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Cognoscenti

Since when are tampons a “privilege?”

We are in the midst of a sea change in the image and even the experience of menstruation, thanks to a generation of girls who are growing up with much more information, thanks to moms and the internet, where cheerful gynecologists explain everything, including how to insert a tampon. (Raise your hand if you remember your first time doing that, all alone in the bathroom with nothing but a confusing package insert for guidance.)

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Bye bye Blackbird. And Sparrow. And Finch.

It’s quiet outside: in the suburbs, in the city, in the mountains, and near the sea. But this morning, I finally realized that it is too quiet. Weirdly quiet.  The kind of quiet that, in movies, signals something terrible is about to happen. When the background music disappears and the sound of a lone cricket…

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Bake sales for women’s rights?

Planned Parenthood is benefiting from bake sales to protect women’s reproductive healthcare. A wine bar in Somerville is offering $12 glasses of rose to underwrite abortions in Alabama, where the uterus is apparently now in the public domain. Am I supposed to celebrate or pull out my hair? The answer is … yes. It’s crazy…

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Three cheers for television

Face-to-face conversation is a basic human need. It’s how we learn to speak and think — how we form and maintain relationships. When practiced by consenting adults with courtesy and curiosity, it is one of life’s great pleasures. Conversation has been practiced and refined for centuries: from salon, to coffee house, to cocktail party, to…

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Reverse the Curse: Red Tent/Real World

Recently, I read a story about a young woman in rural Nepal who burned to death because she was having her period. Partabi Bogati was following the ancient Hindu practice of chhaupadi (from a word that means “impurity”), which sees menstruating women as bearers of disease, disaster and bad luck; they are barred from handling…

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Women of the 116th Congress: Looking Good

I can’t stop looking at the New York Times special feature, “Redefining Representation: The Women of the 116th Congress.” This gallery of 130 — of the 131 — female senators and representatives is a celebration of racial, ethnic, religious and geographical diversity. It’s full of firsts: first Native American women (plural!), first Muslim women (plural!),…

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Walking the dog, winter edition. Brrrrr

I am outside and the app on my phone tells me it’s only 20 degrees. I haven’t had any coffee yet and I forgot one of my gloves, or maybe it’s lost; I lose a lot of gloves. The commuters sprint by, hoping to make it to the streetcar before it pulls away, lest they…

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Post-Kavanaugh: We have only begun to fight

The week before the vote, I said good morning to my neighbor, who answered, “He’s not going to be confirmed is he? I said, “Yes, he is.” She looked horrified. I was equally horrified, but I didn’t doubt the outcome. The old bulls (as Dan Rather called the old white men who defend power and…

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