Category Archives: Women

A Brief Thought On Birth Control Word Choice

Flicker / brains the head

On the prescription information for birth control pills:

A third way [this hormone medication prevents pregnancy] is by changing the womb lining, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the lining of the womb (implantation). A fertilized egg (embryo/unborn baby) needs to attach to the womb to receive blood and nutrients and continue to grow. If an embryo/unborn baby does not attach, it cannot survive.

So, obviously, this last indication — in addition to 1) preventing ovulation and 2) preventing the egg and sperm from getting friendly — is why anti-choice activists are coming out against birth control. To them, it’s the same as abortion (even though it actually isn’t).

That aside, the term “embryo/unborn baby” seems weird. Embryos aren’t viable, so calling them “unborn babies” doesn’t really make sense, since the word “baby” means a newly born human being–and by necessity, one that’s viable outside of the womb. There’s a squishiness about the phrasing that makes me wonder how it got onto the prescription info.

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Amy

I came home this evening and nothing felt like how it should be
I feel like writing you a letter but that’s not me…you know me
Feel so fucking angry; don’t wanna be reminded of you
But when I left my shit in your kitchen, I said goodbye to your bedroom
It smelled of you

Mr False Pretence, you don’t make sense
I just don’t know you
But you make me cry, where’s my kiss goodbye?
I think I love you

— “Take The Box,” Frank (2003)

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In Defense of A Certain Celebrity Profile

I could not disagree with Alyssa more about her take on Edith Zimmerman’s brilliant GQ profile of Chris Evans. She found it “disconcerting” and writes:

It’s not so much this profile, which is really not so much a profile as a chronicle of hanging out with an action star, that read as odd to me. It’s that Zimmerman’s piece comes on the heels of the March issue, in which GQ published Jessica Pressler’s account of spending the night with Channing Tatum, a couple of Snuggies, and a bottle of tequila. For GQ, sending out a female reporter to get tipsy and a little frisky with an otherwise indistinguishable slab of beef appears to be their stab at creating a novel and enduring journalistic form, akin to the New Yorker’s revealing anecdote, followed by a statement of a larger problem, followed by an origin story. At this rate, I’ll be making it rain in strip clubs with Ryan Reynolds by November.

Her point about Jessica Pressler’s night with Channing Tatum is somewhat well-met. But it’s also fairly common for GQ profiles to boil down to a few hundred words of “I hung out with this person.”

Still, I think Alyssa is missing what made the story so wonderful. Chris Evans is essentially a nobody (an up-and-coming nobody, sure) in Hollywood — he’s not a great actor, and he’s not even playing a great hero (sorry, Captain America fans). If Edith did this with a person who was important or particularly interesting, like Barack Obama or even Robert Downey, Jr. that would be one thing. But Evans is exactly what Alyssa describes him to be: an indistinguishable slab of beef (who is apparently much loved by his mother, as all boys should be).

So, what do you do when faced with an assignment to profile of a handsome movie star whose credits include “Harvard Hottie” in the Nanny Diaries and the lead in Push, a movie I think I was the only person in America to see?

I guess you could dig around and try to find out what makes him interesting. Or you could take this opportunity to explore the absolutely bizarre experience of writing a celebrity profile. Edith writes:

Despite his publicist specifically telling him not to, he invited me to come to his going-away party. “My poor publicist,” he said. “She knows I like to drink. She was like, ‘Please don’t drink too much, please just don’t drink too much—you’re gonna take this person out, and they’re going to ruin you.’ ”

We were heading our separate ways for dinner first. I said I was going to call a cab, but Chris laughed and insisted on his driver taking me back to my hotel. In the vast backseat, Chris was even more flirtatious than before, touching my arm and my knee. At this point, which was a…number of drinks in, it was easy to forget that it really was an interview, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind that something might happen (and that we’d go to the Oscars and get married and have babies forever until we died?). But there was always the question of how much of it was truly Chris Evans, and whom I should pretend to be in response.

Let’s face it: most celebrity profiles are completely worthless. Either you suffer through Hirschbergesque atmospherics like what the weather is like and if the person has a purple couch (for 95-lb female stars, it’s all about how much pasta, or burgers, or beers they consumed), or you get long, winding profiles that will ultimately conclude that so-and-so is “complicated.”

Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist, but I’d much rather read a story about what it’s like to try and interview a handsome, charming celebrity and spend time in fancy places and fall a little bit in love with one’s subject. In divulging the ethical roadbumps all journos in these situations are sure to face, Edith is telling us more than we would ever learn by reading what Evans’ workout routine is. And that is writing by a woman that I can get behind.

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Some Writing I’ve Been Doing

I’ve got two pieces out today that I’m pretty proud of, in different ways. First there’s the first post in a series I’m beginning for Colorlines that explores the jobs crisis, and why it’s so hard to get things done in Washington. I talked to a couple of economists who have some theories:

“If you go back to that time, I think we were worried that the unemployment could get up to 6, or maybe 7 percent,” says economist Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. “There was bipartisan effort to stimulate the economy when we were worried about 7 percent. Now we’re at 9 percent,” he adds—but now no one cares.

Chad Stone, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, argues that unemployment has fallen away as a real priority because Washington politicians are now caught up in a short-sighted argument over the budget deficit.

“The idea has caught on in this town that we have to cut spending really quickly to address a perceived budget crisis,” Stone says, but “cutting spending immediately goes in the wrong direction for solving the jobs crisis.”

Read the rest at Colorlines.

Second, I did a post for The Hairpin that I’m pretty excited about because I love The Hairpin/Awl. Thanks to Edith for running it! I wrote about the ridiculous Psychology Today post that postulated theories for why black women are objectively less attractive than all other women.

I know, right?

The problem with race-based assessments of attractiveness or intelligence — particularly when it comes to black people — is that it completely ignores a couple of things. First, that black people can be Paul Robeson or Anatole Broyard or Butterfly McQueen or Lena Horne. There’s no one kind of blackness. This leads directly to point number two, which is that most black Americans have varying degrees of white genetic material, and, traditionally, fairer skinned black women — those who are closer to white — have been considered most beautiful.

That means that you could conclude that a) the blacker a lady is, the less attractive she is, that or b) in order for racism to work, people have to believe irrational, crazy things about other races — like that black women are less attractive and less feminine than other ladies.

Read the rest at The Hairpin.

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“You pretty much do whatever men want you to do?” “Yes…yes, that’s what I’m trying to tell you.”

Based on this interview, I’ve decided that Aubrey Plaza — aka April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation — is kind of a genius. She plays it almost completely straight, and with her blank face and monotone, she makes Steven Tyler and Jay Leno look like the total creepers they’re being.

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#thisweekiskillingme

Busy week and my energy is flagging. Only Robyn can help.

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Hollerin’ Season

Image: Flickr / chriscardinal

Yesterday I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some yogurt to go with dinner. On my way in, a store employee lingering outside smiled at me. I smiled and nodded and walked in. On my way out, I vaguely heard someone else calling to me, “Hey baby! Baby!” Quietly, then louder and more insistent.

I hurried through the parking lot, trying to ignore the person cat-calling me. The store employee who had smiled at me earlier then started calling to me from 30 feet away as I headed to my car. “Hey miss lady! Alright now!” I glanced at him, and it was clear he didn’t want anything but my attention.

Annoyed, I got into my car where my dog was waiting. As I was exited the parking lot, another man flagged me down, pointing to my headlights. Thinking something was wrong, I slowed to a stop. He smiled and said, “I like your dog.”

Me: “Thanks.”
Him: “Are you single?”
Me: “No.”
Him: “Are you really not single?”
Me: “On my way to my man’s house right now.” [True fact: The easiest way to get a strange man to leave you alone is to tell him that you’re someone else’s property. Equally true fact: It doesn’t always work.]
Him: “Do you want to make a friend?”
Me: [Blank stare, preparing to pull off]
Him: “Well, do you need some CDs, DVDs…?”

I drove away.

As harassment goes, it certainly wasn’t the worst I’ve experienced. Neither of these men made remarks about my body or called me a bitch because I wasn’t receptive. Neither of them blocked my path. (All of these things have happened to me. All of these things have probably happened to all of the women you know.) It was just a deluge of unwanted attention. I joked about it — the bootleg DVD offer was funny — to my boyfriend when I got to his house. But I was joking because it was so infuriating. And I knew that if I were at the store with him, it wouldn’t have happened. Being a woman alone in public means I can’t even buy a tub of yogurt without fielding unwanted advances.

I left that grocery store never wanting to go back. I’ll avoid it if I’m by myself. Here’s the thing street harassment apologists don’t seem to understand when they say “don’t get offended just because a man says hello to you.” It’s just plain stressful being approached by multiple male strangers — especially when I don’t know how they’ll react to my disinterest. I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been cursed out, and physically intimidated. I’ve also been wished a blessed day. But the unpredictability is what makes it so upsetting. Even as I make the choice to avoid certain places, I hate it, because it’s just another example of the ways street harassment limits women’s access to public spaces.

Of course, I don’t have a choice much of the time. Standing at the bus stop on Rhode Island Avenue on fine mornings means being called to by all kinds of men who are sitting, bored, in their cars on their way to work. There are different methods of dealing. There’s snapping back, there’s being silent, and there’s being polite and dismissive. Still, the result of each tactic depends solely on the guy and whether he’s willing to leave me alone; it has little do with whether I desire to be left alone.

It seems there’s only one thing to do when warm weather arrives and, as my friend Dayo puts it, “hollerin’ season” has arrived: Put my game face on.

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