Friday, July 29, 2005

The Great Yogurt Conspiracy

In September 1972, two founders of the Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers, Carol Downer and Colleen Wilson were arrested for allegedly practicing medicine without a license. Their Los Angeles Self-Help Clinic was raided by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the Board of Medical Examiners. The Self-Help Clinic presented the local medical establishment with competition. Concerned with the potential loss of revenue for the local physicians, one doctor, three uniformed police and several plainclothes investigators confiscated four truckloads of supplies and equipment, in order to shut down operations of the women-controlled clinic. The reason for the arrest? Downer had inserted yogurt into the vagina of a women's center staff member.

The trial became known as the, "Great Yogurt Conspiracy" and was a crucial turning point in the women's health movement. Downer was found not guilty by arguing that applying yogurt as a home remedy for an ordinary yeast infection is not practicing medicine. The verdict reinforced women's control over their own bodies and established that at-home methods of self-care are, indeed, lawful.

Excerpt from THIS ARTICLE. The rest of the article gets more technical about yeast infections if any female readers care to read on.

This was during 1972 when self help and women's consciousness raising groups were in high gear. Anybody remember those? I helped set one up, but it was two hours away from my commune and a four hour commute was too long to sustain after a workday, so I just went the four times. Times to remember with fondness. Times that helped make things better for women nowdays, I hope.



mouse said...

Hi Pris, Yes I remember those days. When women were learning how to be assertive! We earned the right to wear trousers in the work place by making our skirts so short that the male decision makers could no longer stand it, especially when we bent over to pick something up:-) We changed the way the classifieds listed employment available listings. We did reveal to the western world that we had the right to control our own bodies. But, alas, there is a much larger world of men and women waiting to be enlightened, some still in the western world. Your poems are sensational!

Pris said...

Hi mouse
Yes, we did change a lot and I agree that there's still a lot of enlightening to be done now. It still amazes me when women demur to their male companion's leadership exclusively or set personal goals lower than a man would, given similar circumstances.

Ohh, those mini-skirts:-) Weren't we naughty? I had fun with those. Since I usually ran treatment units and had to be out on the floor a lot, I wore slacks to work much of the time and flat comfortable shoes, beginning in the seventies. The Director of PT there wore Big Hair, fancy dresses and heels to try and teach guys at the VA how to play basketball. Needless to say, she didn't go onto the court to do it and wasn't taken seriously by anybody who knew her. My father always treated me the same as if I'd been a boy. Don't ever remember either parent saying 'when you grow up and become a mommy' but it was 'when you grow up and become a, writer, psychologist..etc). I was lucky to have that jump start.

And thanks for your comments about my poems!

tammy said...

Pris - I was born in 1974, too young to remember or participate in the women's movement in the '60's and '70's. But I must say that I am thankful for women like you who were (and still are) outspoken, confidant, brave, smart and able to clear the path for the women of my generation.

Pris said...

It means a lot to read your words. Thanks.

mouse said...

Pris, I want to let you know that my Dad treated me like one of his sons as well. We would work in his workshop and he would let me build things, teaching me how to use the the vice, the planer, the saws and all. We would go fishing too. But he would worry like crazy when I stayed out on a date too late. Gosh I miss him dearly!

Pris said...

We were lucky to have father's like that. Mine took me hunting and bought me a chemistry set for Christmas one year. I miss him, too!