February 3, 2007

Saturday Double Dose: Disappearing Models, Time-Shifting Bodies and Dungeon-Like Spaces

Apologies for serving the double dose a day late. Let’s get started:

The “Changing Bodies of Hollywood”?: In a story on full-figured women winning Screen Actors Guild Awards, Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said, “The demographic of people who don’t look like Calista Flockhart is significantly larger than people who do. That demographic — in the age of democratization of the media with the Internet and reality — wants to be represented.”

But Over on the Runways …: “The average runway sample has gone from a size 6 in the early 1990s to a size 2, the current standard. In that same time, models have been asked to show less personality on the catwalk. The industry has exchanged the ballerina carriage of the sparrowlike Shalom Harlow in the 1990s, for emotionless stickpins,” writes Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan.

Quote of the Week: “Nothing’s as hard as writing a book, except for planning a wedding. And nothing’s as good as going to your own wedding, except for meeting Stephen Colbert.” – Ariel Levy, author of “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture,” during a discussion on feminism at Yale.

Is Your Vagina Running Out of Time?: Newsweek recently published a package of stories about menopause in which the years after 40 are described as The New Prime Time. So, um, what’s up with the hourglass?

Dark, Dank and Perfect for Whipping: A former armory that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places was bought by an online porn distributor for its dungeon-like decor — “You could put a girl right inside the boiler,” porn director James Mogul told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Why not? It’s a nice little chamber.” Feminist Peace Network picks out more choice quotes.

Feminist Art Finally Takes Center Stage: The New York Times’ Holland Cotter writes about the feminist art exhibits — and the ongoing debates about feminism, and art — in Los Angeles and New York:

Such long-withheld recognition has been awaited with a mixture of resignation and impatient resentment. Everyone knows that our big museums are our most conservative cultural institutions. And feminism, routinely mocked by the public media for 35 years as indissolubly linked with radicalism and bad art, has been a hard sell.

But curators and critics have increasingly come to see that feminism has generated the most influential art impulses of the late 20th and early 21st century. There is almost no new work that has not in some way been shaped by it. When you look at Matthew Barney, you’re basically seeing pilfered elements of feminist art, unacknowledged as such.

Diagnosis TV: Did you know Americans spend up to 16 hours watching prescription drug ads every year? “Direct-to-consumer ads cost Big Pharma $1.19 billion in 2005, up from $654 million in 2001,” writes Annys Shin at the Washington Post. “The question is, do all those ads help consumers make health care decisions or are they just convincing people they need treatments for conditions they don’t have?”

Reproductive Health, State by State: NARAL Pro-Choice America released the 16th annual “Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States,” which analyzes and tracks legislation.

New York Eases Access to Plan B: “As of Feb. 1, women who are at least 18 will be able to purchase the drug known as “Plan B” with a Medicaid card and without a doctor’s prescription,” reports the Albany Times Union. Elizabeth Benjamin writes:

The FDA approved over-the-counter sale of the drug, frequently referred to as the “morning-after pill,” to women 18 and older last August. But Medicaid does not cover most over-the-counter medications without a doctor’s order — even the purchase of diapers or condoms requires a physician’s permission.”

So the medication, which can run between $25 and $95, was unattainable for many low-income women covered by Medicaid. The state Health Department, under Republican former Gov. George Pataki, changed the Medicaid rules in late December to allow Plan B to be fully covered by Medicaid. The new administration of Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer is implementing the change.

Emphasis above is mine.

Texas First State to Require HPV Vaccination: “Averting a potentially divisive debate in the Legislature, Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, signed an executive order mandating shots of the Merck vaccine Gardasil as protection against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, starting in September 2008,” reports The New York Times. The legislation is directed at 11- and 12-year-old girls entering the sixth grade. Parents can opt out.


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