Sexual Violence is Not a Laughing Matter

Sexual violence against women is not a joke. For a public figure, especially someone who is running for the highest political office in the country, to think sexual violence is humorous “locker room talk” is despicable as well as disrespectful to victims of sexual violence. “This was not just a lewd conversation, this wasn’t just lock room banter, this was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in a speech on October 13. She summed up the situation very well and that started my thinking of the facts and data on sexual violence in America and what can be done to reduce its prevalence. Every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted and the majority of victims are between the ages of 12 and 34, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. This set of statistics includes all cases of sexual violence. One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetimes, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. This set of statistics just looks at rape and nothing else in the sexual violence crimes category. I’m not a sociologist, a criminologist or a police officer. I am not a judge or a prosecutor. I am a college-educated and real-life trained journalist. I am a human being with intelligence. I am a woman — one who has survived sexual assault. I’ve been thinking for a long time about sexual...

A New Book Explores 50 Fearless Women Pioneers in Science

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. My second book selection is Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky,  which was released on July 26. I chose this book because, when I was younger, most of the books available about history and science focused primarily on the contributions made by men and subsequently overlooked the accomplishments made by women. To see a book devoted to women in science was very exciting. I jumped at the opportunity to review this book! When the book arrived, I was a little bit disappointed. The main font used in this book is less than the standard sized font used for most books, which can be a physical challenge for some readers. The second font used in Women in Science for the side elements is a different type-set and one I had to get accustomed to reading because the “e” is written as a backward “3.” In addition, I question the design choice to use bright colors such as fuchsia and yellow on dark grey backgrounds on the illustration pages as this is garish and headache-inducing. Black type set on the same oddly colored background colors was just slightly easier to read on the biography pages. Ignotofsky pairs an illustration with...

When a Penis is More Than a Penis

My partner Dutch and I were sitting down to watch restored films in our friend Todd’s backyard last night when someone in the audience asked for a bottle opener. Todd’s new neighbor, a young blonde woman, whipped out a bottle opener which was penis-shaped. Of course, I had to ask her where she found such an item. “Spain,” she said as she handed me the opener to admire. The opener was beautifully decorated wood with a lovely shape that fit in my hand perfectly. It was painted black with scrollwork in gold and white with the tip of the penis etched and painted gold. Quite simply, it was a beautiful piece of working art. Even Dutch agreed that our simple unadorned wooden shoe bottle opener from The Netherlands doesn’t compare to this woman’s penis bottle opener. A Google search revealed that her penis opener can be found in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain. Sadly, I cannot locate any history on why the penis is offered as a bottle opener — if it is a tourist money-maker or if there is a cultural reason. My internet search revealed that other penis bottle openers are sold as souvenirs in Bali and Greece as well. Travelers to Australia can purchase a furry kangaroo scrotum bottle opener. The genuine kangaroo balls are harvested and processed according to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service rules and regulations, meaning the kangaroo scrotums are harvested only after the kangaroos are killed for other reasons, such as for meat consumption. Visitors to The Icelandic Phallological Museum, located in Reykjavik, Iceland, can enjoy the world’s only museum dedicated to...

Gardasil Can Protect a New Generation

Merck has been hitting major television markets hard with commercials for its product Gardasil, which is a vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV. These ads are well-timed as they are appearing at the start of this year’s back-to-school season, which is a time when many children are already being seen by their physicians. This is an excellent time for parents and physicians to have a conversation about the benefits of the Gardasil vaccine. Sadly, research from 2015 shows this is often a missed opportunity on the side of the physician. The vaccine Gardasil was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration on June 8, 2006, for use in the prevention of cervical cancer in females. On September 15, 2008, the FDA approved the expanded use of Gardasil for the prevention of certain vulvar and vaginal cancers. On October 16, 2009, the FDA approved Gardasil for use in boys and young men. On December 22, 2010, the FDA approved Gardasil to prevent anal cancer. The FDA grants additional approvals for a drug or vaccine based on new clinical data submitted by the drug or vaccine manufacturer that proves the drug or vaccine works for the additional uses. Gardasil works best if administered before the first sexual activity of any kind occurs, which is why the vaccine is recommended for optimal administration to children, both boys and girls, between the ages of 11 and 12. Some American parents seem to have some difficulties coming to grips with the notion that their children will have sex one day. Those parents either put off giving their children the Gardasil vaccine or do...

Explaining Partial Androgen Insensitivity

I took a writing hiatus due to experiencing an ongoing medical crisis. I am still sorting out how to live with my new diagnosis, which sadly interferes with my ability to write, to think, to sleep, to laugh and to live how I want to live my life. My diagnosis doesn’t just affect me; it affects my partner Dutch, my entire family, my friends and my pets and my ability to perform at my bill-paying day job. I am not back to being 100 percent myself yet. This is my first blog post in nearly two months. I am considering this to be a small win in my battle back to health and wellness.   A friend told me about a young colleague undergoing gender reassignment surgery. This was not an act of malice or of gossip. It was simply my friend, who is of an older generation, wanting to better understand the situation. We now talk about gender reassignment surgery in the news and at the coffee maker at work where previously this was a taboo topic that wasn’t discussed openly. My friend’s colleague was diagnosed during his youth with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (PAIS). Androgen insensitivity is a condition that affects sexual development before birth and during puberty. People with androgen insensitivity conditions are genetically male, with one X chromosome and one Y chromosome in each cell, yet their bodies are unable to respond properly to male sex hormones, or androgens, which includes testosterone and dehydroepiandroesterone or DHEA. As a result, the person has some or all of the physical traits of a female with the genetic...

A New Novel Explores How the Past Can Disrupt the Future

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. My first book selection is I Am No One by Patrick Flanery, which was released on July 5. This is the third novel by the American-born author; all three of his works have received praise by critics. The cover art of I Am No One is clean and crisp with a hint of urban flare. The serif font looks sophisticated and is easy to read. The pages in my hardback copy are offset to give the pages more texture and definition, which in turn gives the book a feel of quality as each page is turned. I have not read Flanery’s previous novels nor any of his essays. My first impressive of his writing style is that it is similar to Jack Kerouac’s with the exception of Flanery’s use of punctuation. While Kerouac mainly disregarded punctuation, Flanery overuses commas to such a degree that the number of commas on a page can be distracting. Here is an example of Flanery’s writing and use of commas from the first chapter: “This is not something that tends to happen in Britain, where suspicion of strangers is so deeply ingrained in the national psyche, perhaps from the years of the IRA threat, or even more distantly, from the suspicion of...

Italy’s Contributions to Our Sexual History

I am on vacation this week. Please enjoy one of my favorite postings. XOXO   I was that child who asked “Why is the sky blue?” until I was satisfied with the answer I was given. My mother quickly adapted to my questions; she bought my brother and me a set of encyclopedias and a “how science works” book series along with two dictionaries. She gave us both unlimited access to the public library and encouraged me to bestow some questions on the librarians. We were both encouraged to read anything we wanted, no matter how challenging the material or how questionable in nature the material was deemed by other mothers. Our mother never stifled our creativity, intelligence or curiosity. Perhaps this is why I still ask questions to this day. I want to know as much as I can about everything that interests me, which is one reason I spend more time reading and researching than watching television. The other day I was reading a book for some ideas for some Tweets and found information that excited me. I discovered a treasure trove of anatomy-related information about sex and reproduction. I want to share this information because it is just good stuff to know.   The Italian anatomist Gabriel Fallopius was born in 1523 in Modena, Italy, and served as a canon of the cathedral of Modena before returning to the study of medicine. In 1549, Fallopius became a professor of anatomy at the University of Pisa. He performed multitudes of dissections using human cadavers and described his work in the book Observationes anatomicae, which was published in 1561. Fallopius...

Let Tragedy Strengthen Us

This week, I am not writing about sexual health, sexual issues or taboo topics. Every time I tried to write, I kept thinking about the 49 souls lost in the Orlando shooting. I kept thinking about people in general and our sense of community. I spent last weekend with Coolest. Mom. Ever. at an outdoor women’s survival event. The event is open to 110 women and is a collaboration between state Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, volunteer instructors and other volunteers who worked throughout the day and behind the scenes to give the attendees a great experience. This is the fourth year we attended and, as in previous years, we left the event feeling connected to others, like we were our own remote community, despite the lack of internet and stable phone service in the area where the event is held. I arrived back at my own house on Sunday to the news of the Orlando mass shooting. I was bewildered at the incredible and tragic loss of life. I thought about the victims; they were someone’s light and love in this life. And they were violently and abruptly killed. Actor Frank Langella said during his Tony speech on Sunday night, “When something bad happens, we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us or we let it strengthen us.” I agree that when bad things happen we should let them strengthen us. Remaining positive in any situation is a sign of strength. It typically only takes one person who is positive to turn the negativity of others into something more bearable. We...

Preventative Exams Can Save Women’s Lives

Last weekend, Dutch and I attended our friends’ annual Indianapolis 500 race celebration and Memorial Day cookout. At this party, I met a woman who is a two-time cancer survivor whose family carries one of the genetic markers for breast cancer. She survived breast and uterine cancer and is now battling the after-effects of chemotherapy on her digestive tract. During our conversation, I discovered this particular cancer survivor was not consistent with undergoing annual preventative exams during much of her adult life. Preventative care is essential to our health and well-being and can help detect any potential health problems, especially cancer during its earliest stages when it is easier to treat. Uterine cancer and cervical cancer are mostly asymptomatic, meaning there are no symptoms that indicate the presence of the cancer. Ovarian cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages and will exhibit symptoms in the later stages of the disease. Dr. George Papanicolaou (1883-1962) was a Greek pioneer in cytopathology, or the study of cells to determine the cause or nature of disease. He was an expert on early cancer detection who, in 1928, invented the Papanicolaou test after having studied his wife’s cervical cells under a microscope for several months. His invention, now commonly referred to as a Pap test or Pap smear, is a sample of tissue collected from the neck of a woman’s cervix or uterus that is then examined under a microscope in order to look for potential cancers in the uterus or cervix. Very rarely will a Pap smear detect the presence of ovarian cancer cells. The Pap test has stood the test of...

The History of Penis Transplants

Earlier this month, the first penis transplant in the United States was completed successfully. This was the world’s third penis transplant since the procedure was first attempted ten years ago. In penis transplants, the penis is taken from a deceased donor only after special written permission is given by the deceased man’s family. The blood type of the recipient must match that of the donor. The recipient must have certain nerves and blood vessels intact as well as an intact urethra in order to be considered for a penis transplant. Skin tone similarities between the donor and the recipient are taken into consideration to allow the recipient to have a more natural look after transplantation. Only the penis is transplanted; testicles are never transplanted due to potential ethical and moral objections. If a recipient has one or both of his testicles intact, he may be able to father his own biological children after a successful penis transplant because his sperm production has been unimpeded. All transplant patients must take anti-rejection medications, such as tacrolimus, for the rest of their lives in order to keep their own bodies from physically rejecting the transplanted organ(s). There is a vetting process of potential transplant patients to ensure the patients will adhere to daily anti-rejection medication regimes. The world’s first penis transplant occurred in China in 2006 at Guangzhou General Hospital. The recipient was a 44-year-old man whose own penis had been damaged beyond repair in an accident. He was left with one centimeter (less than one-half inch) of his original penis and was unable to urinate. The 15-hour transplant surgery was considered...