow the abortion drug over the counter and taken at home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Girls Stay Out of the Picture

OK, so if this is true, it truly sucks. Word has it that Warner Bros. is passing on pictures with female leads because of droopy box office sales from Jodie Foster and Nicole Kidman's latest flicks.

Really? I mean, really? Well, what do we do when male lead pictures flop? Get rid of the men, too? Who does that leave to be in pictures? Cute dogs? Monster movies? Robots? A combination of all? Maybe Warner Bros. should just start making better movies and stop blaming the women.

Up in Smoke

It is a compelling (and admittedly at times, tempting) image -- burning bras in the name of stamping out the patriarchy. Especially in 1968. But it never happened. (Fire codes prevented it. They may have been angry feminists, but they did believe in safety first.) But the myth of the bra-burner lives on. In our heads. In our lingerie closets. And last month, in a newspaper story on the history of the bra, brought to you by Maidenform.

From Women in Media and News:

On Sept. 27, you received an action alert from WIMN ("Tampa Tribune Needs History Lesson") about a recent Tampa Tribune article that rehashed the old myth that feminists burned bras in the 1960s, complete with a separate timeline
-- offered by bra-maker Maidenform -- that asserted that feminists encouraged 'bra-burning rallies.'" Asking if perhaps the Tribune had burned their history books, we offered you information about the history of the "feminist bra-burners" myth and an address for letters to the Tribune editors so that you could ask for a correction. (For the original alert, see

Today, we're pleased to report that the Tampa Tribune responded to your feedback with a follow-up piece by reporter Cloe Cabrera. Cabrera not only explained how the error made it into her original report but also interviewed feminist activists who could attest first-hand to the fact that bra-burning never happened at the event where the myth was born. Her piece, "No Bras Burned, But They Did Revolt" begins:

"It's a myth so pervasive, most of us believe it's true.

I know I did.

So when information about "feminist bra burning rallies" turned up in a timeline Maidenform provided for a Sept. 27 story on the history of the bra, I didn’t think twice about using it.

Bra-burning women's libbers have become an important part of 1960s lore. I've heard stories about them. I've read about them in books and magazines.

The problem is, things didn't go down quite the way those stories tell it.

That's not to say bra-burning never happened as a public protest anywhere during the turbulent '60s. But feminists didn't set their bras ablaze in the spectacular way that has become legend." (To read the full story, see

Monday, October 08, 2007

I Still Believe Anita

I can't believe that Justice Clarence Thomas is still re-living his confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court. But his book My Grandfather's Son supposedly rehashes all that. It's so nice to remember those hearings, the pubes on Coke cans. Long Dong Silver. The high-tech lynching. I remember listening to it over the endless five weeks in horror and fascination. Thomas seems to bear a major grudge at all this. Please. Bill Clinton withstood 10 kinds of nasty for eight years and is honored to have served the public.

Thomas seems to find no irony in his embrace of victimhood while scorning affirmative action programs (from which he benefited) for the very same reason. He's color blind, now that he's been to Yale and spits on his degree with his Yalie connections that got him where he is. He thinks Anita was nutty? This man is downright delusional.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Like to Watch

When I was about six years old, my mother decided that I'd had enough TV in my life, broke off the antenna and banned it from the house.

Thus began my obsession with the tube.

At friends' houses, all I'd want to do is watch. But maybe because my TV addiction was interrupted at such a young, suggestible age, I don't remember ever feeling deprived, bored or pressed to fill hours. I read, a lot. I played music, rode my bike, did kid stuff. I didn't even watch TV in college. I remember how the halls cleared on the nights of LA Law (the favorite of government majors) and 30-Something (for the liberal arts crowd), but I never thought to join in.

Until I moved in with my husband, Larry. Larry had a big TV, and he got me into The Simpsons, the gateway drug to every other funny show.

Now I'm hooked. We have Tivo and what's got to be the best programming on TV in years. 30 Rock. Mad Men. The Unit. Heroes. Entourage. Weeds. Not to mention Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. The list goes on and on.

Judith Warner writes on her blog that she is considering cable TV, so as not to deprive her daughters of pop culture (or herself). Her daughters seem game and promise not to be "retards" if they start watching the expanded offerings of Disney and Nickelodeon.

I try to imagine my mom posing that question to my high school self. But she beat me to it.

A few years ago, my mom bought her own TV, and is now just as obsessed with shows as I am. (She prefers Sex and the City and The Closer, and more recently even subscribed to HBO so she could watch Tell Me You Love Me, which reviews claim to be practically porn. She claims it's about relationships).

TV never was as evil as my mom thought or as good as my friends thought. But after my TV-free childhood, it sure is fun being an adult.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Clinic Defense

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora, IL, barred from opening by pro-life protesters who sought a court injunction to keep the brand-new building closed, opened anyway today. They had done nothing wrong. But tell that to a city flooded with what Planned Parenthood described as one of the biggest magnets for anti-choice protesters since probably South Dakota's abortion ban was defeated. The clinic had violated no ordinances, had followed every city code and had been approved to open. But for a crazy few weeks, the city was overrun and then run by a bunch of anti-choice nut jobs. For once, the sane, reasonable course of action won out. Finally.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fight or Die

First there's the happiness gap between men and women. Now a new study shows there's an anger gap, too. For women who kept their feelings to themselves during marital spats, were four times more likely to die than women who let it all out. The next study will have to be the stress gap, for women who aren't happy and aren't yelling at their husbands.