Newsletter   Winter 2003-2004       Page 1 of 2

Where have all the Red Crosses gone?
[a red cross symbol would be here] 

For most of us growing up with the symbol of a red cross brandished across everything from the local pharmacy to the ambulance flying down the street, to your very first nurse doll or plastic play-time medical kit, it may be a surprise to find that this symbol is not (nor was it ever!) legally used anywhere except for the exclusive use by the American and International Red Cross. Even more shocking is the fact that they decided (within the last year or so) to enforce this after almost one hundred years. 

Every hospital, ambulance, pharmacy, kid's toy, nurse costume, sign... anything and everything that is not directly affiliated with or endorsed by the American Red Cross (and the International Red Cross) which use a red cross symbol, is being formally contacted by the legal department of the Red Cross to remove it immediately.

Obviously, we at, were completely unaware of such a legality. However, after receiving our letter from the Red Cross legal eagles, we immediately complied. It was very distressing; it seemed bizarre that the Red Cross would spend so much of the money they receive from donors for emergency assistance, on this endeavor. After all, it [the red cross symbol] has been in "misuse" in so many millions of ways without any such enforcement by the Red Cross for almost 100 years. But we came to the same conclusion that thousands of others receiving a similar letter did: they are too big and you will not win.

Thus, we dutifully "doctored" all of our photos, even photos from our suppliers and customers, which had a red cross of any size on them. A rather arduous task, since we really didn't know which pictures had them. We (like everyone else) were "red cross blind"; which is basically the reason why the Red Cross is so adamant. They want to resurrect the sanctity and purity of its original symbolism, as well as assure those wounded or in need of their help that it is truly them (the Red Cross). It's quite strange, though, that for one hundred years we didn't seem to have difficulty deciphering the Red Cross agency from little Joey's toy doctor kit or the neighborhood pharmacy.

There are new variations of a medical symbol being devised daily by the thousands of companies and manufacturers who were forced to replace the red cross symbol they once used freely on their products or services. It would make an interesting study to investigate the financial impact that this may have on the many large inventories of items with red crosses or the cost of eradicating corporate logos with red crosses or repainting buildings and vehicles with red crosses.

History and Uses of the Red Cross

We, of course, did further research on the Red Cross. On quite a few of the Red Cross websites we found some very good history and explanations of the use and misuse issues:

 "Behind this symbol lies more than a century of humanitarian tradition. At a meeting in Switzerland in 1863, international delegates recommended that volunteer medical personnel of all countries working to improve the care of the wounded on battlefields wear an easily recognizable sign. To honor the Swiss origin of this initiative, the symbol of a red cross on a white background (the reverse of the Swiss flag) was adopted. 

The symbol was later incorporated into the treaties known as the Geneva Conventions. Since almost every nation in the world has signed the conventions, almost every nation has incurred the responsibility to establish a Red Cross organization and to protect the emblem of the Greek red cross. 

The United States became a signatory to the Geneva Conventions in 1882. For 18 years following U.S. ratification, Congress debated how to enact this country's treaty obligations. Of particular discussion was how to ensure that use of the emblem was consistent with the conventions and how to protect the emblem from commercial exploitation. 

Among the heroes in that battle for the Red Cross was Clara Barton, who persistently lobbied the United States to recognize the Geneva Conventions and who founded the American Red Cross. Today few know that Barton was also one of the first women to work for the government in the only agency that then employed women -- the U.S. Patent Office. Beginning in the spring of 1854, Barton worked as a copyist in a basement office of the agency for eight years. By 1862, horrified by the miserable treatment of soldiers injured in the Civil War, Barton left her Patent Office position to minister to the sick and wounded. 

After the war, Barton lobbied for U.S. ratification of the Geneva Conventions. While she and her supporters awaited congressional action, they also took steps to meet the conventions' obligations. In 1881, the American Association of the National Red Cross was organized, and in 1893 it was formally incorporated in the District of Columbia. 

In 1897, Barton also filed a trademark application for the Greek red cross symbol for use on books, pamphlets, paper, and envelopes. Thirty-one days following her filing, Registration No. 30,428 was issued. This trademark registration was later abandoned following congressional enactment of a criminal statute to protect the emblem. 

On June 6, 1900, the bill to charter the American National Red Cross was signed into law. Section 4, which ultimately was codified as 18 U.S.C. §706, protected the Greek red cross symbol by making it a misdemeanor for any person or association to use the Red Cross name or emblem without the organization's permission. Penalties included imprisonment not to exceed one year and a fine between $1 and $500, payable to the Red Cross organization. Heated debates took place over the idea of imposing punishment for the essentially innocent offense of wearing the insignia of a benevolent organization. 

There had been seven trademark registrations for Greek red crosses by entities unrelated to the Red Cross at the time the American Red Cross was incorporated. The existence of these users was recognized in congressional discussion of the act. However, lawmakers took no action to prohibit the rights of these earlier users.  
     Red Crosses Story -Continued on page 2

Canada's Sunday "sex lady"
makes men blush  

 Sue Johanson is a sexual savant. 
 That's one reason. Here's another: She looks matronly, sagacious, wise within her years.  When asked why thousands of North Americans turn to her with their most intimate questions, Toronto's beloved granny-sexpert says, "I don't look beautiful or glamorous with bodacious ta-tas. If I was a sexy number, that would
 be very threatening." 

 And there you have it. 

 Self-deprecating, sensible, funny and so disarmingly direct you hardly notice when she casually drops "anal tickler" or "G-spot orgasm" into the conversation, Johanson has emerged as television's most respected sex authority.  Her live call-in show, Sunday Night Sex Show (W Network, 10 p.m.), starts its ninth season tomorrow night. The show is simulcast south of the border on Oxygen, a U.S. cable network, and is followed by Talk Sex, a call-in program for American viewers. 

 For Johanson, a registered nurse and sex educator for nearly three decades and a woman who refuses to disclose her age — "you know damn well you're not going to get an answer to that!" — teaching remains her greatest passion. 

 "For me, getting up onstage in front of a thousand university students is sheer joy," she says, her voice rising.  "They start out looking at me, thinking, `My God, she's older than I thought she was. What does this hoary, old broad know about sex?' And then to bring them from that point of being dubious about the whole thing to being slack-jawed and like, `Oh my God, I never thought about that,' is incredible." 

 But it's not just college kids who are left with mouths open.  Her guest visit on The Late Show With David Letterman left the host coughing into his sleeve. Especially when Johanson regaled the studio audience
 with some of her past calls, including one from a dude who wanted to know if masturbating into a jar of peanut butter could be considered "okay."  (She said it could be, hastening to add, "I haven't had peanut butter since.") 

 The jokes stop, however, when the subject turns to violence, extramarital affairs, or even sexual euphemisms. 
 She gets particularly upset when young females giggle and refer to their genitals as "down there."  "They don't look at their genitals," she says. "They've been taught that nice girls don't do that — nice girls don't touch and look. If we tried to teach guys that, we may as well bark at the moon. Guys spend hours looking at their genitals and playing with themselves." 

 I find myself coughing into my sleeve. 

 "Females will say, `I have a funny bump down there.' I mean `down there' is anywhere south of Wawa! It's a lack of sex education. They learned anatomy and physiology in school. Learned all about ovaries and fallopian tubes. But they never learned about genitals — labia, clitoris, vaginal
 openings."  This all sounds vaguely familiar. 

 I tell her about the time she addressed one of my high school health classes. For a geeky, 90-pound teen with thick glasses and limited prospects, her lecture proved mostly traumatic.  The pressure on young people, she says, is far greater today than a generation ago. From television to film to music videos to fashion to magazine
 covers, pop culture is saturated with unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. 

 "This whole idea that you got to have an orgasm every time you have sex or that you have to have a G-spot orgasm, or that he must be able to hold his
 ejaculation until she is satisfied — I mean, how ridiculous!"  Now we're getting somewhere. 

 Johanson says people are always relieved when she dismantles these cultural myths. So has she noticed any differences between Canadian and American callers? 
 "American sex education is nowhere near ours, and ours leaves something to be desired. But George Bush has said he will not provide funding to any school that teaches anything but abstinence, including condoms. So these kids are not learning stuff they need to know." 

 She says she does not make moral judgments about sex, as long as it is between "two consenting adults." (Mind you, given some of the calls she gets, I think we can safely amend that quote to "two or more consenting adults.")  She will, however, pass judgment on relationship issues.  "If I get a call from a woman who is having an affair with a married man, I will tell her she is downright stupid." 

 There are also calls that trouble her after the cameras are turned off: A guy who was sexually abused by two men and too frightened to go to the hospital; a man in Edmonton who tested HIV positive and wasn't sure how to tell his partners. "Those are the ones that stay with you," she says. "They are the worst ones for me." 

 But as long as people have questions — about sexual positions, gadgets that can't be described in a family newspaper and every imaginable fetish —  the bespectacled "Sex Lady" will provide answers.  "Listen, I'm safe and I'm mature," she says. "I've heard everything. There are no stupid questions." 

TV's Sue Johanson begins ninth season 
 article by VINAY MENON from 10-18-2003

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