Dame’s Newsfeed: The Crossover Appeal of a Doll of Color + a Real-Life Superhero

Our weekly roundup of the good, the bad, and the just plain unecessary.

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The Good

Doc McStuffins Crosses Over

I’m used to talking about crossing over with regards to pop-accepted musicians of color, but now we’re seeing the trend in children’s toys as well. According to the New York Times, the titular character of the cartoon Doc McStuffins, a black girl who doctors her many stuffed animals, is like the Whitney Houston of dolls. She’s sold about $500 million worth of toys this year, which according to industry experts sets the record for the best-selling toy line based on an African American character. “If you look at the numbers on the toy sales, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t just African American families buying these toys,” Nancy Kanter, the general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, which developed Doc McStuffins, said. “It’s the broadest demographics possible.” Finally some good news for diversity in the toy world following the drama earlier this year when American Girl discontinued four dolls, two of which were minorities—African American and Asian—leading to outcries, protests, and angry Facebook comments from parents. Toy analysts and parents are still saying that Asian dolls might just be the rarest of them all. With minority children under 18 set to outnumber white children by 2018, that’ll have to change.


Cosmopolitan Magazine Now Offers Sex Tips for Lesbians

Earlier this week, Cosmopolitan so kindly decided to extend their sexpertise to lesbians for the first time by publishing “28 Mind-Blowing Lesbian Sex Positions.” The world rejoiced. Jezebel shouted, “Progress!”; Refinery 29’s Reni Calister settled with, “Lesbians, we have been mainstreamed— and I suppose we should be thankful”; and The Daily Beast had one intrepid writer, Samantha Allen, try them out. “Cosmo equates [the Passionate Pole Dancer position] with pole dancing, a form of entertainment that, as we all know, is a staple of lesbian erotic life much like the aforementioned Fifty Shades of Grey. One thing’s for sure: Cosmo did its research on lesbian culture before naming these positions,” wrote Allen sarcastically. “There’s a reason, I suspect, that these lesbian sex positions are presented as illustrations rather than photographs: Any couple with corporeal forms would have difficulty making them look good, or even possible.” Cosmo is nothing if not consistent—love that about them. 


Dr. Willie Parker Is a True Superhero

There remains only one abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi and the government is trying to shut it down. The most recent attempt was a law requiring doctors to get admitting privileges at local hospitals, which they won’t grant, leaving abortion doctors hopeless. Thankfully it was struck down by an appeals court, allowing the sole clinic to remain open—but its closing appears inevitable. Amid the disappointment, though, is the knight in shining armor, Dr. Willie Parker—brilliantly profiled in the new issue of Esquire—who travels from Chicago to Mississippi and Alabama, attending to women in need on a route similar to that of murdered abortion doctor David Gunn. No other doctor in Mississippi will provide abortions, making Parker’s work absolutely necessary to give women in the area any choice.


The Bad

Rogue Surrogacy Companies

Although it remains illegal in most countries, gestational surrogacy—the process of paying a woman to have an embryo transferred to her womb and bear the child for someone else—has grown steadily over the past decade, according to a recent New York Times report. But as the practice grows, so do the fraudulent, unregulated agencies. Anyone can establish an agency, regardless of background or expertise, so hundreds of surrogacy businesses now advertise their services online. Much like illegal Chinatown buses, these agencies pop up, run into trouble, disappear, and then reappear under new names. It’s an atrocity that has even led to convictions of baby-selling rings. “There are more scams and scandals in surrogacy now than I can ever recall seeing,” Andrew W. Vorzimer, a surrogacy lawyer in Los Angeles, told the Times. One horrifying example is Planet Hospital, a service that connects clients with egg donors, in vitro fertilization clinics, and surrogates in parts of the world where it’s permissible like India and Mexico, charging half the price of $100,000 American agencies. It’s now undergoing legal action. “It was just outright fraud,” one Planet Hospital client said. “It’s like we paid money to buy a condo, they took the money, and there was no condo. But it’s worse, because it’s about having a baby.”


Bacteria, Fever, and Virus Aare Eating Us All Alive

If you are prone to anxiety attacks please stop reading. This might just be how it all ends—not with an apocalypse, intense natural disaster, or World War III, but with flesh-eating bacteria, viruses, and a whole host of fevers killing us from the inside out. As the Ebola virus continues to spread in Sierra Leone, killing over 650 people including the top doctor treating the disease, more deadly diseases have been showing up much closer to home. Vibrio vulnificus, a cousin of the bacterium that causes cholera, which mostly lives in salt water has shown up off the shores of Florida. Last year, 41 people were infected with the bacteria and 11 died. This week in Florida, 32 people were hospitalized and ten have died. Meanwhile in New Jersey, about two dozen people have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus, while another dozen have contracted its more well-known relative dengue fever. Thankfully neither of these fevers is known to be deadly, but several pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus even though no people have been infected. It pays to be an indoorsman.


The Unnecessary

Another Mom Arrested For Letting Her Child Go to the Park Alone 

After South Carolina resident Debra Harrell was arrested for letting her nine-year-old daughter play in a park unsupervised, Nicole Gainey of Florida (duh) was locked up for letting her seven-year-old son walk to the park alone, in the daylight and with a cellphone. Police brought him home saying pedophiles live in the area and charged Gainey with a felony. “I’m totally dumbfounded by this whole situation,” Gainey has since said. So am I. Why are we policing mothers instead of the pedophiles apparently roaming the neighborhood? Why must the police take children home to video games and computer screens instead of protecting them in the park and building a comfortable, safe sense of community? And how many more arrests will be made in the meantime?

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