Female writers get graphic about their bodies

Image representing Gawker Media as depicted in...

“Laughing about all the nasty shit — or crying about it, kibitzing about it, whining about it, bragging about it, confessing it, writing about it, and most important, exposing it — it’s all the rage. Jezebel, the popular women’s offshoot of the Gawker empire, has been the leader of the oversharing crusade, with vibrant, aromatic and really graphic posts about everything from lodged tampons to yeast infection remedies to bloody period sex to female ejaculation. (The last, in Tracie Egan’s piece, “Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gush,” also includes Egan’s report that “I live my life perpetually suffering between either mild dehydration or a UTI, meaning that my piss is (ab)normally cloudy, stinky, and dark” ).

But Jezebel writers are not the only ones reveling in graphic female self-revelation. Other recent, mainstream expressions of the form have included Elle magazine’s brutal piece last summer by Miranda Purves, called “The Ring of Fire,” about how giving birth to her child tore her vagina asunder. An English translation of Charlotte Roche’s German bestseller Wetlands (“It is difficult to overstate the raunchiness of the novel,” read a story in the New York Times about Wetlands, “and hard to describe in a family newspaper”) is due in April. It opens with the sentence, “As far back as I can remember, I have had hemorrhoids.” And this month, a younger iteration of the lay-it-bare form: the publication of My Little Red Book, an anthology of more than 90 women’s stories of the first time they got their period. It includes contributions from well-known authors Jacquelyn Mitchard and Erica Jong and writers of popular tween novels Cecily von Ziegesar and Meg Cabot, as well as ruby red reminiscences from 1916 to 2007, by women who first began to bleed everywhere from Connecticut to Canada, Paris to New Zealand, India to Istanbul. Unsurprisingly, there’s an accompanying Web site where others can contribute their stories.” — Rebecca Traister via Salon.

The fear about peanut allergies is nuts

Nothing Takes the Taste Out Of Peanut Butter
“Peanut-allergy panic has spread across the nation. In a recent essay, Harvard physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis relates an incident in which a peanut was spotted on the floor of a school bus, “whereupon the bus was evacuated and cleaned (I am tempted to say decontaminated), even though it was full of 10 year olds who, unlike 2 year olds, could actually be told not to eat off the floor.”

Actions like that are no doubt overdue in the minds of organizations like the 30,000-member Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), a Virginia-based advocacy organization that has led the fight to raise awareness about peanut and other food allergies in both children and adults. Go to its Web site and you’ll see some eyebrow-raising points.

• The incidence of food allergies has doubled over the past 10 years.

• Food allergy is believed to be the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside hospitals, causing an estimated 50,000 emergency department visits each year in the U.S.

• Each year in the U.S., it is estimated that anaphylaxis caused by food results in 150 deaths.

Those FAAN numbers get cited in nearly every news report about food allergies. The organization’s founder, Anne Munoz-Furlong, mother of a food-allergic child, is well known in the media as a food allergy expert. She has done her own research and her studies have been published in medical literature. Now major medical groups, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, have recommended that children avoid eating peanuts until age 3. As for consuming other potentially allergic foods (such as strawberries or dairy), the AAP has, until recently, suggested that kids wait until age 2.

But on closer examination, food allergies are not the epidemic we’ve been led to believe. FAAN’s advocacy may have helped to create rules and laws that are based less on sound science than on a significant misrepresentation of facts. Ironically, by accepting these facts, we may be increasing our risk of developing food allergies.” — Rahul Parikh MD via Salon.