You know what? I get it. The G20 is a symbol of everything that's wrong with globalized capitalism. Protesting their gatherings makes a lot of sense to me. This year the G20 is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and we are once again awash in apocalyptic images of police-state riot gear and angry college kids in bandanas getting arrested.
One day's worth of breast milk from a new mother barely reached the first line on a four ounce vial. The freezer that held the thin, yellowish milk was nearly empty, too—the first breast milk donation bank in the Northwest was not officially open for business last week when I stopped in.
The still-humble milk bank, housed in a small room on the second floor of Adventist Hospital in Southeast Portland, will be the 11th official non-profit breast milk bank in the country. In a toy-filled waiting room next to the birthing wing of the hospital, lactation specialist and organizer of the Northwest Mother's Milk Bank, Peggy Andrews, recalled what it was like back when she breast-fed her children in the late 60s, "Only three percent of women were still breastfeeding at three months. And it was pretty much just the hippies." In her time working in hospitals, Andrews says the culture has completely changed—in Portland, 90 percent of women breastfeed their babies, as do 72 percent of women nationwide.
And what has been integral to mainstreaming the image of breastfeeding? Andrews immediately points to media. "Media has played a very positive role in presenting breastfeeding in a positive light, like talking about world breastfeeding week and showing breastfeeding moms on TV. Forty years ago it would embarrass male news commentators to even say 'breast.'"
Personally, I had never heard of world breast feeding week or, to my memory, seen a breastfeeding mom on TV but, come to think of it, that's probably because I don't own a TV.
More on the milk bank below the cut!
How did hormone replacement therapy become so popular for American women going through menopause? Well, it turns out that pharmaceutical giant Wyeth helped write many of the supportive scholarly articles about its own hormone replacement drugs. The New York Times revealed this morning that the manufacturer of drugs like Premarin and Prempro paid ghostwriters to pen research articles about the hormone replacing drugs, which were then signed off on by a doctor and printed in reputable places like The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Sales of Wyeth's female hormone replacing drugs have fallen by 50 percent since 2001, when a Women's Health Initiative study linked menopausal hormone treatment to an increased risk of cancer. But before that damning study, the company sold more than $2 billion worth of hormone drugs to thousands of American women.
A landmark federal bill aiming to put $3 million into research and education about postpartum depression is gathering controversy as it heads to the Senate floor. Advocates of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act (known as the Mother's Act) say it will save the lives of women and finally help develop decent education about a long-dismissed female health problem. Critics say it will cause more women to take pharmaceuticals unnecessarily. But recently the big debate has been not so much about the bill itself as media coverage of the bill.
Last week, Time ran an article about the Mother's Act which featured an interview with a mother who was prescribed Zoloft after giving birth. The drug made things worse, causing her to have violent fantasies.
Time's story ignited the ire of many who argue that the article intentionally left out pro-Mothers Act voices to push an editorial agenda.
Keep reading for more details!
Beauty company and science scholarship provider L'Oreal surveyed 1,000 Americans this spring and asked them to name a single female scientist. The result was an EPIC FAIL! While 97 percent of respondents believed that women could make significant contributions to science (personal aside: terrible three percent, you're probably that uncle everyone hates. I hope you choke on your sandwich.) 65 percent could not name a sole woman in science.
This is troubling, because while the number of women earning science and engineering degrees has risen to 43 percent of total students (nerdy graphs here), apparently Americans still don't know female scientists are out there workin' hard.
Keep reading to learn more!
I'm always interested in how people in different regions, cultures and religions go about teaching sex ed. While I got the two awkward puberty videos in elementary school and a few "this is a vagina" overhead project lessons in high school, I think almost everything I knew about sex growing up came from Seinfeld.
I recently bought this art book 1000 Extraordinary Objects which is, as you'd imagine, page after page of extraordinary objects. A whole section is devoted to "the body" and lays out artifacts of sex ed from around the world, most of them handmade. I spent a while poring over the pages and think they're worth sharing—their funny, homemade, simple look definitely beats my television and overhead slides for creativity.
Kar Kar and Tak Tak: Designed in 1997 by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) as part of a sex education campaign, the dolls fit together to demonstrate intercourse. Tak Tak ("tak" means "moral" in Cantonese) and Kar Kar ("kar" means family) have similar faces so children can understand the equality of the sexes. "Tak Tak and Kar Kar can be used to perform a puppet show on topics like giving birth, knowing one's private parts and pubery changes," explains David Cheng of the association. A valuable service: Parents polled in one Hong Kong survey turned out to be too ignorant about sex to teach their children the facts of life. According to a FPAHK 1996 youth sexuality study, 78 percent of children in Hong Kong learn about sex from pornography and mass media.
Well it's about damn time! Though physicians and therapists (not just Dan Savage, we're talking mainstream doctors) have been known for decades that vibrator use can be great for sexual health, there's never been a scientific study to back up the common knowledge. Until now!
Trojan funded a national research project to determine the extent and impact of vibrator use and la-di-da, look what they found: not only do a majority of American women use vibrators, they're happier for it!
According to the surveys of 2,056 women and 1,047 men ages 18-60, a whopping 53 percent of women (and 45 percent of men) say they use a vibrator - a quarter of those in the last month. Women who use vibrators were more likely to say they were sexually happy and more likely to get gynecological exams.
Stop the presses! Science has released a groundbreaking study! According to new research at the University of Michigan, bonding with friends makes women feel good.
Okay, so definitely not hot news, right? But what IS interesting is the way newspapers and websites reported on the study. The U of M researchers found that after emotional conversations, women release progestrone, a hormone that reduces stress.
But apparently mainstream press can only describe intense, personal conversation between women with one word: GOSSIP!
Check out the top ten most popular headlines via Google news about the study: 1. Women who gossip can live a happy and healthier life, study finds. 2. Gossiping is good for women's health 3. Gossip is good for women's health, scientists claim 4. Friendship is a mood uplift 5. Good health from a good gossip? 6. Gossiping Reduces Anxiety and Stress in Women - A Study 7. Gossipping can be healthy: Research 8. Now Women Have An Excuse 9. Idle chatter makes women healthier, happier. 10. A scientific take on female friendship.
Ouch, at 20 percent accuracy, 80 percent "Women are Gossiping Gossip Hounds" that's a failing score, headline writers.
Whenever you're feeling down about the grim economy, stop and consider for a moment that your ovaries are tiny goldmines. Over 5,000 American babies each year are born from eggs "donated" to in vitro fertilization clinics or couples -- but in reality, those eggs are rarely donated. Instead, as you've probably gleaned from the backpage ads of alt-weeklies, some families are willing to pay big money for egg donors. The average payment for a US egg donor, according to researcher Harvard researcher Deborah Spar, is $5,000.
But strangely, until now, it has been illegal to pay women who give eggs for research rather than reproduction. This month New York state okayed cutting checks to women who undergo (often difficult) weeks of hormone treatment to donate eggs for stem cell research.
The state expects a backlash and it's getting some from bioethics and religious groups. But the legal change raises the question of whether it's okay to pay women for their eggs at all - and if so, why have different rules for research eggs and babymaking eggs?
Not only is it natural to be gay, but biologists this week reported that same-sex mating is a nearly universal phenomena. It turns out 30 percent of one type of female Hawaiian albatross rears chicks with, well, other chicks. Let's hear some cheers for the queers!
In an article published this week in journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution researchers Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk basically say that scientists (and, what the heck, everyone else too) need to look at homosexuality in animals from a more nuanced perspective. We've known for a while that members of an estimated 1,500 species play it gay sometimes but, Bailey and Zuk point out, animals ditch the straight life for all different reasons. Some creatures adapt to being gay, some are genetically programmed so they can't even distinguish between gender.
Apparently for the animal world, our words "gay" and "straight" just aren't going to work. Does that mean they don't quite fit for humans, too?