Friday Extra (The Double Dose)

By Christine Cupaiuolo — October 20, 2006

When Good Stories Get Bad Play: The New York Times published an academic analysis of the growing popularity of hypersexualized Halloween costumes and presented it in the Style section, complete with flashy photos of a busty blonde model demonstrating the sexpot version of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and three other sure-to-win-the-bar-prize outfits. The piece made it to number 2 on the Times’ most e-mailed list today. I’m sure it was on the basis of the cultural critique.

Happy Anniversary! The Women’s Research & Resource Center at Spelman College is celebrating 25 years of feminist activism with a series of talks and symposiums involving activists and scholars from around the globe. Dr. Helene Gayle, newly appointed president and CEO of CARE and former director of the Gates Foundation’s HIV, TB and Reproductive Health program, will kick-off the anniversary celebration Oct. 25.

To Bleed, Or Not to Bleed? Such is the question with new forms of birth control on the market that suspend periods for three months or more. Over at Slate, Sarah E. Richards argues in favor of a monthly reminder: “Life without getting your period, though, would be life without one of the touchstones of the female experience: a sisterhood of shared empathy, tampons and chocolate, and laundry lessons passed from grandmother to granddaughter. Liberation from premenstrual emotional peaks and valleys sounds great, but we would also lose the surge of creativity and libido that comes with the urge to strangle your houseplants. Would movies be as poignant, or garlic mashed potatoes ever taste as good?”

But writing at Salon, Carol Lloyd respectfully offers a different perspective: “I’ll keep the chocolate and the empathy, but the tampons? That’s one touchstone of the female experience I’d gladly leave on the Walgreen’s shelf.”

Bill O’Reilly claims a pregnant woman’s life could “never” be “in danger” from pregnancy complications. You’ll find plenty of facts counteracting his statements at Media Matters. I’m also betting O’Reilly doesn’t read The New Yorker.

Black Women and Breast Cancer: “A study showing an alarming gap in breast cancer death rates for black and white women in Chicago has mobilized health experts to find the root causes and recommend within a year ways to reduce the unusually high mortality among African-Americans,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “By 2003, the last year for which statistics are available, the rate for Chicago’s black women was 73 percent higher: 40.5 breast cancer deaths per 100,000, compared with 23.4 for white women. For the U.S. as a whole, the mortality rate for white women is 25.2, compared with 34.6 for black women — 37 percent higher.”

In Connecticut, Spreading the Word: Barbara Smith, an outreach coordinator for the government-funded Connecticut Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, makes it a point to get personal wherever she is. “I present them with my story, and I say, ‘Let’s talk about it because we’re dying from this at a greater rate than any other race.'” … “When you’re sitting down playing cards, just ask your sister: When’s the last time you got your mammogram? We’ve got to talk about this.”

Maryland to Restore Benefits: The Washington Post today reports that poor legal immigrant children and pregnant women will receive health care benefits after the state’s hightest court ruled that they should not have been cut from Medicaid rolls. “This is a wonderful victory,” said Douglas M. Bregman, one of the children’s attorneys. “We only had 13 plaintiffs. Now we have everybody back in the program.”

Today’s Dads: Rebel Dad, who chronicles media coverage of stay-at-home dads, is excited about new data showing that the number of hours men spend per week on childcare is on the rise. Half Changed World has more analysis here.

Why I Gave Up on Hip-Hop: Lonnae O’Neal Parker has this to say: “When those of us who grew up with rap saw signs that it was turning ugly, we turned away. We premised our denial on a sort of good-black-girl exceptionalism: They came for the skeezers but I didn’t speak up because I’m no skeezer, they came for the freaks, but I said nothing because I’m not a freak. They came for the bitches and the hos and the tricks. And by the time we realized they were talking about bitches from 8 to 80, our daughters and our mommas and their own damn mommas, rap music had earned the imprimatur of MTV and Martha Stewart and even the Pillsbury Doughboy.”

Of Microphones and Men: Russian officials may try to spin President Vladimir Putin’s comments about envying Israeli President Moshe Katsav — who stands accused of rape — into a lost-in-translation moment. More likely it’s a good ol’ boy back-slap on a global scale.

Full Frontal Feminism: Jessica Valenti’s new book about why feminism matters isn’t in stores until 2007, but the book jacket is stirring up debate at Feministing. To get this many people talking months before a book — and not just any book but a book about feminism — is released has to be a good sign. Commenter Bear explains.

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