Using Menstruation for Earlier Health Interventions


A crocheted tampon case. Photo by Towe My (Creative Commons)

I never thought I’d write about tampons, but I now recognize that menstruation and access to feminine hygiene products are critical issues that need to be discussed and de-stigmatized. When a friend sent me an article about a “smart” tampon that is in development, I knew I had to write about it.

In Designing a Tampon that Can Test for Cervical Cancer, I discuss the NextGen Jane project’s efforts to develop a tampon that can test for STIs and cervical cancer using the menstrual fluid it collects. It’s a project that has the potential to revolutionize health care for people with a uterus, but a lot of questions still need to be answered. How will NextGen Jane address health literacy issues? Will it be accessible to people in poverty or the homeless population? Will they develop an alternative for gender non-binary people, transgender men, and women who cannot use tampons? I really enjoyed working on this article because I learned a lot about the barriers to reproductive health care for people with a uterus. The article was published last week, and it was later quoted in Marie Claire and Teen Vogue.

What are your thoughts on home-testing? Would you use a smart tampon to test for medical conditions?

We Have to Stop Using Male Rape as a Punch Line

deliverance meme

Traditional concepts of masculinity contribute to a culture in which male rape victims are ignored, dismissed, and even laughed at, making it nearly impossible for male victims to come forward and report their rapes. This facet of rape culture is particularly prominent in pop culture, where male rape victims are not treated with the compassion and validation they deserve.

I delve into the treatment of male rape victims in TV and movies in my latest article for Bitch Media: Male Rape is No Joke — But Pop Culture Often Treats it that Way. Some of the shows and movies I explore in this article include Deliverance, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Wedding Crashers, and Outlander. I hope you give it a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Finally Starts to Address the Impact of Trauma

kimmyIn an article published last week on Bitch Media, I discuss how season two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt finally starts to address the impact of trauma on the title character.

This light-hearted comedy has been met with plenty of criticism for its classism and racism, but does it get it right when it comes to trauma?

Read the full article: As a Sexual Assault Survivor, It’s Powerful to See Kimmy Schmidt Grapple with PTSD

And keep an eye out for my next article in Bitch, which will focus on the depiction of male rape victims in film and TV.

Do you watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? What do you think about the show’s depiction of trauma? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Where Do You Fall on the Pink and Blue Line?

If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “boys will be boys” at any point in your life, my latest article “Why Your Kids Need Gender Neutral Toys” is for you. I dug into the research behind whether there’s any merit to the criticism of gendering toys and gendered toy marketing and discovered it’s more complicated than I imagined.

From nature versus nurture to the proliferation of gender stereotypes to views on gender roles, there are so many factors that impact both sides of this debate. Some believe that biology dictates toy and color preferences, while others believe biology is only one factor that contributes to a child’s masculine and feminine characteristics.

Read on to find out more about the two sides of this debate, then let me know in the comments where you fall on the pink and blue line.



It’s Up to All of Us to Close the Gender Gap in STEM Fields

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day established to “celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.” This year’s theme is #PledgeForParity, which aims to highlight the World Economic Forum’s prediction that global gender parity will not be reached until 2133 due to a plethora of factors that have slowed progress toward closing the gender gap.

One area in which progress has slowed over the last 30 years is the gender gap in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). To help create more awareness of how substantive this gap really is, I dug through a pile of research, including the American Association of University Women’s report Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing. I also sat down with several women in STEM fields to talk about their experiences.

What I learned is that children develop gender biases as early as age 3 (yikes!), and that without early intervention, these biases will continue to contribute to the gender gap in STEM fields. To learn more about my findings, including what factors contribute to the gap and how we can make a positive impact to help close the gap, read my article The Truth About Why Little Girls Need STEM Toys.

The Truth About Why Little Girls Need STEM Toys