Posts Tagged ‘sex’

I’m not saying she’s a slut for being a stripper, but…

March 26, 2012

You don’t have to call someone a slut for your words to be considered slut-shaming. Houston Press writer Richard Connelly, who reports about everything from crime to sports, didn’t say the word “slut” in his 600+ expose on Houston Chronicle reporter Sarah Tressler’s moonlighting as a stripper. But his words spoke for themselves, shaming a woman who dared report on the society page by day and strip by night.

So my question is: So what? Is it a scandal that she spent time in high society among the elite, and then took her clothes for the assumed lower class? (I’m sure rich people don’t go to strip clubs or do anything prsumably dirty! NEVER!!!!) I can see that being a surprise to people — it might be more of a cultural shock in Texas, where I think acting “ladylike” is emphasized more than, say, the Midwest.

She’s also an adult who’s got a right to report, teach as a college professor, and strip if she wants to. I like that this reporter — and probably tons of other people — want to make sure her identity stays defined as primarily one of these things. Because once you admit to voluntarily taking your clothes off for money, or having sex on camera for money, etc., then it’s impossible to be anything else. You’ve dropped a rank in societal standards, it’s unthinkable you’d interact with high-class people — but Richard, you’re right, you never said the word “slut.”

You just downgraded her writing as tasteless and highlighted that her co-workers were furious, complaining that she obviously “flaunted” her stripper money by wearing nice clothes and owning designer purses. I know plenty of people at my office who wear nice clothes and have designer bags — should I be mad that they spent their money on these things, or is it only when it’s stripper money that we should be pissed about what people spend with their own cash?

I have a lot of mixed feelings about shaming women who choose to strip, do porn, etc. Especially when they aren’t actively doing those things anymore, but them just being a part of their past limits women’s access to jobs. I remember a while back that a teacher was fired because she had a porn star past; that Sasha Grey was banned from reading books to children as part of a charitable effort. She doesn’t want to have sex in front of a bunch of first graders. She wants to read them a damn book.

Maybe you don’t like Tressler’s writing style — that’s fine. But I think it’s easy to read between the lines of Richard’s piece to see his disdain for her profession — and her — in what to me seems like an attempt at public humiliation (aka slut-shaming) of some sort. From his update — just calling her choices “interesting” — it seems he might’ve ended up more humiliated.

Teen Mom: Maturity = talking about sex, not just having it

December 28, 2011

New Year’s resolution: Start blogging again! It’s not January yet, but I did just watch an episode of Teen Mom 2 that caught my attention. Nothing like getting a head-start on my resolution!

So, this week Kailyn decided to get an IUD, an intrauterine device, which is T-shaped and can stay in the uterus for as long as five years. It works to prevent egg fertilization, and it’s something Kailyn decided to try because she had trouble remembering to take her pill every day. Though she is using protection when having sex with her boyfriend, Jordan, she makes the decision to further prevent any possibility of pregnancy with the Mirena IUD.

What gets me is that Jordan was extremely squeamish when Kailyn told him about the IUD. She admitted beforehand that they never really talk about sex — they just have sex — and her prediction that Jordan would be awkward was right. She wanted to let him know about her decision, and he looked uncomfortable, remarked that it was embarrassing, and later apologized for his awkward reaction.

My theory is that if you’re mature enough to have sex, then you need to be mature enough to talk about it. Talking about sex can be awkward, especially when you haven’t brought up the topic with a partner before. But this lack of communication has a significant affect on the lack of contraceptive use, whether it’s people feeling awkward about mentioning using protection during the act or one partner assuming the other has the birth control covered without any verbal confirmation.

So you have to weigh — is this awkward moment more difficult to deal with than an unplanned pregnancy? And if you’re afraid of what your partner will say, is that a red flag regarding your relationship? If you take contraception seriously but you’re afraid your partner won’t agree to use any, is that really something to compromise about? But all these questions assume a certain outcome — you won’t actually know your partner’s response until you talk about it.

According to one study, kids whose parents talked to them about sex as a teenager were more likely to delay sex and practice safe sex than kids whose parents did not talk to them about sex. And it’s important to start those conversations early, for the air of shame and humiliation to be taken away from sex — because yeah, it’s awkward as a parent to talk to your kid about sex. But if you set the example that talking about sex is taboo, then an unhealthy cycle of silence begins — then young people think it’s unacceptable to talk about sex, and they feel uneasy about voicing concerns and asking questions.

It’s obvious I haven’t blogged in a while, as I’m just being long-winded here for the sake of hearing myself type. Anyway, it was an interesting scene — two adults who have no qualms about having sex with each other, having difficulty actually talking about something they do regularly. This communication problem is something adults of all ages experience, and addressing it begins with removing the stigma about admitting out loud that, yes, you’re having sex and there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

Replying to more arguments regarding no-cost birth control

July 26, 2011

Since writing about birth control access last week, I’ve come across a few more arguments in the comments section of this blog/my OpenSalon version of this blog that I’d like to address:

  • Condoms aren’t that expensive, why not just use those?
  • $50 isn’t that much money, you can easily forgo excesses and scrape together the money for a co-pay.
  • If you can’t afford birth control and don’t want to get pregnant, then don’t have sex.

Firstly, condoms are cheaper than a lot of types of birth control. But two methods are always better than one, especially if you’re concerned that a condom will break and you — as the woman — could get pregnant. For me, it’s important to know that I have control over my reproductive health, and condoms alone don’t fulfill that sense of security. It’s also important to know that should a condom fail, you’re taking another form of birth control as an added preventive measure against an unplanned pregnancy.

Secondly, $50 isn’t that much money to some people, but just because you could easily scrape together $50 by going out to the bars less or eating out less doesn’t mean other people could. Some women and families already aren’t doing those things and struggle financially, and to them $50 is a lot of money each month. Also, as one commenter pointed out on a previous birth control blog, some clinics that offer low-cost birth control do so in a lump sum. So the price is reasonable per month, but you pay for everything up front — is $150 as easy to gather just by nixing pizza for a month?

Another problem with this mentality is that scraping together money for birth control each month is not a stable way to ensure birth control access. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, then you’ll only successfully scrape together enough money for birth control as long as no other unexpected expenses come your way. Say you save $50 for your co-pay, and then your car breaks down. The bill is $300 — how are you going to pay for birth control now? This leaves women using it inconsistently — a major problem that leads to unplanned pregnancies.

Thirdly, the “just don’t have sex” argument is logical but not practical. True, if people don’t want to get pregnant then they could just not have sex. This is the theme of abstinence-only education, which studies show is less effective at preventing pregnancies than comprehensive sex education because just saying “don’t do it” isn’t efficient. What is efficient is giving people the tools and knowledge they need to practice safe sex.

Some people will probably never agree here, because one side sees this as preventive and the other side sees it as enabling. I see it as realistic. Yes, yes, I hear the people in the “actions have consequences and if you can’t handle having a baby then don’t have sex” corner, but that argument just turns a blind eye to how people actually act. People will have sex, and sure, you can punish them by ensuring birth control is inaccessible so either they have to abide by your moral compass or risk an unplanned pregnancy. Or, you can admit that it’s better for everyone involved that we accept people will have sex outside of procreation purposes and that ensuring unplanned pregnancies don’t lead to abortions or unhealthy babies is more important than winning a standoff because you refuse to compromise.

Sounds like a common theme lately in politics …

It’s time to repave the bumpy road to birth control access

July 20, 2011

This blog was submitted to the National Women’s Law Center and Planned Parenthood’s Birth Control Blog Carnival (BCBC) — view all the BCBC posts here.

If the obstacles to birth control accessibility were like potholes in the road, things like social stigma and conscience clauses would be cracks compared to the sinkhole that financial barriers are to women seeking contraception. A great help to smooth this road to accessibility would be its inclusion in preventive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a move that would mean women no longer need to pay copays for birth control.

I actually used to think copays weren’t so bad — I was on my dad’s insurance plan in college, and I was prescribed a birth control that had a generic, $5 form. Five bucks every month? Even as a college student that was affordable. Then I graduated, got dropped from my dad’s insurance plan, and to boot my OB/GYN was concerned about the brand I was taking. My periods could be lighter, shorter, why don’t I try something new?

Sure, I thought — what could be bad about that? And then in addition to my prescription, I got a coupon to use at the pharmacy. You know your birth control is expensive when your OB/GYN hands you a card that will cap your birth control copay. It cost me $24 for this brand, which didn’t have a generic form. This pill had too many ill side effects, so I got switched to another no-generic brand that cost $35 per month. Somehow, the cost of my birth control managed to increase 700 percent in less than a year.

I was lucky in that, despite a three-month bout of unemployment, I never had to go without birth control to pay other bills or expenses. But that isn’t the case for everyone — in fact, the cost of this preventive health measure actually prevents a lot of women from either starting to take or regularly taking birth control because of high copays.

Some people want to argue about the merits of calling birth control “preventive,” that it implies pregnancy is a disease — those arguments are nothing but games of semantics that, by the way, ignore that some items already included as preventive services under PPACA are not directly preventing diseases, either. Birth control is the epitome of preventive — it prevents unplanned pregnancies, prevents the risks then associated with unplanned pregnancies because women don’t know they’re pregnant, and inevitably prevents abortions.

I’ve had experience with the other accessibility roadblocks, too — a friend of mine couldn’t get a prescription from any doctor in her doctor’s office because one of the doctors had religious objections to birth control (and for some reason it was OK for the entire office then to deny writing the prescriptions because of this?); I have felt awkward asking for birth control because I was young and felt my OB/GYN would stun me with judgmental eyes. But to avoid or breakthrough these roadblocks just to be met with a copay that could exceed $50 every month? A copay that could equal or surpass, say, your electric bill? A copay that for other preventive health services doesn’t exist? It’s like staring at the road wondering, “Why are they filling all these other potholes and just ignoring this huge one in the middle of the road?”

And it’s essential for women’s health that this pothole be filled because a different one is rapidly growing, courtesy of politicians who have set their sights on attacking women’s health. Their attempts to defund organizations like Planned Parenthood — which overwhelmingly works to provide low-income women with affordable contraception and health services like breast cancer screenings, pap tests, and STI testing — serve as the latest obstacle to affordable birth control and healthcare. In this atmosphere, a detour in the form of eliminated copays is welcome and necessary — Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan put it best when she said that this possibility seems like “a glimmer of hope that maybe the government doesn’t actually hate us after all.”

The Institute of Medicine has recommended to Department of Health and Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that birth control be included as a preventive health service, and I really, really, sincerely hope that it is. Cost is a huge roadblock for people who want to take but can’t always afford preventive measures, so lifting this barrier would be a monumental for women’s healthcare and contraceptive access.

Want to urge the Department of Health and Human Services to accept the IOM’s recommendations? Sign the petition here.

N.H. councilor doesn’t want to fund people’s ‘good time’

July 12, 2011

The train of Planned Parenthood defunding continues to chug along, with New Hampshire being the latest to reject state funding for the family-planning organization.

If you were unsure whether these efforts to defund were about misguided punishment for non-procreation-related sex, then Councilor Raymond Wieczorek unequivocally answered your question in an interview with The Concord Monitor:

“If they want to have a good time, why not let them pay for it?”

This was regarding state funding for contraception use. Wieczorek seems to think that punishing people for enjoying sex is more important than preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections or preventing unplanned pregnancies. Does no one else sense a double meaning in “let them pay for it”? If they want to have a good time, they should have to pay for it monetarily but also pay for it by getting STIs and becoming pregnant? What a sweet sentiment.

Oddly enough, Wieczorek does not oppose funding for STI testing, which to me signals that his disdain for Planned Parenthood is related to non-procreation-sex. Or it might also be premarital sex, and Wieczorek doesn’t realize that married women frequent Planned Parenthood as well. One day, maybe politicians will realize that its mission is mainly to provide affordable healthcare to low-income women, and that it’s not a seedy underground club where teenagers can have orgies in the waiting room.

On abortion being safe, legal, and rare

June 29, 2011

I like Hillary Clinton’s oft-quoted stance on abortion — that it should be safe, legal, and rare.

But if abortions are going to be safe, then they need to be performed by trained medical professionals. Legislation passed the U.S. House, however, that would ban health centers from using federal money to train medical students about how to perform abortions. If they are going to be safe, they also need to be performed in a reputable location. Legislation exists and has passed legislatures countrywide, however, that attempts to shut down abortion clinics — either by re-regulating them as hospitals or surgical centers so they can’t afford to renovate and meet the new building standards, or by taking away their government funds in hopes it will require clinics to shut down.

If abortions are going to be legal, then attempts to so severely restrict abortion access need to end. Ohio’s “heartbeat” bill passed the Ohio House and is headed to the Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans. To restrict abortions to a narrow window when most women wouldn’t even recognize they are pregnant — even in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger — is essentially banning most abortions unless you immediately take a pregnancy test upon missing your period, and even then you have to hope your body is producing the pregnancy hormones to register the test as positive. In South Dakota, there is only one abortion clinic and now they require a 72-hour waiting period and a consultation with a pregnancy crisis center before you’re allowed to get the abortion. Some want to mandate that life starts at conception, effectively making all abortions illegal.

If abortions are going to be rare, then attempts to de-fund family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood need to end altogether. Contraception takes up 35 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood performs — can you imagine how many more abortions women would seek if they didn’t have access to affordable, pregnancy-preventing contraceptives (or men without access to affordable vasectomies)? Pregnancy prevention is integral in preventing abortions. You can restrict access to safe, legal abortions, but that doesn’t mean women won’t seek illegal, unsafe abortions elsewhere — and that puts the mother in severe danger (though states like Ohio obviously aren’t concerned with saving mothers’ lives). Also, increased contraception use has proved most effective in preventing teen pregnancies — a solid argument for the importance of comprehensive sex ed as opposed to abstinence-only sex ed. Abortions should be rare because of better contraceptive use, not because of restrictive laws.

It’s unfortunate that the motto for many anti-choicers instead is unsafe, illegal, and never — often taken to extremes that would criminalize women for even thinking about abortion or miscarrying.

These bills’ transitioning from outlandish propositions to approved legislation showcases that however unconstitutional, illegal, or ridiculous these proposals are, they have a real chance at passing GOP-dominated legislatures. In fact, Amanda Marcotte recently outlined why Roe v. Wade is not safe from being overturned. Safe, legal, and rare is a reasonable goal, but anti-choicers are quickly creating barriers to reaching it — which is why it’s necessary to remain vocal with local, state, and congressional representatives when it comes to abortion and reproductive rights.

Don’t forget that sexual assault is all about power, control

May 18, 2011

Though I do appreciate Washington Post columnist Matt Miller’s focus on why men rape — rather than the usual focus of what did the victim do that invited the rape — his analysis unfortunately doesn’t mention a key motivation for men who sexually assault: power.

Miller asks if Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s womanizing reputations are “merely extreme examples of a beast that lurks within all men,” but far too often the culpability for sexual assault falls on testosterone or primal urge. He interviews his wife about this quandary, who replies:

“That drive for sex seems to overcome every rational, moral anchor that otherwise ‘good’ men have,” Jody says. Because men are so susceptible to this, it gives some women enormous power — as Cleopatra and others through the ages have shrewdly sensed. But most women are subject to abuse because of these male urges.

But sexual assault and rape aren’t just about men who are trying to quench their insatiable sexual urges. They are about power and control more than mere sexual satisfaction, and that is essential to understanding the motivation behind sexual assault.

Immodest clothing isn’t the cause of sin, sexual harassment

April 6, 2011

One frustrating aspect of street harassment and sexual assault is the myth that women must take some responsibility, because whatever they were wearing must have sent the wrong signal and women know what signals they’re sending with their clothing choices. Here’s an easy rebuttal to this myth: research shows that what women wear has absolutely no correlation to their propensity to be sexually harassed or assaulted.

What has recently infuriated me is two links, the first being to a video aimed at women, asking them to dress more modestly to help men overcome the sinful temptation they have inside of them to lust after women. It paints a portrait of anguished men who can’t even walk down the sidewalk without being overwhelmed with temptation, proclaiming that women should know better than to tempt the already sinful minds of men, and it asks women to have Dad screen clothes to make sure they are appropriate.

The second is a blog (brought to my attention via an anonymous commenter) about decrying Toronto’s “Slutwalk” — which was a protest against a Toronto cop who told students that to avoid being sexually assaulted, women shouldn’t dress like “sluts”  — in which a woman in her 20s explains that women know what they’re doing when they dress provocatively, and they should be aware of the consequences of wearing certain types of clothing:

I have, like pretty much every 22-year-old girl, gone out looking like a slut occasionally. And I got a significantly higher amount of leers, cat calls, and uncomfortable attention. I was not surprised; I had no one but myself to blame for the sudden nervous feeling that flared up in my stomach as I walked passed men checking out my shape in my revealing dress. I don’t dress like this anymore for that very reason. I want men to look at me and have thoughts other than, “I could have sex with her tonight if I wanted.”

The problem is that these both miss the point and blame women for something they shouldn’t be blamed for. The first blames women while acknowledging that men are the ones with sinful minds; for a religious-based video, this doesn’t make much sense — shouldn’t men be working to fight this temptation themselves? Isn’t lust a sin? Instead of hoping the temptation disappears and things are easier for you, aren’t you supposed to be challenged and be able to overcome temptation by yourself?

And with the second link, the blogger who says she had no one to blame but herself for feeling uncomfortable: really? You had no one else to blame? How about the guys who were treating you like a piece of meat instead of an actual human being who should be respected? That nervous feeling, I can totally identify with it — but no matter what I’m wearing, I get that feeling whenever I’m walking alone past a large group of guys — because guys don’t catcall you based on what you’re wearing, they do it as a power play. You’re alone, you’re vulnerable, and they feed off that.

Studies have shown that clothing doesn’t make a difference in whether someone is sexually harassed or assaulted. Another blogger has done a great job of addressing this myth, and linked to an article from Psychology Today that explained why provocative clothing isn’t the sexual assault magnet people describe it as:

But studies show that it is women with passive, submissive personalities who are most likely to be raped—and that they tend to wear body-concealing clothing, such as high necklines, long pants and sleeves, and multiple layers. Predatory men can accurately identify submissive women just by their style of dress and other aspects of appearance.

This isn’t to say that all women in modest clothing are targets for sexual assault — it is to say, however, that people think they know what type of clothing invites sexual harassment or assault, when really it’s not just about what she’s wearing. A guy who wants to harass or assault a woman isn’t looking for the girl to politely accept the “invitation,” thinking a girl in a skirt wants the attention or will unquestionably have sex with him — he’s looking to feel powerful, to dominate, and to feel superior, regardless of whether the girl is wearing a skirt or a sweatsuit. And that’s not a myth, that’s a reality.

P.S. If you think that Western dress just isn’t modest enough and that’s what is breeding sexual harassment and assault, think again. Women in Cairo are harassed regardless of what they are wearing. As one Egyptian woman recalls:

“At 15, I was groped as I was performing the rites of the hajj pilgrimage at Mecca, the holiest site for Muslims. Every part of my body was covered except for my face and hands. I’d never been groped before and burst into tears, but I was too ashamed to explain to my family what had happened,” said journalist Mona Eltahawy in a July 27, 2008 article for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

Expulsion, abandonment not the solution for teen pregnancy

March 24, 2011

I don’t understand the “if you put pregnant teens on the streets, it’ll teach them a lesson” mentality. In response to a letter to the editor in The Washington Post that discussed what schools can do to reduce teen pregnancy rates, one commenter illustrated that mentality and had this to say:

It is not the place of the schools or of my tax dollars to support “teen moms.” Girls who get pregnant should be expelled from public schools as an example. If we’d stop coddling this trash and supporting them with our tax dollars, the problem would solve itself. There’s a reason that the problem has gotten worse with the creation of the welfare system.

What great arguments: (1) schools are NOT a place to support children; (2) pregnancy should be punished; (3) pregnancy is on the same level as other reasons for expulsion; (4) helping them get an education is “coddling”; (5) the problem will solve itself if we just throw kids out on the street and ignore them; and (6) the welfare system worsened teen pregnancy, not the fact that teen moms will need to use welfare more when you take away their education and tools for advancement in life.

This mentality never ceases to amaze me. Schools are a place where children need to be supported — and it’s also a place where they should be educated on things like health and sex, but many people still don’t want to embrace comprehensive sex education — people still believe that telling kids not to have sex will be good enough, or if we teach them about it then it’ll pollute their minds, and then when they get pregnant because the school system hasn’t actually educated them about sex, we punish the students for not knowing any better. There is social culpability there.

The Guttmacher Institute is loaded with statistics about teen sex education and pregnancy. Most teens are taught about abstinence, HIV, and STIs, but one-third aren’t taught about contraception. About one-fourth of teens who learned about abstinence didn’t learn about birth control. About 86 percent of the drastic drop of teen pregnancy rates since 1990 is because of better contraceptive use. The statistics scream that education about how to properly use contraception leads to results, yet the statistics also show that not all teens are getting that information.

And really, pregnancy should be punished with expulsion? Here’s one example of what kids get expelled for, which is pretty characteristic of most schools: bringing a dangerous weapon to school; bringing alcohol or drugs to school; assaulting a school employee; or being charged or convicted with a felony. Really, pregnancy is on the same level as bringing a weapon to school or assaulting someone? Those are activities that are endangering other people at the school — plus, why should it be within the school’s jurisdiction to police premarital sex?

And then we arrive at the welfare system argument. This commenter’s desire to restrict teen moms’ access to education would leave them without the tools necessary to go to college or get a decent-paying job — so when she must turn to government assistance, the commenter wants to complain about that, too, even though the reason she needs welfare is because her education was taken away from her. Sounds like the people who want to tell women they can’t have abortions and then complain when they need government assistance to raise those babies. If you’re going to take away women’s choices, don’t be surprised when they don’t have many options or opportunities to choose from.

Instead of focusing on how much they disagree morally with whatever action (which isn’t criminal in the eyes of the law) and wanting to punish them on moral ground using the tools of the state, people need to separate the two and do what’s best for the women who are pregnant. And using them “as an example” is not what’s best for them — it’s what is best for serving the selfish purpose of people who want to punish them. And for teens who aren’t going to know about safe sex unless someone tells them, it’s better for them to be prepared and know about contraception. Teens are always taught that abstinence is the only way to 100 percent prevent pregnancy — but they need to know that if they don’t choose to abstain, there are still other ways to prevent pregnancy.

And of course, the one thing lacking from this commenter’s assault on pregnant teens is that only the pregnant teens should be expelled — what about the fathers of these children? Should they be expelled, too? After all, they must’ve been involved in the act, so shouldn’t we be taking away their ability to provide for themselves and advance in society, too? I’m sure it has nothing to do with the double standard that women are shamed for having sex outside of marriage, while men are expected to do so and therefore escape punishment on the “boys will be boys” ticket.

Female columnist promotes rape, slut-shaming, lies about PP

March 4, 2011

Victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and feminist-bashing are abhorrent coming from men, but they are exponentially worse coming from women. This column from The Daily Collegian, the college newspaper for the University of Massachusetts, was actually briefly taken offline because it was so offensive. (I’ll throw out a trigger warning right now.) The author is a young woman who believes that sometimes women deserve rape, contraception doesn’t affect abortion rates, and “feminist liberation” has turned everyone into nymphomaniacs. Shall we chronologically take a look at some of the claims?

1a. Planned Parenthood isn’t a charity

Author Yevgeniya Lomakina jumps right in, making blatantly wrong claims about Planned Parenthood and its services:

It is a business. It is not, however, a charitable organization, as it is portrayed by its many supporters. Their services are not free, although they may be cheaper than regular hospitals.

Actually, it is a charitable organization. A section 501(c)(3) organization that files tax forms in accordance with its tax-exempt, charitable status. I can see how this information would be difficult to find, considering it’s on the Planned Parenthood website, alongside the actual tax forms they file.

Also, did you know that “charitable organization” doesn’t mean that you just give stuff away for free? You see, it’s charitable because it offers low-cost services to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It’s actually really helpful, because low-income women can get cancer screenings, prenatal care, pap tests, and contraception at reduced prices. I’m pretty sure the condoms are free, though.

1b. Planned Parenthood posts misleading/false information on its website

After proving that Planned Parenthood is in fact a business because it doesn’t do everything for free, the author next points out a glaring error in the numbers on the Planned Parenthood website:

According to the American Life League, Planned Parenthood performed 289,750 abortions in 2006. The number rose to 324,008 in 2008. However, the organization’s website misleads in reporting that abortions constitute only 3 percent of its services. In reality, it performs about 23 percent of all abortions performed each year in the U.S.

Now the numbers here are right (see the 2006-2007 annual report and this 2008 fact sheet), but they aren’t misleading or contradicting each other. The difference is that the 23 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other abortion providers’ — the 3 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other services within itself.

2. Sex is now shameless

The author writes:

Sex has become a service, like any other, but without fiscal exchange or shame.  It is no longer associated with love, marriage or a committed relationship.

Really? Because I’m pretty sure that sentence is 100 percent slut-shaming, as is the entire column.

3. If you wear a short skirt, you deserve to get raped

By far, this assertion makes my blood boil more than anything:

If a young woman wears a promiscuous outfit to a party, then proceeds to drink and flirt excessively, she should not blame men for her downfall. She made a decision to dress a certain way, to consume alcohol and should be prepared to deal with the consequences. Far from being a victim of rape, she is a victim of her own choices.

Pardon my French, but that is fucking ridiculous. There is NO scenario in which a woman deserves to be raped. There is no time when a man has the right to force a woman to have sex with him against her will. There is no skirt length, alcohol level, or flirtation level — nothing. And it’s this kind of bullshit that blames women for wearing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing or drinking the wrong amount instead of pointing the finger at the rapist.

But our author is not the cold-hearted person she seems, as she does think rape is bad:

This is not to say that rape is inexistent. Sexual crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Rape exists, just not if you’re sexually active or flirtatious or wearing clothes that show too much skin. It’s only a crime when it happens to someone who has made good, moral choices, and then the rapist is a criminal. This makes me want to slam my head into my desk about 348 times.

4. Having sex with men is giving them the “upper hand”

The author writes:

With the easy accessibility of noncommittal sex, men have gained or recaptured the upper hand in relationships. Women, instead of acclaiming “sexual liberation” have received, at the least, a bad reputation.

Read my recent post about this idea of men having an “upper hand” because women will have casual sex with them. Also, let’s note the additional slut-shaming. You know, the “bad reputation” only comes because people associate women having casual sex as bad, and men having casual sex as good — they have the “upper hand” when they get it.

And why is women trading commitment for sex any better than women trading sex for sex? Why are people so attached to the notion that men won’t commit unless you withhold sex from them? Why is this entire article blaming women for wanting to have sex and giving men a pass for wanting to having sex?

5. Abortion and the morning-after pill are the same thing

An often-used political ploy is juxtaposing two things in hopes that the reader or listener begins to associate them with each other, without the speaker ever directly linking them:

Abortion is also viewed in a different way. For many, it is no longer a last resort for victims of rape or in other emergencies. It is simply regarded as “Plan B.” In a Planned Parenthood YouTube advertisement for the “morning after” pill, a woman states the scenarios in which the product may be useful.

Note the transition from abortion as a “Plan B” to the morning-after pill, commonly called “Plan B.” This is likely an attempt to lump together morning-after pills with abortion, but the morning-after pill is not the abortion pill. They are completely separate, and the morning-after pill doesn’t terminate pregnancies. The morning-after pill is over-the-counter; the abortion pill is not.

6. Birth control doesn’t prevent abortions

The author says it plain and simple:

More contraception does not translate to fewer abortions.

If you look in the aforementioned Planned Parenthood data (1b), there could be a correlation between less contraception and more abortions — in 2008, more abortions were performed but less contraception was given out at Planned Parenthood. Also, I can guarantee that less contraception will not translate to fewer abortions.

And actually, the abortion rate generally has been going down in recent years:

1980: 1,297,606
1985: 1,333,521
1990: 1,429,577
1995: 1,210,883
2000: 857,475
2005: 820,151
2006: 846,181
2007: 827,609

And considering contraceptive use has increased over this time frame, I’d say more contraception does translate to fewer abortions.

__________________

I’m glad the newspaper apologized for the article, and I’m also glad they put it back online. Even though their apology covered that it was reprehensible to suggest women are responsible for being raped and that other claims were inaccurate, I couldn’t help but expand on that further. Because despite the editors’ apology, it still somehow managed to get published, so we can’t gloss over the content that was originally deemed passable, and we have to look at it a little more critically.