- Although it’s well known that weight affects dosing of many medications, including birth control pills, new warnings about effectiveness of Plan B and similar morning-after pills made headlines this week when the European manufacturer of a similar drug announced that they will begin warning consumers that the drug is completely ineffective for women who weigh more than 176 pounds and begins to lose effectiveness in women who weigh more than 165 pounds. The FDA is evaluating whether to require US emergency contraceptive pill makers to change their labels. (The average weight of a woman in the US is 166.2 pounds.)
- The new label of Norlevo, the European morning-after pill, also says it “cannot stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb”. While US brands say they work mostly by blocking the release of eggs before fertilization, they also say the drugs may inhibit fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. Court watchers are speculating about whether this could affect the current case before the US Supreme Court, involving corporations that object on religious grounds to the health care law’s requirement that employers provide insurance coverage for contraception, including emergency contraception.
- Could old-school menstrual gear be the solution for VPL (visible panty lines)? Nah, we didn’t think so either, and neither do our Twitter and Facebook followers.
- The Act of Gender Equality in Employment in Taiwan has been modified, adding three extra days of menstruation leave that will not be deducted from half-pay common sick leave.
- Vaginal discharge is part of the magic of the vagina’s self-cleaning function, but it can still stain your unders, maybe even more than menstrual fluid. If that bothers you, Jezebel‘s Jolie Kerr has some advice for you.
- Gynecologists who treat men are not common, but some do treat men with anal cancer. It is rare, and usually caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is sexually transmitted. But these doctors risk losing their certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology if they don’t limit their practice to female-bodied patients.
- This article has been making the rounds on the #Menstruation Twitters this week: Men don’t like to talk about menstruation because they’re men.
For me, that’s always the question.
Gross is a decision. It is a judgment based on a set of values derived from a particular perspective. And because of this slipperiness, some things are more widely deemed GROSS that some other things.
Readers of this blog are well aware that bleeding lady parts often end up in Grossland. And they end up there more often than other body parts doing their body part thing. So why is this?
It’s been a busy few weeks in Grossland— dizzying days upon days of seeing the obvious contradictions embedded in what we, as a culture, deem gross and what we see as just- bodies- being- natural-bodies. Sometimes these bodily functions are FUNNY and other times only mildly yucky, but still okay to talk about.And sometimes, in the case of menstruating bodies, we are socialized to keep the whole thing quiet and hidden.
My most recent trip to Grossland began with the uproar over the newly-released (and nearly sold out) American Apparel masturbation-period-vulva T shirt flap. The flap just barely died down when Kristen Schaal’s brilliant satire (on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart) delivered a bit on the proliferation of sexy Halloween costumes for women. In it, Schaal suggested that women “take it to the next level … get everyone thinking about sex (by) dressing up as the place where sex happens!” (and in walks a 6 foot high vulva! With Stewart-as-straight-man remarking “I don’t know if we can show that….” )I love what she did there, but the piece is not ONLY funny for its feminist take down of the hypersexualization of women’s bodies. The costume is outrageous because it is gross, right? “Sexy Vagina” (vulva, of course, more accurately, but this is not the time for anatomical correctness) is funny because who-in-their-right-mind-would dress-up-like-that? That’s disgusting. Welcome to Grossland.
Petra Collins, the 20-year-old artist commissioned to produce the t-shirt image for no-friend-to-women retailer American Apparel gets this (even if her check was written by a corporate entity who could care less about the social message she has in mind). Collins speaks compellingly about the objectification and containment of women’s bodies that her work endeavors to challenge. And she reports that the controversy swirling around a line drawing of a hand stroking a menstruating (and hairy!!!) vulva was “awesome” because
“it totally proves my point…. that we’re so shocked and appalled at something that’s such a natural state—and its funny that out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently.”
And appalled we are! One commenter on a TIME article about the t shirt controversy remarked: I….would equate her imagery with a straining rectum expelling a painful, post-digestion steak dinner.” And there it is. We can’t seem to have a menstrual moment without someone rushing in to equate menstruation with defecation. Liz Kissling has taken it on. Breanne Fahs has, too, more recently, but we still haven’t gained much traction in showing that
1) menstruating and pooping are not the same thing, and even if they were,
2) menstruating IS more shamed than pooping
Menstruation is gross (throw in masturbation and pubes to make it really beyond the pale) because we say it is. And those that hasten to compare uterine-lining shining with expelling feces are missing the fact that while the processes do overlap in some ways, we are NOT, culturally speaking, as hellbent on silencing the poop (or the farts and certainly not the piss) as we are the menses. and why is that? Perhaps it it matters who is doing the business. I assert that it ain’t no coincidence that bleeding LADY parts are the Grossest of Them All.
To wit, I submit the following:
A colleague put the new film Movie 43, a blend of edgy and puerile vignettes acted by a star studded ensemble cast, on my radar. The film includes the segment: “Middleschool Date” (written by Elizabeth Shapiro. Elizabeth: If you are out there, will you be my friend?).