sexual health

A Love Letter to Planned Parenthood

Dear Planned Parenthood,

When I was in 10th grade and my friends and I were beginning to discover the power of the blowjob, we heard rumors that this hot senior, who I’ll call Mike, had chlamydia. One of my friends had gone down on him and was scared she had the clap in her throat. I quickly drew out of a chart of our high school’s web of hook ups and concluded that if she had the clap in her throat, I most certainly did too. We were panicked and uneducated and couldn’t go to our parents, so we went to Planned Parenthood. None of us has chlamydia, but everyone was really nice, taught us all about chlamydia and safe sex practices, gave us a fuck ton of condoms, and we left feeling a little more grown up. I don’t think it’s a reach to say that first visit and what I learned about safe sex (they taught me a lot more than my high school was) helped inform what would become a career largely based on writing about sex.

Over a decade later, I still go to Planned Parenthood, now in New York City, for all my reproductive health needs. They do my annual pap and HPV test (although now it’s recommended only once every three years). They do my breast cancer screening, they answer all my anxious questions. They test me for STIs and HIV about once every six months (most people don’t go that often – but I am mega-OCD when it comes to my health). They also provide me with affordable birth control (as a freelance writer I’m on a form of Medicaid so it’s free) and give me heaps of condoms for free too (that shit’s expensive).

To get (extremely) personal here, I’ve (knock on wood) never contracted an STI or experienced an unwanted pregnancy, despite having a rather active sex life for over a decade now. Many people I love have, to no fault of their own, it just happens sometimes. STIs are sneaky and pregnancy is what women’s bodies were designed to do, so sometimes we get pregnant. Maybe I’m so used to taking pills for other reasons (lol), one more at the same time everyday is no biggie for me. But the whole damn reason I have access to the birth control and thus have never needed an abortion is Planned Parenthood! Thank you, Planned Parenthood. Why don’t more people talk about this side of it?  During Friday’s debate, Trent Franks, R-Ariz showed Congress a graphic poster of an aborted fetuses in Congress (I’d like to see a graphic poster of a 17-year-old child who lives in low-income housing giving birth to a ten pound kid after getting knocked up by her mom’s boyfriend. Then I’d like to ask Congress about the funds we’ll need to take care of her and her child, and if they play the “work hard and get a job” card to bitch about welfare, let’s talk about income disparity for women – especially women of color – and how we’ve created an education system and low employment rates following a crash caused by, guess who, rich white men, that more or less sets children birthed to such parents as the aforementioned 17-year-old up for failure and a life of crime, oh and if there’s time, we can talk about how much prison costs the taxpayers. End rant). Oh one more rant – do we show graphic posters of all the dead civilians (dead babies too) before approving war missions and drone strikes? Anyone? Bueller?

The legislation approved Friday would end federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, during which some time investigators will snoop around and see what they can find out to be true from those edited videos, basically. As a freelance writer, ending federal payments will directly affect me and my ability to love and fuck the way I want and I am outraged. Yet, I recognize my privilege. I’m a cis white girl with supportive parents and a Dad who is a lawyer. If something happened and I needed an abortion, they’d make sure I was able to see someone safe. I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of the women and families who need Planned Parenthood don’t have parents with the funds to step in in such a scenario.These politicians are using overtly edited videos for political gain, and imposing some condescending moral high ground that is completely unsupported by science pretty much because they think it makes them look cool to their Republican constituents and twisted version of God. It’s evil.

Planned Parenthood, I thank you for keeping me healthy, safe, educated, and not pregnant for the whole time I’ve been having sex. I love you, and I stand by you.

Love,

Sophie Saint Thomas

VICE – Someone Finally Made A Condom for Your Giant Penis

#bigdickproblems journalism for Vice – read it here

“Nobody feels sympathy for a guy who complains about his big dick, but possessing a monster cock comes with its share of problems. A long (and I mean looooooong) penis can plop into a toilet when you sit down to poop; an extremely thick cock might have trouble fitting in certain holes. Most critically, many well-endowed men struggle to find condoms that fit them.

Like many sexual health issues, this problem is made more complicated by the government. Although American penises come in all shapes and sizes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only allows condom companies to offer condoms with a minimum length of 6.29 inches and a maximum width of 2.13 inches, making manufacturing or purchasing latex condoms for oddly-shaped protrusions illegal in the US. In recent years, controversies have erupted surrounding condoms—many sex-positive writers have criticized Measure B, a law implemented in 2012 that requires performers to use condoms in pornography filmed in Los Angeles county—but an FDA representative told me the agency hasn’t updated its condom rules since 1998.”

SEX, DRUGS, AND ROCK ‘N’ ROLL – IN-HOME HIV TESTS, OXYCODONE, AND THE LAST BISON

My latest Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll column is now up on VICE, in which I take an in-home HIV test while at home for the holidays, rant about oxycodone, and love on the Last Bison.  Click the link and read the whole damn thing! Here are some highlights:

SEX

At home HIV tests already existed, but you had to take a blood sample and mail it off then wait a few days and call some hotline to get your results. With OraQuick, it’s the same oral swab test they use at Planned Parenthood. You know, they take you into a room and swab your mouth, then you spend the next 20 minutes in the waiting room making a mental flow chart of all the people your partner’s fucked trying not to have a panic attack.

DRUGS

The last time I was given oxycodone was when I went to an emergency clinic for horrible cramps, I was convinced I had a ruptured ovarian cyst or something and they gave me 5/325 Percocet. I didn’t end up taking them, but rather saved them in my bedroom drawer – you know the one, where the dildos and nipple clamps live. They’re for “emergencies” but sometimes I’ll nibble off a little crumb of one before a tattoo or Brazilian bikini wax appointment. Judge away, but Brazilian waxes are paid-for torture.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

For the day after Christmas, when the cats wrestle in the wrapping-paper jungle left under the tree, and the Brits and anyone else smart enough to take advantage of Boxing Day are drunk once again, and for all the cold wintry days to follow — it’s nice to take a break from your usual hip-hop or punk and play something a little merrier. I’m convinced the Last Bison are lovely any season, in fact their upcoming full-length album doesn’t even come out until March, but I found them so delightfully perfect for the holidays I had to write about them now.