Is Colbert a joke?

What do you think about Colbert’s presidential run? I will tweet the funniest retort.

Stephen ColbertArena Asks: Comedian Stephen Colbert has taken credit for Republican candidate Jon Huntsman dropping out of the presidential race, declaring on “The Colbert Report” that his announcement last week to form an exploratory committee for president has “completely changed the complexion of this race.” Since the announcement, Colbert’s super PAC has already begun airing an anti-Mitt Romney ad, and on Monday night released another commercial urging Americans to “vote Herman Cain.”

Is Colbert’s work raising awareness about campaign finance and elections? Or is the entire thing a joke?

My Answer: Colbert is a joke with a purpose. The question is whether the purpose is realized.

Don’t get me wrong. I love political parody shows like Colbert and Stewart. It’s great that they engage so many people in thinking about the political issues of the day, calling attention to hypocrisy, skewering bloviators, and actually highlighting both the important public debates and arcane nonsense that only political junkies like those of us who write for The Arena care about.

Colbert and Stewart’s brilliant take down of Super PACS and independent expenditures this week is a case in point. After a good laugh, a viewer can feel self-righteous in opposing big, unaccountable money in politics. But then what?

Whether Colbert raises awareness or not, the danger is that people will think they’ve actually participated in the political process when in truth, they’re being passive observers, until and unless they get personally involved on the ground with candidates and issues.

Here’s the link to my original post on Politico

The Difference Between Christmas and Hanukkah (With Bonus Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Video)

Here’s a holiday message courtesy of Madge Stein Woods that explains the differences between Christmas and Chanukah. Or Hanukkah.

Hope you enjoy as much as I did! Feel free to embellish and add your observations about these two holidays, as well as our other great December days, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice.

Just in case anyone asks you what the difference is between Christmas and
Chanukah, you will know what and how to answer.

1. Christmas is one day, same day every year, December 25. Jews also love
December 25th. It’s another paid day off work. We go to the movies and out
for Chinese food and Israeli dancing. Chanukah is 8 days. It starts the
evening of the 24th of Kislev, whenever that falls. No one is ever sure.
Jews never know until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts, forcing
us to consult a calendar so we don’t look like idiots. We all have the same
calendar, provided free with a donation from the World Jewish Congress, the
kosher butcher or the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida )
or other Jewish funeral homes.

2. Christmas is a major holiday. Chanukah is a minor holiday with the same
theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s
eat.

3. Christians get wonderful presents such as jewelry, perfume, stereos, etc.
Jews get practical presents such as underwear, socks or the collected works
of the Rambam, which looks impressive on the bookshelf.

4. There is only one way to spell Christmas. No one can decide how to spell
Chanukah, Chanukkah, Chanukka, Channukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, etc.

5. Christmas is a time of great pressure for husbands and boyfriends. Their
partners expect special gifts. Jewish men are relieved of that burden. No
one expects a diamond ring on Hanukah.

6. Christmas brings enormous electric bills. Candles are used for Chanukah.
Not only are we spared enormous electric bills, but we get to feel good
about not contributing to the energy crisis.

7. Christmas carols are beautiful: Silent Night, Come All Ye Faithful.
Chanukah songs are about dreidels made from clay or having a party and
dancing the hora. Of course, we are secretly pleased that many of the
beautiful carols were composed and written by our tribal brethren. And don’t
Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond sing them beautifully?

8. A home preparing for Christmas smells wonderful – like the sweet smell of
cookies and cakes baking. Happy people are gathered around in festive moods.
A home preparing for Chanukah smells of oil, potatoes and onions. The home,
as always, is full of loud people all talking at once.

9. Christian women have fun baking Christmas cookies. Jewish women burn
their eyes and cut their hands grating potatoes and onions for latkes on
Chanukah. Another reminder of our suffering through the ages.

10. Parents deliver presents to their children during Christmas. Jewish
parents have no qualms about withholding a gift on any of the eight nights.

11. The players in the Christmas story have easy to pronounce names such as
Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The players in the Chanukah story are Antiochus,
Judah Maccabee and Matta whatever. No one can spell it or pronounce it. On
the plus side, we can tell our friends anything and they believe we are
wonderfully versed in our history.

12. Many Christians believe in the virgin birth. Jews think, “Yossela,
Bubela, snap out of it. Your woman is pregnant, you didn’t sleep with her,
and now you want to blame G-d? Here’s the number of my shrink.”

13. In recent years, Christmas has become more and more commercialized. The
same holds true for Chanukah, even though it is a minor holiday. It makes
sense. How could we market a major holiday such as Yom Kippur? Forget about
celebrating. Think observing. Come to synagogue, starve yourself for 27
hours, become one with your dehydrated soul, beat your chest, confess your
sins, a guaranteed good time for you and your family. Tickets a mere $200
per person. Better stick with Chanukah.

This explains a lot.

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas.

(Merry Kwanzahukahmas)

 

Tale of Two Elizabeths: Bringing Hope to New Hope

By Tamara Fagin, Guest Blogger

I did not grow up watching Elizabeth Taylor on the silver screen. If I did, I’m sure that like many young people who did come of age with her (like my parents), I would have been utterly distracted by her dark-haired beauty, her striking violet blue eyes and all of those marriages. She was a superstar.

I, on the other hand, came of age during the 1980’s. During a period of tumultuous change – somewhat like now come to think of it. I witnessed (on television) the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fallout of Chernobyl and individuals, families and institutions grappling with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Elizabeth Taylor that I grew up with was the most famous AIDS activist in the world.

Sex, AIDS and No Hope. I remember my oldest uncle telling me, as I prepared to go to college, how young people now didn’t have to wait to get married to have sex like his generation did, but that having sex might kill them. HIV/AIDS put an end to the care-free sexual revolution.

I never imagined that less than 2 years later my youngest (and favorite) uncle, Uncle Bernard, would tell me that he and his boyfriend, Harold, were both HIV- positive.

Uncle Bernard and Harold lived in the quaint artist colony of New Hope, Pennsylvania, a popular weekend getaway for many in New York and Philadelphia. I spent many happy weekends and a summer living and working with them – dancing to Madonna’s Vogue and other 80’s hits with Harold at the Cartwheel, dining at Chez Odette’s and sipping wine like a bona-fide grown up at art gallery openings.

But, AIDS changed all of that. By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, New Hope’s gay population was devastated by the AIDS epidemic. There was essentially NO HOPE in New Hope. Every week seemed to bring more bad news: someone else was in the hospital with Kaposi Sarcoma or Pneumocystis pneumonia; another friend was no longer able to work and was being evicted from his home; a neighbor had a T-cell count of 4 and had jokingly given each a name (the average count for these infection fighting cells is 500 to 1,500). Dark humor for dark days.

Those of us who lived through this era will recall the hysteria that spread through America regarding how this disease might be transmitted. It was like the dark ages – HIV-positive children, such as Ryan White and Ricky Ray, were shunned and not allowed to go to school or their homes were torched by mobs who feared the spread of AIDS. And, to make matters worse, some praised God for killing the homosexuals and drug addicts with AIDS. It was a lonely time for people living with HIV/AIDS; and my grandmother, a devout Catholic, left the church and prayed at home for her youngest son.

Acting; New Hope. Many stayed at home, afraid. But, thankfully, others, such as Elizabeth Taylor, got angry and courageously took a stand. By her very public actions, she provided new hope for a cure, a vaccine and a better life for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Elizabeth Taylor lost 2 close friends to AIDS. She took the pain of her loss and turned it into something positive – a global movement that changed the way many people viewed AIDS and its victims. She was quoted on CNN.com as follows: “Everyone was talking about AIDS, but talking behind their hands[.]” … “But nobody was doing anything about it, including myself. And then I got really angry.” … “People were telling me not to get involved, I got death threats, I got angrier and angrier. So I put myself out there.”

She tirelessly used her superstar power to raise awareness about the disease and funds ($270 million) for the fight against HIV/AIDS. She is an inspiration to me.

AIDS at 30; Action Required. This June will mark 30 years since the first AIDS case was reported.

So, where do things stand? We understand the disease a lot better now but we still have no vaccine. Certain populations in the U.S. and around the world are “safe” while certain (especially, people of color) are far from safe from HIV. People are living longer and more productive lives with HIV but every 9 and ½ minutes someone in the U.S. is infected with AIDS. (www.nineandahalfminutes.org)

There is still much to be done.

Continue the fight and stand up to those who would take funding away from groups like Planned Parenthood who provide crucial preventative care, education and screening to at-risk populations. Stand up to attempts to repeal provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act that protect people living with HIV/AIDS from insurance industry abuses. Stand up against the mob mentality of the religious right that in the name of budget balancing efforts is trying to erode what took activists like Elizabeth Taylor 30 years to accomplish – do not take your rights and the rights of those less fortunate than you for granted. Inaction when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention and research is tantamount to negligent homicide or worse. Don’t look the other way. It is your time to act. . Fight for what is right. Use your voice and your voting power to provide hope for a cure and a vaccine.

In memory of Bernard Genest, Harold Wireman and their good friends in New Hope & Lambertville and the two Elizabeths, the famous actress to many, but to me, the fearless and powerful AIDS activist.

Tamara Fagin is a recovering tax attorney, mother of two, wife of one, and closet activist trying to get the courage to Embrace Controversy and Create a Movement.

[Video] Wonder Woman Again Puts Political Into Personal Media Images

Wonder Woman: who she is has morphed many times during her seven decades of existence. Depending on who was in control of her image, and what role the prevailing culture wanted women to play in society at any given time in history, Wonder Woman has been crafted as a superhero and a boutique owner, her muscles and attire symbolic of strength and courage and of bombshell sexiness at various times.

For seven decades, Wonder Woman has formed us and informed our thinking about women’s place in the world. This latest documentary being developed by filmmakers Kristy Guevara-Flanagan & Kelcey Edwards, is called The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman. It’s a project worth supporting–which you can do here.

SHE Should Talk At TED: 5 Ways to Get Started

I get so excited I can hardly stand it when I see women embracing their “power-to” leadership and using the 9 Ways power tools I share in No Excuses.

When it comes to defining our own terms and creating a movement to take action for TEDparity, my “heartfeldt” belief is that women are beyond merely offering an opinion that TED should be more inclusive. We are the majority of population, voters, people with college degrees, and purchasers of consumer goods.  We don’t need to be supplicants. And for sure there are plenty among us who have big and exciting ideas. Please share yours here and on twitter @SheTalkTed and the She Should Talk at Ted Facebook page.

If you’re in NY, there’s still time today to register for and attend the TEDWomen/TEDx636_11thAve follow up round table this evening, sponsored by the New York Women Social Entrepreneurs, to discuss action steps with panelists Rachael Chong, Founder & CEO of Catchafire, CV Harquail, PhD of AuthenticOrganizations.com, Culture Kitchen’s Liza Sabater, and Journalist Adaora Udoji.

With thanks again to CV Harquail, I’m posting here her action-oriented commentary about five next steps we’re taking. You’re taking. Women are taking fro #TEDparity and far beyond.

SHE Should Talk At TED: 5 Ways to Get Started

by cv harquail on December 7, 2010

We plan to support each other in different initiatives with the same big goal— getting women’s ideas out to be shared.

Thanks so much to you readers who got in touch with me to share your ideas about a diversity & inclusion action plan for TED. I had the chance to fold some of these ideas into a live conversation with two of my favorite NYC feminists, Dr. Debra Condon and Gloria Feldt, and together we came up with these 5 possible Action Steps to share with you readers, and with the TEDWomen /TEDx636_11thAve follow-up round table being sponsored by NYWSE. While these suggestions are specific to TED, the general idea behind each step is applicable to any organization.

1. Clarify goals: Gender Parity with Proportional Representation at the next TED, and at every TED & TEDx thereafter.

The goal that we’re working for, at least in the efforts focused on TED per se, is to move to full Gender Parity with Proportional Representation in the next TED conference. As Marie Wilson of The White House Project is known to say, “You can’t be it if you can’t see it.” We need to help people see women as TED speakers and opinion leaders with big ideas, because we are sure that women have at least half the big ideas in this world. But we’re so accustomed to not having that recognized that we have not been helping ourselves to our fair share.

2. Set Up “SHE Should Talk At TED” campaign.

A “SHE Should Talk at TED” campaign will help identify more women as potential speakers at TED and TEDx. So far, the women who have spoken at TEDs have been fabulous … and there are more women out there who also have fabulous big ideas.

“SHE Should Talk At TED” is a tactic for raising awareness of the broad array of women whose ideas are so worthy that we want to see them presented at TED.A first step is to make each of these women more visible by something as simple as tweeting her name and #SHETalkTED. You can also come and join our Facebook group as we get that up and going.

We can make these women visible by sharing a button each one can put on her blog or twitter page. And, we can tell each other that we think each others’ ideas are worth sharing, by sending the button to our female colleagues who “Should Speak At TED”. (The image at the top is an early draft– stay tuned for the real thing!)

3. Invite the curators at TED to meet with a group of advocates for Gender Parity…

… to share suggestions and action steps that TED can take not only to get gender parity immediately, but also to build in a concern for parity and inclusion into all TED activities.

These action steps could included re-examining selection criteria and making a public commitment to inclusion. TED might also look to its own licensees for ideas, and incorporate the inclusion tactics of those TEDx conferences that have gotten closer to gender parity in their presenter line-ups. While we understand that TED is necessarily based on judgment calls about attendees, speakers, and topics, we are certain that a) there are plenty of women who qualify on all fronts and b) gender parity and inclusion of other diversities will have the added benefit of making TED even better and its ideas even more expansive.

4. Plan ahead for a Parity Party.

The next TED conference is not far off. We can start planning now to celebrate TED’s achievement of gender parity at events to be held right after the next TED conference.

5. Stay Open for More Ideas

More ideas, and more specific tactics for Gender Parity at TED, will surely be generated at the NYWSE Round-table: Building on TED & the TEDWomen Conference: How can _we_ make conferences more inclusive spaces?

We anticipate, too, that others might want to look past TED and work toward gender parity and conference inclusion in other ways. For example, some may decide to create an explicit alternative to TED, a conference about ideas worth sharing that is build on the premise that good ideas can come from anyone, and that good ideas can be shared not only in presentations but also in non-hierarchical, ‘sage from the stage’ formats.


Do Mainly Men Have Ideas Worth Spreading?

Women With Power Tools

Since my friend Ruth Ann Harnisch told me about it a few years ago, I’ve thought that attending a TED (tagline “Ideas Worth Spreading”) conference should be on my bucket list. I LOVE big ideas and great speeches about them. So why did I decide not to go to one when the opportunity was offered to me to attend TEDWomen in Washington D.C. December 7 and 8?

I vaguely wondered if the TED folks thought the little women still needed a conference of their own because women’s ideas aren’t as big as men’s. Organizational reputation scholar and consultant CV Harquail raised the same concerns more powerfully in this post when TEDWomen was announced. Nevertheless, I filled out the forms and proposed myself as a speaker on the very big idea of what specifically it will take for women to “reshape the world,” as TEDWomen’s tagline proffers. That was rejected based on some pretty lame reasoning, in my opinion. Then, frankly, I got so busy with my own speeches and interviews after No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power was published in October that I forgot all about the conference and let the slot I’d been offered go.

This past week, the topic of TEDWomen and TED in general heated up so much in the blogosphere and on listservs I’m on that it came back into my consciousness. About that time, a walk and talk in Central Park with Debra Condren, executive coach and author of Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word, inspired me to do my part to make sure women’s big ideas are included at parity with men’s in future TED conferences–not just because it’s the right thing to do ethically, but because if the world really needs women’s leadership as much as I think it does and as the TEDWomen’s tagline implies it agrees, then gender parity is as good for TED and for men as it is for women.

Once Again, CV Harquail has said it so well that I don’t need to write more. I cross post her latest commentary on the topic here:

The Goal is Gender Parity — at TED and Beyond

Thank you to Gloria Feldt (@gloriafeldt) and Debra Condren (@debracondren), whose ideas and action suggestions inform this post, and forthcoming posts about Gender Parity at TED.

Is it possible that I haven’t been clear about what we’d like to see at TED conferences? In the conversations around TEDWomen, the relative absence of women and men of color TED programs, and concerns about whether TED as an organization is interested in inclusiveness, we may have focused mostly on constructive criticism and possible action steps. I may have just assumed that everyone knew what the goal was.

If so, let me make the goal clear. The goal is:

Gender Parity at TED 2011 and Beyond

Because women surely have at least half of the world’s big ideas, it’s time for TED to commit to full gender parity, with proportionally diverse representation, starting at the very next TED conference, and at every TED and TEDx conference from now on.

We are not interested in nudging the needle from 25% or 30% women speakers all the way up to 35% or 40%. We want full parity – 51% of the speaking slots for women.

We’re not interested in taking another 10 years to get to parity on the TED Stage. We want parity at the very next TED conference, and at every TED conference beyond that. This means that there should be 51% female speakers and 49% male speakers, at the very next TED 2011.

Let’s face it: TED can’t offer a valid range of truly influential ideas if it doesn’t mine the ideas of a truly diverse pool of speakers.  Women and men from a range of groups, not just the most privileged groups, have ideas worth sharing. We want a diverse group of these women (and men) on the TED stages.

To have a most effective TED, it needs to be clear that race privilege, gender privilege, sexual identity or orientation privilege, economic privilege, or privileges of physical ability should not and will not be unconscious criteria that exclude a full range of women thinkers and doers.

Gender Parity is an Idea Worth Sharing

We don’t need more excuses – there are plenty of women with kick-ass ideas who are more than qualified to share their ideas from the main TED stage, as well as from the stages of  TEDx and TEDWomen.

TED doesn’t need more time — the change we advocate is easy to implement, and practical action suggestions are abundant. In fact, a full action plan is forthcoming from the NYWSE Roundtable on Wednesday evening.

The only thing we need now is an explicit, sincere commitment to parity from TED.

TED, gender parity is an idea worth sharing. We want to share with you our ideas for making TED inclusive.

Email me, or comment below, and I can connect you with a diverse group of women and men who are ready to help.

See also:
Want More Women on Tech & TED Panels? Reject Meritocracy and Embrace Curation
Separate Still Isn’t Equal: Sexism and TEDWomen
Followup on the TEDWomen Conversation
Is TEDWomen Sexist? Use the “Group Replacement Test” and tell us what you think
Building on TED & the TEDWomen Conference: How can _we_ make conferences more inclusive spaces?

Molly Ivins Speaks Her Truth

An avid Kathleen Turner fan, Els Van Landuyt from Belgium, sent me the link to this video clip of Kathleen playing the late, great, sassy Texas journalist Molly Ivins in the one-woman show “Red Hot Patriot.” Put on your Lucchese boots, throw back a can of beer and enjoy, ya’ll.

YouTube Preview Image

Wonder Woman!

I love this video artist Linda Stein made about the history and social significance of the female super heroine created by psychologist William Moulton Marston (inventor of the lie detector test, perhaps the precursor of Wonder Woman’s ability to know who was telling the truth–or who knows, maybe she could tell who was lying because she was a mom) to be the antidote to Superman, the epitome of male power over others. Wonder Woman instead never kills, she uses her power to to help, protect, stop the bad things from happening. Here’s Stein’s intro:

How does Wonder Woman do it? She is able to stop the bad guys—even convince them to reform—without ever killing! Her gender-bending strength and power is matched only by her compassion in seeking peace and justice. The question, CAN WONDER WOMAN CRA-AC-CK GENDER STEREOTYPES? is paramount as this icon and superhero confronts the sexism prevalent at the time of her creation in 1941 as well as today.

So how does Wonder Woman do it? What lessons can we learn from her today?

Bea Arthur: How One Powered Woman Spoke Up

Actress at age 86.

She was a Tony-winning stage actress when Norman Lear saw her and tapped her for a guest role in his famous “All in the Family” series, where she played Edith Bunker’s mouthy liberal cousin Maude who was
always at odds with Edith’s conservative husband Archie. “Maude” soon became a sitcom of its own, and Arthur’s character continued taking on the significant social and political issues of the day–speaking up about all those subjects we were warned against bringing up in polite company, from sex and infidelity to politics and activism to death and depression.

It was the mid-1970’s at the height of second wave feminism, and if ever there were proof that feminists have a sense of humor, it was in Maude’s way of playing even the most serious of subjects for laughs.

In this classic exchange between Maude her husband Walter, who arrives home to find Maude distraught, the show dealt with abortion–a first on a major sitcom to do so forthrightly.

Walter: Maude, did you wreck the car again?

Maude: Did you hear that, everybody? DID YOU HEAR THAT? Not “Maude, are you sick?” Or “Maude, are you unhappy?” Or even, “Maude, are you pregnant?” No, “Maude, did you wreck the car again?”

Walter: You’re right, darling. You’re absolutely right. I’m sorry. So tell me, are you sick?

Maude: No.

Walter: Are you unhappy?

Maude: No.

Walter: Are you pregnant?

Maude: Yes.

They go through all aspects of the decision process. Maude, already a grandmother in her late 40’s, decides she should not go through with the pregnancy and has an abortion. Watch the video to see how her daughter speaks of abortion as it should be.

It was a little slice of realism rarely seen today, when the option of abortion is so often pushed again into the virtual back room and rarely mentioned in pop culture; the movie “Knocked Up”, for example, uses the euphemism “rhymes with smashmortion” rather than mention this–the most common women’s surgical procedure–by name. And soap operas are famous for those well-timed miscarriages that avoid the sticky subject of real women making reproductive choices, while leaving the full drama of mistimed pregnancies available to their script lines.

After “Maude”, Arthur had a chance to open up for public discussion yet one more previously off-limits topic: aging, especially the issues women face aging in a youth-oriented culture. She played Dorothy on “The Golden Girls,” the NBC comedy hit that ran from 1985-92. The show explored the lives of three older women sharing a household in Miami with Dorothy’s widowed mother, Sophia (played by Estelle Getty). Besides Arthur’s character, there was Betty White playing the ditsy Rose and Rue McClanahan as the sexy senior, Blanche.

Arthur won Emmys for both “Maude” and “Golden Girls”. She was inducted into Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2008, an honor well-deserved for her lifetime of extraordinary work.

But personally, I am most grateful to Bea Arthur, (and of course to Norman Lear and everyone associated with “Maude”) for bringing the reality of unintended pregnancy and abortion out of the back room and into the real human story where it belongs. May she rest in peace and her memory be a blessing to us all.

The Great Scrotum Flap

New York Times front-page article by Julie Bosman on school librarians’ censorship of a Newberry Award-winning children’s book “The Higher Power of Lucky”?

It’s creating quite a flap as well it should. I wrote the following letter to Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz in response to her excellent column “One Word Ignites Some Librarians’ Ire.”

Re: Your great column on the great scrotum flap

Dear Connie,

Yesterday morning when I read the piece about “The Higher Power of Lucky” in the NY Times, I immediately sat down to write an op ed myself. But I could not come close to the one you wrote and I want to thank you for it. In particular, your sharing of the personal story is always the most compelling truth.

Honestly, is this flap not the lowest denominator of silly? What an illustration of what I call America’s difficult relationship with sex! I thought about my four grandsons, age 9-13, just about the age range for this book, and hoped to goodness that they and their female peers know and can use correctly the word “scrotum” by now.

Sadly, this whole fracas will continue to repeat itself until our society does come to terms with sex and sexuality in a healthy way, until we boot the abstinence only people out of our schools and the real perverts–those who would rather keep people ignorant than informed–out of our school’s libraries.

All best,
Gloria Feldt

There’s also another great article by Rabbi Marc Gellman about it in Newsweek this week.

Just a couple of days previously, I’d received this post from Rev. Debra W. Haffner’s blog. She said:

I want you to look carefully at the sign for this theater in Atlantic Beach, Florida…what’s showing tonight and through the weekend?

That’s right. “The Hoohaa Monologues.”

The WHAT?

It turns out that a woman passing by complained to the manager of the theater that the sign read “The Vagina Monologues.” According to him, she explained that she didn’t want to tell her daughter, who is old enough to read, what a vagina was.

I’ll forgive you if you’re smiling about now….but it really isn’t funny. In fact, it basically proves the point of Eve Ensler’s play. By denying women the names of the parts of their body, we in essence are denying their sexuality. If you’ve read my book, “From Diapers to Dating”, you know that I believe that even the smallest children need to learn the names of the parts of body — all the parts. It teaches them that all body parts have value, that we can talk about sexuality in our homes, it doesn’t instill shame, and it equips them to tell if someone tries to touch them inappropriately. I’d be happy to have the Religious Institute buy that mother a ticket to the play…I think she needs it. And her daughter needs to know not only that she has a vagina, but a vulva and clitoris as well.

Right you are, Debra! Ignorance has never been bliss, and in fact it almost guarantees unhealthy decisions simply because people do not have a clue what their choices mean. And as I said in my letter to Connie Schultz, the solution is to create a healthier relationship with sex in our culture. We’ll save ourselves as adults a lot of angst, but more important, we’ll save our children a lot of heartbreak and disease.