Attacks on contraception, Trump on Planned Parenthood, and Gristers on our embarrassing first kisses
May I share a minor but significant personal belief? Leap Day (which falls on this coming Monday) is a truly underrated and magical day. Let’s go ahead and call its invention the best thing Julius Caesar ever did! (Unless he’s actually responsible for the Caesar salad.)
You have a whole extra day in the year! What can you do with it? Well, in 2004 I used those precious 24 hours to have my first date (going to see 50 First Dates, of course) and first real kiss. And ever since, I have sort of believed that anything you do on Leap Day doesn’t really happen on the same plane of reality, because I never heard from him again.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about the very particular enchantment that a first kiss — in life, with a new person, or otherwise — brings with it, and asked some friends and colleagues if they’d share theirs (anonymously, of course). There is no first kiss story that is not utterly delightful in some way — nothing better to pick you up from your no good, very bad reproductive rights news of the week.
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SHOT: Earlier this week, I fell asleep after a phone conversation with my mother in which she said that “Kasich almost looks good compared to the rest of the GOP candidates,” and then I woke up to this: Gov. Kasich signed a bill that would catastrophically limit access to contraception in Ohio, while lauding — almost in the same breath — the women who “came out of their kitchens” to support him. The worst part? My mother may still be right.
CHASER: “We were snuggled up on a couch watching a box set of Seinfeld DVDs, and I kissed her on top of the head. She said, ‘What was that?’ And I said, ‘Uhh … I just kissed you on top of your head.’ She said, ‘Oh, I liked that.’ And then, we kissed, set to the tune of an angry George complaining of shrinkage.”
SHOT: New analysis from the Guttmacher Institute shows that while the Affordable Care Act has demonstrably increased the number of women of reproductive age who are insured, Latina and immigrant women are still getting left out. Also, the rate of insured women of reproductive age still varies significantly from state to state: States that enacted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in 2014 have a higher percentage of insured women.
CHASER: “Well, technically my first kiss came in performing an Archie Comics strip in which Veronica and Archie kiss to piss off Mr. Lodge. This girl used to bring me Archie Comics every time her family came up to visit. So we’re up in my room, and I’m like, ‘We should perform one for our parents downstairs before dinner,’ and she’s like, ‘Oh yes, ABSOLUTELY.’ And I say, ‘This one is so ridiculous, would you want to do it?’ (Obviously Veronica was my fave character.) We do it and we peck, and then I’m like, ‘Let’s try it again,’ and we kiss a little more intensely, and then again, and we fall on the bed and start really kissing. I felt like I was the coolest person IN THE WORLD.”
SHOT: Donald Trump’s steaming hot take on Planned Parenthood: “Planned Parenthood does a really good job at a lot of different areas. But not on abortion — so I’m not going to fund it if it’s doing the abortion.” See, I think Planned Parenthood does a really good job at “the abortion,” but literally everything Trump says is fiery garbage so I’m not surprised we disagree.
CHASER: “My first kiss was at a Romeo and Juliet performance on the town green. I know that sounds like an episode of Gilmore Girls, but it was extremely awkward — like, I did the ol’ turn-at-the-wrong-moment move, and he kissed my cheek. But then we hit our marks on the second attempt, though he weirdly didn’t open his mouth or move his lips at all, really, so we kinda Barbie-smashed our faces together while my family waited in the car. And scene.”
SHOT: In New York Magazine, Rebecca Traister shares a teaser of her upcoming treatise on how single women are the new force to be reckoned with in American politics: “Beyond whether you regard this shift as dangerous or thrilling, it is having a profound effect on our politics. While they are not often credited for it, single women’s changed circumstances are what’s driving a political agenda that seems to become more progressive every day.”
CHASER: “I was pretty young — like 7 or 8 maybe. It was in the back of a station wagon in the back seat that faced the rear of the car. Kate was her name and her mom was driving.”
SHOT: A proposed law in Brazil would triple the existing prison sentence for abortion (which is one to three years) for women who have contracted Zika and voluntarily abort fetuses that may show signs of microcephaly.
CHASER: “My first kiss was with my brother’s best friend and it was under a tractor near a cornfield, on our little farm in Wisconsin. I was probably like … 7? So that was like, little kid kissing. My real first kiss was with my best guy friend in seventh grade and we were playing video games, and when he kissed me he stuck his tongue in my mouth right away and it grossed me out and put me off fried calamari for years because it reminded me of his tongue.”
SHOT: In Ohio, it’s looking like the next target of the anti-choice movement are the organizations that process fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. From RH Reality Check:
‘If we don’t act NOW to pressure these medical waste companies to discontinue providing Planned Parenthood the services to dispose of aborted children and the instruments used to kill them, we will have missed a historic opportunity to stop the killing,’ Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s national director, said in a press release.
CHASER: “I was an eighth grader, and my friend who was older was trying to set me up with this freshman. We got drunk and smoked weed out of a Coca-Cola can, and oh man, it was so weird. So I walked her home and I gave her the weirdest peck on the lips — it wasn’t even a kiss. And then we just had the most awkward fucking relationship. We dated for three weeks and then she broke up with me to get with my friend who tried to set us up.”
SHOT: While we should be prioritizing the opinions and experiences of women in the conversation about abortion, it’s not just a women’s issue. That’s why it’s important that men do their part to eliminate the stigma around it. Women’s Health features the men who are publicly speaking out about how abortion doesn’t have to be a big deal — and needs to be legal and accessible for all: “‘For millions of women and, what usually gets left out, millions of men, abortion is actually a positive thing,’ [Josh] Healey says. ‘Silence and shame are never the answer. Telling the truth is.’”
CHASER: “I’m driving her home in my family’s giant, clunky Volvo. I have been so nervous for the entire date that there has been really zero chemistry. And as we get closer I begin telling myself that I have to make a move, but how? It has to be charming, playful, but also exciting. And I’m thinking so hard that all conversation stops for agonizing minutes, which of course only makes me more nervous and paralyzed. And then we are there and the moment has come, and I decide to wimp out. And she’s like, ‘OK well …’ but then she doesn’t open the door and flee!
“And I realize, this is it! A sign, I have to do something! Something cool, compelling, break the tension, but heighten the tension! So I open my mouth and say (imagine loud caveman/Frankenstein voice): ‘I’D LIKE A KISS BEFORE YOU GO.’
“And I’m immediately mortified. What the hell?! But, miracle of miracles, she leans over and puts her lips against mine. And it is amazing! Like nothing I have ever felt before. So soft and sweet, that it sends me into a catatonic reverie. That was all my sensitive young neurons could handle.”
SHOT: A bill that would bar abortion providers from providing sex ed in schools is clipping along in the Alaskan Senate. This is more detrimental to sexual health than it may sound — Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have done invaluable work in providing training for health educators in rural areas across the nation.
CHASER: “A few of us were hanging out listlessly in a friend’s basement when she announced the private school boys would be coming over. Looking back, I recognize that moment as my first bout of crippling anxiety. I didn’t utter a single word the entire night, just pretended to laugh along with everyone’s jokes. This one boy told me I laughed more than any other girl he’d ever met. I shoved him hard and asked, ‘What’s the big deal about that?’ It took mere nanoseconds following the exchange before our tongues were down each other’s throats.”
SHOT: According to Ted Cruz, Planned Parenthood is a “criminal enterprise” and he would gladly pardon David Daleiden, director of the Center for Medical Progress — bka the organization that has been trying its damnedest to take down Planned Parenthood since last summer. This coming from the man who offered bottled water only to Flint residents who showed up at local crisis pregnancy centers — which I personally would argue are far more harmful enterprises.
CHASER: “My first kiss was with my girlfriend of three weeks — which we can agree is the equivalent of three years in elementary school — by the dumpsters behind the school. The cool kids in our class had a routine of going back there after school let out to kiss — imagine a group of 10-year-olds standing by dumpsters taking turns walking over to the corner to kiss while the others watched. One day we were both back there and I think her friend suggested aloud to the group that we should take our turn. So she and I nervously stood in front of a group of other kids, closed our eyes, pursed our lips and went in for contact.”
SHOT: San Francisco middle schoolers can now get free condoms from school after a unanimous vote from the city school board — after consulting with a (hopefully non-judgmental) nurse or school social worker.
CHASER: “We were very young and doing a little innocent smooching in his parents’ camper. I had just gotten a PG sex definition from my mom — ‘when people take their clothes off and kiss’ — so I was worried when he asked me to take off my sweater. I did it anyway and a minute later, I leaned back and asked, ‘Are we having sex?’ And he said, ‘No, your sweater was just itchy.’”
More stories in this series:
As Drake would say: Take a shot for me.
Sext, don’t sext, whatever — it’s your body. Here’s what legislators across the country are doing this week to show how much they disagree with that.
And yes, we’re still fed up with the state of abortion access, too.
The best male feminist allies are simply friends who wanted to talk and listen about life.
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