I sat in the dingy-walled lobby of Dina’s Hotel in Downtown Cairo, listening to music and staring at a Facebook feed—you know, immersing myself in local culture. I was slapping at the mosquitoes that’d swarmed around the glow of my laptop and the glow of my flesh, when a messy head poked in through the doorway and grinned.
December 19, 2011
When Secretary Sebelius says that Plan B could pose health risks for teens, is she really thinking straight? After all, Dr. Megan Evans, in RH Reality Check, writes, “Tylenol is over-the-counter and far more dangerous with far more potential for adverse outcomes. Oh, and pregnancy in a ten- to 11-year-olds also has far more adverse outcomes than a small, but effective dose of Plan B.” Wise words. In fact, according to the Guardian, for every 100,000 American women who give birth to live babies, 16.7 of them die. And that’s not to mention the damage that post-natal depression can cause.
Evans’s grounded, intelligent point will doubtless be ignored by many. Witness that since news of the Plan B decision broke, parents have been stating how brokenhearted they’d be if their own daughter didn’t ask their advice before taking Plan B. This, they argue, supports Sebelius’s decision. But the ruling isn’t just about parents who adore their kids. It is also about young people who come from abusive families and are afraid to turn to their guardians for support. It’s about those who live in the middle of nowhere and can’t drive themselves to the doctor. It’s about those who have been date-raped and can barely think straight.
And it’s also about all of us, regardless of sex, gender and age, because when you control human sexuality, you control intimacy, life and the body itself.
I’d be surprised if that wasn’t a power trip.
Given these recent events, my political fantasy world has gone wild. I mean, what if young people felt so afraid of pregnancy that they decided to stop screwing the opposite sex, but decided, instead, to all start having same-sex relationships. “Don’t risk pregnancy,” they’d shout, “be gay! There are fewer risks!” I bet parents and politicians would be hitting the roof, showing their true homophobia, and Plan B would be in the bubblegum aisle sooner than you could say FDA.
Or what about if all the heterosexual under-seventeens who live in states where sex toys are illegal each ordered a vibrating rubber duck from Good Vibes, figuring this was safer than partnered sex without Plan B? This could prompt the Vibrating Duck Revolution of 2012. Fifteen year-olds throughout America would be sinking into their bubble baths, pledging their virginity to their rubber ducks. And what would the police do? Storm into these bathrooms and arrest these young rebels? I’m not being entirely ironic when I say they might. I’m sure families, religious leaders and politicians would go nuts. There’d be complaints about police pocketing ducks that weren’t theirs to pocket and there’d be anti-masturbation posters everywhere. “We do not have evidence to prove that vibrating ducks are safe for under-seventeen’s,” the politicians would announce. “Further testing is needed.”
See the mad place this is sending me to?
If Plan B is safer for an eleven year-old than Tylenol and they can also buy condoms in the bubblegum aisle, then the decision on Plan B is definitely a political one.
So. What’s Plan C?
A Final Note: This is the final installment of Hot Topic. I have so enjoyed writing at TNB and receiving all your wonderful comments. Thank you all so much for reading! I will still see you all on the TNB site, as part of the community. In the meantime, please do keep up with me. I blog, most days, at www.lanafox.com.
Be safe, be proud, be you.
In the fall of 2006, I spent a semester in Prague studying in a program called Art and Social Change. It was a terrifying time to be a progressive American, and an especially strange time to be abroad. I was a twenty-year-old American studying social movements in a country that had been occupied for most of its existence. It felt strange to talk to Czechs about my feelings of helplessness in politics when they had lived under an oppressive communist regime from 1948 until the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
Everyone was talking on their cell phones while walking around Oslo, taking photos of the shattered glass panes outside shoe and clothing stores downtown. Though the explosion had taken place only forty minutes earlier, the only signs that something was wrong were the long lines of police tape around the parliament building and the sound of sirens and burglar alarms. Everyone was strangely calm just after the accident. No one knew enough to be worried. At four in the afternoon, news online was hard to come by. The official report was that some kind of explosion, maybe a bomb though maybe not, had gone off downtown.
June 06, 2011
Part One: Pidgin Power
Hong Kong is a Many-Splendored Thing**
Hong Kong. It must be 1991 or 92.
Sixteen hours. I arrive with terminal jet lag. The ground is still moving. In 20 years, Hong Kong’s become some kind of Fellini movie, only there are no Italians—at least not here in Causeway Bay.
The American Revolution is taken quite seriously in my home town of Springfield, New Jersey. The high school, town hall and fire department buildings are all classic red-brick Colonial architecture with tall, imposing white clock towers. The high school itself is named after Jonathan Dayton, youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence and a decorated Revolutionary War hero. Only decades later did Dayton try to get Ohio to secede from the young nation and, with Aaron Burr, was arrested for treason — although as our yearbook noted, never convicted.
Admiralstrasse, Kreuzberg, Berlin… What’s conjured up by these words? Lou Reed… Nico… naked people with strapped-on plastic dildos dancing in underground nightclubs in the name of Brecht and Art? Yes, all these things. Oh, and something else. In this capital city of Germany they have now also evolved a hamburger known as the Suck-u-burger. Unintentional but weird…