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Recently, Emma Watson has come forward with powerful speeches presenting her personal beliefs about feminism and the role each person has in progressing this movement forward. Her UN speech, which can be seen here, http://bit.ly/1rB2PGG, discussed the HeForShe campaign and was a beautiful start, but recently she has also come out to Elle UK to discuss what feminism specifically means to her. Time has quoted Watson as saying, “Feminism is not here to dictate you… All we are here to do is give you a choice,” (http://ti.me/13eYpMS) which I think is a principle that everybody can support. The idea that feminism is personal is so, SO real. Feminism is different to every person and no type of feminism is wrong or better than another. Feminism is about equality and it can take form in a variety of ways. Here is what my feminism looks like.

My feminism looks like peace. The anti-choice movement pisses me off. So does slut-shaming. And victim-blaming. And general oppression. I identify as a feminist and I care about a lot of issues and I channel that passion into making a difference in the world. More importantly, however, I believe in the power of peace. Anger is a powerful emotion and I could never deny that, but more importantly I identify with peace and the power that tranquility can have on the world. During my freshman year of college my friend Shannon, at the time co-chair for our campus’s Student Women’s Association said to me, “peaceful, powerful, and pro-choice,” and since then I have really identified with it. This does not make me any less passionate. It does not make me any less of a feminist. It makes me, me.

My feminism looks like bandage skirts and crop tops. Sometimes, and not all the time, I like to wear heels and short skirts and heavy eyeliner. That’s okay. Everybody knows that the way a woman dresses or drinks or acts is not an invitation for rape. It’s also not an invitation for hate.

My feminism has no girl-hate. I try to accept women for wherever they are in their life. I accept girls who wear mini skirts and drink and have sex with different people every weekend. I accept girls who think girls like that are everything that’s wrong with feminism. All I want in my community, is for all of the women I know to accept all the women that they know. I encourage us all to focus on girl-love. Love the girls who stay in and study. Love the ones who go out every night. Love them for whatever they need to do to be the woman they want to be. Love each other. Because that’s what makes us all a beautiful and powerful group.

I think as a society we have a tendency to lose sight of what acceptance means. Not everybody has the same opportunities, the same knowledge, the same opinions. It is important for us to each share a little part of ourselves, share the things that matter to us in a way that is both respectful and enlightening for other people. We have to stop expecting that everybody knows what matters to us and start actively teaching each other to care. We have to start realizing that we all have the same goal and together we’ll be closer to the equality we are all striving to reach.

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After reading a beautiful article written by two Harvard College students, Brianna and Kirin, about their experience at Advocates for Youth’s Urban Retreat 2014 and their involvement with “the movement” for sexual health justice for young people (http://bit.ly/1nAOKZH), I decided to reflect on my own experiences and activism work. Here are five of the most important things I have learned by joining “the movement” that I think other people would learn, too. I’m sure the list will grow.

5. Friends will support you, but not always agree with you. I am incredibly passionate about some very controversial political and social issues, including abortion and comprehensive sex education and LGBTQ equality. For me, these are not even controversies, they are rights, but I have learned and been reminded that everybody is entitled to their own opinions. Just because one of my best friends disagrees with me on abortion rights, does not mean that one of us is more correct than the other. More importantly, it does not mean that we cannot be friends. Respect can go a long way.

4. Answers can create more questions. Recently, I was asked to speak at a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 101 class about STD/HIV prevention on college campuses, contraception, and general reproductive justice as it effects my peer group. It is all too easy to assume that everybody has had the same education as you. They have not. There will be questions about consent, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming that will worry you and allow you to question society as a whole. You will have to explain dental dams and female condoms. You might be embarrassed at first, but you can do it. It is a worth-while experience.

3. Activism may lead to assumptions. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is that people want to know how your activism work specifically relates to your personal life. People are willing to cross those boundaries. Recently, I was asked by a stranger, someone much older than me, if the 1 in 3 statistic (stating that 1 in 3 women in their lifetime will have an abortion) was my “personal statistic.” I wasn’t offended, but I was surprised. I would never feel I have the right to ask another woman so blatantly and personally about her own experience. Some people do and they will ask.

2. “The movement” will change the people around you. You will be so delighted and thrilled to find that your friends and roommates and people you don’t even know are willing to support you and your cause. I recently started a student organization on my campus, the Student Alliance for Sexual Health, and found that the people who really care about me are willing to stand behind me for my cause. That leads me to the number one thing you will learn from “the movement.”

1. “The movement” will change you. If you let it, “the movement,” will open your heart and soul. It will fill you with this invincible passion that infects your day-to-day choices, that clears a path for where you need to be in life, for where you’re going, and where you have been. It will cast light on all of these shadows in your life and fill the spaces you need it to fill. Your passion for change is what causes you to become “the movement” yourself. You are not alone. You are a part of a whole. Cherish it.

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image

Being queer isn’t enough!

We are not at a stage as a community where being silent is ok.

To many people are still scared to simply be who they are

we are being silenced and the battle isn’t even over we still do not have our basic American rights.

I may not be famous but That shouldn’t have anything to do with making a change.
People may think I’m only a teenager and how could my words possibly impact the world but change starts with people like me and you!

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drake-nicki-anaconda-2-475x323

On THAT Nicki Minaj song:
Since “Only” by Nicki Minaj dropped yesterday, I will admit, I have listened to it an obsessive amount of times. I credit this to my love for Queen Nicki, but some aren’t having that, since the song had three featured artists alongside her: Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Drake.

Nicki starts the song off by clearing the record of her relationships with said artists, and she – as always – puts people in their place. She owns her sexuality, and she lets them know she’s boss.
I could honestly go on about lines like this one;

“When I walk in, sit up straight, I don’t give a fuck if I was late.”

 

People have been protesting the overall obsession with this song because the infamous Chris Brown is featured on the chorus of this song.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t take in any media that featured abusive, violent, and unapologetic men as such. It’s not an ideal world. I am not here for a world in which listening to a song and supporting Nicki Minaj – someone who is not a perfect person and whom has never claimed to be the perfect feminist/womynist – is endorsing a women beater.

We see white men committing the same atrocities (Woody Allen, Tom Cruise, Jared Leto, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, etc), but we do not see the same amount of continued outrage and demand that anyone who declares themselves a feminist boycott all works involving them.

As much as I don’t want to uphold a society in which these men can continue to be on top of their games, making money and profit, regardless of the violence they have dealt, I refuse to villainize Chris Brown. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I recognize there is anger to go around because Chris Brown is far from being the only one.

I refuse to villainize a Black woman who takes control of her sexuality, is on top of the game, and continues to speak realness in a world that isn’t always here for it simply because of an artist she featured in a chorus of a single.

Nicki is smarter than the world thinks she is. I show up for Onika. If you won’t, that’s your problem.

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This article was written by a youth activist with Advocates for Youth, who wished to share her story anonymously.

[Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault]

When I was a senior in high school, I was raped. My rapist was my most recent ex-boyfriend at the time and my rape was one of the many facets of an emotionally manipulative and abusive relationship. Despite my interest in feminism and advocating for survivors of sexual assault, it took me an incredibly long time to realize what had happened to me was rape, and an even longer time to admit it to myself and say it out loud.

The most common “I was raped” story we hear in the news is the one where their rapist jumped out at them from the bushes, followed them home from a party, broke into their house in the dead of night. We think we know how to tell people to avoid that: “don’t dress too slutty”, “let people know where you’re going”, “don’t get too drunk”, “make sure he doesn’t drug your drink”. But what happens when your rapist is someone you know, even someone you love? We’ve become more and more conscious as a society of these situations, especially because the statistics say that about 2 in 3 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. We’re gradually getting to the point where we realize that “I’m too drunk” and negative body language also mean “no”, but my rape doesn’t fall in any of these categories either.

The reason it was so difficult for me to name my situation was rape was because, ultimately, begrudgingly, I did end up saying “yes”. And I know in some people’s eyes, that one “yes” is enough, but it wasn’t enough for me. My ex-boyfriend asked me to hook up with him, send him nude photos repeatedly, and each time I said “no” he asked me why I didn’t love him and told me that if I said yes that we would get back together. He would pester me again and again, trying to wear me down, telling me I was a hypocrite for saying “yes” all the other times but for not wanting to this time. This type of behavior is coercion, and yes, it is also rape.

Coercion, specifically in a sexual context, involves forcing someone to perform a sexual act against their will by use of threat, intimidation, or physical force. Threats in this case also include emotional threats and manipulation. Coercion is a hard thing for us to wrap our heads around sometimes, because it’s so easy to think that convincing a person to have sex with you or wearing them down is “winning them over” and not a violation of their body.

When you emotionally manipulate someone into being sexual with you – that is rape. When you try to persuade someone to change their “no” into a “yes” – that is rape. When you wear someone down until they give up and say “yes” to get it over with – that is rape, and you are a rapist.

Categories: Sexual Violence
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YouthShowOUT

Elections are just six days away! Now is the time to make YOUR voice heard.

I’m asking you to make a commitment to yourself and your community — take the pledge to ShowOUT in 2014!

Elections matter – they are the time to show your support for the candidate that best represents your values and lived experiences. It’s a time to hold your elected officials accountable.

TAKE THE PLEDGE NOW to speak out, turn out and vote in 2014.

As young people, we have an incredible opportunity to make a huge impact in the political process and ultimately on the issues that matter most to us. Let’s make sure our voices are heard, and pledge to vote in this year’s midterm elections on Tuesday, November 4th.

It’s time to ShowOUT by speaking out, turning out and voting in 2014!

Hope to see you on election night,

Julia Reticker-Flynn

Associate Director, Youth Organizing and Mobilization

Advocates for Youth

P.S For more information about the Youth ShowOUT, please check out our 2014 Youth ShowOUT website!

 

 

Tweet now!Registered to vote? Pledge to speak out, turn out & show out this election day, Nov. 4th #YouthShowOut http://ow.ly/CkS5r

 

 

tweet-now-toutMake a commitment to yourself and your community this election day — pledge to speak out, turn out, & show out in 2014 #YouthShowOut http://ow.ly/CkS5r

Categories: Uncategorized
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October is National “Let’s Talk About Sex” month, so being educated on how to protect yourself and your partner is nothing short of essential knowledge! From research done by the Guttmacher Institute, we know that condoms are the most common contraceptive method used during first intercourse, with 68% of females and 80% of males having used it the first time they have sex.

Some common misconceptions and myths around Condoms:

1. “Using two condoms is more effective than using one.”

It’s actually a lot less effective. If you’re using two condoms at once, you’re putting two latex materials next to each other, which will rub against one another during intercourse, leading to friction, which leads to the condom tearing. If the condom breaks, there will be an exchange of body fluids, which can lead to contracting an STIs and/or pregnancy.

 

2. “I’m allergic to latex, so I can’t use condoms, which means I have to use another form of birth control.”
First of all, no other form of birth control protects against STIs* at all, so you need to be using a barrier method when initially having sex with somebody, especially if neither of you have been recently tested for STIs. If you are allergic to latex condoms, don’t keep using them and suffering the painful consequences (including hives, itchiness, blisters and in some cases anaphylaxis, which can lead to death) and doctors’ visits, there are a lot of other latex-free-options!

 

• Polyurethane condoms: made from a special type of plastic.

• Polyisoprene condoms: made of a synthetic latex material that’s as strong as latex without “containing the proteins that trigger allergic reactions.”

• FC2: the female condom

(All available at Walgreens!)

3. “I’m allergic to Glycerin, so I can’t use condoms or lube!”
First of all, don’t stress. It’s very common. Doctors have found that Glycerin in condoms and lubricants leads to yeast infections in many people. For chemical free condom options, you may need to special order condoms, but that’s easy to find and order with the internet. Look to brands such as Sir Richard’s Condom Company, who make Glycerin, Parabens (which has been found to interfere with normal hormonal regulated processes and lead to a lot of negative side effects, such as dizziness, swelling, sweating and itchiness—not exactly sexy), and Benzocaine (which is a local anesthetic added to condoms to help numb up the member so that “guys can go the distance”) free.

 

If you and your partner have talked about using another form of non-barrier birth control, and would like to use a lubricant, then Astroglide, which can in fact be used with condoms, may be a great option! It’s Glycerin and Paraben free.

 

4. “Condoms don’t really protect against HIV, only abstinence does.”

While nothing beats abstinence protection wise, condoms are an effective method to preventing HIV contraction.
“The NIH report confirms that condoms are an effective public health tool in the fight against HIV infection. Another study of HIV-serodiscordant couples in Europe (one of the couple is HIV-infected and one is not), has shown no transmission to the uninfected partner among any of the 124 couples who used a condom at every act of sexual intercourse. Among those couples that were inconsistent users of condoms, 12 percent of the uninfected partners became infected with HIV.”

 

5. “Loads more teenage boys than girls are having sex!”
Despite common language and ideas promoted in social circles, media and online, the amount of girls having sex is about equal to the boys of their same age.

 

6. “American teens are more sexually active than other western nations, that’s why we have higher teen pregnancy rates.”
False! Teens in the US and Europe have very similar levels of sexual activity. However, European teens are more likely compared to American teens to use contraceptives, in general, and even more likely to use the most effective methods (such as two forms of birth control—like a condom and having an IUD) than their American counterparts; which leads to much lower pregnancy rates.

 

 

There’s a lot of misinformation around contraception and sex, make sure that you’re getting the facts and the correct information so that you can protect yourself and your partner.

 

Rights. Respect. Responsibility.

(Cough cough on the last one people!)

 

 

 

 

*Dental Damns, although not a birth control method, do protect against STIs but can only be used for female oral sex.

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afy

October 242014 marks the 69th anniversary of the charter of the United Nations (UN) .The purpose of the UN, with its 193 member countries, is to promote and maintain global peace, prosperity, and justice. (Check it out: http://www.un.org/en/events/unday/)

Although the UN Day is not a federally recognized holiday here in the U.S., it is a global observance day to highlight the progress of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Because the MDGs expire in September 2015, the UN will reflect on how it should improve moving forward as they work on the new set of goals right now.

Did you know that adolescent girls, ages 10-19, were left out of the original Millennium Development Goals that were created in 2001?! It’s extremely important that the range issues affecting adolescent girls are not forgotten in the new post-2015 goals.

Here are 5 reasons why the UN Day is important for all girls:

1.  This year’s theme for UN Day is Global Citizenship & Youth, which obviously includes adolescent girls. What better day to engage all youth from all different backgrounds and sexual identitites about what the girl youth face around the world?! #HeforShe. It also should just be #AllforShe like how we are at Advocates.

FowardTogetherLogo

 

2. UN Day is an occasion to really reflect on what to include in the UN’s global future agenda such as saving the world, which the boys can’t do alone.

3. UN day is half celebration, half reflection which is why I want to bring up one issue to reflect on: currently, there are no specific programs to help all youth girls (10-19 years old)—just infants or women over 20 years old. No in-between help at the critical time of puberty.
Post-2015 goals should definitely consider making programs that tailor to adolescent girls 10-19 years old.

 

4. UN Day is a chance for young girls speak up about who we are, what we want, and be heard. Let’s change the perception that girls are part of the issue because we’re actually the key to the Solution. #GirlDeclaration

 

5. Let’s be real. Girls are capable of being much more than what society thinks we can do. We have the potential to be agents of change.

 

So what can you DO in less than 5 minutes to show that you care? 2 easy steps!

  1. Go to http://vote.myworld2015.org/ and vote for the issues you want the UN decision makers to consider & emphasize in their next global agenda.
  1. Share your video on your social media network and please spread the word!

Categories: Young People
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There is a lot of discussion when it comes to body image. Everyone just wants to fit in. Barely anyone wants to be them self. Society has us wrapped up in a box and is just fabricating to us. It tells us that if we do not look a certain way then we don’t have the “look”. “The look”, what is that? I am ecstatic that you asked. It is an image that we must be or we are worthless. For example, if we do not have the latest styles and or trends then we are nobody. I have both female friends and male friends that go on diets because they ponder that they are overweight and they only weigh between one hundred pounds and one hundred seventeen pounds and they are high school seniors. Here is another example, I wanted to take a friend to the Homecoming Dance for my school but she turned me down because she didn’t have time to find a certain dress because she is really skinny and when contemplated on my invitation to the Homecoming Dance she changed her mind and went to go find a dress, she still turned me down because she couldn’t find a dress that has “The Look”. This body image situation is making people insecure, and I am not just talking about females. We were all created in a certain way and I don’t see why we have to hurt ourselves doing that? Yes, a model, I can not recall her name at the moment, but she died from dieting so long to make a photo shoot. This look also discourages people. Many people try so hard to look a certain way that is not them, to get a certain role but end up not even getting it. Also people do it to please their significant other, but I say if that person really likes/loves you she or he would have no problem with your body image.

Categories: Body Image