Archive for September, 2011

Fact: Pregnant teens didn’t exist before the 1990s.

Posted in New Zealand, sex, sex ed on September 20th, 2011 by steph – 6 Comments

Naturally, with such a salacious topic as sex education being the scandal du jour, everyone has a very important and very, very correct opinion on the issue. It is about sex, after all. And to all those people who have taken this oppourtunity to shout about how modern sex ed is causing more teen pregnancies than it prevents, and how back in the day teens weren’t just getting knocked up willy-nilly,  so obviously modern sex ed is responsible for teen pregnancy, I’ve got two words for you: Magdalene Laundries. Or how about Bethany Homes, for that NZ flavour? Yeah, that’s right, we did actually have “fallen women” and “unwed mothers”; but maybe the reason you don’t think we did (aside from the fact you were probably not alive then…) is that we packed the dirty hussies off so respectable people didn’t have to see them or know about them.

So continue on with this revisionist history bullshit (BTW, did you know that we’ve always treated indigenous people in this coutntry really super well, for reals?), and go back to your sad little fantasies of the good old days with black and white TV and pies cooling on windowsills, back before the country was awash with young sluts. Really, please tell me more about how things were in a time back before you were born and where the reality of the situation was hidden from many people. I’m sure you are 100% correct and know all the facts about how things were back then.

 

The idea that comprehensive sex education is responsible for a rise in teen pregnancies is laughable, and the claim that ‘back in the day’ young girls didn’t get knocked up and now they’re doing it like it’s going out of fashion is just ignorant: statistics show that back in the day, teen girls did get knocked up at a pretty decent rate , and that now the rate of teen pregnancies is much lower than it was back in those glory days when teenage girls apparently didn’t get pregnant .

In the early 1970s, 70 out of every 1,000 teenagers had a child in any year. By the mid-1980s the figure had fallen to 30 per 1,000. Subsequently, it varied between 30 and 35 per 1,000 until 1997. There has been a general downward trend in the last five years, and in 2002 the fertility rate for teenagers was at a historical low of 25.6 per 1,000.

So that’s two strikes against the theory that the way people did it back then meant fewer pregnancies than the way we do things now (comprehensive sex ed). The fact that our teenage pregnancy rate is high when compared to other OECD countries isn’t the point: we aren’t making cross-country comparisons, but comparisons across time. And a comparison across time leaves the ways of the glory days of yore not really looking so shiny and fabulous. People trying to claim that we should revert back to how things were back then (don’t talk about it, and if you do get up the duff we might pack you off to “stay with an aunt” for a few months) because that was much more effective than the way we do things now are dreaming. Well, I guess part of the appeal is the shaming of young women for being sexually active, and in that case the good old days a probably a great model for that kind of attitude, and in that case maybe we should mimic how things used to be. Going back to the old ways isn’t going to make anything better because the new ways aren’t a problem. People may argue that having parent units in schools and not ostracising young mums is just promoting and encouraging girls to get pregnant at young age, but look at how things used to be compared to now: back then we hid and shamed, and the rate of teen pregnancy was higher than now when we are generally more open, and at least grudgingly accept things. That seems like basically the exact opposite to what is being claimed, really. I think the word ‘encouraging’ means that you’re getting people to do it more, and the idea that these days we promote teen pregnancy isn’t borne out in statistics showing a falling rate. But anywho, logic and statistics are for heathens anyway, so whatever.

 

Oh, and if you want a nice picture of how young girls in New Zealand never ever used to get pregnant back in the days before modern sex ed, maybe check out Piece of My Heart. Nope, no pregnant teenage girls being hidden away and used as slave labour before their babies were snatched away from them or anything like that. Ah, the good old days.

If comprehensive Sex Ed in schools is wrong, I don’t want to be right

Posted in New Zealand, sex ed on September 19th, 2011 by steph – 1 Comment

To the father who thinks teaching his son about the clitoris is “grubby”: I hope you’re planning to give him comprehensive sex education yourself, at home, lest he just learn this shit from the internet himself at some stage. Seriously, teaching children about basic anatomy is not grubby. Apparently it’s ok to teach them how “babies are made”, which I assume requires details about anatomy (fallopian tubes! uterus! penis!), but not about the clitoris(also an anatomical structure)- I can only assume because you would then have to talk about sexual pleasure, because that’s pretty much what the clitoris is all about. Heaven forbid children learn that sex (and sexual acts) can be pleasurable! And not just for men! What’s this,

Children as young as 12 are being taught about oral sex and told it’s acceptable to play with a girl’s private parts as long as “she’s okay with it”.

It included a question-and-answer session that focused on, “I have learned that my girlfriend has a thing called a clitoris. I really want to play with it. Is that okay?” The answer was: “Yes, if you ask her and she’s okay with it.”

 

Consenting to sexual activities, gasp! I mean, “she’s okay with it” isn’t a full-strength example of enthusiastic consent (I would prefer “she’s pretty damn excited about it!”), but it emphasizes the basic concepts of asking explicitly about a sexual act and obtaining active  consent.

I assume this is the point where the horrified parents would chime in and say “but my 12/14-year old is too young for this kind of graphic information”. Well, honestly, whether someone is old enough (legally, emotionally, psychologically, whatever) really isn’t an argument that will sway my opinion in this debate. You think your twelve year old is too young to know about oral sex? Chances are that if they’re curious, they would find out somehow anyway, and if they aren’t curious they wont go out and start road-testing the option just because they know it exists.  Even when I knew my friends were actually doing that kind of stuff (at ages 13/14/15), and had heard all about it from them, it didn’t make me run off to rip the pants of the nearest guy. You think your 14 year old is too young to learn how to put a condom on a penis? I learnt how to do that in sex ed when I was 14 or 15 (though it was a majestic wooden phallus, not a black plastic one. Snicker.) and it was many a year after that before I ever put that knowledge into practice (though not for lack of interest…). Knowing how to do it didn’t mean I felt like I had to go right out and start condom-ing every dick in town, it just meant that when the time came I had the knowledge. And you know what, people who think 14 is too young to learn how to put a condom on? There were 2 or 3 girls who left my class in 5th form because they were pregnant- they would have been having sex at 14 or 15 for this to happen. You can’t deny that people that young are having sex, and that if they’re going to have sex they should at least have as much knowledge as possible. As much as you may hate the idea of your 14 year old being sexually active, it may happen, and certainly does happen: Family Planning reps are on record on this issue saying New Zealanders as young as 12 are sexually active. Just because your idea of a good age for your child to have sex is 16 or 18 or “when they’re married”, doesn’t mean that this is a realistic or sensible attitude.

And as for the idea that schools might be going into too much depth with sex-ed classes, and encroaching on what should be the parents’ job; well, I hope the parents who feel this way are planning some extremely detailed birds and the bees talks that cover everything a child could want to know and don’t misinform them about anything (“condoms fail 50% of the time!” “abortions give you breast cancer!”). Personally, I know one guy who’s parents did not give permission for him to attend sex ed in schools, and clearly failed to take up their ‘parental role’ when it came to educating him themselves: he only learned at the age of 18 or 19 that women don’t urinate and have their period “through the same hole”; i.e. that the vagina is not what a women urinates out of, and there’s actually more than one hole down there. Oops.

 

Suffrage Day

Posted in New Zealand on September 18th, 2011 by steph – Comments Off on Suffrage Day

Happy Suffrage Day, y’all! Time to think about all the amazing people who fought for women’s right to vote, and also to think about how far we still have to go when it comes to women in New Zealand politics.

And, to the people who thought that voting would take women out of their natural sphere of home and family: the decline of New Zealand’s women into pants-wearing, beer-drinking, liberal, boner-killing feminists is probably because we let ladies take part in elections. Surely I’m not the only one who celebrates voting on election day with a large beer, pre-maritial sex, and some shrill feminist tirades?

Calling it a “va-jay-jay” is being frank and honest?

Posted in fail, Uncategorized on September 15th, 2011 by steph – 4 Comments

Apparently people these days are more laid back about their bodies, so now the ads used to sell us stuff to fix what’s wrong with our horrible bodies are now more “frank” and “downright shocking”.

This article describes the business of selling vagina-related products: no longer do we have tampon ads with women in white skirts twirling on the beach- now the ads make fun of that! Feminism has won the war, everyone!

The problem is, apparently this trend is great because we’re all talking openly about our you-know-what’s, and people aren’t embarrassed about it anymore; however, these products that are being touted often rely on shame and misinformation to get women to buy them. Summer’s Eve, one of the products mentioned, not only have they used terrible ads full of racial stereotypes, but what their product boils down to is something to sort out your stinky vagina because it’s gross and also needs a little help to do that. So, preying on the shame someone feels about their vagina: check. Misleadingly suggesting that the body doesn’t actually do this job itself (which it does) and might need help: check. A woman who helped create the “talking hand” ads said in the source article

“We’re really excited about having that kind of publicity and coverage. A month ago nobody was talking about feminine hygiene,” says Zahnen, who added that Summer’s Eve learned through research that women were ready to have frank discussions about their bodies.

“We just wanted to be sure that the conversation is focused on celebrating and empowering women.”

That shit is not empowering. You could argue that the choice to give your vagina some “extra help” or not is personal, which it is. But it also doesn’t occur in a vaccuum; it occurs in a world where women are conditioned to worry about whether their junk smells weird or not, and be afraid that someone (a sexual partner, for example), might be grossed out be their body and smell. So don’t give me this “empowering” bullshit. More like empowering women to spend more money trying to ‘fix’ themselves. You can’t just throw the buzzword “empowering” into a statement and actually make the product something that empowers people. Also, the idea that people never really used to talk about feminine hygiene? Well, I don’t know if it was talked about or not (given that I wasn’t alive), but there are a fuckload of vintage douche ads that suggest we have always been pretty preoccupied with touting this stuff to women. Vag shame isn’t new.

 

And seriously, the idea that we’re all so open and honest now, and not scared of calling a spade a spade when it come to vagina-related stuff, is kind of ridiculous when in the same breath you talk about “va-jay-jays”,  a celebrity’s favourite “vagina tattoo” (ouch! How do you get a tattoo needle up in there?), and also at one point call it “the area” (yes, I’m sure they got sick of writing “vagina”, but “the area” is so damn vague – are we talking about a body part, or a location on a map?). If we still don’t call things what they are, are we really so hugely empowered and free of our embarrassment?

Photoshop disaster

Posted in photoshop on September 14th, 2011 by steph – 4 Comments

Yesterday I was checking out the Hannahs website (as you do when you realise “shit, do I even own a pair of sandals? Summer is coming up!”), and the whole front page was a promo for the “Kardashain Kollection” of shoes coming soon to Hannahs. I have zero interest in shoes “designed” by a Kardashian, however my attention was grabbed by the photo used to advertise the upcoming shoe collection

 

 

My first impressions: what the fuck is this shit? What the hell is going on with the head/face of the Kardashian on the left? It isn’t just me, right? That shit is messed up. Like her face is pasted onto her head really low or slightly to one side, or her smaller head from one photo is pasted onto her larger neck and body from a different photo? I do not know what it is, but something is not right. I’m not hating on the woman – I’ve seen photos of her where she looked regular and like her head was actually attached to her neck; no, this stinks of photoshop fail.

 

And the more I looked at it, the worse it seemed. Even the heads of the other two women  seem ridiculously  ‘shopped: none of the heads look like they’re actually attached to the necks, but rather kind of hovering in front of the necks and in a slightly lower  position than they should be- this is especially bad with the head on the right. And the edges of the neck in the middle are all fuzzy and blurred!

Everytime there’s some awful photoshop disaster in an photo used for an ad campaign, I always think “why didn’t someone point out how bad it looks?? Surely someone noticed; it’s so obviously horrible!”. Why would you choose to promote your product with such a fail image that looks like someone’s first attempt ever at editing a photo? Maybe the level of photoshop retouching (and stuff like using heads from one photo and bodies from another, to get just the right look) has desensitized people to the point where it really isn’t obvious anymore, and that’s why you see photos with hilariously  (and poorly) whittled waists and people say “oh, what do you mean that picture looks like a hot mess; it looks perfectly normal to me!”. Or maybe the inexpertly attached  head look is just what they were going for- I don’t know, I don’t really keep up with what is considered hot and sexy these days.

 

“Manity sizing”

Posted in fail on September 10th, 2011 by steph – Comments Off on “Manity sizing”

“Manity sizing”. Oh hell no. “VANITY SIZING” IS ALREADY GENDER NEUTRAL PLEASE STOP DOING THIS MEDIA OUTLETS EVERYWHERE OR I WILL HULK OUT ON YOU FOR SERIOUS.

If I read “he-cession” (and “he-covery”), “murse”, “mandals”, “guyliner”, “Bro-zilian”, or any other awful attempt to dude-ify a regular word that needs no dude-ifying (except for the reason that the foolish media people a) think they are clever and b) think that guys are scared if something doesn’t refer to them directly it’s a girl thing and will therefore emasculate them), I will probably smash multiple desks with my head.

Weight Watchers the solution to the obesity crisis?

Posted in scientatious on September 8th, 2011 by steph – Comments Off on Weight Watchers the solution to the obesity crisis?

This morning I read about a study out in the Lancet medical journal that compared weight loss (over a 12 month period) on a standard weight-loss program (provided by a family doctor/primary health care provider) to weight loss with Weight Watchers. My first thought was “oh, so people lose more with Weight Watchers? Well fine, but the real question is was their weight loss maintained?”. I assumed this would be answered at some point in the article. I read on, learning about the “obesity crisis” and how bad it is worldwide, and how this study shows that Weight Watchers is a “robust intervention” that can be generalized across other developing countries, and so on. And nowhere did it mention what happened with these people’s weight after the 12 months. Nor did the original study seem to look at that either. I remembered reading somewhere people get pretty darn excited about weight loss studies, but that there is really very little to suggest (based on research) that initial loss is maintained, and that looking at participants after a longer period of time has elapsed (say, 5 years) dramatically reduces the apparent success of weight loss programs. I can’t remember where I read this- maybe it was something by Leslie Kinzel or Kate Harding- but the person who wrote that also added that no wonder so many studies of weight loss interventions just don’t track participants after 6 months or a year or two: after all, that weight loss in the initial period is genuine, and they’re looking at loss not maintenance, right?

But I think it’s pretty damn disingenuous to have a huge spiel about how this new research suggests that Weight Watchers could be the solution to the “obesity crisis” (and therefore the associated diabetes, heart disease, cancer, whatever “epidemics”) but to not even be able to show that the program manages to make obese people permanently not-obese. Surely if the program is unsuccessful at helping people maintain their weight loss, it wont be these awesome tool with which to end obesity, because people will just end up putting the weight back on again. So a good study -one that wants to make the sweeping statements made by this one- would actually look at follow-up weight after the initial 12 month program trial. And why wouldn’t you want to do that if your program is so great and successful and actually works- it would only make you look good. But, as the blogger who I have forgotten (sorry!) would say cynically, there’s probably a reason that studies of weight-loss programs (especially ones funded by the company who runs the program, as this study was) don’t do long-term follow up on the participants.

Taxis, and walking home at night

Posted in New Zealand on September 5th, 2011 by steph – Comments Off on Taxis, and walking home at night

As we ladies know, walking home at night is a sure-fire way to get raped. “Don’t do it, ladies!”, screams society. And here we have a story of women being refused by taxi drivers and told by them to walk. I suppose you could argue that because there were three women walking together, they would be “safe” walking, but seriously. If something happened while they were walking (because taxis refused to take them), do you reckon someone would say “well, why were you walking home at night?” (or, after hearing that taxis refused to take them, “you should have flagged down every taxi you could until one accepted your fare”- even though they might have been there all night waiting for that to happen) ?