Thursday, April 23, 2009

For BC & EC, How Young Is Too Young?

Last month, I posted for Back Up Your Birth Control Day and mentioned that the courts wanted the FDA to consider lowering the age of prescription-less access to emergency contraception from 18 to 17. The FDA considered it, and they have agreed.

On last month's BC/EC post, Mächtige Maus and I started a discussion in the comments about how young is too young to have access to emergency contraception or birth control in general. In one of my comments, I brought up the issue of medication still being a drug. I wanted to elaborate on that a bit and stress the importance of testing and education about how birth control and EC affect women at different ages. If there is a big difference in the effects of these drugs in a 16-year-old versus an 18-year-old, then it stands to reason that more control should be placed on how the 16-year-old can access it. Does anybody know if this research is out there and, if so, what they've found?

Ultimately, it is hard to give an arbitrary age to something like this, especially given all the variables involved. Consider the fact that the average age of these occurrences are probably quite different:
  • menarche (the first period) - around 12
  • first instance of real sex education (not the abstinence-only kind) - this can vary tons depending on state and quality of education, but let's guess 13-15
  • first sexual experience - around 17
  • when society wishes the first sexual experience was - I'll just throw out 18-21
So what age are we supposed to go by? Do you folks have any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Heirloom Tomato, Please

It is true that I have often thought I should have been born into a European culture. There are many things that appeal to me: an awesome mass transit system, vacation time that encourages something beyond work, a deep sense of culture/family, and the immediate access to fruits of the earth. The latter really is more at the top of the list. I appreciate the ability to walk out the door and reach a local butcher, baker, and/or produce shop. Apparently Michele Obama approves as well.

The Nation has an article that outlines the concept of healthy eating here.

Now, by publicly championing fresh local food, Michelle Obama clearly hopes to entice Americans away from their junk food past to a healthier, more delicious future. And that is what makes her message so far-reaching. Change America's eating habits and you can change the world.

Shifting to a greener diet would be good not only for the health of America's children and families but the health of the planet. The American diet, and the food production and distribution system that supports it, is one of the main drivers of global warming and a host of related hazards, from deforestation to air, soil and water pollution. Most people know by now that our civilization must fundamentally change the way it produces and consumes energy if we are to stop global warming. Far fewer people realize that it is equally important to change the way we produce and consume food.

I'm on board with a green revolution. I don't see me growing my own garden because I am not all that much of a green thumb. However, we are looking forward to the first weekend of May because that is when the local farmer's market makes its yearly return. We have indeed bought some of the sweetest locally grown, organic tomatoes from there. So, on this Earth Day, hop on board with First Lady Obama and do what you can to return to the earth, grow or shop organic and healthy. It does a body good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's In a Name?

Since we here at The Feminist Underground are fond of talking roller derby (see posts here and here), I thought it my duty to bring this to the attention of our readers. Oh the things that will bring about a lawsuit: Frito-Lay suing roller derby skater over use of 'Crackerjack'
Colleen Bell says no one's ever confused her with a snack.

Her roller derby name, Crackerjack, is too similar to the name of their famous caramel popcorn and nut snack (the one that comes in a box with a prize).

The way Bell sees it, "Crackerjack" and "Cracker Jack" can't reasonably be linked.

"(Crackerjack) is a slang from the beginning of the century for an exceptional person or thing," she said. It's also the name of a '50s rockabilly song, which was her original inspiration

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Joy of Tennessee

Honestly, this could be a series if I wanted to make it one. "The Joy of Tennessee - A Study of Repression and Fear" or some such title.

Currently the ACLU is demanding that Tennessee schools stop blocking student access to valid LGBT resources.
Knox County Schools and Metro Nashville Public School use web filtering software that blocks student access to the websites of many well-known national LGBT organizations, including PFLAG, GLSEN, and HRC.
The Knoxville News Sentinel is covering the story here and the public comments are frustrating, as per usual.
Yeah, let's unblock beastiality, that's discrimination against the animals or PETA/Humane Society will get you. And let's unblock the child porn as that's age discrimination. And let's unblock every other sick and perverted thing out there because we certainly don't want to shelter our children from the deviants in society.
Thankfully there are a few sane people out there that balance things out.
I guess I read the wrong article. Nowhere does the article talk about porn or pushing ones opinions on another. If minorities can have scholarships, any minority group should have the same EQUAL RIGHT. Come on people...get out of the dark ages!
Seriously people, we are talking about access to legitimate resources. No porn. No attempts at a mass conversion...we don't have enough toasters for that. Simple, plain access to legitimate resources that may gosh I don't know help a kid get to college or even save a kid's life.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Only Practical Ambitions Allowed?

I have tried to come up with something to write in conjunction with the following paragraph from New York Contributor David Samuels, but I am failing because I honestly cannot come up with a reasonable explanation behind it.
There are clear limits to Michelle’s ambition. She went to excellent schools, got decent grades, stayed away from too much intellectual heavy lifting, and held a series of practical, modestly salaried jobs while accommodating her husband’s wilder dreams and raising two lovely daughters. In this, she is a more practical role model for young women than Hillary Clinton, blending her calculations about family and career with an expectation of normal personal happiness. Now her mother is coming to live in the White House.
Feel free to read the article, The Hero’s Foil - Normalizing the President, here in order to see the entire context. However, truth be told the context isn't helping me grab the meaning behind "a more practical role model for young women than Hillary".

An article by Katha Pollit, Mad About Michelle - Subject to Debate, tries to help me out.
That Samuels, like a 1950s home ec teacher, advises "young women" to keep their ambitions "practical" if they want to be happy shows just how disturbing Hillary Clinton--or rather the nightmare fantasy of Hillary Clinton--has been to certain male psyches. Because what if women wanted to be the ones with the wild dreams? What if they wanted men to be the enablers and nurturers? That would be awful.
I am amazed with both women. Beyond that though, I have really been quite proud of Secretary Clinton on the world stage. To hell with "practical" ambitions.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lessons Learned from WAM!09

This past weekend, I attended the Women, Action & the Media Conference (WAM!) in Boston. It was a great weekend that offered over forty workshops and panels, a film series, two keynote talks, and a "genius bar" allowing conference-goers to sign up for time with media experts throughout the conference.

I started on Friday with the session PR: Getting Your Work Out There. It definitely set the tone for the rest of the conference -- we'd be learning new skills, sharing our own experiences, and making new connections. On Saturday, my morning began with Gender, Non-Conformity and the Media, which explored how the trans experience connects with feminist dialogues and how it's portrayed in the media. I continued my day with a guide to self-publishing, which covered tips for creating your press, using your resources, what costs to expect, and hustling to get your work out there. A panel about community and ethnic media touched on the pressures of speaking for and to a community, the importance of intersectionality, and how "selling out" by relying on advertising actually supports local small businesses. In the Global Abortion Dialogue panel, we learned statistics about access to safe abortions around the world, and watched Not Yet Rain, a touching short film about access to abortion in Ethiopia. The last session I attended was Pulling the Plug on Rape Culture, which not only defined rape culture as a way of normalizing rape in our society, but also provided strategies for ending it.

In addition to the dynamic sessions I attended, I was able to follow some of the other panels I was interested in by keeping up with the #wam09 Twitter feed. This was a great way to make the conference interactive and to follow the conversations happening elsewhere. WAM! was also able to film a number of the sessions which they'll post on their website in a few weeks.

We shifted gears a bit for the keynote talks. Friday's panel was Women Reporting from the Global Frontlines, and we were able to hear the experiences of three women who lived and reported from Iraq, Colombia and Zimbabwe. Their stories were inspiring and reminded us how important it is to cover global issues in the mainstream media. Saturday's keynote was presented by Cynthia Lopez of P.O.V., who gave us a look at some of the compelling documentaries they've presented and urged us to become more involved in public broadcasting.

In wrapping up the highlights of the event, I can't possibly forget about the funniest time at WAM!, our evening with Sarah Haskins. If you're not familiar with her work, don't waste any more time and go check it out. She was even funnier at the event than she is in her videos! She made the night interactive and we all critiqued media and advertising together.

WAM! was a great experience. It was a place to meet the experts, hone our skills, learn new ones, and make connections with like-minded people. The blood, sweat and tears poured into this event were evident, and I, for one, can't wait for next year.