Saturday, March 26, 2011

WAM! Boston Film Festival Reflection

Today I attended the Women, Action, and Media (WAM!) Boston Film Festival at MIT, and I gotta say, it was a great way to finish off this year's Women's History Month! I had the pleasure of seeing 4 great documentaries. But first, an invigorating panel on the state of women in the film industry, where it was made clear that women are still not being taken seriously in the film industry (big surprise) and they're mostly confined to certain roles such as planning, gathering crew members, and asking for donations while the men take on most of the technical positions. Since I'm considering a possible career, or at least dabbling, in social activism media or documentary film making, this panel was certainly valuable and inspirational!

The first documentary I got to watch was called Beauty Mark, which was about the "race" to physical perfection. "Race" was a play on words because more than half of it focused on the filmmaker and her personal image and weight issues which were rooted in her athleticism. Not a unique situation. To be honest, it didn't quite live up to my expectations: it was very focused on the filmmaker, her history and her family situation, with less than half examining other aspects of the overall obsession with physical perfection. It did, however, feature some prominent experts, such as Eve Ensler, Naomi Wolf, and the guy who wrote the Obesity Myth whose name has slipped my mind. I've seen better documentaries on the subject, most prominently "America The Beautiful," which may have been made by a man, BUT is an amazing examination of America's obsession with beauty. I'm sorry, but as much as I support women in film, I won't go so far as to favor a mediocre film made by a woman over an exceptional one made by a man, but I will give that his gender may have meant the ability to get more funding and access to resources than if he was a woman.

After "Beauty Mark" was a short film called "Weightless," which was about overweight women who scuba dive. I know that sounds kinda lame, but it was pretty cool. This film had the audacity to feature women who, rather than cry about their weight and go to extreme measures to be skinny - felt awesome about themselves and found something awesome to do with their bodies regardless of size. In a Q&A with the filmmaker, it was revealed that the documentary was going to be a longer film about heavy women doing lots of awesome things and feeling great about themselves. While the movie itself wasn't all that exciting, it was certainly inspiring.

The third documentary was a gem from the Media Education Foundation called "The Gloucester 18." It was about the spike in teen pregnancy some years ago in Gloucester, MA, and the truth behind it. The film debunked the myth that there was a pact, clarified that one third of the pregnancies did not make it to term (though it was unclear if they were aborted or miscarried), and revealed some dark details about the girls' lives. It was incredibly eye opening about the issue of teenage pregnancy, highlighting the causes of it and the reasons why some girls get pregnant on purpose. It also shines a light on the realities of teen pregnancy, both in Gloucester and in nearby towns such as Springfield and Lowell. I highly recommend this one, and I was glad to be able to see it since it's one of the MEF movies I'd wanted to see for a while.

We were then given an hour for dinner. However, MIT must have been on spring break because it was next to impossible to find a restaurant or fast food establishment on or near the campus. Most of the places that were open were sit-down places, like Legal Seafoods. Being alone, I just wanted to grab some cheap food, eat, maybe walk around for a bit, and then return to the Stata Center on time for the last film, "Someone Sang for Me."

"Someone Sang For Me" was like Freedom Writers meets Glee - if Will Schuster was a kickass African American woman. It was about a school in Springfield that was suffering major budget cuts, and a woman started an after-school singing program for the students. The kids mostly sang songs they wrote together, which were songs about the struggles they faced growing up in an impoverished area, facing racism and classism. The film highlighted the power of music on kids' lives, and it was a great way to end the festival.

Sadly, because some events and films were run simultaneously, I was only able to catch about half of the presentations of the day. However, I'm happy with the choices I made, and I'm glad I chose to attend the event.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why "Dress For Your Body Type" Advice Is Problematic

At first glance, an article in Seventeen Magazine that instructs readers on what kinds of jeans to wear for every body type may sound progressive. "Look," you may think, "they're acknowledging that different body types exist!"

Well yes, they're not outright condemning body types that don't fit the beauty ideal, but if you look more closely, you'll notice that such advice usually encourages readers to dress in a way that makes them appear closer to that ideal. Too curvy? Wearing X will make you appear slimmer! Flat-chested? A Y top will make you look bustier! Too short? These pants will make you look taller! On and on and on.

It's a cycle, really. Girls who are too short, too call, too skinny, too curvy, too busty, too flat, etc. feel the need to dress in a way that will make them look "better" (read: closer to the ideal body), so these articles fill their need. At the same time, girls will see these ads and think "wow, I didn't realize there was anything wrong with looking too short," and start to feel like crap about themselves, hence creating a greater need for the ads.

Now, I get it, it's okay to want to wear clothes that look good on you, and clothes that will give you a little boost of confidence. But if magazines really want to empower teen girls, articles like this do just the opposite, and pages upon pages of articles ordering girls to wear slimming clothes, cover their acne, make their nose look smaller, de-frizz their hair, tone up their butts, and tell them pizza is the devil, are not going to counteracted by one small page telling them to love their bodies. Most, if not all, of the magazine needs to encourage self-esteem.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Crazy Bitch Stereotype

Don't you just love it when a woman is labeled as crazy for being jealous? Or calling a guy "too many" times? Or getting mad at a guy? Yes, women are constantly under the threat of being put into the "Crazy Bitch" category, and this threat is one more way for the patriarchy to keep us in line.

We see it all the time in the media: reality shows where women have tantrums, breakdowns, and catfights. We see it in TV commercials where women stalk men. There's even a saying "bitches be crazy." Some people say that all women are crazy. But how can one gender, as a whole, be crazy?

Now, I don't want to excuse all negative female behavior. There is a line between being understandably mad at someone and flying off the deep end and actually assaulting or verbally abusing someone. However, the problem is that our culture identifies pretty much all reasonable anger and jealousy with being a crazy bitch. Because women aren't supposed to get mad. Ever. If they are mad or upset, it couldn't possibly have any merit, they're "just overreacting," or they "have issues" - or our feelings are just dismissed as being PMS.

There's still the expectation that women should be calm, pleasant, agreeable, and passive. These aren't just gendered expectations, they're still seen as the norm - there's the idea that all women are like that, and anything outside of that gender norm is usually labeled as crazy.

The problem is our negative emotions still aren't being taken seriously. If a girl gets mad at her boyfriend, it's not because he did something to upset her, there's no behavior or action that needs to be examined, no legitimate problem in the relationship that needs to be addressed - well, no problem other than her attitude. If she's upset, it's because she misunderstood something, she took something too seriously, she overreacted, she made a big deal out of nothing, and SHE needs to get her act together. It's not that he should stop flirting with other girls, she needs to be okay with it. He doesn't need to answer his phone, or return her calls or texts, she needs to be more patient.

The Crazy Bitch Stereotype doesn't just exist in heterosexual relationships, either. It exists in friendships as well, and roommate situations. A girl who gets mad at her roommates for not doing their share of the work, or having too many loud parties, or eating her food, is nuts. Unbearable. How DARE she tell others what to do? How dare she put her needs ahead of someone else's? Why can't she just deal with it?

This stereotype is just another way for our culture to keep us in line by demonizing women for getting too angry or upset, jealous or "obsessive." In other words, for feeling emotions that are deemed unladylike.

My Acne and Me

I got acne when I was in middle school, and still today I have to deal with it. Gotta love genetics, huh. Ever since the first onset, my parents took me to a dermatologist to get treatments. The dermatologist wasn't the only doctor trying to help, though - every doctor I've seen since age 13 has tried to give me something for my face. I've even had psychiatrists give me prescriptions and samples of various acne creams and washes.

I also had to endure some lovely stigmas. Mean girls and friends alike have assumed I don't wash my face - because some people just have to use the right soap to avoid acne, those lucky bastards. There's also the stereotype that people with acne don't take care of themselves. Right, I only have acne because I don't try hard enough.

Personally, my desire to clear up my face has been sort of on and off. Sometimes I'll really want it gone, sometimes I won't care, and usually it's somewhere in between. When I was 18, I decided to clear up my skin once and for all, and I saw a great dermatologist who gave me some medications and told me to avoid salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide treatments. She also told me to wash and moisturize with Cetaphil, or a generic version of it. Good enough. And it worked, for a long time. My skin wasn't perfect, but it was good enough, and I could easily cover up the few pimples I did have.

Last year, things changed. My dermatologist stopped renewing my prescriptions and I was on my own. That's when I discovered the tea tree oil treatments at the Body Shop. And I never looked back. Now I prefer to deal with my acne through lifestyle habits such as keeping hats, pillowcases, towels, etc. clean, getting enough vitamin C and other nutrients, avoiding certain skincare products, and keeping my hair out of my face; as well as using skincare products with naturally therapeutic ingredients such as tea tree oil and aloe. I have essentially de-medicalized my acne treatment.

I just wish doctors and peers would understand that.

A couple months ago, I went to a doctor who, literally first question she asked was "so Allison, what are you doing about your acne?" I explained that I use tea tree oil and I prefer not to use medical treatments as I noticed her hand reaching for a prescription script. She paused, not pleased. At one point during the exam, she told me, with a good amount of force "I am your doctor, you need to trust me and do what I tell you." Well, she's not my doctor anymore.

My friends haven't been helpful either. Even the guy I was dating said I should have been more open minded, she might have given me something that would work better. And for the love of god, if I hear one more person tell me to try Proactiv I don't know what I'll do.

Doctors may be experts, peers may have my best interests at heart, and everyone has something to recommend. But only I truly know my skin and my kind of acne, and I have 8 years of experience where I know what works, what doesn't, what makes my acne worse, and what really irritates my skin. I may not be an expert either, but I know enough to make my own decisions about how to treat myself. If I want help, I'll ask for it, otherwise I really want everyone - doctors and friends - to kindly butt out.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Endangered Species Women Reflection

This weekend I attended the Endangered Species Women summit in New York City. The summit, organized by Courtney Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, aimed to address the toxic body culture that encourages women to hate their bodies.

I gotta say, I had been looking forward to the conference for a while. I'd read Martin's book, and it's amazing, and I knew that Jean Kilbourne of the "Killing Us Softly" documentary series would be there as well, so it seemed like such a perfect way to spend the weekend. But of course, I had no sleep between getting off my overnight shift and boarding the bus to NYC, where I got very little sleep, so staying awake for the opening ceremonies and keynote was difficult. However, one presentation that night did resonate with me, and it was one of the best topics of the summit. A middle aged woman got up and told the story of how her doctor voiced concerns that her daughter had put on too much weight. The woman went on to explain that heavy women often face discrimination from doctors, who hardly ever support the Health At Every Size (HAES) approach to weight, and that this needs to change through education of healthcare professionals.

This struck a chord with me because my personal weight obsession has similar roots. When I was 14, and a mere size 5 (7 on a good day), my doctor told me I was gaining weight too fast and needed to cut back on the junk food. I remember crying after the appointment, and my parents trying to assure me that there was nothing wrong with my body. They stopped taking me to that doctor, but the damage had already been done. Ever since then, it was in the back of my mind, and even in college I've had the occasional fear of gaining too much weight. Sometimes it's an aesthetic issue, sometimes I believe WebMD's hips to waist calculator that tells me I carry too much fat in my hips and I'm probably going to develop diabetes. It also made me think about how every healthcare professional I've dealt with since age 13 has tried to throw some sort of acne medication at me, whether or not I wanted one, and despite any protests I might have had, but more about that in another post.

Later in the summit, in the last panel, someone mentioned that weight-related statistics are often manipulated in order for an organization to get funding, or for a company to sell weight loss products. It was also said that there isn't that much comprehensive research proving that being overweight is always unhealthy.

Aside from discussing how the healthcare industry exacerbates toxic body culture, another thought that resonated with me was the idea that women don't trust their bodies to work properly. People refuse to undergo home births and natural childbirths because they don't think their bodies will do what they're supposed to. Not surprising in a world where we're constantly told that our bodies need to be controlled through diets, unnecessary exercise, superfluous medication and supplements, etc. The message was clear, we need a world where women can trust their bodies AND can be trusted with them.

There was also a good bit of focus on the media's role in toxic body culture, but that wasn't much people hadn't heard before. Labiaplasty was also mentioned. But the inclusion of the medical field's influence was the most significant part for me, since that's hardly ever mentioned in the body image issue, and when it is, it's used to counteract the "love your body message" with a loud, hysterical "But what about obesity?! Diabetes?! Cancer?! Childhood diabetes?!?!? OBESITY?!?!" This conference's inclusion of the topic shattered that counter argument with a rather radical notion that the medical field shouldn't push dieting on all women who are overweight, but instead work with women, listen to them if they decide to practice the HAES approach.

I did enjoy the summit and I do believe it was a great step in the right direction. With all due respect, one thing I think summits like this in general need to fix is the fact that they have people sitting in one spot for long periods of time, all day. I can't pay attention for that long, I get distracted, fidgety, and sometimes start to fall asleep. Not fun for me, and I'm certainly not proud of it. If these conferences want to appeal to more people, especially younger crowds, they need shorter panels and speeches, and more chances to get up and move around. Just sayin'.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where's Our Luke Skywalker?

There seems to be a trend among epic fantasy/sci-fi sagas in the last few decades: for the most part, all the protagonists are men, and women assume secondary roles, and are often mere love interests of the supporting male sidekick.

Lord of the Rings: Frodo Baggins is the protagonist, and the entire Fellowship of the Ring - Sam, Merry, Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and Boromir - are all men. There are very few women in the movie: there's Lady Galadriel, who appears once and gives the men guidance and gifts, and her wisdom is heard later throughout the trilogy. Then there's Arwen, who hardly serves much purpose other than Aragorn's love intetrest. Finally, there's Eowyn, who actually kicks a good bit of ass and kills the Witch King (yaaay!), and we need to give her credit for that. But in the three huge books, three long movies, tons of epic battles, only one woman kicks ass? And she's hardly a major character. And of course, all three of these women are slender and hot, two of them become objects of Aragorn's desire, and Galadriel is desired by all men who look upon her.

Pirates of the Carribean: The movies center around two men: Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner. Jack is arguably the more prominent character, as he's still in the movies after Will has settled down with Elizabeth. While Elizabeth does occasionally cross dress and kicks a good bit of ass, she's still only a secondary character, and Will's love interest.

Star Wars: Luke Skywalker, a guy, is the protagonist. Throughout the series there is but one significant female character: Princess Lea. Again, very sexy, the object of every geeky guy's desire since the 1970's. Luke falls in love with her, then realizes she's his sister, and that love interests fizzles pretty quickly. Han Solo ends up with her in the end.

Harry Potter: Yet another male protagonist, Harry Potter. He has two best friends, Ron and Hermione, possibly one of the most awesome young women in mainstream fantasy literature. Hermione is the object of Ron's affection towards the end of the series, but is seriously awesome in other ways. There's also Ginny, another arguably powerful female figure, who ends up with Harry. It's important to note that the romantic storylines are significant, but only secondary to the main plotline.

It's interesting to note that in many of these movies, the male protagonist either doesn't have a love interest, or he does but doesn't end up with her, OR he does but it's not the main storyline. Women, on the other hand, are always objects of at least one man's affection, and usually end up with a guy in the end. And of course, the women are almost always thin and beautiful, objects created for the male gaze.

Again, there have been some pretty strong female characters in these movie sagas, you can't deny that. The problem is that they're always secondary characters, and pretty much always end up with one of the more significant male characters, either the protagonist or the male best friend.

So what do women have? Men have Frodo, Captain Jack Sparrow, Luke Skywalker, and Harry Potter, there has to be ONE mainstream fantasy saga with a female protagonist, right? Well, as of 2009, there is!

Problem is, it's Twilight. Bella Swan, the protagonist, is a one-dimensional character, a prime example of a Mary Sue - "a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader." Rather than have a realistic relationship with a real person, she falls in love with a vampire who sparkles in the sunlight, and who is a creepy, controlling asshole who watches her sleep and sabotages her car so she can't see her friend, Jacob, a werewolf/shape-shifter who's also in love with her. The only way the gender roles are flipped is that the guys are unbelievably gorgeous, and Bella is merely plain (but in an attractive way . . .). Both guys serve to protect her from evil vampires throughout the series, because being human, she's too weak to fight them off herself. She has to be protected all the time, and when she runs off on her own, she ends up needing to be rescued. How much ass does she kick? None, she even breaks her hand trying to punch Jacob. She's nothing without Edward. Where Hermione kept being awesome long after the love of her life left her, when Edward left Bella all she did was curl up in the fetal position, went numb for months, and kept risking her life just to hallucinate and see Edward - who's always trying to tell her to stop being reckless. And of course, this emotionally abusive behavior is lauded as being romantic, he's the best boyfriend ever. I fear for the future.

And of course, while sagas like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are universally beloved by the nerd community, Twilight is snubbed by most nerds - male and female - and its fan base is made up of mostly teenage girls. It barely counts.

That's all we get, girls. We're either ass-kicking love interests or lovesick protagonists with the strength and personality of a noodle. Take your pick. Or better yet, if you can write and tell a good story, write your own epic saga with a notable female protagonist who's actually worth reading about. Just an idea.

The Rhetoric of Rape Culture

I'll admit it, I'm addicted to Secret Life of the American Teenager. Have been since the show's premiere in July, 2008 - almost three years ago. In the first episode, Amy admits to her friends that she had sex. She also explains that she didn't know what was going on, and didn't even know it was sex until it was over. Yet in the many seasons of the show since its premiere, no one has called it rape.

Technically, Amy was raped. She didn't know what was going on, so while she may have been making out with Ricky, clearly she didn't consent to sex. And she didn't think to tell him to stop because she didn't know they were even having sex. Because she didn't even know what Ricky was doing, she wasn't in a position to give consent. Not to mention the fact that, depending on what state she was in, it was probably statutory rape as well.

And yet, no one says she was raped. She doesn't say she was raped, her friends don't say she was raped. The only thing people occasionally say is that Ricky "took advantage" of her. But for the most part, she is vilified for having sex, despite her lack of consent.

"Taking advantage of someone" is one of the few phrases we as a culture often use as a softer way of discussing sexual assault. Make no mistake, taking advantage of someone - whether its their intoxication, their age, their naivete, or their lack of ability to make an informed decision regarding what's going on - is sexual assault, and when it involves penetration, it's rape. But we don't use those words. "Sexual assault" and "rape" are so strong, so severe. Instead, we use phrases like "unwanted sex" when discussing rape; "he took advantage of me" or "that guy groped me" when discussing sexual assault.

Perhaps a contributing factor is our fear of universalizing rape. If we call all instanced of unwanted sex "rape," we're admitting that rape is more common than we want it to be, and that more men are rapists than we're comfortable with. Instead, we socially categorize rape as an overtly violent act, where a creepy man jumps out of the bushes and forcefully rapes an innocent jogger (or a not-so-innocent girl walking home from the bar), or where a physically and verbally abusive boyfriend holds his girlfriend down and savagely rapes her - in both instances, the rapist is violently forceful, and the woman screams, unable to fight him off.

What our culture rarely recognizes as rape is the whispered coercion that takes place in the next dorm, or the friend whose boyfriend had sex with her when she told him she just wanted to make out. We don't call it rape when a woman complies with a pushy partner because she feels she has no other viable option. When consent is unclear, we call it "gray rape" - because it's not considered "real" rape unless it fits the violent, dramatic image the word conjures up for us.

Another problem is that women who don't give in are often demonized by our rape culture. If a woman fools around with a guy, but stops short of sex because she's not comfortable actually having him inside her, or even if she just wears a short skirt and flirts with a guy without intending to sleep with him, she's a "tease." If a woman doesn't put out because she's waiting for marriage, or a certain level of commitment, or until she's more comfortable with her partner, she's "holding out" on him, "using sex" as a tool to get what she wants. If a woman consents but then asks her partner to stop because she feels uncomfortable or she's in pain, or if she says she wants to have sex later that night but ends up changing her mind, she's a liar and can't be trusted. If a woman doesn't want to have sex after her partner buys her a fancy meal, or works hard all day to bring home the bacon, or goes down on her, or does any other seemingly selfless task to make her happy, she's ungrateful. Some might even call women like those above selfish, for putting their own comfort levels or moral standards ahead of the men who want sexual gratification.

The commodification of sex and women's bodies is a huge aspect of rape culture. Our society still treats sex as something one person does for another - typically something a woman does for a man, and something done for his pleasure rather than a mutually pleasurable experience. Sex is seen as something that is traded for goods or favors, or a way to pay someone back for their generosity. There's the idea that dating is a legal form of prostitution - women are "bought" with drinks, dates, and jewelry, and in return give the guy their time, their company, and their bodies. When we reduce sex to a commodity rather than an activity, something given rather than shared, we in turn see nothing wrong of demanding sex when it is arguably owed or earned; or "taking" it without asking.

We may have liberated women from the kitchen, but there is an overwhelmingly persistent cultural myth that a woman's place is in the bedroom, and her role in her romantic and sexual relationships is that of a pleaser. Perhaps this is why people who support the purity movement prevent their daughters from dating at all, because sex is seen as an inevitable part of dating, and a mandatory aspect of a romantic relationship. I remember when I was struggling with vaginismus, a condition that makes vaginal intercourse very painful, and for that reason my relationships with men contained very little sexual intimacy - and someone insisted that sex had to be a part of a relationship, and if I wasn't willing to have sex I shouldn't be in a relationship with anyone.

Now I get that sex is part of a healthy relationship, as long as the parties involved are emotionally ready to handle it of course. It's a little silly to say every high school couple that isn't having sex doesn't have a health relationship, and it's also silly to assume that of people who choose to wait until marriage or until they've been romantically involved long enough. Also, a healthy sexual relationship means respect - respecting someone when they say "no," for any reason, even if that reason seems silly, and a truly loving partner would make sure their significant other is comfortable during the experience. The mere presence of sex in a relationship is hardly an indicator of health, especially when it's done out of obligation or coercion.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Man Standard

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that our culture's ideal of a worthy male partner is a guy who is slender, seemingly wealthy, dresses well, and has a future as a successful businessman. But in my experience, these also tend to be the biggest jerks.

Our culture also looks down on guys who play video games, wear "ill fitting clothing," drink, are a little overweight, unsure about their futures, basically the Judd Apatow archetype. While women shouldn't be expected to date "losers," maybe guys like that deserve a little credit. Maybe they don't seem like the perfect guys, but in my experience, those are the nice ones.

I don't mean to generalize, of course. This has just been my experience, and my reason to believe we have our priorities all wrong. To our culture, we focus more on how a guy looks and whether he can provide financial stability than how he treats the girls in his life.

Take this article, for example:!5774541/men-on-the-decline-women-to-settle-for-dating-assholes

A woman is advised to stay with a jerk because he is mature in the more superficial ways, because he doesn't act like the "man-boy" guys are becoming. Yes, men in our society are embracing an infantilized version of manhood that includes playing video games, drinking to excess, and avoiding commitment, and that can be bad for women when marriage is shunned and women are seen as soul-crushing, dream-stealing matrons who boss their husbands around with "honeydew" lists and orders to take out the trash.

HOWEVER, I've also noticed that the seemingly perfect guys, the ones with good looks and charm, nice clothes and cologne, clean apartments, good credit, and a major that will inevitably lead to a 6-figure salary someday (think Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother), tend to carry a sense of entitlement with them. They seem to think they can treat a woman however they want, and they'll get away with it because the woman will be so blinded by his charm and convinced he's the best out there that she'll deal with it, or if she does leave, he can easily replace her with the next girl in a line wrapping around the block. To me, these are the ones to be wary of. They seem amazing on the surface, but it's that surface charm that permits them to be so evil deep down.

Nice guys tend to be found in the group of goofball "losers" women are constantly told to avoid.

Although I should point out, some guys feel entitled because they are nice. I've run into this before as well. It's called Nice Guy Syndrome, where a guy believes that because he is nice to a girl, he should have her. If she rejects him, it's because all women want jerks, and they discriminate against nice guys like him. NGS is often the motivating mindset behind misogynist violence.

What I really hate most of all is the idea that women should settle for less than exactly what they want. They're told that guys will be guys, and women should just deal with it.

It hurts both men and women when a culture idealizes a man for his clothing and bank account, ignoring the kind of person he is deep down. It means that a man's appearance and finances are his most important asset, and that treating a woman well doesn't matter, which in turn hurts woman. It also hurts women when they're told to marry anyone with money and a nice wardrobe, because it often means women are encouraged to date jerks, and stay with jerks, and marry assholes.

Planned Parenthood and Human Trafficking

A little background: A man went into Planned Parenthood, posing as a pimp and saying he wanted his underage prostitutes to get abortions and birth control. The idea was to expose the organization, so they can point a finger and say "hey look, everyone, this abortion mill aids in human sex trafficking!!!!"

And it pissed me off.

The clinic wasn't supporting the pimp, they were supporting women. The truth is, most teenage prostitutes don't choose "the life," they're conned into it and are forced to stay by their abusive pimps. Their lives are bad enough, why can't they have birth control? Why can't they terminate their unwanted pregnancies? Especially since those pregnancies weren't from boyfriends, or even consensual one-night stands, but basically arose from rape that someone else benefited from. I'm just shocked they didn't recommend the girls get HIV testing as well. Yes, they were technically aiding and abetting, and they should have reported the man, but in that position, I would have been more than willing to make sure those girls got birth control.