Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Have Good Conversations

I recently told a friend about a salon I'd attended, and he said, "Salon? Like a hair salon?" No, my dear young readers. A salon, in the centuries old sense of the word, meaning a gathering, an event, a place to be entertained and to learn (to quote Wikipedia) "under the roof of an inspiring host." My friend Alexandra is the very definition of an inspiring host, and she has recently revived her Sunday afternoon salon series, which is part of her larger "vagina verité" project. (She does not like to use capital letters in that phrase, but I forgive her.) If you are in the New York area, I highly recommend that you treat yourself in the coming year to some great conversation, and some provocative art, and go. Here are the details, from Alexandra's content-rich website.

The topic of the December salon will also be the topic of the January salon, "v-anatomy 101." It wasn't a lecture on anatomy & physiology, however. Yes, we looked at some videos and books about the anatomy & physiology of the vulvovaginal area, but mostly we talked about stuff:  sex (of course), vulvovaginal health, first experience with tampons, where we go for information, how much information we want, and at what age - that sort of thing. We also looked at the "v-portraits," which are now one step closer to being in book format, and one happy participant colored in Tee Corinne's famous coloring book. 

If you're not in NY, well, you can still sign up for Alexandra's mailing list, and why don't you think about starting up your own salon series? I co-facilitated one for nearly two years and it was a blast. Be the antidote to Facebook in your community. Stop communicating in 140 characters or fewer.

I want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year. Take care of yourselves, and make the world a better place.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yet Another Disappointing Media Experience

FAM just cannot get a media break. About 6 weeks ago, I posted a call for interviewees for an article being written for New York Magazine. I had been interviewed and had spent a fair amount of time talking to and emailing the author (who was gracious and professional with me - no complaints there). Alas, the article came out, and I found it be tremendously disappointing, particularly in light of the fact that it was a very long article, the cover story of New York Magazine, which could have had some impact, had it been focused differently. If you missed the article, you can read it here: 

The article does present a reasonably accurate description of how Fertility Awareness works. So what's my problem? 
-The premise is thin and faintly ridiculous, not to mention alarmist: that the Pill "creates" a type of infertility, by causing women to postpone having children, as if women are unaware that having children at an older age is more difficult.
-It completely trivializes the health risks and side effects of hormonal contraception. (It's as safe as taking a vitamin!)
-The author refers to Fertility Awareness as a more sophisticated version of the Rhythm Method. Which is sort of like saying that a car is a more sophisticated version of a bicycle. 
-The contextualization of Fertility Awareness is completely off-base. The article doesn't discuss FA for contraception, and only a bit as a tool for health, but primarily as the largest factor in a "cult market" [which] has cropped up catering to women in the process of rediscovering their bodies when they go off the Pill." 
-One final choice quote: "You're not going to find anyone, male or female, who isn't a little grossed out by the words egg-white cervical fluid, but it's just basic biology." 

Women, are you "grossed out" by the normal, healthy functioning of your body? Does talking about the evidence of your juicy fertility, which may be accompanied by feelings of sexiness, not to mention a little awe at the power you hold within you, disgust you? If you have a male partner, does he run and hide if you tell him about the clear, slippery fluid at your labia? I didn't think so.