I COULD Just Scream, But Instead I’ll Promote Science – XOJane Health Column On Birth Control

I don’t want to do any kind of nasty, mean-spirited post about the news over on Gawker - Ranting Lady Blogger Hates Birth Control, Only Uses Plan B.

Of course, it’s caught the attention of a few sites you might read already (like XO Jane’s Health Editor…are you playing with me? by Scicurious). The article in question is a column called “GET IT TOGETHER, GIRLS: EVERY GODDAMN PHARMACY IN NEW YORK IS OUT OF PLAN B! EVERY ONE!”

What I will say is that apart from the casual attitude regarding Plan B as their preferred choice of birth control (which, by the way, isn’t how its supposed to be used) – the bigger concern that I have is the dismissive attitude towards condoms, not only as a method of safe sex with multiple partners but as a method of safe sex in itself. The article’s numbered list of birth control items (withdrawal, birth control, depo-provera, condoms, abortion and diaphragm) and the dismissive attitude towards them is also disconcerting, along with the ‘it happened to me, therefore I will reject it outright’ attitude.

While personal experience can be extremely powerful, the risk of equating it as good health advice (particularly when it’s anecdotal evidence with a dismissive attitude towards a scientific understanding of the female body) in a column like this is, quite frankly, a disgrace.

What’s an alternative? I suggest that people encourage a reading of the following science-based post that should be given more regard by the kind of audience that might (terrifyingly) agree with XOJane.com columnist Cat Marnell.

Girlybits 101, now with fewer scary parts! by Michelle Clement:

This post is a quick and simple Girlybits 101, using very small words and no gross or scary diagrams so that the eternally squeamish and uneducated like Cat Marnell can know a little bit more about their bodies without sending themselves into a hormonal frenzy. I know science is hard, dear, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to learn it, especially if part of your job description is to talk to women about their HEALTH (and beauty).

…I present to you this Totally Easy And Not At All Gross Explanation of what happens with your girlybits each month, and how birth control and Plan B tie into the equation.

I particularly like the closing part of Clement’s post: Without fail, every quarter I would have a male student come up to me after a review session or during office hours and tell me in private that he was very glad he took our class because he had so many questions about female cycles that he was just too darn afraid or embarrassed to ask anyone about.

This subject is important to everyone, not just female readers of XOJane. Link to Crude Matter, encourage and talk about the facts rather than let XOJane’s so-called Health column hold sway!

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • ema

    I hate to repeat myself (I’ve followed all your links and left comments) but this can not be said enough times.

    Plan B has been discontinued for quite some time. It’s been replaced with Plan B One-Step (1 pill dosage). [Nextime and Postinor 1/Postinor2 Unidosis are the equivalent brands for Plan B One-Step; Next Choice and Postinor are the equivalent of Plan B.]

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ Michelle

    Thanks for the link. I am sorely tempted to send some copies of this poster to XO Jane HQ: http://www.neatorama.com/2010/06/30/the-good-ol-menstrual-cycle-poster/

    (I have a copy over my desk. It is awesome.)

    • Kylie Sturgess

      No, no – thank you for writing that post in the first place! I was hoping someone would have the time to write a neat summary and you did that! :D

    • Aliasalpha

      You have a well refined talent for taking the piss, I approve wholeheartedly

      • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ Michelle

        I’ve had lots of practice. :)

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