Shoot em up.

5 Feb

So Texas mandates the HPV shot for all girls.

Most of me thinks “Holy shit, dude has his shit together!”

The other half mutters about being in Merck’s bed, and how little research has been done on this vaccine.

Mostly though, I can’t help but think, if I had the chance to help protect my daughters from at least one form of cancer, I’d do it in a heart beat.

I see people yelling about how we don’t know anything about this vaccine, and it might hurt them.

It might not.

I see people screaming that it’s better to teach them to abstain.

I say it would be better to teach your sons that lesson, have a chat with your daughters, and take them to karate class after getting the shot.  Women get raped every day.

People are yelling that it should be the parents right to dictate what protection their kids get.

Should it be? I don’t believe in parental notification laws because I don’t ever believe that parents are the best judge of anything regarding their kids and sex. I don’t believe that parents necessarily know what’s best. Yet I also don’t fully trust that we’re given all the information to make the correct decisions. So where do we draw a line between all of this?

If we have a vaccine that, at first glance, can prevent cancer, shouldn’t we be jumping up and down for joy? If it prevented lung cancer, or prostate cancer, if it had NOTHING to do with a penis entering a vagina, wouldn’t everyone be estatic that we, that mankind had finally started to find a way to prevent suffering?

But sadly, HPV is something contracted by the evilest of evils, SEX. And of course, the blame is, as usual, being focused on chicks. Girls should abstain. They should wait until marriage.

No one mentions male culpability in all of this. That the woman could be as chaste as driven snow until her wedding night, and her bastard husband could still pass this on to her, and eventually kill her. It’s her husband after all-why should she need a condom?

Cause the bastard spent some time sowing his oats as a teenager, wasn’t careful, and all he got was a “way to go son” from his Pops.

But hey, she doesn’t need the shot. She’s not a whore or anything.

Tired, tired tired of this. Of all of this. Of the constant virgin/whore thing y’all got going on. Of expecting women, girls even, to be something they will never be. The entire purpose of sex is reproduction. Which means mammals will do it. It’s programmed. It’s in our blood. And best of all, it feels good.

Your daughters will fuck. My daughters will fuck, someday, and hopefully with rational help from me, they will pick their partners well, and be safe. But they will be getting this shot, because as a mother, as the daughter of a cancer victim, I know what the real risk is. I’ve watched someone rot from the inside, eaten away. I’ve watched someone die.

I refuse to let someone else’s misguided sense of morality kill my babies. I refuse to consider my daughters thinking people with options and desires. I refuse to ultimately, blame them for what they may bring on themselves. I refuse to let sex cloud the judgement of an otherwise near miraculous vaccine.

I refuse to crawl back into the trees and let the monsters claim my children. We can prevent disease and death. Why wouldn’t we?

* While I’m a fan of the vaccine, I would also do my research. I agree with many of the points on this list at Evil Slutopia, and find all of them good food for thought. I most definitely agree with “DO YOUR RESEARCH”. Go read.*

19 Responses to “Shoot em up.”

  1. LGirl February 5, 2007 at 9:29 pm #

    I have a problem with injecting more chemicals into a child’s body. I HATE this concept. We read packaging labels on our foods we try to avoid caustic cleaning chemicals and buy fume free paints….. but are willing to close our eyes and take these shots? Hope that they do what they are supposed to do and hope that they don’t cause some other form of cancer in them or their future children.
    I also have a problem that if detected early this cancer is treatable. IF detected early. Well With the health system in the USA working as well as it does its no wonder these young women are skipping their annual exams. they can’t afford them.
    Touchy subject. I am happy there is a vaccine, not so sure I’d put my faith in it.

  2. Kimberly February 5, 2007 at 9:38 pm #


    I had to sit through a 3 hour abstinence presentation today. For 8th graders. Much was made of the horrors of HPV, but not a word about Gardisil, until I couldn’t take it anymore and told all the girls that there was a vaccine, and even though it costs $100+, they should beg their moms to get it for them. The presenter looked askance and made the “or, ABSTAIN!” argument, couched in terms of “making good choices.” So, in order to keep my job and my conscience, I shot back with, sometimes, you don’t GET to make the choices. If it takes the specter of rape to get these people’s heads out of the sand and protect their daughters, then so be it.

    Oh, and another thing: I don’t believe in fucking abstinence! I don’t believe that signing some stupid piece of paper while you r mom and your pastor and the inspiring speaker and the health teacher watches means shit in the real world. And if my daughters came to me and told me that they thought waiting until after they were married was the right thing to do, I’d tell them I thought they were fucking nuts, and that I’d possibly failed them as their mother.

  3. peggykerroll February 5, 2007 at 10:25 pm #

    I think all young women should get the vaccine. It’s been tested, it’s available.

    I don’t believe in teaching abstinence, I believe in teaching responsibility and caution.

    I complained about the abstinence presentation at my church last year and they got rid of it. I said it was one sided, mysogynistic, and poorly planned. I did an intelligent exegesis of it and the DRE agreed with me.

    It is possible to change things. A little here, a little there.

  4. misspudding February 5, 2007 at 11:37 pm #

    I don’t like the Texas thing. We’re not forced to get our children vaccinated for anything, so why should we start with the Gardisil?

    That being said, I got warts from the man I married (I think). You can use condoms and preach abstinence until marriage but if your partner hasn’t been uber-chaste, you could get it, too. Hell, HPV is the same virus that causes regular warts (which I had as a kid). Still, something like 3/4 of the adult population has HPV. It’s just some of us (hopefully not me) have the version that causes cervical cancer.

    All of the arguments against the vaccine are horseshit, except for the folks who don’t want to give their kids any vaccine (that’s their right), when you’re talking about fucking cancer.

  5. krista February 5, 2007 at 11:41 pm #

    There has been constant commentaries on talk radio about this since it passed. My question as a Texan is who is footing the bill. A lady called in and had been told by her Dr. office that ti was $300 per shot and it takes 3 shots 1mth apart. Her medical ins pays $500. She will be making up the other $400. She sounded like at age 28 that she wasn’t gong to do it since the % says that she probably has already been in contact w/ it at her age. I’m all for prevention, but new=$$$ and who’s $$$?

    Also I’m torn on the vaccine front. I have on child that has had no vaccinations since 4mos and the other that has them all minus one component. One child is normal….one isn’t. Most will assume that the vaccinated one is the normal one. He isn’t. There is a reason that my eldest hasn’t had a single vaccination since he was a baby.

  6. stickdog February 6, 2007 at 3:24 am #

    The Facts About GARDASIL

    1) GARDASIL is a vaccine for 4 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), two strains that are strongly associated (and probably cause) genital warts and two strains that are typically associated (and may cause) cervical cancer. About 90% of people with genital warts show exposure to one of the two HPV strains strongly suspected to cause genital warts. About 70% of women with cervical cancer show exposure to one of the other two HPV strains that the vaccine is designed to confer resistance to.

    2) HPV is a sexually communicable (not an infectious) virus. When you consider all strains of HPV, over 70% of sexually active males and females have been exposed. A condom helps a lot (70% less likely to get it), but has not been shown to stop transmission in all cases (only one study of 82 college girls who self-reported about condom use has been done). For the vast majority of women, exposure to HPV strains (even the four “bad ones” protected for in GARDASIL) results in no known health complications of any kind.

    3) Cervical cancer is not a deadly nor prevalent cancer in the US or any other first world nation. Cervical cancer rates have declined sharply over the last 30 years and are still declining. Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1% of of all female cancer cases and deaths in the US. Cervical cancer is typically very treatable and the prognosis for a healthy outcome is good. The typical exceptions to this case are old women, women who are already unhealthy and women who don’t get pap smears until after the cancer has existed for many years.

    4) Merck’s clinical studies for GARDASIL were problematic in several ways. Only 20,541 women were used (half got the “placebo”) and their health was followed up for only four years at maximum and typically 1-3 years only. More critically, only 1,121 of these subjects were less than 16. The younger subjects were only followed up for a maximum of 18 months. Furthermore, less than 10% of these subjects received true placebo injections. The others were given injections containing an aluminum salt adjuvant (vaccine enhancer) that is also a component of GARDASIL. This is scientifically preposterous, especially when you consider that similar alum adjuvants are suspected to be responsible for Gulf War disease and other possible vaccination related complications.

    5) Both the “placebo” groups and the vaccination groups reported a myriad of short term and medium term health problems over the course of their evaluations. The majority of both groups reported minor health complications near the injection site or near the time of the injection. Among the vaccination group, reports of such complications were slightly higher. The small sample that was given a real placebo reported far fewer complications — as in less than half. Furthermore, most if not all longer term complications were written off as not being potentially vaccine caused for all subjects.

    6) Because the pool of test subjects was so small and the rates of cervical cancer are so low, NOT A SINGLE CONTROL SUBJECT ACTUALLY CONTRACTED CERVICAL CANCER IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM — MUCH LESS DIED OF IT. Instead, this vaccine’s supposed efficacy is based on the fact that the vaccinated group ended up with far fewer cases (5 vs. about 200) of genital warts and “precancerous lesions” (dysplasias) than the alum injected “control” subjects.

    7) Because the tests included just four years of follow up at most, the long term effects and efficacy of this vaccine are completely unknown for anyone. All but the shortest term effects are completely unknown for little girls. Considering the tiny size of youngster study, the data about the shortest terms side effects for girls are also dubious.

    8) GARDASIL is the most expensive vaccine ever marketed. It requires three vaccinations at $120 a pop for a total price tag of $360. It is expected to be Merck’s biggest cash cow of this and the next decade.

    These are simply the facts of the situation as presented by Merck and the FDA.

    For a more complete discussion on GARDASIL, click on my name.

  7. puddlejumper February 6, 2007 at 6:58 am #

    I totally agree with you Thordora, the sexism in sex education sucks.

    I think that vaccine is available over here and offered along with Rubella (German Measles), only given to teenage girls so they don’t catch it if and when they get pregnant, boys aren’t offered it (and I’ve never fully understood why, I’m not much good at science stuff)

    Funnily enough the course I’m doing just now we were looking at the history of vaccination. In the 1700’s The RC Church in France banned smallpox vaccination because it was “against the will of God” Their King Loius XV died off smallpox in 1774.

    I think abstinence teaches kids the wrong idea about sex. It’s supposed to be enjoyable. You are supposed to want to do it (assuming you are with the right person and under the right circumstances) and I can’t help but wonder if it just reinforces the double standards. I mean if it’s not being directed at teenage boys surely it just makes them try all the harder to persuade the girls and then everyone ends up with confusing mixed messages? Better to teach boys and girls about respect and assertiveness and getting to know where your own and others boundaries are.

  8. thordora February 6, 2007 at 8:22 am #

    I don’t believe for a moment that Merck is in this for the goodness of their karma. They’re a business. period.

    From what I’ve read, I don’t know if I believe that ALL cervical cancer would be prevented, rather, it looks like it would function more like a flu shot, being aimed at the most likely culprits. And I believe that more research should be done.
    But how many deaths should it prevent before it’s worthwhile? How many women’s lives are worth the chance? Again, if this was a vaccine for a disease NOT sexually transmitted, would we be having this conversation?

    That’s where my concerns lie more than anything-the double standard revolving around this vaccine, the fact that “sex” clouds the topic. Instead of people focusing on what IS important (efficacy of the vaccine, proper clinical trials, etc) the focus seems to be distracted.

    We don’t pay for most vaccines here in Canada, so the idea of paying for one is a little icky to me. We’re able to opt out of them here (so far as I know-I prefer to vaccinate my children, since I’ve done enough reading on childhood diseases to know it’s NOT what I want for my kids) and Iwill likely have my kids vaccinated in the future, just as I would if a vaccine possibly prevented breast cancer. Because I would rather have that leg up than not. Just as I’d rather make sure my kids don’t have a chance to get chicken pox or measles or anything else. maybe the won’t get it.

    But maybe they will.

    But the more I think about it, the more I am a little leery about government forcing vaccination. Especially considering how women are treated in terms of not being able to “control” their own sexuality.

  9. liprap February 6, 2007 at 10:08 am #

    “But the more I think about it, the more I am a little leery about government forcing vaccination. Especially considering how women are treated in terms of not being able to “control” their own sexuality.”

    Thor, I’m remembering back to this post, and the responses:

    All of these issues are very tricky for the collective psyche of North America. I think the next vaccine should be for removing the thing within us all that treats realistic sex talk as taboo.

  10. katsplace February 6, 2007 at 10:28 am #

    I have 3 daughters and am not running out to vaccinate them with Gardasil. I want to see how it plays out once it’s in a real population. My oldest was offered a rotavirus vaccine as an infant, I refused. Turns out that less than 6 months later it was pulled because it caused bowel obstructions. They didn’t know this until it was in a broad population because it was a low percentage kind of risk.

    If it looks safe in the next 5 or so years I probably will have them vaccinated. I had an abnormal Pap about 10 years ago that scared me shitless. I went through a couple procedures to get rid of it and the doctor said that it was likely caused by HPV. I now have that haunt me every year at my yearly exam. Is it once again going to be abnormal? That was horrible and it would be great to prevent that for my daughters.

    I am not for forced immunization for the most part. I prefered it when I lived in CA where you could opt out based on philosophical disagreement. I am generally not opposed to vaccination but there are a few I believe are convenience based and do not give adequate protection compared to the illness. On the other hand, my youngest daughter did not produce antibodies as a result of her infant vaccines. She spent her first two winters in and out of hospitals with serious respiratory issues. After discovering this, they revaccinated her to see if she could produce antibodies and she did. She now is immune and this winter has been fantastic.

  11. Jen February 6, 2007 at 11:42 am #

    I’m with you, Thor. It seems fishy, but also seems like a not-so-bad idea. I can’t figure out which side compels me the most.
    It’s true, though, that folks can’t rely on abstinence-only anything. Has nobody mentioned to these people that you can only be responsible for your own sexual history?
    Hopefully by the time Lucy is old enough to worry about this stuff we’ll know more about this vax.

  12. ann adams February 6, 2007 at 12:14 pm #

    It isn’t available through our Medi-cal system yet but it should be soon.

    I’m going to do a little more research but I’ll probably get the shots for the girls. They have all their other vaccinations and lately I’ve seen a little too much cancer, up close and personal. If I can do something to prevent even one form of it, I will.

    That being said, I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the “mandate” although I’ve heard that parents may “opt out” as they can do here in California with the other vaccines. Oops – katsplace just said that about CA. Oh well.

    The parents who are against all, or almost all, vaccinations are one thing. We can disagree. The parents who immediately think of promiscuity are quite another. Death is an extreme punishmentfor violating their “moral standards”. There is nothing moral about cancer. It’s evil.

  13. venessa February 6, 2007 at 2:47 pm #

    I agree that human sexuality is a good thing. I also agree that parents don’t always know what’s best for their kids. But I sure as hell don’t think that the government has better ideas. By making the vaccine madated, you take away the parents ability to control the child’s immunizations, yes, but also the child’s decision-making ability as well.

    You may expect that as a feminist (and one who enjoys sex and wants her daughters to have a healthy sex life), I would be all about making sex easier for women, but I guess I am not that kind of feminist. I love birth control and STD protection, but I think in many ways it has benefited men more than women by making women more available sexually with fewer consequences for men. OK, so they won’t get HPV. They’ll just get AIDS, chlamidia (yeah, I can’t spell that word), herpes, and unplanned pregnancies. Girls already have a hard time convincing their partners to wear condoms. (But you’re on the pill! It’s just one time! I swear I’m not fucking anybody else!) Without the mandate, parents would actually have to talk to their daughters about the pros and cons of the shot and what it won’t protect them from. Now, they don’t have to. I can’t see that being a good thing.

  14. Heather February 6, 2007 at 4:01 pm #

    Thankfully, by the time Freyja is old enough to get the vaccine, it will have been out for 5-6 years and more practical studies done. The price is also likely to go down. She WILL get it, and she WILL also get a fuck of a lot better “sex talk” than I got from my parents.

    Merck is also the manufacturer of the vax for Chicken Pox and is now reccomending a second vax when kids get their kdg boosters for better efficacy. I had to get Freyja vaccinated for chicken pox at 1 year because we get some state aid – if we didn’t, she wouldn’t have gotten the vax at all. She will NOT be getting the booster, however. Chicken pox is most dangerous in children under one who cannot get the vaccine.

    I do have to give it to them that they are trying to improve vaccine science. More and more of their vaxes are shipping frozen rather than with preservatives in them.

  15. thordora February 6, 2007 at 10:24 pm #

    I don’t know venessa-I see the opposite being true-I see it as not giving the shot as yet another excuse for parents to not talk to their daughters about sex.

    I mean really, how many parents are open and honest with their daughters as it is. The first flag that people are pulling out is that GASP! I’ll have to talk to my po innocent 12 year old about S-E-X! I don’t see this vaccine working one way or the other really. It’s just another excuse for people to miss the point, and endanger their children by ignoring the real facts.

    I want sex to be easier for my daughters so they have an easier time of standing up to a guy and telling him where the hand creme is when they won’t be safe for them. I don’t see the vaccine as a way to talk to kids about sex, or not. It’s a vaccine against a virus that happens to be transmitted sexually. Do we talk to kids about what exactly all their shots are doing? Doubtful. The kind of parents who will use this as an excuse to not talk to their kids would find an excuse regardless.

    The more I think about it, the more I don’t like it mandated, and I really don’t like there not being more research. Glad my daughters have a few years yet, especially in light of what Kat went through.

  16. Caitlin February 6, 2007 at 11:18 pm #

    I think that if I had a daughter instead of a son, I would be glad that I still had another 10 or so years before this would become an issue, so the kinks could be worked out. I don’t think it should be mandatory, but I think a teen should have access to it even if their parents object. We don’t need to punish teens for thinking about the consequences beforehand and trying to mitigate them.

    Personally, I believe abstaining is better for minors, since they aren’t really equipped to handle the more serious consequences of having sex in our society. It’s pretty hard to support a family, end a pregnancy, or pay for treatment for an STD on the income available to a minor. It’s also grossly unfair to deny them the information they need to make an informed choice, as well as services like STD screenings, birth control, emergency contraception, abortion, unbiased crisis counseling, and prenatal care. Again, we shouldn’t punish teens for trying to be responsible and acknowledging the risks.

    I find the whole wait until you’re married bit ridiculous since most of my friends up here didn’t get married until their late 20s/early 30s. With the average age of a first marriage at 23-25, that’s 5-7 years (of prime fertility, no less) that we’re expecting adults to remain celibate.

    While I think it’s great that women have so many options when it comes to I would love it if they could develop a vaccine to lessen the chance a male could be a carrier for HPV and other STDs that have few visible symptoms in women. When Paul is the right age, I would like him to have more options than abstain or use a condom or help his girlfriend pay for the pill.

  17. venessa February 7, 2007 at 10:49 am #

    I see your point thor, but I still think it’s a bad idea. Our society is not equipped to support sexually active teens, and until it is, I think this vaccine sends a mixed message. Our FEDERALLY funded “sex education” programs teach our kids that HIV is a curse sent from God to strike down the gays and that condoms aren’t effective. Abortion rights are hanging by a thread for adults, and it’s even worse for teens who have to get consent from their parents in order to have one. So many kids don’t have health insurance to treat an STD or get the pill, and half the time birth control isn’t even covered. They can’t obtain Plan B, and if they are old enough, the pharmacist can deny them based on religous grounds? Kids who do get pregnant? Welcome to a life of poverty because we underfund social sevices. This seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse.

    I do understand that there is a rather small window of time in which this vaccine must be administered in order to be effective, so it can’t wait until a woman is sexually active. But I also think parents today are more realistic about their children and sex. And kids whose parents don’t talk about it with them, have many resources available to them that we never had as kids. The internet alone can teach a kid pretty much anything they need to know.

    All that aside, this still feels like the government overstepping its bounds and dictating personal choice. I want fewer laws, not more. I elect my legislators to defend my personal freedom, not restrict it further. I am tired of politicians parenting my children for me. I will probably get this vaccine for my girls when they are old enough, assuming that testing goes well, but it should still be a choice. No one loves my kids more than I do, and I think that is the case with 95% of parents, so whether we agree with an individual’s parenting decisions, we should respect them (except in abuse situations, of course).

    I am so glad you blogged about this. I haven’t had a good back and forth in a while. 😉

  18. thordora February 7, 2007 at 11:33 am #

    You’re absolutely right on one thing-your federal governments stance on sex ed scares the living CRAP out of me. I went to a catholic school and was taught better than that. the focus should be on levelling that playing field first.

    Even if our society isn’t equipped to deal with sexually active teens, it has to. If a creature is coming into it’s sexual prime, it’s going to exercise it, period. Pretending it isn’t happening, trying to make it “wrong” or “bad” doesn’t work. Sex happens. The entire country (mine too) needs to come to grips with the fact that it’s a biological imperative, and there isn’t much you can do to stop it at the end of the day.

    I think that’s what drives me nuts the most. It’s just another way to control people, and I hate that. Keep them poor, keep them away from care, convince their parents that sex is WRONGWRONGWRONG. they’ll toe OUR line.

    Sex isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither are parents who don’t talk honestly to their children. Someone somewhere has to fill that void. It’s a big one.

    I do agree that there should be less legislation. More and more this Texas thing just plain old creeps me out.

    Caitlin-that’s one of my points-why are males always absolved of blame, or not considered part of the problem? why is it ALWAYS the woman who is sick or needs to be protected? Drives me batty.

  19. Caitlin February 7, 2007 at 3:17 pm #

    It irritates me that it’s always on the female and the guys can get away with saying “She said she was on birth control, so it wasn’t my fault”. Safe sex is the responsibility of both parties and our sex ed programs are setting us up for another generation of problems. I think guys should help pay for things like birth control, ec, abortions, and prenatal care. Women are not the only ones who benefit from these services.

    The lack of a male version of the HPV shot bothers me, since condoms don’t always stop transmission. A guy could be doing everything right, and still risk passing it on and ruining several peoples’ lives when someone they love dies of cervical cancer.

    I watched my grandpa die of lung cancer the doctors didn’t catch soon enough because of a screwed medical system. And that’s quite a bit easier to detect than cervical cancer is. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. The HPV shot is a big step in the right direction. But we need to continue taking steps to make it safer, more effective, and available to the whole population.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: