Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This week is Planned Parenthood's National Sex Education Awareness week, in support of the REAL Act (Responsible Education About Life). Yesterday, I participated in my first PP advocacy event - making rally signs and networking. This afternoon, I joined other health advocates in a rally in support of the act on the steps of Georgia's capitol. I was late, so missed quite a bit, but was encouraged to see so many people passionate about this issue. I have a really crappy camera, but hopefully will have pix up by next week. Basically, we chanted and got drivers to honk in support of comprehensive sex education in our schools. The PP literature says is best, so I'm just going to block quote it directly:

A coalition of groups in Georgia will be coordinating the 2009 National Week of Action focused on sex education the week of September 28 – October 2.
This National Week of Action is aimed at educating our communities and decision makers about the importance of comprehensive sex education in our school systems.
Raising awareness about the Responsible Education About Life Act (the REAL Act), the federal bill that promotes the use of comprehensive sex education programs, will be a core message. This bill will provide funding to states for medically accurate, age appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education in the schools that includes information about both abstinence and contraception.
Participating individuals and organizations: Representative Kathy Ashe, Representative Rashad Taylor, Representative Pat Gardner, Representative Tyrone Brooks, Representative Virgil Fludd, Representative Margaret Kaiser, Representative Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, APS Board Member Khaatim Sherrer El, Senator Vincent Fort,Emory Religion & Public Health Collaborative, Planned Parenthood, Georgia Parents for Responsible Health Education, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Sistersong, Georgia WAND, Georgia Rural Urban Summit, Georgia Equality, Chatham County Youth Commission, Youth Futures, Advocates for Youth, SIECUS, Sierra Club, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at AASU.

For more information about the REAL Act, I recommend checking out http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/, always a great site.

Friday, September 25, 2009

If You're Driving Through Arkansas. . .

. . .You might just see some of my favorite place names. One of the small pleasures of life is passing unique and quirky sights on a long road trip. When you're driving through Arkansas, there are multiple opportunities for this, as the state is mainly rural. Some of my favorites:
Bauxite (a mineral found in the area), Bee Branch, Bonanza, Calamine, Crumrod, Delight, Fifty-Six, Flippin, Hasty, Holiday Island, Hoxie, Ink, Keo, Magazine, Oil Trough (so named because it was a processing center for oil made from bear fat),Ozone, Pocahantas, Powhatan, Prim, Reader, Smackover, Stamps, Success, Twist, Toad Suck (near my college town; home of the annual Toad Suck Daze Festival and toad race), Umpire, Vendor, Yellville.
You can find more here. What are some fun town names from your home state?

This is what a Feminist Looks Like

In honor of National Sex Education Week starting on Monday, I'll be posting a lot of gyno-heavy material in the upcoming days. I saw this picture and was absolutely thrilled. What would our world look like if all religious leaders stood up for women's rights?

"I call myself a feminist," said the Dalai Lama in Memphis yesterday. "Isn't that what you call someone who fights for women's rights?"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I'm Reading Now

(Okay, besides Charlaine Harris' "Southern Vampire" Series)

Last year, Terri Gross interviewed author Michelle Goldberg about this book on the NPR program, "Fresh Air." Goldberg is a journalist, and approaches contemporary and historical actions of reproductive restriction and freedom with the precision of well-trained researcher and the passion of an activist. She uses the topic of abortion as a "flashpoint," a way of really talking about all of the ideologies that under gird discussions of women's reproductive freedom. She closely examines how shifting mores, fears over gender roles, and reactions to Western influences have significantly hurt (and killed) women in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. Her introduction says it best:
All over the planet, conflicts between tradition and modernity are being fought on the terrain of women's bodies. Globalization is challenging traditional social arrangements. It is upsetting economic stability, bring women into the workforce, and beaming images of Western individualism into the remotest villages while drawing more and more people into ever growing cities. All this spurs conservative backlashes, as right-wingers promise anxious, disoriented people that chaos can be contained if only the old sexual order is enforced. Yet the subjugation of women is just making things worse, creating all manner of demographic, economic, and public health problems.

This is not just a story about abortion, though abortion tends to be a flashpoint. It is, rather, about how great international powers have worked to influence the rights of the world's women, and how, conversely, women's rights will ultimately shape the future.
Goldberg effectively uses statistics to show the scale of problems caused by the global restriction of women's health programs, and individual stories to show how these somewhat abstract theories and statistics impact women on a very-real level.

As we approach National Sex Education Week, I cannot think of a more appropriate resource for a time when discussions over women and children's health have become stilted and stale.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Time Traveling . . . by Dray, Hansom Cab, Carriage or Steamer.

I was the kind of child easily influenced by melodramatic romanticism and prone to fanciful daydreams of the corset and powdered-wig variety. I especially loved British history and literature. I wanted nothing more than to travel back to a time when women wore long dresses and walked across the heath to quell their broken hearts; and men wore bowler hats and pulled pocket watches out of their vests to check the time of the next train.

One of the favorite parts of my week was Sunday night, when my parents and I would gather around the t.v. to watch "Masterpiece Theatre." I remember doing this from the time I was very small, to when I lived with them after college. When I was particularly little, I never understood what was going on in the plot. The accents, the strange vocabulary, the non-remastered sound quality, all contributed to 2 hours of confusion. But that didn't matter. It was the ritual. I would lay on the couch with my parents and the music, the dialogue, the costumes would wash over me and lull me into relaxation. Eventually, as I grew, I began to look forward to the entertainment as much as the time spent with my parents. That music would start, Alastair Cooke would show up, and you would settle in for a romp through the grimy alleys of London or the moors of Wales. "Masterpiece Mystery!" was even better. Kudos to the producer who animated the works of Edward Gorey and set them to music for the opening title.

The most lasting love of my life from that series has been the character and adventures of Sherlock Holmes.http://http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Sherlock_Holmes_(television) I have been left with an obsession with this character and his life that is one step away from papering my walls and locker with his picture. The definitive portrayal of Holmes is Jeremy Brett in the "Masterpiece" series. When the BBC was playing this series, Sunday nights were an extra special treat.

I was so happy to discover that PBS Atlanta often shows this series late on Sunday nights. Last night, I watched "The Musgrave Ritual" episode. Maybe it's because I'm far away from my family, or have read or seen every adventure Holmes has taken so many times, but when I watch the show now, I find that I have come full circle. The show brings less adventure and romanticism into my life than it does comfort, as I am flooded with memories of laying against my dad in silence for two hours, both of us sharing a love for history and mystery. I remember drifting in and out of sleep on the couch watching "I, Claudius," waking up every now and then to ask Daddy who Octavia Claudius was, or have him point out and explain to me what Hadrian's Wall is, and tell me that it's still standing, and we could go visit it.

My parents were pretty strict sometimes about what we could watch - I couldn't watch "Beavis and Butthead," deflating my attempts to bond with other 11-year-olds - but I'm so grateful that they overlooked the sex, violence, and adult themes doubtless present in the Masterpiece series and allowed me to watch it with them. I know, from now on, when I get homesick, I can turn to PBS on Sunday night, and time-travel back to that two-hour period every week I could cuddle inbetween the two people who love me the most, and all was right with the world.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blue Moon

So, this blog seems to have gone the way of both my knitting and jewelry-making hobbies. I'm not that dedicated to it - mainly because I don't like blogging about all my problems and frequent existential crises - and I'm never sure what to write about. But, because so many of my loved ones are like so many points on a net that have been cast from Decatur, GA and into the world, I wanted to have a place where I could post updates, pictures, and yes, even the occasional epiphany. So, I'll try to be more consistent with these. Until next time, enjoy these random pictures from a hot, crazy summer. Love, Whit.