Health & Science
Thanks to Viviane for alerting me to a NYT article I'd missed on Tuesday. It announces the release of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force's Final Report to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States.
The task force was made of up of Internet service providers, social networking companies, academics, non-profit child and family safety advocate organizations and was formed in response to a call from state attorney generals for research and policy direction that would help keep kids safer online.
Interestingly the report finds that the greatest threats to kids come from their own peers and that the threat of sexual solicitation by adults, while worrisome and to be taken seriously, is not as great as one would guess based on the media fear-mongering of shows like "To Catch A Predator."
Here are some excerpts from the report's Executive Summary (PDF) :
Protest demanding a moritorium on genital cosmetic surgery, investigation by government agencies, monitoring of these surgeries by the FDA and the Amerian College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and true informed consent standards providing information on the wide variaiton in normal genital anatomy.
Here is the link for the Time magazine ONLINE article and below is a report of the demonstration.
For release November 10, 2008
We will be protesting to draw attention to this issue at the office of Dr. Ronald Blatt, 225 E. 64th Street from 12:00 noon to 2:00 on Monday, November 17. Please join us to make a serious public statement.
Research and Monitoring Needed for Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery New View Campaign demands Government and Medical Associations Examine Effects of Unregulated Genital Procedures: Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation, Designer Vaginoplasty, G-Spot Amplification, Revirgination, and Cosmetic Labiaplasty
New York, NY_ Uncritical publicity about a new, unregulated, unmonitored, and untested genital cosmetic surgery industry has left the public dangerously misinformed, says the New View Campaign, a group opposed to the medicalization of women’s sexuality. Women assume that the new surgeries are safe and effective at their peril. “Surgeons make unsubstantiated claims about their procedures. Genital cosmetic surgery franchising spreads misinformation. Professional organizations, the FTC and the FDA are failing to protect women from harm. Before-and-after photos on clinic websites depict procedures that would be labeled ‘female genital mutilation’ in other parts of the world,” says group spokesperson Leonore Tiefer, Ph.D. a New York psychologist.
“In September, 2007, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology issued a statement claiming ‘it is deceptive to give the impression that [these procedures] are accepted and routine’ and that ‘their safety and effectiveness have not been documented’ yet the advertising and franchising of these procedures has increased. We demand that the FTC limit the advertising activities of these cowboy surgeons until independent research assures consumers that their genital health is not being endangered.”
On November 17 the New View Campaign will stage a protest in front of a NYC cosmetic genital surgeon’s office from 12-2PM. The specific location will be posted on http://newviewcampaign.org on November 16. The group demands new regulations requiring that women requesting these procedures receive adequate information about possible scarring, chronic pain, obstetric risks, loss of genital sensation, reduced erotic pleasure, and post-operative anxieties. It also calls for independent post-procedure research to determine the extent of these adverse reactions.
Education must be a larger part of the informed consent procedures for these surgeries, says Dr. Tiefer and other group members. “Following centuries of sexual misinformation and misogynist genital disgust, women requesting clitoral and labia reduction surgeries need accurate information about the wide range of normal genital configurations and measurements. Women inquiring about “G-Shots” must be told of the scientific controversy surrounding the purported existence of the G-Spot as well as informed of potential dangers.”
For further information contact:
Leonore Tiefer, PhD; Clin Assoc Prof., NYU School of Med 212-533-2774 Leonore.Tiefer@NYUMC.org
Lisa Rubin, PhD, Asst Prof Psychol, New School for Social Reseach, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Liebert, MA, Social-Personality Psych, CUNY Grad Ctr, email@example.com
Fetish Diva Midori, who's long been one of the smartest perverts on the scene, started a particularly interesting conversation on her Yahoo discussion group recently: are there fantasies that are, in themselves, unethical? Are there things that are such inherent breaches of morality that even if you never intend to act on them, that it's immoral even to fantasize about them?
From a sex-positive viewpoint, the immediate impulse is to say unambiguously, "NO!" The opposite answer has always been the hallmark of the puritans who police desire, and has destroyed more lives than can be counted. The idea that we have a right to our own desires as long as they either stay in our own heads or are acted out with consenting adults is the very core of the struggles for queer rights, for the acknowledgment of transgenderism, for the legitimacy of BDSM, and for the free manufacture and sale of pornography and sex toys of all kinds. It defines the difference between the people who see sexuality as normal and natural and those who see it as a dark, animal part of ourselves that we must transcend.
But I think that for most of us, no matter how expertly pervy and kinky and open-minded we are, the answer becomes more ambiguous once you start delving into particulars. For instance:
Blogger Deliciously Naughty has recently found herself knocked up and on the very brink of adding a third member to her household (how the hell did that happen, DN?). Whether you know DN in real life or only through her writing, you know how much she loves her kink, and pregnancy adds extra challenges to vanilla sexuality, never mind activities like bondage and flogging, and literature on the practicalities of dealing with those desires and practices is rare at best. Ironically, once women enter the role of mother, it makes it even more important for them to be well-behaved and chaste.
Cory Silverberg, coauthor of the book I recently reviewed for Sex In The Public Square, The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability, offered up a link to A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States at the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the United States on Friday, a week ago.
As Abstinence Only Sex Mis-education goes hand in hand with Creationism and other anti-science propaganda, I set aside some time to read through the report. These issues concern me as a parent, and as a person striving to see that the leaders of tomorrow's world are not handicapped by pseudo-scientific faith-based nonsense.
Because faith, by its very definition, is based on blind obedience to authority, it is the antithesis of science, which is based on reality and evidence. Authority, whether in the form of a dusty anthology of ancient superstition, a charismatic person of great influence, or an invisible zombie in the sky, need not apply. When science and faith collide, science will always provide the better description of reality, and like it or not, we live in the real world. We need accurate portrayals of reality to make intelligent, informed decisions regarding the health and future of the world's children.
The good, the bad, and the ugly, lie below the fold.
Full Title: The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For all of us who live with disabilities, chronic pain & illness
Author: Miriam Kaufman, M.D., Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette
Publisher: Cleis Press
Copyright: 2003, 2007 (2nd ed.)
Pages: 334 plus index
Price: $18.95 (US)
The sexuality of disabled members of our society is perhaps one of the most closeted, or at least overlooked, topics in American public discourse. Rarely is the topic addressed even by the most strident of sex positive advocates. The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability was written to rectify this deficiency in our public square. The authors, Miriam Kaufman, M.D., Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette, take a unique and personal approach to their mission by lacing the book with actual responses from a survey done by phone and internet. These survey responses faithfully guide the book toward its objective.
(The rest of the review is below the fold)
"You run like a girl." It was an insult aimed at boys. Being "like a girl" was clearly a bad thing for a boy to be if he wanted to be an athlete. Not being enough "like a girl" on the other hand, is devastating for women.
It was not so long ago that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) used to require all women athletes to be tested to discover whether they were 'truly women' or not. [Bracket, please, for a moment the question of what a 'true woman' might be. We'll come back to it. I promise.] Now such tests are only performed, according to the story in today's New York Times, when a woman athlete's sex is questioned. [Bracket for a moment why this never, apparently, comes up in men's sports.] What would cause her sex to be questioned? The Times does not present a list of specific suspicious indicators, but does say that it has come up in the context of doping tests. What is so striking about this is that it represents an insistence that women be held to a biological standard of womanhood. Consider the variations among women. What does it mean to set aside some group of women and say they are too powerful to be 'real women'? Consider how this makes even less sense when we are talking about women who represent the strongest, fastest, most agile, most physically powerful women in the world.
There's a lot to say about the ineptitude and lack of foresight involved in the creation of this sign, but ultimately, the message gives some good, solid advice for those who don't want to accidentally reproduce. (via)
One of the problems with politics is how words and images can slip from being portrayals of people's lives into trite cliché so easily that you can't even remember when the line was crossed. For example, take the coat hanger.
The coat hanger has been the symbol of activists who work to keep abortion a viable choice for all women everywhere. It represents the bad old days, when abortion was illegal in many parts of the country, although being illegal never stopped it from happening. The coat hanger has become ubiquitous in the debate over abortion. So much so that its meaning seems to have become invisible. It's been over thirty years now since Roe V. Wade was first handed down, and a couple of generations have grown up and become sexually active with the choice of abortion as something that could be taken as granted. The coat hanger and the deaths and self-mutilations it represents has become part of our intellectual wallpaper, something that is so old and familiar that we barely think of it at all. When we do, many people are likely to see the coat hanger as more symbolic of earnest young activists wound up on idealism and hyperbole than as part of our history.