Monday, April 29, 2013

Sex (Ed) Positive

I love the Interwebs - where Crazytown is never more than a click away!

Try to imagine the shitfit you would throw if your child's public school allowed this woman to come scream at your kid for an hour about the perils of sex.

Her name is Pam Stenzel, and she earns $4,000 - $6,000 per appearance to tell kids there's "No such thing as sex without a price." And when you're trying to scare the shit out of kids, why stop at "I could look any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you're going to be promiscuous." Wouldn't it be more effective to just LIE? Here are some whoppers from a speech given this month at a high school in West Virginia.
As part of the Welfare Reform Act, we are now requiring in all fifty states the Social Security Numbers of both parents on every birth certificate of every child born in this nation.

Girls, infertility, the inability to have children of your own biologically has risen over 500% among women in ten years.

Our university campuses are one big giant disease!

In the 1950s we had five sexually transmitted diseases we knew about and were treating. Five! You could count them all on one hand.

You get one of these diseases, and you've got it for life! Which is a lovely thing, boys, when you're getting ready to get married. Found this girl you love, I mean this is it. She's the one you want to marry. All those other girls were just messing around. Pull out that diamond, look her in the eyes... and say, "Marry me. By the way, I've got genital warts. You'll get it, too, and we'll both be treated for the rest of our lives. In fact, you'll probably get a radical hysterectomy, cervical cancer, and possibly death. But marry me."
Wanna listen to the whole thing?

Take a deep breath and think of Katelyn Campbell the George Washington High School student body vice president who refused to attend the assembly, calling it slut shaming. School Principal George Aulenbacher threatened to call Wellesley College, where Katelyn will be enrolled this fall, to tell them about her "bad character."

The College's response, via Twitter.
Thank Heaven for that! But, back in West Virginia, telling public school kids that premarital sex will devalue them, scar them emotionally, leave them infertile and cause marital infidelity remains totally kosher.

Telling them that sex is normal and enjoyable . . . Aww, hell no!

Let's start by saying that these images were not produced by Planned Parenthood, much less used as part of the organization's sex ed curriculum. As Wonkette points out, these cartoons are from a book for kids called It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie Harris and Michael Emberly. Which makes it all the weirder that an organization called Twelve Generations of First Cousin Marriage American Life League is using these images as part of a campaign against Planned Parenthood.

This week, ALL presented this ad to the Washington Post and New York Times, both of which deemed it too graphic to run. Then ALL claimed that Planned Parenthood was using federal funding to distribute these images to public school kids. Please, World Net Daily, enlighten us as only you can.
Judie Brown, president and co-founder of ALL, agrees that the images are shocking, but says that the images come directly from Planned Parenthood materials funded by American taxpayers and aimed at those taxpayers’ own children. 
“Parents tax dollars are being used to turn their own children into Planned Parenthood’s future sex customers,” says Brown. “Their abortion business is based on exploiting young minds and filling those minds with all manner of sex instruction. 
“It is a grisly trail, but it leads from sex instruction to contraception to abortion when contraception fails,” she says. “That is the Planned Parenthood recipe, and the media likes it.”
It's not the blatant lying that surprises me, really. Or even the gross violation of copyright law. No, what shocks me is that these people actually buy their own PR. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity may be carnival barkers, laughing all the way to the bank. But I think these crazy abstinence activists truly believe this stuff  - which they are perfectly entitled to do.

As a taxpayer and a parent, though, I have a major problem with educators lying to kids or shaming them into thinking sex is dirty, or only one version of it is okay. Particularly the girls - because it's always the girls who bear the brunt of all the shame and embarrassment. I'd rather have my kid learn about sex from a cartoon of a penis in a sport coat than listen to someone tell her that the only good sex is between married people.

So, I know it always comes back to Planned Parenthood, but I gotta give it up to them again today.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Criminal Condom Possession in NY?

Pop Quiz: Use of condoms by sex workers is:
                  A) Good for society because it stops the spread of STDs, or
                  B) Bad for society because it encourages prostitution.

Okay, pencils down. If you said B, then you are probably a New York City prosecutor. If you said A, then you are any other sane person. Thanks to Jezebel for pointing out that NYC cops are taking advantage of the City's controversial "stop and frisk" laws to order suspected prostitutes to empty their pockets. Possession of condoms is then used as evidence of criminal prostitution in court.

Am I the only one who finds this weirdly familiar to the arguments against vaccinating kids against HPV? Opponents of the Gardasil vaccine want to discourage teens from having sex by making the behavior even riskier. NY prosecutors want to discourage prostitution, so they criminalize efforts to make it safer. And society at large pays the cost of treating cases of cervical cancer, drug-resistant gonorrhea, and HIV which could have been avoided.

Even odder, the practice is in direct opposition to the NYC Department of Health's efforts to stop the spread of STDs by distributing 35 million condoms last year.

Ready for one more WTF? Brooklyn Democratic Senator Velmanette Montgomery has introduced a bill every year since 1999 to prohibit using condoms as evidence of prostitution, and it hasn't passed yet. With recent involvement of Human Rights Watch, this could be the year.

But, seriously! This is ridiculous.

Today's $5 is for the Urban Justice Center, who advocates for sex workers and other vulnerable populations in New York City.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Clutch the Pearls! Good News in Mississippi.

A federal judge ruled this week that Mississippi could not enforce a law designed specifically to shut down Jackson Women's Health Organization, the one abortion care provider in the whole state. The law required clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Ostensibly a safety regulation, Mississippi's Governor Phil Bryant admitted to a group of pastors, "My goal of course is to shut it down." As Bryant and the legislators knew, clinic doctors are denied privileges at all local hospitals because they performed elective abortions. Not for nothing they call these TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws.

Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, a George W. Bush appointee, found that regulating the clinic out of existence constituted an undue burden on Mississippi women's right to choose. It takes impressive chutzpah to argue, as Mississippi did, that these women could simply travel 200 miles to a neighboring state. Particularly when the neighbors have 24 hour waiting periods. Did I mention that Bryant thinks that Democrats' "one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb?"

Before I start swearing again, let's remember that we actually won this battle. So, today's $5 is for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is participating in this case.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Eden Foods: Not buying it.

Eden Foods supports local farming, organic agriculture, and healthy eating. So do I.

Eden Foods is also suing the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate. You won't find it on the company's website, but reports that the company seeks to deny insurance coverage to it's employees for birth control, because "those procedures almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices."

Buh-bye, Eden. I can get my miso elsewhere.

Today's $5 is for Planned Parenthood of Michigan. Because Eden Foods' employees need to get their health care somewhere.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A win in Texas!

Have you heard that the good folks in Texas legislature do not like abortion? They don't want to have an abortion, and they sure as H-E-double-hockeysticks don't want you to have one either. And if they have to cut reproductive health care to every poor woman in Texas, well by gum they will do it!

If you are a woman living in Texas and you are poor, there is a good chance that you've gotten health care at Planned Parenthood. PP served more than 40% of the women participating in the state's Women's Health Initiative (WHI) in 2012, providing family planning, cancer and STI screenings, and prenatal care. What you didn't get at any of the 51 PP facilities participating in the program was an abortion. Because no state or federal funds can be used to pay for abortion, and the federal government picks up 90% of the tab for women's services under Medicaid, which is distributed by the Texas WHI. Or, it used to.

Over the past two years, Texas legislators have drafted laws aimed specifically at ending reimbursements to PP facilities under the WHI. Not because these facilities provide abortion - which they don't. But because these facilities are affiliated with a national provider that advocates for abortion rights. Which is kind of like telling hungry people they can't use food stamps at a store which sells cigarettes. Only don't tell that to Texas legislators, since those guys are a bunch of heartless bastards who would probably just turn around and do it.

So, YeeHaw! Governor Hair and his posse passed laws specifically excluding Planned Parenthood from WHI reimbursements. This caused an immediate shortage of providers for thousands of Texas women. It also defunded dozens of other women's health clinics beside PP - none of which was providing abortion care. Celebration ensued.

The federal government pointed out that Texas couldn't continue to receive Title X funds while violating the provision which allows a woman to choose her own qualified healthcare provider. Texas' response: "Don't let the doorknob hitcha in the crack of the ass, Lawman." Or something like that. At which point the Department of Health and Human Services stopped funding the Texas's Women's Health Initiative.

But just when you're wondering, "Is there something in the water down there? Can there really be NO rational people in that entire state?" . . .

A coalition of women's healthcare providers in Texas banded together and submitted their own application for funds under Title X. On March 25, the federal government announced that it would award some of the canceled Medicaid funds directly to the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (WHFPT). The coalition will distribute these funds to clinics across the state, including Planned Parenthood.

Importantly, any clinic which receives this funding will be governed by federal privacy laws. This means that a teenager seeking birth control will not be required to notify her parents, as required under Texas' statute. Moreover, federal funding grants a provider access to discounted drugs, so patients pay less for contraception.

I love it! And I also find it more than a little ironic that an administration which has consistently railed against big government, which calls the Affordable Care Act a socialist violation of state's rights, is causing a separate system regulated and funded by the federal government to be born in their state. It's a weird world.

Today's $5 goes to the WHFPT. Y'all rock!

Monday, April 1, 2013

She's Baaaaaack!!!

Obviously, my work here is not done!

Here's a picture of second-place Tour De Flanders winner Peter Sagan on the podium.
That's the event's official Twitter feed referring to the Slovakian rider as "naughty."

Am I the only one flashing back to Benny Hill reruns?


Benny Hill was an English satire of lechery that went off the air in the 80s. Not for nothing, but this picture is in black and white!

These attractive ladies are called "podium girls." Because after riding 160 miles, who wouldn't want a kiss from a heavily made-up stranger? And what is the cutoff for calling someone a girl? Menopause?

Of course the whole idea of a "podium girl" is sexist. Women's cycling doesn't put hot boys onstage to kiss the winners. So, we'd call it sexual assault on the subway, but on the podium it's just a goofy guy in a goofy situation.

One tweet, since deleted but captured by summarizes it perfectly.
The podium girls are there to be objectified. He objectified them. The (faux) outrage at his antics is probably misdirected.
By this logic, any woman hired to be attractive, has consented to these "antics." Because boys are just "naughty," and they can't be expected to keep their hands to themselves? And Hooters waitresses are there for the groping? And girls in short skirts are asking for it?


Today's $5 is for the National Partnership for Women and Families, which works to combat sexual harassment. Because it wasn't funny in 1970 and it's not funny now.