News & Updates

Sex on Wednesday | “Of Pens and Penises”

by Martha Kempner

Yesterday I organized pens. I’ve often described myself as a 0.5 girl living in a 0.7 world (IYKYK), and I always start the year by buying fresh notebooks and new pens. That’s the happy part of a new year for me because there’s nothing as hopeful as a blank notebook. Even with my blank notebooks and microfine points, it’s hard to feel hopeful at the start of this year, however. None of last year’s problems have been fixed, the election is looming, and attacks on sexual and reproductive rights are not slowing down.

Erin Reed of Erin in the Morning reports that in the first five days of this year lawmakers across the country introduced 125 bills targeting LGBTQ+ people. Some states are trying again with bills that failed to pass last year like Missouri which now has three proposed drag ban bills. The Show-Me State is also considering a bathroom ban. The legislation argues that transgender people using the bathroom of their choice violates the rights of cisgender people. If it passes, the law would weaponize the state’s Human Rights Commission forcing it to become the bathroom police. (The irony would almost be funny if it weren’t so horrifying).

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Florida is once again taking a top spot in discrimination and cruelty. One proposed law would extend its infamous “Don’t Say Gay (or Trans)” rule to workplaces for companies that contract with the federal government. That same bill bans nonprofits in the state from mandating employee training on LGBTQ+ issues. Another proposed bill would replace gender with biological sex on driver’s licenses and require people to sign “biological sex affidavits.” Reed explains that this could not only lead to trans people in the state having their licenses revoked but could also give the state a way to track members of the trans community. In addition, the bill requires insurance companies that cover gender-affirming surgeries to cover trans conversion therapies as well.

In abortion news, the Supreme Court is going to hear a case about Idaho’s strict law that bans all procedures even in the case of medical emergencies. Doctors in the state have said it puts them in a terrible position of not knowing when, how, or if to save a pregnant person’s life. Everyone should listen to this NPR piece on an Idaho OB/GYN married to an emergency medical doc. She describes constantly weighing what she knows to be the best course of treatment against the legal nightmare that could befall her family if someone disagrees with her assessment. Not only can doctors go to jail for performing an abortion, but the law also allows a patient’s family to sue the doctor for no less than $20,000. (The maximum is never specified.)

While a lower court had temporarily suspended the law, SCOTUS said it can remain in place until they rule. I can’t help but wonder (in a mock Carrie Bradshaw kind of way) which will come first, the court’s decision or a dead woman in Idaho?

Lawmakers and justices may not care if women die, but hey, at least one legislator in Tennessee is very concerned about our ability to keep having babies. As Jessica Valenti reports in Abortion Every Day, Senator Richard Briggs has introduced the Freedom to Have Children and a Family Act which would allow for an exception to the state’s strict abortion laws if a woman’s future fertility was at stake. The pathetic thing is that he thinks he’s taking care of women when all he’s really doing is turning a spotlight on the GOP’s increasingly obvious women-are-only-good-for-sex-and-babies misogyny.

Legislators have only been back at work for a week. There’s much more where this came from. Plus, there will be more book banning, plenty of school board fights over sex ed curricula, and ever-increasing rates of STIs. And, of course, this could be the year in which Trump is elected again despite the insurrection, the grift, and the obvious signs of dementia.

I will write about it all, I promise. Just not today.

Today, I’m going to write about a fascinating pregnancy, broken penises, and a pretty vulva dress with pockets. Consider this my way of easing us into the news of 2024 just as we ease ourselves into our New Year’s Resolutions. And no, for the record, I have not actually used the rowing machine in the basement yet this year (but it’s only day 10).

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