Thursday, March 8, 2007

Dr. Susan Wood Comes to TCNJ

In a blog about Flavor of Love, a quick post referring to the former FDA official in charge of women's health may seem out of place. However, the constricts of the course that caused me to create this blog is that of the Women and Genders department here at TCNJ, and a big part of the discipline within the school is analyzing why this nation continues to put personal politics over safety and health of women. Susan Wood's presentation was entitled "Plan B: Politics or Science?"

Basically Wood described the details of her job at the FDA focusing on women's health issues (Contraception, pregnancy, etc) as well as diseases that affect women differently (lupus, breast cancer, etc). She told the history of Women's Health in her view of 3 separate phases: Progressive Ladies & Transitional Advocates, Militant Action (Grassroots Campaign), and Professional Advocates.

The 1st phase included such advocates as Mary Lasler, Terese Lasser, Doris Haire, and my personal favorite (as secretary for Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood on this campus) Margaret Sanger. Health became an issue for women within the constricts of reproductive rights, the place where women's health differs so much from men's, and major issues of this era were dangerous medications like Thalidomide, which caused intense birth defects, and DES, which caused a rare and serious vaginal cancer to women exposed in utero. The FDA began regulating women's health issues here and with the Daltkon Shield IUD in 1976.

The 2nd phase began with the creation of NOW as well as the book "Our Bodies, Ourselves" and the Senate Trials over the safety of the birth control pill that completely left women out of the deciding process. The outcomes of that trial were monumental by beginning the tradition of patient inserts for medications, rather than a patient needing to rely solely on their doctor to gain information about their medication. Pregnant women or women who could possibly become pregnant were, however, banned from medical trials during this period, an exclusion that created danger for women under the guise of helping them.

The 3rd phase encouraged women's participation in health studies and through the creation of groups like the Society for Women's Health Research created the Women's Health Equity Act, which began to give women more of a place in medical research.

The root of the presentation, Plan B, was a routine approval to make public and over-the-counter emergency contraception, which would help prevent unwanted pregnancy (not cause abortions). On the contrary, if Plan B is utilized effectively it can prevent the need to obtain an abortion because it is preventing the unwanted pregnancy to begin with. The bill was turned down due to the fact that young teens weren't a large enough sample in the testing process, an unprecedented denial clause. When years had passed since the drug should have been approved, Wood felt the need to resign her post because she couldn't work for an organization that valued politics over science. The drug was finally approved on August 24, 2006.

Wood drew a parallel to the current scandal with the HPV vaccine that people believe that by protecting women's health, as well as reproductive health, some members of the general public draw the conclusion that availability of these medications will promote promiscuity in young girls -- yeah, cause when I was under 16, the only thing stopping me from having sex was the fear of cervical cancer.

Basically, the point of the lecture was that religious, moral, ethical, etc ideals about teen sexuality should not have any baring when considering scientific fact that could create a healthier reproductive life for the women of this nation. This was the only medication proven safe to ever have this much of an opposition to being accepted. The constant revisions and roadblocks to bringing public a pill that's as simple to understand as birth control pills themselves are a sign of politics over science, and therefore politics over women's health and well being. A woman begins her reproductive life around the age of 13, that does not mean that she becomes sexually active at that point, nor will the presence of emergency contraception champion unsafe and promiscuous sexual activity. However, these girls who are deemed old enough by science over politics are robbed of a safety tool in their health. Susan Wood resigned in order to prove that to the nation, and (slowly) it seems to be getting the idea. The College was lucky to get such an impressive Key Note Speaker to kick off Women's History Month 2007.

"Flavor of Love Coon!" Day2Day

I agree with the Coon Picnic statement in that blogpost linked to above. That nas song is definitely applicable. "Let's give it up for the coons/On UPN 9 and WB who yes mass on TV". Add VH1 to the list. And add just about each one of those wild a$$ girls from that episode last night. What makes me feel good is that I sent a text message to BHill when the show was about 20 minutes in and told him I was gonna go with Beautiful (I'm using proper spelling, unlike Flav) and Eyez. Turns out Eyez was a mole and it (so far) appears that Beautiful at least respects herself enough not to jump out there and give Flaz sex like Tyson would do just to get "ahead". So I picked one girl was there just to spy for her friend's benefit and another who seems like she might have some sense. Mom, you'd be proud of me. Before I rant, don't get me wrong! I think the show is VERY entertaining. But at the same time, I think it is embarassing for black folks. And I am not even talking about Flav (yet). People of other races *may* watch this and get the wrong idea about black women. Spunkee's instigating everything, "Something" is just nasty (the girl shat herself...on TV), numerous girls on there are not only wearing a ho's uniform, but speaking a ho's language...I could go on. But the worst part of the show is that it makes black women look like unintelligent, "loose", money/fame chasing NI99ERettes!

I appreciate your analysis of Flavor of Love within the constricts of race and gender, but to further analyze the show, one must refer not to the show as a matter of “celebreality” (like anyone had ever really heard of Flavor Flav before his stint on VH1) but into the societal constricts of racial stereotypes. Flav represents the age old Jim Crow character, he dances around for the entertainment of his white audience, going as far as wearing ludicrous jester-like outfits and declaring himself royalty, all the while being a clown to the American public (eg., the awe-inspiring spelling of the nicknames of the women).

The women of the household do embrace a rather “ghetto” styling, regardless of race, as well as the age-old idea that women are catty, ruthless bitches who will undercut each other in any means necessary to get what they want. As this post is in reference to the first episode of the second season, and now society has moved its worship to I Love New York (with Flav still pulling the strings as executive producer), we can still see the binary of male/female sexuality, as Flav was generally on screen only when “sexually exploring” the ladies of his show (as well as his hysterical commentary in the Viking hat), New York, when in a house with her men of choice, does not take a different one to bed with her every night, nor are her interactions with the contestants based solely on sexuality. Is New York’s sexuality less acceptable than Flav’s? And speaking of sexuality, what was the matter with Nibblz embracing hers?

Just a few thoughts in retrospect, considering you wrote this post at the beginning of Season 2, and New York’s already down to her “Fantastic 4” on I Love New York.
Thanks for reading my comment,