The Student Coalition for Reproductive Justice (SCRJ) exists to advocate for the reproductive needs of students at Catholic colleges and universities. Katie interviews SCRJ co-founders Lauren Morrissey and Christina Frasik about the ways in which Catholic colleges limit students' reproductive health and freedoms. Learn how SCRJ mobilizes students on Catholic colleges across the country to demand their administrations do more to protect the reproductive health and autonomy of students.
Hendrika de Vries lived in Amsterdam during five years of Nazi occupation during World War II. On the podcast, she tells the story of how her idyllic childhood changed overnight when the Nazis began their occupation in 1940. Her strong, determined mother risked their lives by hiding a Jewish girl in their home - until Nazis kicked down their door and dragged the girl out from her hiding place at gun-point, sending her off to a concentration camp. Hendrika describes how her own feminism was shaped by witnessing the resilience and power of women during wartime. Women like her mother, who fought for what was right and went to heroic lengths to keep their families alive during a winter in which 20,000 Dutch died from starvation and cold - and millions of Jews perished in concentration camps. She tells Femtastic listeners what we can learn from her story during a time of rising hatred and bigotry, and why she has hope for the future.
Fans can read more about Hendrika's story in her newly published memoir, When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew.
Meika Hollender is the co-founder and president of Sustain, a brand of all-natural, vagina-friendly period and sexual wellness products. Meika chats with Femtastic's Katie Breen about what made her want to start what was initially a condom company, how she is motivated by "the orgasm gap" in male vs. female sexual pleasure, and why it's so important that the products we put into the most absorbent parts of our bodies are free of harmful chemicals. She also discusses how activism is central to everything Sustain does (like their part in making New York the first state to mandate ingredient lists for tampons!), and why she believes a sexual and menstrual wellness company can be a beacon for change in the reproductive wellness space.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, Femtastic discusses how trauma can impact lives in the long term.
PTSD used to be thought of as a "soldier's disease," but in 2019 it's finally getting recognition as an ailment that can affect anyone who has been through an extremely stressful life event.
Katie speaks with Karen Stefano, author of the memoir What a Body Remembers: Sexual Assault and its Aftermath. Karen tells the story of the assault she survived while she was in college during the 1980s; the emotional anguish and PTSD she suffered in the days, months, and years after; and how the process of seeking justice was re-traumatizing. She also offers hope - discussing the ongoing ups and downs of her healing journey and offering advice on how to reach out for help and move forward in the wake of trauma.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are people available to help:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.TALK (8255). Available any time of day or night, 365 days a year, this toll-free helpline AND online chat service has trained volunteers standing by to provide crisis intervention, to offer support for people in distress, and to give information and referrals to people with suicidal thoughts, PTSD, depression and in other mental health crises.
- National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673) or online chat will connect you to a local sexual assault service provider in your area. Trained staff can provide confidential support and connect you to local resources.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence (800-799-7233).
Marika Lindholm is one of the editors of a new anthology “We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor." The book chronicles the journeys of more than 75 solo moms from a variety of diverse backgrounds: some are single parents by choice, some by circumstance, some gay, some widowed...you get the picture. It even includes a story from Amy Poehler! Katie interviews Marika about the ways that it's both easier AND just as hard to be a single mom today than in prior generations, how people who are single parents by choice face their own unique set of challenges and stigmas, and ways that we as a society can help support solo moms - interpersonally AND via public policy.
Marika is the founder of an online community for solo moms called ESME.com - Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere. Most recently, she wrote about the psychological challenges faced by solo mothers in Ms. Magazine, in a piece called Moms Need Wide-Ranging Mental Health Care.
An excerpt from the piece demonstrates the topics Marika touches upon on Femtastic Podcast:
"Until we acknowledge and grapple with the significant social challenges to maternal mental health, moms will continue to suffer higher rates of depression, anxiety, exhaustion and PTSD than the general public. We must ensure that mothers get the support they need to understand the structures that make motherhood so psychologically disempowering.
Maybe then we will find the strength and will to fight for a society that frees mothers from socially harmful behavior, judgments, and expectations that keep our families from thriving."
Katie interviews Maddy Sands about the struggles that new parents encounter with breastfeeding—and how the solution to the problem is a community one.
Breastfeeding is described as the “most natural thing in the world,” but many parents come home from the hospital to find it’s not the innate skill it was billed as—and our lack of discussion of how hard breastfeeding can be leaves parents feeling guilt, shame, and frustration when it does not, it turns out, come naturally. Maddy is the director of Help Me Feed, a foundation focused on supporting new parents with breastfeeding. She understands that for new parents to meet their breastfeeding goals (while feeding their babies and maintaining their sanity), they need skills-building, advice, and support that is personalized to them. Maddy details the insights from new parents which led HelpMeFeed to design an innovative new app that creates an on-demand, professionally qualified community of support for parents, at no cost to them. It’s normal to struggle with breastfeeding, but in our connected world there’s no reason scalable solutions shouldn’t exist so that new parents don’t have to navigate these challenges alone.
Prior to the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, abortion was illegal in the United States. The court's ruling was, in part, influenced by the hundreds of women dying yearly from dangerous, illegal abortions. A discussion of the hazards of outlawing abortion is unfortunately timely, as a spate of recent abortion bans in the United States means that millions of people are or soon will be without access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion. Katie Breen interviews Patricia Eagle, author of Being Mean: A Memoir of Sexual Abuse and Survival, about Patricia's experience with abortion prior to its legalization. Patricia recounts her desperation to terminate the unplanned pregnancy she experienced while at the University of Texas in 1971, and the grim tale of the illegal and dangerous abortion she received in a dimly lit, private home in Denton, TX. Patricia's story exemplifies the lengths to which people will go to have abortions, legal or not, and discusses how her experience informs her views today that abortion must be legal and accessible to all.
Katie speaks with Jenna Brown, the queer doula behind Love Over Fear Wellness & Birth. They discuss what it means to doula for queer folks, what clinical and personal challenges queer pregnant people may encounter in the birth process, and ways that healthcare workers (and really, all of us!) can better care for queer parents. Jenna provides fantastic resources for queer AND non-queer parents-to-be, including why and how to hire a doula for childbirth, and where to find their new work-book, Queer + Pregnant: A Pregnancy Journal.
Katie Breen speaks with digital health expert, Katie McMillan, about what exactly is "FemTech" and why you should know about it. If you are someone who has biologically female body parts, you might benefit from the huge array of new FemTech products and services out there that can help you to better understand, control, and manage your health - whether that means periods, infertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, or something else! Katie McMillan walks us through it all and calls out the most exciting companies making waves in the field of female digital health.
In this special Oscar's edition of the Femtastic podcast, Katie speaks to law partner in civil rights and employment, Kalpana Kotagal, about one of the most Googled terms following last year's Oscars: inclusion rider. Kalpana - one of the co-authors of the inclusion rider - discusses what an inclusion rider is, how it works to increase diversity in Hollywood productions (on-screen and off), and why it comes up in the discussion of #MeToo. We also discuss ways that anyone (including you!) can make a difference to promote diversity in their workplaces, even when they don't have the leverage of a Hollywood A-lister or c-suite exec.
Have you heard of egg freezing? Katie talks to Jenny Lannon, co-founder of Freeze.Health, a resource that helps women decide if, when, and how to freeze their eggs.
Maybe you aren't ready to get pregnant now because you're focusing on your career, or you haven't found the right partner yet, or you have an illness that can affect your fertility. Egg freezing might be an option so that you have a better shot of becoming pregnant when the time is right for you. Jenny explains the reasons people may decide to freeze their eggs, what the process is like, and where to start if you're curious about if and how you need to preserve your fertility.
You probably know about the gender wage gap, but have you ever thought about the gender health gap? Katie again welcomes to the podcast Priti Krishtel, co-founder and co-executive director of I-MAK, an organization using patent law to increase global access to medicines. Priti explains the ways in which women (yes, even you!) are disproportionately harmed by the high prices of drugs and healthcare, and what this means for us as we get older and need to rely more and more on the healthcare system. For example, did you know that a quarter of the twelve highest-grossing drugs in the US treat conditions that primarily affect women? This includes breast cancer drug Herceptin, which comes with a yearly price tag of over $60,000! Priti discusses the damage that high drug prices inflict on women's health, and how you (yes, even you!!) can take small steps to help lower drug prices for all.