22 March 2007...4:01 pm

Sexy. Safe. Texan?

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“Emma.” When my mom says my name like that, I get a weaselly little stomach ache and purse my lips together. It mainly happened in high school, and it was usually because I missed someone’s birthday, left my pot in plain view, cursed at my sister or had premarital sex.

This last time, though, it wasn’t so bad. She just asked me if I was planning on getting the HPV vaccine, officially known as Gardasil (if pharmaceuticals weren’t so evil I’d think their branding departments came up with adorable drug names).

I was kind of embarrassed that I didn’t really know how to answer. “Uh, I mean, I guess I will. Should I?”

“Well,” my mom’s voice was very sweet, as though she were informing me that my younger sister was getting married before I and it was to Mark Ruffalo, “Hannah did.”

Basically, even though I was slightly jealous that Hannah got there first, I felt impressed. My mom told me some things about it that I didn’t know or had forgotten after reading articles about the controversy surrounding Texas’s mandatory vaccinations for all girls entering sixth grade.

I still wasn’t convinced, though. My friend Becky gchatted me this morning. “Question:” she wrote, “what do you think about the HPV vaccine?”

I told her that my mom wanted me to get it, but I kept “looking for a reason it’s bad.” Almost simultaneously, she wrote “I am trying to find something wrong with it.”

That’s weird, right? Neither Becky nor I is, like, particularly averse to taking drugs. We imbibe, inhale, eat store-bought cookies and take birth control. I thought seriously about what my problem was. Wasn’t it great that Christian Conservative Rick Perry kept all those little Texas babies from getting cervical cancer?

But, wait. Isn’t he supposed to keep his laws off my body? (Hold it: I’m not as brilliant as you think–my neighbor in high school had that on a bumper sticker. Her bumper is the root of most of my wisdom). Seriously, maybe Becky and I are less paranoid than I thought. Remember Tuskegee? How no one’s been working on a sickle cell vaccine because, in this country, that disease primarily affects blacks? Remember forced sterilizations of institutionalized populations? How difficult generic AIDS drugs are to come by? There’s even the Vioxx cover-up, for pete’s sake. There’s a shared historical memory in this country of dis-empowered populations not getting the full truth about their bodies.

This doesn’t mean that Becky and I and everyone–even boys, thank you Australia (the only country that, however unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be endorsing rampant lesbianism)–shouldn’t get the vaccine, I guess. But Merck is getting a, uh, pill jar full of golden papiloma coins from Gardasil.

1 Comment

  • i still haven’t gotten it, have you? but i heard that all is required is for me to drive 20 minutes, practically across the state of rhode island, and walk into my doctor’s office where the woman who takes my co-pay will stick my with a sizable needle. no big. but let me tell you, really, 20 minutes, let’s be fair, 25, is just too far to drive for anything in this state.


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