This week a federal advisory panel recommended that boys, too, should get the HPV vaccine—the only existing vaccine that protects against cancer. Until now, the vaccine had only been recommended for girls to prevent cervical cancer, although both boys and girls are susceptible to infection by the human papilloma virus. The new recommendation for boys comes for two main reasons. First, there's been a rise in throat and anal cancers attributed to HPV, in both men and women. There are now more throat cancers because of HPV and oral sex than because of smoking. Second, if men aren't infected, unvaccinated women are safer.
When I blogged over at Slate’s XX Factor (now Double X), I grew fond of Rachael Larimore, with whom I agreed to disagree with on almost everything. I am not being sarcastic. Recently, I heard a rabbi talk about the importance of discussing major issues not to convert others—not to win—but to “improve the quality of our disagreements.” I love this concept as a way to improve our public discourse on core political subjects, which are often religious wars in another guise.
Somehow I missed the movie The Whistleblower, an action film about a woman in the UN peacekeeping forces who tries to hold her male colleagues and superiors accountable for sexual coercion and abuse of girls, boys, and adults they are supposed to be protecting. (The movie is on my list now.) Women’s E-News reports that a UN screening of the film last week involved a testy exchange between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the filmmakers, and others who say that the problem continues—and that the way that the UN deals with it is worse than inadequate.
In the wake of a fierce and sustained campaign by feminist groups, the FBI is incrementally moving toward an updated definition of rape. The old one, written in 1929, leaves out a lot of what most of us consider to be rape. Here's how Erica Goode in The New York Timeswrote up the controversy:
In case you missed it: Last Sunday The New York Times had a thoughtful examination of the pros and cons of the pinking of America—the Susan G. Komen foundation's marketing of breast cancer awareness and its work raising funds for breast cancer research.
In Vermont, the governor has nominated Beth Robinson to take a seat the state's Supreme Court. Robinson was the prime mover behind the state's Freedom to Marry movement, and one of three lawyers who brought the groundbreaking state case Baker v. Vermont back in the 1990s. That case led to the state's then-groundbreaking civil unions—and spurred a national uproar about the imminent descent of locusts, plague, and so forth. Robinson led the movement to hold that victory statewide, and then to upgrade it to full marriage rights a few years after Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to offer full equality.
Yesterday the Washington Post published a nice summary of the various federal lawsuits underway in the court battles over same-sex marriage, a piece occasioned by a panel at the College of William and Mary Law School's Institute of Bill of Rights Law. The panel, according to reporter Robert Barnes, was debating whether the government's political or judicial branch should decide whether same-sex couples' bonds should be recognized as "marriage" by federal law.
Here's a follow-up to my mini-review last week of NBC's The Playboy Club: a Daily Beast article, "My Mom's Life as a Playboy Bunny," by Susanna Spier. Spier interviews her mother about what things were really like. Was Hugh Hefner's comment -- that bunnies could be anything they wanted to be -- accurate? Ha.
We had only a handful of options, and being a Bunny was a brand-new one. ... Teacher, nurse, stewardess, secretary. Bunny increased our options by 20 percent. It didn't mean we could be brain surgeons. Hef's dots do not connect.
This week marks the 46th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court reproductive-rights case Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the Court struck down Connecticut's ban on the distribution and use of contraceptives (at least for married couples). The decision was important not only in itself but because it laid the framework for other important decisions like Roe v. Wade, which came less than 10 years later.
Musical theater is as close as it comes to religion for me, so you can consider Glee's 8-to-9 Tuesday slot on Fox my "Hour of Power." Like a missionary outpost in D.C.'s cultural desert, each week a local gay bar screens the latest episode on a large projector. For that short span of time, the club music and cruising stop while patrons from their 20s to their 60s sit in reverent silence to watch the high-school travails of McKinley High's glee club.
If you ask me, any show that can hold a club queen's attention for that long deserves its title as "the gayest show on television."
Kathy Stickel at a gay-rights supporter rally the day before election day in Portland, Maine, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
On Nov. 4, 2008, when the polls closed on the West Coast and media outlets reported that California voters had passed Proposition 8, gay-rights supporters across the country were stunned. How could the purported gay haven of California—home to Hollywood, Harvey Milk, and the Castro—have rejected same-sex marriage?