Tristan Taormino's Pucker Up column has tackled the subject of phthalates in Dangerous Dildos (Part 1, Part 2). I like that she makes the distinction between "adult novelty" manufacturers and those who proudly craft and sell sexual aides:
When you look at the phthalate issue in a larger context, what you see is the current split within the sex toy industry between old-school adult novelty makers and new age sex-positive toy companies. The former are stuck in a model of "get it as cheap as you can from China, make it look like a penis (that's what women want, right?), and spend as little as you can on packaging." Toys from these companies scream, "Who cares if this looks good or actually works? No one's going to return it or complain, they'll be too embarrassed. Besides, it's just a dildo," reinforcing people's low expectations and shame.
In the article she mentions the Coalition Against Toxic Toys (badvibes.org). Their shopping guide gives fabulous advice for how to spot potentially hazardous toys -- take it with you on your next trip to the toy store!
At Mother Talkers, a group blog of "Rants and Raves on Modern Motherhood", Amy has written about her nephew's experience with public school sex education. Recounting a conversation between mother and son:
"What have you learned?" my sister asked.
"I learned about AIDS. That if you have unprotected sex, you get AIDS and die. But Mom, I don't even know what unprotected sex is. What is protected sex?"
Meanwhile, Oakland teens got so sick of cheesy sex-ed videos that they made their own:
The 15-minute movie was written, acted, filmed and edited almost entirely by students from East Oakland's Fremont Federation, a campus with four small high schools. With a hip-hop soundtrack and multidimensional characters — such as a peer educator who makes some poor decisions at a party — it was clearly made with its audience in mind.
The Condom Project has received support from the school district and had its premiere on Valentine's Day.
A Guardian piece discusses why rape charges so seldom lead to rape convictions in great detail, including the way stereotypes about women, previous sexual activity, and alcohol consumption on the part of the victim all contribute to the dismissal of the vast majority of rape cases. The whole thing goes right back to the Wilson case: why is the media championing this young man who was captured on film having sex with a semi-conscious woman? I'd really like to see some REAL journalism on the subject -- what evidence led to his acquittal on the rape charge? Did the alleged-victim recant, or was it simply a case of his word against hers? The whole thing makes me feel sick to my stomach.
HIV vaccine testing made the AP newswire this week. The article discusses how the test is being done on sex workers in the Dominican Republic. Since Phase 2 of the vaccine trial requires that it be tested on high as well as low risk groups, sex workers and injection drug users are obvious subjects. The tests are also being conducted in Haiti, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Jamaica and Peru. Merck, the company running the tests, is walking a thin public relations tightrope: If the trials are successful with no extreme adverse effects, they'll be heaped with praise. If something goes wrong, though, the papers (and eventually the history books) will be filled with scorn for the exploitative nature of the testing. HIV vaccine testing is a double-edged sword, but the impression that I get is that researchers are being as scrupulous as they can be in this inherently exploitative situation. Probably more to come on this soon.
The inaugural post is up on Veggie Love, the brand-new blog of my ever beautiful and brilliant roommate! Go check it out, and be jealous -- she cooks for me. Yeah, it's awesome.