Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

Links This Week

Debbie says:

This is only the beginning of a wonderful comic from Gallery of Dangerous Women

Cuteosphere, the cartoonist, says:

it always disappointed me that Monster Girls are an anime porn thing rather than something used to explore the way society and the media dehumanises women, but oh well

shout out to all my fellow monsters

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Female condoms are getting a much-needed makeover, because science:

two decades after its much-celebrated introduction, the female condom still isn’t living up to its potential. Less intuitive and familiar than the male condom, the device simply never caught on. Journalists mocked it, clinicians ignored it, and women shunned it, claiming that the condom was aesthetically unappealing and technically difficult to master. Today, only 1.6 per cent of all condoms distributed worldwide are female condoms. …

For years, a handful of researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs have been quietly tinkering with the device. Their efforts are now maturing and an assortment of redesigned and reinvented female condoms are beginning to make their way onto the market. The introduction of new, more user-friendly products – coupled with renewed efforts to promote the technology around the globe – may finally be positioning the female condom for a breakthrough.

The article follows a pioneering company (originally Wisconsin Pharmacal, later the Female Health Company) with an ally in Zimbabwe, which succeeded in getting a substantial buy-in for female condoms in Africa. It then shifts to a nonprofit in Seattle (PATH), which has made several exciting medical technology innovations:

The group’s designers and engineers, for instance, created the Uniject: a disposable syringe pre-loaded with a single dose of vaccine. They built a one-size-fits-all diaphragm, removing the need for women to visit a doctor to have one specially fitted. And they invented a portable, handheld scale that health workers can bring to home deliveries. The scale requires no electricity, can be read in the dark, and is decipherable even to birth attendants with low literacy, making it easy to identify underweight infants….

PATH prides itself on its user-centred design process, and so, in an effort to create a female condom that women would want to use, those at PATH decided to do something both radical and obvious: consult actual women. In 1998, PATH began convening focus groups in four countries – South Africa, Thailand, Mexico and the USA – asking women and men what they thought about female condoms and what they wanted from them.

From Durban to Seattle, it turns out that users’ desires were pretty basic: “a product that was going to be easy to use, easy to insert, stable during use,” says Kilbourne-Brook. Plus, “if it was possible, they wanted something that was more aesthetically pleasing”….

By 2003, they had hit on the solution: a dissolving applicator. The engineers created a condom that looked like a funnel, with a thin sheet of polyurethane that narrowed into a rounded tip. This tip contained the main pouch of the condom, collapsed inside a dissolving capsule. To insert the condom, women would simply push the capsule inside, much the same way they’d insert a tampon. Once it came into contact with the moisture of the vagina, the capsule would melt away – often within 30 to 60 seconds – releasing the full condom pouch.

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Tara Parker-Pope takes on the breast cancer racial mortality gap, which is no surprise to Laurie and me, and is a national disgrace.

An analysis of breast cancer mortality trends in 41 of the largest cities in the United States shows that the chance of surviving breast cancer correlates strongly with the color of a woman’s skin. Black women with breast cancer — whether they hail from Phoenix or Denver, Boston or Wichita, Kan. — are on average about 40 percent more likely to die of the disease than white women with breast cancer.

In some cities, the risk is even greater. In Los Angeles, a black woman with breast cancer is about 70 percent more likely to die from the disease than a white woman is. In Memphis, black women face more than double the risk…

[Steve] Whitman, [director of Sinai Urban Health Institute and author of the study] says: ““It’s undeniable that this is systemic racism… I don’t mean that a bad person is at the door personally keeping women out, but the system is arranged in such a way that it’s allowing white women access to the important gains we’ve made since 1990 in terms of breast health, and black women have not been able to gain access to these advances.”

Need we say more?

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Sticking with “shameful but not surprising,” we have this article from The Atlantic on how body image pressure is affecting boys. Anyone who read Susan Faludi’s Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male when it came out 15 years ago (or since) saw this coming, but we could have avoided it if we wanted to.

A new study of a national sample of adolescent boys, published in the January issue of JAMA Pediatrics, reveals that nearly 18 percent of boys are highly concerned about their weight and physique. They are also at increased risk for a variety of negative outcomes: Boys in the study who were extremely concerned about weight were more likely to be depressed, and more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as binge drinking and drug use….

If boys are increasingly concerned about weight, changing representations of the male form in the media over the last decade or two are at least partly to blame. “We used to really discriminate—and we still do—against women” in terms of media portrayals, says Dr. Raymond Lemberg, a Prescott, Arizona-based clinical psychologist and an expert on male eating disorders. …

But while the media pressure on women hasn’t abated, the playing field has nevertheless leveled in the last 15 years, as movies and magazines increasingly display bare-chested men with impossibly chiseled physiques and six-pack abs. “The media has become more of an equal opportunity discriminator,” says Lemberg. “Men’s bodies are not good enough anymore either.”

Equal opportunity self-hatred sells. It’s the American way.

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I was on the fence about pointing folks to a crowd-funding site, but the campaign is over, so now it’s easy to decide. Although she didn’t make her goal, the apparently anonymous blogger at Adventures in Brafitting is opening a shop. I have never seen such an in-depth, thoughtful, quantitative analysis of what makes bras fit and how, and I predict it will do fabulously. All you need is one sentence, though I’ll quote more: “If a bra doesn’t fit you, it’s the fault of the bra, not your body.”

It’s of paramount importance to me that Revelation is a welcoming space. One way I will accomplish that is by approaching bra fit as a collaboration, not a pronouncement from On High. If you are getting a fitting from me, you are using my expertise, but you know your body better than I do, and I will listen to you.

Another way is language. There are plenty of negative words about how people are shaped and I don’t see a reason to use any of them. I’ve seen online fit guides about what to do if you are “saggy” or “oversized” or “abnormal.” Better to use positive or neutral descriptors like “full on top,” “shallow,” or “projected.”

If a bra doesn’t fit you, it’s the fault of the bra, not your body. When you visit Revelation, I hope you will feel supported in more ways than one.

And if you can’t get to Revelation, here’s an older post with a lot of extremely useful detail.

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Most usual sources: Feministe, Feministing, io9, and Shakesville, I got the Cuteosphere comic from supergee and the bra-fitting material from kshandra.

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