On Pap Smears At Walgreens (And Other Republican Blunders)


Hm. Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy of “Fox & Friends” specifically said on TV that Planned Parenthood was unnecessary because you could get pap smears, breast exams, and other non-abortion related services at Walgreens. But when I moseyed on over there and asked how I would go about getting my ladyparts examined, the cashier looked at me like I was crazy! But I didn’t want to resort to going to Planned Parenthood — oh no. Glenn Beck said that only hookers go there!

Really though, this is far and away the most absurd and infuriating part about the ongoing war on Planned Parenthood: the blatant misinformation that Republicans have been spreading (whether deliberately or ignorantly) in order to demean the importance of Planned Parenthood and the services they provide. Do those Fox guys even know what a pap smear is? It’s difficult to gauge which is worse — giving idiots a time-slot on a major channel so that they can do nothing but spout mindless, unproductive drivel (especially when the channel knows what a huge influence said drivel has on much of the country), or being a United States senator and just deciding to cite arbitrary, made up statistics in a speech — statistics that are not even remotely close to being near the ballpark of accurate. Yes, we mean you, Senator Jon Kyl — did you really think you could get away with claiming that “well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does” is abortion, when abortion actually only constitues 3% of their services? Oh, excuse me. That “was not intended to be a factual statement.” Do we need to have a disclaimer every time Jon Kyl intends to lie on the Senate floor?

Sure, this kind of unapologetic ignorance is pure gold for the comedy world, but now and again we have to remind ourselves that this is real life. This is what the Republican party (not all Republicans, but most) has come to: trying to sabotage women’s rights in a sleazy attempt to secure office once again, and resorting to lying in order to get people on their side. Just because it’s well-known now that many right-wingers, whether on television or on Capitol Hill, don’t concern themselves much with fact-checking doesn’t make it acceptable — especially when, with every lie, so much is at stake for millions of women.

[Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Candie's Foundation Needs To Get Its Priorities Straight, The Toronto Slutwalk

The Candie’s Foundation Spends Seven Times More on Bristol Palin Than On Preventing Teen Pregnancy: “We know that Ms. Palin’s work has had a positive effect on teens,” the foundation said in a statement defending their spending $262,500 on her salary and only $35,000 on grants to teen pregnancy health and counseling clinics. Sure. I mean, the Candie’s Foundation has been around since 2001. Bristol herself probably saw their ads in magazines, back when she began flirting with the idea of sex: full-page photos of other overpaid celebrities next to a page of text warning against teen pregnancy. And that worked, right? Oh. No, it didn’t. So they are not only spending exorbitant amounts on celebrities (or, in Palin’s case, quasi-celebrities) and peanuts on the cause they claim to support, but they chose the worst possible “advocate” of abstinence. I get the whole, “I know how hard it is to go through a teen pregnancy” bit, but come on. First they send mixed messages with their “Be sexy, it doesn’t mean you have to have sex” campaign, and now they push abstinence with a girl whom it clearly didn’t work for.  Bristol Palin even said herself that abstinence is “not realistic at all” — ahem, before she got her gig as a teen pregnancy ambassador. It’s getting to the point where the Candie’s Foundation may be doing more harm than good with regards to teen pregnancy.

Women of Toronto ‘Slutwalk’ Fight Back Against Victim-Blaming: In response to police Constable Michael Sanguinetti’s remark that, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized” to a group of York University students, Canadian women organized in just six weeks to protest the use of the word “slut” to cast the blame back on women for having been sexually assaulted. As declared on the Toronto Slutwalk website:

“We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.”

A subversive name for a protest like “Slutwalk,” though, is bound to generate a negative reaction – particularly from people who believe that “not getting raped” is more important to teach than “not raping.” [Read more...]

What's Impeding the Walmart Women's Lawsuit

Tuesday was a good day for Walmart, but a bad day for the female employees they are notorious for having abused. A total of 1.5 million women are accusing the company of employment discrimination, but Walmart has contended that individually, they do not have enough in common to combine forces for a viable class action lawsuit. So, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both parties to decide whether or not that is indeed true.

The plaintiffs have two things going against them: 1) their case is being held in the ultra-conservative Roberts court, which has ruled for business interests 61% of the time, and 2) much of their argument is supported by “social framework analysis,” a relatively new branch of sociology, that isn’t being taken seriously by everyone because of its lack of concrete statistics. As Chris Cassidy at Ms. Magazine writes, it was no surprise that on Tuesday, “the case went really, really badly.” [Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Funny Women Taking Things Into Their Own Hands, A Gay, Feminist Republican Is Running For President

New Women’s Comedy Site Launches: A woman’s version of male-slanted humor sites like Funny or Die and CollegeHumor has arrived! In the midst of the debate over why women represent such a small population of the comedy world comes Comediva, hoping to cater to the different sense of humor that women have compared to men. Erika Cervantes, founder of Comediva, writes in her opening post:

“What makes up a girl’s sense of humor is complex and varies from lady to lady, so it deserves to be explored further in a future column.  However, at the risk of making sweeping generalizations, I did learn a few reasons why girls are just different from boys when it comes to funny:

-    Boys use humor to one-up each other.  Girls use humor to bond with each other.
-    Despite our abuse of the phrase LOL, it’s harder to make girls laugh out loud than boys.
-    Girls enjoy irony, wordplay, and subtlety, and favor storytelling over joke-telling.”

Oh, it’s not that, “women, bless their tender hearts, would prefer that life be fair, and even sweet, rather than the sordid mess it actually is”, as Christopher Hitchens claimed in his then old-fashioned, now antiquated (but still widely referenced) argument that women aren’t funny? Or because, “For some reason, women do not find their own physical decay and absurdity to be so riotously amusing, which is why we admire Lucille Ball and Helen Fielding, who do see the funny side of it,” even though Lucille Ball, though extremely funny on camera, didn’t actually write her own stuff? Not sure who Hitchens was referring to in that first statement, or why he was excluding the many contemporary female comedians who “find their own physical decay and absurdity” amusing (see: here and here) but it’s not as though that’s the only place where humor exists. [Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Women and Same-Sex Experimentation, Can A Wal-Mart Fashion Blog Empower Women?

College Not So Much A Place Of Same-Sex Experimentation: A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the “LUG” (lesbian until graduation) phenomenon is not as common as popular perception might suggest. Out of 13,500 responses, 10% of women ages 22 to 44 with a bachelor’s degree said that they’d had same-sex experience — compared with 15% of women with no high school diploma. And of the total 13% of women who reported having had same-sex experience, only 1% identify as lesbians, and 4% as bisexual. What could explain this? Quotes selected by the NYTimes suggest that it is because it’s erotically thrilling for people, especially young men, to imagine college women having sex, and the representation of college in the media bolsters this. Or perhaps it could be because women in college are just more vocal about their experimentation and are “out to prove something”, as opposed to high school dropouts, who may simply have sexual relations with women because they are living in “surroundings with few desirable and available male partners.”

It’s not surprising that this stereotype has been turned over on its head. Quite a few TV shows and movies about college life are made for young men who think it’s hot for girls to make out on top of beer-drenched tables — because that’s why women go to college, right? — but that’s obviously not an accurate representation of all college girls. [Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Magazines That Lower Our Self-Esteem, Florida's War On Women

Why People Keep Reading Magazines That Make Them Feel Bad About Themselves: A new study has shown that people aren’t necessarily just plain masochists because they’re drawn to beauty and fitness magazines with thinner/more muscular models on the cover. Indeed, in the experiment conducted by Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, associate professor of communication at Ohio State University, participants would only dwell on pictures of fit models if the content beside the pictures was comprised of tips on how to improve their own bodies. So not only do magazines pop our already pretty flaccid self-esteem balloons without remorse, they sneakily add insult to injury by suggesting that they hold, somewhere within their hundreds of glossy pages, the secrets to attaining that Hollywood bod on the cover — in 5 easy steps! When really, it’s impossible, because not only do they not know who they are promising “sexy sculpted legs in 10 minutes” to, the ideal body on the cover was photoshopped.

Speaking Of Photoshop, First Unretouched Makeup Ad Released: Make Up For Ever put together an ad with a super thin, pretty, blonde and unblemished model without taking the final step of perfecting perfection with Photoshop. They just used professional lighting, professional makeup artists, professional everything, and had an impossibly flawless-looking girl wear the makeup. Hooray? I hate to be skeptical of progress, even if the baby steps made were terribly small. And I suppose we can’t expect them to pull an average lady off the street and tell her to do her makeup herself with Make Up For Ever and then take a picture of it  (which would actually probably convince me to buy the product, though I don’t know about anyone else). But the “progress” we are getting doesn’t really feel like progress at all. As Jos over at Feministing writes, “In fact, pointing out the ad wasn’t retouched serves to make this unattainable idea of beauty seem more real.” And it seems more like a gimmick than something that Make Up For Ever is actually behind.

Florida’s Recent Anti-Woman Offenses: Republicans in the Sunshine State are trying to pass a record 18 bills that attack abortion rights — including, but not limited to, a requirement for women to have an ultrasound, that they must pay for themselves, before getting an abortion. Another bill proposes getting rid of federal funding for abortions except in cases that threaten the mother’s life. Tough luck for victims of incest or rape.

Also in Florida, a mailer was sent out reviling mayoral candidate Rose Ferlita for being “Unmarried. Unsure. Unelectable,” and describing her as “an unmarried woman with a suspect commitment to family values,” while her opponent is a “dedicated family man with two children.” Since when do spouses and children have anything to do with one’s abilities as a politician?! Julie at BUST sums it up: “The simple misogynistic logic being: woman with career goals = unmarried ballbreaker = lesbian = unfit for office.” I mean, who knows if Ferlita even is a lesbian? Maybe she just didn’t want to get married! (And if she is, I’d like to point to female, lesbian Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir who is doing a pretty damn good job over there — much better than many of the “family men” around the world.) Strangely, Ferlita is a Republican candidate and the organization that sent out the mailer has been linked to Democratic candidate Scott Maddox; it seems that Democrats were trying to reach Republicans on their level by using the rhetoric they usually use against Democratic candidates. In other news, politics suck.

SF Talking Points: Abortion Provider Tells All, Reality TV + Charlie Sheen = Not A Great Combination For Women

The Scoop On Abortion Providers! In an excellent article in The Hairpin, Dolores P., abortion provider trainee, answers basic questions about her profession with extensive, funny, and often quite intimate responses. First, she cites two reasons for having gone into the field.

“I went into healthcare in general because of a bunch of shitty gynecologists growing up who told me, for instance, that “when you” (me) “have sex with so many people” (I, like, halved the real number) “so young” (18) that “none of them care about you” (me). I figured the most direct way to ensure that there wasn’t a total asshole at the bottom of the table was to do it myself.”

Also, she embraced the job because of the sad fact that the number of abortion providers is in severe decline. Right now there are fewer than 2,000, only 2% of ob/gyns perform half of all abortions, and the number of abortion providers has declined 37% since 1982  — but what I didn’t realize before reading her article is that many of the ones that still exist are either approaching retirement or likely to quit soon because of how dangerous the job has become.

“I am lucky to be training in a liberal Northeastern state: the biggest impact of “antis” on my training is that I have to bring my lunch every day because it’s not really a good idea to go outside more than you have to.”

I mean, even in a liberal Northeastern state it’s risky to go outside for lunch? Dolores P. doesn’t seem at all unnerved by this, and maybe I’m just green to the world of abortion providers, but it seems even more profoundly awful hearing this from their side — not just in another news bit about crazy, violent protesters issuing threats. It’s sad. Though it’s been said, I can’t reiterate it enough: Killing an abortion provider does not make you better or more moral than they are. And providing abortions is not, at all, immoral. Dolores P stresses against this (obviously) — there are many reasons why women get abortions, but in most cases, it’s because they didn’t feel they were in a position to adequately care for a baby. And, seriously, what’s worse — terminating the pregnancy of a woman with children already (65% of women who get abortions are already mothers) so that they can continue to take care of themselves and their families, or killing a doctor? Though, she also emphasizes the importance of avoiding “abortion hierarchies.”

SF Talking Points: Why Did Nothing Happen When Charlie Sheen Declared His Own War On Women?, Crisis Pregnancy Centers — Celebrated Here, Regulated There

It’s Charlie Sheen’s World, Women Just Barely Live In It: Sheen was able to terrorize women (though terrorize isn’t nearly a strong enough word) and continue his career unscathed, making heaps of money on Two and a Half Men. But when he punctured the ego of his big TV exec boss? Now that was the final straw. David Carr writes about Sheen’s horrendous behavior toward women in a recent NYTimes article, and how, because his actions didn’t result in any real consequences, this surely says something about the still-unjust attitude toward women in our country. Let’s go through all of the already well-known atrocities Sheen inflicted upon women in his life, as recounted by Carr, shall we?

“In 2006, his wife at the time, Denise Richards, filed a restraining order, charging that Mr. Sheen had pushed her down, thrown chairs at her and threatened to kill her in person and on the phone.”

“Mr. Sheen was charged with a felony for an incident on Christmas Day in 2009 in which he threatened to kill his wife, Brooke Mueller, while holding a knife to her throat. According to the police report, Mr. Sheen ‘started to strangle Mueller then he pulled out a knife he always carries on his person and held the knife to Mueller’s neck and threatened, ‘You better be in fear. If you tell anybody I’ll kill you.’’” [Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Judge Rules That Women Who Wear High Heels And Tube Tops Are Inviting Rape

Canadian Judge Doesn’t Send Rapist To Jail Because “Sex Was In The Air”: In a case where the woman was wearing (gasp!) a tube top with no bra, high heels, and “plenty of makeup,” it was more OK for the man she was with, Kenneth Rhodes, to force intercourse with her on a dark highway. At least that’s what Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar decided. Poor guy; he was just a “clumsy Don Juan.” He sure was clumsy — he left a permanent scar on the victim’s knee from the the attack. But “Protection of society is not advanced one iota by putting Mr. Rhodes in jail,” Dewar said. That’s where he is oh, so wrong.

While the judge maintained that this case shouldn’t be seen as a precedent, how can it not be? This sounds like a ruling that would result from language like “forcible rape” — well, slow down there, let’s take into account just how forcible it was. She was dressed like she was asking for it? Check. The two involved were drinking? Check. Well, then, any time a woman wears a tube top and makeup and has a few drinks, she better expect to end her night with a bit of rape.

How does Dewer not realize how disgusting the message he’s sending is? [Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Crazy Things Can Happen When You're Fertile, A Site For Lady Journalists

Are We Really “More Like Mammals”? Adding to the recent evolutionary psychology trend, the study of “relationship maintenance,” an experiment conducted at Florida State University revealed some new things about how males react to ovulating women. According to the results, single males find fertile women more attractive, and men who are in a relationship with another woman find them less attractive. John Tierney of the New York Times wrote about it at length, taking it upon himself to draw quite a few conclusions from the bit of data available. Like, the men in relationships didn’t find the woman as good-looking as the others did, “…presumably because at some level they sensed she then posed the greatest threat to their long-term relationships. To avoid being enticed to stray, they apparently told themselves she wasn’t all that hot anyway.” This seems a bit dicey, because really, who knows why they didn’t find the woman attractive? They weren’t asked. Tierney goes on try to make sense of this, saying,

“Natural selection favored those who stayed together long enough to raise children: the men and women who could sustain a relationship by keeping their partners happy. They would have benefited from the virtue to remain faithful, or at least the wiliness to appear faithful while cheating discreetly.” [Read more...]

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