One take on implicit media misogyny

Though calling the double standard for women in the media misogyny so glibly might get me taken down a notch or two by some critics, this Salon article about the ways in which women writers and bloggers are represented, specifically one blogger who wrote about her sexual adventures and criticizes the Sex and the City phenomena, points to the consistent discrepancies in male and female representations in the media (such as the difference in the New Economist's Obama and Clinton covers).

Risks for lady-bodies

I try very hard not to have knee-jerk feminist reactions...because as much as we still need to monitor public discussions of female bodies, it gets soooooo old to have to keep saying, "urgh, please can we not make the lady body so specialized for scrutiny?" And yet, nothing changes.

A friend was telling me about her visit to the nurse practitioner the other day, while requesting a refill of birth control pills (which it is worth noting has a yearly check-up mandate in order to make sure women are getting their pap smears, by the way...fascinating secondary by-product of pharma regulation -- the pairing of one thing to another, related but not intrinisically necessary thing).** The nurse practitioner took the opportunity to discuss with her the long-term reproductive planning things that she might want to consider. As in, you are a reproducing-age woman, having sex, perhaps you would like me to advise you on the next ten years or so of your fertility? Now...this is all well and fine if my dear friend had come in with the intention of discussing her long-term fertility, baby-planning strategies, etc. However, coming in for birth control pills does not mean the patient is interested in discussing her, yawn, hetero-normative reproductive future. The presumption that my delightful spitfire friend even wants to reproduce (and oh, by the way, contraception is intended to prevent said procreation) is really tiresome. I think next time she ought to explain that she's getting the pill because her girlfriend thinks she's too moody without it....

Similarly, my inbox received its daily Kaiser Women's Health Report (now owned/run by some other outsource org), announcing that the FDA is proposing new regulations for risks to pregnant women and fetuses. And so, the female body continues to be a special category of human, and the pregnant body in particular.

Or as I wrote to a fellow anthropologist friend:
risks! risks! risks for pregnant ladies!

sorry -- I get so irritated by the morning news and updates. Also, as my friend XX bemoaned to me, it is quite tiresome to find one's body so perpetually MONITORED. though, I wish they'd get their shit together a wee bit more and monitor ALL drugs, not just ones that go in lady-bodies.
** It is logical that women who are a) sexually active and b) sexually active presumably without condoms should be receiving regular Pap smears. The cervix is a very delicate part of the body and susceptible to HPV and therefore potentially cervical cancer. I just find it useful to note the ways in which public health and medicine have neatly tied practices to pharma. For example, as I discovered, in Morocco, you can walk into a pharmacy and request the birth control pills you want. No doctor's note. No pelvic exam. This may not be a completely good thing, but it is kind of odd, don't you think, that in a Muslim country, I felt more liberated in that respect than I would in the States. Think of the money saved, the time saved, the middle-men taken out of the equation (medical staff, physicians, insurance) but also, the personal responsiblity attributed to any adverse outcomes if I had taken the wrong pills, or had a bad reaction.


Los Angeles Countdown

As I prepare for the next move (both figurative and literal), I've been focused very narrowly on the CDC/STD project. It's kind of reassuring to have a focus, but I noted to my dad on the phone the other day that it's frustrating that my work doesn't have its own momentum. This is why I have felt I need to leave LA. Without my attention and constant pushing, I don't have a lot of fieldwork that goes on. After 7 months, I really feel this is a problem with my own project (and with LA), and something has to change. The radical decision to leave the field entirely does not, perhaps, seem like the logical conclusion for these frustrations, but I remain optimistic that the shift may produce some useful results.

I am, however, tired of the transient nature of fieldwork. I realized last night that after 7 months here, instead of feeling at home and relaxed, I'm plotting, again, another dis-location. Instead of feeling that this little mint green apartment is my home, it seems more like an obstacle to being somewhere else. (In fact, after a weekend at someone else's place, I woke up the other night, confused about where I was and where the door was, thinking I was still in SF, even though I've slept in this room for long enough not to be so easily disoriented.) I find that unease very hard to deal with. It's important to me to feel that I'm comfortable at home, and that's not the case here. The truth is, it has never felt quite that way here, but since it was all I had, it had to be good enough. I'm not sure I'm cut out for the fieldworker's lifestyle. I like familiarity, and I don't know how people do it for the length of their careers. I suppose that partly, when you feel that you have a home that you know you can always come back to, it's easier to leave. Life in Baltimore, though it became my home, still had an expiration date. I didn't plan on living there forever. When I moved to LA, I retained a small bit of optimism that I could continue living here past fieldwork, but that quickly became clear that it was not a possibility.

I guess what I'm trying to reconcile is what does it mean to do fieldwork at home -- and how can one navigate the merging of one's life with work/research/domesticity. I think my resistance to more traditional anthropology comes from the skepticism that one ought to freeze one's life and play outsider for an extended period of time. The segregating of time/place/life feels incredibly false. It's not so much that I want to begrudge those who choose such a life, but I do wish there were more guidance for what to do when one sees research as a more integrated approach. That's why I do what I do, because it allows me to officially think critically about the world around me. It is also exhausting and alienating in its own way. Yet, I suspect I was going to live in the world this way regardless, so why not get paid (if that's what you can call my income!) for what I do.