After the terrible loss of life on the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, including six AIDS researchers and activists who were on their way to an International AIDS conference in Australia it seems that work in this medical field is particularly bleak right now. However, even though there has been much loss, there is some interesting news emerging from HIV and AIDS research. Namely condoms that have an antiviral compound to protect against HIV, Herpes and other STDs and the news that the Lancet has called for global action to protect sex workers from HIV and AIDS by decriminalising sex work.
When you think about the future, what do you envisage? Rocket boots? Meals reduced down to a pill? Robot servants? Remote control contraception? Yeah it's featured in all the sci-fi movies and films set in the future. In fact in Back to the Future II all the ladies are zapping their contraceptive chips right? That's what the kids will call it. Apparently come 2018 a'remote control' contraceptive chip will be available and I like to think a whole host of family sitcoms will feature baffled dads trying to change the TV channel with their daughter's contraception remote will follow. This form of contraception does not actually appear to be quite as exciting as it sounds, until you hear doctors discussing how the device can't be hacked. Hacked!
I don't know anybody who has what can be described as a 'good' smear test story as such. Funny? Yeah, sure why not. Shocking? Yes. Embarrassing? Uh, yes. But I don't know one woman who can tell, or hear a smear test story without automatically crossing her legs. It isn't something that comes up much in polite conversation because eeeeesh! Charity PR don't seem to be able to make the entrance to the womb cute. Which is silly because, armed with my Biology AS Level I understand it to be pink. That's a lady marketing dream, no? And there doesn't seem to be much happening in way of making the test less invasive. Bar tips on demanding plastic speculums, or if it is metal, demanding it be warmed. A friend once got her labia nipped by a speculum. What can you recommend to solve that? Loose lips...Speculum nips.
How do you like dem apples? (pixelated for decency) Image:Srqpix
Porn. It’s the big subject Western feminists have, depending on your stance, the luxury to bicker over or the calling to destroy all forms of it. Recently there has been a lot of concern that young people’s first exposure to sex is porn, which they use in lieu of proper sex education at school or from their parents. It’s possible this causes huge misunderstanding about bodies and creates…expectations. It’s been blamed for sexting (I blame phones) among teens and causing greater anxiety over body issues. Many people find it just plain offensive.
Maybe we would all like some good porn related news. Yeah? Yeah. According to a study at Indiana University watching porn (any porn) makes heterosexual men more tolerant of the idea of equal marriage. If you don’t think that is good news, perhaps you should go watch a little porn. Right now. You’re online, it’s pretty hard to avoid. I’ll wait.
Breast exam. Image: SteveR
WOMEN! Are you a woman? Then you absolutely must have a smear test at the age of 20! It's a matter of life or death! No, actually 25. But it's still a matter of life or death! Glad that's over? Oh you have to have that every couple of years. Also you're hurtling towards a very necessary/unnecessary breast exam, do you check your breasts? Right, you must check them, you can do it anywhere. At the bus stop, at the till, doing the school run, nobody will notice. Oh no wait that's kegels. Do not check your breasts anywhere. Do your kegels like you've got a ping pong tournament approaching and check your breasts in a private moment.
As women get older we all know they begin to fall apart. This can be due to excess bloating, migraines, crow's feet, cellulite, excess bikini line hair and shameful constipation that results in flat hair. Also flat hair. As if those afflictions weren't enough there is also the possibility of cervical cancer and breast cancer to contend with.
Brain in a jar. Image: Kaushik Narasimhan
It has always been my suspicion that IQ might be up there with BMI in questionableness. I am saying this as someone who (according to their mother) got a very high IQ score (she can't remember the exact score “but it was just below genius, no it was GENIUS”) and has a low BMI (according to the BBC I have the body of a woman from the Philippines). At least if BMI doubters turn out to be wrong the question of losing or gaining weight is, though difficult, doable. IQ is another matter, which perhaps contributes to its debatable status.
The fact our collective Intelligenz-Quotient is apparently on the rise according to the Flynn Effect is argument enough against the validity of IQ standardised testing (or perhaps the questions and puzzles are piss easy now, not like in my day...). “In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both men and women have risen but women’s have risen faster” said IQ expert Professor James Flynn. “This is a consequence of modernity. The complexity of the modern world is making our brains adapt and raising our IQ.”
Chemical Compound Caffeine image:Spectacles
Coffee, red wine and chocolate. They’re good for you, they’re not good for you, they’re good for you, they’re not good for you. Some things I can wait for science to make its mind up on. Coffee is not one of them. I need a definitive source to ignore regarding whether my 4 heaped spoonfuls of instant cup a day is either greatly improving or just heart palpitationly bad for me.
The latest on coffee is that it’s good for you. Or bad for you, depending on your oestrogen levels and ethnicity.
It's nothing, I don't need a cold compress
We already know man flu is a fallacy and that it is painful for women when men try to joke about suffering from it. Man flu discussions usually lead to conversations concerning women’s endurance of pain in comparison to men. The thought being women cope with higher levels and therefore might feel less pain.
However, a study published in the wonderfully named Journal of Pain (even more wonderful than their emo teen diary title is their rapper website jpain.org) found on average women scored their pain levels 1 point higher than men.
Disappointingly the study was not comprised of poking 100 volunteers with sticks and asking them to rate the pain.
Image: Voka Kamer Van Koophandel Limburg
Ever wonder why your perfectly intelligent girlfriends transform into giggly little (metaphorical) jellyfish in mixed company? Do you feel that a meeting is slowly sapping you of brain power? At parties does your sparkling wit cruelly leave you?
Turns out it is not you, it’s science!
According to scientists at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute group situations lower your intelligence and women are more susceptible.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scientists at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute examined how the brain processes information about social status in small groups and how these perceptions could influence expressions of cognitive capacity.
Courtesy of the National Pest Management Association
This is, ultimately, a feminist site. So here’s the weekly In Defence of Hairy Legs etc. post.
Scientists in Sheffield have brushed away* the popular belief that the less body hair, the more hygienic a person is. In fact body hair might be a deter bed bugs from biting.
Using 29 volunteers Professor Michael Siva-Jothy, from Sheffield University's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, observed bed bugs search for a place to feed on the shaven arms of the volunteers.