Statue of J. Marion Sims, Father of Modern Gynecology, Removed from Central Park

J. Marion Sims Statue in Central Park (Curbed NY)

J. Marion Sims Statue in Central Park (Curbed NY)

Dr. J. Marion Sims is considered the father of modern gynecology. But this honor comes at a heavy price: Sims carried out his experiments on African-American slave women. It cannot be overstated that these experiments were performed without consent of the patients.

From 1845 to 1849, Sims practiced his methods on 12 slave women who suffered from vaginal issues. In his records, three women reoccurred: Anarcha, Betsy and Lucy #SayTheirNames. Though we don’t know exactly how many operations he performed (and subsequently botched), Sims operated on Anarcha 13 times before successfully repairing her fistula.

Obviously, this is an extremely important and painful part of history, and it should never be repeated. On Tuesday, after 84 years, Central Park removed the statue of Sims. The statue will later be set up in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

Advertisements

California Public Schools Will Now Require Teaching LGBT History

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

California has long been one of the most progressive states in the union, fearlessly blazing a trail where other states dare not tread.

OK, maybe I’m biased because I live here.

But California is about to do something (else) no other state has done: require teaching LGBT history in public schools.

Granted, this isn’t a complete shock. Last year, the state voted to pass a new curriculum for history and social studies where children will learn about LGBT history at various points during K-12 schooling. Topics will range from learning about diverse families in elementary school to historical nuts-and-bolts in high school.

(Side note: A public forum was held in 2015 regarding the new curriculum. While there were disagreements over how some religious groups were portrayed, “no one protested the inclusion of the history of LGBT rights.” Progress!)

This measure comes after the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Act (FAIR) Education Act was passed in 2012. This act bolstered the inclusion of minority groups (including the LGBT community) in public education on history. The deadline to include this new information in textbooks was this year.

With California leading the way, I hope other states will follow suit in teaching inclusive history to their students.

 

Trends: Custom Emoji

Kim Kardashian West's Kimoji (Fushion)

Kim Kardashian West’s Kimoji (Fushion)

Everyone loves emoji. That’s just a fact. Recently, emoji have grown and expanded. Where there used to be just one brand of emoji, now there are several types.

Distribution company Focus Features came up with custom emoji to promote their recent film “Loving.” The film details the history of the 1967 landmark Supreme Court case which struck down miscegenation statues across the United States. The emoji were created to show the range of love between people, and so users could relate to the film in a modern way.

Releasing custom emoji has hit disparate industries and public figures. Professional golfer Bubba Watson released his “Bubbamoji” in April 2016. Stand-up comic and actor Kevin Hart has his line of “Kevmoji,” all modeled after the comedian’s very expressive face. The “Kevmoji” hit #1 on iTunes downloads immediately after its release in September 2016.

But nobody’s dominated the custom emoji space better than America’s most polarizing reality TV family: the Kardashian/Jenners. Members of the family have taken to designing custom emoji for their fans to communicate with like-minded souls. Kim Kardashian West (who’s turned out to be quite the technology and new media mogul) debuted her “Kimoji” in December 2015, and was an immediate hit.

Not to be outdone, Rob Kardashian’s fiancee (and mother of his daughter Dream) Blac Chyna has also released her own line of emoji. But, like anything dealing with the Kardashian/Jenner clan, this has not been without drama: One of the “Chymoji” depicts Chyna slapping a brunette woman presumed to be Kardashian West’s stepsister Kylie Jenner. (If you don’t know why this is a foul, brush up on the history of the feud between the two.)

Another person in the Kardashian Extended Universe (KEU, for short) is feminist activist Amber Rose. (Rose is one of Kanye West’s former paramours. West is now, of course, married to Kim Kardashian West.) Rose dropped her “MuvaMoji” in March 2016, where it earned around $4M. That number includes $2M on release day alone.

It’s clear that launching a set of custom emoji is becoming a necessary step in engaging with fans. So who’ll be next to launch a set?

Sex & The ’60s: Why Did Condom Usage Decline During the Decade?

Vintage condoms (Collectors Weekly)

Vintage condoms (Collectors Weekly)

This week, we’re examining sexuality data from the 1960s, in celebration of the upcoming final half-season of “Mad Men” beginning Apr. 5th.

Everyone knows that the 1960s was a game-changer in terming of blowing sexuality wide open, and that we still feel the reverberations today. But one aspect of sexuality was negatively impacted during that timeframe: condom usage.

But why? It comes down to the economic principle of substitution, which holds that when the price of one good rises, demand for a similar good rises. (Picture coffee and tea in this scenario: If the price of coffee goes up, fewer people will want, or can afford, to buy it, so they’ll want tea.) In the 1960s, other methods appeared on the scene, and they became more popular to use, so the substitution effect took hold. Though price didn’t play into it, the effects were unchanged.

One method majorly stood out. Enovid, the first birth control pill, was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960. (The contraceptive pioneered by Dr. Carl Djerassi, “the father of The Pill,” later got licensed under the trade name Ortho Novum.) Its popularity grew rapidly: 1.2M+ American women are on it in 1962, and then almost doubles to 2.3M+ the next year.

By the middle of the decade, 25% of couples used it, and 6.5M+ American women used it (but no data on the number of partnered versus single women who used it).

But that wasn’t the only birth control innovation. In 1968, the FDA also approved the first intrauterine devices (IUDs). Unlike today’s common T-shape, Dr. Hugh Davis’s Dalkon shield was egg-shaped with a number of dull spikes emanating from it. Within two years, the IUD had sold 600K+ in the U.S.

With these advances, it’s easy to see that the simple condom would’ve slipped out of public favor.

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Adam and Eve’s Phil Harvey, 1991

Phil Harvey, 1991 (IndyWeek)

Phil Harvey, 1991 (IndyWeek)

This year, Adam and Eve founder Phil Harvey will give CatalystCon East’s closing keynote address.

Harvey founded Adam and Eve while getting his master’s degree in family planning administration at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). In 1970, he began a mail-order business selling condoms, flouting the Comstock Law.

Harvey has two businesses: Adam and Eve, the nation’s largest mail-order adult product business (headquartered in Hillsborough, North Carolina) and Phil Harvey Enterprises, Inc. The latter company is a non-profit devoted to bringing contraception to underserved countries. This led him to win the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists’ (AASECT) Humanitarian Award in 2006.

With that history, Harvey’s keynote should be a must-see.

 

Woman-Friendly Sex Shops: By The Numbers

Babeland, New York's Lower East Side location (Yelp)

Babeland, New York’s Lower East Side location (Yelp)

Dell Williams, who died last week at age 92, is credited with founding the first woman-friendly sex shop in the nation. Her store Eve’s Garden, founded in 1974, was born out of a need for a safe space for women to embrace and grow their sexuality and respective needs and desires (as well as selling high-end toys and products).

Williams was very much ahead of her time in that respect. Over forty years later, we now have many woman-friendly sex stores. They tend to be founded in same spirit of celebration and discovery of sexuality that Eve’s Garden was. Education and empowerment go hand-in-hand.

Here’s a timeline of how woman-friendly sex shops have evolved:

1970s: After gaining popularity in the gay community, The Pleasure Chest becomes more couple- (and woman-) friendly.

1974: Dell Williams opened Eve’s Garden, the nation’s first woman-friendly sex shop.

1977: Joani Blank opened the first Good Vibrations store in San Francisco.

1993: Noticing a niche needing to be filled, Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning founded Toys in Babeland in Seattle.

1998: Toys in Babeland opened a store in New York.

2003: The Smitten Kitten opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2005: Toys in Babeland changes its name to simply Babeland, to better reflect a sexually satisfying lifestyle.

2006: Good Vibrations opened a store in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was the fourth store total, and the first to open outside of California.

2009: Evy Cowan and Jeneen Doumitt opened She Bop in Portland, Oregon.

 

This is just a handful of woman-friendly sex shops.

It’s interesting to note that not only are these stores woman-friendly, but they were also founded by women. Clearly, it takes one to know one, in the case of knowing what women want in their sex toy shopping experience. There also appears to be a link between owning your sexuality and entrepreneurship. Very interesting!

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Dell William’s Statement of Purpose for NOW’s Women’s Sexuality Conference, 1973

Dell Williams' draft statement of purpose for the NOW Women's Sexuality Conference, 1973 (Cornell Library)

Dell Williams’ draft statement of purpose for the NOW Women’s Sexuality Conference, 1973 (Cornell Library)

In honor of the late Dell Williams, I found this gem: In 1973, Williams organized a sexuality conference in New York that gained a lot of attention. It was put on by the National Organization for Women (NOW), and featured “workshops on thirty five sex-related subjects.” Thousands of women attended.

Above is a draft of Williams’ statement of purpose for the conference, housed in Cornell’s Human Sexuality Collection. As you can see, it naturally focuses on women reclaiming their sexuality and breaking free from restrictions of choice.

Williams would go on to found Eve’s Garden, the nation’s first woman-friendly sex shop, in 1974.