So xoJane’s beauty and health director Cat Marnell published a post about New York City’s Plan B shortage this week, and it’s actually—believe it or not—caused us to pause, stop reading about Beyonce’s fake pregnancy, and wonder: Is she serious? And is she really xoJane’s health director? Our answers are, essentially: Yes and yes.
Cat’s post meanders through her theories on why so many New York pharmacies are out of Plan B One-Step (UPDATE: Plan B, the pill you take to ensure against unwanted pregnancies after you’ve had unprotected sex, moved from two pills to one in 2009, and in turn, is now called Plan B One-Step, in case you were wondering). In the process, she reports that she uses plan B One-Step as her primary form of birth control, listing out other types that get her stamp of disapproval for various reasons (like…the pill makes you fat, she doesn’t like condoms, abortion is terrible for everyone involved, and letting men cum somewhere besides her vagina is dangerous).
You can look at her post two ways: Either as a funny, relatable “think piece,” or an article written by a really ignorant, offensive writer. Either way, it’s far from genius: As Blisstree writer Hanna points out, it shouldn’t be this hard to tell whether it’s a joke. But the way we read it, she’s being serious about her misguided attitudes towards birth control, and she honestly does think the Plan B One-Step shortage might have something to do with women who, like herself, who are being really irresponsible about sex, in part because they’re confused about their options, and in part because they don’t feel well-served by the contraceptives available to them. Which is, at the end of the day, a pretty legitimate problem. And sure, there’s also a dark humor to the pitfalls of birth control and the fact that otherwise-smart women can be so lousy about taking care of their sexual health.
The way we see it, she was trying to be both funny and provocative, we just think her humor missed the mark. And here’s why:
1) She’s writing for young women, some of whom likely won’t understand the nuance of her post. As Mommyish points out, for xoJane’s young readers (they claim their demographic is women aged 18-49), the post comes off as advocating not using condoms:
Even if the piece is intended to be funny, it’s questionable whether a 14-year-old xoJane reader who is considering being sexually active would understand and successfully navigate such humor. Even worse, what could confuse a young girl more than reading a health director’s claim that condoms aren’t necessary?
2) She’s the health editor. We’re aware, as one commenter alluded to, that this is xoJane, and not WebMD. And given that the bulk of our own content is dripping in personal opinion, we get it: She’s trying to write something interesting, not a sex ed manual. But her flippant attitude towards sexual health puts her readers at risk, in addition to herself and her sexual partners, because she fails to follow up with any valid information about birth control options.
3) The suggestion that her attitude is one worth correcting is little more than a footnote. After scrolling through her long, meandering post about the logic behind her use of Plan B as a primary method of birth control, she writes:
OK, my point is, I’m sleeping with someone new now and I’m going to be better about not letting anything happen. Women of New York City and the world: resolve to step up. Fifty bucks is fifty bucks — that’s practically a new fall fragrance! We should all stop letting dudes come inside of us and take some responsibility because I am feeling increasingly guilty about being an AVID participant in an abortion-friendly culture.
But nowhere else in her post does she explicitly state that she believes what she’s doing is bad, or in any way dangerous for her health.
Her schtick might be to feign stupidity, but we kind of wish she’d found a smarter way to make women more self-aware of their own failure to take responsibility for their sexual health. What say ye?
Photo: Management Briefs