Double Dose: Women's Equality Day and the Annual Equal Rites Awards; Glamour Editor Delivers Message to Lawyers About "Political" Hairstyles; Monkeys Speak "Baby Talk"

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 26, 2007

A Year of Notable Setbacks: Columnist Ellen Goodman celebrates Women’s Equality Day — the anniversary of Aug. 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote became law — with the Equal Rites Awards, her annual tribute to “those who have labored over the last 12 months to set back the cause of women.” Among the many highlights:

Patriarch of the Year Prize. It goes with disappointment to US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose opinion restricting abortions rested on the retro notion that women needed to be protected from “regret,” “grief,” and “sorrow,” even if it meant protecting them from their rights. We send the paternalistic justice a hook to bring him back to the 21st century.

and …

The Our Bodies/Our Daughters Award goes to Mattel. The folks who brought you Barbie are collaborating on a new line of make-up — for 6- to 9-year-olds. For this we award them and all their ilk a special cosmetic for the next year: egg on their face.

Plus: Gloria Feldt discovers it’s easier to find a card celebrating National Toilet Paper Day than women’s suffrage.

Pour Me Another Cup: “The caffeine in three cups of coffee or tea a day may help maintain mental sharpness in older women, but caffeine consumption appears to have no effect in men,” reports The New York Times. The study appears in the journal Neurology.

The Skinny on Hollywood: Rachel Abramowitz begins this L.A. Times story with a search for body fat in Hollywood. “It’s the 2007 MTV Movie Awards, and judging by the standards of the youth-obsessed network’s magenta carpet, blubber, let alone curves, or even softness is out of fashion. Girls — and I mean girls, given their lack of womanly heft, glide by.”

It’s a good story, but the photos meant to portray the shrinking body size of Hollywood stars manages to fetishize them at the same time — yet another indication that the incredible shrinking woman is something to envy.

“‘Glamour’ Editor To Lady Lawyers: Being Black Is Kinda A Corporate ‘Don’t'”: Just go read Jezebel — it’s all there.

New Primer on Health Care Costs: The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a primer on health care costs (PDF) that examines “the rapid growth in the nation’s health care costs since 1970, when the average growth in health spending exceeded the growth of the economy as a whole by an average of 2.5 percentage points.”

“It also examines the impact of health care costs on families, with insurance premiums rising 87% between 2000 and 2006, more than four times the growth in wages,” continues KFF. “The primer describes the types and sources of health care spending and the demographic factors associated with higher or lower levels of spending. It also discusses other factors that influence health care spending growth, including the use of new medical technology, population changes, and changes in disease prevalence.”

Human Trafficking and HIV: A United Nations report released Wednesday notes that tens of thousands of women forced to work as sex slaves in Asia are at risk of contracting HIV and spreading the virus, reports the AP. If nothing is done to stop human trafficking in the region, “there is just going to be an explosion” of infections, said Caitlin Wiesen of the United Nations Development Program. More from Reuters.

More Doctors Banning Vaginal Births After C-Sections: NPR’s “All Things Considered” last week covered the increase in the number of cesarean births, in part because more and more medical centers have policies against vaginal birth if the mother has already had a c-section.

Plus: Rachel points to CNN’s list of five ways to avoid a c-section.

Monkeys Use “Baby Talk” to Interact With Infants: And you thought only cutesy humans communicated this way. Researchers have found female rhesus monkeys on an island off the coast of Puerto Rico use special vocalizations while interacting with infants, too. When a baby wanders away from its mother, the other female monkeys use the vocalizations, suggesting they are trying to get the infant’s attention.

“The acoustic structure of particular monkey vocalizations called girneys may be adaptively designed to attract young infants and engage their attention, similar to how the acoustic structure of human motherese, or baby talk, allows adults to visually or socially engage with infants,” said Dario Maestripieri, associate professor in comparative human development at the University of Chicago. The study, “Intended Receivers and Functional Significance of Grunt and Girney Vocalizations in Free-Ranging Rhesus Macaques,” appears in the journal Ethology.

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