Friday Double Dose: Virgin Births, The Gift of Trump and Wal-Mart Covers Birth Control

By Christine Cupaiuolo — December 22, 2006

29th Carnival of Feminists: Grab a hot mug of your favorite drink and pull up a seat — the 29th Carnival is now up on The Imponderabilia of Actual Life, guaranteeing hours of great reading. The next edition will be on The Feminist Pulse on January 17. You can use the Blog Carnival submission form or email jaymi AT girlistic DOT com.

Problem Not Solved: Groups in Maine continue to protest K-Mart for selling a boy’s t-shirt that some say promotes violence against women. Feminist activist Ben Atherton-Zemon has a good piece about the issue up at Feminist Peace Network, and the Kennebec Journal has lots about the efforts of local high school students:

The T-shirt depicts two panels of stick figures, with a male figure pushing a female figure out of a box, and is captioned “Problem Solved.”

Thalia Matthews and Deanha Giguere, both students at Messalonskee High School in Oakland who spent the past two weekends collecting donations to support a domestic violence shelter, say the shirt sends a bad message.

“Selling the message that using physical violence to solve your problems is OK is not acceptable,” Matthews said at the news conference as her sister, Alyssa Matthews, held up the T-shirt. “I want Kmart to take these shirts off their shelves for good, wherever Kmarts are located.”

Added Giguere: “Kmart couldn’t have thought before selling this product. If they would have stepped back and realized that, realistically, one in every three women have experienced some kind of domestic abuse, maybe they would have shied away from this particular product.”

The two are leaders of an advisory board of the Waterville-based Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a group aimed at ensuring the equality, independence and safety of females.

“While it’s easy to invoke the First Amendment defense of the T-shirt, and while we’re not questioning Kmart’s right to sell the shirt or consumers’ rights to buy the shirt, we do think that this is a matter of corporate responsibility,” said Megan Williams, the group’s executive director.

Imagine … a Keroack-Free 2007: From Reuters: “More than half of all sitting Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter calling for the ouster of Dr. Eric Keroack, who was appointed last month to oversee a $280 million program that provides birth control to poor women. ‘We believe the appointment of Dr. Keroack is a horrendous mistake for the safety of women’s health in the United States,’ said the letter, which was signed by 107 Democrats and three Republicans.”

Here’s more about that mistake, and a petition to stop Keroack.

Happy Holidays to Wal-Mart Employees: Wal-Mart announced Thursday that it will include birth control in its basic health insurance coverage plan, effective Jan. 1. From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

The move led to dismissal of a class-action lawsuit filed five years ago in federal court by a Wal-Mart customer service manager in Atlanta. The lawsuit alleged sexual discrimination.

Marcia Greenberger, copresident of the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, said it was significant that the nation’s largest private employer will cover the cost of pregnancy-prevention drugs.

“We recognize that their [health-care ] plan is not a strong plan,” she said. “But they have at least taken the proper step of recognizing that for women, contraceptives are an important part of their health care.”

As of January 2006, the company employed 1. 34 million workers in the United States. A 2005 federal report showed that 60. 5 percent, or nearly 811, 000, are women.

Herbal Remedy Fails to Impress Researchers: “The widely used herbal remedy black cohosh does nothing to eliminate hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms of menopause, either alone or in combination with other herbs, federally sponsored researchers reported Monday,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “The really strong message we need to get out is that menopause is a natural event, it is not an illness, and the symptoms are self-limiting,” said epidemiologist Katherine M. Newton, who led the study.

The study was sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative. For more on menopause, check out “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause.”

The Real Value of Public Pre-School: NYT blogger Judith Warner on why it’s not just about the cost/benefits and educational outcomes.

Rosie Trumps the Donald: Joan Walsh sees the good in war between Trump and Rosie:

… It clearly marks a victory in the culture war that an out lesbian can host a daytime show on a major network, chat about her girlfriend, criticize the pope and the president, attack homophobia where she sees it (I can’t peer into Kelly Ripa’s heart but my own heart froze when she ripped rumored-to-be-gay Clay Aiken’s hand from her mouth insisting, “I don’t know where that’s been!”). And where she can puncture big fat hot-air targets like Trump every day, without asking permission. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I’m glad she’s there. Merry Christmas, Rosie.

The Virgin Mother: No, not that one. This story is about the mother Flora, a Komodo dragon, who managed to become pregnant all on her own and is carrying seven baby dragons, thank you very much.

“We were blown away when we realized what she’d done,” said Kevin Buley, a reptile expert at Flora’s home at the Chester Zoo in this town in northern England. “But we certainly won’t be naming any of the hatchlings Jesus.”

Other reptile species reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis. But Flora’s virginal conception, and that of another Komodo dragon earlier this year at the London Zoo, are the first time it has been documented in a Komodo dragon.

Happy Holidays to everyone. I’ll be back on the 26th.

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