Kudos to Baltimore City Paper for Booting Sexist (and Annoying) Cartoonist

I’m so glad City Paper’s editor-in-chief, Evan Serpick, booted the paper’s long-time cartoonist for yet another sexist (and tiresome and not even very funny) joke about a woman being on the rag. Here’s the comic about a woman who tells the judge she is divorcing her husband “on the grounds that she’s on the rag.”

Hahahahahaha. Clever. Witty. Fresh. Ground-breaking humor we’ve never heard before.

Read Serpick’s eloquent explanation about firing comic Tony Millionaire.

Rosie: I’m Bleedin’ but I’m Strong

Pop in a plug, girlie, and weld those bombers.

Pop in a plug, girlie, and weld those bombers.

As tennis player Heather Watson refers to “girl things” in explaining her loss at the Australian Open and the press jumps on the conversation about whether elite athletes are truly hindered by menstruation, keep in mind that this is not a new conversation.

The news cycle–wait, the news cycles? Doesn’t that render it unfit?–has a tendency to investigate this matter at politically expedient moments. Check out my 2007 New York Times op-ed on how, during the 1870s and 1880s when Americans were debating higher education for women, there was a rash of studies revealing that women’s menstrual cycles rendered them unsuitable for sustained mental and physical labor.

Then when World War II rolled around and Uncle Sam needed those women in the factories, the government released a propaganda film, Strictly Personal, telling them to stop their belly-aching about bleeding. The war effort had no room for neurotic slackers who tried to cut out of work early just because they were getting their periods.

Post war, when the soldiers came home and the government was urging Rosie-the-Riveter to take off her hard hat and put on her apron, there was suddenly research showing, for example, that women typed slower when they were menstruating. A woman’s place is in the home, of course, the studies “proved.”

Boobs Sore? Just Pop These Pills, Little Girl

"If your 'girls' hurt, you are not alone," according to Violet's™ website. Just take these little pills.

“If your ‘girls’ hurt, you are not alone,” according to Violet’s™ website. Just take these little pills.

I was waiting to get my hair cut yesterday, flipping through the women’s fashion magazines that were scattered about in my Baltimore beauty parlor and stumbled on an ad for an odd new product.

“Sore? Say hello to Violet™ Iodine.”

Ahh, apparently this is the newest menstrual product being marketed to women. But get this, it’s not for “down there,” it’s for up here, your breasts.

Women’s vaguely attributed testimonials explain how their debilitating boob discomfort is alleviated by Violet™ on the company website.

“I developed an irrational fear of speed bumps during my morning commute,” says Lauren, CA.

“I wore a larger bra, winced when my kids hugged me and stuck to very low impact exercise,” says Karen, CT.

“Forget exercise, and the husband, too! I dreaded that time of month!” says Lisa, SC, who kinda made the writing teacher in me wince at abundant use of exclamation points!

But help is on the way, the company promises:

“By taking a simple pill every day, the result is true relief and reassurance that you are proactively taking care of your breasts.*  With Violet iodine, you are just days away from a “new normal” — a life where breast discomfort doesn’t get in the way.

Get it off your chest™”

Okay, if you thought a little boob discomfort was just a normal part of your period and you popped a few ibuprofen and got on with your day, think again. “If your ‘girls’ hurt, you are not alone,” Violet explains on the website. This happens to 50 percent of women in their childbearing years. Still, though it is common, it is not “normal,” apparently.

You have Fibrocystic Breast Condition (FBC), the company explains.

And you know how that goes: If it has a name, then it is a legitimate “disease” or “syndrome” or perhaps merely the downgraded, “condition” but still, it means people can sell you products to treat the illness. In this case, $44.99 a month means Lisa can resume exercising, Karen can hug her kids and Lauren will henceforth sail blissfully over speed bumps on her morning commute.

We have BioPharmX, Inc., a Menlo Park, CA, company to thank for introducing Violet ™ in December of 2014.

But I caution, all this should be taken with a grain of salt. (Iodized, perhaps? Amusingly, the company does warn against women  boosting iodine levels cheaply through, say, upping their intake via a $.99 purchase of Morton’s, insisting their pricey pills function more efficiently.) Here’s what I started to notice in the company literature: It was rife with these little asterisks scattered after sweeping statements.

For example, the below excerpted press release from the website:

“What is unique about Violet iodine is its non-hormonal formula of patented molecular iodine, which aims to target the breast tissue with limited introduction in the thyroid,”* said Dr. Lee P. Shulman, Professor and Head of the Section of Reproductive Genetics in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. “Adding Violet iodine to a woman’s daily regimen can help safely relieve the most common forms of breast pain and discomfort, including aches and swelling, while also maintaining healthy breast tissue.”*

It took a bit of sleuthing to locate the fine print but it was not an exercise in futility. It actually meant something significant:

*These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.