andrewfarago unearthed a 1970s Spiderman comic book that was co-produced by Marvel and Planned Parenthood. (Beware: Large scans may be hell on dial-up; the scans themselves are work safe)
I'll give you a moment to let that sink in.
Once upon a time (30 YEARS AGO! WHAT THE FUCK!?!), it was possible for Planned Parenthood to team up with a major comic book publisher that specialized in producing materials aimed specifically at children for the sole purpose of distributing correct and factual information about birth control, prevention of STDs, sexual health, and to provide a list of places where the reader could go to get more information about these subjects.
What's even better: the people who prevented the distribution of such information or lied about factual information pertaining to sex and sexual health are portrayed as...wait for it...the bad guys who were a threat not just to public health, but to an individual's personal safety and freedom.
*nods in a pleased way*
Yes. Upon review of the past 30 years where my half of the human race has been consistently degraded and talked about like we're children who lack the capacity to make even the most basic healthcare decisions for ourselves, I can categorically say that it sounds exactly right.
This stand-alone special issue was (of course) done when Stan Lee was still "the man" at Marvel. I mean, can you see Marvel actually even considering doing this today? Hell with that. I can't picture Planned Parenthood trying something like this now for fear that it would stir up the hornet's nest that is the U.S.'s special brand of homegrown religious terrorist.
[And if you think I'm joking about homegrown religious terrorists in the U.S., I live in the bluest of blue states. My Ob/Gyn when I lived in another town was located in a women's health center. Not Planned Parenthood or any other similar service; a regular medical office building that happened to be full of medical practices that specifically catered to women's health. In my Ob/Gyn's office there was bulletproof glass between the waiting room and the rest of the medical office because of regular threats of violence or bombing. Keep in mind: This is in the People's Republic of Massachusetts and these threats were leveled against a general Ob/Gyn medical practice.
Think I'm being harsh? Then lemme ask you: What do you call it when religious fanatics threaten violence, harass patients and healthcare providers, shoot physicians and nurses, bomb buildings, and otherwise disrupt women's access to healthcare by any means necessary because — their God forbid — some woman somewhere might be *gasp!* having sex somewhere and enjoying it just like a man does? Yeah. I thought so.]
Have I mentioned before in this journal that Stan Lee is made of pure win? I'm sure I have.
Now I need to bump it up: Stan Lee is not just made of pure win. He's made of pure awesome!
The comic book not only is chock full of information about birth control and the prevention of STDs, it stresses the importance of getting the right information about sexual health. One page alone in this puppy probably contains more factual information than most American high schoolers sitting in classrooms right at this very second know.
The only quibble is the attitude towards homosexuality isn't the most enlightened. But considering when this Spiderman comic book was published (remember: 30! YEARS! AGO!), the attitude towards homosexuality is downright enlightened.
Seriously, man. Go check out the Spiderman/Planned Parenthood team-up for yourself.
Then start weeping. Or get angry. Either way, if you need a clearer illustration on why it's high time we start pushing the hell back on our modern-day Know-Nothings, you could do a whole lot worse than point to this as one example.
ETA: harmfulguy and hernewshoes note that Death Talks About Life, by Neil Gaiman with art by Dave McKean, which demonstrated proper condom use on a banana in the broader context of AIDS-prevention was released in 1994. (Please note: 13 years ago!)
I actually own this. Although it was sold as a stand alone (apparently), I'm very sure that this was also inserted in the back of one of the Sandman issues or one of the spin-off Death minis. I'm not sure. But I definitely do own this.
I'm not dismissing Death Talks About Life, by the way.
My point is that the Spiderman comic I discussed above would never, ever see the light of day today. The U.S.'s current repressive atmosphere of all things considered somehow outside the norm — or at least the norm as defined by a very narrow slice of the population — would make it a prohibitive commercial risk.
By contrast, Vertigo then and now is considered D.C.'s "adult comics" arm and was sold in some very limited venues (i.e., specialty comic shops and not — for example — general news stands). Furthermore, the insert was not published in conjunction with a major organization considered by some to be Satan's representative on earth. Seriously. Try imagining Death Talks About Life published in conjunction with Planned Parenthood, or ACT-UP, or any other organization that is focused on distributing accurate information about sex and sexual health. I don't see that happening, do you?