Gardasil And The Newest Rendition of "Boys Will Be Boys"

via Forever In Hell

I have nothing to say about this that Personal Failure didn't already say. Just try to wrap your noggins around the cognitive somersaults going on throughout this issue right here:

A Vaccine Debate Once Focused on Sex Shifts as Boys Join the Target Market

I guess the only thing I have to add is a very inelegant *headdesk*. Okay, let me try again. *ahem hem*

Let's start with Aristotle. (Yes, really.) Monsieur Aristote* proposed something called the Teleological Concept of Good which essentially holds that something is "good" if it hits the target it aimed for. Now, by this definition of "good" you could be either a good mother (whatever that means) or a good Mob enforcer (I think we're a little clearer on what that might entail). I'd say that vaccines can be categorized as "good" or "not good" based on the Teleological Concept there. They either work or they don't. They either cause less harm being administered than the disease they're aiming to prevent, or they cause more harm than the disease itself (in which case they usually don't make it to the FDA approval process). Gardasil, as far as we know today, mostly works and causes less harm than cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, oral, or esophageal cancers. Its original target was to prevent the 4 types of HPV which cause most types of cervical cancer, but it can also (it is thought) prevent those other cancers listed by preventing the contraction of HPV. (Not to mention genital warts.) That is GOOD. And no amount of sex any one person might have before they're married can make that BAD for the rest of the vaccinated population.** Sorry, it just can't.

Now, let's talk about the whole boy/girl angle of the discussion. When, as the article in question points out, the vaccine was released for females, the no-sex-before-marriage crowd, and some parents, were put off or offended or shocked or frightened that the vaccine was approved for girls as young as 9. There were communities who balked at their school districts attempting to enforce the vaccine for girls of a certain age like they would for MMR or meningitis vaccines in kindergarten or college, respectively. The focus was on how much sex 10-year-old girls were obviously going to start having immediately after leaving their pediatricians' offices with Band-Aids still covering their injection sites. And now, again according to the article, that the boys enter into the picture, sex seems to have skulked stealthily off stage Right. (Ha. "Right." Get it? Like Right Wing? Haaaa.)

The quotation toward the beginning of the article concerning "gender bias" and our being still "more concerned" about promiscuity in girls than in boys is right on, I think, but the context doesn't entirely flesh out the meaning. Personally, I read an acknowledgement that society shrugs at guys' habits between the sheets, but still searches for a way to fix all the [female] sluts. That's essentially what this contentiousness over vaccinating the boys means to me. Boys will be boys will be boys, but girls will be saints or sluts. That dichotomy pops up so often that sometimes I find myself missing it entirely because I'm so used to seeing or reading it. But sometimes, like in this argument of dollars and cents versus female virginity and male sexual tendency, it's just too glaring to ignore.

* I veer into French when discussing philosophy since the only philosophy class I ever took was "L'Existentialisme et l'Absurde" and focused a lot on Sartre and Camus. It's a side effect, not unlike redness and itchiness at the Gardisil injection site. Not that I would know because my insurance started covering it after I turned 26. Which was also after I was married, but fuck them, right?

** In fact, the more sex a vaccinated person has, the more people are protected who would have been otherwise vulnerable.


Modesty, Malevolently

The tip for this post comes from everyone's favorite atheist, Personal Failure (ask her about cookies).

"Revive Our Hearts" appears to be a traditional Christian program (I'm not sure if this blog is the original format, or if this is a podcast, radio show, etc.) and this particular episode is called "Partial Disclosure = Exposure."  It is part of the series "Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?"  I am not these gals' target audience.  Not only am I not Christian, I post pictures of my (clothed) out-of-con-freaking-trol boobage on this blog.  I'm sure that's not what they'd consider "modest."  But I figured I'd give this a look-see anyway.

Let me be clear: I believe that a certain level of modesty is a good thing.  We can't all run around with our tits flying around like pinwheels, after all; it tears the tissues.  And clothes certainly protect us from frostbite, sunburn, snakebites (boots), etc.  Aside from biologically sound, modesty can be downright convenient, if not always foolproof.  I don't know if the women involved in "Revive Our Hearts" have ever walked around Manhattan in the spring or summer, but you could be a three days into a non-bathing stint and wearing a mumu, and still get a certain amount of unwanted male attention.  

I also believe that the wrong sort of emphasis on the female body can lead to all kinds of twisty, snarly shame (helloooo bulimia or binge eating!).  If body image is a silhouette-shaped tree, its roots are firmly planted in the family environment wherein we matured.  Our family environment informs how we view our bodies, and how we define and categorize them.  One of the most dangerous ways to define our bodies is via others' perceptions of them, since that puts us totally out of control of our own selves.   Our bodies are us.  They are the most natural, basic, original expression of who we are.  If we are taught from our formative years to define ourselves only in terms of others, then what the hell kind of sense of self are we going to be left with?  "Not much of one" is the answer.  That's what I find initially dangerous and objectionable about the material of "Partial Disclosure = Exposure."  Defining the biblical purpose of clothing as covering "the private parts of the body" is all well and good, and I'm not about to go run off to a nudist colony.  But these women are urging their female acolytes to consider everything they wear through the prism of "where do you want men looking at you as a woman?"  And that's no way to conceive of yourself: only through a man.  Define your body through a man's perception of it.  I don't think so.

In addition to being dangerous in a metaphysical, intangible way (to say nothing of the physical ramifications of eating disorders and low self-esteem), I find the suggestions in this article dangerous on an immediate and frightening level.  
"I'm just saying think about whether what you're wearing is form-fitting and could be tantalizing or seductive to men, not in an extreme way perhaps, but in a way that you would not want to be influencing men's thinking."  Is that or is that not the most boiled down argument of "she was asking for it because she was dressed like a slut" you've ever read?  Our society (and Western society on the whole) has been clawing and white-knuckling its way away from such dangerous modes of thinking for the better part of a century.  It's maddening and depressing to me that some women apparently want to bring back into full force that culture of victim blaming and shaming when it isn't even gone to begin with.

Essentially, this write-up is the Eve argument in an HTML format. And I think it's ridiculous.  Ridiculously dangerous.

Plan B OTC Access Expanded

"The judge ruled that the agency had improperly bowed to political pressure from the Bush administration in 2006 when it set the age limit at 18."

If you read this blog on any sort of semi-regular basis, I think you can guess my feeling on this new ruling.  To sum up:  w00t.  Another quick excerpt from the article:  

Citing depositions, Judge Korman wrote that agency officials had improperly communicated with White House officials about Plan B. And, he said, F.D.A. employees sought to influence decisions by appointing people with anti-abortion views to an independent panel of experts reviewing Plan B for the agency.

Anyway, kudos to Judge Korman.  (God forbid a seventeen-year-old who's been raped by a friend be allowed to at least breathe a little more deeply about one of the possible physical consequences of such a crime.)  I wonder what else will be confirmed in the way of publicly acknowledged, open secrets from the past eight years?


Left Wing Conspiracy In Dictionary Publishing Industry Spreading Like Cream Cheese On A Bagel After Sundown On Yom Kippur

This is just so awesome that it's practically beyond words.  (Iiiironyyyy.)

A conservative website noticed that the entry on "marriage" in Merriam-Webster includes a definition covering same-sex marriage.  Now the "traditional marriage blogosphere" is up in arms about this breaking news.  ... Which appears to have happened in the 2003 edition.  I'm not going to link to them because I don't want to give them extra traffic, but a number of blogging members of a little organization called the DNA (just Google it if you're burning to know) currently have horrified entries concerning this travesty.

And I'm laughing my ass off at every one of them.

(See?  I told you it was a conspiracy.)

Theatre Thursday

As I mentioned and linked, some school somewhere is trying to convince us that Steve Martin's hilarious, thoughtful and poignant play Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a dirty piece of icky smut.  Screw that.  Screw that with an extra-thorny rose bush.   We did this play (a truncated version) at my very Catholic, Catholic high school.  I played Suzanne, a 19-ish ingenue who's been seduced by Picasso (twice).  Herewith, her monologue.  Because everyone deserves to see this really kick-ass play.

SUZANNE.  I... it was about two weeks ago.  I was walking down the street one afternoon and I turned up the stairs into my flat and I looked back and he was there framed in the doorway looking up at me.  I couldn't see his face because the light came in from behind him and he was in shadow and he said "I am Picasso."  And I said, "Well so what?"  And then he said he wasn't sure yet but he thinks that it means something in the future to be Picasso.  He said that occasionally there is a Picasso and he happens to be him.  He said the twentieth century has to start somewhere and why not now.  The he said, "May I approach you?" and I said okay.  He walked upstairs and picked up my wrist and turned it over and took his fingernail and scratched deeply on the back of my hand.  In a second, in red, the image of a dove appeared.  Then I thought, why is it that someone who wants me can hang around for months, and I even like him but I'm not going to sleep with him, but someone else says the right thing and I'm on my back, not knowing what hit me.

Then the conversation veers toward penises, and while I understand a high school not wanting to include that (ours cut it out), I mean... well, go get the play and read it yourself.  I can see why Steve Martin's willing to put up his own money to help this particular drama program do an off-campus production, just so the play doesn't get a seedy reputation.  It's really, really great.

Not very eloquent today, I know.  My brain has shut down yet again.  Meh.  Expect lots of links in the next few weeks.


Theatre (of the absurd) Thursday. Except Not.

We're heading down to south Jersey to visit my in-laws for about a week. We're taking the prince with us. In the car. I think this probably sums up the situation:


My Disordered Thoughts: Let Me Show U Them

Trigger: Packing for a week in Jersey with the in-laws. Trying on funeral-appropriate dress clothes in case of grandparent departure. Finding a skirt which didn't fit in the autumn now fits. (The skirt was too small around the waist before).

Belief: "Well, shit. I must have really gotten chubby. Chubster. Chubby chubster fatty."

Action: Stare in mirror and wonder, "How fat am I still? I'm probably still chubby and just can't see it. Hunh. That... sucks."

Departure from reality: Achieved.