Nov 172010

The Center for Reproductive Rights is taking the FDA back to court, 

for ignoring a March 2009 court order to end age restrictions on emergency contraception.

The FDA is not above the law and should have to follow a court order (not to mention overwhelming scientific evidence) just like everyone else. We hope you’ll share this case with your readers and encourage them to take action against the FDA with us.

The restrictions were originally put in place during the Bush administration because they didn’t want young women to have access to EC. Medical and scientific consensus provides no rationale for age restrictions on EC, and a court ruled in the Center’s favor in 2009 and ordered the FDA to reconsider its policy.

The judge trusted that the Obama administration would do the right thing and reverse course, but fast forward a year and a half and the FDA continues to make excuses. What’s worse is that at the start of his administration, President Obama declared that politics would no longer play a role in U.S. science policy, stating, “we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”

The Center first sued the FDA in 2005, and even a 2009 victory  hasn’t driven the message home to the White House that women of all ages deserve quick, safe access to emergency contraception

Take Action and send a message to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.  And since you absolutely shouldn’t have a conversation about contraception without bunnies, enjoy:

 November 17, 2010  Posted by on November 17, 2010 Comments Off on Tell The FDA To Adhere To Court Order Ending Age Restrictions On Emergency Contraception
Nov 152010

It never ceases to amaze me exactly what it takes to make the American people rise up.  Turns out that after all of these years of hyper airport security mania not phasing us, it’s the thought of having to choose between being seen naked by the new radiating scanners or having our privates groped that is greatly pissing us off.  I wrote about it yesterday here.  Today the NYT reports that we are seriously scaring the crap out of TSA and oh yeah, possibly helping the terrorists with all our whining. John S. Pistole (great name, just saying), the new head of TSA is,

worried about the Internet-based campaign encouraging fliers who opposed the new machines to observe a “national opt-out day” on Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. Any passenger can opt out of a scan that creates an image of the naked body and choose a full-body pat down instead. Only a tiny percentage of passengers now do, the T.S.A. says. But if enough people choose to do so on one of the busiest travel days of the year, checkpoints could become crowded and disorderly.

As any security expert knows, a chaotic checkpoint is a security problem. “If terrorists can anticipate that, it gives them an opportunity” to try to evade various layers of security by creating an incident for diversion, Mr. Pistole said.

But the part I absolutely like best is this:

Do the imagers, for example, detect sanitary napkins? Yes. Does that then necessitate a pat-down? The T.S.A. couldn’t say. Screeners, the T.S.A. has said, are expected to exercise some discretion.

Discretion??  They are leaving this up to screeners so young they still have pimples or that bear a resemblance to your creepy uncle who everyone avoids? And what about tampons?  They look kind of like sticks of dynamite. Are they going to ask us to pull them out and show them just to be sure?

How about an unequivocal statement saying that sanitary napkins and pads will absolutely not trigger additional screening?  In the meantime, if you do happen to get your period, perhaps you can sweetly ask the TSA personnel if they would like you to remove your pad or tampon and put it on the conveyor belt.

For this and so many other reasons, support National Opt Out Day.


Addenda:  The Louisville Courier Journal recently ran a story about the loss of funding for a badly needed and very successful domestic violence advocacy program.  For the cost of one of these scanners, the funding could be restored, thus providing a service with a proven track record for making us safer.  Think about it.

Addenda 2:  Others have pointed out that if someone patted you down on a street corner the way TSA is allowed to do, it would be called sexual assault.  Meanwhile at a prison in Afghanistan, the U.S. is ‘rehabilitating’ members of the Taliban by teaching them to bake bread and plant sunflowers.

Addenda 3:  From Karl Zeeuw on CommonDreams:

Because as we all know, sexual predation is about personal power. If that predation is institutionalized, as it is now in our airports, it’s about social power, political power, and – most importantly – economic power…

…”You should never have to explain to your children, ‘Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee,'” say the organizers of National Opt Out Day – Nov. 24, 2010 – when they’re urging all U.S. air travelers to refuse to be body-scanned.

What he said.

Addenda 4:  As Stephen Colbert hilariously points out, if TSA selects you for “enhanced” screening, you can opt out of the scanner and ask for a pat-down, but if you opt out of both, you can’t just leave the airport, according to TSA you may be subject to a $10,000 fine and jail time.  Not so funny.

 November 15, 2010  Posted by on November 15, 2010 Comments Off on Does TSA Think Tampons Are A Security Risk?
Nov 152010

As the year comes to a close, we will soon be pummeled with the year’s Best Of this that and the other thing lists.  If you happen to be a woman who writes books, odds are you shouldn’t waste too much time looking for your name on any of them.

VIDA Women in Literary Arts, channeling Tillie Olsen, added up the male/female ratio of book awards and ‘best of’ lists last year, and found that 592 of the entries went to men, 295 went to women.  What is HUGELY depressing about their data is that they also went back and looked at the period from 1980-2009 as a whole and came up with almost the same ratio.  You can see the data here.

And then there is the news that  the Wasserstein Prize, which is given to young female playwrights who have not yet received recognition, will not be awarded this year because in the opinion of the organization that administers the prize, none of the submissions were worthy.  Works By Women has this:

It’s often said that we should leave the drama on the stage.  But, that edict is hard to live by, given the current state of women’s theatrical work.  Under 20% of plays produced on American stages are written or directed by women, and of those most are at the smaller theaters where remuneration is minimal.

And, today, Facebook is ablaze with outrage and disbelief that there will be no Wasserstein Prize given this year because, as the esteemed panelists noted, “none of the plays were truly outstanding in their current incarnation.”  The Wasserstein Prize, named after beloved playwright Wendy Wasserstein, is awarded to a young female playwright who has yet to receive national attention.  The prize is accompanied with a $25,000 check, which offers the rare financial encouragement to continue writing.

Isak has more good discussion here.  It has been suggested that the terms of eligibility are at least part of the culprit, but the bottom line is that there is no doubt that there are young women out there writing good plays and when something like this happens, it deprives them of the opportunity for desperately needed funding to support that work.  Is the non-rewarding of the prize necessarily misogynist?  No.  But denying funding can be tantamount to denying voice and the effect is thus quite chilling.


The silencing of women’s voices has been covered all too often on this blog, for a few of those posts, see here, here and here.

 November 15, 2010  Posted by on November 15, 2010 1 Response »
Nov 112010

So suppose you are a big ol’ pharmaceutical company with mega-expensive cancer drugs that you want to sell.  You’d want to make sure you always have a market for that lucrative product, right?  So you don’t actually want to cure cancer, just treat it, so adding a product that has been linked to cancer to your corporate lineup that has been linked to cancer would not be a contradiction.  Call it the circle of death–manufacture potential cancer causing products that might help create a market for your cancer treating products. As Breast Cancer Action points out, that is exactly what Eli Lilly is doing.

Eli Lilly has taken pinkwashing to a whole new level. By adding rBGH to the products they sell, Eli Lilly has completed its cancer profit circle: it creates cancer with rBGH, it sells cancer treatment drugs like Gemzar, and it sells a drug, Evista, to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. Eli Lilly’s cancer drugs made $2,683,000,000 for the company in 2008. Its potentially carcinogenic dairy hormone made millions of dollars in the same year. Eli Lilly is milking cancer.

As part of their Eli Lilly is Milking Cancer campaign, they decided to put up billboards in Indianapolis which is where Lilly is headquartered.

The group planned to pressure Lilly to discontinue the drug by launching a billboard campaign in Indianapolis. The message: “Eli Lilly is making us sick. Tell them to stop.”Lamar, Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor and about seven other billboard agencies have rejected the ad over the past six weeks, said Angela Wall, spokeswoman for the group.

“We can’t even get a public message out there in Indianapolis,” Wall said. “Who’s holding the mouthpiece when it comes to national health?”

When officials at Lamar saw Lilly singled out, Lamar executive Chris Iverson said, they asked the health group to defend its claim.

“We didn’t feel they could stand behind their statement,” he said.

Right, that explains why rBGH has, “been banned entirely in Australia, Canada, Japan, and all 27 countries in the European Union.” As Breast Cancer Action points out, “Although there is not definitive proof that the use of rBGH leads to breast and other cancers, there is enough evidence now to take precautionary steps and to eliminate its use.”

Indeed. And when has absolute proof ever been a litmus test for billboards? Try driving down the main drag of wherever you live and test that theory out.  I let my fingers do the walking in Google images and there was no shortage of good examples.  This one was my particular favorite after 15 seconds of searching:

Yup, no question that is totally factual.  Not. Which brings us back to the Breast Cancer Action billboard.  BCA is asking that you use the image above as your profile picture on Facebook because who really needs a really expensive billboard in one mid-western city when you can post your message all over the internet instead.  So let’s help them out, add it to your blogs, twitter it, etc.

And finally, this brings me to my periodic rant about net neutrality and the importance of independent, women-positive media.  We don’t generally think of billboards as media but just like advertising in newspapers and on television and on the internet, they contribute to framing the messages we are are sold when corporate profit is the deciding factor. This morning my local paper showed up literally wrapped in a Humana add that you had to remove so that you could see the front page of the newspaper.  You couldn’t not look at it. Sure, you can turn off commercial television and radio and so on but if you want to get from here to there, chances are, you are going to go past a billboard–they are a potent creator of the public frame and when important messages like the one Breast Cancer Action is trying to share are banned, we all lose.

 November 11, 2010  Posted by on November 11, 2010 Comments Off on Breast Cancer Action Asks You To Be The Billboard
Nov 102010

This post owes it’s existence to the failure of some folks to follow my first rule of technology, to wit:

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

And trust me campers there is a reason that rule is writ in red because Betty Crocker has created a brand new Warm Delights PMS SOS IPhone  app.  Now there is nothing new about PMS apps, there is also PMS Buddy: is a free service created with a single goal in mind: to keep you aware of when your wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, daughter, or any other women in your life are closing in on “that time of the month” – when things can get intense for what may seem to be no reason at all.

For women, this is a great way to give people in your life a heads-up of when you might be feeling a bit irritable without having an awkward conversation.

What’s more, we will not only keep you informed, but will give you some free advice on what to do about it. With, there is no reason to ever be blindsided by PMS again.

And who can’t live without the unfortunate Code Red app that also works on IPads.

But the corporate queen of insta oral gratitude goes a step further and offers us the results of their very important marketing research which found that:

In a recent survey distributed to more than 500 women aged 18 and older, nearly three in four (73 percent) of American women said they seek comfort in certain foods when they have their period. Seven in ten (71 percent) of these ladies said they specifically crave chocolate during this time every month.

Out of those women, 41 percent said that it makes them feel comforted, 37 percent said it makes them feel satisfied and 26 percent said it makes them feel happy.

So whatcha going to do?  Well first thing (well actually second thing because you gotta check out their Facebook page first), you gotta get the app, I mean who can resist:

For the Girls:

  • A monthly alert when PMS is looming with a Warm Delights coupon
  • Avoid the Drama: funny e-Cards to warn friends of tense moments and erratic behavior
  • The Apology Crafter: pre-packaged apologies to get out of any sticky situations
  • Symptom Solver: learn what’s going on with you…and why none of it is your fault

For the Guys:

  • A monthly alert when PMS is looming with a Warm Delights coupon
  • Get It Right: advice on exactly what to say to dodge any landmines caused by your girl’s PMS
  • The Great Escape: carefully-crafted excuses to stay out of the way during that time of the month
  • Massage 101: practice foot massage with feedback to make sure you’re doing it right

And never mind all medical advice to the contrary that suggests that you avoid pretty much everything that is in them, you’re going to take that coupon and go get the comfort that only Warm Delights can provide, made as they are out of the following ingredients:

Sugar , Enriched Flour Bleached , Wheat Flour , Niacin , Iron , Thiamin Mononitrate , Riboflavin , Folic Acid , Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil , Cottonseed Oil , Semisweet Chocolate Chips , Chocolate Liquor , Sugar , Cocoa Butter , Milkfat , Soy Lecithin , Vanilla , Cocoa Processed with Alkali , Corn Starch , Dried Egg Whites , Corn Syrup Solids , Salt , Distilled Monoglycerides , Artificial Flavor , Nonfat Milk , Freshness Preserved by BHT , Sugar , Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk , Condensed Skim Milk , Sugar , Corn Syrup , Water , High Fructose Corn Syrup , Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil , Cocoa Processed with Alkali , Cocoa , Butter , Chocolate Liquor , Vinegar , Modified Corn Starch , Disodium Phosphate , Salt , Sodium Bicarbonate , Sodium Alginate , Potassium Sorbate- Preservative , Mono and Diglycerides , Xanthan Gum , Natural Flavor

Aside from the obvious objections to the oh so last century stereotypical assumptions, this begs the question —if PMS is a medical condition, should Warm Delights now be considered a drug since it is touted as a treatment? What a crock.

Imagine instead if Betty Crocker donated money to help with projects such as the new app that helps report harassment instead of contributing to our ill health.  But where’s the profit in that?

(Many thanks to my son who pointed me to this great post on Jezebel that led to this post.)

 November 10, 2010  Posted by on November 10, 2010 2 Responses »