Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reminder: Check out our new blog!

Just a reminder: If you're not reading our new blog, you should be! A few things you may have missed:

Friday, June 19, 2009

We're Moving!

Hey Kids!

We've finally decided that we've been using a .blogspot address for too long. Over the next few weeks we'll be rolling out our new blog, with its very own URL: But for now we wanted to give you all a sneak peak at the new design. Check it out!

Pretty right? Stay tuned!

What the Internet Thinks: Condoms Good, Birth Control Bad, and Abortion is a Tricky Issue

A friend of mine sent me a link to the web site What Does The Internet Think? which, according to the description, uses search engine results to get a general sense if the Internet is positive, negative or neutral on any given topic.

So of course what's the first thing I do? Search for reproductive-health related topics, duh.

So what does the Internet think?

Well, for some reason it hates birth control.

But it looooooves condoms.

The birth control pill stikes out too, for some reason (although as soon as you don't put it in quotes the popularity shoots up. A commentary on the Internet's favor for birth and pills, perhaps?)

But! Ladies, there's hope. The Internet loves IUDs!

And finally, of course, abortion. I dreaded the search, but surprisingly?

Just like the rest of America, when it comes to abortion, the Internet isn't quite sure.

Obviously, this is just for fun, and no real measure of public opinion etc. I'd be fascinated to know just how they get their results. What do you think? Acurate? Could anything be throwing the results off?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Should Sex Ed Always Be Sex-Positive?

A friend sent me this link to a new Sex Ed web site called Sex.Really., sponsored by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Unlike some other sex ed web sites, it's geared towards women in their 20's, and is designed to
"provide food for thought, and for discussion. Sort of like a sex site for the brain..."

I love the idea of the site in theory – yes, people of all ages need sex education, especially those in their 20s and 30s (and even 40s, 50s and 60s) who are making up the 'rules' as they go. But most of the content seems to revolve around the work of author Laura Sessions Stepp. And as a post over at Jezebel so aptly describes, that means:

In the system of sexuality that Sessions Stepp seems to favor — the slow, steady, codified "running of the bases" within a relationship — women are always the sexual gatekeepers. This stance neatly sidesteps any notion of men's responsibility for, well, anything. In Sessions Stepp's view, women trade sex begrudgingly in return for access to the socially-protected role of "girlfriend" and the supposed privileges that come with it.

Putting aside Sessions Step's assumption that all sex is between men and women, or how ridiculous it is to task young women with protecting their chastity, exactly why can this approach be so harmful?

For that I turned to my friend Jessica* who has just started dating casually after getting out of a four-year relationship. When I showed her the site, she told me this:

It was weird for me at first to have sex with someone I wasn't in a relationship with, and I kind of freaked out and thought I was doing something wrong. But then I realized that "I feel like I'm doing something wrong" thing wasn't coming from me, it was coming from my fear of being judged by other folks.

For me I couldn't make sex contingent upon a relationship because I wasn't ready to get into a new relationship. But I did want to have sex.

It's weird, it probably would have been more unhealthy for me to force a relationship in order to have sex. But I think [Laure Sessions Step] would think that having a relationship was more healthy.

And she's not my only friend who's had this reaction, especially after getting out of a relationship.

I agree that it's good for sex ed to be holistic, and to talk about the emotional consequences of the decisions we make -- Planned Parenthood of New York City uses a model of sex ed that talks about body image, relationships and everything else in between. And I also agree that navigating just what kind of sexual relationship (no strings attached, long term relationship) you're comfortable entering into can be really tricky.

But sites like Sex.Really., with their warnings about the negative consequences of hook ups, don't do much to help the matter. And perpetuating the assumption that women always want an emotional commitment and men never do can't be good for either gender.

But maybe I'm erring on the side of being too anything-goes sex-positive. What do you think? Is there value in what Laura Sessions Step has been producing for the site?

* Yes, names have been changed to protect the newly-singe

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekly News!

Here's what you might have, but shouldn't have, missed in the news last week:

  • Joan Malin, CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, is quoted in the New York Times on the Clinic Access Bill.

  • The Rachel Maddow Show, on MSNBC, highlights Planned Parenthood’s preventive health care to 3 million women.

  • Julie Rovner, NPR, has an excellent segment piece on All Things Considered about why NPR no longer uses the phrase “late-term abortion” and instead refers to these procedures as "late abortion" or "abortion later in pregnancy."

  • Rozalyn Farmer Love, a medical student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, has a powerful OpEd in the Washington Post

  • Cecile Richards, president of PPFA, is interviewed on AP Radio about speaking at Dr. Tiller’s memorial in Washington DC, hosted by RCRC. The American Prospect also reports on the memorial.

What did you read?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Do you listen to your friends when it comes to birth control?

Check out this hilarious new video from Sarah Haskins, all about Lady Friends!

Sarah's stuff is hilarious, and this one is sure no exception. But it got me thinking -- as much as the advertising industry may try and unrealistically use the concept of a woman and her friends sharing information (hello granny panties!), that idea doesn't come from nowhere. I often turn to some of my best friends for information on doctors, relationships and, of course, birth control.

But am I alone in this? What about all of you? Who would you turn to first, your friends, a web site, or a doctor for advice on birth control and protection?

PS - read more about the Top Ten Contraception Myths and how to find the best birth control for you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What you might have missed in the news last week:

There's been a ton of media coverage, both local and national, on all things repro rights. Here's what happened last wee:

  • The New York Times has a piece on the Clinic Access Bill with a great quote from PPNYC's President Joan Malin.

  • El Diaro has a great editorial on the Dr. Tiller murder.

  • Chelsea News Now covered the vigil for Dr. George Tiller.

Additionally, there have been many, many moving articles, commentary, blogs regarding the tragic murder of Dr. Tiller. Here are a few from across the country worth reading.

What else did you read?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jonas Brothers' Mom on Safe [non]Sex

Not that I'm a huge fan, but I couldn't help but pay attention when I saw that according to People Magazine the Jonas Brothers' mom is speaking out about the boys' sexuality:

"They are men. They have desires. They have testosterone," she says. "If they make a mistake, I'm not going to hate them."
As for the purity rings Kevin, 21, Joe, 19, and Nick, 16, all wear, [the Jonas Brothers' mom] Denise says it was a private decision that's gotten some unwanted attention.

"They've been criticized for proclaiming things they never proclaimed," she says. "And what's the criticism? They don't want to go out there giving everyone an STD? What's so terrible about that?"

On the one hand, this kind of open, non-judgmental attitude coming from a parent is one of the best things a kid (both boys and girls!) can have when navigating the sometimes rocky waters of sex and sexuality. On the other hand, I kind of wish she'd focus less on testosterone and more on ways of preventing STDs other than just the brothers' purity rings.

Which brings us to the real question: given that Joe Jonas wears a purity ring, should we be reading more into the fact he's just dressed up and danced to Beyonce's song "Single Ladies" (chorus: 'if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it')?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Personal Stories

In the wake of Dr. Tiller's assassination, I've been hearing a lot of questions about what it means to get an abortion in the late second or third trimester of your pregnancy, and why women would seek them.

To anyone who hasn't had to think about this issue before, or who's only heard about it from anti-choice groups' rhetoric, the question makes sense. Jodi Jacobson has a great piece up at RH Reality Check about the specifics of the procedure -- namely that they constitute about 0.2% of all abortion procedures conducted in the U.S., that they're severely restricted by law under Roe v. Wade and are performed when the continuation of the pregnancy poses serious risks to the woman's life or health and could cause irreparable harm to the woman.

The heartbreaking part is that often times the women who elect to have this procedure done do so under dire circumstances, with pregnancies that were wanted yet for the woman's own safety simply cannot continue. And to that effect, I thought it would be worth sharing some of their stories.

  • Gretchen Voss has a powerful first person story in the Boston Globe which won a Maggie. Her piece also appeared in Marie Claire.

  • The site A Hearbreaking Choice has a collection of personal stories posted by women who traveled to Kansas to see Dr. Tiller.

  • Self Magazine has a great piece on the tragic pregnancies at the center of late-term abortion debate.

  • MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has an amazing piece on 'Who is Dr. Tiller'

  • And these two powerful editorials are also worth a read:

  • USA Today editorial: Our view on death in Wichita: Activists mount militant assault on abortion rights

  • Washington Post editorial: Clinics in the Cross Hairs

Tuesday, June 2, 2009