Monthly Archives: November 2006

Libertarian New Hampshire Offers Free HPV Vaccine

I was thrilled to read, over my second cup of coffee this morning, that New Hampshire is going to offer the HPV vaccine free to all girls between 11 and 18. In fact they’ve budgeted nearly $5 million for the vaccine.

What kind of conservatives are they?!

The kind that see conserving the lives of women as important! And thank goodness there are some of them around. I hope others come out of the woodwork soon. Cervical cancer is reported to be the second most frequent cancer killer of women and this vaccine can prevent most of it. Why wouldn’t any state offer it? Because some people hold the absurd belief that if you offer HPV protection to girls they’ll go about having sex willy nilly, as if HPV were the only thing they were worried about. As if pregnancy isn’t an even greater immediate concern for girls, and as if they don’t think about HIV, Herpes, and other STIs.

New Hampshire, thank you!

Meanwhile, over Thanksgiving I was talking to my aunt, a nurse in a pediatric practice, and while we were chatting about other things a commercial for Gardisil came on the TV — Comedy Central, I think. I couldn’t hear the sound, but the images were of athletic looking, strong, girls and I was really impressed that there even was a Gardisil commercial in the first place. When I asked my aunt whether her office was offering it yet, she said that they would be soon, and said that many parents were already asking for it.

Way to go parents!! Protect your daughters.

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Filed under News and politics, public discourse, sex and health, sexuality

Gratitude

The darkness descends early and it is a good time to draw inward, to reflect, to be thoughtful, to contemplate.

It is Thanksgiving, and rather than let that mean myths about pilgrims, Indians and turkeys and horns of plenty I prefer to take the holiday more seriously and quietly consider the things that I take for granted but should not. The things that, when I consciously consider them, make me wonder at how fortunate I am.

I am grateful to have a partner who shares so much of himself with me and encourages me to share so much of myself with others. He is a truly amazing human being: generous, creative, incredibly smart, full of energy, thoughtful, wise, gorgeous and sensuous… I could not be more fortunate. I am grateful for his love, his support, his encouragement, his curiosity and his enthusiastic adventurousness.

I am grateful for the rediscovered courage to open myself more fully to the world.

…and for the new, interesting, passionate and compassionate relationships that have opened to me as I have been more open to the world.

… and for the courage to explore them, and for the courage it has taken these brave souls to open themselves to me.

…and for the time and carefulness that goes into all the communication that sustains important relationships.

…and for friends who are such inspirations for how to be whole and how to engage honestly and completely with people.

…and for the ability and time to meditate, to sit quietly, to stretch and to be mindful.

I am grateful for colleagues who encourage intellectual growth in unusual directions.

…and for sabbatical leave during which to do exactly that!

I am grateful for the community of bloggers whose work inspires me and who encourage me in developing my own work for the readers who comment on it.

I am grateful that the political atmosphere in this country is a little less scary than it was before election day.

I am grateful for life, for freedom, for family, beauty in the world, for consciousness and mindfulness and the supportive love of others who see and understand.

And you. What are you grateful for?

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Filed under Personal Reflections, Relationships

Buying over-the-counter EC (Plan B)

I had an incredibly empowering experience yesterday: I bought EC over the counter within blocks from my house. I figure that since I’m sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, I should have some EC on hand. Why wait for an emergency!

I live in Queens, New York City, and didn’t imagine there would be a problem. There wasn’t. It took two stops. The first pharmacy, a small family-owned pharmacy three blocks from my building, didn’t have it. But in the second pharmacy I tried, a Duane Reade just about eight blocks from my building, I was able to purchase it, and even had a lovely conversation with the pharmacist. I have decided now to do a survey of all pharmacies in my neighborhood. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I was required to show ID to demonstrate that I am at least 18 (she can’t possibly have thought that I wasn’t, but she seemed as if she was making it clear she was following the rules). And then I asked something I’d been wondering ever since selling EC over the counter became a possibility: “Would a man be able to buy this?” The pharmacist looked at me for a moment, puzzled, and then said “That’s a great question. You know, I’m sure soon we’ll be selling it to anyone. This is a huge improvement over what we’ve had in the past.”

I asked the question because it seems to me that if I were a guy having sex with women and not wanting to get anyone pregnant I’d want to know that I had something on hand in case a condom broke. I’d feel awful and would want to be able to offer my partner something right away.

So here is a challenge to any brave men out there who live in places where EC is being sold over the counter: Walk in to a pharmacy that stocks it and ask if you can buy some. It costs about $40. You might have to show ID. But try it. And then email me to let me know what happens. Or post your experience as a comment below.

For those who are not yet able to buy EC in their neighborhoods, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and the Tennessee Guerilla Women have both pointed out that individuals can buy up to three packets on Drugstore.com.

Male or female, if you’re sexually active and could create a pregnancy but don’t want to, I highly recommend buying a packet so you can do as Planned Parenthood recommends, and “back up your birth control.”

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Filed under Gender, public discourse, sex, sex and health, sexuality

Haggard, ashamed, self-loathing … but not a hypocrite

I had not planned to comment on Ted Haggard, but yesterday Slate posted a letter from Haggard to his congregation. (Haggard is the pastor who was recently “outed” by a male escort.)

Before reading the letter, I had not devoted a great deal of thought to Haggard, other than to comment on how unfortunate it is when people’s lives and professed philosophies are in conflict. But when I read this letter, I was taken by the depth of the self-loathing and shame that this man feels.

He writes about a part of his life that he finds “so repulsive and dark” that he has been “warring against it” for his entire adult life. This thing that he has been warring against he later refers to as “dirt” that reemerges after periods when he thought he has vanquished it, and during these times he says he finds himself with thoughts and feelings that are “contrary to everything” that he believes.

He claims to have sought help from many sources, none of which were effective. He is now going to let men like James Dobson perform a “thorough analysis” of his mind and spirit, and then let them try to heal him. (Slate reported that Dobson himself apparently backed away from an initial offer to help counsel Haggard.)

Haggard claims total responsibility for the situation he created and says that an example must be made of him. He clearly believes that sexual desire is something we can resist and must resist, unless we are oriented to a very narrow sexuality permitted within monogamous heterosexual Christian marriage.

He asks his congregation to forgive and even to thank his accuser because he believes that ultimately this will give the world a chance to see how his church, and Christians, by extension, “deal with our sick and wounded.”

I cannot imagine the personal horror of belonging to an organization and holding so deeply a faith that inspires such self-hatred. People have called Haggard a hypocrite. Sadly I think he is probably not a hypocrite at all. I think he believes every word of what he preached, and yet, unable to alter the pattern of his desires, and unable to squelch them entirely, occasionally indulged them as secretly as he could

That he sought out an escort does not surprise me. That would have been his safest outlet, as Dan Savage pointed out in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. That he was discovered is not entirely bad either, but I wish that his response had been to say “I need to face my sexuality and I need a church that will support me in that.”

For people struggling with their sexuality and their Christian faith, it is important to remember that there are Christian denominations which do not hate their gay members. The US Episcopal church ordained a gay bishop three years ago and while this is far from the norm, many congregations within a range of mainline Christian churches have found room to welcome their gay and lesbian members. In addition, there are non-denominational Christian congregations that welcome LGBT folks openly. For a list of some, click here, and online network click here.

I don’t advocate Christianity, specifically, nor do I condemn it. I find many of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are inspiring in their focus on love, compassion, honesty, and social/economic justice. I find these same teachings evident in other faiths and traditions also.

It is a terrible thing when a church claiming love and the compassion as its foundation uses the faith of many to protect the privilege of a some by persecuting others.

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Filed under Homophobia, News and politics, public discourse, sex, sexual orientation, sexuality

Remember to Vote Tomorrow!

If you live in the U.S. and you’re a citizen, and you’re at least 18, and you remembered to register to vote, PLEASE make time to vote in tomorrow’s general election.

The people who are elected will be making decisions — or appointing people to make decisions — that affect our lives in powerful and intimate ways. There are many ways we can work on holding them accountable to us, but one of the most important is getting out there and voting in the first place.

If you need information about candidates running in your districts, a good place to start is Project Vote Smart. There you can find out who currently represents you, and how they’ve voted on issues that matter to you. You can find out who is running for election on which party lines (there are more than two parties in most places). They can even tell you what your ballot questions will be. (Don’t forget about the ballot questions! In several states the ballot questions involve constitutional amendments banning same sex marriages or and in South Dakota they’ll be voting on the banning of abortion, but in most states there will be questions that are less earth-shattering but very important in the day-to-day lives of our communities.)

If you belong to any organizations (a union, a church, a community group) or if you support any organizations, find out who they endorse. If they haven’t been calling you and mailing material to your home, you can probably find this information right on their web sites.

And if you can, take a friend with you to the polls. Make it a social event. Take your kids. Make it a special event. Celebrate afterwards. Even before the returns start coming in!

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Filed under Family, News and politics, public discourse, Same-Sex Marriage, sex and health