Tag Archives: women’s rights

Boob Quickies

6 Apr

This post was originally about boobs.
And then somehow it grew into some sort of verbose blog monster.

I had set out to write about how my breasts have impacted my life, but that post will have to wait for another day. There has been a lot of controversy in our culture lately regarding women. The concept of being a woman in our culture has been the center of a nasty political war, to the point that even a simple blog post about how awesome boobs are turns into a statement of what it means to be a woman. Honestly, it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. And as a result, I’ve noticed a surge of woman-related content on my usual Internet browsing sites.
This isn’t going to be the deep and reflective post I intended to write. Mostly, it’s because of the research. There is just so much information out there, so many opinion articles, that I really can’t say what hasn’t already been said before. The primary purpose of this blog is to store and share articles that interest me, since I know I will eventually want to refer back to them. So this post is going to be quickie-style.

Don’t worry, there will be plenty of boobs.

(Without boobs, where would be store our kittens?)

First off, the cost of being owning a vagina. Jezebel threw together this nice little article outlining the basic cost of owning a vagina, based on the staffer’s personal experience and drug-store prices. Not incredibly scientific, but enough to give you a ball-park estimate and an average idea of all the items needed for proper maintenance. The list doesn’t include pregnancy costs (though it does include pregnancy test, for those trying and those who have the occasional scare). I suppose it makes sense, if the list is the basics. It inspires me to go through my finances and calculate what its costs for me to maintain my own fabulous lady parts. I already know that bras, at about $75 a piece (+/- $10), typically run me $150 to $225 a year. And eventually I’ll have to start getting breast exams, which are another hefty expense.

SMBC, which always makes me giggle, recently released this delightful gem.

Back to the boobs!
The over-diagnosis of breast cancer is one of those things that a lot of women and feminists are still quiet about, because 1) many of them have had a sister/mother/friend/relative whose life was saved by early detection, and they don’t want to admit that such a case may have been due to over-diagnosis and 2) the medical, social, and political implications are too horrifying to think about.



The road of breast cancer is a very difficult one to endure. Chemo saves many lives, but also takes an incredible physical and emotional toll. Chemo is not “just another drug” that can be handed out like aspirin. Its a detrimental drug which should only be given because the other alternative is death. Additionally, mastectomies are essentially an amputation, and emotionally devastating because of how much importance our culture places on breasts. According to social standards, a huge portion of what it means to be a woman is wrapped up in our breasts, and when one is raised in such an environment, losing a breast can result in a huge psychological toll. Many are still in denial, or trying to come to terms with the concept of breast cancer over-diagnosis. But the reports are still out there, and for the sake of our health and our boobs (which are pretty super awesome), this issue deserves to be  investigated further. Diagnostic techniques are improving, and detecting breast cancer with a single drop of blood may soon be possible. However, on a brighter note, a recent discovery gives us hope in detecting the infamous “triple negative” breast cancer, which is considered the deadliest form of breast cancer.


A few more quickies on breast cancer: The first large-scale U.S.-based study to evaluate the link between an injectable form of progestin-only birth control and breast cancer risk in young women. Stick to the pill, ladies.  There is also a link between long-term estrogen hormone use and breast cancer, and a new breast cancer susceptibility gene, named XRCC2, has been discovered.


I few weeks ago I shared the idea that we should all knit out congressmen a vagina, so they will stay out of ours. The idea was conceived by The Snatchel Project. The Internet loved it! I started seeing crochet and knitted uteruses, vulvas, and cervixes everywhere (Even a uterus lamp). But it’s not the first time woman have used yarn to emulate female anatomy. Knitted tits have been used to raise awareness about breast cancer for years. You can even buy knitted bikini tops.

Today Cracked released a delightful article written by Luke McKinney, “The 7 Most Sexist Things Ever Invented For Boobs.” It’s both horrific and hilarious. I would love to see prototypes of some of these inventions, just so I can giggle in horror.

Political slut quickies: John Stewart explains why the transvaginal ultrasound bill of Virginia has enraged women across the country. Ever since Rush called Sandra Fluke a slut on air, woman have rushing to re-appropriate the word slut. Why? Probably because shame has long been used as a powerful tool to silence women. And there was this controversial Doonesbury comic, which was pulled from several newspapers. (Because it’s okay to call a woman a slut and introduce bills infringing on her rights, but not okay to satirically bring attention to it.)


Also, Elizabeth Banks threatens to bleed all over furniture if women are denied access to the pill, and Rick Perry’s facebook page is now buried with woman asking him about menstruation, and updating him of their flow status.

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The Brilliant Landlord

30 Mar

Whew, these past few days have been busy. Between celebrating my birthday with friends and family, prepping for the move, and the usual shenanigans with my bestie, I haven’t had much time for sharing interesting articles. My poor browser window is drowning in tabs from science websites.
I currently live down the street from a Planned Parenthood clinic, which I used to volunteer for often in college. I admire their dedication to public health and reproductive education, which are two of my biggest passions. And of course, it’s spring time, which means all the nasty protesters have come out to play. I used to pass by them often while walking to class. While I respect their right to protest, they do tend to put me in a less-than-cheery mood.
Here is an amazing story to lift your day. A man, whose family has owned land leased to a reproductive clinic for generations. He’s had to deal with protesters for literally his entire life, and as a result has developed an admirable amount of patience and restraint. However, when they took things too far by harassing his little girl at school and calling his home at all hours, he took action in a very creative way, and started a movement.

Payback Is a Bitch for Abortion Clinic Protestors, Thanks to a Brilliant Landlord

by Cassie Murdock of Jezebel

Todd Stave has the unenviable position of being the landlord of a building in Germantown, Maryland, which he leases to an abortion provider called Reproductive Health Services Clinic. So he knows a little something about dealing patiently with anti-abortion protesters. But when they started calling him at home at all hours and harassing his family, he got fed up and came up with a very clever solution: Do unto others as they have been doing unto you.

Problems really began for Stave at the end of 2010, when he leased his building to LeRoy Carhart, one of the only doctors in the U.S. who openly acknowledges that he performs late-term abortions. As you can imagine, he’s a controversial man, and protesters come from far and wide. There is a constant group of them parked outside, praying and holding up signs, many of which have pictures of mangled fetuses. That’s pretty much a landlord’s nightmare, and yet Stave has a very calm attitude about it. He told Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post this week,

It’s their right. They are protected by the First Amendment. And outside the clinic is probably the most appropriate place for them to express their views.

If you’re wondering how Stave can remain so relaxed about the situation, he explains, “I’ve been a member of this fight since Roe v. Wade. Since I was 5 years old.” You see, the clinic used to belong to his father, and then his sister ran it. When he was younger, the office was firebombed, and protesters were often gathered outside his dad’s house. So he’s used to a certain level of harassment and he’ll tolerate it — but only up to a point. And recently, the usually calm, cool, and collected Stave was pushed to his limit.

It’s common practice for anti-abortion protesters to disseminate doctors’ personal information and urge people to harass them—and it can clearly go far beyond that, as with the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. LeRoy Carhart, who’s now in Stave’s clinic, had his Nebraska farm burned to the ground back in 1991. But protesters in Maryland figured out they could start targeting Stave for owning the clinic’s property. He was largely unfazed by this campaign, until last fall when they took it too far. On his daughter’s first day in middle school, a large group of people protested outside her school, and then they showed up again for back-to-school night. They were naturally carrying signs with his name and contact info and those nasty pictures of fetuses.

Stave was furious, and then it got even worse. Dozens of the protestors began calling him at home, around the clock. His friends wanted to help him fight back; that’s when Stave had the brilliant idea of turning the tables on his tormentors. He began recording the names and numbers of the assholes who called, and then he gave the list of info to his friends and asked them to call these people back on his behalf. Shazam! And the really smart part was that when someone from Team Stave called, they always took the high road. He explains,

In a very calm, very respectful voice, they said that the Stave family thanks you for your prayers. They cannot terminate the lease, and they do not want to. They support women’s rights.

Genius. While it was initially only a few friends doing the calling, the group quickly expanded. Soon, he was up to having 1,000 callers at his disposal. And they got crafty too. They’d look up information on the people who’d placed unwanted calls to Stave, and then when they called, they’d drop the names of the person’s children or their school into the conversation. They’d also, said Stave, “tell them that we bless their home on such and such street,” and then name their address. Are you getting shivers up you’re spine yet? Stave’s calling force became so powerful that sometimes he was able to hammer an unwanted caller with up to 5,000 calls in return. Looks like two can play at this game, stalkers.

Stave’s approach was so appealing that he was flooded with people from all over wanting to help. So he organized Voice of Choice, which now has about 3,000 volunteers. They don’t just fight back for Stave anymore. They’ll make calls on behalf of whoever is being bullied by anti-abortion protesters, whether it’s a doctor or a landlord or their family.

When asked if he thought this method of payback was harsh, Stave said no: “We gave them back what they gave us.” Actually, not even. You gave back a mild, family-friendly version of what they gave to you. You proved to them that you know where they live and who their children are, but you didn’t show up at their homes and schools and threaten them. You didn’t come onto their lawn with posters detailing terrible imaginary things that they’ve done. You’re serving up Revenge Lite™: Tastes great, less killing.

What’s more, Stave is strict about who Voice of Choice will make calls for. If it’s just run-of-the-mill protests outside clinics, he won’t help them because he believes in people’s First Amendment right to be out there saying what’s on their mind. Protestors must be personally harassing doctors or landlords in order for Stave to step in. If only abortion opponents had the same respect for people doing what they were allowed by law to do. Ahem.

So this is the part where the evil bullies who’ve plagued him (and others) at all hours of the day or night learn their lesson after having a taste of their own medicine, right? Yep, yep. They all realized they were being horrible, and now every anti-abortion protester is treating their pro-choice opponents with the utmost respect. HA. No. Actually this is the part in the story where it gets much worse. Ready?

Since Voice of Choice has been such a success, Stave was honored by NARAL in California last week. Knowing that he was going to be out of town receiving the award, his personal band of haters chose that moment to canvass his neighborhood with fliers that had a photo of Stave in a Nazi uniform, photos of Holocaust victims, and bloody fetuses. [Pause for a brief rage-stroke intermission.] Of course, the fliers had Stave’s contact information—and all of the phone numbers and addresses for other members of his family.

This goes without saying but, nevertheless: This is so incredibly fucked up. First of all, the guy owns a building, not a concentration camp. Second of all, what kind of person picks up a flier like that and thinks, “I need to get in touch with this Nazi!” God help us all.

Obviously Stave’s daughter and all of his neighbors saw the fliers, but the contact information for Stave’s family members must have been spread around. Because on Monday an abortion protestor showed up at the dental office owned by Stave’s brother-in-law and began doing his abortion-protestor routine outside. That’s such a great idea — I’m sure the random patient walking in for a cleaning is totally going to make the connection that the dentist’s brother-in-law owns a building where there’s an abortion clinic, and therefore abortion is wrong. At this point, Stave was back in town, so he went over to confront the protestor. And when he got there, the creep said, “How was your trip to San Francisco?” Deep inhale, slow exhale.

It is amazing that people like Stave have fortitude to stand up to psychos like this coming at them from every direction, but thank heavens they do, because, honestly, the thought that these protesters get away with so much is sickening. It’s hard to know where these nutcases will end when it comes to making Stave’s life a living hell—but it’s probably not going to get any better now that he’s getting more and more national media attention.

At least we know he’s got plenty of backup from Voice of Choice. The worse these people get, the longer VoC can keep them on the phone, telling them all about the many “blessings and prayers” they’re sending to their home addresses and to the locations of their children’s daycare centers. Then everyone will be so busy making and receiving calls that they’ll have less time to spend protesting outside clinics. And maybe in the future, we’ll get to a magical place where both sides are talking to each other 100 percent of the time, and a woman will be able to walk right up to the front door of an abortion clinic without being harassed—because everyone will be so busy talking on the phone to their enemies to notice or care what she’s choosing to do with her body.

A clinic’s landlord turns the tables on anti-abortion protesters [Washington Post]

Knit A Congressman A Uterus

21 Mar

With the war on women’s right waging strongly, the fine folks over at Jezebel came up with this brilliant idea. I absolutely love it, and want to learn how to knit or crochet a uterus. I would give mine a dapper monocle, a sweet smile, and a tiny adorable butcher knife, so that Congress will know that if you mess with my uterus, my fancy fancy lady parts WILL CUT YOU!!!

Knit a Uterus to Donate to a Congressman in Need

Remember when we decided that Rick Santorum needed a uterus of his very own so he’d leave ours alone? Well, now there’s a similar idea being proposed for the members of Congress across this great land who seem so insistent on getting all up in our lady parts since they’re jealous they don’t have any of their own. So how exactly are we going to make that happen, since we can’t, you know, give them actual uteruses? Enter Government Free VJJ, a project which aims to have have ladies knit or crochet lovely versions of uteruses (plus cervixes and vulvas) and mail them to their representatives.

If you’ve got some spare time and know how to knit or crochet, pick one of these patterns (or devise your own), fill out this form so they can keep track of who’s getting what, and then mail off the finished product to the statesman of your choice. It might not end the war on women, but at least it will give our beloved representatives something soft to cuddle when they have nightmares about slut-demons and whore-monsters taking over the world with our birth-control riddled godzilla-sized vaginas.

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Click here to find a variety of kick-ass uterus patterns.

How Birth Control Saves Taxpayers Money

7 Mar


Julie Rovner, of NPR’s health blog Shots, wrote the amazing following article outlining how contraceptives, an important aspect of American public health, actually does save the taxpayers money.

How Birth Control Saves Taxpayers Money

birth control options

While the controversy continues to swirl around radio talkmeister Rush Limbaugh and his admittedly inappropriate comments about Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke, an analysis from the left-leaning Brookings Institution adds an economic twist to the debate over coverage of contraception.

Love them or hate them, contraceptives do save taxpayers money, Brookings concludes.

The study, from the Brookings Center on Children and Families, looked at three different ways to prevent unintended pregnancies, which account for about half of all pregnancies in the U.S.

All three approaches more than pay for themselves. But one -– increasing funding for family planning services through the Medicaid program -– clearly outshines the other two in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Yes, you may have heard there are lots of ways to lower the rate of unintended pregnancy. There are mass media campaigns to urge young people to avoid unprotected sex. Other programs urge teens to delay having sex, or, as a fallback, teach them how to use contraception effectively. And then there’s Medicaid’s help low-income women afford the most effective contraceptive methods.

But this study, using a simulation model devised by Brookings, is the first to estimate exactly how much could be saved using each method.

It found that a national mass media campaign that would cost $100 million would result in about $431 million in savings to taxpayers, largely by reducing unintended pregnancy, particularly among people who don’t make much money.

Programs the Brookings researchers called “evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention,” which combine an emphasis on abstinence “while also educating participants about how to use various methods of contraception” have both reduced the rate of sexual activity and increased the use of contraception.

Spending $145 million on such programs would return $356 million to taxpayers, according to the model.

But by far the biggest return on investment would come from expanding access to family planning through Medicaid, something made possibly through the 2010 Affordable Care Act. A $235 million investment there would lower taxpayer costs of $1.32 billion by preventing unintended pregnancies.

“Evidence-based pregnancy prevention interventions are public policy trifectas: They generate taxpayer savings, they improve the lives of children and families, and they reduce the incidence of abortion,” writes Adam Thomas, the study’s author.

Big deal, say some people, unimpressed with the idea of birth control as a money saver.

“So you’re saying by not having babies born, we’re going to save money in healthcare?” asked an incredulous Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing last week.

Exactly, Sebelius replied, explaining what studies like the one from Brookings have shown for years. “Providing contraception as a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children reduces health care funds,” she said.

“Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me. I yield back,” said Murphy.

In Limbaugh’s apology to Fluke, there’s no suggestion that he had changed his mind about who should pay for contraception: Women, not the government, should pick up the tab.