Poking Holes in Condoms Should Be a Crime
Should tampering with someone's birth control to get them pregnant against their will be a crime? It's a question that hasn't been considered much in legal circles, in no small part because, until recently, there wasn't any evidence that contraception tampering is a widespread problem. But researchers who study domestic violence have discovered how common it is for men who are abusing and controlling their partners to destroy or forbid contraception to gain more control. A quarter of women who called the National Domestic Violence Hotline in 2010 reported that their partners were trying to force pregnancy on them in this way. Another 2010 study found that 15 percent of women visiting family planning clinics reported some kind of reproductive coercion.
This New Coke Ad Captures the Hell (and Joy) of Parenthood
You know that Google Chrome ad that imagined parenthood as a series of beautiful, meaningful moments all set to a swelling piano-and-violin composition that made you cry and cry and press replay and cry some more? It’s a lie. This commercial for Coke Life is the truth.
It begins with a woman showing her positive pregnancy test to a man. They embrace. Cut to their (awesome) house filled with baby gear and one tiny bundle of joy. And then … life. Dad tripping over toys on his way to the bathroom, both parents weighed down with diaper bags, pushing a stroller through the park, looks of desperation in their eyes as a carefree, child-free couple jogs past. Soon the kid is eating dog food after smearing goo all over dad’s record collection. No sex. You get the picture. But what happens next will, as they say, amaze you. (Or, if you are already a parent to more than one child, won’t.)
What is Coke Life, you ask? According to the New York Post, it’s a new low-calorie Coke, sweetened with sugar and stevia instead of aspartame, that’s already on the shelves in Argentina, where this ad aired, and may be on its way to the U.S. As you’ll notice in the video, Coke Life has a green logo instead of Coke’s classic red. We eagerly await the ad for Coke Mid-Life.
Why Are Female Redheads Sexualized and Male Redheads Reviled?
“Red hair is a woman's game,” Tom Robbins writes in his 1998 GQ essay “Ode to Redheads.” “The harsh truth is, most red-haired men look like blonds who've spoiled from lack of refrigeration,” Robbins says. “They look like brown-haired men who've been composted. Yet that same pigmentation that on a man can resemble leaf mold or junk yard rust, a woman wears like a tiara of rubies.” That’s a grim view of redheaded men—and it was coming from a fellow ginger.
This month, British photographer Thomas Knights—also a redhead—hopes to turn that stereotype on its head with Red Hot, a photo exhibition featuring “a cast of high profile and good-looking red headed males,” shot giving torrid looks in topless poses. Male redheads “are completely emasculated and desexualised in popular culture,” Knights told The Guardian. “The main thing for me is the huge polarisation between the way our society perceives ginger men and ginger women.”
Jim DeRogatis Cannot Forget the Sexual Abuse Allegations Against R. Kelly. We Shouldn’t Either.
When it comes to the subject of R. Kelly, music critic Jim DeRogatis is a lonely man. Most music fans and especially music critics would love nothing more than to forget that R. Kelly is an alleged sexual predator whose predilection for underage girls caused untold amounts of misery for his targets and their families. DeRogatis cannot forget, however, as he was the reporter who first broke the story, for the Chicago Sun-Times, of multiple lawsuits against Kelly for raping and abusing teenage girls. DeRogatis's reporting on Kelly's history led to an anonymous tipster giving him a video that appeared to show Kelly raping a 14-year-old girl, which led to Kelly being charged with making child pornography. (He was acquitted in 2008 after the alleged victim, his goddaughter, denied it was her in the video.) Now with Kelly releasing a well-received record Black Panties, DeRogatis is out there again, reminding people who would rather forget that their favorite R&B singer left a trail of ruined lives back home in Chicago.
Music critic Jessica Hopper admits she was one of those people who didn't appreciate DeRogatis ruining everyone's fun by bringing up the multiple rape allegations and lawsuits again. However, as she chronicles in this long Village Voice interview with DeRogatis about his campaign to keep the rapes from going down the memory hole, DeRogatis convinced her to reconsider:
Who Wouldn't Want an Adderall Prescription?
Over the weekend, the New York Times published a thorough investigation of the explosion of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses, which has been hugely profitable for pharmaceutical companies that sell drugs, like Adderall and Concerta, to treat it. Under the headline, "The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder," reporter Alan Schwarz writes that 15 percent of high school kids now have a diagnosis, and the number of children on medication to treat it has grown to 3.5 million, up from only 600,000 in 1990. “The disorder is now the second most frequent long-term diagnosis made in children, narrowly trailing asthma, according to a New York Times analysis of C.D.C. data,” Schwarz writes.
The big story is that experts like Dr. Keith Connors, who helped establish ADHD as a diagnosis in the first place, have now started to raise the alarm about over-diagnosis.
“The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” Dr. Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, said in a subsequent interview. “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”
Schwarz lays the blame for the incredible uptick firmly on drug companies for aggressively marketing to parents with ads that portray prescription stimulants as a miracle drug that will turn a tantrum-throwing C student into an angel who makes the honor roll every time. One company, Shire, produces a comic book that features superheroes telling kids, “Medicines may make it easier to pay attention and control your behavior!”
Ross Douthat Has a Theory About Daughters. Uh Oh.
When I saw the headline and byline combination in the New York Times yesterday—“The Daughter Theory” by Ross Douthat—I almost didn’t click because I knew it would enrage me. And lo! There was the paper’s token conservative, making the argument that parents with daughters are more likely to be Republicans because sexual freedom might lead dad’s precious little girl to date a (fictional!) jerk like the one in Adelle Waldman’s novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Douthat writes:
But as a father of girls and a parent whose adult social set still overlaps with the unmarried, I do have a sense of where a daughter-inspired conservatism might come from, whatever political form it takes.
It comes from thinking about their future happiness, and about a young man named Nathaniel P.
Where to start with this mess? How about with the fact that Douthat’s entire op-ed—the notion that parents are more likely to be Republicans if they have girls—is based on a new study that takes data from the General Social Survey from 1994. 1994. That was just two years after George “Rubbers” H.W. Bush, a stalwart supporter of Planned Parenthood, was in office. When it comes to reproductive freedom, Republicans of the early-mid ’90s were practically liberated compared with the Republicans of 2013.
Jameis Winston’s Accuser Is Not Going Away
The woman who accused Florida State University star quarterback Jameis Winston of rape isn’t going away, despite last week’s announcement from prosecutors that Winston will not be charged. The woman’s lawyer, Patricia Carroll, gave a scathing press conference Friday accusing the Tallahassee police of mishandling the case—and calling on the Florida attorney general to conduct an independent investigation.
Carroll is right that the police botched the investigation from the start. And I’m impressed with the tenacity of her client, who is a student at FSU. The allegations she made have already cost her—she has had to withdraw from classes amid a torrent of criticism, while Winston keeps winning on the field and is a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The problem is that the mistakes the police made at the outset, plus what looks like some fumbling by the state attorney’s office, will be hard for the attorney general to fix now.
In Defense of the Defensive Single Girl Essay
Incline your ear to the sounds of the holiday season: the tinkling of bells, rustling of firs and weeping of single women. Time to obsess, if you’re unattached, over having no one’s hand to hold on the ice rink and no reply when your relatives ask you whether you’ve met anyone nice. The singular snowflake, so lovely in its un-duplicability, seems instead so inexpressibly lonely—or something. The point is, if you’re a single woman around Christmastime, you’re supposed to be sad.
On the Web, single girls are fighting back, sort of. By now you’ve no doubt seen this picture (“Single Girl Reacts Perfectly to Friends’ Engagements”), which shows a group of girlfriends squealing over three newly be-ringed members. One girl, off to the side, mimes shooting herself in the head. The photo has so far gotten more than 17,000 Facebook shares. Then the Huffington Post ran a piece called “Is Being Single Really That Bad?” (No, it is not that bad, the story argues, except when “it sounds like a tragic Taylor Swift R. Kelly collaboration titled ‘Make Love to No One.’” Comforting.) A law student who blogs at Sister of the Yam wrote a fiery ode to “women who are difficult to love” and thus single. On Thought Catalog, unmarried Chloe Angyal explains that while she and her boyfriend will be spending December in Paris, the city of romance, a proposal will not be happening. “He knows full well that I have no interest in getting married,” Angyal says. “More than that, I would rather—and I’m only being mildly hyperbolic here—gouge my own eyes out with a rusty fork than be proposed at.”
Let's Get Rid of the Secrecy in Donor-Conceived Families
From movies like The Kids Are All Right and Delivery Man to the MTV reality show Generation Cryo, donor-conceived children in fiction and real life are growing up and attempting to find out where they came from. But what about all of the kids who don’t know how they were conceived? As we write in our new book, Finding Our Families, a majority of married straight couples still don’t tell their children if they used donor eggs or sperm to get pregnant.
Secrecy has long been intimately intertwined with donor conception. Once upon a time, non-disclosure was standard. Almost no one talked about whether they had used a donor, and the donors themselves didn’t worry that their biological offspring might come knocking. This culture of secrecy meant that many parents with donor-conceived children didn’t think about disclosure, because no one ever told them that it might be the right thing to do for their children. Most children didn’t know they were donor-conceived, so they never asked questions. Sperm banks and, more recently, egg donation programs drew on traditional adoption practices and beliefs—keeping health or genetic information private, never telling the adopted that they were not the biological children of their parents. Keeping the secret was seen as protecting the entire family from stress and pain.
Queen of the Filtered Instagram Image, Beyoncé Critiques Our Airbrushed Beauty Culture
Beyoncé dropped a new full-length album on iTunes last night, and it came with the combination of pop feminist commentary and fierce video performance we’ve learned to expect from Bey. “Mama said you're a pretty girl. What's in your head, it doesn't matter. Brush your hair, fix your teeth. What you wear is all that matters,” she sings on the opening track “Pretty Hurts,” an ode to the damaging effects of body policing. “Blonder hair, flat chest. TV says bigger is better. South beach, sugar free. Vogue says thinner is better.” In the pageant-themed accompanied video, judges measure Beyoncé’s tummy with tape and slap at her thighs in preparation for the stage; in a post-pageant scene, she sits on a hotel floor in tiara, sash, underwear and socks, putting the “hurt” side of “pretty” on display. "Shine the light on whatever's worse, tryna fix something," she sings. "But you can't fix what you can't see. It's the soul that needs the surgery."
That’s a very positive message to send to young women. And it can afford to be so positive because it’s based on an incredibly outdated vision of how we reinforce unattainable physical norms for girls. Who is this strawmama Beyoncé speaks of? I can’t imagine that a significant portion of American girls are growing up today with mothers who emphasize nothing but their daughters’ looks. And beauty pageants are increasingly irrelevant to our construction of femininity. In 1965, 22 million households watched the Miss America pageant; this year, the pageant counted only 7.4 million viewers. Beyoncé may not look like your stereotypical long-limbed blonde beauty queen, but then again, neither does the modern Miss America.