A Womb of Her Own: DIY Abortion and Birth Control After Hobby Lobby
On Tuesday, I was wandering around the internet and fell into a random binder full of women, which it turns out is a great place to meet badass genius revolutionaries. Jane Doe is adoula and an underground abortion provider. She writes romance novels, dreams of expatriation, and makes the best sea-salt caramels you’ve ever had. She’s spoken at statehouses and chased down riot cops. In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision that corporations like Hobby Lobby are people with important religious beliefs about contraception (and that men need Viagra but women don’t need birth control), she released a DIY guide to the basics of abortion, birth control, emergency contraception, and more. We got together in a hidden pocket of the binder so I could ask her for the details.
VICE: Why did you write this guide?
Jane Doe: That’s a complicated question. About ten years ago, I wrote a guide to surgical abortions after South Dakota banned all abortions in that state. Since that time, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve been receiving—at least once a month or so—emails from desperate women who find my surgical abortion how-to and want to abort their pregnancies. For a long time, I didn’t know what to tell them, and then I found out more about medical abortion—how safe it is (especially compared to birth), how women are undergoing medical abortions at home, in privacy, and how there’s a law that lets anyone in the United States import up to 90 days of any non-scheduled prescription drug.
From there, I started actually giving away the pills to women who emailed me—a proposition that became both expensive and incredibly (legally) risky.
Then I started sending them URLs to websites that sold the pills—which is when I thought, Wait, what am I doing? I could be letting people know all of this information, everything I know about how to find these medications, how to use them, what to do if something goes wrong.
I think this information belongs to women. It’s ours. And now it’s out there. Once it’s on the Internet, it’s hard to scrub.
Were you inspired by the Supreme Court decision or was the timing purely coincidental?
I’d been working on A Womb of One’s Own for about six months in total, and like many writers tend to do, I found myself procrastinating toward the end of the project. When the Hobby Lobby decision came down, and I realized the Supreme Court wasn’t actually saying that all religious expression was protected—just things pertaining to women’s health—I dropped everything else on my plate and finished the pamphlet that day.
The Trouble with Girls
Being a girl sucks—according to the media at least. There’s the thigh gap, Miley Cyrus, thehounding, the grooming, and the online abuse. Even Germaine Greer claimed recently that in the age of social media, women have it worse than they did in the 1970s.
But are things really that bad? In her new book, Girl Trouble, social historian and professor Carol Dyhouse argues that, although life’s always been pretty shitty for girls, it’s actually getting better. According to Dyhouse, without looking back at stereotypes and the way things were for women a century ago, it is impossible to understand the scope of the progress achieved by women’s liberation movements.
I caught up with Carol to talk about all the things that have made us the drinking, swearing, loose, career-driven women that we are.
VICE: Hi Carol, how did you get started with Girl Trouble?
Carol: I’ve had a very long career teaching and researching women’s history and I wanted to bring it all together. History hasn’t been kind to girls. They’ve been underestimated and misrepresented. It’s hard to find out what was happening to them and how they felt about it. There’s always been masses of people all too ready to speak for girls, but it’s harder to get young women speaking for themselves, especially as you go back in time to the late Victorian period or the early half of the 20th century.
So the problem is that the people who were recording history are mostly male?
Definitely. A good example is the British Medical Journal—you’d think this was quite a reputable source and yet what they say is quite shocking. They’re so quick to stereotype. In an article published in 1946, just after the war, one psychologist wrote; “They [good-time girls] spend a great deal of time on making up their faces and adorning themselves, although they do not trouble to wash and are sluttish about their undergarments. Their favorite reading matter consists of the weekly journals with the love lives of film stars and they live in a fantasy world of erotic glamor. Frequently, they’re a good deal more intelligent and sophisticated than their parents whom they outwit and despise.” It’s so negative and sexist. What were they so scared about? What I argue in that chapter is that there’s this category of female that was constructed out of male anxiety.
Ask yourself this: Am I really in a position to be complaining about what a woman does with her body hair? No. You should be down on your knees, praising any woman who’d allow you to take as much as a whiff of her sweat wicks.
Confronting Campus Rape
A growing wave of grassroots activists is forcing universities to take a stronger stand against sexual abuse—and now the Obama administration is joining the fight.
The Traditional Costumes of Peasant Women in Germany and Alsace
Traditional costumes have virtually disappeared, but until the 1950s, this kind of attire was very common across Europe. From the color and cut you could conclude whether a woman was married, how old she was, which family she came from, and how wealthy they were.
In 2008, Eric Schütt started looking for women who still wear traditional clothes for his photography project called Burenkleider: Burska Drasta, or Traditional Costumes of Peasant Women in Germany and Alsace. The women in these photos are never seen without their traditional costumes. They wear their costumes in the house and outside. In many cases, they are the last ones in their village wearing the clothes with their original purpose, and the other villagers look at them like as if they’re flamboyant, exotic birds. Some of these women have died by now—Eric’s photographs are the last document of this disappearing phenomenon.
Offline Activism Is the Tricky Part for #YesAllWomen
As with every mass shooting in the last decade, Elliot Rodger sparked a clash of ideologies. This being a misogyny-fueled massacre, instead of the usual gun debate, it provoked a nationwide Twitter war between anti-patriarchy feminists and a bunch of apologist white guys, with most tweets focusing on the fact that while not all men denigrate women, all women are denigrated by men, and culminating in the latest clicktivist hashtag #YesAllWomen. It’s a strong hashtag, and it has staying power, but does it have the potential to inspire people offline?
When a branch of the American Revolutionary Communist Party concerned with banning pornography for the benefit of women, called StopPatriarchy.com, organized a series of #YesAllWomen rallies in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco, it meant another attempt at turning global social media awareness into community activism, in the hopes that the effort is broadcast somewhere, anywhere. Best case - recursively on social media; worst case - word of mouth. This cyclical advocacy happens fair often with little effect, #BringackOurGirls and #Kony2012 come to mind. Ralph Nader was right, “the Internet doesn’t do a very good job of motivating action.”
Things Men Have Said to My Face After Seeing My Naked Body
Since the dawn of time, with the exception of maybe a few weeks there at the beginning, nakedness and shame have gone together like snakes and planes. Ear hair and bassists. Milk and cheese. Drunk and uncles.
Like all of those examples, when shared, one’s nakedness can be received with anything from elation to degradation. But you don’t have to tell me twice about the vulnerability and embarrassment that accompanies nudity.
Here are five verbal reactions I’ve gotten after various dudes saw my unclothed human form for the first time. Much to no one’s chagrin, this won’t be a detailed account of my sexual history. That’s for my gynecologist to know (hey Greg!) and for my new gynecologist to find out (Greg’s leaving the practice soon).
So sit back, relax, and put your feet in these stirrups here. I apologize if my hands are cold.
“DO YOU REALIZE HOW HOT YOU’D BE IF YOU WORKED OUT EVERY DAY FOR THE NEXT THREE MONTHS?”
You can’t have your cake and eat it too, and if it were up to this guy I wouldn’t be anywhere near a cake ever again (unless I’m fully clothed and standing next to one with a stripper hidden inside).
This is a banal observation. Who wouldn’t be hotter after working out every day for three months? Think outside the bun, dude! But in the moment, benefit-of-the-doubt-me got it. He was just trying to help me realize my… uh… untapped potential. Zing!
A few other questions spring to mind: Why three months? Do you want me to complete that “Thinner Thighs In Thirty Days” program three consecutive times? Can I stop working out after the three months are over? Also, why in the name of Satan’s colostomy bag would you say this to a person’s face?
In the moment, I could only assume he meant, “You don’t look bad, the bones are there, underneath a squishy layer of goat cheese and herbs, but I prefer nude people look like Susan Fucking Powter.”
What I learned: If you can’t say anything nice, sure as hell don’t say it to someone who just showed you their Geena Davis for the first time. Gratitude goes a long way. A simple, “This is very kind of you, thanks,” makes the moment pleasant and (God-willing!) forgettable. If not, chances are your reaction is emblazoned on their brain forever, and the chick will have the opportunity to write a weird essay about it. Who wants that?
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I NEED A SHOT.”
What kind of shot are we talking here, pal? Rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, polio? As far as I know, we’ve yet to develop a vaccine against seeing anyone’s naked body, much less mine (Hope-atitis C?).
All joking aside (yeah, right), sometimes the truth punches you in the teeth before it sets you free. That’s just one of the risks we have to take when we’re open to self-discovery. So call it what you want; a nude surprise gone awry, the fast track to sadness, a fucking terrible idea. They’re all apt synopses of this situation, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and e-books in Biden’s Kindle library.
What I learned: You can’t assume anyone wants to see you naked, ever. And if they must poison their liver before doing so, git along little doggie. There are greener pastures and better metaphors that don’t involve so many references to cattle.
Why Are So Many Aboriginal Women Being Murdered in Canada?
In February, the frozen body of 26-year-old Loretta Saunders, a pregnant Inuit woman from Labrador, Canada, was found dumped onto a highway median in New Brunswick. Saunders, a student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, had been writing her thesis on missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada—in a tragic twist, she became one of the subjects of her own research, the latest in what is estimated to be hundreds of murders and disappearances of indigenous Canadian women. Just this month, the head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told reporters that 1,186 aboriginal women had been murdered or went missing over the past 30 years.
The sad irony of Saunders’s death shed light on a human rights issue that has been quietly brewing for years in Canada, a progressive country that is generally known for treating its citizens—including most women—well. The Canadian government doesn’t collect data on the race and ethnicity of missing persons, but a new database compiled by independent researcher Maryanne Pearce documents 4,035 cases of missing and murdered women and girls, 883—or nearly 25 percent—of which involve aboriginal women. That’s a shocking statistic, considering that aboriginal women make up just 2 percent of the population in Canada. While some of the cases date back to the 1950s, the majority took place between 1990 and 2013.
“This is part of a larger phenomenon of violence against women, period,” Pearce said. “It’s such a complicated issue. We have to look at every layer, with a special focus on systemic racism. There isn’t one answer—there isn’t one person or group who can address this. It has to be everybody—the First Nations governments, the provincial governments, the police forces, and the national government. And the Canadian public has a responsibility too.”
Photo Real – Molly Crabapple on Photoshop, Feminism, and Truth
Two weeks ago, Jezebel published un-retouched outtakes of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign.
Without Photoshop, Gaga’s wig was more wig-like, her makeup flat beige, but she was the same skinny, strong-nosed chameleon that Stephani Germanotta has always been. The outtakes were not interesting but showing celebrities without Photoshop is Jezebel’s brand.
Jezebel exploded in popularity in 2007 by offering a $10,000 bounty for originals of Faith Hill’s Redbook cover. The raw photos proved the magazine had liquefied the star’s waist, softened her nasiolabial folds, and brutalized her elbow into a bendy tube. This January, with more controversy, Jezebel paid another $10,000 for the originals of Lena Dunham’sVogue cover shoot. Those revealed only a tidied dress.
Jezebel’s is a feminism that seeks its scapegoat in altered images. To refrain from Photoshop is girl-positive marketing gold. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty delights itself by putting out fake filters that chide retouchers. Magazines sign “No Photoshop” pledges. Clothing companies crow that they’ve never taken a clone-stamp to their models’ thighs.
To these feminists, Photoshop is to blame to unrealistic body standards, poor self-esteem, and anorexia in teenage girls. The campaign against Photoshop is the perfect cause for white, middle-class women whose primary problem is feeling their bodies do not match an increasingly surreal media ideal.
Photoshop, the belief goes, takes a true record of a moment, and turns it into an oppressive lie.
But fuck Photoshop. Photos are already lies.
Food Advertising Is Still Feeding Gender Stereotypes
It’s 2014. Russia and America are engaged in some furious military posturing and we are still being told that gendered eating is a thing. Nothing changes. If you are a man, advertisers believe that you like meat cooked on fire, or food that’s simple to eat. Or you like yogurt, crumbly chocolate that can only be enjoyed as a ‘guilty pleasure,’ and anything without calories if you’re a woman. We often like to imagine human beings skipping into a golden, gender-neutral future. However, I’d say there’s a strong argument that, along with death and taxes, patronizing ads that lump men and women into two distinct camps are a near-certainty in this life.
There’s a rich history of reinforcing the gender binary in advertising, from Mars to Hungry Man to, well, just look at this sexist smorgasbord. It’s enough to send Gloria Steinem running to the nearest liquor cabinet (probably to get a Cosmo like a typical woman!). But this kind of work is still very much alive and kicking. In some cases, it’s gotten worse. This Yorkie ad, made in the 70s, is actually far more enlightened than the series of “not for girls” slurs Yorkie has been fond of recently, the logic of which is, “Yorkie is chunky. Men like stuff that’s chunky.”