Tag Archives: sex education

165 pounds and up? Don’t rely on Plan B.

In case you missed it during the eat-a-thon, football-a-thon, couch-sitting-a-thon that was Thanksgiving, last week I wrote about Mother Jones’ investigation of the efficacy of Plan B (aka emergency contraception aka The Morning After Pill) for women over 165 pounds. The European equivalent (chemically identical, branded differently) has recently added a warning that the pill loses potency for women over 165 pounds and is ineffective for women over 176 pounds.

I found this revelation to be extremely disturbing. Frankly, both the scientific details (i.e. why 176 pounds? Is this BMI related? Can I just take two pills instead?) and legal intricacies (i.e. What kind of testing does the FDA require? What is a legally acceptable fail rate? When are you required to disclose this information?) of this announcement are over my head.

From an ethical perspective, however, it seems clear to me that when 25% of women (and 50% of black women, FYI) take a pill that advertises itself as emergency contraception, they deserve to know that it is not designed to work for them. All contraception has a fail rate, duh, but this is bigger than that. Some people are trying to make this an issue about promiscuity, or the politics of obesity, but they’re missing a point. The drug is already out there, the women already take it, they are already over 165 pounds. None of those facts change, so the only question on the table is whether there should be a big sticker on the box that says, “Over 165 pounds? Please consult your doctor before taking Plan B.” As a sexually active woman over 176 pounds, I would really appreciate that.


Related Post: What if an 18-year-old female pop star talked about her safe sex habits?

Related Post: Female figures are, by definition, feminine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Body Image, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Republished!, Sex

Vagina Love!

Sorry for the AWOL-ness of late. Busy busy with travel and “real” work and side projects.

What better way to celebrate a return to the blog than with some quality vagina-time?  A long time ago, I wrote an essay about why oral sex was so often a one-directional exercise and many of the respondees to my survey wrote about feeling like their vaginas were ugly, unclean, or “too private.” How something that you use to have sex with is too private for the person you’re having sex with is kind of beyond me, but I allow that feelings towards one’s genitalia can get complicated.

Anyway, those responses made me sad, because the idea of folks missing out on pleasure and intimacy out of vagina-shame seems like such a waste. Apparently, I am not alone in these feelings. Three cool vagina-friendly things for you to peruse this week. Probably not the safest for work, but I don’t know what your work is like, so use your judgment:

1. Vagina Posters: Debbie Herbenick, sex educator and all-around fan of vaginas is launching a Kickstarter to fund her beautiful poster series What Do You  Like About Your Vulva and Vagina. Go support her and her team and also get postcards or posters as a thank you gift!


2. Porn Sex vs. Real Sex: Production company Kornhaber Brown made this little video cleverly replacing genitalia with genitalia-shaped food to illustrate the differences between porn sex and real sex. Given that I am a porn fan and that I also don’t think porn is going anywhere even if I weren’t, I like content that contextualizes porn as performance and helps create boundaries between the sex that most people have and the sex that porn stars have.

3. Female Reproductive Organ posters: I found this in a secondhand store in Provincetown, MA, this past weekend. It’s a poster about menstruation and reproduction that was made by Tampax to hang in doctors’ officees. I loved it instantly but I left the store without buying it. Half an hour later, I made my group return so I could make it mine. It shall hang in the bathroom:


Related Post: My favorite body-positive pornographic tumblr (NSFW)

Related Post: Do you find my breasts offensive?


Filed under Art, Gender, Sex

S(Monday) Scraps 106


1. WEIGHT: How not to be a dick to your fat friends. Spot on advice from Marianne at XOJane.

2. HOLLYWOOD: This clip is old, but man is it good. Watch Dustin Hoffman have a few on-camera epiphanies while talking about dressing like a woman in Tootsie.

3. RACE: Kiese Laymon on multicultural writing, what it means to be a “real black writer,” and the state of modern publishing. For Guernica.

4. ABORTION: My second favorite dude comedian, Rob Delaney, writes for the Guardian about why he’s pro-choice.

5. SEX ED: The always excellent Marianne Cassidy on the sex education she wish she’d had (but never got, because she grew up in uber-Catholic Ireland).

6. WRITERS: Roxane Gay at The Rumpus applies the Vida test to race and publishing. Guess what percentage of NYT book reviews were of non-white writers?

Related Post: Sunday 105: Bodies that matter, old cities, tiny islands, literacy tests

Related Post: Sunday 104: Bookish pie charts, bro Venn diagrams, the Girlfriend Zone, etc.


Filed under Body Image, Books, Education, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex

Word of the Day: Anomie

You know how when you study for a test, you reach a point where you just cannot cram another fact or figure or strategy or whatnot into your brain without forcing some previously committed idea out your other ear? It means you’ve hit your capacity.

I have reached that point with the news. Not all of the news, mind you, just the lady-bashing news. It’s not that I don’t care, or that I don’t want to be informed. It’s just that the weight of the horribleness has just crushed any ability I have to care about a specific issue. I see “birth control” or “transvaginal” or “conscience clause” in the headline of an article, or in the outraged tweet of a friend or colleague, and I just cannot bring myself to click. I know what it will say, horrible things, and I know how I will feel, powerless.

This week Argentina decided to allow rape victims access to abortions. Yay? Is this really the kind of verdict I’m supposed to get excited for? Should I feel encouraged? It’s like we are climbing out of a deep hole, and while we scramble and scrape our way out, Rick Santorum is at the bottom of it digging us closer to the molten core of the Earth.

My friend Lori Day wrote an essay for the Huffington Post called “The Loneliness of Being Female in 2012.” She writes, “What is at stake is women’s ability to have authentic and freely chosen lives — nothing less….I sometimes write about anomie. It’s one of my favorite words, acquired in college Sociology 101, describing the moral disconnect one can feel between his or her own personal values, and the values and laws thrust upon the individual by society. I am writhing in anomie these days, and it is a very lonely place.”

I couldn’t agree more, so props to Lori for putting the word out there for all the other lonely people to rally around.

Related Post: The fundamental differences are just too much.

Related Post: Who would think that “age-appropriate” and “medically accurate” are word you wouldn’t want associated with sex-education?


Filed under Gender, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex


This is the guy who has it figured out?

“Why don’t we just be honest with them [students] and be upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?” said Rep. Bill Holden (R) of the Utah House of Representatives.

I know I just wrote about this, but good God it just gets me so worked up.

In college, I had an English professor who taught a class on the short story. His favorite game was to ask the class to identify the most important word in a given sentence. It was never a powerful noun, or a juicy adjective, but was always some teeny tiny preposition. An “of” is different than a “by” is different than a “with.” When you expect one and see another, the effect on your comprehension is profound.

In Rep Bill Holden’s quote about sex education, the teeny tiny word that gets stuck in my brain, like corn silk or a popcorn kernel in my teeth, is the “is.” Two little letters, and yet it never ceases to infuriate me. Swap out the “is” with a “can be” and it’s a whole different sentence. I would not dispute that sex out of marriage can, in fact, be devastating. Has it ever been devastating for me? No. For people I know? Not that I’m aware of. But I can imagine the circumstances in which Holden’s statement might be true.

Without the conditional, though, this statement is pure patronizing presumption. No kind of sex is one single thing to all people. That’s the beauty of it! Sex is not for fun. Sex is not for baby-making. Sex is not a good idea or bad idea. Sex can be for fun. Sex can be for babymaking. Sex can be a good idea or a bad idea. Context matters.

And that’s the difference between my kind of people and Bill Holden’s kind of people. We don’t want to tell teenagers how to have sex or when to have sex or with whom to have sex. We want to arm them with information, agency, confidence and self-esteem. We want to produce smart, critically thinking teenagers who become smart, critically thinking adults. Some of those adults may decide sex without marriage is not for them. That’s cool, and I’d not try to talk them out of their beliefs. The idea of abstinence is not what upsets liberals, it’s the idea of prescribed abstinence.

Related Post: God forbid the girl scouts let in the “new wave” hippies.

Related Post: The Republican road map to your reproductive future.

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Politics, Sex


Did you see that nutso video from the American Life League about the machinations of Planned Parenthood? Their bottom line is that, much like drug dealers want to create drug addicts to drum up business, Planned Parenthood is trying to create sex addicts to increase “sales” of contraception and abortion. Planned Parenthood even has its own gateway drug to lure in the unsuspecting youth: masturbation.

It’s preposterous on many rational levels, but rationality has never been a strong suit of these folks. This video is so far off the rails that I can’t even be offended, only amused. When it’s all over and the condom-rolling, Pride dancing, and funny sex illustrations have run their course, I’m left feeling like this man (and who he represents) is living in an entirely different universe than I am.

The problem is, we are never going to agree, and there is no compromise to be had. Our fundamental difference boils down to this:

In my universe, sex is mostly good.

In his universe, sex is mostly bad.

In my universe, we celebrate the fact that in the course of history, people have found this huge wide array of ways to find pleasure. We say, go out and seek them as you see fit, but treat yourself and your partners with dignity and respect.

In his universe, we condemn the fact that people have found all of these non-heterosexual, non-monogamous, non-marital, non-reproductive ways to find pleasure. They say, it doesn’t matter what you want, stop that nonsense and do only this one particular thing that doesn’t offend my delicate sensibilities.

In my universe, we should regulate people’s sexual behavior as little as possible, and only in ways that are absolutely essential to public safety (i.e. prohibiting rape, child pornography, etc.)

In his universe, we should regulate people’s sexual behavior as much as possible, limiting them to a very specific act that subjugates pleasure in favor of reproductive duty.

In my universe, “condom,” “oral sex”, “clitoris,” and “homosexual” are just words. They describe acts, objects, and body parts. They are not evil or wrong or bad. They are also not inherently good. They are just words.

In his universe, “condom,” “oral sex,” “clitoris,” and “homosexual” are the roots of all evil. Even “pleasure” is a dirty word, and not in the fun way.

These are fundamentally different world views, and I don’t have much faith, if any, that they will ever be reconciled through persuasion or compromise. Secession? Might just be the best bet.

Related Post: The “Death of Pretty” conflates innocence with purity. 

Related Post: Some people think lesbian role models have no place in the Girl Scouts canon.


Filed under Education, Gender, Sex

Girl Scouts

This has been making the Facebook rounds, and I can’t help but giggle:

Apparently, this is meant to discourage parents from enrolling their daughters in the greatest cookie selling scheme of all time. If I had known this was how they rolled, I might not have pitched such a fit in first grade when my mom tried to sign me up. To this day, I don’t know why I was so repelled by the sash-wearers, but I was, and my mom still counts it as one of my worst temper tantrums.

My favorite part of this “warning” is a toss-up between “gay role models” (EGADS! COULD THERE BE SUCH A THING?), the use of “new age” (What does that even mean? Patchouli and Kenny G?), and the opposition to “good” and “information-based” sex education. Obviously, we would much prefer the “bad” and “crackpot-based” sex ed for our kids.

Related Post: The only thing worse than “good” and “information based” sex ed, is “medically accurate” and “age appropriate” content.

Related Post: What kind of obscenities are we talking about, anyway?


Filed under Family, Gender, Politics, Sex