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Vocapedia > Gender identity > Women > Ireland, UK, USA


















































































































































































































































































































































































Being childfree by choice:

five women on why they decided not to have kids    G    7 July 2020





Being childfree by choice: five women on why they decided not to have kids        Video        The Guardian        7 July 2020


As part of the Guardian's Childfree series,

five women discuss why having children isn't for them

– and how others perceive them as a result.

'There's no wrong way to be a woman,' says Sabrina, 25.


















Is AI the 'worst thing to ever happen to women?'        G        8 March 2019





Is AI the 'worst thing to ever happen to women?'        Video        The Guardian        8 March 2019


On International Women's Day,

the author Jeanette Winterson

reads an extract from her book,

'Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere',

in which she describes the threat to women

posed by the future dominance of AI,

warning society cannot allow it

to become a new exclusion zone





















Holly Brown, 55, Dallas, Texas


‘I’m not usually home much.

I’m home to sleep in my own bed maybe four days a month.

I’m always out on the road.

That’s where I’m comfortable. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.

How many people do you know

that could spend two or three weeks away from their home and family

and come home for two or three days

and then go right back out and do it again?

You’ve got to have a strong family core

and really enjoy that way of life’



In it for the long haul: female truckers in the US – in pictures

Meet the women who’ve faced off sexist comments,

health problems and unwanted intruders to pursue a career behind the wheel


Wed 13 Jul 2022    07.00 BST















Ms. Sanders,

in Vietnam’s Central Highlands in 1966,

was one of the first TV newswomen

to report from the field on the war.


Photograph: ABC News


Marlene Sanders, Pathbreaking TV Journalist, Dies at 84

JULY 15, 2015

The New York Times
















woman, women        Ireland / UK / USA































































































































































































































































































economy > exploit women        USA










women > domestic labor        USA










womanhood        UK










woman-hater        USA










femicide        UK













female empowerment        USA


























black women        USA





















USA > Georgia >  Joyette Holmes

district attorney of the Cobb County Judicial Circuit

and the first black woman to serve in that position










USA > Sexual violence

against women of color in the 40s        UK










female rappers / women in rap        UK / USA














female comics        USA










female truckers in the US – in pictures        UK










U.S. army

First Woman Ascends to Top Drill Sergeant Spot        USA










American women        USA


In March of 1907,

Congress passed the Expatriation Act,

which decreed, among other things,

that U.S. women

who married non-citizens

were no longer Americans.


If their husband later

became a naturalized citizen,

they could go through

the naturalization process

to regain citizenship.


But none of these rules

applied to American men

when they chose a spouse.











women's writing        USA










'A Day Without A Woman' Protests        USA










International Women's Day        USA










single woman        USA


















Lucinda Laura Franks    1946-2021        USA


widely published writer and investigative journalist

who was the first woman

to win a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting










Katharine Whitehorn    1928-2020        UK


The first woman

to have her own column in the Observer,


was a celebrated writer and author




The Cambridge graduate

worked briefly as a model

before embarking

on a celebrated writing career,

working for publications including

the Observer, Picture Post

and Saga magazine,

where she was agony aunt

for 19 years.


She joined the Observer in 1960,

at a time when national newspapers

were overwhelmingly dominated by men,

and was known

for her tongue-in-cheek pieces.


Whitehorn was the first woman

to have her own column in the Observer,

and was the star columnist at the newspaper

for almost 40 years.


An infamous article

that defended domestic “sluts”

challenged attitudes to working women.


Under the headline

Sisters Under the Coat,

Whitehorn asked women

whether they had changed stockings in a taxi,

cleaned their nails

or “ever taken anything out

of the dirty-clothes basket

because it had become,

relatively, the cleaner thing?”


Her conclusion was that

“the only way a slut

can really get things done

is to get someone else to do them”.



worked for the Observer until 1996

and returned to write regular columns

for the Observer magazine until 2017.


















Alice Jean Myers    1935-2020

— known first as A.J., then Jeannie —


Trailblazing Chicago sportscaster


She was a rare woman

in broadcast sports journalism

when she began her career

in the late 1960s,

but she helped pave the way

for the many women who followed.











Betsy Wade    1929-2020    USA


First woman to edit news at The Times


In a 45-year Times career,

she also became the first woman

to lead the Newspaper Guild of New York

and fought a sex discrimination case

against the paper.










female astronauts        USA










USA > army > female Marines        UK / USA












female workers        USA










essential workers > women        USA










female political pioneers

who (...)  aspired to be the leader of the (USA)        USA


















girl        USA








tomboy        USA






movies > Kimberly Peirce's 'Boys Don't Cry'        USA        1999






emoji        USA


























'Miss'        USA












honorific 'Ms.'        USA










Miss America        USA


















See Where Women Have The Most And Least

Political Representation In The U.S.        NPR        USA        April 11, 2016










femaleness        UK

















Mary Jackson (née Winston)        USA        1921-2005

NASA first black female engineer


the agency's

first African American female engineer

and a driving force

behind getting U.S. astronauts into space.




Jackson was recruited in 1951

by the National Advisory Committee

for Aeronautics,

the agency succeeded by NASA

in 1958.


She started out

as a research mathematician,

working in the segregated

West Area Computing Unit

of the agency's

Langley Research Center

in Hampton, Va.


Jackson eventually enrolled

in a training program

that would allow her

to be promoted to engineer,

obtaining special permission

to attend classes

since they were held

at a then-segregated high school.


She became NASA's

first Black female engineer in 1958.












Nan Winton        UK        1925-2019

BBC's first female TV newsreader










Marlene Sanders        USA        1931-2015


one of the first women

to break into

television journalism,

where she compiled

a stellar résumé

as a reporter in the field

and an Emmy-winning

writer and producer

of documentaries










women’s portrayal in stock photos        USA        2014










women doing 'men's work'

truck driver, coxswain, surgeon, grip,

train driver, mechanic, butcher        UK        26 April 2013










female truck drivers        USA










women doing 'men's work'  > lobstering        USA










women doing 'men's work'  > line constructor        USA










women / female farmers        USA










female sportscasters        USA









































Justice Sandra Day O'Connor        USA








o-connor-taking-swing-vote-into-retirement - 2006















Doreen Spooner        UK        1928-2019


Doreen Spooner

was the first female staff photographer

on a British national newspaper.


In a career stretching

from the late 1940s to the 90s,

mostly at the Daily Mirror,

she became, unintentionally,

something of a feminist icon.



















Naomi Fern Parker        USA        1921-2018


Unsung for seven decades,

the real Rosie the Riveter

was a California waitress

named Naomi Parker Fraley.


Over the years,

a welter of American women

have been identified

as the model for Rosie,

the war worker of 1940s popular culture

who became a feminist touchstone

in the late 20th century.


Mrs. Fraley,

who died on Saturday, at 96,

in Longview, Wash.,

staked the most legitimate claim of all.


But because her claim

was eclipsed by another woman’s,

she went unrecognized

for more than 70 years.











Mary Louise Doyle        USA        1922-2015


19-year-old Vermont

telephone operator

whom her neighbor

Norman Rockwell

immortalized as his model

for the heroine

of “Rosie the Riveter,”

the World War II feminist anthem

that empowered women

to leave home

and pinch-hit

in military plants



















women in leadership        UK






women in journalism        UK






World War II > women journalists        USA





alpha 'XX women' / high-flying women        UK






superwoman        USA






women in the battlefield        USA        2013








working mothers        UK






Women Balancing Work and Family > Slide Show        NYT        Mar. 23, 2016






The women changing Britain's unions        UK        2012


With unemployment

among women at a 20-year high,

a new wave of female union leaders

and activists has come to the fore,

reviving the fight for workers' rights

when they are under greater threat

than ever






BBC Radio 4 programme > Woman's Hour        UK






women > role models        UK






new role models for young British women        UK






Wives and girlfriends    Wags / WAGS        UK










sexism > female playwrights        UK
















misogyny        UK






















woman-hater        UK










wolf-whistle        UK










wolf-whistling        UK

























stereotype > the 'criminal' Black lesbian        USA










lesbianism        UK


















single        UK










spinster        UK












movies > 2016 > USA > Mike Mills > 20th Century Women        USA

















Corpus of news articles


Gender identity > Women




More Men Enter Fields

Dominated by Women


May 20, 2012

The New York Times




HOUSTON — Wearing brick-red scrubs and chatting in Spanish, Miguel Alquicira settled a tiny girl into an adult-size dental chair and soothed her through a set of X-rays. Then he ushered the dentist, a woman, into the room and stayed on to serve as interpreter.

A male dental assistant, Mr. Alquicira is in the minority. But he is also part of a distinctive, if little noticed, shift in workplace gender patterns. Over the last decade, men have begun flocking to fields long the province of women.

Mr. Alquicira, 21, graduated from high school in a desolate job market, one in which the traditional opportunities, like construction and manufacturing, for young men without a college degree had dried up. After career counselors told him that medical fields were growing, he borrowed money for an eight-month training course. Since then, he has had no trouble finding jobs that pay $12 or $13 an hour.

He gave little thought to the fact that more than 90 percent of dental assistants and hygienists are women. But then, young men like Mr. Alquicira have come of age in a world of inverted expectations, where women far outpace men in earning degrees and tend to hold jobs that have turned out to be, by and large, more stable, more difficult to outsource, and more likely to grow.

“The way I look at it,” Mr. Alquicira explained, without a hint of awareness that he was turning the tables on a time-honored feminist creed, “is that anything, basically, that a woman can do, a guy can do.”

After years of economic pain, Americans remain an optimistic lot, though they define the American dream not in terms of mansions and luxury cars but as something more basic — a home, a college degree, financial security and enough left over for a few extras like dining out, according to a study by the Pew Center on the States’ Economic Mobility Project. That financial security usually requires a steady full-time job with benefits, something that has become harder to find, particularly for men and for those without a college degree. While women continue to make inroads into prestigious, high-wage professions dominated by men, more men are reaching for the dream in female-dominated occupations that their fathers might never have considered.

The trend began well before the crash, and appears to be driven by a variety of factors, including financial concerns, quality-of-life issues and a gradual erosion of gender stereotypes. An analysis of census data by The New York Times shows that from 2000 to 2010, occupations that are more than 70 percent female accounted for almost a third of all job growth for men, double the share of the previous decade.

That does not mean that men are displacing women — those same occupations accounted for almost two-thirds of women’s job growth. But in Texas, for example, the number of men who are registered nurses nearly doubled in that time period, rising from just over 9 percent of nurses to almost 12 percent. Men make up 23 percent of Texas public schoolteachers, but almost 28 percent of first-year teachers.

The shift includes low-wage jobs as well. Nationally, two-thirds more men were bank tellers, almost twice as many were receptionists and two-thirds more were waiting tables in 2010 than a decade earlier.

Even more striking is the type of men who are making the shift. From 1970 to 1990, according to a study by Mary Gatta, the senior scholar at Wider Opportunities for Women, and Patricia A. Roos, a sociologist at Rutgers, men who took so-called pink-collar jobs tended to be foreign-born non-English speakers with low education levels — men who, in other words, had few choices.

Now, though, the trend has spread among men of nearly all races and ages, more than a third of whom have a college degree. In fact, the shift is most pronounced among young, white, college-educated men like Charles Reed, a sixth-grade math teacher at Patrick Henry Middle School in Houston.

Mr. Reed, 25, intended to go to law school after a two-year stint with Teach for America, but he fell in love with the job. Though he says the recession had little to do with his career choice, he believes the tough times that have limited the prospects for new law school graduates have also helped make his father, a lawyer, more accepting.

Still, Mr. Reed said of his father, “In his mind, I’m just biding time until I decide to jump into a better profession.”

To the extent that the shift to “women’s work” has been accelerated by recession, the change may reverse when the economy recovers. “Are boys today saying, ‘I want to grow up and be a nurse?’ ” asked Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress. “Or are they saying, ‘I want a job that’s stable and recession proof?’ ”

In interviews, however, about two dozen men played down the economic considerations, saying that the stigma associated with choosing such jobs had faded, and that the jobs were appealing not just because they offered stable employment, but because they were more satisfying.

“I.T. is just killing viruses and clearing paper jams all day,” said Scott Kearney, 43, who tried information technology and other fields before becoming a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Daniel Wilden, a 26-year-old Army veteran and nursing student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said he had gained respect for nursing when he saw a female medic use a Leatherman tool to save the life of his comrade. “She was a beast,” he said admiringly.

More than a few men said their new jobs had turned out to be far harder than they imagined.

But these men can expect success. Men earn more than women even in female-dominated jobs. And white men in particular who enter those fields easily move up to supervisory positions, a phenomenon known as the glass escalator — as opposed to the glass ceiling that women encounter in male-dominated professions, said Adia Harvey Wingfield, a sociologist at Georgia State University. More men in an occupation can also raise wages for everyone, though as yet men’s share of these jobs has not grown enough to have an overall effect on pay.

“Simply because higher-educated men are entering these jobs does not mean that it will result in equality in our workplaces,” said Ms. Gatta of Wider Opportunities for Women.

Still, economists have long tried to figure out how to encourage more integration in the work force. Now, it seems to be happening of its own accord.

“I hated my job every single day of my life,” said John Cook, 55, who got a modest inheritance that allowed him to leave the company where he earned $150,000 a year as a database consultant and enter nursing school.

His starting salary will be about a third what he once earned, but database consulting does not typically earn hugs like the one Mr. Cook recently received from a girl after he took care of her premature baby sister. “It’s like, people get paid for doing this kind of stuff?” Mr. Cook said, choking up as he recounted the episode.

Several men cited the same reasons for seeking out pink-collar work that have drawn women to such careers: less stress and more time at home. At John G. Osborne Elementary, Adrian Ortiz, 42, joked that he was one of the few Mexicans who made more in his native country, where he was a hard-working lawyer, than he did in the United States as a kindergarten teacher in a bilingual classroom. “Now,” he said, “my priorities are family, 100 percent.”

Betsey Stevenson, a labor economist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said she was not surprised that changing gender roles at home, where studies show men are shouldering more of the domestic burden and spending more time parenting, are now showing up in career choices.

“We tend to study these patterns of what’s going on in the family and what’s going on in the workplace as separate, but they’re very much intertwined,” she said. “So as attitudes in the family change, attitudes toward the workplace have changed.”

In a classroom at Houston Community College, Dexter Rodriguez, 35, said his job in tech support had not been threatened by the tough economy. Nonetheless, he said, his family downsized the house, traded the new cars for used ones and began to live off savings, all so Mr. Rodriguez could train for a career he regarded as more exciting.

“I put myself into the recession,” he said, “because I wanted to go to nursing school.”

More Men Enter Fields Dominated by Women,






When States Abuse Women


March 3, 2012

The New York Times



HERE’S what a woman in Texas now faces if she seeks an abortion.

Under a new law that took effect three weeks ago with the strong backing of Gov. Rick Perry, she first must typically endure an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina. Then she listens to the audio thumping of the fetal heartbeat and watches the fetus on an ultrasound screen.

She must listen to a doctor explain the body parts and internal organs of the fetus as they’re shown on the monitor. She signs a document saying that she understands all this, and it is placed in her medical files. Finally, she goes home and must wait 24 hours before returning to get the abortion.

“It’s state-sanctioned abuse,” said Dr. Curtis Boyd, a Texas physician who provides abortions. “It borders on a definition of rape. Many states describe rape as putting any object into an orifice against a person’s will. Well, that’s what this is. A woman is coerced to do this, just as I’m coerced.”

“The state of Texas is waging war on women and their families,” Dr. Boyd added. “The new law is demeaning and disrespectful to the women of Texas, and insulting to the doctors and nurses who care for them.”

That law is part of a war over women’s health being fought around the country — and in much of the country, women are losing. State by state, legislatures are creating new obstacles to abortions and are treating women in ways that are patronizing and humiliating.

Twenty states now require abortion providers to conduct ultrasounds first in some situations, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization. The new Texas law is the most extreme to take effect so far, but similar laws have been passed in North Carolina and Oklahoma and are on hold pending legal battles.

Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Mississippi are also considering Texas-style legislation bordering on state-sanctioned rape. And what else do you call it when states mandate invasive probes in women’s bodies?

“If you look up the term rape, that’s what it is: the penetration of the vagina without the woman’s consent,” said Linda Coleman, an Alabama state senator who is fighting the proposal in her state. “As a woman, I am livid and outraged.”

States put in place a record number of new restrictions on abortions last year, Guttmacher says. It counts 92 new curbs in 24 states.

“It was a debacle,” Elizabeth Nash, who manages state issues for Guttmacher, told me. “It’s been awful. Last year was unbelievable. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

Yes, there have been a few victories for women. The notorious Virginia proposal that would have required vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion was modified to require only abdominal ultrasounds.

Yet over all, the pattern has been retrograde: humiliating obstacles to abortions, cuts in family-planning programs, and limits on comprehensive sex education in schools.

If Texas legislators wanted to reduce abortions, the obvious approach would be to reduce unwanted pregnancies. The small proportion of women and girls who aren’t using contraceptives account for half of all abortions in America, according to Guttmacher. Yet Texas has some of the weakest sex-education programs in the nation, and last year it cut spending for family planning by 66 percent.

The new Texas law was passed last year but was held up because of a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In a scathing opinion, Judge Sam Sparks of Federal District Court described the law as “an attempt by the Texas legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights.” In the end, the courts upheld the law, and it took effect last month.

It requires abortion providers to give women a list of crisis pregnancy centers where, in theory, they can get unbiased counseling and in some cases ultrasounds. In fact, these centers are often set up to ensnare pregnant women and shame them or hound them if they are considering abortions.

“They are traps for women, set up by the state of Texas,” Dr. Boyd said.

The law then requires the physician to go over a politicized list of so-called dangers of abortion, like “the risks of infection and hemorrhage” and “the possibility of increased risk of breast cancer.” Then there is the mandated ultrasound, which in the first trimester normally means a vaginal ultrasound. Doctors sometimes seek vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion, with the patient’s consent, but it’s different when the state forces women to undergo the procedure.

The best formulation on this topic was Bill Clinton’s, that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Achieving that isn’t easy, and there is no silver bullet to reduce unwanted pregnancies. But family planning and comprehensive sex education are a surer path than demeaning vulnerable women with state-sanctioned abuse and humiliation.

When States Abuse Women,






Women’s Health Care at Risk


February 28, 2012

The New York Times

A wave of mergers between Roman Catholic and secular hospitals is threatening to deprive women in many areas of the country of ready access to important reproductive services. Catholic hospitals that merge or form partnerships with secular hospitals often try to impose religious restrictions against abortions, contraception and sterilization on the whole system.

This can put an unacceptable burden on women, especially low-income women and those who live in smaller communities where there are fewer health care options. State regulators should closely examine such mergers and use whatever powers they have to block those that diminish women’s access to medical care.

Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, for example, recently turned down a bid by a Catholic health system to merge with a public hospital that is the chief provider of indigent care in Louisville. He cited concerns about loss of control of a public asset and restrictions on reproductive services.

The nation’s 600 Catholic hospitals are an important part of the health care system. They treat one-sixth of all hospital patients, and are sometimes the only hospital in a small community. They receive most of their operating income from public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid and from private insurers, not from the Catholic Church. They are free to deliver care in accord with their religious principles, but states and communities have an obligation to make sure that reproductive care remains available. This should be a central goal for government officials who have a role in approving such consolidations.

As Reed Abelson wrote in a recent report in The Times, these mergers are driven by shifts in health care economics. Some secular hospitals are struggling to survive and eager to be rescued by financially stronger institutions, which in many cases may be Catholic-affiliated. By one estimate, 20 mergers between Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals have been announced over the past three years and more can be expected.

The 2009 “Ethical and Religious Directives” issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops warns that Catholic institutions should avoid entering into partnerships “that would involve them in cooperation with the wrongdoing of other providers.” Catholic hospitals have refused to terminate pregnancies, provide contraceptive services, offer a standard treatment for ectopic pregnancies, or allow sterilization after caesarean sections (women seeking tubal ligations are then forced to have a second operation elsewhere, exposing them to additional risks).

In one case, the sole hospital in a rural area in southeastern Arizona announced in 2010 that it would partner with an out-of-state Catholic health system, and would immediately adhere to Catholic directives that forbid certain reproductive health services. As a result, a woman whose doctors wanted to terminate a pregnancy to save her life had to be sent 80 miles away for treatment. A coalition of residents, physicians and activists campaigned against the merger and it was called off before it was finalized.

Over the past 15 years, MergerWatch, an advocacy group based in New York City, has helped block or reverse 37 mergers and reached compromises in 22 others that saved at least some reproductive services. As mergers become more common, state and local leaders would be wise to block proposals that restrict health services.

    Women’s Health Care at Risk, NYT, 28.2.2012,






For Women Under 30,

Most Births Occur Outside Marriage


February 17, 2012
The New York Times


LORAIN, Ohio — It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

The forces rearranging the family are as diverse as globalization and the pill. Liberal analysts argue that shrinking paychecks have thinned the ranks of marriageable men, while conservatives often say that the sexual revolution reduced the incentive to wed and that safety net programs discourage marriage.

Here in Lorain, a blue-collar town west of Cleveland where the decline of the married two-parent family has been especially steep, dozens of interviews with young parents suggest that both sides have a point.

Over the past generation, Lorain lost most of two steel mills, a shipyard and a Ford factory, diminishing the supply of jobs that let blue-collar workers raise middle-class families. More women went to work, making marriage less of a financial necessity for them. Living together became routine, and single motherhood lost the stigma that once sent couples rushing to the altar. Women here often describe marriage as a sign of having arrived rather than a way to get there.

Meanwhile, children happen.

Amber Strader, 27, was in an on-and-off relationship with a clerk at Sears a few years ago when she found herself pregnant. A former nursing student who now tends bar, Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind. “It was like living with another kid,” she said.

When a second child, with a new boyfriend, followed three years later — her birth control failed, she said — her boyfriend, a part-time house painter, was reluctant to wed.

Ms. Strader likes the idea of marriage; she keeps her parents’ wedding photo on her kitchen wall and says her boyfriend is a good father. But for now marriage is beyond her reach.

“I’d like to do it, but I just don’t see it happening right now,” she said. “Most of my friends say it’s just a piece of paper, and it doesn’t work out anyway.”

The recent rise in single motherhood has set off few alarms, unlike in past eras. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a top Labor Department official and later a United States senator from New York, reported in 1965 that a quarter of black children were born outside marriage — and warned of a “tangle of pathology”— he set off a bitter debate.

By the mid-1990s, such figures looked quaint: a third of Americans were born outside marriage. Congress, largely blaming welfare, imposed tough restrictions. Now the figure is 41 percent — and 53 percent for children born to women under 30, according to Child Trends, which analyzed 2009 data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Still, the issue received little attention until the publication last month of “Coming Apart,” a book by Charles Murray, a longtime critic of non-marital births.

Large racial differences remain: 73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites. And educational differences are growing. About 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62 percent of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.

Almost all of the rise in nonmarital births has occurred among couples living together. While in some countries such relationships endure at rates that resemble marriages, in the United States they are more than twice as likely to dissolve than marriages. In a summary of research, Pamela Smock and Fiona Rose Greenland, both of the University of Michigan, reported that two-thirds of couples living together split up by the time their child turned 10.

In Lorain as elsewhere, explanations for marital decline start with home economics: men are worth less they used to be. Among men with some college but no degrees, earnings have fallen 8 percent in the past 30 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the earnings of their female counterparts have risen by 8 percent.

“Women used to rely on men, but we don’t need to anymore,” said Teresa Fragoso, 25, a single mother in Lorain. “We support ourselves. We support our kids.”

Fifty years ago, researchers have found, as many as a third of American marriages were precipitated by a pregnancy, with couples marrying to maintain respectability. Ms. Strader’s mother was among them.

Today, neither of Ms. Strader’s pregnancies left her thinking she should marry to avoid stigma. Like other women interviewed here, she described her children as largely unplanned, a byproduct of uncommitted relationships.

Some unwed mothers cite the failures of their parents’ marriages as reasons to wait. Brittany Kidd was 13 when her father ran off with one of her mother’s friends, plunging her mother into depression and leaving the family financially unstable.

“Our family life was pretty perfect: a nice house, two cars, a dog and a cat,” she said. “That stability just got knocked out like a window; it shattered.”

Ms. Kidd, 21, said she could not imagine marrying her son’s father, even though she loves him. “I don’t want to wind up like my mom,” she said.

Others noted that if they married, their official household income would rise, which could cost them government benefits like food stamps and child care. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, said other government policies, like no-fault divorce, signaled that “marriage is not as fundamental to society” as it once was.

Even as many Americans withdraw from marriage, researchers say, they expect more from it: emotional fulfillment as opposed merely to practical support. “Family life is no longer about playing the social role of father or husband or wife, it’s more about individual satisfaction and self-development,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

Money helps explain why well-educated Americans still marry at high rates: they can offer each other more financial support, and hire others to do chores that prompt conflict. But some researchers argue that educated men have also been quicker than their blue-collar peers to give women equal authority. “They are more willing to play the partner role,” said Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist.

Reviewing the academic literature, Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University recently found that children born to married couples, on average, “experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes.”

Lisa Mercado, an unmarried mother in Lorain, would not be surprised by that. Between nursing classes and an all-night job at a gas station, she rarely sees her 6-year-old daughter, who is left with a rotating cast of relatives. The girl’s father has other children and rarely lends a hand.

“I want to do things with her, but I end up falling asleep,” Ms. Mercado said.

For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage,






Should the World of Toys

Be Gender-Free?


December 29, 2011
The New York Times


Berkeley, Calif.

NOW that the wrapping paper and the infernal clamshell packaging have been relegated to the curb and the paying off of holiday bills has begun, the toy industry is gearing up — for Christmas 2012. And its early offerings have ignited a new debate over nature, nurture, toys and sex.

Hamleys, which is London’s 251-year-old version of F.A.O. Schwarz, recently dismantled its pink “girls” and blue “boys” sections in favor of a gender-neutral store with red-and-white signage. Rather than floors dedicated to Barbie dolls and action figures, merchandise is now organized by types (Soft Toys) and interests (Outdoor).

That free-to-be gesture was offset by Lego, whose Friends collection, aimed at girls, will hit stores this month with the goal of becoming a holiday must-have by the fall. Set in fictive Heartlake City (and supported by a $40 million marketing campaign), the line features new, pastel-colored, blocks that allow a budding Kardashian, among other things, to build herself a cafe or a beauty salon. Its tasty-sounding “ladyfig” characters are also taller and curvier than the typical Legoland denizen.

So who has it right? Should gender be systematically expunged from playthings? Or is Lego merely being realistic, earnestly meeting girls halfway in an attempt to stoke their interest in engineering?

Among the “10 characteristics for Lego” described in 1963 by a son of the founder was that it was “for girls and for boys,” as Bloomberg Businessweek reported. But the new Friends collection, Lego says, was based on months of anthropological research revealing that — gasp! — the sexes play differently.

While as toddlers they interact similarly with the company’s Duplo blocks, by preschool girls prefer playthings that are pretty, exude “harmony” and allow them to tell a story. They may enjoy building, but they favor role play. So it’s bye-bye Bionicles, hello princesses. In order to be gender-fair, today’s executives insist, they have to be gender-specific.

As any developmental psychologist will tell you, those observations are, to a degree, correct. Toy choice among young children is the Big Kahuna of sex differences, one of the largest across the life span. It transcends not only culture but species: in two separate studies of primates, in 2002 and 2008, researchers found that males gravitated toward stereotypically masculine toys (like cars and balls) while females went ape for dolls. Both sexes, incidentally, appreciated stuffed animals and books.

Human boys and girls not only tend to play differently from one another — with girls typically clustering in pairs or trios, chatting together more than boys and playing more cooperatively — but, when given a choice, usually prefer hanging with their own kind.

Score one for Lego, right? Not so fast. Preschoolers may be the self-appointed chiefs of the gender police, eager to enforce and embrace the most rigid views. Yet, according Lise Eliot, a neuroscientist and the author of “Pink Brain, Blue Brain,” that’s also the age when their brains are most malleable, most open to influence on the abilities and roles that traditionally go with their sex.

Every experience, every interaction, every activity — when they laugh, cry, learn, play — strengthens some neural circuits at the expense of others, and the younger the child the greater the effect. Consider: boys from more egalitarian homes are more nurturing toward babies. Meanwhile, in a study of more than 5,000 3-year-olds, girls with older brothers had stronger spatial skills than both girls and boys with older sisters.

At issue, then, is not nature or nurture but how nurture becomes nature: the environment in which children play and grow can encourage a range of aptitudes or foreclose them. So blithely indulging — let alone exploiting — stereotypically gendered play patterns may have a more negative long-term impact on kids’ potential than parents imagine. And promoting, without forcing, cross-sex friendships as well as a breadth of play styles may be more beneficial. There is even evidence that children who have opposite-sex friendships during their early years have healthier romantic relationships as teenagers.

Traditionally, toys were intended to communicate parental values and expectations, to train children for their future adult roles. Today’s boys and girls will eventually be one another’s professional peers, employers, employees, romantic partners, co-parents. How can they develop skills for such collaborations from toys that increasingly emphasize, reinforce, or even create, gender differences? What do girls learn about who they should be from Lego kits with beauty parlors or the flood of “girl friendly” science kits that run the gamut from “beauty spa lab” to “perfume factory”?

The rebellion against such gender apartheid may have begun. Consider the latest cute-kid video to go viral on YouTube: “Riley on Marketing” shows a little girl in front of a wall of pink packaging, asking, “Why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff and all the boys have to buy different-color stuff?” It has been viewed more than 2.4 million times.

Perhaps, then, Hamleys is on to something, though it will doubtless meet with resistance — even rejection — from both its pint-size customers and multinational vendors. As for me, I’m trying to track down a poster of a 1981 ad for a Lego “universal” building set to give to my daughter. In it, a freckle-faced girl with copper-colored braids, baggy jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers proudly holds out a jumbly, multi-hued Lego creation. Beneath it, a tag line reads, “What it is is beautiful.”


Peggy Orenstein is the author, most recently,

of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter:

Dispatches From the Front

Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.”

    Should the World of Toys Be Gender-Free?, NYT, 29.12.2011,






Why Herman Cain Is Unfit to Lead


November 14, 2011
The New York Times


HARD as it has been to watch, harder still to live through, the spectacle of Herman Cain’s dodging sexual harassment allegations is a real step up for the status of women. Their sexual treatment is now part of the open political process, rather than a smarmy rumor to be passed among cognoscenti in the dark.

The fact that what several women have said might register in a presidential campaign — as if women’s sexual mistreatment at work might really matter — could be a potential game changer, even though the prevailing dynamics of sex, race and power that made sexual harassment so difficult to denounce in the first place are amply on display.

The firestorm surrounding Clarence Thomas’s defense to Anita F. Hill’s allegations in his confirmation hearing for the United States Supreme Court 20 years ago not only falsely set up race and gender as mutually exclusive and opposing forces, but also framed subsequent defenses to sexual harassment charges by Bill Clinton and others as mere personal peccadillo or political fodder. Predictably, in this latest remix, political intrigue and racial grandstanding, combined with vicious attacks on the accusers, have obscured the principal inquiry: the leadership potential of a presidential candidate.

Sexual harassment is not a Democratic or Republican issue, a liberal or conservative issue, or a black or white one, although those politics can shape it. As a consequence, it does not present a test of group loyalty but a chance to evaluate the reported behavior of someone who seeks to govern.

Sexual harassment is no private problem, readily compartmentalized, or a merely symbolic disqualifier. The allegations of sexual harassment go to the core of Mr. Cain’s qualifications to lead. Even lacking certainty about facts, what emerges as the Cain story unfolds is a picture of a man with significant deficits in terms of temperament, judgment and, potentially, veracity.

The seeming lack of concern about behavior that cost his former employer money, the sense of entitlement and belief in personal impunity, and the supposed failures to remember are disturbing enough; the accusations about his behavior toward women, abuse of authority, and inability to follow the law should be presumptively disqualifying in a person who seeks to unite and lead.

Polls indicate that some may be swayed by Mr. Cain’s denials, suggesting that the disclosures are a smear campaign, implying that these women fabricated their claims to derail his nomination. How inconvenient that the two initial claims surfaced over a decade before there was any political campaign to derail, and that Mr. Cain’s own employer apparently concluded that prudence dictated their settlement. This decision does not reflect how easily employers can be cornered. Sexual harassment law sets the bar high, even for the kind of quid pro quo demands reported by Sharon Bialek, the first of Mr. Cain’s accusers to go public.

That the National Restaurant Association decided to resolve the prior claims with compensation provides some picture of their nature: they were most likely not a one-time event (unless extremely severe), they were most likely not made by someone whose credibility could be easily demolished, and they were most likely not behaviors that would offend only an overly sensitive woman (as Mr. Cain suggested when he said that he had merely compared the height of one of his accusers, Karen Kraushaar, to the height of his wife). The law requires a pervasive pattern of unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature or acts of real severity as viewed by a reasonable person that create a hostile working environment, or demands to exchange sexual compliance for workplace benefits. Anything less would have provided the company little incentive to settle.

Mr. Cain’s assertion that the public attention to these reports is “a high tech lynching” threatens to insulate his behavior from the deeper assessment it demands. Like Mr. Thomas, whose elevation to the Supreme Court was facilitated by this statement, Mr. Cain rides a wave of suspicion and empathy. It would be wrong to dismiss the appeal of his defense, given the common dimension of public sexual humiliation and how deeply “lynching” resonates as a metaphor for black men in the real context of the sexual politics of racial hierarchy.

But neither Mr. Cain nor Mr. Thomas stands in the shoes of those crucified for offenses against the powerful. No one was, or will be, killed and hung from a tree for defending the prerogatives of the top 1 percent. And it is germane that women of all races face a specific kind of public sexual humiliation for reporting their abuse at the hands of those with power over their employment. This is a major reason that so many, rather than speaking out, have opted for silence, and in overwhelming numbers still do. Simply put, women do not want to be pornography.

Remarkably but not atypically, Ms. Bialek’s Republicanism and her personal respect for Mr. Cain remain intact. Women who come out of the shadows, like Ms. Bialek and Ms. Hill before her, are not silenced as others can be, including by confidentiality agreements routinely forced on them by companies as the price of relief. These women want and expect the harasser to man up: acknowledge what he did, genuinely apologize, and change, meaning never do it again. And the failure of a candidate to do so should not be considered a winning political strategy but instead regarded as presumptive evidence of unfitness to lead. That would be a step toward real progress. Our leaders owe us nothing less.


Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is a professor of law

at Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Catharine A. MacKinnon is a professor of law

at the University of Michigan

and a visiting professor of law at Harvard University.

    Why Herman Cain Is Unfit to Lead, NYT, 14.11.2011,






When States Punish Women


June 2, 2011
The New York Times


The Obama administration has rightly decided to reject a mean-spirited and dangerous Indiana law banning the use of Medicaid funds at Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide vital health services to low-income women.

The law, signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana in May, is just one effort by Republican-led state legislatures around the country to end public financing for Planned Parenthood — a goal the House Republicans failed to achieve in the budget deal in April. The organization is a favorite target because a small percentage of its work involves providing abortion care even though no government money is used for that purpose.

Governor Daniels and Republican lawmakers, by depriving Planned Parenthood of about $3 million in government funds, would punish thousands of low-income women on Medicaid, who stand to lose access to affordable contraception, life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. Making it harder for women to obtain birth control is certainly a poor strategy for reducing the number of abortions.

On Wednesday, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, said the Indiana law, which is already in effect, violates federal Medicaid law by imposing impermissible restrictions on the freedom of Medicaid beneficiaries to choose health care providers.

Although Mr. Berwick’s letter to Indiana officials did not say it explicitly, Indiana could lose millions of dollars in Medicaid financing unless it changes its law. In a bulletin to state officials around the country, the Medicaid office warned that states may not exclude doctors, clinics or other providers from Medicaid “because they separately provide abortion services.”

So far, Indiana isn’t budging. The issue will be taken up on Monday in federal court in Indiana where Planned Parenthood has filed a suit challenging the state’s action on statutory and constitutional grounds. The organization properly argues that it may not be penalized for engaging in constitutionally protected activities, like providing abortion services with its own money.

The Obama administration’s opposition to the Indiana law could help deter other states — including North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Tennessee — from moving forward with similar measures to restrict payments to Planned Parenthood, either under Medicaid or Title X, the main federal family planning program. Kansas, for example, has enacted provisions to block Planned Parenthood from receiving any Title X money.

The measures against Planned Parenthood come amid further efforts to limit access to abortion. Just since April, six states — Indiana, Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Oklahoma and Kansas — have enacted laws banning insurance coverage of abortion in the health insurance exchanges created as part of federal health care reform, bringing the total to 14 states. Two states — Arizona and Texas — joined three others in making ultrasounds mandatory for women seeking to terminate pregnancies. Bills expected to be signed soon by Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, contain both types of provisions.

Many of these fresh attacks on reproductive rights, not surprisingly, have come in states where the midterm elections left Republicans in charge of both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion.

    When States Punish Women, NT, 2.6.2011,






The War on Women


February 25, 2011

The New York Times


Republicans in the House of Representatives are mounting an assault on women’s health and freedom that would deny millions of women access to affordable contraception and life-saving cancer screenings and cut nutritional support for millions of newborn babies in struggling families. And this is just the beginning.

The budget bill pushed through the House last Saturday included the defunding of Planned Parenthood and myriad other cuts detrimental to women. It’s not likely to pass unchanged, but the urge to compromise may take a toll on these programs. And once the current skirmishing is over, House Republicans are likely to use any legislative vehicle at hand to continue the attack.

The egregious cuts in the House resolution include the elimination of support for Title X, the federal family planning program for low-income women that provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. In the absence of Title X’s preventive care, some women would die. The Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health, says a rise in unintended pregnancies would result in some 400,000 more abortions a year.

An amendment offered by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, would bar any financing of Planned Parenthood. A recent sting operation by an anti-abortion group uncovered an errant employee, who was promptly fired. That hardly warrants taking aim at an irreplaceable network of clinics, which uses no federal dollars in providing needed abortion care. It serves one in five American women at some point in her lifetime.

The House resolution would slash support for international family planning and reproductive health care. And it would reimpose the odious global “gag” rule, which forbids giving federal money to any group that even talks about abortions. That rule badly hampered family planning groups working abroad to prevent infant and maternal deaths before President Obama lifted it.

(Mr. Obama has tried to act responsibly. He has rescinded President George W. Bush’s wildly overreaching decision to grant new protections to health providers who not only will not perform abortions, but also will not offer emergency contraception to rape victims or fill routine prescriptions for contraceptives.)

In negotiations over the health care bill last year, Democrats agreed to a scheme intended to stop insurance companies from offering plans that cover abortions. Two bills in the Republican House would go even further in denying coverage to the 30 percent or so of women who have an abortion during child-bearing years.

One of the bills, offered by Representative Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, has a provision that would allow hospitals receiving federal funds to refuse to terminate a pregnancy even when necessary to save a woman’s life.

Beyond the familiar terrain of abortion or even contraception, House Republicans would inflict harm on low-income women trying to have children or who are already mothers.

Their continuing resolution would cut by 10 percent the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, which serves 9.6 million low-income women, new mothers, and infants each month, and has been linked in studies to higher birth weight and lower infant mortality.

The G.O.P. bill also slices $50 million from the block grant supporting programs providing prenatal health care to 2.5 million low-income women and health care to 31 million children annually. President Obama’s budget plan for next year calls for a much more modest cut.

These are treacherous times for women’s reproductive rights and access to essential health care. House Republicans mistakenly believe they have a mandate to drastically scale back both even as abortion warfare is accelerating in the states. To stop them, President Obama’s firm leadership will be crucial. So will the rising voices of alarmed Americans.

    The War on Women, NYT, 25.2.2011,






Bettie Page,

Queen of Pinups,

Dies at 85


December 12, 2008
The New York Times


Bettie Page, a legendary pinup girl whose photographs in the nude, in bondage and in naughty-but-nice poses appeared in men’s magazines and private stashes across America in the 1950s and set the stage for the sexual revolution of the rebellious ’60s, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 85.

Her death was reported by her agent, Mark Roesler, on Ms. Page’s Web site, bettiepage.com.

Ms. Page, whose popularity underwent a cult-like revival in the last 20 years, had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia and was about to be released Dec. 2 when she suffered a heart attack, said Mr. Roesler, of CMG Worldwide. She was transferred in a coma to Kindred Hospital, where she died.

In her trademark raven bangs, spike heels and killer curves, Ms. Page was the most famous pinup girl of the post-World War II era, a centerfold on a million locker doors and garage walls. She was also a major influence in the fashion industry and a target of Senator Estes Kefauver’s anti-pornography investigators.

But in 1957, at the height of her fame, she disappeared, and for three decades her private life — two failed marriages, a fight against poverty and mental illness, resurrection as a born-again Christian, years of seclusion in Southern California — was a mystery to all but a few close friends.

Then in the late 1980s and early ’90s, she was rediscovered and a Bettie Page renaissance began. David Stevens, creator of the comic-book and later movie character the Rocketeer, immortalized her as the Rocketeer’s girlfriend. Fashion designers revived her look. Uma Thurman, in bangs, reincarnated Bettie in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” and Demi Moore, Madonna and others appeared in Page-like photos.

There were Bettie Page playing cards, lunch boxes, action figures, T-shirts and beach towels. Her saucy images went up in nightclubs. Bettie Page fan clubs sprang up. Look-alike contests, featuring leather-and-lace and kitten-with-a-whip Betties, were organized. Hundreds of Web sites appeared, including her own, which had 588 million hits in five years, CMG Worldwide said in 2006.

Biographies were published, including her authorized version, “Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend,” (General Publishing Group) which appeared in 1996. It was written by Karen Essex and James L. Swanson.

A movie, “The Notorious Bettie Page,” starring Gretchen Mol as Bettie and directed by Mary Harron for Picturehouse and HBO Films, was released in 2006, adapted from “The Real Bettie Page,” by Richard Foster. Bettie May Page was born in Jackson, Tenn., the eldest girl of Roy and Edna Page’s six children. The father, an auto mechanic, molested all three of his daughters, Ms. Page said years later, and was divorced by his wife when Bettie was 10. She and some of her siblings were placed for a time in an orphanage. She attended high school in Nashville, and was almost a straight-A student, graduating second in her class.

She graduated from Peabody College, a part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, but a teaching career was brief. “I couldn’t control my students, especially the boys,” she said. She tried secretarial work, married Billy Neal in 1943 and moved to San Francisco, where she modeled fur coats for a few years. She divorced Mr. Neal in 1947, moved to New York and enrolled in acting classes.

She had a few stage and television appearances, but it was a chance meeting that changed her life. On the beach at Coney Island in 1950, she met Jerry Tibbs, a police officer and photographer, who assembled her first pinup portfolio. By 1951, the brother-sister photographers Irving and Paula Klaw, who ran a mail-order business in cheesecake, were promoting the Bettie Page image with spike heels and whips, while Bunny Yeager’s pictures featured her in jungle shots, with and without leopards skins.

Her pictures were ogled in Wink, Eyeful, Titter, Beauty Parade and other magazines, and in leather-fetish 8- and 16-millimeter films. Her first name was often misspelled. Her big break was the Playboy centerfold in January 1955, when she winked in a Santa Claus cap as she put a bulb on a Christmas tree. Money and offers rolled in, but as she recalled years later, she was becoming depressed.

In 1955, she received a summons from a Senate committee headed by Senator Kefauver, a Tennessee Democrat, that was investigating pornography. She was never compelled to testify, but the uproar and other pressures drove her to quit modeling two years later. She moved to Florida. Subsequent marriages to Armond Walterson and Harry Lear ended in divorce, and there were no children. She moved to California in 1978.

For years Ms. Page lived on Social Security benefits. After a nervous breakdown, she was arrested for an attack on a landlady, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a California mental institution. She emerged years later as a born-again Christian, immersing herself in Bible studies and serving as an adviser to the Billy Graham Crusade.

In recent years, she had lived in Southern California on the proceeds of her revival. Occasionally, she gave interviews in her gentle Southern drawl, but largely stayed out of the public eye — and steadfastly refused to be photographed.

“I want to be remembered as I was when I was young and in my golden times,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 2006. “I want to be remembered as a woman who changed people’s perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form.”

    Bettie Page, Queen of Pinups, Dies at 85, NYT, 12.12.2008,






FDA Set to OK Period Suppression Pill


May 18, 2007
Filed at 11:32 p.m. ET
The New York Times


TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Women looking for a simple way to avoid their menstrual period could soon have access the first birth control pill designed to let women suppress monthly bleeding indefinitely.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expect to announce approval Tuesday for Lybrel, a drug from Wyeth which would be the first pill to be taken continuously.

Lybrel, a name meant to evoke ''liberty,'' would be the fourth new oral contraceptive that doesn't follow the standard schedule of 21 daily active pills, followed by seven sugar pills -- a design meant to mimic a woman's monthly cycle. Among the others, Yaz and Loestrin 24 shorten monthly periods to three days or less and Seasonique, an updated version of Seasonale, reduces them to four times a year.

Gynecologists say they've been seeing a slow but steady increase in women asking how to limit and even stop monthly bleeding. Surveys have found up to half of women would prefer not to have any periods, most would prefer them less often and a majority of doctors have prescribed contraception to prevent periods.

''I think it's the beginning of it being very common,'' said Dr. Leslie Miller, a University of Washington-Seattle obstetrician-gynecologist who runs a Web site focused on suppressing periods. ''Lybrel says, 'You don't need a period.'''

While that can be done easily -- sometimes more cheaply -- by skipping the sugar pills or replacing birth-control patches or vaginal rings sooner, doctors say the trend is fueled mainly by advertising for the new options. They expect plenty for Lybrel's July launch, although Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth says it will market to doctors first.

Analysts have estimated Lybrel sales could reach $40 million this year and $235 million by 2010. U.S. sales of Seasonique, launched last August, hit $6.1 million in the first quarter of 2007. Predecessor Seasonale, which got cheaper generic competition in September, peaked at about $100 million. Yaz, launched last August, had first-quarter sales of $35.6 million; Loestrin 24, launched in April 2006, hit $34.4 million in the first quarter.

Still, some women raise concerns about whether blocking periods is safe or natural. Baltimore health psychologist Paula S. Derry wrote in an opinion piece in the British Medical Journal two weeks ago that ''menstrual suppression itself is unnatural,'' and that there's not enough data to determine if it is safe long-term.

Sheldon J. Segal, a scientist at the nonprofit research group Population Council, wrote back that a British study found no harm in taking pills with much higher hormone levels than today's products for up to 10 years.

''Nothing has come up to indicate any unexpected side effects,'' said Segal, who co-authored the book ''Is Menstruation Obsolete?''

Most doctors say there's no medical reason women need monthly bleeding and that it triggers health problems from anemia to epilepsy in many women. They note women have been tinkering with nature since the advent of birth control pills and now endure as many as 450 periods, compared with 50 or so in the days when women spent most of their fertile years pregnant or breast-feeding.

Dr. Mindy Wiser-Estin, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Little Silver, N.J., has long advocated menstrual suppression.

She has seen a big increase in the last year in patients asking about it, but has one concern that leads her to encourage younger women to take a break every 12 weeks. About 1 percent of oral contraceptive users become pregnant each year, and young women taking continuous pills who have never been pregnant may not recognize the symptoms, she said.

''They may not know it in time to do something about it,'' Wiser-Estin said.

Barr Pharmaceuticals of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., whose subsidiary Duramed already is developing a lower-estrogen version of Seasonique, said its research with consumers and health care providers indicates they feel four periods a year is optimal, said spokeswoman Amy Niemann.

Wyeth obviously thinks otherwise.

''It allows women to put their menstrual cycle on hold'' and reduces 17 related symptoms, from irritability to bloating, based on one small study, said Dr. Amy Marren, director of clinical affairs for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Marren said Lybrel contains the lowest dose of two hormones widely used in birth-control pills, ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel.

That might cause too much breakthrough bleeding, already a problem with some newer pills with low hormone doses, said Dr. Lee Shulman, a Chicago obstetrician-gynecologist who chairs the board of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

In testing of Lybrel, 59 percent of women ended up with no bleeding after six months, but 18 percent of women dropped out of studies because of spotting and breakthrough bleeding, according to Wyeth.

''You're now basically trading scheduled bleeding for unscheduled bleeding, and I don't know whether American women will buy into that,'' Shulman said.


On the Net:


Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

menstruation site:


Dr. Miller's Web site: www.noperiod.com

FDA Set to OK Period Suppression Pill, NYT, 18.5.2007,






Women may get right

to breastfeed in public


May 13, 2007

From The Sunday Times

Sarah-Kate Templeton,

Health Correspondent

MINISTERS are considering new laws to give women a right to breastfeed their babies in public and take statutory breaks at work to suckle their infants.

The move follows research showing that only a minority of new mothers breastfeed their babies for the full six months recommended by the World Health Organisation.

It would become an offence for anyone to stop a woman from breastfeeding in public, a change that has already been enacted in Scotland. It follows complaints from mothers that they have been accused of indecency and barred from breastfeeding when they have attempted to do so in public.

Employers would also have to allow mothers to take breaks each working day to breast feed. In France women with a baby under 12 months are entitled to two 30-minute breaks a day. In Italy, new mothers can take two one-hour rest periods.

The proposals are central planks of a campaign by the five royal colleges of medicine, nursing and midwifery to which health minister Andy Burnham has signed up. He said he backed the campaign for a new policy on breast feeding in public and a new law on work breaks.

Caroline Flint, the public health minister, has already had a meeting with the coalition, which includes Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and will address doctors and midwives at the launch of its manifesto on Wednesday.

“All the evidence says that ‘nothing is fitter than a breastfed nipper’,” said Flint. “We’ve made good progress over the last 30 years encouraging more and more women to breastfeed. But we cannot be complacent. There are communities where breastfeeding rates remain low, adding to the health inequalities gap. We need to do more to close this and to ensure babies receive the best form of nutrition and to give them the best start in life.”

According to official figures, only 21% of British women breastfeed for up to the recommended period of six months.

Young mothers are particularly reluctant to breastfeed. A television advertising campaign will be launched this week by the Department of Health to encourage more mothers aged 25 and under to suckle their infants.

Rosie Dodds, policy and research officer for the National Childbirth Trust, said the statistics would improve if the government made it an offence to ask women to stop breastfeeding in public.

Lindsey Black, a 29-year-old mother of two from Southport, Merseyside, was asked to leave a branch of McDonald’s while breastfeeding her baby daughter in the restaurant. After twice being told to stop breastfeeding or leave, Black was forced to breastfeed in the lavatories.

“The older generation tend to tut-tut. I am not doing anything wrong — you do not see much,” said Black. “It is not as if I am lifting my top and exposing myself. The public need to be more understanding.”

The breastfeeding manifesto, which has been signed by more than 180 politicians including Margaret Hodge, the trade and industry minister, and Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, says returning to work is the most common reason for women stopping breastfeeding.

The manifesto says: “We call on the government to legislate for breastfeeding breaks for women at work, in line with other European countries.”

Alison Baum, co-ordinator of the Breastfeeding Manifesto, said: “By ensuring that employers provide appropriate work schedules and places to allow women to continue breastfeeding, women could breastfeed for longer.

“Employers who are breast-feeding-friendly benefit in the long run because the babies of those mothers will end up having fewer bugs and suffering less illness. The parents will, therefore, have fewer absences.”

If companies had on-site crãches, women would take a break to breastfeed their child but, more commonly, they would express milk and store it for their baby to drink later.

Natalie Marshall, a mother of two from Wiltshire, is an IT support worker for a large manufacturing company and is allowed to takes two breastfeeding breaks a day. Marshall, who is still breastfeeding her two-year-old daughter and breastfed her three-year-old son until he was 14 months, said all companies should be as sympathetic as her employer.

“Those breaks were absolutely essential and without them I would not have managed to keep breastfeeding,” she said.

“It did add a bit of stress to the rest of the team because when I was having a break there were fewer people to respond to urgent problems, but they were all really supportive.”

Marshall expresses milk in a room provided by the occupational health department of the company. Her employer also provides a fridge for her to store it.

A legal entitlement to breastfeeding breaks is opposed, however, by the Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses.

McDonald’s said breastfeeding was allowed within its restaurants and that staff had been made aware of this policy.

Women may get right to breastfeed in public,






A day in the life

of a young American cheerleader


Wed Mar 7, 2007

6:15AM EST


By Andrea Hopkins


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Twelve-year-old Bridget Bailey has been cheerleading since she was eight, and devotes at least 10 hours a week to her passion -- a uniquely American sport that combines dance, gymnastics and acrobatic stunts.

On one recent Friday at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, Bailey cheered her way to a 1st place finish in the solo youth non-tumbling division. She described the day of competition.



"I got up this morning at about 6:30, I got to school at 7:40 and then I got out at 12:40," she said. Before she left school, Bailey collected the assignments she would miss because of the competition.

Bailey, her mom, Kim, and aunt, Christina Fisher, traveled from a northern Columbus suburb to the downtown convention center -- a relatively short trip. She regularly travels to other cities for cheerleading events which also involve beauty pagent-worthy hair and makeup skills.

"We had to come and get my hair done, and then I have to get all my makeup and glitter on," she said, sitting patiently in a quiet corner of the convention center while her mom and aunt styled her thick brown hair with curling irons, one on each side.

The beauty aspect of the routine takes "between a half hour and an hour, depending," Bailey said.



Once her makeup is done and glitter applied, the sixth grader heads to the cheerleading venue, an auditorium half-filled with competitors, parents and fans, for the contest, which lasts from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"We stretch for about 15 minutes to half an hour," said Bailey. "And then you wait in line to compete, and then you compete. And then you wait for awards," she said matter-of-factly.

An announcer bellows out the name of each contestant and the cheerleading club they represent. A DJ plays their chosen music, and a handful of judges perched high above the competition floor scrutinize the cheerleaders as they strut their stuff.

Bailey describes her routine:

"My first thing, I do dance and a few jumps, and then I do more dance and jumps, and then I do my cheer, which is about halfway through. After the cheer, I jump, dance and cheer, and then after that I do triple jumps, and then do some more of the dance and then it's ending."

The cheer?

"Fusion. All Stars. Remember the name. If cheering is my sport, then winning is my game. Step back. Watch out. We're the best of the best. We're Fusion All Stars, we're F-A-S."

After four hours of competition, the winners receive their awards -- gleaming golden trophies and medals on red, white and blue ribbons.



After her first-place award, Bailey had a long night planned, with more gymnastics with friends at her cheerleading club, the iYooWee gym.

"I'm going to the gym to tell my coach how I did, and then I'm staying at the gym for this thing called Kids Night Out, where you can just go play," she said.

"More cheerleading," her mom translated.

Summing up her long day, Bailey said she wouldn't want to be spending her Friday in any other way.

"It's fun and I like to do it."

A day in the life of a young American cheerleader,






Supporting Boys or Girls

When the Line Isn’t Clear


December 2, 2006

The New York Times



OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 1 — Until recently, many children who did not conform to gender norms in their clothing or behavior and identified intensely with the opposite sex were steered to psychoanalysis or behavior modification.

But as advocates gain ground for what they call gender-identity rights, evidenced most recently by New York City’s decision to let people alter the sex listed on their birth certificates, a major change is taking place among schools and families. Children as young as 5 who display predispositions to dress like the opposite sex are being supported by a growing number of young parents, educators and mental health professionals.

Doctors, some of them from the top pediatric hospitals, have begun to advise families to let these children be “who they are” to foster a sense of security and self-esteem. They are motivated, in part, by the high incidence of depression, suicidal feelings and self-mutilation that has been common in past generations of transgender children. Legal trends suggest that schools are now required to respect parents’ decisions.

“First we became sensitive to two mommies and two daddies,” said Reynaldo Almeida, the director of the Aurora School, a progressive private school in Oakland. “Now it’s kids who come to school who aren’t gender typical.”

The supportive attitudes are far easier to find in traditionally tolerant areas of the country like San Francisco than in other parts, but even in those places there is fierce debate over how best to handle the children.

Cassandra Reese, a first-grade teacher outside Boston, recalled that fellow teachers were unnerved when a young boy showed up in a skirt. “They said, ‘This is not normal,’ and, ‘It’s the parents’ fault,’ ” Ms. Reese said. “They didn’t see children as sophisticated enough to verbalize their feelings.”

As their children head into adolescence, some parents are choosing to block puberty medically to buy time for them to figure out who they are — raising a host of ethical questions.

While these children are still relatively rare, doctors say the number of referrals is rising across the nation. Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have laws protecting the rights of transgender students, and some schools are engaged in a steep learning curve to dismantle gender stereotypes.

At the Park Day School in Oakland, teachers are taught a gender-neutral vocabulary and are urged to line up students by sneaker color rather than by gender. “We are careful not to create a situation where students are being boxed in,” said Tom Little, the school’s director. “We allow them to move back and forth until something feels right.”

For families, it can be a long, emotional adjustment. Shortly after her son’s third birthday, Pam B. and her husband, Joel, began a parental journey for which there was no map. It started when their son, J., began wearing oversized T-shirts and wrapping a towel around his head to emulate long, flowing hair. Then came his mothers’ silky undershirts. Half a year into preschool, J. started becoming agitated when asked to wear boys’ clothing.

En route to a mall with her son, Ms. B. had an epiphany: “It just clicked in me. I said, ‘You really want to wear a dress, don’t you?’ ”

Thus began what the B.’s, who asked their full names not be used to protect their son’s privacy, call “the reluctant path,” a behind-closed-doors struggle to come to terms with a gender-variant child — a spirited 5-year-old boy who, at least for now, strongly identifies as a girl, requests to be called “she” and asks to wear pigtails and pink jumpers to school.

Ms. B., 41, a lawyer, accepted the way her son defined himself after she and her husband consulted with a psychologist and observed his newfound comfort with his choice. But she feels the precarious nature of the day-to-day reality. “It’s hard to convey the relentlessness of it, she said, “every social encounter, every time you go out to eat, every day feeling like a balance between your kid’s self-esteem and protecting him from the hostile outside world.”

The prospect of cross-dressing kindergartners has sparked a deep philosophical divide among professionals over how best to counsel families. Is it healthier for families to follow the child’s lead, or to spare children potential humiliation and isolation by steering them toward accepting their biological gender until they are older?

Both sides in the debate underscore their concern for the profound vulnerability of such youngsters, symbolized by occurrences like the murder in 2002 of Gwen Araujo, a transgender teenager born as Eddie, southeast of Oakland.

“Parents now are looking for advice on how to make life reasonable for their kids — whether to allow cross-dressing in public, and how to protect them from the savagery of other children,” said Dr. Herbert Schreier, a psychiatrist with Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland.

Dr. Schreier is one of a growing number of professionals who have begun to think of gender variance as a naturally occurring phenomenon rather than a disorder. “These kids are becoming more aware of how it is to be themselves,” he said.

In past generations, so-called sissy boys and tomboy girls were made to conform, based on the belief that their behaviors were largely products of dysfunctional homes.

Among the revisionists is Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, a child-adolescent psychiatrist at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington who started a national outreach group for parents of gender-variant children in 1998 that now has more than 200 participants. “We know that sexually marginalized children have a higher rate of depression and suicide attempts,” Dr. Menvielle said. “The goal is for the child to be well adjusted, healthy and have good self-esteem. What’s not important is molding their gender.”

The literature on adults who are transgender was hardly consoling to one parent, a 42-year-old software consultant in Massachusetts and the father of a gender-variant third grader. “You’re trudging through this tragic, horrible stuff and realizing not a single person was accepted and understood as a child,” he said. “You read it and think, O.K., best to avoid that. But as a parent you’re in this complete terra incognita.”

The biological underpinnings of gender identity, much like sexual orientation, remain something of a mystery, though many researchers suspect it is linked with hormone exposure in the developing fetus.

Studies suggest that most boys with gender variance early in childhood grow up to be gay, and about a quarter heterosexual, Dr. Menvielle said. Only a small fraction grow up to identify as transgender.

Girls with gender-variant behavior, who have been studied less, voice extreme unhappiness about being a girl and talk about wanting to have male anatomy. But research has thus far suggested that most wind up as heterosexual women.

Although many children role-play involving gender, Dr. Menvielle said, “the key question is how intense and persistent the behavior is,” especially if they show extreme distress.

Dr. Robin Dea, the director of regional mental health for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, said: “Our gender identity is something we feel in our soul. But it is also a continuum, and it evolves.”

Dr. Dea works with four or five children under the age of 15 who are essentially living as the opposite sex. “They are much happier, and their grades are up,” she said. “I’m waiting for the study that says supporting these children is negative.”

But Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist and head of the gender-identity service at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, disagrees with the “free to be” approach with young children and cross-dressing in public. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Zucker has treated about 500 preadolescent gender-variant children. In his studies, 80 percent grow out of the behavior, but 15 percent to 20 percent continue to be distressed about their gender and may ultimately change their sex.

Dr. Zucker tries to “help these kids be more content in their biological gender” until they are older and can determine their sexual identity — accomplished, he said, by encouraging same-sex friendships and activities like board games that move beyond strict gender roles.

Though she has not encountered such a situation, Jennifer Schwartz, assistant principal of Chatham Elementary School outside Springfield, Ill., said that allowing a child to express gender differences “would be very difficult to pull off” there.

Ms. Schwartz added: “I’m not sure it’s worth the damage it could cause the child, with all the prejudices and parents possibly protesting. I’m not sure a child that age is ready to make that kind of decision.”

The B.’s thought long and hard about what they had observed in their son. They have carefully choreographed his life, monitoring new playmates, selecting a compatible school, finding sympathetic parents in a babysitting co-op. Nevertheless, Ms. B. said, “there is still the stomach-clenching fear for your kid.”

It is indeed heartbreaking to hear a child say, as J. did recently, “It feels like a nightmare I’m a boy.”

The adjustment has been gradual for Mr. B., a 43-year-old public school administrator who is trying to stop calling J. “our little man.” He thinks of his son as a positive, resilient person, and his love and admiration show. “The truth is, is any parent going to choose this for their kid?” he said. “It’s who your kid is.”

Families are caught in the undertow of conflicting approaches. One suburban Chicago mother, who did not want to be identified, said in a telephone interview that she was drawing the line on dress and trying to provide “boy opportunities” for her 6-year-old son. “But we can’t make everything a power struggle,” she said. “It gets exhausting.”

She worries about him becoming a social outcast. “Why does your brother like girl things?” friends of her 10-year-old ask. The answer is always, “I don’t know.”

Nila Marrone, a retired linguistics professor at the University of Connecticut who consults with parents and schools, recalled an incident last year at a Bronx elementary school in which an 8-year-old boy perceived as effeminate was thrown into a large trash bin by a group of boys. The principal, she said, “suggested to the mother that she was to blame, for not having taught her son how to be tough enough.”

But the tide is turning.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, for instance, requires that students be addressed with “a name and pronoun that corresponds to the gender identity.” It also asks schools to provide a locker room or changing area that corresponds to a student’s chosen gender.

One of the most controversial issues concerns the use of “blockers,” hormones used to delay the onset of puberty in cases where it could be psychologically devastating (for instance, a girl who identifies as a boy might slice her wrists when she gets her period). Some doctors disapprove of blockers, arguing that only at puberty does an individual fully appreciate their gender identity.

Catherine Tuerk, a nurse-psychotherapist at the children’s hospital in Washington and the mother of a gender-variant child in the 1970s, says parents are still left to find their own way. She recalls how therapists urged her to steer her son into psychoanalysis and “hypermasculine activities” like karate. She said she and her husband became “gender cops.”

“It was always, ‘You’re not kicking the ball hard enough,’ ” she said.

Ms. Tuerk’s son, now 30, is gay and a father, and her own thinking has evolved since she was a young parent. “People are beginning to understand this seems to be something that happens,” she said. “But there was a whole lifetime of feeling we could never leave him alone.”

Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn’t Clear,










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