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Archive for the ‘reproductive health’ Category

Girls’ Progressive Portrait of Women’s Right to Choose

In reproductive health, Television on February 26, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Sarah Todd

The HBO series Girls dodged its first abortion plot line, rendering a character’s appointment at the clinic unnecessary when she started bleeding unexpectedly (whether this was a miscarriage or a belated period was left unclear). Sunday’s episode “Close Up,” on the other hand, addresses the subject head-on.

At the outset of the episode, Adam (Adam Driver) and his new girlfriend Mimi-Rose Howard (Gillian Jacobs) are slumbering in their airy, light-filled Brooklyn loft. Adam wakes up first and easing out of bed gingerly, tucking in Mimi-Rose and kissing her on the cheek. When she descends the stairs to the spacious patio, Adam is waiting for her with a breakfast of crusty bread, a cheese plate and some kind of grilled meat. Clearly they have fallen into some kind of alternate-dimension Anthropologie catalogue. Regardless, Adam gallantly dusts off the chair for Mimi-Rose and scoops her into his arms.

This kind of seven-week-old relationship bliss can’t last for long. Sure enough, when Adam tries to persuade Mimi-Rose to go for a run later that morning, she tells him she can’t because she’s just had an abortion.

What follows is one of the more progressive abortion storylines in recent memory, with Jenny Slate’s wonderful Obvious Child achieving another high-water mark. The episode makes clear that a woman’s right to choose is inherently bound up with her right to be an independent human being.

Mimi-Rose’s abortion happens on her own terms. She chooses to end her pregnancy without talking to Adam first—not because she wants to lie to him, but because she already knows what she wants to do. Then she decides to tell Adam about it after she’s had the procedure, since she wants to be open with him. And when Adam reacts angrily, she gives him space to process his feelings without letting him make her feel guilty or ashamed.

Each of these decisions is in keeping with what the audience knows of Mimi-Rose’s character. As we learned in the previous episode, this is a woman who dumped her childhood sweetheart at age nine because she realized their relationship was interfering with her creativity. She has both the confidence and the self-knowledge to make independent decisions about her life. And it is this independence, rather than the fact of the abortion itself, with which Adam struggles.

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The Unobvious Charms of Obvious Child

In body politics, feminism, Film, reproductive health on July 14, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Obvious-Child

Sarah S.

Obvious Child, directed and co-written by Gillian Robespierre and starring Jenny Slate (of SNL and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On fame), has been touted as a romantic comedy about abortion. But as with most “toutings” this depiction crumbles if you push on it very hard. Because Obvious Child is a film about a woman in her late 20s, Donna Stern, and focuses on a period in her messy, human life. Donna’s unintended pregnancy and decision to abort constitute one aspect of her story but calling Obvious Child a “romantic comedy about abortion” detracts from the film’s charms.

Let’s break it down. Obvious Child is entirely aware of its genre, hitting several of the requirements for contemporary romantic comedies. Donna, the protagonist, works in an independent bookstore by day and performs stand-up comedy by night. She is messy and quirky and not afraid to discuss bodily functions (her own and others’) either on stage or in general. She has an equally quirky father and, in contrast, a completely with it, type-A mother. She also has two best friends to use as sounding boards: an outspoken roommate, Nellie, and a supportive “gay BFF,” Joey (delightfully played by Gaby Hoffman and Gabe Liedman, respectively). In hitting these notes, Obvious Child grounds the audience in familiar terrain in order to expand the boundaries of the romantic comedy genre.

ObviousChild-600

Even as it honors romantic comedy tropes, Obvious Child also subverts them. For one, Donna actually seems like a real woman rather than a “real woman” played with messy hair or funky clothes by Cameron Diaz or Drew Barrymore. As Monika Bartyzel states in her discussion of Obvious Child and the limits of embodied women on film: “The film is set in the bone-chilling cold of a New York City winter, and its heroine wears layers of knits, doesn’t obsess about makeup, and has many important conversations in a graffiti-ridden co-ed bar bathroom.”

 

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How To Be Awesome Like Claire Underwood

In adaptation, DNC, feminism, gender, How to be Awesome Like, Netflix, parenthood, reproductive health, spoilers, Television, TV villains on February 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Sarah S.

In the first episode of Netflix’s House of Cards, one recognizes immediately that Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) is Lady Macbeth to devious congressman Frank Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey) Macbeth/Richard III hybrid. But despite her overt support of villainy, Claire is easily one of the most fascinating women in a current series. Here’s how to be awesome like Claire Underwood.

-Marry not because you’ll be “happy” or “stable” or have a passel of children. Marry because your Intended promises you’ll never be bored.

-Know what you want and go after it.

-Look your age but with an unwavering running schedule, an amazing haircut, and a wardrobe of dresses to die for. (I love how this show plays off Wright’s star text by hearkening back to Princess Buttercup and her being the “most beautiful woman in the world.”)

claire2

-Have a hot, art photographer ex-lover in Manhattan on speed dial for whenever you’re feeling a little bit down and/or your husband is being an unsupportive ass.

-Have a true companionate marriage based on absolute honesty and respect and so

-Be pissed as hell when your husband begins to sacrifice your career for his and asks you to make compromises he’d never ask of himself.

claire1

-Be part of an interesting experiment in the evolution of “television.” House of Cards, Netflix’s foray into series making, has flaws but it’s super interesting on multiple levels nevertheless. If nothing else, am I irritated that Claire’s sense that her life is missing something is manifesting in her wondering if she should have had (and should pursue having) children? Absolutely. Because it’s boring and cliché and so obnoxiously obvious and typical—e.g. not like Claire at all. (Related, I also hate that in her discussion with her doctor we receive two pieces of medical misinformation: first, that despite what she’s heard her age is no impediment to a healthy pregnancy; second, that her uncomplicated abortions might have negatively affected her fertility.) However, perhaps we are supposed to think that this newfound desire is misplaced, given what we know of both Underwoods. Only time will tell if Claire will be crushed by the inevitable tumbling of this House of Cards.

GLG Weekly Round-up: Women’s Health & Activism

In activism, reproductive health, Women's health on March 16, 2012 at 7:44 am

The assault on women’s health continues. Thus, here are some links on what’s going on this week — but also some links at the bottom for ways to get involved and stand up for women’s rights. And if you have links to share, please post away in the comments!

Some awesome female democrats in 6 different states put men’s health on the legislative table in Virginia:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/03/15/148695307/in-protest-democrats-zero-in-on-mens-reproductive-health?ps=cprs

From the Huffington Post, Cecile Richards responds to Mitt Romney’s statement that he would get rid of Planned Parenthood if elected President:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/cecile-richards-mitt-romney-planned-parenthood_n_1345479.html

Maureen Dowd on Hillary Clinton’s work to stop the attack on women’s rights:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/dowd-dont-tread-on-us.html?_r=1&src=tp&smid=fb-share

Women saying no to the GOP’s attempt to legislate control of their bodies, regardless of political affiliation:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/us/politics/centrist-women-tell-of-disenchantment-with-gop.html

An anti-abortion bill in Kansas includes a provision that would permit doctors to lie to pregnant women about the results of blood tests, amnios, and ultrasounds:
https://www.aclu.org/blog/reproductive-freedom/kansas-pregnant-women-little-lie-your-doctor-wont-hurt-you

Texas’s new law disqualifying Planned Parenthood from Medicaid coverage has now resulted in a loss of the state’s entire women’s health program:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/texas-loses-entire-womens_n_1349431.html

To take action with Planned Parenthood, click here. Or, want to support Planned Parenthood? Here is the link.

Take action with “Take Back the Night.” To learn more, click here.

GLG Weekly Round-up

In gender, race, reproductive health, Uncategorized, Weekly Round-Up, Women's health on March 9, 2012 at 6:56 am

This week, we have a variety of good reads from around the web including, but not limited to, reactions to the stop Kony campaign, Tim Wise on race & white resentment, and an article on masculinity and The Hunger Games (go Peeta!). Have a great weekend!

Tim Wise on his new book and white resentment: http://www.truth-out.org/dear-white-america-letter-new-minority/1330718926

Arturo Garcia on the problems with Invisible Children’s Stop Kony campaign, at Racialicious: http://www.racialicious.com/2012/03/08/stopkony-activism-or-exploitation/#more-20984

Jessica Winter at Time Magazine and “Are women people?:” http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/07/subject-for-debate-are-women-people/

Two fun articles from Bitch Magazine … One on Cynthia Nixon and the politics of labels:
http://bitchmagazine.org/post/visibility-cynthia-nixon-and-the-politics-of-labels-bisexuality-feminism

And one on The Hunger Games and masculinity:
http://bitchmagazine.org/post/the-rebel-warrior-and-the-boy-with-the-bread-gale-peeta-and-masculinity-in-the-hunger-games

Lastly, a super-cool interview with Jennifer Egan about the days before she made it as a writer:
http://www.thedaysofyore.com/jennifer-egan/

GLG Weekly Round-up: Women’s Health

In body politics, reproductive health, Uncategorized, Weekly Round-Up, Women's health on March 3, 2012 at 6:37 am

With all the legislative madness afoot in the U.S. in regards to women’s health, we decided to devote this week’s weekly round-up to Women’s Health. Please share more links in the comments if you have them!

On the Academy Award-winning film, Saving Face:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mmw/2012/02/%E2%80%9Csaving-face%E2%80%9D-may-be-a-saving-grace-for-women-victims-of-acid-attacks/

On Virginia’s new proposed anti-abortion legislation:

From Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/virginia_ultrasound_law_women_who_want_an_abortion_will_be_forcibly_penetrated_for_no_medical_reason.html

From xoJane:
http://www.xojane.com/issues/virginias-proposed-abortion-ultrasound-requirement-turning-your-uterus-public-forum

From Colorlines:
http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/12/gender_2012_more_battles_for_reproductive_healthcare.html

And in response,

From The Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/georgia-vasectomy-ban_n_1293369.html

And AJC:
http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2012/02/21/democratic-women-seek-a-state-ban-on-vasectomies-for-men/

GLG Weekly Round-up

In gender, reproductive health, Weekly Round-Up on February 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm

As usual, just some good reads from around the internet. Enjoy!

“The New Girl” launches a defense of the manic pixie dream girl, as recapped by Vulture:

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2012/02/new-girl-recap-season-1-episode-11.html

Molly Fischer critiques the ladyblogs of today at n+1…

http://nplusonemag.com/so-many-feelings

… and several ladies affiliated with said blogs respond:

Emily Gould: http://emilygould.tumblr.com/post/16832249416/ladies-women-and-girls

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano: http://www.the-beheld.com/2012/02/on-ladyblogging-and-slumber-parties-of.html

Anne Helen Petersen: http://www.annehelenpetersen.com/?p=2902

Some info and linkes on Komen’s de-funding of Plan Parenthood:

http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/02/bad_politics_thwart_susan_g_komen_foundations_noble_mission.html

And the most recent update from Jezebel on Komen reversing their decision:

http://jezebel.com/5882018/breaking-komen-reverses-decision-on-planned-parenthood-is-still-likely-full-of-shit

Fighting Clean: xoJane and Its Discontents

In reproductive health on October 30, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Sarah Todd

Fighting can be great. To me, a thoughtful debate between well-matched opponents is far more productive and engaging than a lecture by even the most knowledgeable of speakers. I’d rather hear Hamilton and Jefferson go head-to-head, and sort out what I think for myself in the process, than hear either one of them give a monologue. In this example, I guess I’m assuming that either I live in colonial America or time travel has been invented. I’ve been singing 1776 to myself a lot lately.

In a good fight, people have to reason their way through their positions, reflect on their assumptions, respond to the arguments of their opponents, and perhaps adjust their views to incorporate new information. It’s argumentative writing 101, as all the comp instructors out there can attest (holler!). Unfortunately, the internet hasn’t figured out how to fight too well just yet. Read the rest of this entry »