Double Dose: Feminism and Race, Lybrel Gets FDA Approval and It’s All Katha Pollitt’s Fault

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Minority Women in L.A. County Have Higher Rates of Chronic Disease: “Minority women living in Los Angeles County suffer disproportionate rates of chronic disease, according to a study released Wednesday by public health officials that examined the relationship between ethnicity and women’s health,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Susannah Rosenblatt writes:

African American women had the highest mortality rate of any group, with more than half at risk for developing heart disease, compared with 38% of Latinas, 36% of whites and 27% of Asians and Pacific Islanders, according to the report. African American women also smoked more and breast-fed less than other women, the report found.

“What always is stunning, whether you expect it or not, is how large the disparities are,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public health director.

Fielding pointed to the importance of factors such as poverty, health insurance, education and neighborhood violence in determining women’s health. Nearly half of county women live in poverty, the study found.

Algeria’s Women Quietly Advance in Careers and Society: “In this tradition-bound nation scarred by a brutal Islamist-led civil war that killed more than 100,000, a quiet revolution is under way: women are emerging as an economic and political force unheard of in the rest of the Arab world,” reports The New York Times.

Blame Katha!: “According to [Christina Hoff] Sommers’s ‘The Subjection of Islamic Women and the Fecklessness of American Feminism’ the major obstacles in the path of Muslim women’s progress are Eve Ensler, Barbara Ehrenreich, the National Organization for Women and me,” writes Katha Pollitt.

Feminism and the Strong Black Woman: Writing at BlogHer, Carmen VanKerckhove notes that she’s been following the media’s handling of race in its coverage of Barack Obama’s presidential bid, “but right now I’m particularly riveted by the media coverage of his wife, Michelle Obama. Race, gender, and feminism are intersecting in fascinating ways.” Read on for some great highlights, including Debra Dickerson’s essay at Salon.

No Body’s Perfect: “You’ve probably heard about the desire for perfection, the role of parents, the influence of media messages and the diet industry, and the links between eating, sexuality and body image. Yet, there’s something especially striking about Martin’s book: It illustrates how little progress we’ve made,” Jill Thomas writes in this look at Courtney Martin’s “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.”

Gender Match: Tennis star Monica Seles visited Providence, R.I., recently and talked about gender and sports, including her grandmother’s concern that she was developing callouses. “Even in my own family, playing sports was not allowed. I remember how many times my father, who was my mentor and my coach, fought with my grandmother, who really believed that girls shouldn’t play any sports. She should just be playing with her friends or playing with dolls,” said Seles. “I was 8 or 9 and winning tournaments under-12. Her concern wasn’t that, ‘Gosh, I might have a granddaughter who could one day be a tennis player,’ but it’s more about ‘What is this going to do down the road for her?'”

Sex Toys: What Would Reagan Do?: I love it for the title alone, but syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts has written a good column about how the conservative movement has changed quite a bit since the days of Ronald Reagan. The column’s spark is Sherri Williams, who is hoping the Supreme Court will hear her sex toys case. “Otherwise, a Valentine’s Day ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will stand, and a ban on the purchase of sex toys in Alabama — enacted in 1998 but not enforced pending the outcome of litigation — will go into effect,” writes PItts.

Female Shark Reproduced Without Male DNA, Scientists Say: “A hammerhead shark that gave birth in a Nebraska aquarium reproduced without mating, a genetic analysis shows,” reports The New York Times. “This form of asexual reproduction, called parthenogenesis, has been found in other vertebrate species, including some snakes and lizards. But this is the first time it has been documented in a shark.”

The Pill, Truth and “Lies, Lies, Lies“: The big news in birth control options this week was the FDA’s approval of Wyeth’s oral contraceptive Lybrel, which can be taken continuously, thus eliminating monthly menstrual periods for the duration of time a woman stays on the pill.

The Well-Timed Period has an excellent post that looks at misinformed and condescending media coverage about menstruation and contraception.

For more factual information, take a look at the National Women’s Health Network’s fact sheet on menstrual suppression.

FDA approval was expected — and really these pills are not different than taking any other birth control pill continuously and skipping the placebos — but to hear Leslee Unruh, president of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, talk about it, you’d think it portends the end of the human race.

Check out the partial transcript at Think Progress of Unruh’s appearance on Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto.” Or watch for yourself below. Kudos to NARAL’s Mary Alice Karr for staying firm, articulate and unflustered in the face of Cavuto’s less-than-informed questions and Unruh’s whacked-out accusations of a “war on children.”

3 Comments

  1. Sara no H. says:

    Yeesh, it’s like somebody told her to get up there and to respond to any questions or statements with a list of stock phrases. “If you just keep saying ‘lies’ and ‘big pharma’ and ‘war on children’ over and over again people will just stop arguing with you and you’ll have won!”

  2. Margie says:

    In the fact sheet attached to the article, it said girls score lower on SATs when menstruating. I find that interesting because when I have my period, I feel less productive because I am pre-occupied with cramps etc.

  3. Maggie says:

    The actions of republicans/the Bush Administration have never before indicated that they have any problem with big pharma… interesting to bring it up now. It reminds me of an article I read somewhere a while ago suggesting that anti-abortion advocates often oppose birth control as well, but are unwilling to state this publically because of the near universal acceptance of birth control. The article highlighted several disturbing quotes in which President Bush refused to state that he supports the right of women to use birth control. Interesting, considering the size of his family…

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