Open Thread: If This Scene Were In A Novel People Would Call It PC Fantasy

This is an open thread. Please post or discuss whatever you’d like, including self-linking.

MSNBC’s photoblog has an excellent feature on Pearl Harbor, including this photo of a group of women of color fighting fires after the attacks:

(Click through to see a big version of the photo).

There’s been a lot of interest in this photo, and I hope some or all of the women in it are identified and their stories told.

I’m in a hurry to get to the studio and draw, but here’s a few other links:

  1. Politics Over Science: HHS Keeps Emergency Contraception From Store Shelves | RH Reality Check
  2. Social conservatives everywhere sure do love their slippery slopes: Saudis fear there will be ¿no more virgins¿ and people will turn gay if female drive ban is lifted | Mail Online
  3. Extremely well-written essay by a gay marine: On Marines, equality, and my date to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball
  4. Why Do We Make Movies For A Sex-Segregated World? | ThinkProgress
  5. The Myth of Profligate Euro Zone Countries | Beat the Press
  6. Longshot GOP Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson Comes Out For Marriage Equality | ThinkProgress
  7. What is a representative sex worker? — Feministe
  8. OWS Success: Even Obama Is Talking About Income Inequality
  9. The Debate Link: Mis-Match Mish-Mash, Part II

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94 Responses to Open Thread: If This Scene Were In A Novel People Would Call It PC Fantasy

  1. 1
    Myca says:

    What an amazing photo. Now I really want to use is as a seed to run a WW2 all WOC superhero game.

    New Horizons, Bruce Baugh’s cancelled-and-much-lamented supplement for Spirit of the Century would have been perfect, too. Sigh.

    —Myca

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Here’s a sobering thought from the comments of the photoblog: There’s no way to know, unless the women in the photo are identified, but It’s plausible that at least one of those women wound up in an internment camp.

  3. 3
    Robert says:

    Most Japanese-descended Hawaiians did not go to the camps; slightly less than 2000, out of the 150,000 Japanese-ethnic population of the time. (And most of those, from what I gather, were people where there was some question about loyalty; in Hawaii the internment was largely rational, while in the western continental US it was completely nuts.)

    Question for Myca: is there some level of opposition to SSM that I could embrace, a nuanced position of some kind, where you’d take away my teenagers but I could keep the younger one?

  4. 4
    Grace Annam says:

    That’s an outstanding picture.

    Capt. Matthew Phelps’ account of his experience in the Marines moved me to tears (in a good way). What a wonderful account. Thank you for that.

    Grace

  5. 5
    CaitieCat says:

    This is one of my favourite photos from that war – I’ve thought many times about trying to paint it. Thanks for posting the reminder of it. There are some great ones of women partisans in Italy, Poland, Ukraine, and elsewhere, too.

  6. 6
    David Schraub says:

    That is a stellar photo.

  7. 7
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Thank you for the link to Capt. Phelps’s essay. I read it over breakfast this morning and it was a great way to start the day.

    Also, that is a marvelous picture. I hope that more information on these women is uncovered soon.

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    Given the location and time, would those women have been in the Navy? How many Japanese (and not all of those women are Japanese, of course) members of the Navy were put into camps?

  9. 9
    RonF says:

    From 1:

    With emergency contraception, time is of the essence. A woman who fears she might become pregnant needs fast access, not delays at the pharmacy counter.

    We’re not talking about women here, we’re talking about girls under the age of 17. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s wrong to allow access to powerful drugs to children. The FDA may well properly make a recommendation based on science only to be in turn properly overruled by people who should be considering other factors as well.

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    It is a great photo.

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    Regarding post 5, the citation says:

    The reality is that most of the countries currently facing debt troubles were not profligate prior to the crisis. While it may be reasonable to describe Greece as being profligate, the only euro zone country that looks much like Greece is Greece. The other euro zone crisis countries had hugely better finances in the years leading up to the crisis.

    Here in Illinois our finances looked good for a while because we simply didn’t fund things we were supposed to. The funding for public pensions, for example, simply wasn’t paid. It wasn’t carried as debt – we didn’t borrow the money to pay it and it didn’t show on the books as debt because there was no note of any kind. So how cooked are those numbers? How much debt has been incurred now in those countries because they are now having to borrow money to take care of obligations they simply ignored in previous years?

    Regarding post 4: before we try to answer the question of why movies are written and cast they way they are, let’s ask the question – who goes to the movies? Who are these movies being made for? Most movies are made for profit, which means they are meant to attract a paying audience (and hopefully a large one), which means that they’re being made to sell people what they want to buy. So who’s buying? What do they want to see? Do movies that have the features that the author says is lacking in movies have better commerical success than those that do not? It seems to me that the answers to those questions will tell you why movies are cast and written as they are.

  12. 12
    iiii says:

    RonF – Jennifer Kessler did a series of essays on gender in the movies a few years back, which address the questions you’re asking.

    A sampling:
    http://thehathorlegacy.com/women-buy-55-of-movie-tickets/
    http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-film-schools-teach-screenwriters-not-to-pass-the-bechdel-test/
    http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-discriminate-if-it-doesnt-profit/

  13. 13
    Harlequin says:

    Ron F @9:

    We’re not talking about women here, we’re talking about girls under the age of 17. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s wrong to allow access to powerful drugs to children.

    But this drug is already available over the counter to women over 18 (or is it 17?). Are there other drugs, apart from recreational things like tobacco and alcohol, that we restrict to adult purchasers entirely and/or require a prescription for children but not adults? I’m genuinely asking, I don’t know. But it seems dangerous to ask teenagers to obtain a prescription and not adults, when teenagers on average have far less freedom to get to a doctor.

  14. 14
    Solo says:

    @Harlequin
    In California, dextromethorphan (and ephedrine as well I believe) is illegal for sale to minors under 18 without a prescription, primarily because it is a hallucinogen at higher doses. They are sold OTC as cold medications to adults.

  15. 15
    Meera says:

    One of the things I love about this photo is the presence of the fat woman. Again and again, the existence of fat people is erased from history, a necessary precondition for the perpetuation of the myth of the ‘obesity epidemic’ in contemporary times. But there we are, in historical photographs aplenty, living liveable and meaningful lives through our fat bodies.

  16. 16
    RonF says:

    Yeah, Meera, but if this scene ever showed up in a movie they’d all be skinny. Which is not necessarily an advantage if you’re handling a firehose, BTW.

    Harlequin: I don’t know. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a place to start. A lack of precedent isn’t binding – our increasing mastery of technology often presents new moral questions. Children aren’t adults, and I see no problem with putting restrictions on sales of drugs to minors that don’t apply to adults.

    In other news: the Supremes agree to hear challenges to the Arizona immigration enforcement law. And: Justice Kagan has recused herself. I wonder if that means she’ll recuse herself from hearing the challenge to the healthcare bill?

  17. 17
    nobody.really says:

    New graphic novel coming out 12/20 — Heresville II: How Mirka Tamed the Monster that Threatened to Swallow Us All!

    Alas, Amp’s wimpy new publisher changed the title. And the graphics. And not for the better, IMHO. Let’s hope the plot is still sound.

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    Meera: Agreed.

    Ron:

    And: Justice Kagan has recused herself. I wonder if that means she’ll recuse herself from hearing the challenge to the healthcare bill?

    Kagan has recused herself from many cases, but she didn’t recuse herself from Health Care (they recuse — or not — when the Court announces it will hear the case). It would be very surprising if she did so at this point.

    Nobody.Really, that’s really interesting. I actually talked to my agent (quite a while ago) about doing a nonfiction graphic novel explaining the ACA, but nothing ever came of the idea.

  19. 19
    Bear says:

    Ron at #16: I’d be open to the idea of restricting access of drugs to people under 18 if it were shown that the drug in question had a dangerous side effect, or that the drug physically affected young people differently than adults. Does the drug in question do either of these things? If so, I’m all for the restriction. If it doesn’t, I’m against the restriction.

  20. 20
    Elusis says:

    Just a curious question – why does the bottom of each page say Alas, a Blog detroit limo party bus detroit after the copyright?

  21. 21
    Cindy says:

    MSNBC dug into the history behind the photo of the firefighters, with some surprising (and delightful!) results.

  22. 22
    Robert says:

    Bear, we regularly restrict the ability of children and even young adults to use various substances, medical and otherwise, independent of the criteria you list as being needful for your own personal approval. There’s a social consensus, more or less, that we can collectively shove young people around in this fashion and our reasoning doesn’t have to be particularly stellar to justify it. In the case of the abortion pills mentioned, the general view outside the left (and there is some dissension within the portion of the left not wedded to abortion-rights absolutism) is basically “teenagers are not competent to make this decision without adult consultation”, and that’s the justification that’s used for not letting them get the pills unsupervised. You can disagree with the justification or with the whole system; I’m not interested in debating either point. Just describing the state of play on the ground.

  23. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Just a curious question – why does the bottom of each page say Alas, a Blog detroit limo party bus detroit after the copyright?

    It’s an ad. Stuff like that pays for the server. :-)

  24. 24
    Elusis says:

    It’s an ad. Stuff like that pays for the server

    Ah. Here I was wondering if all the cool “Alas” kids were riding around somewhere together in Detroit on the weekends having a total rager together, and the rest of us just hadn’t figured it out. :D

  25. 25
    Harlequin says:

    Ron @22:

    In the case of the abortion pills mentioned

    Let’s be very clear–Plan B is not an abortion pill; it’s a contraceptive. It prevents pregnancy, it doesn’t and can’t stop one that’s already started.

  26. 26
    Bear says:

    I know, Robert. But I (probably unreasonably) expect the commenters at Alas to be able to give more articulate and logical reasons for the positions they hold than the general rabble. I was hoping RonF might offer one better than “the children!!”

  27. 27
    RonF says:

    Harlequin, I am not the author of post 22 and never described the medication in question as an abortion pill.

  28. 28
    RonF says:

    If a child is pregnant and needs to use emergency contraception then the adult responsible for them should know about it. A pregnant child is much more likely to be in that condition because she was raped than one who is of age. I will wager she is more likely to have been exposed to various kinds of diseases – venereal, HIV, hepatitis, etc. There are a lot of consequences – physical, mental and emotional – when a child has sex besides the danger of pregnancy. The adult responsible for her should be made aware of all this. The government has no business assisting the minor in concealing this from her parent. Then there’s the issue that you cannot presume that the drug is going to be used for it’s intended effect (“Did you know that if you take the emergency contraception pill 3 days running it’ll clear up your acne?”). Children by definition have poorer judgment than adults.

    My opinion is that the right of an adult responsible for a minor to know about what kinds of drugs that minor is taking and what their medical needs are – and the needs and behaviors that necessitate taking those drugs – outweighs any privilege that people propose for minors to get and take drugs unsupervised. I do not favor the government substituting itself for parents/guardians.

  29. 29
    Harlequin says:

    RonF @27, my sincere apologies, it was late and I mixed up the R names. I will be more careful in the future.

    RonF @28, my problem with your position is that as a society we’ve collectively decided that teens younger than 18 can consent to sex without parental approval. So why can’t they make their own choices about contraception in the same way?

  30. 30
    DaisyDeadhead says:

    We still can’t get real media coverage of the Bob Jones University rape-apologist-on-board scandal locally. Yesterday there was possibly the first BJU student demo in history, and the local papers decided to cover BJU seeking accreditation (while still denying evolution). This is what passes for serious journalism around here. Now, do you see why it took forever to desegregate the south???

    http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2011/12/greenville-news-brainwashed-by-bob.html

    Infuriating. Thank you for listening.

  31. 31
    Shalom says:

    Ron, what about the possibility that a guardian is responsible for a rape, or the possibility that a guardian will wish to force a girl to continue an unwanted pregnancy? My thought is that most young girls who can go to a parent will, and girls who won’t may have good reasons not to. Such cases are probably a very small fraction of the whole, but what option should we leave to somebody who finds herself in those circumstances? Consider that the window to use emergency contraception is a couple days — maybe not enough time for a kid in such a situation to figure out how to access the social services she needs.

  32. 32
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Plan B is contraception insofar as it physically acts to prevent implantation; it’s not an abortion drug.

    Plan B is not contraception as commonly used, insofar as it gets used AFTER sex. It’s unlike pretty much every other contraceptive in that way.

    Teens shouldn’t be using Plan B. I don’t mean that they should never be allowed to do so–but teens do a lot of stupid shit, and ideally they should be using proper contraception designed for long term repeated reliable use (condoms, pill, etc) instead of “screw it, I’ll deal with it later” contraception. Similarly, we’d like teens to develop the ability to decline sex when unprotected, rather than to rely on Plan B later. Widespread availability of Plan B will reduce incentive to use normal contraception.

    As a practical matter, even if it isn’t sold to kids it will be available anyway. Plenty of high school students are over 18. Those teens who want it will get it from a friend or on the black market, just as they get cigarettes and booze and drugs. But it will be a limited availability at a higher cost, and therefore it will be less likely to be used.

    Harlequin says:
    December 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm
    my problem with your position is that as a society we’ve collectively decided that teens younger than 18 can consent to sex without parental approval.

    That’s not true at all.
    Parents retain the right to protect their kids from unapproved sex. Even if you’ve got a 16 year old screaming “but I love her and it was consensual!” the parents can press charges against the child’s lover, depending on circumstances.

    Most parents accept that they have limited control over kids’ behavior, so they don’t freak out about it. But we sure as hell haven’t taken the parents out of the equation.

  33. 33
    Robert says:

    Sorry about the abortion/contraception confusion, I was typing fast and using a very sloppy shorthand, and got the abortifacient pill and the prevents-implantation pill mixed up. People get me and Ron confused all the time; I’m the handsome smart one and he’s the Scout leader.

    Shalom, I recognize the very real problem of girls whose responsible person is also the person who impregnated them. But in that circumstance, where the impregnator probably also wants the pregnancy to end, allowing the girl unmonitored access to the drug is a major enabler for the abuse since it removes one of the glaring instances where the abuse might be detected (and hopefully stopped) by a third party. If Evil Dad has impregnated his daughter, would he rather a) drop her off at Walgreens to have her run in for an OTC pill, or b) have to take her to a physician for a prescription? Obviously A.

    In the case of the parent who would force the girl to carry the child to term…well, there’s an equal problem of reproductive rights when the parent would force the child to abort. Those cases seem to me to be outside the scope of whether this particular drug should need a prescription or not. If society decides that minor children should be able to control their own reproductive destiny under all circumstances then she’ll be able to get a prescription, and if we decide otherwise then she won’t. I don’t know the current state of the law; I suspect the weight of public opinion is on the parent or guardian trumping the girl’s self-determination, when she is a minor. I don’t see an easy or glib argument for either side of the position.

  34. 34
    Shalom says:

    G&W,

    Teens shouldn’t be using Plan B. I don’t mean that they should never be allowed to do so–but teens do a lot of stupid shit, and ideally they should be using proper contraception designed for long term repeated reliable use (condoms, pill, etc) instead of “screw it, I’ll deal with it later” contraception. Similarly, we’d like teens to develop the ability to decline sex when unprotected, rather than to rely on Plan B later. Widespread availability of Plan B will reduce incentive to use normal contraception.

    I can’t tell if you’re for or against OTC Plan B for minors. Either way, this seems like an argument for not normalizing routine Plan B use–e.g., sex ed classes should emphasize that emergency contraception is for emergencies, teenagers should have information about and access to condoms, etc. But I fail to see why the merits of the ideal should interfere with minors’ legal right to cope when they have strayed from it.

    Also, I don’t buy your black market hypothesis. Sometimes it’s that easy and sometimes it’s not, and like I said in my comment above, Plan B has a short window to be effective. The people who need Plan B the most (like victims of abuse) are often those who are least likely to have the resources that make it easy (like money and/or a robust social support system).

    As a high school student, some friends and I once bought Plan B for a younger friend. At the time, it was fifty bucks a dose. We literally pooled our piggy banks to make it happen. How many teenagers can even afford to misuse Plan B? What if my friend had been 13 or 14 instead of 16, too young to have friends who were of age?

  35. 35
    Shalom says:

    Robert–fair points.

  36. 36
    Shalom says:

    Correction to 34–I don’t buy your black market hypothesis as an argument against OTC access. Not sure if that’s how you intended it.

  37. 37
    Harlequin says:

    gin-and-whiskey @32: parents can press charges for statutory rape in some cases, yes. But there are also cases where 16-year-olds can give legal consent.

    I’m of the opinion that the dangers of not allowing teenagers access to Plan B without a prescription (more teenage pregnancy, though admittedly not a lot more) are greater than the dangers of allowing it (whatever you think Kids Today are going to do with that access). I had a friend who got a prescription for Plan B when she was 17, and having watched her take it, I don’t think it’s likely to catch on as a recreational drug of some kind; it made her very nauseous.

    Plan B is not contraception as commonly used, insofar as it gets used AFTER sex. It’s unlike pretty much every other contraceptive in that way.

    That’s true only if you limit yourself to modern, effective contraceptive methods. Women tried douching after sex for centuries, hoping it would work (spoiler: not so much).

    Robert @33:

    If Evil Dad has impregnated his daughter, would he rather a) drop her off at Walgreens to have her run in for an OTC pill, or b) have to take her to a physician for a prescription? Obviously A.

    That makes logical sense to me as well, but then I’m not an abuser. Some of them would rather it be more difficult because they want their daughters to get pregnant–it’s another form of control. (Googling reproductive coercion or birth control sabotage might be useful, but there are a few too many links for me to sort through right here.)

  38. 38
    Robert says:

    Harlequin, that’s a good point – but I think that a girl in that horrific situation is going to be screwed regardless, and her situation won’t be fixed or improved by the OTC access because Evil Dad isn’t going to let her near a pharmacy. Some problems are just intractable, short of a bullet; this is one of them.

    I also should point out that there is a substantial mitigating factor to the bad case scenario of girls who need the pill but can’t get it legally, and that is “fuck the law”. Drugs get into the marketplace, and – since its OTC for every adult (including males, I guess?) it’s not like it will be impossible to get the pills from the iron-vaulted fortress of Big Pharma. I am not saying that every individual’s situation will wind up being resolved trouble-free, but it does seem to me that the dangers of the status quo situation to girls’ health are vastly more mitigatable through noncompliance than the dangers of the alternative situation (OTC for everyone) to responsible parenting would be.

    It’s a lot easier to bust a pill out of the pharmacy than it is to monitor a troubled teenaged girl 24/7 through her behavioral bad patch.

  39. 39
    chingona says:

    If Evil Dad has impregnated his daughter, would he rather a) drop her off at Walgreens to have her run in for an OTC pill, or b) have to take her to a physician for a prescription? Obviously A.

    He doesn’t need to go with A or B. He goes with C. He buys it himself. Men can purchase Plan B.

  40. 40
    chingona says:

    Teens shouldn’t be using Plan B. I don’t mean that they should never be allowed to do so–but teens do a lot of stupid shit, and ideally they should be using proper contraception designed for long term repeated reliable use (condoms, pill, etc) instead of “screw it, I’ll deal with it later” contraception. Similarly, we’d like teens to develop the ability to decline sex when unprotected, rather than to rely on Plan B later. Widespread availability of Plan B will reduce incentive to use normal contraception.

    A significant percentage of women experience very unpleasant side effects from Plan B: severe nausea, heavy bleeding, heavy cramping for 24-48 hours. It also costs $50 a pop.

    Plan B is not, well, Plan A. Yes, it gives someone a second chance to correct a bad decision. (I consider that a good thing.) It also provides its own incentive to not make the same mistake again. It’s not about to become Plan A.

  41. 41
    chingona says:

    Does anyone here favor Tylenol only being sold to minors with a prescription? Tylenol is much more likely to do longterm damage to a teenager than Plan B.

  42. 42
    Robert says:

    Tylenol doesn’t enable the concealment of behaviors that reasonable parents really ought to know about their children’s participation in.

    I don’t want my 14 year old stepdaughter to have sex at this point in her life. If she does have sex, I want her to use contraception and disease prevention, and I hope that she would come to her mother or I about the entire question. But she might not, and I understand that.

    But understanding it, I do not want society to collude in her ability to conceal the behavior from her mother or myself. OTC Plan B permits her to engage in risky, unprotected, barrier-free sexual intercourse, and conceal the behavior from people who do have a legitimate parental role in her life and really ought to know about it. No, I don’t want her to have to get pregnant and bear the child; I want her, having made a terrible mistake (as I assume even the most sex-positive, women’s-right-affirming feminist will agree that unprotected sex for a 14 year old would be a mistake) to have to come to a responsible adult in order to deal with the consequences of the situation. Because that sends up the alert flag that tells Mom and I that it’s time for a heavy conversation – a conversation that 99% of sane-but-irresponsible teenagers will avoid if it is humanly possible, despite that the fact that for most kids having that conversation would be a net positive to their life outcomes.

    I recognize that this argument weakens in the force of its legitimacy with each passing year from menarche to 18. But it’s a one-size-fits-all rule, and that being the case I want the error to be on the side of parental information.

  43. 43
    Robert says:

    “He doesn’t need to go with A or B. He goes with C. He buys it himself. Men can purchase Plan B.”

    OK. Doesn’t that kind of blow up the whole “without OTC access teenage girls will [list of bad outcomes here]” line of argument, though? If any old adult can wander in and grab a pack, and then hand it over to our young protagonist, then the argument that teens need OTC access is an argument that says “teenagers as young as those who have just started puberty should control their own reproductive process without needing input or guidance from a SINGLE ADULT”.

    I mean, I knew girls in elementary school who had started their periods at the age of 10 and 11 (the early puberty was a major burden to them). That’s the youngest a girl would need OTC Plan B. Is it the serious contention of the folks who oppose the administration’s decision to require a prescription, that children who are still in the “I, Carly” demographic should be making decisions about sex and pregnancy without ANY adult help?

  44. 44
    Darth Brooks says:

    The second from the left is a cyclon.

  45. 45
    Lalibella says:

    Yay, let’s celebrate women of all races and sizes coming together to fight in Imperialist Wars!

  46. 46
    Elusis says:

    Tylenol doesn’t enable the concealment of behaviors that reasonable parents really ought to know about their children’s participation in.

    I don’t want my 14 year old stepdaughter to have sex at this point in her life. If she does have sex, I want her to use contraception and disease prevention, and I hope that she would come to her mother or I about the entire question. But she might not, and I understand that.

    But understanding it, I do not want society to collude in her ability to conceal the behavior from her mother or myself.

    So here’s a scenario for you: see how you feel about it.

    Your daughter goes against your wishes. She’s a smart, talented, thoughtful girl, and knows she doesn’t want to get pregnant because it would break your heart, so she makes plans to use contraception. But that contraception (let’s say condoms and spermicide) has a known failure rate, and your daughter is one of the unlucky ones. The condom breaks during sex.

    If she were 17, she would go get Plan B from the pharmacy and tell you she had food poisoning for a couple of days. But she’s 16, and so is her boyfriend. Because they’re both good kids, straight-A students even, they don’t hang around with the kids who sell drugs, legal or illegal. Neither of them has the first clue who might be “holding.” So the 72-hour window passes and in a month, she skips a period and a home test comes up positive.

    Because she’s a really smart girl, she knows that she can’t go to you about an unwanted pregnancy any more than she could about needing Plan B. So she and her boyfriend scrape together the cash to get an abortion from a dodgy, unlicensed provider who’s willing to look the other way when it comes to the state’s parental notification laws. And the procedure goes badly, and she goes into septic shock and dies.

    That’s basically what happened to Becky Bell thanks to parental notification laws about abortion. She was a bright, conscientious, over-achiever who couldn’t bear the thought of disappointing her parents, and the law forced her to tell them about her reproductive needs or to find a way around it so she used her smarts and motivation to try to preserve her image with her parents, and instead she lost her life. And her folks became crusaders against parental notification laws.

    The rhetoric over Plan B is identical to the parental consent/notification abortion laws, and it’s no more justified. Because as much as you can argue the “but what if her father is her rapist?” and “what if no one will believe her if she says Uncle Morty has been forcing himself on her for years, and they’ll throw her out of the house?” which despite sounding movie-of-the-week is stuff that ACTUALLY DOES HAPPEN… the scenario far closer to home for a lot of those arguing against reproductive access for teens (because we all know incest and molestation only happens in other peoples’ families) is: “What if she is so determined to preserve your dearly held illusion that she is a ‘good girl’, that she will find a way to protect you even at the expense of her own health or life?”

    And if you think that can’t happen in your family, you’re kidding yourself.

  47. 47
    Eytan Zweig says:

    What Elusis said.

    Parental notification laws don’t work, because they basically force the teenager into the position of making a choice between “legal safe option that involves letting my parents know” and “alterantive solution that may not be legal or safe”. And that’s exactly the kind of option teenagers are terrible at – weighing a major but unfamiliar risk (health damage or death) against a less severe but more tangible one (parental disapproval).

  48. 48
    Robert says:

    “What if she is so determined to preserve your dearly held illusion that she is a ‘good girl’, that she will find a way to protect you even at the expense of her own health or life?”

    Then she’s pretty much fucked, because people working under that level of psychological messed-up-ness are going to break their face on some wall or another sooner or later, and there isn’t much that pre-emptive wall removal can do about it, what with walls being necessary to civilization and all that.

    I’m well aware that this could happen to my daughters; it’s horrifying, but all too real a possibility. And it’s a real possibility for the very specific reason that even very bright teenagers, not uniquely among humans but at rates far higher than found among the adult population, make exactly this type of cognitive error, utterly failing to accurately weigh the values of the various elements of the equation, ALL THE TIME.

    Which is tragic, but which is also why teenagers, particularly young teenagers, absolutely need adult guidance about the life-and-death issues that they begin to personally grapple with once their reproductive systems develop and they advance on the road to adulthood.

    What happened to Becky Bell is awful and tragic as well. And if Plan B, whether OTC or prescription, had been available to her I hope that her life would not have been lost. But Plan B is not abortion, as I was reminded earlier.

    The number of teenage girls in Becky Bell’s situation who choose to have unprotected sex or who have a contraceptive failure and who for whatever reason, either legitimate or histrionical, cannot tell their parents may be substantive. The number of such girls who cannot tell their parents, and who also are totally unable over a three-day period to find ONE adult in their life who they can tell who can get them a pill, AND who can’t get a fake ID from a friend, AND who don’t know any drug users in town, is vanishingly small.

    And whatever that number, whether it’s 3 a year or 300 a year, that’s too high and it’s a terrible thing if they die from a later back-alley or legitimate abortion, or have their life ruined by an unwanted child, or die in childbirth, or any of the other bad combinations.

    But I am morally and statistically certain that the harm to that group of girls is going to net out to a smaller total, than the net harm to the thousands upon thousands of preteen and teenage girls who would use a powerful hormonal agent, one that has been described hear as making people sick for days, with ABSOLUTELY no adult involvement. No doctor to check them to see if they have an intolerance for the drugs involved. No doctor to counsel them about future reproductive behavior. No parent to do the same. No teacher to let them know that she always has condoms stashed in her top unlocked drawer and she never counts them, hint hint. NO ADULT WHATSOEVER.

    Teenagers without adult structure in their lives sometimes do great, and God bless the little survivors when they do – but more often, teenagers without adult structure in their lives dealing with drugs and situations significantly less serious than massive-dose hormonal birth control, and sexual intercourse, come to horrible and colossal grief. That society, educators, the medical profession, and parents must leave every single post-menstrual girl in the entire country totally adrift and totally bereft of adult counsel, guidance, support, and resources, unless the girls themselves – at the age where rebelliousness without a cause, hormonal angst, emotional instability, and extremely poor cognitive decisionmaking are MAXIMUM – volitionally make an explicit decision to seek out an adult’s support and help in an embarassing situation THAT THEY COULD ‘HANDLE’ ON THE QT WITHOUT ANY MAJOR EFFORT – no. No way.

    It would be an utter abdication of the responsibility that adults have towards the young. We brought them into the world. We told them that society would be there for them and support them. There is no way in the sane world that we can do that, then turn around and close our eyes and chant la-la-la as we hear 10-year old children walking through the pharmacy door to make incredibly adult decisions entirely on their own.

    Plan B is a safe medication, but even safe medications have side effects, the risk of allergies, the risk of drug interactions. Adult women – even older teens – are quite capable of assessing these risks, of knowing the contraindications, of knowing their own bodies well enough to distinguish between a serious reaction and the expected side effects of the medication. Adult women and older teens know what medications they are on, and are competent to read the warning labels on the Plan B packet and use it appropriately. Adult women and older teens are very likely to know whether they are pregnant or not, and to know not to take Plan B once a pregnancy has actually started.

    Preteen and young teenagers are very likely NOT to be able to do all of these things. There have been no deaths from Plan B that I know of – but there has also not been a widespread over-the-counter availability of the drug to preteen girls.

    Your argument may be compelling when it comes to actual abortion notification, and I would not speak with nearly such force about that topic since I think the issues are far more delicate. But this is not abortion, it is contraception, the scenario you lay out is not identical or even terribly similar, and the role of the parent in healthy families, or of the doctor/social service world in the case of unhealthy families, that can be legitimately deemphasized in a discussion of an adult or near-adult woman’s life, cannot be so delegitimized in talking about young children. Young children don’t have the rights of sexual self-expression and reproductive choice that adults do, and where those rights are in vestigial form or are only beginning to develop along with the girl’s own maturity, physical and emotional, then parents or other responsible adults must be in the picture.

    Further, there is not a parental notification requirement in the matter at hand. There is a prescription requirement. For girls in the ordinary course of events, that does imply a parent’s involvement – but for a girl in a genuinely threatening situation, Abuser Dad and Drunken Rage Mom are NOT required to be informed. Rather, the child is required to get a doctor’s input, which frankly is something that I would expect even many prudent adult women, given the time and resources, would employ as a safety measure before using this contraceptive method.

  49. 49
    Grace Annam says:

    gin & whiskey:

    Even if you’ve got a 16 year old screaming “but I love her and it was consensual!” the parents can press charges against the child’s lover, depending on circumstances.

    No.

    Not if 16 is the age of consent where the sex happened. The parent may or may not have the ability to set limits under other laws, but if the child was of legal age to consent, then for consensual sex, there is no crime.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America

    Grace

  50. 50
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Shalom says:
    December 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm
    I can’t tell if you’re for or against OTC Plan B for minors. Either way, this seems like an argument for not normalizing routine Plan B use–e.g., sex ed classes should emphasize that emergency contraception is for emergencies, teenagers should have information about and access to condoms, etc. But I fail to see why the merits of the ideal should interfere with minors’ legal right to cope when they have strayed from it.

    1) Against, though not strongly so.
    2) Yes: it should not be normalized.

    Although I don’t agree with all the specifics I actually think Robert’s point is quite good; I’ll see what the responses are to that before I lengthen the thread.

  51. 51
    RonF says:

    Harlequin:

    RonF @28, my problem with your position is that as a society we’ve collectively decided that teens younger than 18 can consent to sex without parental approval. So why can’t they make their own choices about contraception in the same way?

    One mistake doesn’t justify making another just for consistency’s sake.

    Otherwise, Robert seems to be carrying the ball well on this one.

    Robert:

    People get me and Ron confused all the time; I’m the handsome smart one and he’s the Scout leader.

    That would be “Scout Leader” as in “has spent the last 20 years dealing with hundreds of young men and women under all manner of stressful and personal situations.” I think I’ve got a better handle than a lot of people – especially a lot of legislators – on how kids act and react.

  52. 52
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    That’s basically what happened to Becky Bell thanks to parental notification laws about abortion. She was a bright, conscientious, over-achiever who couldn’t bear the thought of disappointing her parents, and the law forced her to tell them about her reproductive needs or to find a way around it so she used her smarts and motivation to try to preserve her image with her parents, and instead she lost her life. And her folks became crusaders against parental notification laws.

    This is sort of an interesting issue, of course.

    the problem is
    (1) some kids are embarrassed/scared to get parental assistance for sex stuff;
    (2) so they do stupid things instead.

    The solutions are, of course:
    (1) make it easier for kids to talk / parents to listen;
    (2) make it less likely/harder for kids to do stupid things, either by training or teaching or legislation; and
    (3) remove the requirement for parental assistance.

    Have you noticed how very few of the more liberal folks here seem to be proposing #1 or 2?

    A lot of folks seem to think that Child Sex Is Great And Normal and Therefore Wonderful. Which perhaps it is when we’re talking about normal 17 year olds. But which isn’t true when we’re talking about 11 year olds.

    And there seems to be a bit too much focus on Children as an Oppressed Class Needing Freedom and a bit too little focus on Children as a Class Needing Some Goddamn Guidance And Boundaries. At least IMO.

  53. 53
    chingona says:

    Tylenol doesn’t enable the concealment of behaviors that reasonable parents really ought to know about their children’s participation in.

    Requiring a prescription is not the same as requiring parental knowledge. It just isn’t. I got a prescription for BCP when I was 15 through totally reputable and legal means and with no involvement by my parents. However, the time frame in which that happened was longer than the one required for effective use of Plan B, and depended on the existence of clinics being reasonably close by, which is not the situation for everyone.

    “He doesn’t need to go with A or B. He goes with C. He buys it himself. Men can purchase Plan B.”

    OK. Doesn’t that kind of blow up the whole “without OTC access teenage girls will [list of bad outcomes here]” line of argument, though? If any old adult can wander in and grab a pack, and then hand it over to our young protagonist, then the argument that teens need OTC access is an argument that says “teenagers as young as those who have just started puberty should control their own reproductive process without needing input or guidance from a SINGLE ADULT”.

    Um, no? Look, needing Plan B is embarrassing. It’s not like asking some homeless dude to buy you and your buddies a case of Bud Light. If the go-around to telling your parents or a doctor or nurse is to grab some random stranger off the street and get them to go into Walgreen’s for you, that’s actually a moderate-to-severe barrier to access and does absolutely NOTHING to address the issues you’re concerned about it in terms of a teenager making irresponsible decisions and needing some guidance.

    I mean, I knew girls in elementary school who had started their periods at the age of 10 and 11 (the early puberty was a major burden to them). That’s the youngest a girl would need OTC Plan B. Is it the serious contention of the folks who oppose the administration’s decision to require a prescription, that children who are still in the “I, Carly” demographic should be making decisions about sex and pregnancy without ANY adult help?

    Believe it or not, I know a thing or two about the burdens of early puberty, having been one of those girls myself.

    In terms of the Plan B OTC decision, I think the 11-year-old or even the 12- or 13- year-old is largely a red herring. I mean, that was the official justification for overruling the FDA – that it’s safety had been extensively documented down to 12 years old but it had never been tested in 11 year olds and some 11-year-olds are fertile. (And yet, people lose their shit over 11-year-olds getting Gardasil. Hmmm ….) But the vast majority of 11-year-olds who are having sex are being abused/raped by older partners and probably don’t have a lot of supportive adults in their life and don’t have either the knowledge or emotional wherewithal to walk into a pharmacy and ask for Plan B, much less the $50 to pay for it. Yes, they absolutely need to help and adult intervention, but whether Plan B is available OTC to minors has zero bearing one way or the other on whether they get it.

    Plan B being available OTC to minors is largely about older teens, who ALREADY are making decisions about sex and contraception without their parents’ permission or knowledge. These are people who can buy condoms and tampons (which killed the older sister of a high school friend of mine) and get prescription birth control (which, while fairly safe, has more potential for bad longterm side effects than one-time Plan B use), all without their parents’ permission.

    So … all that said … I feel frustrated that political concerns led the administration to disregard the science and the public health consensus, including of most pediatricians (people who generally try to act in the best interests of children), but I also think the attack ads saying that Obama wants your 11-year-old to get an abortion in a pill without your knowledge was pretty much inevitable. So this might have been the right move, politically, but that is also frustrating. I think the way the decision was made is a frustrating reflection of how messed up our public health debate is.

    I don’t know that this is the worst thing that ever happened to women’s health, given that when I was coming up, Plan B was prescription only for everyone. When I took Plan B, the fact that I put myself in that position was an indication that the birth control method I was using was not the best for me (you need to use it for it to work), so talking to the nurse practitioner was a good thing. But on the other hand, I also could have taken Plan B and gone to talk to her the week after. Plan B was unpleasant enough that I was quite motivated to be more careful, and even then, it was another year before I actually switched methods. Talking with the NP at the point of taking the pill was not the make-or-break thing.

  54. 54
    chingona says:

    TL:DR: The 11-year-olds are a red herring. Older teens already access birth control without their parents’ permission. Politics trumped public health on this one, but I also don’t consider it the worst thing ever.

  55. 55
    chingona says:

    the problem is
    (1) some kids are embarrassed/scared to get parental assistance for sex stuff;
    (2) so they do stupid things instead.

    False dichotomy. Some kids are embarrassed/scared to get parental assistance for sex stuff so they do their research, figure out their options and take care of it themselves.

    The solutions are, of course:
    (1) make it easier for kids to talk / parents to listen;
    (2) make it less likely/harder for kids to do stupid things, either by training or teaching or legislation; and
    (3) remove the requirement for parental assistance.

    Have you noticed how very few of the more liberal folks here seem to be proposing #1 or 2?

    That’s not fair. The particulars of this discussion are whether minors should be able to buy Plan B without a prescription. You can get a prescription without talking to your parents, but to the extent that getting a prescription might be linked to telling your parents, yes, some people here don’t think anyone should be forced to tell their parents. That doesn’t mean we don’t also like 1 and 2. Both/and/all, not either/or.

    A lot of folks seem to think that Child Sex Is Great And Normal and Therefore Wonderful. Which perhaps it is when we’re talking about normal 17 year olds. But which isn’t true when we’re talking about 11 year olds.

  56. 56
    chingona says:

    Okay, clearly I messed up some formatting up there, and the EDIT button has gone away. I trust everyone is smart enough to figure out that last graf there is stray copying from g&w’s post.

  57. 57
    Grace Annam says:

    Fixed the formatting glitch for you, chingona.

    Grace

  58. 58
    chingona says:

    Thanks! Though, actually, I would have just deleted it because I don’t really have any commentary on it as it seems pretty self-evident to me.

  59. 59
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Both/and/all, not either/or.

    How do you account, then, for the reality that enhanced supervision appears to be made less likely (not more likely) when children are able to obtain the same things without supervision?

    Treating “adult involvement” and “child freedom to act without involvement” as a both/and situation seems like a bit of a stretch.

  60. 60
    chingona says:

    Oh, thank God! All lunch hour, I’m refreshing and refreshing. Finally, a response!

    Both/and because I don’t think parental involvement and communication are created by laws limiting what kids can do. They’re created by the relationship between the parent and the child, the approach that the parents take long before the child/teen ever becomes sexually active. Similarly, the boundaries and the guidance need to start long before then.

    And I’m sure nobody here disagrees with that part. This is responsible parenting 101, though certainly easier said than done.

    I just see Plan B as a side issue to the whole question of parental involvement. The reality is that most 15-year-olds who are having sex, if a condom breaks or if they forego one, didn’t go to their parents before this decision and won’t go to their parents now. They’ll just hope for the best, like kids have been doing forever. Cause going to your parents means a 100 percent chance of getting in trouble, when you’re maybe 70 percent likely not to be pregnant.

    There’s a pretty simple test here: Plan B has never been available OTC to minors. Are kids now really open and sharing about their sex lives with their parents?

  61. 61
    Harlequin says:

    Robert @48:

    Which is tragic, but which is also why teenagers, particularly young teenagers, absolutely need adult guidance about the life-and-death issues that they begin to personally grapple with once their reproductive systems develop and they advance on the road to adulthood.

    Okay, they need adult guidance. I still think Plan B should be available OTC.

    1) Needing adult guidance and needing adult approval are different cases. Adult approval means they can say no. And people with uteri have a right to decide what they do with them; I can’t believe how much time our society spends erecting barriers to that. For those who say teenagers won’t discuss birth control with parents unless forced: I know many who did and many who didn’t, and I don’t think making Plan B available OTC would have changed their calculus.
    2) There’s a difference between wanting something to happen (adult guidance of teenagers–although let’s also remember, in this discussion, that there’s not a bright dividing line between those groups) and being willing to put the force of law behind my preference.
    3) Needing Plan B is not necessarily a sign that teens are doing something wrong–as Elusis mentioned, sometimes condoms break even if you’re being very careful.

    Generally speaking, this discussion gets my back up because while I agree with the argument that (young; some older) teenagers need the adult guidance, the argument that women in general just don’t know what they’re doing when seeking contraception or abortions is one that gets trotted out all the time, including by Supreme Court Justices. It’s hard for me not to feel like this is another verse of the same song. I don’t know if that speaks more to my reactions or the actual discussion at hand. But in those cases, as in this one, I say again: you can give people all the advice you want, but in the end the person getting the contraception or abortion should have the final decision, no matter how old they are.

  62. 62
    Robert says:

    Some are, most aren’t.

    There’s a pretty simple thought experiment here: is making it easier to hide your sex life from your parents likely to increase or decrease the level of openness and sharing?

  63. 63
    chingona says:

    Some are, most aren’t.

    Right. There are all manner of barriers to accessing contraception, most kids aren’t open with their parents, and we have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the developed world.

    There’s a pretty simple thought experiment here: is making it easier to hide your sex life from your parents likely to increase or decrease the level of openness and sharing?

    It seems like the answer would be an easy “decrease,” but I think the social and family context matter a lot. Here comes the liberal cliche … in the Netherlands … but seriously, the data bears this out … their kids have both a lot of freedom and a lot of sharing. They also have a totally different social and cultural context than most American families.

    I guess my real answer is: What’s the end game? Is the end game that your kids make responsible, educated decisions? Or is the end game that you know just for the sake of knowing?

  64. 64
    chingona says:

    I’m curious if anyone here talked to their parents before they had sex and for those that didn’t, if they feel like that was a mistake and why, and if they did, if it helped and why.

  65. 65
    John says:

    Since this is an open thread, I thought that I could ask my questions here. I took an ethics class about a year ago, which renewed my interest in social causes. I naturally started to look at feminist writings because they have most recently been the standard bearers for gender equality. As I read the posts, it seemed to me that injustices to men were either minimized or denied. I started to identify as an MRA. Some explanations made sense such as limited resources such as time and energy make us pick our battles and just because male victims are not specifically acknowledged in a post doesn’t mean that they are denied. I also recognized that men and women may communicate differently so I might be misinterpreting some of the things being said. There is also the possibility that in every large movement there will be a split. Can you clarify the feminist position on some of these topics:

    Male circumcision: from what I have read it seems as if the majority of feminists are against male circumcision based on bodily autonomy. Some feminists seem to support it and have actually had their sons circumcised. The majority of those opposed seem to oppose it because they view it as a misguided, poor choice. They say things like women should not circumcise their sons or don’t circumcise your son. Except for some mother’s sites that are not necessarily feminist, I have not seen demands for prohibition of male circumcision. Do feminists support prohibiting male circumcision as a whole or do they feel that a woman’s choice should never be limited, but that women should choose not to circumcise their sons?

  66. 66
    Robert says:

    They also have a totally different social and cultural context than most American families.

    Indeed. So, nice, quite possibly of considerable interest to the academic scholars of human sexuality and cultural expression, but also quite irrelevant. “But these other people, who are super different from us culturally and a totally different society, can do X! Why can’t we?” Question answered internally. (As I’m sure you grok.)

    Endgame is that my children make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual lives and behavior, as part of a larger pattern of healthy and responsible decisions. I think it more likely that such a pattern includes talking to mom and/or dad about sex than that it does not, but people are different. My stepdaughter is 14; I suspect strongly that she will talk with mom but not with me, about anything that isn’t going to become Public Family Knowledge. She gets pregnant and decides to keep it, I will hear about it, but probably after a decision is basicallty made. Daughter is 9; no idea how things will shake out there.

    I did not talk much about sex with my parents, but if a girlfriend was pregnant with my baby before I became financially independent around age 21, I would have told them about it, gotten their counsel, and probably requested their support, moral and/or financial, for whatever decision was reached. (Specific actions would probably have depended on which girlfriend it was.)

  67. 67
    john says:

    I broke the comment up to be more manageable.

    Male rape: most feminists seem to be against it on principal, but some feminists (I’m almost willing to say many) seem to take the position that it is so rare that it is not s erious problem or that it is somehow beneficial. The interesting thing about this article was that it wasn’t just written by a feminist, but apparently reviewed by at least one other before it posted. It takes the position that a positive result of male rape is that it encourages men to see rape as their problem as if men didn’t have mothers, daughters, sisters, female friend, etc.

    http://subterfusex.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/hes-asking-for-it/

    There was also a comment minimizing male rape after the author had distanced herself from the post. In the following example, there was just indifference.

    http://www.feminisms.org/386/can-a-man-be-raped-by-a-woman/

    This was actually attacked by many feminists unlike the previous post, which was initially only opposed by men. The author doesn’t seem to fully distance herself from the premise
    “To be clear, I continue to believe that rape is gendered, and I continue to use Dworkin’s analysis as a foundation for my views on male violence against women. I apologize, though, for misusing and misinterpreting Kulwicki’s and RMJ’s posts and apologize for using insensitive language around male rape. Just because rape is gendered does not mean that male victims don’t exist and don’t matter; they certainly do not deserve to be joked about. It does not mean that male rape is not equally as traumatic, significant, or violent.”

    The next posting was actually quite good. It’s the comment that’s problematic.

    http://thecurvature.com/2010/10/29/justice-department-repot-on-sexual-assault-in-juvenile-detention-minimizes-violence/

    The commentator seems to want to distance herself for rape apology while simultaneously apologizing for the rapes. The telling thing is that there were no other comments telling her she wrong.

    Do feminists believe that male rape is a problem? Do they view it as seriously as female rape? If not, is this because many of these rapes are perpetrated by men so they think it’s a male problem? Do they think that it’s a good thing or somehow deserved? What positions do feminists take on male rape?

  68. 68
    Elusis says:

    people working under that level of psychological messed-up-ness are going to break their face on some wall or another sooner or later

    For the record, being more oriented toward relationships with others than toward one’s own self-interest is developmentally normal for adolescents. Robert Kegan called it the “interpersonal” stage of development, a time when you are so embedded in your relationships with others (most heavily peers, but also parents and other adults) that your self-concept depends on how others see you. It’s not “messed up,” it’s a stage of development. And even messed up people excuse me, GIRLS AND WOMEN, don’t deserve to die of septic shock from a back alley abortion. Even if your “theory of mind” was right (which it’s not), the consequences don’t fit the situation.

    The solutions are, of course:
    (1) make it easier for kids to talk / parents to listen;
    (2) make it less likely/harder for kids to do stupid things, either by training or teaching or legislation; and
    (3) remove the requirement for parental assistance.

    Have you noticed how very few of the more liberal folks here seem to be proposing #1 or 2?

    Also FTR, I’m a family therapist with extensive experience working with adolescents in the context of their families, where one of my major goals in pretty much every family case is making it easier for kids to talk and parents to listen. I’ve also worked as a sex and health educator, and currently educate other family therapists, counselors, and family life specialists on human sexuality, including making sure that they’re crystal clear that the research shows that comprehensive sex education is associated with delaying sexual intercourse and increased use of contraception when sex does happen, while “abstinence-only” sex education is associated with lower ages of first sexual intercourse and less use of contraception when it does happen, in hopes that they’ll each do little bits to help us turn around the massive step backward that sex education in the US has taken. Oh, and in my Human Development class we include sexual development and learning through the life cycle (including into old age, woo!) and discuss how to appropriately educate children and adolescents at various ages about bodies, boundaries, safety, and decision-making.

    So you can have your red herring back since I’ve already eaten this evening.

    The one thing I don’t support is legislation that tries to force all families into one white-picket-fenced mold because I know that real life is messy and if you look at 1000 families you will find 1000 different family dynamics, none of which fit into some fantasy of The Nuclear Family ™ (copyright 1950). Because I marched on the Indiana state capitol with Becky Bell’s parents when I was in college, and nothing in my intervening life experience, professional experience, or education has given me an ounce of evidence to feel any differently; in fact quite the opposite.

  69. 69
    john says:

    Chingona, no I didn’t, but I didn’t really have that option. I was at a religious retreat when I was 15. It was at a women’s college that was having financial difficulties and rented out two floors of a dorm. The first floor had shared amenities like a gym and cafeteria. The college women were on 2, the high school boys on 3, and the high school girls on 4. All the counselors were female so there was little adult supervision of the boys after lights out. We were told that if we were caught on 4, we would be expelled. They never said anything about 2. The boys were actually the sexual initiators, but looking back, women, who could have been in their 20s shouldn’t have having sex with 15 to 17 year old boys.

    I don’t think that a talk with my mom would have helped. The environment was closed. There was a lot of peer pressure to score and the media reinforced that message. I was in the Porkys generation. It wasn’t until 20 or so years later that I fully appreciated a conversation I had with my religion teacher. One of the guys told me that some girls wanted to hook up and they would come to my room about 1:00 AM on the last day of retreat. I thought he was kidding, but said OK because I knew I’d be awake anyway. The girls had no prohibition coming to 3 partly because the retreat activities had to be done somewhere. They were stealing our clothes (they eventually gave them back without too much stress). They ran into the bathrooms, which were all stalls anyway. There was any peeking through the cracks in the stall doors and they threatened to bust in when we were showering. They never did to my knowledge, but I took my showers at 2:00AM just to be safe.

    At 1:30 my door opened, but I decided to stay silent for a minute. I was lucky because it was my religion teacher peeking in. The next day she asks me if I knew anything about a group of college girls getting caught coming out of an elevator on 3. She said that she wasn’t trying to get them in trouble. I thought she was trying to get me in trouble as this was the second talk we had about my dealings with the college women. I realize now that she was trying to protect me and not get me in trouble.

  70. 70
    Ampersand says:

    John, there is no centrist feminist organization keeping an feminist party platform with positions on all the issues. Constantly asking “do feminists believe” this or that suggests that you don’t truly understand this.

    Also, your questions seem to be of the “have feminists stopped beating their wife?” genre, which makes answering them not especially appealing.

    Do feminists support prohibiting male circumcision as a whole or do they feel that a woman’s choice should never be limited, but that women should choose not to circumcise their sons?

    1) That’s a ridiculous dichotomy. Do you really think that those are the only two possible choices?

    2) Feminists are not the borg.

    Regarding your questions about male rape, obviously many feminists do feel male rape is a serious problem — you just quoted some of them.

    Do they think that it’s a good thing or somehow deserved?

    I guess you could come up with a question that makes it more clear that you’re a hostile troll who has zero interest in empathy with anyone he disagrees with, and is only here to demonize feminists.

    Oh, wait, probably you couldn’t. My mistake.

    If you want to know what the folks on this blog think of male circumcision, read our many posts on the subject. The short version of MY views is: I’m absolutely against male circumcision, but I don’t think a legal ban is always an effective strategy for stopping circumcision, and I’m a little concerned about the tendency of ban proponents to handwave away concerns about antisemitism.

    Oh, and if you want to know our views on rape of men — well, again, you can google that.

  71. 71
    John says:

    Ampersand, I’ve always believed in giving people a fair shot. That’s why I elected to ask questions on a feminist leaning board. I also suggested that in every large community there would be a difference in opinion. I was trying to determine what was main stream feminism. I did link to Cara Kulwicki’s post, which decried male rape and noted that there was only one comment that was apologetic of the rapists. Read the post and comment. Do you not come to the same conclusion? It seems that feminists could not handle females being the overwhelming perpetrators with males being the overwhelming victims and when a possible excuse came along to blame it on the men, they took it. Read the post and the comment. Do you come to a different conclusion?

    I suppose I could read your post and I will. That would give me the perspective of another feminist. Are you main stream? As for male circumcision, what other options are those except banning it or allowing it? By your statement, it seems that feminists favor keeping it legal and refraining from taking that option under most cases. It seems that not limiting the choices for women is more paramount than bodily autonomy at least when it comes to men.

    Admittedly, I have only looked at gender equality issues recently. You have blog posts going back 10 years. I would think that your readers would be able to inform me of main stream feminist thought, but maybe it’s more politically expedient to reject individuals truly interested in gender equality from the feminist movement. You call me a hostile troll, but didn’t I just link to a source that suggested that male rape was a good thing and another that suggested that it didn’t matter? Didn’t I give feminists credit for attacking the notion that male rape was inconsequential? Did I not acknowledge the fact that mistakes could occur?
    I’m not afraid to learn. Why are feminists afraid to teach? Maybe, feminists are afraid to learn. We can all learn from each other. I’ll certainly ask a few more questions. If I don’t ask them, my ignorance is my fault. You don’t need to answer them.

    By the way, there are currently no choices concerning female circumcision. Even the idea of a ceremonial nick or prick was rejected. It seems that it was feminists who spearheaded opposition to this compromise.

  72. 72
    chingona says:

    As for male circumcision, what other options are those except banning it or allowing it? By your statement, it seems that feminists favor keeping it legal and refraining from taking that option under most cases. It seems that not limiting the choices for women is more paramount than bodily autonomy at least when it comes to men.

    I’m not going to get into a big circumcision debate with you, but last time I checked, most kids have two parents, one of them male. Often, that’s the parent who is more strongly in favor of circumcision. Keeping circumcision legal has ZERO to do with women’s choice.

  73. 73
    chingona says:

    And I just lost the whole comment I’d made replying to Robert by stupidly getting distracted by John. I’ll catch you in the morning.

  74. 74
    John says:

    chingona, I understand there are two parents and I also understand that there is a strong desire by father’s to not feel that they were in fact victimized. Much like how prosecutors worry that omen on a rape jury may look for failings on the part of a victim because they want to feel that they could avoid being raped. So you’re telling me that feminist’s support continuing to allow circumcisions for males because they support the patriarchy? I’m just trying to understand your comment. Maybe after a good night’s rest, you could explain it.

  75. 75
    Ampersand says:

    As for male circumcision, what other options are those except banning it or allowing it? By your statement, it seems that feminists favor keeping it legal and refraining from taking that option under most cases. It seems that not limiting the choices for women is more paramount than bodily autonomy at least when it comes to men.

    Okay, that’s your take on what I wrote. Here’s what I actually wrote:

    The short version of MY views is: I’m absolutely against male circumcision, but I don’t think a legal ban is always an effective strategy for stopping circumcision, and I’m a little concerned about the tendency of ban proponents to handwave away concerns about antisemitism.

    Where in there did I say a WORD about ” not limiting the choices for women is more paramount”? Quote me the exact line where I said it, please.

    If you won’t either back up your statement, or withdraw it, then don’t bother trying to post any more comments here.

  76. 76
    Ampersand says:

    [I moved a comment of John's, which was entirely a response to a post I wrote, to that post. John, because of the extensive "recent comments" list on the sidebar, I'd encourage you to revive old posts if you want to respond to them, and use open threads for stuff that isn't specific to an old post, unless there's some reason not to comment there.]

  77. 77
    CaitieCat says:

    By the way, Amp, congratulations! I hadn’t heard about your being appointed spokesperson for the great monolith of thought that is “feminism”. Do you feel particularly thrilled that you’ve been picked for this role, being you’re a man? I’m sure there was a lot of controversy over your selection, because of our (feminists’) well-known man-hating humourlessness, but I’ll bet you do a bang-up job.

    Thanks, John, for bringing that to our attention. I’ll have to pay more attention at the next Super-Secret-Иo-Menz-Aloud meeting in our Arctic superbase Treehouse of Femmynizzum. I’ll get it on the Feminist Agenda, right after “First, we kill all the menz,”, and before “Step three: profit!”

  78. 78
    Elusis says:

    To return to the subject of adolescent sexuality and parental notification/consent:

    You cannot legislate a parent/child relationship, any more than you can legislate intimacy of any other kind.

  79. 79
    John says:

    1. Do feminists support prohibiting male circumcision as a whole or do they feel that a woman’s choice should never be limited, but that women should choose not to circumcise their sons?
    1) That’s a ridiculous dichotomy. Do you really think that those are the only two possible choices?
    1. As for male circumcision, what other options are those except banning it or allowing it? By your statement, it seems that feminists favor keeping it legal and refraining from taking that option under most cases. It seems that not limiting the choices for women is more paramount than bodily autonomy at least when it comes to men.

    If you look at my statement closer, I never say that you said . I said that by your statement it seems. Statement defended. OK, let’s look at what you said.
    I’m absolutely against male circumcision, but I don’t think a legal ban is always an effective strategy for stopping circumcision, and I’m a little concerned about the tendency of ban proponents to handwave away concerns about antisemitism.

    Other ways are more effective than a ban? Interesting how feminists found that a ban on female circumcision was sufficient to do the trick. Were there concerns about islamophobia?

  80. 80
    Ampersand says:

    John:

    Other ways are more effective than a ban? Interesting how feminists found that a ban on female circumcision was sufficient to do the trick. Were there concerns about islamophobia?

    You’re implying hypocrisy, but – as seems to be your m.o. — not outright saying it.

    I reject the implied charge of hypocrisy. First of all, circumcision and FGC aren’t exactly the same thing, so there may be a legitimate argument for treating them differently.

    But, second of all, I don’t treat them differently. Here’s a quote from one of my posts about FGC, for example:

    …what’s most effective may be different from what seems most uncompromising and hardcore. It’s right that Western feminists feel anger and horror at FGC, but we have to be careful that our approach to FGC remains effective, aware of the problems of colonialism and racism, and serves women — rather than serving our own need to feel like we’re doing something. … There’s good reason to think that western pressure on the Egyptian and other governments to institute bans makes things worse, leading to more mutilation and death.

    And from one of Mandolin’s posts on Alas (which I very much agree with):

    But in the past 10 years of the ban on female genital surgeries, the number of circumcisions does not appear to have moved. A survey in 1995 shows the same rate of 97% that the 2000 study shows. In fact, the rate showed to be constant in 1997, 2000, and 2003. The ban has not had ANY effect on the practice of female genital surgeries. It has only made it unlikely that gilrs will receive adequate medical care — and soon it will be impossible for girls to receive it.

    If these figures are accurate, supporting this ban seems insane. Our stated goal is to improve the lives of women. This ban does not improve the lives of women. It makes female genital surgeries, which are going to be carried out with or without the ban, more medically risky.

    Of course, many feminists would disagree with myself and Mandolin on this issue, but we’re not obliged to agree with all other feminists about everything. Feminists disagree with each other all the time.

    * * *

    Regarding your “statement defended,” you didn’t actually defend what you said, did you? Instead, you weaseled, trying to find a loophole (“I never said you said, I said by your statement it seems”) rather than simply taking responsibility for your statement.

    Thanks so much for your contributions to “Alas,” but I’m afraid that your comments here are bringing us further away from the dialog I’d like to have. For that reason, please don’t post any more comments on “Alas.” Best wishes to you, John.

  81. 81
    Ampersand says:

    John requested that I post a link to his brand-new blog, and also let folks know that he apologized for accidently posting something on the wrong comment thread (which was no big deal).

  82. 82
    Grace Annam says:

    Clearly, Plan B and parental involvement are almost entirely orthogonal issues. If we are that worried that the problem of girls under 18 using Plan B without guidance is worse than the problem of girls under 18 being pregnant and eventually miscarrying or giving birth without guidance …

    … then clearly, we need to provide guidance OTC.

    I’m trying to picture the packaging…

    Grace

    P.S. For anyone about to say that a child can’t carry a pregnancy to term and through delivery without adults noticing, I am aware of one case where a 15-year-old child AT A BOARDING SCHOOL (surrounded by adults, many of whom were women) carried her child to term, and actually won a jumping competition (horses) three days before she delivered her healthy child.

  83. 83
    Grace Annam says:

    chingona:

    I’m curious if anyone here talked to their parents before they had sex and for those that didn’t, if they feel like that was a mistake and why, and if they did, if it helped and why.

    In a general way, yes. My mother answered every question I ever had in clinical detail. I’m certain that she initiated age-appropriate talks about human sexuality, too. I cannot remember a time when I did not know how sex worked, how STIs work, how human beings reproduce.

    I did not see the need to reprise before I had sex for the first time, and I didn’t.

    The sex I had was reasonably stupid teenage sex (no condom), but my thorough sex education enabled me to realize immediately afterward just how stupid it was, and what I should do about it. I did not have PIV sex again for several years, and when I did, I used a condom. And I knew how to use a condom, too, courtesy of the education I received from my mother.

    So, chingona, there’s an anecdote for you. I’m certain that it’s atypical. Because in matters like these, my mother is awesome beyond the ken of most mortals.

    Grace

  84. 84
    Grace Annam says:

    John:

    I would think that your readers would be able to inform me of main stream feminist thought, but maybe it’s more politically expedient to reject individuals truly interested in gender equality from the feminist movement.

    John:

    Maybe after a good night’s rest, you could explain it.

    She can if she chooses to, but she’s under no obligation to educate you. Neither are any of us. The content of your questions suggest that you have a lot more basic reading and thinking to do before many of us feel motivated to spoon-feed you.

    This blog is free for the reading. So are many others. Keep going with the self-education for awhile and come back with a different approach and you may meet with a different reception.

    Grace

  85. 85
    chingona says:

    Indeed. So, nice, quite possibly of considerable interest to the academic scholars of human sexuality and cultural expression, but also quite irrelevant. “But these other people, who are super different from us culturally and a totally different society, can do X! Why can’t we?” Question answered internally. (As I’m sure you grok.)

    That was kind of my point, though I expressed myself somewhat indirectly. We have a messed up sexual culture. Making Plan B available OTC to minors won’t fix that but neither will keeping it prescription only.

    Having thought some more about your thought experiment, I think the answer to whether giving teens more autonomy about their sexual health will increase or decrease their communication with their parents is neither. Kids who don’t want to talk to their parents about sex will do whatever it is that won’t require them talking to their parents. If Plan B is available OTC, I think more minors will use it, but keeping it prescription only won’t get kids who don’t want to, to talk to their parents. They’ll either get themselves to a clinic, though not as quickly as if they had walked into a pharmacy, or they’ll cross their fingers hope for the best. If I had needed my parents’ permission to go on the pill, I wouldn’t have gone and talked to my parents. I just wouldn’t have gone on the pill. I would have kept using condoms. That kind of calculus certainly isn’t universal, but it’s pretty common.

    Endgame is that my children make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual lives and behavior, as part of a larger pattern of healthy and responsible decisions. I think it more likely that such a pattern includes talking to mom and/or dad about sex than that it does not, but people are different.

    It occurs to me that you and g&w and I may (possibly) be using the words talking, sharing, communicating, etc. in a slightly different way. I absolutely think that parents and kids should be talking about sex and that in most situations, that will be part of developing a healthy and responsible sexual life. But when I say that, I’m talking about age-appropriate and on-going discussions about everything from the mechanics and consequences of sex to interpersonal relationships to self-respect and consent to available resources to parents’ personal values with respect to sexual relationships.

    I am entirely neutral on whether kids should tell their parents before they actually do the deed or that they are doing the deed. I don’t think parents have any kind of right to know if their kids are having sex if said kids are above the age of consent (this is a little bit of a shorthand, as actual age of consent varies quite a bit from state to state). I think it’s totally normal and healthy to not want to talk to your parents about the fact that you are having sex. Our culture considers sex a private thing.

    I often hear from more liberal parents that if their kids didn’t tell them they were having sex, they would feel like they messed up in some way such that their kids didn’t view them as trustworthy, and I don’t think that’s true at all. Again, I think it’s totally normal to want your sex life to be private from your parents, for the same reason I don’t call up my mom and talk to her about my sex life now.

    Let’s take two girls. One figures out where a clinic is, makes an appointment herself, gets herself to the clinic, discusses her contraceptive options with a nurse practitioner and leaves there with birth control, which she then uses reliably. Another goes to her mom and asks her mom to make her an appointment with the mom’s gynecologist so she can get the pill. Why on earth would the second one be considered better? The first girl is showing maturity and responsibility. If it involved any other activity that is part of teenagers transitioning into adulthood, we would bemoan the helicopter parenting of the the second example.

    I think kids need guidance and boundaries, but at a certain point, we need to trust that we’ve provided that and accept that we can’t be there 24/7 to make our kids’ decisions for them. Fortunately, kids today are pretty smart. They’re actually way more likely to use condoms than adults having casual sex. (And actually, my Plan B experience happened as an adult, when I did something I never would have done when I was a teenager. When I was a teenager, I was very well aware of how high the stakes were.)

  86. 86
    chingona says:

    To answer my own question, my parents talked to me a lot about sex as I was growing up, and they also made sure I knew where my mother’s copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves was and that I might be interested in the content, so that I had a way to get good, accurate information if I was too embarrassed to ask a particular question. My mom also found ways to get my boyfriends alone and give them a “condoms, condoms, condoms” talk. My mom was 17 when she got pregnant with me, and her brother was dying of AIDS when I was in high school, so I understood what was at stake.

    I didn’t talk to them about the fact that I was having sex in high school. I am quite certain that they would have thought I was too young. I am quite certain that when my own kids are 15, I will think they are too young. But my parents equipped me with good information and a healthy amount of self-respect. I was very responsible. It was mostly a positive experience, and I learned from the things that weren’t.

    I think I probably would have told them if I had gotten pregnant, but if I was very sure right away that I wanted an abortion, there’s a small possibility that I wouldn’t have (though, that would have required leaving the state). It wouldn’t have been a matter of wanting to get away with something. I think this is getting treated like taking the family car for a joy ride. It wouldn’t have been “Oh shit, my parents will find out I had sex.” For me, it would have been that my dad, while politically pro-choice, really, really, really doesn’t like abortion, and I’m really close to my dad and I really value my relationship with him. I would have been worried about doing a lot of damage to our relationship, that he wouldn’t be able to forgive me or get over it. I think we need to give kids some credit for being emotionally complex. It’s not just all raging hormones and wannadoitwannadoitwannadoit and don’t let mom and dad get in my way.

  87. 87
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Random question:

    Any opinions on what is the current best “starter” sex book for girls? I need to get one for my kids

  88. Pingback: Plan B Restrictions Mainly Restrict Grown-Up Women | Alas, a Blog

  89. 88
    chingona says:

    So, I was hoping someone would answer you, because I’d like to know too. What’s the age range that you’re looking for? Since no one offered any suggestions, I was going to put the request up on the open thread at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ place. I post there sometimes, and it’s a great place to crowdsource stuff.

    What I have heard recommended the most is the website Scarlateen, but I think it is more aimed at middle school and up — kids who are already starting to feel feelings, maybe date — and I was thinking your kids might be a little younger than that.

  90. 89
    KellyK says:

    To answer chingona’s question, my mom tried to have general conversations with me about sex, but I had it in my head that it was something so dirty and shameful and wrong that I didn’t want to hear about it at all. She managed to explain the basic mechanics of it and tell me it was something you should wait until you were grown up, and preferably married, to do. I don’t think we talked about birth control.

    Talking to my parents about me actually having sex? Oh, hell no. When I was in *college* and my boyfriend and I decided that we were both seriously committed to each other (and horny as all get out, let’s be honest) enough to have sex, I researched birth control methods and automatically eliminated anything that would require admitting to my parents that I was having sex. And since I was on their insurance, that meant BC pills from the college wellness center, condoms, and spermicides were the options I was okay with. I was twenty-one at the time, and we’d been dating exclusively for a couple months.

    This is not to say that I’m in any way typical. I had very repressed and messed up attitudes about sex for a long time, which I don’t think I necessarily got from my parents. And all my secrecy was completely for naught because my mother, with the psychic powers that only moms have, asked me straight out if I was having sex, and I couldn’t lie to her.

    But if a grown-up woman who can legally buy alcohol, vote, own a gun, or join the military can’t bear to admit to her parents that she’s having sex with her boyfriend, I can’t exactly expect a teenager to be able to.

  91. 90
    chingona says:

    g&w ….

    Here’s what I got back in response to my query. It sounds like maybe “What’s Happening to Me?” might be what you’re looking for.

    We went with “Where Did I Come From?” It’s a picture book that comes in both a white and an African American version. It has really funny line drawings. They are explicit, though. It’s a penis-goes-in-vagina explanation of babies.

    When my kids get a little bit bigger, we’re going to use a bunch of the Planned Parenthood pamphlets. I found them very helpful when I was 10 or so.

    The same people who wrote “Where Did I Come From?” wrote a book called “What’s Happening to Me?” that I think is very helpful at around 9 or 10.

    When they hit 8th or 9th grade, I’m putting a copy of “Guide to Getting It On” in a conspicuous place and carefully not noticing if it’s been read or not. That thing is an encyclopedia.

    Edit: That may be more explicit than most parents want to do, though. Mr. Katryzna is a nurse and he favors explicit sex education, along with open access to resources that can answer the noob questions no one wants to ask their parents.

    If this link to her comment works, there should be links to all the titles.

  92. 91
    chingona says:

    Also recommended: It’s Really Not the Stork and The Keeping and Care of You.

  93. 92
    Robert says:

    We had the “Where Did I Come From” books when I was a kid, and I largely credit them with my own relatively healthy and open attitude towards human sexuality, particularly the kinds where the lady wears special leather clothes and the man learns about spikes.

    I recall a discussion about sex at college and I mentioned those books and their healthy attitude about sex, and I was immediately reamed out (ooh, there’s another good kind) for endorsing such heteronormative racist transphobic and probably imperalistic and capitalistic viewpoints.

    I still remember the books pretty well, and I have to admit that they were pretty heteronormative and there was no discussion of homosexuality or other possible parenting types than the mom-and-dad-who-loved-each-other-sooooo-much model; two-ladies-and-their-loving-friend or two-Xes-and-an-expensive-visit-to-a-sperm-bank don’t see as much as a whisper. On the other hand they didn’t even talk about the mom-got-assaulted-at-prom-by-a-thug model or the john-and-prostitute-got-drunk-and-forgot-condom model either. I would not hesitate to use those books with my own kids, who WERE conceived by hetero mom and hetero dad under hetero blankets in a hetero house, but I think that even I, crusty reactionary conservative that I am, would probably tell any but the very youngest of kids that “this is a nice way of showing one very popular way that babies come into the world but you should know that sometimes it’s more complicated than that.”

    And kids whose gay parents used some other mode of reproduction are probably going to feel pretty vanished in the book. “Charles, Frank, you’re both my daddies, so which one of you lied down with the smiling lady under the blanket?”, and so forth.

  94. 93
    chingona says:

    The woman who recommended the It’s Not the Stork book said it’s really good on the diversity front, in a non-tokeny way, and the little bit that I saw on Amazon’s “look inside” feature seemed to bear that out. It has a chapter called “All Kinds of Families” and it distinguishes gender and sex (Boys play with trucks! And so do girls! Girls cry at scary monsters! And so do boys!). It also covers good touch, bad touch and stuff beyond biology. I was generally liking what I saw and think I might get it soonish.

    (I totally wimped out on the whole “p-in-v” part of the explanation when I was pregnant and my four-year-old was asking questions. It died down, but now he’s coming home from school – kindergarten! – with all sorts of stuff that needs to get straightened out.)

    I couldn’t see nearly as much of “Where Did I Come From?” so couldn’t really judge it on the merits. Another woman commented on the thread that she read “Where did I come from?” by herself when she was 4 and thinks it traumatized her. YMMV.

    Here’s the Stork one.

    http://www.amazon.com/Its-Not-Stork-Families-Friends/dp/0763633313/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324079364&sr=8-1