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October 21, 2011 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Jane Pratt (formerly of Sassy Magazine and her eponymous Jane,) launched a website for women: xojane, earlier this year. Last week the site's Health and Beauty Director wrote a blog post explaining that she never uses condoms, birth control pills, or other contraception (for fear of becoming fat) and instead relies on the emergency contraceptive Plan B to prevent pregnancy. And a segment of the internet exploded. (Her responses to some of the comments seem a bit clueless for someone with her title.) Critics have noted that the post was filled with "ignorant" "inaccuracies and misconceptions" about womens' health, sex, Plan B and other forms of birth control.

The Gloss responded with a post amusingly entitled, "XOJane Is Written By Monkeys With Typewriters"

Ms. Pratt has apologized. (That has also been criticized.)

Possibly as a response to the controversy, one of xojane's associate editors (Lesley Kinzel) has announced that their site is not appropriate for teenage girls, and offers them some advice. The Morning News added more advice.
posted by zarq (104 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do these condoms make me look fat?
posted by 2N2222 at 9:12 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Cat, the aforementioned "Health and Beauty Director", is a hot ass mess, and xojane would be a lot more readable if she never posted again.
posted by crankylex at 9:14 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow. All content-related controversy aside, that original blog post is almost unreadable. How is she in charge of editing anything, much less being paid to be a professional writer? I can't help but wonder if she intentionally tried to sound like an overexcited idiot to get more people to pay attention to the article.
posted by something something at 9:14 AM on October 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


what's the other kind of inaccuracy?
posted by LogicalDash at 9:15 AM on October 21, 2011


LogicalDash: deceptive.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:15 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is she snorting that PlanB???
posted by spicynuts at 9:15 AM on October 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


LogicalDash: "what's the other kind of inaccuracy?"

Deliberate, rather than ignorant.
posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy shit. Just reading the primary blog post made my vagina start crying. I don't think I can handle wading into the comments. This woman is a danger to herself and others. Use a fucking condom. God damn.
posted by phunniemee at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


They certainly got their view count up.
posted by inigo2 at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2011


People, people. Go easy on this woman. She must be on a constant hormonal rollercoaster from popping Plan B all the goddamn time.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:17 AM on October 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


It could be worse. If she actually had children, she could pass on her bits of "wisdom" to them.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:18 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somehow when I first read this post I thought it was Jane Pratt who posted the ridiculous assertions herself.

Also I had no idea that Jane was named after anyone.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:18 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is some of the worst writing I have read in a long time. It reeks of privilege and ignorance and seems so proud of it. Ick.
posted by rtha at 9:19 AM on October 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


XOJane was disappointing at launch, so I basically forgot all about it.

From TheGloss's post: Let’s imagine the debate. Listen to the crusty republican politician – oh, hell, let’s make him a Fox news pundit – saying with a nice element of gravitas “you see, the problem with products like plan B is that women aren’t able to take them as intended so they routinely abuse them, if you look at the article by a prominent health editor you’ll see that women are using it as their primary, and so for the sake of their own health…” Well, you fill in what comes next.

That just makes me wish Jane Pratt had forgotten about it as well.
posted by rewil at 9:19 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


That article reads like somebody saw the pharmacy was out of Plan B, and then decided to investigate exactly how much Oxy they had in stock.
posted by Shepherd at 9:21 AM on October 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, Jane Pratt, quit trying to be relevant to women today. If ain't Sassy, don't bother.
posted by Kitteh at 9:22 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


In other news, a man announces on a blog that he doesn't use contraception. A few of his bros give him virtual high-fives and the entry fades into obscurity.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:23 AM on October 21, 2011 [10 favorites]



Gosh, I tried to read this but it kept closing my browser down. My bad for trying to read this at work.

Did y'all notice the other articles at the site? "My boyfriends was a drug dealer!" "Are your nipples normal?"

Is it me, or is this actually a National Lampoon satire?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:23 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


ow is she in charge of editing anything, much less being paid to be a professional writer?

Not to overly TMZ this, but since it's already mentioned on more than one feminist and/or issue-related blog I guess it's out there already: a not-that-unique theory about this is that Pratt is well aware of xojane's psychological and drug abuse issues and has pretty much decided that exploiting that would make for great pageviews.

Given that this blew up even quicker than that equally-execrable "guys who play Magic are dorks, am I right girls?" post I have a feeling we gave the editor exactly what she wanted and are continuing to do so.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:23 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


No words. None.

Oh wait.

Stupid, reckless, vain, dangerous, damaging to women's causes, mind-boggling.
posted by pised at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait...so you mean women's magazines are made by ignorant people?

Never would I have expected it.

Next, you'll be telling me that men's magazines are made by middle aged men who like to pick up chicks half their age.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:25 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's hard to believe this isn't a parodic persona, sort of the bimbo alternative to Jim Anchower. She makes a virtue out of every personal failing.
posted by adamrice at 9:27 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR: " Not to overly TMZ this, but since it's already mentioned on more than one feminist and/or issue-related blog I guess it's out there already: a not-that-unique theory about this is that Pratt is well aware of xojane's psychological and drug abuse issues and has pretty much decided that exploiting that would make for great pageviews."

I didn't see that mentioned on the links I found while researching this post. Do you have cites?
posted by zarq at 9:28 AM on October 21, 2011


The reason I ask, XQUZYPHYR, is that even the most scathing criticisms I found didn't accuse the staff of the site of being psychologically damaged or drug addicts. Irresponsible, yes:
And furthermore, it’s irresponsible by the staff of XO Jane, who are presumably not all recklessly idiotic women-children, and should know better. Now, we realize why they ran this. They ran it for the pageviews. I understand that. God knows we do articles that are controversial sometimes mostly just for the sake of being controversial. I’m not saying that’s good or right, but everyone likes keeping their health benefits (I use mine towards my birth control pills!) so you play the game and when something strikes you as “mildly annoying” you write a post calling it “shockingly offensive.”

But that’s not all the staff of XO Jane is doing in running this article. What they are doing is dangerous in ways I don’t think they even took the time to consider.

Why? Because when legislation gets passed about birth control, people who want to outlaw it look at articles like Cat’s one, on this very popular women’s site that caters to a “demographic 18-49″ (so, the kind of who might need birth control) and think “well, the women who use Plan B are just irresponsible idiots who don’t deserve the privilege.”

I’m not saying Plan B should be a privilege instead of a right – I wish that were not the case – but in this day and age, it is. And every article like this one means that there’s one more argument someone can make to indicate that it’s a privilege women aren’t competent enough to have. Come now. Let’s imagine the debate. Listen to the crusty republican politician – oh, hell, let’s make him a Fox news pundit – saying with a nice element of gravitas “you see, the problem with products like plan B is that women aren’t able to take them as intended so they routinely abuse them, if you look at the article by a prominent health editor you’ll see that women are using it as their primary, and so for the sake of their own health…” Well, you fill in what comes next.

The fact that a group of 40-somethings assume that this behavior is something women in their mid-20s (you, Gloss readership) will relate to and find funny means that they think that you are idiots. I want an apology on behalf of my entire generation.

posted by zarq at 9:31 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow. My jaw dropped.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:31 AM on October 21, 2011


My criminal law professor is a woman...and she said that she can't teach women's issues anymore because she just could not read men talking about women's issues. She mentioned how the only people who have claimed that abortion would be used as a prophylactic were men.

I kinda understood...its hard to be reading such ignorant stuff...and then being in charge of marking not their opinion...but a legal paper upholding their opinion.

And then I read this shit. Wow.

When is this shit gonna be overthrown?
posted by hal_c_on at 9:33 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is either one of the worst things posted to the internet, or one of the greatest bits of trolling ever pulled on the internet.
posted by eriko at 9:36 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh come on. The woman cannot use Plan B as her primary birth control, unless she hardly ever has sex and enjoys puking and the occasional baby. It's a controversy piece- the magazine approved it and they got the attention they wanted. I'd never heard of this website until today but I enjoyed Sassy so now I'll probably check it out.

I can't decide if the faux article or the faux outrage is funnier.
posted by fshgrl at 9:39 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is either one of the worst things posted to the internet, or one of the greatest bits of trolling ever pulled on the internet.

It's clearly both.
posted by emilycardigan at 9:39 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow I want to wash my mind out with soap after reading that article. Holy hell. The steaming pile of birth control ignorance garnished with an "I'm too busy being sexy to understand science" persona was horrendous enough by itself; I wasn't even expecting the side dish where she makes light of suicide and mocks authors who kill themselves. Damn. Just, damn. So hateful towards women; so hateful towards humans. Many people could actually be physically hurt by this piece. Words released into the wide wild world have consequences. Writers and editors have a responsibility to consider those consequences before hitting the publish button. I want to take back the pageview I gave them.
posted by BlueJae at 9:42 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: made my vagina start crying.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:42 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apparently this woman has never heard of an IUD.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:42 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: "Apparently this woman has never heard of an IUD."

Well....
posted by zarq at 9:48 AM on October 21, 2011


roomthreeseventeen:Apparently this woman has never heard of an IUD.

From the comment section:

Cat Marnell: BUT. can't stds and bacteria crawl up the ... SPINE of the IUD and then give you an infection and then make you STERILE? scary


Scary indeed.
posted by emilycardigan at 9:48 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do SPORADIC CAPS really IMPART an HILARIOUS and TOTALLY IRONIC TONE?!??? ARG WHY CAT WHY are you such a FUCKING HORRIFIC and somehow PROFESSIONAL WRITER. I really HOPE THAT YOU DON'T GET CHLAMYDIA!!?!?! Despite the fact that you JUST DON'T DO CONDOMS OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG WTF
posted by superquail at 9:48 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sassy!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on October 21, 2011


Ah, I had missed the comments section. Whatever. Morons are morons.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:51 AM on October 21, 2011


I picture Cat Martell as actually being Courtney Love. Then somehow the whole thing becomes much funnier.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:52 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is not the fault of people who made Plan B available.

This is the fault of people who refuse to fund public education and attempt to prevent the teaching of science.

TL;DR: I blame this person on Republicans and fundamentalist Christians.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:53 AM on October 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Cat Marnell: BUT. can't stds and bacteria crawl up the ... SPINE of the IUD and then give you an infection and then make you STERILE? scary

Sterility is WAY cheaper than Plan B, Cat, check it out!!!!
posted by superfluousm at 9:56 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I cannot read the article right now, as I am afraid that my frothing at the mouth/inarticulate rage would be frowned upon at the office.

Later this evening, though...
posted by blurker at 9:58 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


After reading this and googling Cat Marnell and scrolling around and realizing that this is the same web site that gave us the "my rapist friended me on FB" article earlier this year, I think I'm revising my opinion of the earlier article downward along with my opinion of Jane Pratt for running the site. Women's magazines: still considered harmful in the online era.
posted by immlass at 10:00 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is not the fault of people who made Plan B available. This is the fault of people who refuse to fund public education and attempt to prevent the teaching of science.

You know, I think some fault -- not a lot, but some -- should also lie with Cat and her parents as well.

I mean, I didn't have sex ed in my school either. But I had parents who encouraged me to look things up, and I had enough self-respect to want to. So even though I didn't have sex ed, I looked up everything I could about contraception for my own damn self when I became sexually active, because I knew that I was engaging in an adult activity, and that meant that I had to act like a god-damn grownup about it. And part of "acting like a god-damn grownup" means "educating yourself".

This is not to say that I let the schools off teaching sex-ed, of course - but right now they don't, so come on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course she's a trolling idiot, but I think we should be careful not to automatically buy into (and wring our hands about) how right wingers will frame this story when we can interpret it based on our worldview. We don't always need to be playing defense when there is a perfectly sensible alternative explanation.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:03 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


My first thought was that this couldn't possibly be real--it must be an art project or parody or something, right? Right? But then again... maybe not. Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew. It's so unbelievably creepy to be proud of your stupidity around birth control. And it's pretty funny that she's afraid of being made sterile, because this is pretty clearly a woman who should never have (or even be in the company of) children. Especially daughters.

The terrible writing doesn't surprise me, unfortunately. I used to read Jane, and frequently Jane (and Jane) published articles which were way over the line that separates "casual, chatty tone" from "clearly a first draft". As in, articles with no clear beginning, middle, and end; celebrity profiles where the writer talks about themselves nonstop; "I couldn't bother making up a title" used as a title on a regular basis. Crap that wouldn't fly in a high school student paper. I mean, Marie Claire isn't on the cutting edge of journalism, but your average Marie Claire article is at least competently written.

I read Jane Pratt's "apology", and it's ridiculous. Variations on the phrase "we respect the diversity of women's voices" re-appear in every paragraph, the gist being that it's somehow feminist to publish idiotic, damaging crap because a woman wrote it.

Sassy was great, but that was long time ago, and sweet Jesus, has Jane Pratt ever jumped the shark.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 10:03 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints: "Metafilter: made my vagina start crying."

Are you sure you don't mean your vulva?

---

I'm half tempted to remove this lame, site-referential joke, not to protect my own rating in anybody's eyes (I'm pretty sure that respect train has long left the station) but because after this fiasco, I feel like I should do my part to make sure that no additional ignorant thing regarding women's health - no matter how small - should be put on the Internet. We may be reaching the tipping point where it can handle no more.

blurker describes the reaction right because this makes me nearly rabid. It might just be because I'm in a mood but I can't imagine what people who spend their lives/energy actively trying to fix the damage done by the piss poor sex education mixed with puritanical bullshit must feel. Probably blind rage at best.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:04 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


even the most scathing criticisms I found didn't accuse the staff of the site of being psychologically damaged or drug addicts

zarq, IIRC, Cat Marnell has written about having been in rehab for drug addiction, so at least in her case it's true.
posted by crankylex at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2011


I wish there were some way to see an archive of all Cat Marnell's xojane articles, because some of the earliest ones are doozies as well. This one, about how she couldn't be bothered to donate to Japan's earthquake relief, made me apoplectic; in it, she trots out her casual racism AND her fairly recent oxy contin addiction. There's another one I can't find that talked about how her sojurn in a mental institution was awesome because she had all this extra time to deep-condition her hair. AND the "celebs I'd make out with" list in her author profile used to include Joran Van Der Sloot (that's been scrubbed). Add to this the blase/naive tone she uses to respond to critical comments, I'm led to believe that she's a) just a troll ne plus ultra and/or b) suffering from a serious personality disorder.

It's sad that Jane Pratt is blithely giving this mentally unstable woman a place to spew her idiocy. Especially since it has nothing to do with her "talent" as an author.
posted by cowboy_sally at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


This lady is a troll.

That being said, there are women who refuse the pill because they fear gaining a few pounds. My previous gyn had a great rebuttal for that: "If you take the pill, you might gain 5 pounds, but if you get pregnant, you'll gain 50 pounds. Which one do you want?"
posted by Kitty Stardust at 10:08 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are you sure you don't mean your vulva?

Yes, thank you. One of them is the primary passageway for all the aborting fetus/unsheathed wiener action; the other is just sort of along for the ride. (In case you're wondering, my vulva is facepalming.)
posted by phunniemee at 10:10 AM on October 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


crankylex: " zarq, IIRC, Cat Marnell has written about having been in rehab for drug addiction, so at least in her case it's true."

Ah. Thanks.

I googled:

"I Spent Two Weeks In A Mental Institution But Left With Better Hair" (Via)
posted by zarq at 10:12 AM on October 21, 2011


Her responses to some of the comments seem a bit clueless for someone with her title.

In my experience, Type A people in the drivers seat generally are pretty clueless - they don't concern themselves with the details, and instead rely on drive, charisma and strategic sense to get ahead.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:12 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was listening to Psychic TV on youtube the other day and was reminded of the first time I saw their sigil/logo... it was Sassy magazine. And man - what a great resource that was to a younger brother of an older teen girl. What subversive things were there that wouldn't make it into the bullshit "pop" culture teen girl 'zines.

My sister was never really "alternative" much, IMO, but I think Sassy did give her some street cred.
posted by symbioid at 10:12 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember reading Sassy back in the day. Great stuff.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I officially declare that there is a new, disturbing internet trend: Websites exploiting girls who are not stupid, per se, but not self-aware enough to refrain from writing deeply stupid things on the internet in a high profile way, being used to create controversy and thereby generate metric asstons of irate and money-making internet traffic. This, and that Gawker thread about Jon Finkel being prime examples.

Nothing to see here except a naive girl really fucking up out loud and in your face. I am going to look at pictures of kittens, and mourn the beauty and inspiration that once was Sassy - and try not to wonder how Jane Pratt became such a motherfucking Aunt Tom.

God knows when I was 21 I had some pretty dunder-headed opinions and some REALLY boneheaded ideas about my body, and dating -- I can't imagine if someone put me up on a pedestal and encouraged me to talk about them as though I had some sense of authority or expertise.

(not 'ew birth control, ew I went on a date with a magic player stupid', though)
posted by pazazygeek at 10:23 AM on October 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


(Lesley Kinzel) has announced that their site is not appropriate for teenage girls, and offers them some advice.

Lesley also says in the comments to the piece that she was kidding about that announcement.
posted by liketitanic at 10:23 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I need for her to be a troll, because the alternative makes me want to off myself.
posted by everichon at 10:26 AM on October 21, 2011


liketitanic: " Lesley also says in the comments to the piece that she was kidding about that announcement."

Ah! Nice catch. Thanks.

I thought that was a nice piece. Exactly what I expect from her.
posted by zarq at 10:27 AM on October 21, 2011


If this woman's bona fides are sufficient for employment as a paid "health critic," then comrades! I hereby offer my services as a "health critic," "book blogger," and "advice columnist."

Combined Lesson #1: When it's time for you to learn about puberty from Judy Blume, be sure your copy of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret is the updated version that removes references to sanitary napkin belts.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:27 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hopefully teen girls will figure out that Rookie Mag is the new Sassy.

Thank god they ended up keeping it independent from xojane
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:27 AM on October 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


(That will be $5.00, please.)
posted by nicebookrack at 10:28 AM on October 21, 2011


Are you sure you don't mean your vulva?

Yes, thank you. One of them is the primary passageway for all the aborting fetus/unsheathed wiener action; the other is just sort of along for the ride. (In case you're wondering, my vulva is facepalming.)


For me, the last few weeks on MetaFilter has been like the time when Judge Phelan explains the difference between "then" and "than" to McNulty but translated to vagina-space.
posted by shothotbot at 10:35 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just like I have the right to kill myself!

(Which, no, I'm not going to do. Trust me, I have no idea how (short of drugs, and THAT I find pathetic). And I was reading David Foster Wallace over the weekend and he hung himself and I'm all, how DO these creative writer types know how to make nooses? Could you make a noose? I don't think I could make even one nautical knot, and thinking about those things makes me curious and cheerful. So anyway, that was just an UPLIFTING Tuesday aside, and you're welcome for it!)

But back to Plan B!


OMG I couldn't read after this and now I have the extreme fury and the headaches and gah. WTF.
posted by sweetkid at 10:40 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope her baby doesn't come out all fucked up and shit.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:40 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope her baby doesn't come out all fucked up and shit.

Hahaha, that reminds me of this baby shower I went to. One of the attendees said (as someone else's toddler walked by her, I should add), "man, I never want to have a baby. Like, what if it comes out ugly?"
posted by phunniemee at 10:43 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


nicebookrack: " Combined Lesson #1: When it's time for you to learn about puberty from Judy Blume, be sure your copy of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret is the updated version that removes references to sanitary napkin belts."

Wow, when I read that I thought you meant that it had removed references completely -- like censoring them out of existence -- rather than replacing them with a more modern reference. And you know how I said earlier I was" nearly rabid", that pushed me over the edge. I'm so glad I googled* this because I couldn't believe that censorship had happened and I didn't know about it because my original response was GRAR that makes no sense.

*More pleasant sidebar: I found my answer on a site about Lost message board where thread was a discussion of books Sawyer read on the island and how it might related to the show overall. An entire thread about Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret in this context really restored a little of my faith in humanity.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:50 AM on October 21, 2011


I know a woman who doesn't think she needs condoms because she's a serial monogamist. Then she found out that abnormal pap smear 10+ years ago has now become HPV. Bet she still doesn't use condoms.

If I had sex outside my marriage, you bet your sweet bippy it would be safe. 'Cause I've known for years that having my tubes tied only prevents me from getting pregnant!
posted by luckynerd at 11:04 AM on October 21, 2011


That is some of the worst writing I have read in a long time. It reeks of privilege and ignorance and seems so proud of it. Ick.

Geez, no kidding. That was more like a bad imitation of bad writing, some kind of meta-bad joke. The intersection of crazy bad advice with the train-wreck writing is a bit too much.

In fairness, though, she has an awful lot of company in the "don't use condoms" camp. I know we've discussed this before here and using good survey data, but even a quick google search pulls up figures like only 56% of young Swedes using condoms during casual sex, or "more than 90 percent of men over 50 didn't use a condom when they last had sex with a date or casual acquaintance, and 70 percent didn't do so when they had sex with a stranger". Even people in the highest risk groups and with access to safe sex education don't tend to have super high condom usage rates.

So she's pretty normal in her casual (and uninformed) approach to sexual safety; what seems more unusual to me is her use of Plan B as a primary contraceptive. (Surely the very name is a clue that this is not its intended use, no?)
posted by Forktine at 11:16 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


How old is this person?

I wonder if the heart attack I'm feeling (no condoms? Jesus!) is due to my being raised in the era of the AIDS epidemic, when people still thought you could get AIDS from saliva, when it was an automatic death sentence. No glove, no love, baby.

Someone born later, who grew up seeing AIDS as a manageable disease, might not have that same instinct drilled into her. After all, if there's no one dying of AIDS anywhere around you, how is it worse than chlamydia?

This person is ignorant. Wilfully ignorant, which makes her fucking stupid.
posted by cereselle at 11:18 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know a woman who doesn't think she needs condoms because she's a serial monogamist. Then she found out that abnormal pap smear 10+ years ago has now become HPV. Bet she still doesn't use condoms.

dude, hpv is transferrable even when you use condoms properly...just like herpes.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:20 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


> How is she in charge of editing anything, much less being paid to be a professional writer?

This. I know a lot of talented writers, and only one of them is actually making a living as a writer.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:30 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then she found out that abnormal pap smear 10+ years ago has now become HPV. Bet she still doesn't use condoms.

hi. I dont hate you but i want to point something out. Two things.

1. Condoms and hpv...scroll down.

2. Hpv is a virus..and its eradicated within 2 years for 75 to 90% of people. I dont think your friend could have had an abnormal pap smear 10 years ago and that been the cause of her recent hpv. She musta been cuttin up with someone who had hpv...pretty recently.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:33 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of Marlon Brando. Some friends of mine were arguing whether he was actually crazy, or merely pretending to be crazy as an act, but eventually we compromised on the idea that pretending to be that crazy for that long is basically a form of craziness.

I know a lot of talented writers, and only one of them is actually making a living as a writer.

And this reminds me of an acquaintance who is a respected horror writer with an unproduced, original script. It was excellent, but it's still not made. He had said that he had been very happy with it, but as he tried to get it made, he kept getting told to dumb it down. He would dumb it down, but they'd tell it to dumb it down further. This went on and on and on, until finally he threw up his hands and said, "I don't know how people do it. I've tried and I've tried to dumb this down, but apparently I'm not doing it right. I guess this is why other people, not me, get paid the big bucks..."
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:37 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That being said, there are women who refuse the pill because they fear gaining a few pounds. My previous gyn had a great rebuttal for that: "If you take the pill, you might gain 5 pounds, but if you get pregnant, you'll gain 50 pounds. Which one do you want?"

Eh, that's pretty wince-worthy coming from a doctor. A woman's concerns about weight gain and other side effects of the pill are pretty valid and it's not really awesome to dismiss them like that.

All that said, isn't plan b the same hormones that are in the pill? I wouldn't want to megadose myself with that stuff on a regular basis since my body doesn't play nice with the pill anyway. Hooray for condoms!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:51 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've gained 7lbs in the two months I've been on the minipill, but I'd rather be fat than a ignorant jerkface moron.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:53 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


What doctors need to invent is some sort of system for reproductive organ storage. As soon as a girl starts menstruating, she should have the option to remove her ovaries and uterus and put them in a jar for however long it takes until she decides she wants to have kids. Because holy hell, those sonsabitches can cause a lot of misery.
posted by phunniemee at 11:56 AM on October 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Honestly, I just can't with this. I gave this awful site half a chance because of the awesome Lesley Kinzel, and even tried amusing myself by picturing the health/beauty editor as Your Friend from HS but clearly I'm not the audience for this kind of thing.

Whether they're exploiting a deeply troubled woman or deliberately spreading disinformation for page views it's completely revolting and I'm done. I only wish the internet would stop giving them the eyeballs they're so clearly desperate for.

(Go Rookie! Writing for teenage girls: You're doing it right)
posted by Space Kitty at 11:57 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of sad this is getting more press. There are actually some (perhaps not a majority) of good articles on the site, yet this really horribly written article gets all the attention.
posted by ejaned8 at 12:03 PM on October 21, 2011


I've been reading The Pervocracy recently, and even though it's not perfect, it is a perfect example of a young woman writing in a casual, accessible, yet also smart and coherent way about sex. (And other issues, but for the sake of comparison I'm emphasizing that part.) "Informal" does not have to equal "idiotic", though xojane seems to think it does.

I gained 20 pounds on the pill, and it made me feel awful. So I did what most responsible adult women (and lots of teenage girls) manage to do, and researched other methods with the help of a frickin' doctor at the free clinic. It's not that hard.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:04 PM on October 21, 2011


*As soon as a girl starts menstruating, she should have the option to remove her ovaries and uterus and put them in a jar for however long it takes until she decides she wants to have kids.

I'd take a page from Fatale and swap mine out to install a compact fusion reactor power generator. Never again will I hunt for a spare electric outlet for my netbook at the coffee shop!
posted by nicebookrack at 12:10 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then she found out that abnormal pap smear 10+ years ago has now become HPV.

HPV (the V stands for "virus") is a cause, not an effect, of abnormal pap smears. Ten years down the road, whatever showed up on an abnormal pap smear might have progressed into cervical cancer, but HPV would be the sexually-transmitted virus that started it originally. And yeah, condoms don't prevent its transmission, though there's now of course a vaccine, Gardasil, that protects against several major strains.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:29 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


For me, the last few weeks on MetaFilter has been like the time when Judge Phelan explains the difference between "then" and "than" to McNulty but translated to vagina-space.

I think we need to lobby the CTW do a muppet skit for Sesame Street on the whole vagina/vulva issue. Start the kids off right.
posted by bonehead at 12:41 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reads like those Dooce posts where Heather Armstrong finds raccoons in her attic, or the dog has diarrhea all over the living room, or her kid breaks her tooth. EVERYthing is EXAGGERATED for MAXimum AD impressions.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:41 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


The reality of "professional troll" as a viable full-time career choice in the 21st century intrigues me. I'm not busting on Jane specifically, it's just interesting...before the web this simply didn't exist. Not everyone has the agency to just up-and-decide to become Maury Povich or Jerry Springer, but on the web absolutely anyone can.
posted by trackofalljades at 12:45 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't bring myself to read it. But, I gotta know, how often is she claiming she's using Plan B? And is she not worried that the hormones in Plan B - the exact same ones as in the pill, but at significantly higher doses - will make her fat? Or that regular use of them will cause any of the other serious side effects that (a larger percentage of) women used to complain about back in the early days of the pill when it contained significantly higher amounts of hormones? Or is that part of the "can't be bothered to understand science" schtick?
posted by eviemath at 12:56 PM on October 21, 2011


Are you sure you don't mean your vulva?

Yes, thank you. One of them is the primary passageway for all the aborting fetus/unsheathed wiener action; the other is just sort of along for the ride. (In case you're wondering, my vulva is facepalming.
)

Furthering this minor derail with a friendly P(edantic)SA: This phrasing implies that Plan B is responsible for one or the other of these actions. In fact, Plan B prevents ovulation and may prevent a blastocyst from implanting. And isn't "blastocyst" a better word than "fetus," anyway? Fetus is all ooky but blastocyst just wants to hang out, man.

But, yeah, tough to use as birth control unless you're organized enough to be tracking your ovulation, which it doesn't seem like Ms. Marnell is.
posted by MsMacbeth at 1:10 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


eventually we compromised on the idea that pretending to be that crazy for that long is basically a form of craziness.

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 1:33 PM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]



I can't bring myself to read it. But, I gotta know, how often is she claiming she's using Plan B? And is she not worried that the hormones in Plan B - the exact same ones as in the pill, but at significantly higher doses - will make her fat?
But WOMEN. We are clearly abusing it. OK, at least I am. Once I took it three times in one month! And that is seriously extreme; I know; I know. So besides that horrible month -- I was f*&king around with someone REALLY sexy; what can I say -- I'd say that I take it once every, like two months, and OMIGOD I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M WRITING ABOUT MY SEX LIFE. I meant to be writing all of this to condemn all of YOU
3 times in one month = $150.00, pretty expensive birth control. And is that even safe? Is it necessary? And did she just coyly announce that she has sex once every two months?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:55 PM on October 21, 2011


And did she just coyly announce that she has sex once every two months?

Does anyone remember Julie Brown on MTV who would give helpful tips to women? Like how to multitask by washing your dinner trout in your nylons before a date? That's pretty much how I'm seeing this. There's no way this could be in earnest.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:02 PM on October 21, 2011


And did she just coyly announce that she has sex once every two months?

and I meant to start off with: This was my take-away from it.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:02 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's saying that ideally, she'd only let her partner ejaculate inside of her once every two months or so. Because as we all know, you can't get pregnant if he pulls out.
posted by chowflap at 2:11 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hence her "5) Abortion. This shouldn't even be on the list though obviously I've had them. Abortions are not birth control and I hate them! I'm OBVIOUSLY pro-choice but I think they are terrible and wrong and I hate having them." With emphasis on the word "them" as in, "more than one."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:18 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow - using Plan B as birth control is really expensive. $50 every time you have sex.

Whereas a Neuvoring is $12 a month (albeit partly subsidized - sold at cost).
posted by jb at 2:36 PM on October 21, 2011


I just want to say that as both a formerly professional writer and a health educator, I am in no way praising or even defending this article, but I think an important element has been left out of this (and all other) discussions. Plan B is uncomfortable at best - vomiting is virtually guaranteed when you take it - and expensive. So why would someone who lists other options decide it's the best one?

Because birth control options suck, especially for women.

Hormonal birth control is very problematic for a lot of women. I literally cannot count how many women I know who have gotten pregnant on the pill. One woman is a former roommate and I watched her take her pill every night. She set alarms. The pill upset her stomach- as pills are wont to do- and, not every night, but pretty often, she'd take Tums or some Pepto to calm her tummy down. That interfered with the absorption of the pill, and, you guessed it, she saw two lines. The fact that these commonly used, OTC meds can interfere with the pill is hardly something that's advertised. I also think it's worth noting that my former roommate loved the pill she was on, it eliminated her acne and PMS and made her periods lighter and shorter, and she stayed on it after her pregnancy was terminated, continued to take it very reliably, waited to take Tums or Pepto... and two years later, she got pregnant again.

Now there are other options that circumvent that, like the NuvaRing. However, many, many women report skin problems, loss of libido, increased yeast infections and/or bacterial vaginosis, despite its lower hormone load.

Anything that's progestin only- mini pills, Depo- has a very high rate of undesirable side effects. There is roughly an 85% chance that on progestin only birth control you will experience one of the following: weight gain, sleeplessness, headaches, loss of libido, or increased acne.

Implants, frankly, scare the shit out of people, and not without reason. They have all the hormonal downsides, but not the upside of being easily reversible.

None of this even begins to cover the expense or what to do if you have kidney problems or a blood clotting disorder.

IUDs have only recently gotten any easier to get, and most doctors are still loath to give a ParaGard (non-hormonal) to anyone, much less a woman who has never carried to term.

Condoms are quite possibly the most oversold form of birth control that there is. I came of age during the Condom Era, and I practiced the "No Glove, No Love" philosophy until I married. However, especially the newer studies really present how problematic condoms are. They offer virtually no additional protection against herpes or HPV, and very limited protection against chlamydia and gonorrhea. They are only as effective at preventing pregnancy as withdrawal when you compare rates of actual use instead of "perfect" use. When it comes to blood borne pathogens (HIV, hepatitis, syphilis), condoms perform better, but are still problematic because they more frequently lead to microtears in the vagina when compared to a bare penis, so in the event that *any* fluid escapes, the chances of infection are raised because of a break in the skin. Spermicide, particularly that which is long lasting and shelf stable (that is, used on condoms) is a major irritant that will also cause microscopic abrasions on a woman's delicate genital tissues and make her more, not less, susceptible to pathogens. And many, many women have latex allergies or sensitivities, and even more women find condoms uncomfortable or downright painful.

I know several women who practice withdrawal as their primary form of birth control, and, when their partner slips, use Plan B. I'm sure that many people would criticize them for this, but the science simply does not support their criticism. Withdrawal plus Plan B for back up has an actual use effectiveness rate that is equal to the actual use effectiveness rate of the pill. This was the method that I used when I was nursing and other forms of birth control were problematic, and it worked for me. I will grant you, this method doesn't protect against infection or disease, but, sadly, not much does, at least, not very well. (There is a promising new gel in development, though!)

I am sad that this rotten article is now the most well known defense of "abusing" Plan B.
posted by Leta at 6:01 PM on October 21, 2011 [16 favorites]


Stupid, reckless, vain, dangerous, damaging to women's causes, mind-boggling.

Metafilter: We may be reaching the tipping point where it can handle no more.

sorry
posted by BlueHorse at 7:37 PM on October 21, 2011


A: Goddamn I love my Paragard. (And it was super easy for me as a nulliparous 26 year old to get. If you're in the SF Bay Area, memail me and I'll send you to my Dr.)

B: $50 bucks every time I fuck? I don't have a whole lot of sex and that'd still blow my budget in a pretty major way.

C: Am I the only person who wasn't spectacularly miserable the one time I took Plan B? I didn't puke, spent the night in taking it easy, and was fine.

D: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK WAS THAT ARTICLE!??!?!?!
posted by mollymayhem at 9:48 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am here because my mum decided to get sterilized. She had to stop taking the pill for a month so it would work its way out her system before she could get it done, and, well, here I am.

Contraception is horrible. I don't want to take anything hormonal because I have a mood disorder, condoms aren't ideal long-term (and years of reading Just 17 have made me nervous about them splitting, or coming off), and the morning-after pill isn't very fun. (Though we can get it free from the GP here, or for £25 over the counter). Plus I'm taking medication that completely and utterly rules out pregnancy as a good idea, even if I wanted to conceive right now, so IUD was pretty much the only option and even the non-hormonal ones have an effect on the body (yay anaemia).

But come on - not taking the Pill because you don't want to get fat? I put on three stone in six months of Depo-Provera but I'd rather have had that than an unwanted pregnancy. And that's before we think about the diseases one can easily pick up from letting your slut flag fly...
posted by mippy at 1:47 AM on October 22, 2011


From the comments in the Gloss article:

" I also can’t help but think, as regular reader of xojane.com and of Cat Marnell’s writing, it look a lot different in a larger context. Within that context, readers KNOW that Cat has long dealt with psychological problems, doesn’t take care of herself, and frequently makes questionable choices. But through all of this she is very real and honest and sort of becomes that frustrating yet lovable friend that you sort of have to accept is on her own path to self destruction, providing beauty tips on her way down."

Frankly, if that's your position - and I speak as someone who fits this description - the one thing you need is to be contracepted up to the eyeballs.
posted by mippy at 1:54 AM on October 22, 2011


Building on mippy's point, what I found most interesting was the article comments. Commentators fell into two groups:

1. You GO, sister (totally supportive)

and

2. Yes, abortions suck (but of course we are all pro choice)

and sometimes both.

Interestingly only one commentator was appalled. (btw, I'm not appalled, the lady is a troll and its dramaz piece for amusement much like the IT girl articles in the London press)
posted by zia at 5:31 AM on October 22, 2011


Sassy was an important part of my teens. I re-read every issue so much that I can still picture the pages of some issues. That makes this so very disappointing.
posted by Mavri at 5:41 PM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who wasn't spectacularly miserable the one time I took Plan B? I didn't puke, spent the night in taking it easy, and was fine.

Same here. I've taken that route twice; the first time came when you still had to get it as a prescription from your doctor, so it was even stronger. And the most i felt was a bit queasy and that was it.

Not disputing its puke-inducing abilities in others, though. That's definitely a your-mileage-may-vary thing. (Had a different side effect the second time -- it made my period about a week late, which caused me a bit of "fuck, did it not work??" anxiety.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:52 AM on October 24, 2011


Yeah, I've taken Plan B twice when condoms have broke, and it really didn't effect me at all. I mean, aside from my not getting pregnant (if I was going to). I knew that it could cause vomiting and other side effects, but of my friends that have taken it that I know of, none of us have had a bad experience. I suppose we may be outliers..
posted by Nattie at 3:17 PM on October 24, 2011


Cat Marnell has posted a non-response to the article.
posted by crankylex at 10:15 AM on October 25, 2011


Man, she just can't win. She recommends Mr. Bubble. And this shows up in the comments:

Jane Pratt: "Anyway, doesn't Mr. Bubble have that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in it? Meaning drying, especially to your vagina, in this case?"

Responses:

"I am craving the scent of Mr. Bubble. I don't even care if it dries out my vagina (per Jane's comment)."

"Mr. Bubble is just asking for a UTI! Good lord that stuff is not meant for vaginas."
posted by zarq at 10:33 AM on October 25, 2011


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