Evelyn Resh

Sensual and sexual health and satisfaction for teens and adults

Gals, Think With Your Lady Parts!

When women talk about a man’s bad behavior they’ll often say he’s thinking with his Dick. This is precisely how I feel about our new president’s intention to “dismantle Planned Parenthood.” In response, I am suggesting to all my patients and friends that it is time for women to start thinking with their Lady Parts, or shall I say, to quote our president, our Pussies. Gals, it’s time for our Pussie’s to work on our behalf and what better issue could there be for them to champion than access to contraception and sexual health care?

The idea of eliminating Title 10 funding feels disturbingly sinister, at the very least.  Approximately 75% of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood for care are low-income people. And while a few of Planned Parenthood sites do provide abortion services, many do not. In fact, Planned Parenthood reports that 97% of the care they provide is not specific to abortion. Actually, they offer life-saving services like PAP smears, HIV prevention and screening, contraception, and basic GYN care. Our president and vice president’s Throwing-the-Baby-out-With-Bath-Water approach based on their “Pro-Life” stance has raised my index of suspicion of one or all of the following motives: a war on low-income Americans, a poorly informed effort to reduce the abortion rate below its current lowest rate ever, a desire for involvement in people’s sex lives (Yuck, what a thought!) or all of the above. Should Planned Parenthood funding end then millions of low income people will not have access to reproductive and sexual health care at all. The outcome will be catastrophic and the impact of that catastrophe will largely be shouldered by poor women and their kids.

At present it is estimated that over 45% of all pregnancies in the US are unintended. These are the result of either a method failure or because of not having contraception in the first place. In either case, pregnancy can be both expensive and risky to a woman. This is especially true for low-income women who are more likely to be in poor health when starting a pregnancy than wealthier ones. My experience has shown me that poor women often end up bearing the burden of pregnancy complications and then caring for their kids with little physical or financial support from anyone. With few social programs being funded and low-income men having little money themselves, poor women are often left on their own to make ends meet. In order to stop this from recurring, access to affordable and effective contraception is paramount. And men, RARELY IF EVER assume responsibility for this. This includes choosing to have a vasectomy when they themselves don’t even want more children.  Men across class lines are so squeamish and protective of their penises that they refuse sterilization repeatedly. Despite the fact that most father’s today have witnessed their partner’s vagina performing extraordinary feats of accommodation in childbirth and are at least momentarily awestruck by the capacity and the pain it must cause, they still find the idea of a small snip and ice pack on their Dick’s just too risky or potentially uncomfortable to take on; more Dick thinking getting in the way of common sense, if you ask me. This leads to further reproductive burden landing on women’s shoulders.

I cannot count the number of times that a weary, exhausted, doing-her-best woman presents for a post-partum exam at 6 weeks after delivery and is pregnant. Why? In the words of one such patient: I just couldn’t argue with him anymore. He just wouldn’t give up! I had sex with him to get him off my back.  Many of you reading this will immediately jump to the conclusion that this woman should show her he-man bully the door and never open it for him again. Trust me though, this happens to women who aren’t poor but they’re much more likely to have adequate contraception on board when it does. When my higher class patients present for a post-partum exam and sheepishly admit to having succumbed to their partners’ hassling them, despite my advice to the contrary, their far less likely to be pregnant.  The reality in medicine is that women with more money are on the receiving end of more and better care which translates into more effective contraception. Health care providers, by and large, prefer caring for wealthier white women and earn more money doing so. Compare the salaries of clinicians who work for Planned Parenthood to those who work in a private or hospital-based practice and you’ll see what I mean. Folks that are on the front lines in a Title 10 clinic are activists who understand and deeply sympathize with what can and does happen to the poor if they don’t have access to care.  Should the president succeed in “Dismantling Planned Parenthood” he will create greater disadvantages to the very constituents he appealed to during his campaign. This is just too weird!

I encourage you to let your Lady Parts help you think about what a poor woman faces when it comes to childbearing and parenting. Think about how burdensome it must be to face an unintended pregnancy simply because you couldn’t access effective contraception or your personal values don’t allow for a termination of pregnancy. Then, imagine what could happen to you should you be in the position of having lost your job and health insurance at the same time that your prescription for the pill is about to run out. My guess is if you do, you’ll better understand the importance of not dismantling Planned Parenthood, at least not before you get to the one closest to you.

Copyright E. Resh, 2017.

Two Fat Women in the Room

pumpkin-pie-reshEach year when Halloween arrives I make an effort to reacquaint myself with the following concepts: temperance, restraint, and common sense. In my yearly calendar, Halloween is an incendiary kick-off for nearly four months of perpetual food crimes that wraps-up mid-February on the day after Valentine’s Day. During this third of the year I write a daily post-it note-to-self with the following reminder: the human stomach is the size of a closed fist. This sobering fact helps provide the jolt that I need to assess the quantity of virtually everything I eat and decide whether or not I have the space to accommodate it. I would be lying if I said I always measure correctly or fill the container with the best stuff. However, I am relieved to say that common sense eventually prevails and surely must have contributed to my keeping off 50 lbs. or so that I lost over 13 years ago. What I cannot understand is why it isn’t helping me lose more which I would definitely benefit from. Now in my late 50’s, I feel the burdens of excess weight on my joints and have evidence of early insulin resistance. For some it is “the salty, crunchy stuff” that renders them reckless. For me, it is a sweet tooth which falls deaf to the rational voice of my sensible self. My sweet tooth is a kind-of indiscriminant Mob Boss, ordering one hit after another while I, her first lieutenant, runs scared and follows orders regardless.
I am on an odyssey; I am in search of the reasons why some of us have a more active shut-off valve when it comes to food while others do not. I work on this every day for myself and for my patients, many of whom are well over 300 lbs. I admit that I am relieved to have stayed in the low 200’s for the past 13 years but I would like to weigh less and would benefit from it. I know my patients in the “300 Club” would like to weigh less too but none of us seem able to get there and I need and want to know more about why.
With the cockamamie logic of Fun Size Halloween candy behind me, I am soon to be entering the Master’s League of eating; the Thanksgiving menu! Then, the holiday parties will start and Christmas will arrive with its own script of delicious holiday sweets (including toffees and Peppermint Bark – YUM!) and then comes New Years’ and MANY left-over gifts of candy and “special” baked goods brought by thoughtful and generous people, many of whom are generous but not fat. I am bracing myself.
I know that I will have days in combat where I will lose the battle but will always have a chance of winning the war. But I am too old and experienced to believe this will not go on for the rest of my life. I know I will always search for inspiration to keep exercising, eat in moderation, and keep the original 50 lbs. off.
I suspect I will always be one of the fat(ter) women in the room. But I want to be less fat and successfully help my patients become less fat, too.

Are Your Ready for Your Fatkini?

resh summer 2016

A few years ago the cover story on my Mount Holyoke alumna news magazine was

about Gabi Gregg, alumna, designer, and activist who had taken on fat-hating culture

with a vengeance. Gabi is the brainchild behind the Fatkini, a two-piece bathing suit

close enough in style and cut to be the bikini of choice for the full-figured woman.

As a plus-sized gal myself I was totally intrigued by this. So, I went to the Gabifresh

website to investigate. WOW! The models, their Fatkinis, and their bawdy poses – I

was sold! The photos of Gabi herself modeling her swimwear poolside and being

served by handsome and buff guys looking like they were trying to find their way

into her Fatkini were my favorites. I told my spouse all about this and showed her

which Fatkini I loved most. She was acknowledging and curious but then asked: And

to what end do you love the Chartreuse Fatkini? When I told her I was going to buy it

she said with a loving, but no-nonsense voice: That will not be happening. You will

not be wearing a Fatkini this summer or any summer – unless you just wear it in the

house. I was stunned and crestfallen. What started as a body affirming experience had

been completely extinguished by the very person who tells me she loves my body in

all its sizeable grandeur.

Robin’s response to my disappointment prompted a thought provoking question: Do

you think Gabi might be missing a great opportunity about what swimwear should

encourage, i.e. swimming? It was clear by the cut that one lap or dive into the water

would loosen the top, turn my large breasts into flotation devices, and leave a graphic

and lasting memory on the minds of my neighbors at our town beach. The Fatkini is

not for swimming. Like every other bikini it is for showing off a woman’s body.

The Fatkini still captivates me BUT, I now believe Gabi would have been more

successful addressing the politics of fat-hating – or fat fetishism – had she created

beautiful, plus-size swimwear with athleticism in mind – handsome pool boys

included. Feminists continue to toil in their efforts to enlighten us all about the

cruelty and dangers of objectifying women’s bodies. My wearing a Chartreuse

Fatkni would be like using a green highlighter pen from head to foot accentuating

every curve and roll I have. Given that I love to swim and am motivated to do so

why spend my hard earned cash on swimwear that would make swimming impossible

and reinforce the myth that fat women are never athletic?

Once I got my bearings and recovered my sensibilities, I ordered my new, boring,

monochromatic Speedo.

See you at the lake!

Copyright E. Resh, 2016

The Hazards of Binary Thinking…

resh. blast may3I recently attended a conference on sexuality and gender with presenters whose scholarship, professional practice, and presentation styles were so rich and meaningful that I walked away with a mind full of new and enriched content. But,the binary thinking that we all fall prey to when it comes to sex and gender was a conference focal point that I can’t stop thinking about. This is in part because I tussle
with this every day in my midwifery practice and am struggling to find ways to push against its force and hazards.
Customarily, an ultrasound is scheduled at almost 5 months of pregnancy to view and asses the fetus’ most life-supporting structures: brain, heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys, spine, and placenta – the stuff that makes us well when it’s working and unwell when
it isn’t. When I mention this, most patients say something like: Oh, that’s the ultrasound you do so you can tell the sex of the baby, right? Wrong. It is the ultra sound we do to see if the baby’s anatomy looks normal or if there is a big problem we should be alerted to in advance. Despite my explanations and emphasis on this and my telling them that ultrasounds can be incorrect and/or that the fetus may not be in
a position that makes determining its sex possible, parents will persist; they ask when the scan will be repeated if the sex can’t be determined. Before their baby is able to sustain itself outside the womb expectant mothers and families have already determined aspects of selfhood based solely on their child’s genitals.
I had my own attachments to what my baby would be during pregnancy and for this reason I asked not to know its sex beforehand or at delivery. For about 15 minutes after birth, my newborn was completely sex and gender free. I wanted my mother’s love to solidify in that moment based solely on the baby being human, healthy, and mine. I sensed this was critically important but I couldn’t fully explain why. What the conference speakers clarified for me so many years later is just how mutable identity can be at any time in life. Boy or girl, Straight or Gay, able or disabled, strong or frail, beautiful or homely. None of these are necessarily fixed nor should they be defined by anyone other than the individual themselves.
As a midwife, I am doing my best to remind people of what’s most important: human, healthy, safe in loving arms – the welcoming of a new member of the family. I can feel the burn of this uphill climb, but I know it’s entirely worth it.

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