Category > Gender and Stereotypes
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May 1, 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen. Let me tell you how important it is to be independent and self-reliant in a society where you’ll be criticized and undermined just because you belong to the ‘weaker‘, ‘overly sentimental‘ and ‘mercurial‘ gender. Where you’ll be categorized by your mere looks and figure. If you possess that face, that body, that type of hair and the ability to comply to the ‘superior’ gender’s demands then yes you might even be popular. However, chubby, extrovert and independent girls won’t be tolerated. It is a crime to voice our concerns and our personal preferences, right? Look how short her hair is, wonder why she’s trying so hard to be a boy. She’s always hanging out with boys, what a whore. Have you noticed that she always wears black? Must be a goth or something. We live in a society in which you’ll either be considered a whore if you’re confident or boring if you’re an introvert. A society that’ll force you to keep your emotions caged and your problems hidden as they might be considered as ‘taboos’. That’s why I call myself a feministA feminist is not one who wants superiority over the opposite gender, a feminist is who demands for equality and a world free of gender stereotypes. A world where girls will be allowed to do whatever they want without the society striving to degrade or condescend them.
I’m loud. I’m confident. Maybe over-confident. I might not be your idea of perfect but I’m complacent with whatever I’ve got. I have friends belonging to the opposite gender. I love to eat and I’m not petite. I’m rowdy. I’m rough. I’m me and I’m proud of that.
Apr 1, 2015
First things first, I don’t need to say it, you don’t need to read it, and no award shows or long speeches need to be given to acknowledge what we already know is true –Black girls rock and always have! Matter of a fact they do more than rock. Black girls are magic, resilient, powerful, genius, and they matter!
To me its more than the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, proclaiming that Black girls rock. It’s an entire society that tells them otherwise EVERY SINGLE DAY. As a feminist youth worker, my life’s work is invested in helping black girls and other girls of color achieve self-determined lives. I hear people everyday, black and white alike, offer their expectations on girls’ minds, bodies, and labor. Black girls struggle everyday to claim the beautiful site of pleasure and resistance that is girlhood, while simultaneously navigating patriarchal expectations of womanhood and femininity.
Nobody has time for that, but Black girls survive and thrive anyway.
Sexual scripts are attached to Black girl’s bodies in the most dangerous ways. When they courageously break the mold to express their sexuality in ways that they see fit, they are punished for it.
Black girls are silenced everyday in classrooms. They are suspended from schools across the country for violating white notions of femininity. They are the fastest growing group entering the juvenile justice system.
For some Black girls, their everyday lives are marked by systemic and interpersonal forms of violence. But they resist! They survive!
Black girls are (and always have been) on the front lines of our movement work for BOTH gender and racial justice.
For more reasons than I can ever explain in this post, Black girls do more than just rock. “Rocking” could mean they are cool, but for me it doesn’t encapsulate the fact that Black girls are the bravest, breathing creatures I know and love. In saying that they rock, I wish strongly that people in power would grow to also support policies that are inextricably linked to lives of Black girls. It is my hope that we can eliminate the respectability politics that stymie the creative genius of Black girls. I want a world that doesn’t only say they “rock”, but grants them freedom!
Black girls matter! They rock! And they must always be celebrated! Period.
Mar 12, 2015
Flawless by Beyonce has always been one of my favorite songs, not just because she’s such a great artist but also because the words actually make me feel powerful and strong. It makes me feel that I can achieve what I aim for, I can do what I want and rise above what society thinks or expects of me as a girl. More importantly, I can relate to this song. I live in a well educated and modern society in a city setting. I am very lucky to be born in my family, but I still am under the shade of the judgmental and narrow minded thinking of the family (not necessarily my parents) and society. I am expected to get married and get settled in the age my family (whose thought so influenced by the society) decides. I am expected to look after the house and do all the household chores because I am a girl. My mom tries to teach me things saying, what my future in laws would say if I can’t do this, how I would keep my future “husband” happy. I bet most of the girls empathize with this.
I aspire to have a career where I can be independent doing what I love the most and at the same time live my own life to which I have the full control and not limited by gender roles. That means, I need time to complete my studies, to find a stable job that I want and earn my living with a peaceful mind, to find love on my own, test it and may be then start a family. This however is not the case, for now according to them I need to get a standard job soon, the level of study is quite enough and if I want to study further, I could always do it after the arranged marriage for which they are so determined to arrange. This is just absurd. It is sad to see how girls have to limit themselves and sacrifice their dreams just to fit in the society, even in this literate and modern world of today. Girls are still the puppets to dance in the whim of the society. They are not free to make choices as boys are. The concept of gender roles are so well rooted in our minds that we can’t see anyone coming out of it or thinking beyond that. We talk of gender equality yet limit our own daughters to set an example of the thought they supposedly support.
For me, I can only hope that time and opportunity would favor and I pursue my dreams within what little time I have and hopefully convince at least my family to not limit my dreams and give me the freedom to be flawless, and tell those who oppose “Bow Down”.
Mar 7, 2015
So, I’ve struggled a lot with slut-shaming lately.
The truth is, I have done quite a lot of slut-shaming myself, sometimes without even realizing it. The difference now is that I catch myself when it happens. I catch myself when my mind processes what other girls do, because now I see them differently.
There are miniscule differences between men and women. But society separates the genders as if it is completely unfathomable that we all once came from the same place. What I don’t understand is why.
This isn’t a history lesson about why people way back when decided that the almighty man was going to be more desirable in the societies they construct, it’s a plea. Why are we letting the ideologies of the past dictate our future?
I have a lot of questions I can ask the masses with an absurd look on my face and a scandalous tone to my voice, but I think we’re all tired of asking questions we’ll never get the answer to.
I’ve come to the conclusion that girls can do whatever they want with themselves and it doesn’t make them any less of a person for doing so. Men do whatever they want with their bodies and nobody bats an eye.
Girls are made out to be sexual beings just because we hold them up by the standards of what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Girls are sexualized every day, for absolutely no reason.
If a girl wants to drop it to be happy, let her. If she wants to wear a low-cut t-shirt because she is feeling her cleavage that day, let her—and remember that not everything she does is for somebody else!
This all came to me because of sexism I constantly come across on social media. Girl bands are wearing tight clothing and boy bands can have their asses out and the comments are so interesting for each scenario.
The boy bands are being summoned by girls all over the world to their beds, they want all the clothes to come off. But the girl bands are being exiled—it is unacceptable to be showing more than four inches of thigh. How dare they!?
Remember that negativity on the female race decreases our chances of equality, and equality is key when it comes to living a healthy, proactive life!
When people start to think about sex and women without cringing at the thought or over-sexualizing it, then we can rise above and garner respect in every sexual aspect of our being.
Let us rise!
Feb 28, 2015
In an ideal world, men and women would be treated equally. But we do not live in an ideal world. Women are denied equality, with the social construct of patriarchy providing men the necessary power to restrict women’s access to realm outside the household. The concept of substantive equality and positive discrimination evolved as the saving grace. But that solution doesn’t come without risks.
Positive discrimination provided to women in law, can also be interpreted as being sexist and discriminatory towards men, which is against the principle of legal equality enshrined in the principles of human rights. The possible answer to this debate could be that the meaning of equality appears to be relative and not absolute. As Justice Roaslie Abella puts it, equality is evolutionary, both tin process as well as in substance. As Wendy Williams further reiterates, “At the very least, equality is freedom from adverse discrimination that changes with time, with information, with experiences and with insight. What we tolerated at a society at one point in time, say a hundred years ago is no longer necessarily tolerable now. In the same way, what is tolerable at present may no longer be tolerable in the future. Even though the positive discrimination in law is justified in our present society, as a corrective measure to improve the status of women, who have been victimized and discriminated historically, that reason will not always suffice in the future. There is always the danger of positive discrimination resulting into a protectionist approach, implying that women inherently are a weaker sex and hence are always in need of protection. In the name of protecting women, this approach might serve to reinforce their subordinate status. Positive discrimination or special treatment can be a double edged sword for women as any admission of difference between women and men and any attempts to accommodate those differences are seen to provide justification for continued unequal and discriminatory treatment.”
Therefore, despite positive discrimination’s significance in the path of women empowerment being justified at present; it would be unwise to depend on the approach too much. Matriarchy should not be the answer to patriarchy and marginalization of men should not be the answer to women subordination. Both men and women should work together, hand in hand, to empower women, in the quest to achieve gender equality, equity and justice.
Feb 25, 2015
From the very beginning, Girls are raised, trained and said to be a good house wife. As if Girls gets born just to be a house wife? As if marriage is the only motto of girl’s life. While growing up her relatives are trying to persuade her that her goal is to get married and have children. Every girl is dreaming her wedding, her wedding gown, her future husband and all this brainwash make girls believe that they need nothing more than having a nice family in order to be happy. They are never allowed to think out of the box.
Every individual has their own name, own dignity and own recognition and even in 21st century girls are still fighting for self-identity. Everyone has their own dream, perspective, and ambition in life. Everybody has different desires and everybody aspires to be someone of worth in their life. So I am!!
I also grew up listening, “hey! Being a girl, learn to do household works! Do that! Don’t do that!! Etc… But NO! I am not born to be just a housewife. I am goanna marry the man who respects, loves and accepts me for who I am. I am goanna be a good wife. I repeat “A GOOD WIFE” but not a ‘HOUSEWIFE”. Yes! A goodwife to a good husband but again I say, am not born just to be someone’s wife!!!
I believe everybody should know how to cook, how to do households works, how to take good care of family and all. But I don’t find it fair people saying only girls should know these things. How it is fair to raise a girl just to be a household worker? How it is fair to take a girl just as a kids manufacturing machine? How it is fair to take a girl just as a sex object? As if girls doesn’t have feelings, dreams and desires! How it is fair to set bundles of restrictions on girls on everything? How it is fair to restrict girl from education and all? How it is fair to consider a girl ready to marry just after her first menstruation? And things doesn’t stop here how it is fair to ask dowry for marrying girl?
A girl is not a working machine, she is also a human being. She is not a baby manufacturing machine, she is someone who gives you a family. She is not a sex object, she is your companion in your ups and downs, joy and sorrows.
The way parents bring up their children, which create disparity between boys and girls, is also the source of gender based violence. In order to ignore this, parents should raise their both daughter and son equally. Society should stop portraying a man being strong, educated, creative and clever while a woman is opposite of all these.
Again I say, every girl has right to choose what she wants to be in her life…..
Feb 7, 2015
So today i came across a video on youtube, and it absolutely astonished me.
Imagine A World Where Being “Gay ” is The Norm & Being “Straight” Would Be The Minority!
So as I come across this video with a very interesting title, I naturally click on it, letting my curiousity take over. At first, the video started off in a way that had me completely confused, but it started to allow peices of the story and clues also to flow into my head, and I got the general idea of the short film. and as I said above, I was astonished. I started to blubber like a baby when the story progressed, seeing what the little girl went through for being Heterosexual and being bullied for being a “Breeder”. I actually believe that this is a great interpretation of how members society see and treat people of other sexualities than themselves [in a very progressive way that allows insight n other member’s place in their lives]. Please go watch the story, and see how touching and honestly true it is.
Feb 5, 2015
This is not an “entity” “justice” “Sentiment” on some activity that I heard and see about. I have seen the ill treatment that is street harassment in the street of Kathmandu, this I see when I was 16 while going to my college, as it is done by some street walker boys who are doing abuse activities in the crowded street, where they are trying to touch the body of the girls and women and they used to push them. Women and girls are been insulted, cursed at, yelled at, threatened and touched without consent. I have experienced street harassment at a rate of 10-75 incidents per week for over the past times. There might be many reasons that they’re unaware, or in denial, that these signals exist, because society doesn’t mandate that men be hyper-conscious of their surroundings environments. Last but not the least we have to understand a woman’s value does not rest on the fact she means something to you.
Jan 31, 2015
Hey guys! This is Hamna Tariq from Pakistan. I\’ve recently noticed that the streets in my city are mostly crowded with males and hardly do I spot a woman nowadays. This has concerned me greatly as girls tend to stay home, hidden from society, to prevent them from being harassed. As a result, several women leave their jobs and their families become a target of poverty. In today’s society women are not even safe enough to walk to a nearby market alone. They are trapped within the four walls of their house so they remain ‘secure’.
Adolescent girls, who dream of success, are forced to do household chores or marry someone so other men are not able to harass them. This disrupts their education and they are not able to live their life the way they want. This caged oppressive life causes psychological problems for adolescent girls and not only do they have to carry the burden of maintaining a household but also endure the pain of childbirth and an age when they should be studying.
Two years ago, I had a girl in my class, Mishaal. We were good friends and had the same subjects. However, she was forced to leave school. Why? Because her ‘brother’ felt that by coming to school, she came in contact with males thus she should sit home and do what women are supposed to do; household chores and get married. She had to sacrifice her education and her dream of becoming a doctor because of a certain mindset inculcated in our society. But why does this mindset exist in the first place? This is because of the lack of laws and regulations ensuring women’s safety. It is believed that women are ‘supposed’ to be harassed when they leave their homes. Why else would they come out?
This trend of adolescent girls being barred from society is on the increase. There should be strong and adequately resourced child protection systems which do not only secure girls from all kinds of harassment but allows them to live their lives freely without fear. Thus, safety is a pertinent issue that needs to be addressed and hopefully by working together we can protect adolescent girls all around the world from violence and exploitation.
Jan 24, 2015
I’ve recently been noticing the increased amount of harassment and unfair policies in workplaces for women and girls. One of my friends does an after school job at the Lahore Library of arranging books on the shelf. She ends up making a decent amount of money which she needs in order to continue with her education. However, the men who were part of the staff of the library used to make her feel uncomfortable. Being the only girl working there, she often had to deal with harassment which included occasionally trying to touch her and portraying it as an accident, attempting to discuss obscene topics with her and continuously staring at her.
She got frustrated and complained to the caretaker of the Library. Instead of taking action against this indecent practice,he fired her. His explanation for committing such a biased action was that he thought that she being a ‘girl’ could not handle outside work like this and bear this sort of oppression thus she should choose another job which doesn’t require her to leave her home.
This shows how helpless girls are in our society that when they complain and try to demand their very basic rights, they are censured and degraded.Thus, being a member of this board, I hope to blockade this practice and hope for a world where girls would be safe and their opinions would matter and their voice would be heard
Jan 18, 2015
Nepal is developing and poor country. here have many ntural resources,festival and many kind of the culture,cultural system. they prove nepal is reach in many things.
We found that everything have positive and negative side, i think that many cultural and traditional system genet this type of discrimination between male and female and also did domination. First of all the time of birth human divided into two categories. That is boy and girl. Now but i am serious in this type of think is prevalent society, Culture and system still dominating, dose different behaviour between male and female. When the baby as a girl is burn she is given doll and toys to play. Whereas when then boy is born he is given gun and ball to play so why this type of discrimination is done???? Some can go anywhere and anywhere at any time but in the case of daughter she cannot go anywhere anytime which out the permission of her parents why??? Why she is limited only is House??? When girl is 10 year and above old when her menstruation period started she is settle in different way she is kept in darkroom she is not getting proper care, love , support from the family member . why this type of system is that female should only to male house why can’t male come in female house??
Nepal is the country of motherland but also female are facing the problem of discrimination as being a girl also. Not getting this type of facilities human cannot get citizenship form mother name it is just for saying. Why still we are facing this type of problrm???? Why cannot girl give fire to death body her parents? I always think that this type of question but i don’t found the answer. Our indigenous culture and society still create discrimination between male and female. In accept this 21st century is going be modernize and we get some positive change but we should do practice and exercise for reduce is kind of discrimination. This problem is not of one woman this problem are all Nepalese women so one of the man roll of woman for solve this problem. Male and female is to equal side of the coin so male is other one valuable thing for change our society therefore I want to request all male please give support , help encourage to us for change our society, there thinking attitude and behaviour. Can you help us????
Jan 5, 2015
It was an ordinary day. It was an ordinary microbus, with two seats reserved for women. A man plopped down on one of the reservation seats. Nothing out of the ordinary in a lawless society. As the influx of passengers grew, men and women were crammed into the small space, standing, with everyone’s hands and legs and torsos twisted around each other in an uncomfortable fashion…all nevertheless bearing with it, for the sake of transportation. This too is an ordinary reality for people who commute through public vehicles.
Amongst so much of ordinariness, a moment of extraordinariness surfaced. The man sitting on the reserved seat was either oblivious, or deliberately chose to ignore the fact that a young teenage schoolgirl was standing a few steps away, squashed amongst a number of men, her uncomfort evident to many. The conductor asked the man to stand up and give up the seat to the teenage girl. The man, however, simply didn’t budge, nor uttered a single word back, and strangely continued to concentrate on his headphones, music which was probably helping him drown out the voices of probable shame or doubt.
Then, an old grandpa, sitting on the elderly reservation seat, came to the little lady’s rescue by offering his seat to her. This, I did not expect. This provoked some pretty strange thoughts in me. How can a grandfather, a member of the so called orthodox generation share consonance with modern day viewpoints and policies of substantive equality while the supposedly educated and gender sensitive members of the Y-generation, the grandsons, be against the notion of gender sensitivity and substantive equality? Maybe, the grandfather who offered his seat to the little lady was a grandson in history that did not believe in gender equality? Could he have understood how it feels to be victimized and dominated and neglected and made to feel vulnerable now that he belongs to one of the vulnerable groups of the society? Can you only understand somebody’s plight only after walking a mile in their shoes? Can’t that awareness come earlier? Or do we have to wait on all the grandsons to become grandfathers for them to gain wisdom?
Dec 10, 2014
No matter how much people talk and support “Gender equality”, it’s even still not implemented in world most part of the world. I knew the situation of “Gender Equality” but was not too concerned to it. There was and is situation of gender discrimination from back days till now. There was a day when i heard about “Chaupadi” which was really new to me. I got to know about it through TV show. It’s a culture or tradition followed on most parts of Nepal; basically at the western part of the Nepal. It is said female who are in their menstruation periods are not allowed to enter in their own house. They need to be in shed till they menstruate. They were abandoned from their house for 7 days. It was really bad to hear such culture in Nepal and i was like really angry about the culture they followed. The time when female needs more care, nutritious foods to eat; they are left over shed. Then i thought if i could impair even a single family to stop such activity and create equality among genders; then that would be a great achievement for me. Most of the times, we know lots of public issues but we simply neglect it due to our busy schedule until we find something to trigger us to fight back. The culture of “Chaupadi” was the one to trigger me to actively participate on SRHR field. In future i would like to actively work against gender discrimination and make a world better place to live for both genders.
Dec 3, 2014
On December 1, each year the World AIDS day is observed to commemorate the 36 million lives claimed by HIV/AIDS across the world; it also highlights that in the fight against HIV there is urgent work that still needs to be done. It has been more than three decades since scientists identified the HIV virus which causes AIDS and the cure for it still evades the doctors. Leading researchers from Australia, Italy and the United States have said that considerable work still needs to be done before they can find a cure for HIV.[i]
The transmission of the HIV virus is tied to specific high-risk behaviors and has nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation. It is not uncommon for people to blame gender non-conforming people for increased prevalence rates of HIV in society, but the real culprit is the legalized homophobia and bigotry which drive them underground. The oppressed are always blamed for their problems by the oppressors. Societal norms, dominant cultural practices and religious beliefs are responsible for driving sexual minority groups underground due to which they are marginalized from HIV/AIDS related prevention efforts and have limited or no access to such programs. Because of this they are at a bigger risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS. No logical person would willingly want to contract HIV and gender non-conforming people are no different. Numerous research studies have proved that reduced stigma and discrimination always leads to a reduction in the infection rates.[ii]
In Pakistan, an estimated 130,000 people are living with HIV.[iii] But this number could be much higher as a lot of people in the country do not have access to screening services and are probably living in ignorance of their HIV status. According to the UNAIDS website for Pakistan adults aged 15 and above are at an increased risk of getting the virus, and in 2013 there were 4000 reported cases of deaths due to AIDS. A report published by the UN last year highlighted that new cases of HIV were on a rise in Pakistan.[iv] Most of the prevention efforts and Public AIDS control programs in the country are targeted at the sex workers in the country and have yet to include the general population who if not more than are at the same level of risk as the sex workers. The HIV/AIDS national surveys and public prevention programs do not include men who have sex with men and transgender people who are universally acknowledged as two high risk populations. And without including the key affected populations into their prevention efforts the national and provincial AIDS control programs cannot halt the spread of HIV in Pakistan.
Extraordinary advances in the field of medicine have made it possible for HIV-positive people to live long and lead healthy lives. But in the absence of a cure each year tens of thousands of new infections occur. Since 2011, the international efforts to highlight HIV/AIDS awareness have been focused on achieving the common goal of, “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination.” [v] But less than adequate funding for HIV programs, ideological restrictions on research efforts, improper prevention techniques and endless stigma and discrimination have proved to be major roadblocks in the achievement of Getting to Zero. A majority of the world’s population exposed to the HIV virus continues to live in either ignorance or shame about their HIV status. Only through leading by example can we improve the lives of those living with HIV. We can get tested to learn our HIV status and show care and support towards those who have already been tested positive. Together, we can slow the spread of HIV and better care for those affected by it.
Nov 30, 2014
So I was stuck on what to write on here because of all the social issues happening right now, but I was watching The Colbert Report and he talked about Hillary Clinton, so I thought I’d go down a less controversial road.
Apparently, she’s a grandmother now.
Apparently, that’s huge news.
Will it affect her presidential campaign? Will identifying as a grandmother lower her chances of winning against a forty something year old? Could this get any more sexist?
I wasn’t going to start cutting Fox news some slack, I mean it is Fox News but I didn’t think they had run out of material so quickly. Of course, wondering about the stability of the campaign of a Democrat, a woman, a grandmother, is important for them.
The GOP tickles me. Truly.
For the people who do not understand feminism (equality for all genders), I leave you with this:
Mitt Romney. Proud Republican. Man.
He has not one, not two, not three, not four, but twenty two grandchildren.
I bet you thought I was going to say five.
When a headline reads:
Mitt Romney, the grandfather that could. Or could he?
Then please get back to me.
Nov 20, 2014
What started as mild and snarky criticism of a casually sexist shirt from some scientists, science enthusiasts, and a few people on Twitter grew into another vitriolic discussion on how feminists are offended by the smallest issues and are reacting wildly. But that’s not quite what #ShirtStorm is, forget what most of the Internet tries to tell you. Cathy Young’s teeth grinding, eyebrow raising editorial on Time, “How To Turn a Cool Moment into a #ShirtStorm” is another piece I wouldn’t trust. I recommend reading it only if you are prepared to contort your facial muscles and vocal chords to their limits when you come across her paragraph on how feminists stigmatize and oppress straight men for their sexuality.
(The shirt in question — photo from the ESA news stream, via @RoseVeleth’s Twitter feed)
Landing a probe on a comet is really cool. It’s a great scientific feat that took about ten years to accomplish, major props to all involved. But does an achievement of any kind really make one immune to criticism? Why are we not allowed to acknowledge both the impressive landing and the problematic shirt? And let’s be honest here, was this ever really just about a shirt?
Do I think Dr. Matt Taylor is a misogynist? From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem like it. It just looks like a classic case of a person who does something problematic but doesn’t realizes it until he’s told exactly why it was offensive and even detrimental. Yes, I know it was made by a woman. Yes, I know he was only trying to promote her artwork. And okay, maybe you might even wear the shirt yourself. It’s clear that his intention wasn’t to hurt anyone. None of that changes what wearing that shirt meant to some women struggling to no fault of their own in STEM fields, areas of academia and careers we know too well are disproportionately male-dominated. The impact is what we’re looking at. And knowing the context and history, how can we even begin to consider intent ever being more important than impact?
When confronted with criticism, Dr. Matt Taylor quickly and tearfully apologized. And everyone, including Dr. Matt Taylor, moved on–or at least, that’s what we all thought would happen. You see, what really made #ShirtStorm wasn’t the small, but diverse group of people who had the courage to speak up about the casual sexism and privilege of an accomplished scientist. It was misogynist keyboard warriors making false parallels of judging a man’s shirt to rape culture and sexual objectification. It was another round on the internet of rampant strawman assertions to the rest of the world on what feminism really is. Sadly we’re not living in a world in which #ShirtStorm is a hashtag describing how misogyny is thriving on the media’s poor representation of people’s concerns over decades of a troubled relationship between women and STEM fields.
#Shirtstorm is just a new name for the same old practice of shaming and silencing those who dare to speak up.
If you think this isn’t a big deal, well, by itself, it’s not a huge one. But it’s not by itself, is it? This event didn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes when there is still a tremendously leaky pipeline for women from undergraduate science classes to professional scientist. It comes when having a female name on a paper makes it less likely to get published, and cited less. It comes when there is still not even close to parity in hiring and retaining women in the sciences.
So yeah, it’s just a shirt.
And it’s just an ad.
It’s just a saying.
It’s just a TV show.
It’s just the Internet.
Yes, but you almost make as much as a man does.
It’s just a catcall.
It’s a compliment!
It’s just that boys will be boys.
It’s just that she’s a slut.
It’s just that your dress is too short.
It’s just that we want to know what you were wearing at the time, ma’am.
It’s just it’s just it’s just.
It’s just a death by a thousand cuts. No one cut does the deed. In the end, they all do.
Nov 3, 2014
We are all feminist!
People fight for every girls right,–whether in secret
or not. We have once said no to those people who,
one way or another have adjusted the beauty of the
Life made things easy, but our new story-telling,
and blueprint-art, shaped the way things used to
be. It is quite beautiful to say we have tried our best
to influence most of the affairs of girls living in
rural areas–“to put a smile on gaunt faces.”
Today, there’s a task on each of us to help raise
awareness and #Write4Girls ; to ring the bell, and
set prosperous margins for them to follow.
In Cotonou, the Republic of Benin; teenage girls are
going through a lot of pains–from hunger strike in
major rural areas, to sexually transmitted
infections, and rape! Most of these girls have no
parents, only few of them have access to hospitals
and parental care. The selfsame happens in
Ekpoma, Edo state, Nigeria (…my state of origin);
girls have turned coated wires, nude. From peer
group relationship to hotel services. Almost 15% of
teenage girls in my environment from (14-17) are
pregnant, 10% are already mothers,–the story goes
From these circumstances “Feminism” becomes a
dwindled act, because majority of the girls we fight
for–(to get quality education, parental care and
reproductive health services…),–are knowingly
doing the wrong things.
But aside from any heart feelings, we are still
And There’s always a heart that wants to put a smile on
wrinkled faces. While “Malala,” is working on education for
every girl child, we too can do our best.
Today, there’s a new definition, the renaissance of a
new hope; thoughts that begets’ essence, and
notions that raises the bowels that once lay flat.
Our words, written or spoken, can influence and
reach the farthest places. Faults may emerge, and
we may have to shrink to environmental and
governmental laws; but the grace to move on will
spring forth, if we decide to take a stand.
This is for those girls that have lost all, those girls
that have been shut out, raped, coerced for
pleasure, used as slaves, Infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections, and made to hawk fruits
in the market.
We can do a lot more if we #Write4Girls, and
channel or thoughts to the development of every girl child.
Oct 31, 2014
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.
Oct 30, 2014
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.
Oct 23, 2014
Yana is a young single mother living in a refugee camp in Lebanon. When she was 15, she married a man 20 years older than her, because her parents wanted to protect her from sexual violence. Due to resettlement and chaos surrounding Yana’s refugee status, she has been separated from her close family. Now Yana and her very young child live alone with little health care services.
Young women and girls are often at a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy due to a lack of sexual education and knowledge. In addition to that, Yana and other young people in post-conflict society have little health care support due to the chaos of refugee status. In crisis situations, when vulnerabilities are drastically increased, sexual and reproductive health care services are not always available or prioritized. During conflict, there is also an increased risk for sexual assault and violence. Combining these factors results in a time and place where young people are in serious need for sexual and reproductive health services.
Today, there is an urgent need for specific women and girls health services for Syrian refugees. These refugees are Syrian nationals who have fled Syria due to the Syrian Civil War. By the end of August 2014, the UN estimated that six and a half million people have been displaced in Syria, while more than three million people have fled Syria to neighboring countries including Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. Throughout this conflict, and the resettlement process, many people, especially women, girls, and adolescents have been more susceptible to sexual and reproductive health problems including gender based violence and lack of health services.
Prior to the conflict in Syria, there was an absence of sufficient programs and laws to protect women and girls from gender based violence. The apathy for women and girls stemmed from the state, and now that Syria is in a civil war, the lack of support for gender based violence prevention and programs are radically large in scope. The government claims that in areas that are under regime control, it is combating discrimination and protecting women and girls from violence. However, multiple reports and statements by UN officials, as well as interviews with Syrian refugees, says that the government is doing very little to protect women and girls, and instead is propagating violence toward them.
The conflict has also had a heavy toll on access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health care. One young woman shares her experience with the UN:
“Lengthy waits at check points, fear of bombshells, rockets, and snipers create fear among women, which also plays a role in stopping women, including pregnant women, from accessing hospitals. A large number of women lost their lives and their babies due to the regimes targeting their cars while these pregnant women were on their way to hospital. Many women were afraid and were more comfortable delivering at home, even without anesthesia, which in return creates a risk to their health. I myself witnessed many women who died during home delivery.”
The government blames the lack of services on economic sanctions and armed terrorist attacks, without acknowledging its own role in the premeditated destruction of hospitals and clinics. The Syrian government fails in the prevention of persecution of gender based violence and lack of access to health care.
Even before the conflict, Syrian women and girls faced high levels of gender-based violence and received inadequate access to sexual and reproductive health services. The conflict exacerbated those levels through general chaos and the government’s lack of support. Now, with the surge of violence from Islamic State (IS), Syrian women are at an even greater risk.
Oct 14, 2014
Catcalling and street harassment is an act of sexual violence that is often forgotten in the greater discussion of sexual violence. While there has been much more work in recent years to shed light on his issue and fight back, the Hollaback! campaign is a great example, but the issue remains and is getting worse in my community. Mississippi University for Women is not, as the name suggests, an all woman school. It was created as the first public university for women only, but has been coed since 1982. However, its population is still 85% women. One would think that a school with mostly women would be something of a safe space from the daily struggles and harassment that women face every hour, every day. It seems that this is really just wishful thinking as the recent surge in harassment on my campus shows. The difference between my freshman year two years ago and now is stark. Young women are now reporting incidents of harassment at unprecedented levels. Many of the people I know no longer feel safe to walk on campus alone or even walk in groups at night. Many don’t feel safe at all. The impact of having men follow you, laugh, yell at you, is hugely influential and a key, if often forgotten, part, of rape culture.
There has been much debate on my campus about the cause of this recent surge in harassment. Could it really be men on our campus? Students? Trusted staff and faculty? This notion has largely been dismissed as ridiculous by those in power who now turn outside our campus gates to the community at large to seek an answer and possibly, a scapegoat. While there is a good argument to be made that much of this harassment is likely coming from men who have made it past our lax security onto our campus, all to taunt and bully the young women here seeking an education, it also shows a common mindset among school administrations. The problem couldn’t possibly come from within, they say. No, we must turn outward, they say. I disagree. We must look at our campus and our culture first to understand these problems. How do we foster this kind of unsafe environment for our female students? I’ve heard administration and staff in the past warn women never to walk alone at night, to avoid certain areas of campus at certain points, to watch our alcohol, to do this, not do this. How can we be surprised when some men take it upon themselves to harass women when it is our fault for walking at night, for being alone, for daring to feel safe on our campus, what should be our second home. But what women know is that no where is safe for us, not our homes, not our schools. Not even the Mississippi University for Women can really be relied upon to provide a small safe space in a world of fear. This realization extends to my trust in all supposedly safe spaces. It is not enough for me for an institution to call itself a safe space. Being a safe space is a process, a continual act of proving to individuals that yes, you will be there, you will be a small refuge. While I can say with some pride that I do see action being taken on my campus to remedy this issue that has ballooned in recent years, I also know that it was partly complacency that led to this. The idea was that our school was unique, that issues like rape culture were, if not nonexistent, then simply not an issue like other schools. That our status as a largely women’s college made us immune to these problems and thus, no action was needed. Unfortunately, it has become obvious that this is simply not true. No space is safe unless we keep putting in the work of making it safe.
Oct 10, 2014
I developed much hatred and fear towards boys when I was raped at an early age in my life .This was during the final year of my primary education. My father employed a teacher to assist me prepare effectively for my entrance exams into secondary school. On the eve of the examination, the boy insisted that we should go to his house so that we can use his black board which he said was bigger than ours. When we got there, after few minutes of revision, a heavy downpour commenced and he stopped the class and started touching my breast and I became very furious. He asked me to lie on his bed but I refused. He pushed me on the bed and forced himself into me and I felt so much pain. After that he warned me never to tell anybody but due to the pain I felt in my genitals, I could not keep it to myself because I was afraid of what might happen to me. I went back home and reported the incident to my mother who took me immediately to the hospital for check up. The matter was reported to the police and the boy was later arrested. Some years have gone by now and I am still trying to push that episode behind me. Yet it has not been easy to do away with it
Oct 3, 2014
I have a very clear memory from my freshman year of college of when I first heard another girl talk about her experience with consent. It was a Saturday morning and I was at breakfast at Hilltop Dining and it was becoming a perfectly cold and painfully sunny day in Maine. Consent makes a lot of sense in my head and before this conversation, I was under the impression that most people had a fairly strong grip on it, too. No means no, right? Or, as California has recently initiated, yes means yes (http://n.pr/1vqdnrt). End of story.
So, imagine my surprise when two girlfriends of mine sat next to me at breakfast, omelets and water balanced in one hand and a coffee in the other, to tell me what they had heard in class this week. “If you are hooking up with somebody and you say no, but then you continue to hook up and it goes further than you want, that could be assault,” one said to me, with complete disbelief, like she had been in that situation before and had never realized her own rights. For me, I had never considered it in such explicit terms, but it made a lot of sense. I knew if I were ever in that situation, I would make sure that as soon as I said no, it was over. That was it. I would leave. I knew it in my heart, felt it in my bones, that I could walk away from that situation.
Fast forward a semester and I did find myself in that situation. But it didn’t seem so concretely clear. All of a sudden, I couldn’t find the strength to say no again. Why couldn’t I find the ability to fight what I didn’t want and push away? And I had a moment, later in the same night, when I realized what the girl at the breakfast table had just realized: there is something, at times, that restrains women. Something is keeping us from maintaining our strength, standing by our “no” after we have said it once, or twice, or more. There is a serious gap in knowledge and explanation in our sexual health education in our schools and in our communities. There is nothing that teaches young people, especially women, to speak up, to intervene, and how explicitly to do so. Without this accessible knowledge of what consent and healthy relationships are, young men and women instead find ourselves in increasingly negative situations. Even worse, this lack of knowledge leaves space for shame to grow and overshadow our ability to say no and to take charge of our own sexual experiences. On college and high school campuses across the nation, this fear of a reputation– either for saying yes or for saying no or for saying nothing at all– leads women into believing our voice is not as powerful as we want it to be. It is miseducation that causes this. It is knowledge that can fix it. So now, we as a society have this wonderful opportunity to teach young women to find the strength to say no again, to pull away, to stop what we don’t want, as well as to teach young men to listen and respect us. More importantly, to learn that it is not young women who are in the wrong. It is equally important for young men to hear and respect our no’s, so that they do not need to be repeated. Young women must find their strength and young men must learn to accept it.
Sep 10, 2014
(fəˈsäd/) – A superficial appearance or illusion of something
We as individuals tend to just take negative and offensive slurs as not really serious because they may have a joking connotation about them. Instead we have a habit to put on this mask, a facade as to say, pretending we are happy but in reality we are hurting even more. Slurs said and repeated everyday such as “faggot” and “slut” are merely tools used by the weak to try to minimize the confidence of others. Even though things said may hit you hard, that does not mean they are true. As long as you are true to your self you will have negativity thrown your way, but as long as you hold your head high you won’t need to wear a mask of happiness over a face of sadness because you yourself will be happy. Truly truly happy.
-Nicholas Cole, 17
Sep 4, 2014
This summer, Minnesota passed a first-of-its-kind law improving the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women. In addition to extending an existing ban on the use of restraints during childbirth for up to three days postpartum, the law also allows incarcerated women to have a doula.
Doulas are trained birth attendants who provide physical and psychological support during pregnancy and birth. Doulas have gained popularity in recent years. Doulas of North America (DONA), just one of a handful of training organizations, now boasts 6,500 members; in 1994, there were only 750. As the community and movement has grown, doulas have worked to bring their model of care to many different arenas. As a trained doula, I’ve participated in groups such as the Doula Project in New York City, which brings doula support to people having miscarriages and abortions. Other groups focus on providing low-income women with this kind of care, and a number have also tailored their work to support incarcerated women.
This a great step towards providing care to incarcerated pregnant people.
Aug 31, 2014
The world hates women
After watching the video I felt down, very low thinking women are not treated well since centuries. Men have been ruling their identity, existence and integrity. The life of women had been harder and the case have taken its plight in case of various insurgency. but may the world understand it now and may these shocking data never increase.
Jul 31, 2014
The Candies Foundation has a few stories from teenage mothers on their website. The stories are heartfelt, information, and I can only assume an honest account of what each mother felt when they wrote them. The inclusion of these young women’s stories is important and could be very useful to making non-shaming teenage pregnancy prevention ads. However, Candies has a history of promoting and making ads that shame teenage mothers for their sexual health choices and now has a history of ignoring teenage mothers who asked to meet with them to make non shaming ads via the #NoTeenShame campaign.
This year Candies held their annual month of campaigning and gave Vanessa Hudgens an award for playing a teenage mother in the film Gimme Shelter.
I saw the film she did a good job. However, I can’t help but to wonder why/how Candies can give a non-teenage mother and award for playing the role of a teenage mother but ignore a group of teenage mothers who are activist and trying to help Candies make more non-shaming and inclusionary ads.
The Candies Foundation has built an entire campaign and network using narratives of teenage pregnancy they feel is correct. They have done such a good job at this that their ad campaigns overshadow their clothing line and they are regarded as experts over teenage girls whom have experienced teenage pregnancy and parenting first hand.
I feel Candies has a great platform, they’ve been able to capture young people’s attention, and they seem to think including teenage voices is necessary in their campaign so long as these voices completely agree with them and do not dissent like #NoTeenShame did and continues to.
My hope is that Candies will stop paying Bristol Palin top dollar to speak, giving awards out to fake teenage mothers and actors from the Bachelor, and begin to speak to everyday teenage mothers whom would (have) like(d) to speak with them.
Jul 27, 2014
When you’re at about the age of ten, you let a lot of things go over your head. I don’t know if it’s because of the severity of a statement or lack of attention span, but most kids are just not affected by the passing comments of their families. When my grandmother looked over me when I was younger and told my cousin to keep me safe while we played outside, I was furious. She claimed that she was just trying to protect me; that boys look after girls. Even at a young age I felt the patriarchal undertones of her words, and while slamming the door in her face—as disrespectful as it was—made me feel better, I still couldn’t shake the heavy feeling weighing me down for the rest of the day. Consequently, I started to seek out these comments. But the reality of the matter is that you can only seek out what’s hidden, and looking for comments similar to these is like playing hide n’ seek in an open field. So now, almost seven years later, I’m a feminist to be reckoned with; a girl that can protect herself better than anyone else can. Thanks, grandma; for slapping some incentive on my plate. I was hungry.
Jul 26, 2014
Jul 9, 2014
“Bitches these days can’t take a fucking compliment!” I’m told.
I didn’t see his face
but he sounded like
the scratch of a fingernail on a rough patch of a scab not quite healed over
the sound it makes when you
pick over and over
till the skin pulls back
and you’re bleeding
when I first got to the city
a stranger hit on me
and my first instinct was to say thank you
so I said thank you
and invited me back to his home
He was easily my father’s age or older
his voice less smoulder
and more smoke
wisps near choking the polite right out of me
I added a no to my thank you
his smile disappeared
said he could fuck me right here
looks nothing like gratitude
“Bitches these days can’t take a fucking compliment” my friend is told.
she lives in sweltering weather
but fears tank tops on public buses
and when she fusses
about yet another suitor
attempting to woo her
we ache to remember a time
and avoided eye contact
was enough to shield us
when imaginary boyfriends were enough to shield us
when real boyfriends were enough to shield us
when age was enough to shield us
when no was enough to shield us
and yet I think back to thirteen
and the man at the gas station
and I realize that time may have never been
that I’ve been
fighting this fight since training bras
but the knights just keep coming
and though my friend lives in sweltering weather
she dawns her armor
and I know it hangs as heavy on her mind
as it does on mine
“Bitches these days can’t take a fucking compliment” I’m told.
makes my insides cold
newly proposed by a friend
who is sweet and funny and charming
and still ranting about the girl
who did not acknowledge his
whatever he was gonna say
followed by “hey, hey! bitches these days”
and it itches the back of my throat
but instead I smile
a kind, but reproving smile
he rolls his eyes
and with his “I’m just being nice”
I’m wasting my breath
the next time a stranger hit on me
it occurred to me
that something that should “boost my self esteem”
Be compared to
contact meant to bruise
it became less confusing
the third and fourth time
a stranger’s flattery turned “Fucking bitch”,
was hurled at me with all the passion
of a lover wronged
cause all their voices
sound like the creation of a wound
to be scrapped by fingernails
over and over again
so one day, when it scars
it looks like a birthmark
it looks natural
are such romantics
all at the same bus stop
their kind words
can be heard
in the shadows of any alley
whose faces grace many a sidewalk
fast food restaurant
whose eyes I never meet
whose names I never know
whose compliments I never remember
can’t possibly know
how many compliments its taken
to make me a bitch
Jul 7, 2014
Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.
- G.D ANDERSON
Some people might not understand the importance of the latest Pantene commercial, but I can relate completely. While it’s become clearer in the last few months that the war on women extends way past reproductive rights, issues like the one reflected in the TV spot often go unnoticed because there has only recently been rhetoric about the deep-rooted origins of gendered behavior.
In the last few years, I’ve learned that women are raised to believe that we should take up as little space as possible. While we may have progressed from the days of believing that we had to be “seen, not heard” and maintain our proper place in society, we still find ourselves trying to be as small and inconvenient as possible. For example, if a man and woman are sitting next to one another on a bus or train, the man will sit with his legs splayed, often taking up space that is not his. The woman on the other hand, will sit with her legs clamped together, no matter whether she is wearing a skirt or pants, never asking the man to keep to his side of the allotted space for leg room.
I myself have been guilty of this in the past. I boarded a plane about a year ago and made my way over to my assigned window seat. The aisle seat was already occupied by a middle-aged man. When I indicated that the window seat was mine, he did not stand to let me pass, but did that half-standing thing to let me scooch by. I apologized for the inevitable bodily contact once I had sat down and distinctly remember that he asked me, “Why are you apologizing?” In that moment, I thought to myself, “Yes! Why AM I apologizing?”.
But I never made the connection between my need to confine myself to certain amount of space and patriarchal dictate. I undoubtedly repeated that mistake until I realized that I had to overcome societal programming. I had to stop shrinking myself, stop smiling when I was asked to smile, speak up when men tried to trespass onto my spaces both mental and physical.
Dear women everywhere, make yesterday the last time you ever apologised unnecessarily or gave up your space because you felt you were undeserving. Sit comfortably, state your opinions boldly, walk tall. If a man tells you to smile, tell him to take a running jump. As the commercial states, “Shine strong!”
Jun 2, 2014
(image reposted from DLCentral)
(This post contains SPOILERS. Trigger warning: misogyny and homophobia.)
The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC (downloadable content) came out on Valentine’s Day 2014 with rabid anticipation and celebration from fans of the original Playstation 3 exclusive The Last of Us and TLoU: American Dreams comic series. But not everyone was thrilled with the game.
I won’t hide that I’m personally a huge fan of this franchise. I waited years for The Last of Us and kept track of various nuances in the video game design, legal matters, and updates. I beat both the game and the DLC several times on different difficulties. I’m above hundreds of thousands in terms of skill and rank on the The Last of Us multiplayer leaderboard. I’ve also read the comics. So, let there be no doubt that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to this.
The Last of Us excels in many ways that other games do not. The graphics are miles above the majority of games that came out in 2012 and 2013. The gameplay controls and mechanics are solid and allow players to make choices on how they want to deal with the conflict of each chapter. Want to sneak around like a silent and deadly assassin? Or would you rather jump in on danger with molotovs and nail bombs and guns blazing? Players even get the option to have conversations with some of the NPCs (non-player character) and AIs (artificial intelligence) of the game, with prompts provided of course. The game also limits how much ammo or supplies a player receives. It’s a tactic that makes the players really think about how they should use their items and re-think their strategies against the infected and enemy humans in this post-apocalyptic world.
The first ten minutes prove to be an emotional experience. Each character’s personality, although existing in a fictional post-apocalypse, comes off real and the interactions of these characters are crafted masterfully. Any gamer knows that video games are notorious for having horrible dialogue and even worse voice acting. The Last of Us forces other game companies watching the success of this installment to re-think how they handle these things. Sometimes it’s just not enough to spend hours going pew pew pew or smashing things in a story full of holes and ineffective voiceovers–even though that can be extremely fun too. One of the things that really makes this game is the way it forces companies as well as fans to re-think how they treat people who identify as women in their own stories and gaming community… well, it’s almost there.
Girls and women make up 45% of all gamers in the community. While that’s not a majority, it is still almost half the entire community. And despite such a significant number of girls and women playing video games, our representation still only fluctuate around 17% in TV shows, movies, video games, and even Congress. If we break it down for just the entertainment industry, women only make up 18% of directors and executive producers, 15% of writers, 4% of cinematographers, and 11% of protagonists in a story.
What does this have to do with The Last of Us? Well, the game isn’t perfect. I still felt it lacked female characters even as miscellaneous extras. Most of the humans the player will come across will be men. Most of the women I came across were mushroom infected hordes, officially known as “clickers.”
(Great female representation, huh?)
So what made this game different from the others before it? In this game, women actually made up a half or more of the main characters, which is sadly a rare occurrence. All the main women had motivations that were separate from the male lead, and this isn’t just a rarity, it’s almost non-existent in any form of media. These women were three dimensional and complex. They were flawed, vulnerable, and yet so fierce. Players even get the opportunity to play as a teenage girl in the video game as well as in the DLC. These are all good things when we keep in mind of how much female representation, especially good representation, is lacking in the media. But we shouldn’t get too excited about the bare minimum. It would definitely pass the Bechdel test but while this progressive move is noted and celebrated, we shouldn’t be setting our standards for basic decency so low. As much as I love The Last of Us, the game still followed the same tired formula of brooding white, middle aged man with women being hurt at his expense. So what did MRAs (Men’s Right Activists) and your general misogynists have to say about this bare minimum in treating women as if they were humans capable of complex thoughts?
It provoked angry nerds and geeks to crowd the forums with complaints like:
“Feminists did it. They are ruining one of my hobbies. For anyone who plays video games as one of their hobbies, The Last of Us is a pretty fun game…. The feminist messages were close to ruining a game I waited a year for…”
“…will my games be misogynist? You better ****ing believe it. Misogyny The likes of which will make duke nukem blush.”
(source: Men Going Their Own Way)
“At no point in the making of this game can you imagine Naughty Dog sitting down and saying “what we should do with our apolocayptic epic, is try and tackle feminism!”
“I’m all for stronger female characters but i also am sick of this sexist modern feminism which suggest been an attractive women is a bad thing. I also think it’s sexist to try repress straight male sexuality by suggesting its wrong to find women attractive by referring to it as objectification.”
“There are far more males play games than women…fact.Sick of hearing the constant nagging about sexism.”
(source: these comments are replies to The Last of Us isn’t the solution to sexism in games, but it’s a start.)
Some gamers took issue with the fact that many of the leadership roles in the video game were occupied by women, especially one woman of color named Marlene. She’s the leader of the Fireflies. It’s a rebellion group that’s focused on finding a cure to save humankind from this horrible zombie fungus affliction and dismantling the militaristic government system.
(Photo of Marlene, image reposted from GamerArtHub, original art concept and creation by Soanala Lee)
While the game faced heavy criticism from misogynistic players, The Last of Us hasn’t been left untouched by homophobia. In video games, people who identify as LGBTQ+ are either killed off, villains, or aren’t featured at all. I mean, the same can be said of most venues of media. So there’s no surprise when some of the heated backlash over the progressiveness of the game found its way to one character named Bill. He’s extremely paranoid, tactless, and rough but he’s very reliable. The game heavily implies with obvious subtext that Bill is gay. And it’s not just subtext, it’s been confirmed by one of the directors at Naughty Dog (company that created the game). GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) voted Bill onto their list of most intriguing characters of 2013. And here’s what they had to say about him:
“One of the characters the player encounters over the course of the game is Bill, an unstable loner in the town of Lincoln with a talent for fixing things. Through dialogue and backstory, the player learns that Bill once had a partner named Frank who he loved, but the plague drove them apart and led Frank to a bitter end. Both helpful and contentious, Bill is as deeply flawed but wholly unique a gay character found in any storytelling medium this year.”
(photo of Bill, reposted from GamerArtHub, original art concept and creation by Soanala Lee)
I thought the creators would leave all mention of queerness at subtext and podcast interview like so many others (J.K. Rowling, anyone?). But Naughty Dog took a brave route with their addition to the full game. While this DLC serves as a prologue to the actual game, Left Behind revolves around just Ellie and her friend Riley. Making a video game that completely centers around teenage girls with their own personal motivations and feelings is already unheard of. And how fun, as best friends, they can even take selfies in a photobooth with the players choosing the poses and backgrounds. But Naughty Dog takes it one step further. The writers created a scene of vulnerability, tenderness, and love between two girls in a world ravished by violence, oppression, and plague.
You can watch the three minute scene here. I would recommend that the comments should be left alone though. But in case you need an extra warning, the comments are along the lines of:
“Yeah…. I threw the game in the trash cause of this…….
NAUGHTY DOG! NEXT TIME LET HER KISS A GUY!”
“It makes me angry seeing gays trying to take over media now Games?!”
“the team was influenced by feminism, disgusting.”
“the gay kiss is totally perverted and f***ing sick… Naughty Dog is dead to me.”
(I copied and pasted these comments by the way but decided to leave the commentators anonymous.)
The creators of The Last of Us confirms that Ellie is gay and that the kiss she shares with Riley is of love, not just understandably reaching out for warmth and affection in a cold world, but a kiss with intentions of romantic love. Has anyone ever seen a game like that other than a manipulation of some Sims that we may or may not have made in the past?
It’s taken great steps toward progress, but we should still be fighting for more representation of identities in our media other than the usual white, male, cisgender, and heterosexual. This game, while it probably won’t be a catalyst for a culture shift, should be the kind of thing that gamers use as a standard, a bare minimum for what’s considered acceptable. And as the giants we are, we should go beyond that.
May 31, 2014
“We are here for family planning. She has already taken great hurdles during her pregnancy; not any more now. I will operate for family planning procedures. And this is the only way I can help her physically.”, a man expresses his compassion towards his wife during an encounter of a couple in family planning and counseling center at Teaching hospital.
Asking him in and out of a female reproductive health and knowing his view made me sigh deeply and happily. Now I asked myself, has there been a real change in this concept of materialization of a woman? Is pregnancy no more an institution to promote instrumentalism? Is every woman getting equal response from their better halves? And I answered myself; there must have been at least some initiation. Now it’s not just mother-in-law/mother, sister-in-law or sister who brings women to gynaeo depart and delivery wards. We get to see her partner sometime even father, brother and male in-laws caringly giving her a hand of support. Observing these trivial achievements, an internal force propels to throw a beautiful smile.
Reproductive health of women is the most sensitive and the most complicate unit of health. It’s the identity of a woman and the thing that gives them inextricable happiness. Let it bet the time of her teenage when menstrual cycle starts operating, breast oust from her chest, or the time in her adulthood when she experiences her first sex and becomes pregnant, welcomes children home or her infertility in her old age where her menstrual cycle stops, reproductive health is always a part of her life. It’s the health that adds color to her life, gives her and her family an awaited pleasure.
Reproductive health by its name though involves all those organs and issues related to reproduction, it is a very vague which gives different view from many angles. Reproductive health is that topic which links gender. But reproductive health of women is always on hike than that of men due to their higher contribution to reproduction and higher complications in women. Reproductive health of women gives the panoramic view of diseases, diagnostic features, its symptoms and complications along with every condition of a female partner of a couple. In fact it includes ins and outs of a female reproductive system.
Stomach cramps during menstruation, prenatal and postnatal extremities, uterine prolapse, cervical cancer, discrepancies in vaginal and fallopian tubes, complications due to short terms and long terms contraceptives procedure, problems in sexual intercourse are the major complication that female have been afflicted from the god blessed reproductive health of her. Actually she suffers a lot to receive some happiness from her reproductive health. Pre and post pregnancy disorders are far more difficult and challenging than the 9 months of pregnancy. Insanitation during menstruation in rural areas of Nepal have been worsening the condition, along with fostering of superstition in menstrual cycle. Heavy works during the pregnancy tenure, lack of adequate nutritious food during pregnancy and inadequate knowledge of birth spacing have been causing uterine prolapse.
Female cannot be accompanied by other person during her pregnancy and other reproductive health infirmities as lovingly as her own partner. Inability of a female to speak about their reproductive health deformities and also about the use of contraceptives is due to traditional system of male domination prevalent in our society. A male can attribute for personal happiness of female in every aspect. Every sexual intercourse is taken as an instinct of life for eternal happiness. He and his involvement in her aspects of health can always be taken as a symbol of positivity. Every male shares great responsibilities of his partner’s health on his shoulder. Condition of marital rape would not have arisen had the entire male understood their limits. Attention of a male towards problems of female builds healthy society and pacifies gender domination. Reproductive health of a woman will immensely improve if male partner addresses her difficulties by decreasing the reproductive burden of female partner.
Globally priorities are changing and also the power is being shared. Peoples are moving ahead. Many aspects of women health has been escalated to new level of understanding and effort. Now, women are generally not found alone in a gynecologist or with family planning counselor. Male are being their literal partner. Yet many changes are to be made in context of Nepal. Voices of every female are to be raised, obligations are to be pinned to every male’s chest, and power of women and condition of her health are to be understood by every family to trigger building a healthy and happy community.
May 20, 2014
When it comes to Beyonce Knowles, I have long been of the opinion that there are only two options when it comes to her. One could either be a hardcore stan (overzealous fan) or indifferent. I fall in the second category. I enjoy some of her music, but I am not at all vested in the aspects of her personal life. Her fans irritate me quite frankly, because they never critique her faults, no matter how numerous they are. It’s hypocritical.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the fact that bell hooks, popular feminist and social activist, called Beyonce a “terrorist” during a panel discussion titled, “Are You Still a Slave?”. Many have taken to the internet to accuse hooks of policing feminism. Those criticisms highlight just how little people know about feminism, as well as their unwillingness to condemn a favorite; someone whom they view as a powerful black woman due to her fame and financial success. It is important to note in the process of evaluating bell hooks’ comments, that there are problems within feminism, and part of Beyonce’s appeal is her status as a highly popular celebrity, which would make it possible for her to act as a strong voice for black women everywhere.
My interpretations of the Time Magazine cover which sparked commentary from bell hooks are as thus. On one hand, the bodies of black women are overly sexualized in comparison to their white counterparts. We’ve seen it before with the comparisons between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus – a true #solidarityisforwhitewomen moment. Chances are, if it were a white woman on the cover of that magazine, tongues wouldn’t wag as much. That said, I don’t quite understand the intersections of terrorism and partricentric views of sexuality. For the most part, I disagree with hooks’ conjecture that dressing in that fashion enslaves women to the male gaze. I for one, don’t dress to please anyone but myself and like to say that the day I dress to please a man, is the day I prepare to meet Jesus. Part of overthrowing the patriarchy is making decisions for ourselves. But I do agree that there is still a correlation between dressing sexy and being more popular. Sex sells right?
In conclusion, yes Beyonce is a problematic person. I think things would be alright if only people would stop thrusting the mantle of feminism upon her. For goodness sake the woman threw in a domestic violence reference in “Drunk in Love” and it has since been parroted all over the world with no regard to the meaning. Her image is too controlled for anyone to imagine that they could ever truly know what she is all about.
Apr 29, 2014
Bill O’Reilly believes that Beyonce does not deserve to be on the cover of Time magazine because she causes young women in the black community to have unintended pregnancies…. Seriously, he said that.
As a young black Latina who had her daughter at 15, I don’t even know where to start with his ridiculous claim. I can however promise you that Beyonce and her music were the LAST things that led to my being pregnant at 15 years old. Terrible sexual health education classes in my conservative southern school; poverty; lack of access to affordable birth control options; and low self esteem are a few of the things that led to my unintended teenage pregnancy – but certainly not Beyonce.
While O’Reilly is making ridiculous claims about the black americans and unintended pregnancies being attributable to a very married, committed, and self employed black women, Beyonce, I wonder when he will address the lack ofcomprehensive sex education being taught in public and private schools across America? When will he address the fact that low wages keep many parents out of the home for hours on in, working for wages so low that they can barely afford to pay the rent – let alone spend real and quality time with their children? I wonder when/ if he will take a look at policies in place that keep access to affordable birth control options to all persons, free of coercion, an option?
It simply doesn’t work or add up to be anti- birth control, anti livable wages, anti Beyonce and paint yourself as the voice of reason for a group of people you know very little about.
Mr. O’Reilly I leave you with this, teenage pregnancy rates are the lowest they have been in DECADES across all ethnic groups.
This decline seems to coincidentally line up with that fact that Beyonce’s first single album was released in 2003, and since then teenage pregnancy rates have continued to drop.
If we want to play the game of false equivalencies and correlation being causation, I will take a note out of the Brookings Institute “findings” and say that it is not the show Teen Mom but is in fact Beyonce and her jezebel music you speak of that have led to the decrease in teenage pregnancy.
There you have it folks, Beyonce is the cause of the decline in unintended pregnancies. (see how ridiculous that sounds?)
Apr 29, 2014
Apr 28, 2014
Over the past week, people have been discussing Avril Lavigne’s racist new music video for her song “Hello Kitty.” It premiered on her YouTube channel last Tuesday and was taken down temporarily due to the backlash. The video features Avril rapping in Japanese, wearing a cupcake tutu, dancing with four expressionless Japanese women, and generally bastardizing Japanese culture.
Using other cultures, and particularly women of color, as props is unfortunately not new to Western entertainment. Lavigne is now one of several white female artists to appropriate other cultures in the past few years. Her companions include Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Lana DelRay, Miley Cyrus, and Madonna.
Given that it’s happened before and that it seems to be common practice, what struck me most about this particular instance was Lavigne’s response to being called out and what it means for the way white people are utterly failing to recognize modern day racism and the problems associated with cultural appropriation.
Wednesday night, Lavigne tweeted the following:
She gives no weight to what people have been telling her, completely brushing aside even the idea that people had anything to criticize in the first place. She finds the suggestion hilarious. Especially as a white person, when someone tells you that something you have done is racist, laughing in their face isn’t the best response. Not only have you offended them, but you have devalued their ability to identify the factors of their own oppression. When someone tells you you have wronged them, you owe it to them to hear them out.
Lavigne then gives what amounts to an amped-up version of, “No, it’s cool; I have Japanese friends.” As if any of that negates the fact that she appropriated Japanese culture for her own personal gain and used Japanese women as props. All of that is still true, regardless of where the video was shot, who she worked with, or any personal fondness for Japan and its culture. It is possible to like something and take advantage of it at the same time.
This is where the disconnect comes in. Lavigne cannot understand how it is possible for her to do something racist against a culture that she knows she loves. But as much as she may genuinely enjoy the culture, she is not a part of it. She created a childish, cupcake version of it and surrounded herself with mannequin-like women who didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves at all. But hey, she totally loves Japanese culture, so it’s okay.
Excpet it’s really not. White people seem to think they have the right to take anything they want from any culture and use it as their own and for their own benefit without ever having to assume any of the oppression or degradation that a culture faces for the use, practice, or belief of what has been taken. This is cultural appropriation.
White people do not own everything, nor are we entitled to own everything. This is particularly true for Americans. We have to start respecting that non-white people from non-Western cultures make and produce things of value. Their value comes from the cultures which produced them- not from white Westerners appropriating them or modifying them to fit their pleasure or marketability. Avril Lavigne did not respect Japanese culture. She used her own version of it.
Modern day racism looks and sounds different than it did during the days that most of us view as a racism reference point- the 1960s. For anyone under 60, that decade has been the example of how racism is thought of in modern time. In the 50 years since, a lot has changed. This means that our understanding of what racism is must evolve also. The problem is that that’s not happening fast enough. This lag is responsible for the kind of disconnect that results in cultural appropriation.
White people don’t understand that things other than lynching or segregated schools “qualify” as being racist. Today, being racist is not as often overt or explicit. As in Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty” video, the racism doesn’t smack you in the face. With an understanding of how racism manifests today, though, the racism becomes more clear. This doesn’t mean that the racism is less harmful; only that it has been modified to exist within Western culture in a way that it can deliver a similar message without being thought of as oppressive or exploitative to those not as closely effected by its reach.
This is how a person with no outward animosity toward Japanese culture ended up making a racist music video. This is how someone could be accused of racism and respond with “LOLOLOL!!!” This is why the excuse of “But I have black friends” or “But I have gay friends” is such bull****.
This is why we have to change.
Apr 25, 2014
Kanye West is just as much of a disgusting low-life as Ray J is. “I made it over NBA, NFL players”? Really? Ugh
“…An internal source of joy and confidence in appearance are radical acts for Black women in a society that regularly denies us joy and beauty. I am acutely aware of how people hate Black women and also want us to hate ourselves. This dehumanization isn’t just emotional and interpersonal but is a foundation on which oppressions such as misogynoir and colourism rest on. There are people invested—deeply in fact—in not only Lupita being invisible but that no one find her beautiful. They’re terrified that the status quo may shift even a little…”
I like this article because it’s about books, and also very much a #WhyiNeedFeminism moment. I agree with the writer’s argument about token PoC female writers and the laughable existence of such a category.
“…The phenomenon, whereby women’s identities and achievements are considered less important than their husband’s role, even when the woman is focus of the story…But while this portrayal of women as wives first and foremost and people second is a widespread problem, the “Grandmother” descriptor goes a step further, combining a definite note of ageism with the sexist angle. Describing a professional woman, in a headline about her professional role, as a “grandmother” isn’t only reducing her to her familial role, but also implies a hint of shock at the idea of older women’s capability. When Jeanne Socrates’s completed a round-the-world sailing trip, headlines dubbed her: “The World’s Most Persistent Grandmother.”…”
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an “Advocate For Youth”.
Apr 1, 2014
History of records of violence against woman is still remains vague as the these crimes remain unexposed and unreported or under-reported due to various social norms, taboos, stigma and other various sensitive factors of subject. And I think it’s the history of the violence against women which is promoting or say is not letting people to stop violence against women.
Old movies of religion, witch and culture was the domain for me to imagine the nature and types of the violence against woman in past. The cases of witch hunting, sexual violence, acid throwing, bride burning and other various cases are the history and also the present of the woman violence in the global scenario. The global record also shows that very less woman in the world is under the physical security. Maximum woman of Africa, Asia and even some of European and American country is listed in the region of less woman physical security region.
Nepal is also listed as the region where there is less physical security of women. Although Nepal is relatively safer among other Asian country the past of ours is also not good. The black era of “सती पर्र्था” was regarded as the culture and the way to reach to the heaven. The cases of violence like burning, physical torture,pre and post marital rape, mental torture, acid burning , forced marriage, stalking, sexual harassment, dowry violence, honor killing, diagnosis planning, witch, and daughter bearing as crime are also the black spot of our history and at some level at some place it’s still the major problem. After the enhancement in the technology, education, and the advocacy even to the micro level of the communities of Nepal, the cases of gender based violence is still being the main social problem of the country. It is existing in our society as the tradition and the social phenomenon. Various international organizations like UNDP, amnesty, Redcross etc.. and various other national level organizations are on this issue and several millions of dollars are already spent on this issue but what is the resistance to reduce the gender discrimination and gender based violence??
These all are the facts that that I had heard about and read about. Now lets move on some facts that I am seeing now. Enhancement in technology in one place playing the role to address those issues to the concerned authority but I find that it is being as the new sources for the reason of such violence as well. With the rise of every new technology, tons of sources to violence is also being arised. Death and suicide attempt due to online sexual harassment, Dating harassment, pre-mature sex violence, rapes is being increasing and I think it’s the result of increasing social networking, enhanced visual electronic devices and movies. Even Several attacks are just as in movies and some are social networking driven. And obviously the lack of regulations and punishment update for such new kinds of crime is also the hollow part in our case.
Analyzing the short period record of the platform created by the group of YUWA during 2011-2013 at http://www.data.yuwa.org.np, the record of gender based violence tagged on different categories like domestic violence, social violence, rape, attempt to rape, murder & attempt to murder, human trafficking, sexual harassment, child marriage, marital rape and etc… are kind of OH MY GOD!!! And further it’s only the records that were exposed to the media and identified by limited number of activist. Now we can easily imagine the present situation on GBV.
In early 2010, one of colleague’s brother’s girlfriend attempt suicide due to facebook issue, one of my aunt is still bearing child and in near future she is giving birth to sixth child of her in the search of boy, one of my neighbor’s bride committed suicide in “sash-bahu” type of argument and my colleague at engineering preparation class committed suicide due to her sex video leakage .Further more I can’t even remember the number cases of street harassment, rape attempt, physical and mental tortures.
These issues are only the representative of the hidden image of our society & untouched by our law. Imagine what will be the condition if all these are brought at one place. No any law and rule can address to each of them and incase of Nepal….NEVER!!! And if we stopped only by letting law to act on each of them we are no more than the bunch of fools. . . . .the fine of 50 rupees for the case of the rape is our law which is even cheaper than cheapest prostitute. What you could expect from such law?
If you are the source of something, you are the one who can stop that. So it’s me and it’s you who have to be aware not only to let crime not happen but not let to originate the situation of crime happen (if you know what I mean to say ).Although then if such thing happens then obviously yes!!!! The law must act upon it such crime as hard as possible to end it from the society, nation and earth.
Mar 31, 2014
The American porn industry: a world of opportunity for both actors and consumers. Everyone wins, right? Actors and actresses with “desired features” have sex and get paid for their performances; meanwhile, consumers happily perpetuate a market with an estimated value of between $10 and $13 billion, which boosts our nation’s economy. By virtue of increased access to pornographic content through the Internet, the industry has permeated American culture so much that the average person views their first pornographic image at the age of 11. Moreover, by 2006, pornographic videos were released on an average of one every half hour.
This is how capitalists would describe the porn industry. They love it because it’s profitable… and it’s also seemingly becoming more “normal.” But while it can be easy to “normalize” the porn industry in light of statistics like the ones above, the porn industry is far from normal. Notably, the actors and actresses who star in pornographic films are subject to abnormal, oftentimes degrading treatment by the same people who consume their products. This fact may not be readily apparent for most of us – how many pornographic actors do we know personally? More than likely, we know none. Porn actors per capita in an arguably moral nation like the U.S. are few; moreover, those who do star in pornography use stage names – most of the time to protect their anonymity. However, for one freshman at Duke University, the struggle to function in society while performing in pornographic films took a serious turn when her anonymity as a porn star was stripped away from her.
Most of America knows her by her stage name, “Belle Knox.” Her real name is Miriam Weeks, but she has only recently divulged her birth name – out of fear. This 18 year-old Duke University freshman has starred in over 30 pornographic films. Weeks has claimed that starring in pornography brings her both confidence and economic stability. On the one hand, Weeks says that as a degree-seeking 18 year-old, no other job could provide her with enough income to pay for her education – a hefty $50,000 per year bill. On the other hand, Weeks states that freely doing pornography is a part of her agenda as a person – she confidently approaches the adult film industry as a way for her to express herself as a woman and to take a stand against the way sex workers are ostracized.
However, after a fellow Duke student “outed” her name to her classmates, Weeks’ struggle as a pornographic actress trying to live a normal life has spiraled. Her ideals and her dignity have been shattered by threats of rape and death, opinions of her perceived economic freedom, critiques of her morality, and objectifications of her body above consideration of her personal ideals. Intense public scrutiny of her aspirations of becoming a respected member of society while working in the porn industry have done an injustice to the human worth of Miriam Weeks and highlight several important problems with the way this country treats sex workers.
By virtue of our technological society, it is much harder for sex workers to remain anonymous. And when these workers are put in the spotlight, our culture’s perpetual stigmatization of their profession leads to many negative, unwarranted responses on a large scale. Disagreeing with sex work is one matter. However, “slut shaming,” often in the form of death threats, rape threats, belittling, bullying, and objectification are unwarranted but present byproducts of being “outed” as a sex worker in our morally conscious culture. While it can be easy for us to think that sex workers have the ability to shrug off degrading comments because of their knowledge of how many people perceive their work, studies have proven otherwise: Extensive literature on the psychological state of sex workers has shown that the suicide rate among sex workers is six times that of the rest of the population. Clearly, these degrading comments are unsurprisingly degrading the mental and emotional state of sex workers at an unconscionable rate.
A second issue at stake for men and women like Miriam Weeks is society’s perception of the true freedom of sex workers. In Weeks’ case, many have argued that the pressure of paying for college has “coerced” the Duke freshman to seek sex work as a means to survive in a country that often prioritizes the value of an education. This is simply not true, according to Weeks, who claims that the money is only one of several reasons why she loves staring in adult films. However, although Weeks has asserted that she feels completely free to choose to do porn, it is not fair to say that all sex workers engage in their work purely out of their own free will. Sometimes, we hear stories of men and women in disparaging economic circumstances, who resort to sex work as a means to stay alive.
But why do some of us instantly typify Miriam Weeks as one of these people who do sex work as a “last resort” – a way to survive economically? Maybe its because when it comes to sex work, many of us are sharply divided on the issue, even though all of us are trained by society to find compassion for others, especially the “marginalized” members of our community (e.g., sex workers, as you probably guessed.) It’s not necessarily our fault: as soon as a conversation about porn starts, so starts the stigma, and instead of believing the possibility that a human being could ever want to do sex work, some of us tell ourselves that the person is just short on money. They’re just getting by until some other opportunity comes up. We excuse them for making the decision to sell their bodies. But when we perceive sex workers collectively as un-free workers, we all too often put words in their mouths. We rob them collectively of the value of their ability to choose. We rob them of their dignity as a rational human being.
Dignity: a word normally not associated with sex workers. But is there any inherent dignity working as a porn star? Miriam Weeks argues that this question is perceived with great bias by a majority of our society. I couldn’t agree more. There is an inherent dichotomy in the ways in which our society thinks about pornography. Although roughly 50% of American citizens freely admit to watching porn regularly, Weeks thinks that society at large has a tendency to shame pornographic actors and actresses publically and professionally while they cannot get enough of it privately. I cannot help but agree with Weeks that this enigma is one of the great plagues of our society. We jerk off with one hand, and we point our fingers with the other.
Breaking down this dichotomy will be a fundamentally challenging but necessary step to search for justice in the many issues surrounding our perception of sex workers. But the struggle for fair treatment of sex workers only begins there. We as a society also need to stop slut shaming as a means of expressing our discontent with someone’s profession. We need to realize that nobody likes being degraded; even if we consider someone derogatory, they are still a human, equally deserving of dignity and respect. Moreover, we need to give back the freedom of choice that we oftentimes take away from sex workers. Instead of being content with telling ourselves that sex workers as a whole are economically disabled, we should work to ensure that all sex workers are economically enabled. We should help those who are not as fortunate as Miriam Weeks and are struggling economically to be able to choose a career just like everyone else.
In closing, I’d like to address that I say “we” throughout this article because this issue affects all of us. Even if you have never watched pornography (I will be a little skeptical of that, but I will take your word for it) or you have not engaged in sex work, I’m sure someone you know has directly or indirectly struggled with the sex-negativity that so pervades our culture. We need to break the stigma surrounding sex work in our society because the reality is that some of us desire to engage in sex work. And no human being deserves to hear that their desires are disgusting.
By: Eric Thomas Roy
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_in_the_United_States#Economics and
Mar 20, 2014
I just came from the movie theatre where I saw Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club. And I’ve gotta say, after the fiasco that was Temptation, I was pleasantly surprised. My advice is, don’t pay attention to the movie reviews and go see it for yourself. The reviews focus more on the technical film-buffy side of things. I mean, I can pick apart a Marvel movie in seconds, but that’s my thing. Plus it’s easier when there’s some kind of a reference material.
Anyhoo, enough blabbering. I’d like to talk not about the movie per se, but about some of the feelings that were brought up by themes within it. This way, I also avoid divulging spoilers. Yay! Win-win!
Quick background –
- 5 moms, all raising their kids singlehandedly
- 1 via sperm donor, 1 whose ex has a “problem”, 1 who got pregnant young, 1 who is a recent divorcee and 1 with an obnoxious ex.
Watching the recent divorcee struggle through litigation I was struck by how awful it must be to suddenly be faced with a horrible ex. What must it be like to meet someone you feel like you want to spend the rest of your life with, get married, start a family, and then a few years down the road when it falls apart, be forced to go through the courts in order to obtain child support.
It’s disgusting frankly, to have to ask a man to cough up the money to raise his children. Wouldn’t a father love his kids enough to want to provide for them without being asked? What kind of a monster would a person be to disregard his children’s wellbeing, choosing instead to cut corners and penny pinch however he can?
I am of the firm belief that women CAN have it all.It’s difficult, but it’s doable, at least to some extent. Watching this strong, business-minded woman get looked down on as if her role as a mother was some sort of weakness, I was so angry. A man would win in the workplace whether he was married or not.
If he’s single, great! He has all the time in the world to focus on work. If he’s married, also great! He’s a family man! *insert weird can-do gesture here* He’s a husband and a father! Must be dependable. No one ever questions whether he will have to leave work early to pick his kids up from school because, pshaw! That’s woman’s work. Rather than commending a woman who has to juggle so much AND work hard at her job, she is made to feel like she has done something wrong by choosing to have a family. It is still very much a man’s world.
I encourage everyone to go see the movie. Go and witness this new direction Tyler Perry is going in and hope that we will never ever see another movie like Temptation ever again.
Mar 14, 2014
I may not know much about Kalki Koechlin, but there are two things I know for sure.
- She cannot dance to save her life and it’s adorable. Exhibit A: “Balaam Pichkari” from Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani.
- She is fiercely outspoken when it comes to women’s rights.
The following video is a piece the bollywood actress performed at the India Today Conclave titled, “The Truths of Womanhood“. It touches on everything from gender roles in history, societal expectations of women, objectification and rape. Her monologue is poignant in all of its shining veracity.
Kalki is also famous for starring in the All India Bakchod viral video titled, “It’s Your Fault”.
Mar 5, 2014
A court in Lebanon has made a historic ruling stating same-sex relations are NOT “contradicting the laws of nature” and cannot therefore be considered a crime. The judge threw out a case brought against a transgender woman by the Lebanese state on January 28, 2014 but only published today.
Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits having sexual relations that are “contradicting the laws of nature,” which is punishable by up to a year in prison. However, Lebanese LGBT organization, “Helem” argued that, “Homosexuality is an exception to the norms but not unnatural… therefore article 534 cannot be used against homosexuals, and therefore, technically, homosexuality is not illegal.”
Moreover, Last year the Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) ruled that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and does not need to be treated. It stated, “The assumption that homosexuality is a result of disturbances in the family dynamic or unbalanced psychological development is based on wrong information.”
The more such rulings happen, the more irrelevant becomes article 534. Baby steps for LGBT rights in Lebanon, but a great step in the right direction. I hope this can be replicated in other Arab states which have similar legislation.
Read more: Link
Feb 21, 2014
Facebook has introduced new gender identity options for users, broadening its selection to 58 options. Here’s a recap of the great and not so great aspects of this move.
- While you now have the ability to self-identify in more diverse ways, Facebook still embraces the gender binary and stigmatizes those that do not fall within this binary. From the drop-down menu you can select male, female, or “custom”. My gender identity is not a magical outlier that needs to be customized.
- Once “custom” has been selected you must begin to type in an identity for suggestions to pop-up, instead of another drop-down menu that lists all options. This is not the easiest design Facebook could have implemented and is difficult for users to fill-in who aren’t familiar with the dozens of gender identities Facebook now allows.
- Facebook is still seriously lacking pronoun options. Users only have three options: he, her, or them. In recent years there has been a rise in other pronoun options becoming common and vernacular, and it would be great for Facebook to validate these.
- Some, including me, would be just as pleased to see Facebook eliminate all gender identity options. Or at the minimum have an option for no response. I respect individuals’ authority to believe in gender and identify in any way they want, but on Facebook you cannot choose your performance and reproduction of gender. For instance, Facebook bombards you with gendered ads that you cannot opt out of.
- So far the new gender identities are only available when using Facebook in English (US). Hopefully, this step forward will be extended to all language platforms soon. It would also be wonderful to see Facebook include linguistic selections for gender identities around the world.
- The inclusion of options has already sparked conversations regarding gender identity. Even introductory conversations on the difference between gender and sex by the masses are monumental.
- Facebook has always been an intuitive and accessible platform. The ease of use has continued for selecting your gender identity option. I especially like that Facebook allows you to separately choose your gender identity and preferred pronouns. So you can list that you identify as a cisgender woman who uses he/him/his pronouns, or any other combination you wish.
- It is refreshing that Facebook included gender identities common within various communities. For example, users now have the option to identify as “two spirit” which has historical and modern relevance among First Nation peoples.
- Equally as exciting is Facebook’s decision to not just add “transgender” as a gender identity, but a spectrum of gender-variant options. Diversifying the “T” reminds folks that transgender is often employed as an umbrella term, and there are dozens of identities within the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.
Feb 17, 2014
I discovered that TED and TEDWomen have never featured a talk on abortion.
…When I asked around, the consensus was that the omission was simply an oversight. But it turns out TED is deliberately keeping abortion off the agenda. When asked for comment, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel said that abortion did not fit into their focus on “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights.”
“Abortion is more of a topical issue we wouldn’t take a position on, any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill,” Stoetzel explained. She pointed me to a few talks on women’s health and birth control, but this made the refusal to discuss abortion only more glaring. In the last three years, the United States has seen more abortion restrictions enacted than in the entire previous decade; the United Nations has classified the lack of access to abortion as torture; and Savita Halappanavar died in Ireland because a Catholic hospital refused to end her doomed pregnancy. Just how is abortion not an issue of “justice, inequality and human rights”?
OPPRESSED MAJORITY (Majorité Opprimée English), by Eleonore Pourriat
“On what seems to be just another ordinary day, a man is exposed to sexism and sexual violence in a society ruled by women.”
What they say: “People are just people.” ”I don’t see color.” ”We’re all just human.” “Character, not color, is what counts with me.”
Response: “Colorblindness” negates the cultural values, norms, expectations and life experiences of people of color. Even if an individual white person can ignore a person’s skin color, society does not.
For all you Americans, lad mags are pornographic men’s magazines. Y’know Hustler, King, Penthouse etc.
This article by Jezebel features a study done by the University of Surrey, on the very thin line between derogatory statements in these magazines, and actual quotes from rapists.
Feb 15, 2014
Valentine’s Day. People seem to have this belief that you need a special someone in your life to validate you with candy and heart shaped stuff or it makes you hyper aware that you are lonely and single.
As women, we are especially prone to thinking we are supposed to feel like we are crazy in love or bitter, while eating a carton of ice cream on our couch feeling sorry for ourselves.
I’m not sure where these expectations of ourselves have evolved from, but I’m here to tell you the best news!!!
Why not love yourself today???
Earlier today, I wrote on my Facebook, something personal:
“Last Valentine’s Day, I didn’t love myself at all. This year, I love myself almost too much! <3 you Bree Bree!”
I think self-love is a beautiful thing. It’s taken me quite some time to realize that I’m awesome! Before, I felt really lonely, I was insecure, weak, doubtful of myself and my abilities and I absolutely hated looking in the mirror. I also relied heavily on someone else to tell me they loved me in order to feel worthwhile and validated.
Looking back at who I used to be and how I used to think of myself is not a great feeling, but I must acknowledge my old way of thinking in order to embrace my new, much happier thoughts!
These past few months, I have learned to be my own best friend, my own love and support system and to me, that’s the best gift I could give myself, ever! I don’t need to feel bad for being single. I surely don’t feel alone. Looking at myself and seeing how far I have succeeded in overcoming depression, self-hate, and sadness is so validating!!!
So, if you have a special partner or you’re flying solo this Valentine’s Day, I highly encourage you to reflect on self-love. Treat yourself to something nice. Why rely on someone else to give you flowers and chocolate when you can do the same for yourself? Why should we feel bad about rewarding and loving who we are?
Love yourself this Valentine’s Day! As a matter of fact, make a vow to love yourself everyday after that, too!!!
As Rupaul always says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Can I seriously get an amen???
Feb 14, 2014
In our mainstream society, we hear lots of messages about the perfect body and the right way to be healthy: that body is thin, toned, and has great boobs and butt/ or a six pack and awesome arms.
Luckily, in reproductive justice movement and other social justice spheres, I hear a lot of counter balancing messages about self-love and self care. I feel lucky getting to be in a subculture that empowers me to love myself and be proud of myself. Not only does this subculture say to love ones self unconditionally, but also it warns against the dangers of talking badly about our bodies, and recommends that we do not partake in “fat/ body shaming” because of the lasting negative mental and emotional impacts this behavior has on our self esteems.
Good on ya reproductive justice – no fat shaming!
But then here comes Valentine’s Day and the floodgates open for a storm of negative talk about our relationship status. My Facebook feed is a barrage of self deprecating comments by my dearly loved and respected peers, alongside posts desperately discussing plans for finding a mate on the Most Important Day for a Relationship Ever.
I ache for these friends and family members; no one should be sad that they are alone, just because there is a special day to remember loved ones. Last time I checked, life isn’t a race, and that includes racing to make sure you’re hooked up in time for a special day. And much like the negative impacts of body shaming, single shaming is bad: it makes us think that we are less worthy humans, that we are unlovable, that we will never find a partner, and most importantly, that we are no good on our own.
So where are our people in the movement telling us its okay to be alone? On my college campus, some groups are doing a great job, with Love Myself Slam Poetry night and Single Folks Valentine’s stations. Thank you – thank you for reminding me to love my solo self.
But at the same time, there is a pervasive message that tells me that I do need a relationship, that I’m missing out on fun to be had with a boo, and that I am not functioning fully in society (just in transition) when I am without a lover.
The worst part is that even in some reproductive health and sexual justice communities this message remains. In the comprehensive sex education curriculum I learned in high school, I was taught that a sexually healthy person is, among other factors, someone who is in a relationship. This class in Colorado wasn’t the only in the country – millions of students receive the message in their classroom that their sexual health is contingent on a partnership. I assume that this messaging is directed to young people in an effort to de-incentivize promiscuity, but really, it sends a message loud and clear that there is something wrong about my identity if I can’t find a mate to make me whole and sexually healthy.
So I say that we need to find a different way of talking to young people about relationships. Are they good? Usually. Are they fun? Often! Will you most likely be in one? Only if you’ve got game (and a LOT of time). Is there something wrong with a person if they find themselves not in a relationship? Under no circumstances is it every wrong or unhealthy to not have a relationship. Even on Valentine’s Day.
Feb 10, 2014
A week ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Creating Change 2014, organized by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Houston, Texas. Although this was my second time attending this conference, my excitement was surprisingly higher than last year’s, thanks to this year’s keynote speaker being Laverne Cox. I have become a huge fan of Cox the moment I saw her on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out big time). Ever since, I started following her on social media and kept up with all of her appearances on TV and in other media outlets. The qualities I admire the most about Cox are her high level of intelligence, exceptional eloquence and fierce poise. I was so lucky to listen to her live during Creating Change’s opening plenary where she delivered a speech that was out of this world. She did not leave a single issue facing the transgender community without mentioning it, especially when it comes to transgender women of color, whom she represents so well. I especially loved the point she raised, saying, “The conversation about trans people in mainstream media has centered on transition and surgery.” Cox explained that limiting our trans conversations to transition and surgery objectifies trans women and does not leave us room to discuss the myriad of pressing issues that face the trans community today. This is exactly what happened on CNN with Piers Morgan a few days ago when he interviewed Janet Mock, who is another incredible trans activist. Instead of focusing on Mock’s newly released memoire “Redefining Realness,” Morgan bombarded her with questions about her physical transition and romance life. The next day, Mock came to his show again to explain how his show attempted to sensationalize her story instead of focusing on the real issues at hand. In her speech at Creating Change, Laverne Cox talked in length about the many injustices trans people, especially trans women of color, face nowadays, including violence, discrimination in the workplace and lack of healthcare access. In Cox’s words, “Healthcare for trans people is a necessity. It is not elective, it is not cosmetic, it is life-saving… But we are more than our bodies.” I remember the entire audience standing up and clapping after she articulated these powerful words.
I truly loved how this year’s Creating Change gave more space for the conference attendees to discuss the issues facing transgender people and learn more about this marginalized community. I personally attended the screening of “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” which is a documentary film about Los Angeles-based trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo. The film is very touching and eye opening to the serious struggles of trans women of color. I also attended a workshop entitled “Transgender People Unite Against Hate and Violence” in which Bamby was one of the panelists. The panel was very informative about the various forms of violence that transgender people experience, not only on the streets and in the workplace, but also at home and from the police. This workshop made me realize that there is not enough data available to us in order to reflect trans people’s struggles, thus making trans activism especially hard. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “of the 25 documented anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2012, 53.8% of the victims were transgender women. [Moreover], transgender people were 1.67 times as likely to experience threats and intimidation, 3.32 times as likely to experience police violence, and transgender people of color were 2.46 times as likely to experience physical violence by the police.” The reality is very sad for trans people, especially trans women of color. But I am so happy that Creating Changed highlighted this community’s struggles and made room for us to share solutions and success stories. There is a lot more we can do, but visibility is a great step in the right direction.
Feb 6, 2014
It’s been decided! If you don’t shoot a shotgun, and don’t watch football, you’re not a “man”. Or at least that’s according to Australian author Nick Adams. Salon reported this story a few weeks back, in which “wussification” is a direct threat to men in America, and even more, a direct threat to national security. Elisabeth Hasselbeck one of the hosts of the Fox and Friends show where the Australian author was preaching his gospel of masculinity asked if the emasculation of men affects national security. Adams said yes of course, because America is a nation of winners and men are winners. And as we all know, only men can be winners….
There are so many problems with this story that even as I watch it now two weeks later, I’m pissed off. In a three minute and forty seconds Nick Adams has essentialized men down to two things (guns and football), and determined for Americans – and he implies for the rest of the world – what it means to be a man. Two things and then the vague statement of “manliness” which is never defined, but seems that it would be very aggressive and require no mental exertion, define manhood.
Well I’m done. I say to hell with his definition of manliness: that’s not me! Because of Nick Adams I decided to start an initiative: The “Real” Man’s Challenge. It’s a place to upload pictures of yourself with a sign, which says what you do that makes you a “real man”.
You can check it out here! So make one, express yourself, feel free to be yourself, and be “manly” in whatever way you feel.
Adams can go back to “wrestling with crocodiles” I’ll take my late thank you very much. Adams is right though, it is a “hard time to be a man”, because all of these bigoted idiots keep telling me what makes me a man.
Jan 31, 2014
Okay. So you’re gay, lesbian, transgender, gender-queer, or maybe even cisgender. The hardest part about it? Coming out to your family and facing the possibility of a multitude of things: rejection, denial, exile.
But it really shouldn’t be that bad. I mean, the GLBTQ community has grown and become waaaaaayyy more notised over the past few years.
Besides, who’s to tell you who you are or reject you for what you want to be? I know it hurts, but hey, in the words of Dahvie Vanity of Blood on the Dance Floor, ‘F*CK THE FAKES!’ They only hate on those from the GLBTQ community due to all of the stereotypes and haters.
I’ve just recently come out publicly as a Transguy. I have yet to come out to my family….. But I have told my older sister…. Wish me luck?
Jan 29, 2014
We teach young men to be prepared, to be assertive, to choose their own destiny. And yet, too often when it comes to making decisions about their reproductive futures we haven’t delivered the message that they need to step up. When 38% of young men have a fatalistic view about contraception’s effect on fertility and pregnancy* or 53% are ambivalent about becoming a father*, it’s clear we haven’t told young men they can play an active role in determining when, how, or if they want to become fathers. (more…)
Jan 29, 2014
I tried really hard to write a post about Beyonce’s Grammy performance and the whole “Eat the cake, Anna Mae” controversy, but as usual, I am too upset to actually put anything into words.
Beyonce frustrates me. Her fans’ insistence on refusing to critique her wrongs frustrates me. I agree she is talented. I agree that her body, and the bodies of other black women, are considered overly sexual in such performances in comparison to their white counterparts. I agree that her all female band is great and illuminates female musicians of color. But I do not agree with the notion that she some kind of a feminist champion. Until she begins to be accountable for her problematic actions and learn from them, I cannot endorse that image.
With that said, here is an article from Colorlines which pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say.
Jan 28, 2014
“And in my favorite recent example, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jay-Z got on the Grammy stage last night and did what conservatives have been dying for someone to do for ages: they made marriage look fun, and sexy, and a source of mutual professional fulfillment. As Caitlin White wrote in her review of Beyoncé’s self-titled album: “She claims female pleasure as pure and grown, something dominant that can coexist with monogamy and marriage and her own status as an artist.” And that’s particularly true of the song Beyoncé and Jay-Z chose for their Grammys collaboration.”
via Think Progress
Jan 23, 2014
Adrian Nava (18 years old) and Scarlett Jimenez (18 years old)
Colorado Youth CREATE Council Members
As educators, advocates, and allies of sexual health, we often ask ourselves why we are still having conversations about the implementation and support of comprehensive sexuality education for young people across the nation. For a lot of us, the issue of reproductive rights and justice is one that hits very close to home. As advocates, our stories and personal experiences hold immense power in our work. They allow us to break down barriers when interacting with others, and to create room for meaningful human connections and a space to share why we are so passionate about the work we do.
We share our stories with the hope that we will create awareness and support for comprehensive sex education. Having personal stories that reflect a lack of inclusion of all sexual orientations, or lack of information about healthy relationships and self–esteem, we – Scarlett and Adrian – understand and are optimal examples of why sexual health education is essential for all youth. During our years in advocacy, we have both been exposed to a world of possibilities, and have actively participated in various levels of advocacy.
From local to national participation, both of us have had the opportunity to express ourselves as young people. During the 2013 legislative session at Colorado’s State Capitol, we were actively involved in advocating for the passage of House Bill 1081, what has become known as Colorado’s “updated sex ed law.” We wanted to make sure that young people’s voices and concerns were included throughout the process. As part of CREATE, a youth advocacy council sponsored by Colorado Youth Matter and Advocates for Youth, we testified in favor of the bill during committee hearings and organized a youth advocacy day, which brought more than 230 youth to the capitol to speak to their legislators about the importance of passing laws that increase access to comprehensive sex education.
I consider myself an advocate not only for programs and policies that promote youth sexual health, but for change founded on social justice principles. As an advocate, a person of color, and someone who identifies as gay, I remember sitting in a crowded 7th grade health class during my glorious awkward pre-pubescent years, asking myself what the ladies at the front of the room were talking about. It turns out that these women were teaching the girls how to say “NO” to males who would only want to have sex with females. I then realized that this uncomfortable discussion was actually part of a “sexual health” class. Yikes! This situation was uncomfortable not only because I did not know what sexual health education looked like, but because I was being targeted as a male. I was expected to insist on having sexual intercourse with women. I was ultimately astonished and speechless at the sexist, and judgmental tone that was being set within a classroom environment.
As a student, I was genuinely eager to learn about what was going on inside of my body and mind. But after much talk about “male and female relationships,” I asked the teachers if it was possible for two boys to be together, and the teachers ignored my question and moved on to talk about the importance of abstaining from having sex.
I began to feel like it was wrong to ask that question – which meant that something about me was wrong, since I was attracted to people of the same gender as me. The following day, my peers and I participated in an activity in which one person was assigned to be a person with “AIDS.” To my surprise, that person was me. I learned later that gay men are stereotyped as having HIV, which only deteriorated my self-esteem and self-love because I was not exposed to positive messages about LGBT people.
My negative experience of feeling ignored and stigmatized in the classroom is the reason I became actively involved in advocacy work for increased access to comprehensive sex education. I was made to feel ashamed of being gay, which harmed my emotional health for a long period of time. I wish I could have received comprehensive, inclusive, medically accurate, age-appropriate information about my body and mind – but I didn’t.
However, just because my school did not provide me with that education, it does not mean that future generations should not have access. I am completely in love with my advocacy work and impacting my generation, for the better. I find empowerment through making my voice heard and mobilizing young people to speak about and advocate for their sexual health.
I am an advocate for comprehensive sex education and reproductive rights and justice for young people, because I believe that the issues at hand should be considered as part of our basic human rights. I believe that young people should have the right to have access to accurate information about their bodies. Furthermore, youth deserve the opportunity to develop the life skills that are included in comprehensive sexuality education. I believe that my high school experience would have been a much happier and more successful time had that been included as part of my education.
On a daily basis, young women are bombarded with highly sexualized messages from the media that dictate the social norms. I think that it is absolutely essential for young women to learn that these messages are disempowering and are not actual expectations of women. All youth, regardless of their gender, deserve to hear that they are much more valuable than the media depicts them. High school is such a hectic and overwhelming stage for teens. Oftentimes, teens do not receive much needed positive and empowering messages about themselves or young people in general. I know that for myself, low sense of self-worth and a lack of basic sexual health information and the ability to communicate with my partner led me into an unsafe relationship and a very hard time in my life.
I am an advocate for comprehensive sexuality education, and all that it entails, because now I have a vision for future generations. Creating access to comprehensive sex education can inform and support youth to be empowered, inclusive, educated, compassionate, communicative, strong, and driven by their identified passions and goals.
Jan 22, 2014
(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)
President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.
“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.
The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”
Jan 21, 2014
Okay, my first post. But there’s something I wish to address!
It involves being transgender and the stereotypes involved-People assume by my dress that I’m a dyke, or butch…. An they act like if they talk to me, they’ll become trans too…… It upsets me. My only true best friend right now is music….. You know that stuff that makes you feel good through the heavy drums and guitar? That’s my feel good music….. My only friend… My other friends, the human ones, half accept me, half don’t talk to me much. I’m completely sure it’s cause I’m Trans.
But acting like transgenders are a plague? Heck, no! I’m just so distraught.
Anyone feel the same?
PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT THE PNLY ONE!
Jan 13, 2014
When I’m in feminist/activist spaces I’m always hesitant to voice my concerns on discourses on and about white feminism and white-savior complexes. As a radical feminist (I’ve decided I’m beyond progressive), I think that sometimes these notions are not fully explored. As a woman of color, raised by women of color, white women always belonged in that social-worker box for me (trust there is no shortage of white women there). In college these women took on a different role, they were the “bearers of knowledge,” they were my professors. However, learning about and from white women played a crucial role in my educational attainment and the cultivation of the activist I have become. Don’t get it twisted for 2.0 seconds, I will call a white feminist on her power and privilege in a second, but I believe that in this movement there is more work to do. Yes this means work for us women of color, and I’m starting by acknowledging the roles that white women have played in my life good or bad.
In college I was a part of a program called the Higher Educational Opportunity Program (HEOP), which was the crucial to my success and graduation from Syracuse University. This program financed my education but also provided the social-emotional support fundamental to my survival in the institution. My academic counselor, Marian, provided this support. When I first met Marian, I did not completely understand how our relationship would work. For starters she was a white woman. Secondly, I was expected to meet with her frequently and talk about stuff. Again, I did not see how this was going to work. To my surprise, I would grow to love her, and love her hard. I recently had a conversation about “chosen families.” Basically they are families that you are not born into but ones that you create who love and accept you as if you were family. I’ve built a chosen family, not by choice but out of survival. Lately, I’ve been interrogating my support systems and how they have helped me healed. Today, I explored my chosen-mother, who ironically has the same first name as my biological mom who passed away when I was one. Her name is Marian, and she is not only a support but also an integral part of my activist work.
As I stated before, I initially wasn’t hip to this relationship. That would change. For a while I developed a color-blind ideology with Marian, not because I wanted to assume a level playing field, but it made it easier for me to love her. Institutionally and personally, white women had been connected too much of the pain that I experienced growing up, whether intentionally or by solely being ABSENT and a figment of my imagination. So if I could see this person that I had come to know and love as “just like me,” I would not have to acknowledge this trauma. But in the same ways I did not want to acknowledge these differences, Marian did. She didn’t do it in ways like my peers, unbeknownst of their privilege, but in ways that said “my whiteness has colored my experiences and those of my colleagues in a ways much different than yours and that I MUST acknowledge.”
I never felt compelled to teach her about my oppression although I often did…..
In academic/activist spaces many of us feel that we need to tell white folks the 411, and we have learned that this can lead to secondary trauma, serious burn-out and a path to no where. I re-learn this lesson everyday. However, I never felt that I needed to “put Marian on” to the daily wrath of oppression that I was experiencing. First, she had heard it for years before I became her student and secondly her and other counselors made it their business to know about the challenges their students were facing. I was taken aback about the fact that Marian never used “disparity” language and flat out named the systems as they were: racist, sexist and classist. She also provided me with a space to be unrelenting and unapologetic about my past and present experiences. As a social worker in training, I can attest to the fact that I would lay on the biographical trauma that is my life real thick on a snowy Wednesday. She never silenced me and would even move her other appointments when I was in crisis.
She wasn’t interested in “saving me”….
As a white woman who is an academic counselor to “economically and academically” disadvantaged students it is easy to see how one could apply the white-savior trope to someone like her. Don’t, I’d straight up fight you. Perhaps the most important thing that I learned from HEOP, was how to save myself. It was first by learning that it was not my fault! That because I did not look like 80% of the incoming class, did not mean I did not belong there. In fact, it was her pushing and believing in me when I felt I could not believe in myself. She always held me accountable for my actions. I did not feel accountable to her because she was my “academic counselor” or a person in power; it was because of her love and her belief in my talents that gave me no other choice. Imagine a world where love and solidarity, make us hold each other accountable.
She understood that my education was more than coursework…
At some point in college I became a community activist and campus leader. These things became just as important as my Women’s Studies courses and my organic chemistry classes. At 19, a fellow classmate and myself, decided to build a grassroots organization for girls in Syracuse from the ground up. We had people that doubted us, one most embedded in my memory, a white woman in the community service field. Marian backed my project emotionally and financially. She connected me with community resources and found ways for me to use my education at Syracuse to support my social entrepreneurship. She helped me be the BOSS I was destined to be. She understood that the work I did on and off campus fed-me intellectually in ways that the classroom could not.
She pulled me by my the “bootstraps” til’ completion…
Lets be real…some of us do not make it unfortunately. Although I will have you know, HEOP students have a 6.5% higher graduation rate than the national average. There are a host of things that keep young people from completing their education. These include financial barriers, academic rigor, institutional and interpersonal oppression, and lack of support. I’d say while all are extremely important, it is almost impossible to get through college without support. For an orphan like me hailing from the then poverty stricken and violence-infested neighborhood of Bed-Stuy (now up & coming = read gentrifying) this could not be more true. However for me, the perils that would impede on my education became even more real while at college. In my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, that caused me to visit the hospital over 20+ times. As much as I want to stand on a soapbox and tell students with chronic illnesses that you can do it because I did, I know that I did not get through this by myself. Without the unwavering support of friends, family, professors and Marian the completion of my degree would have not been fulfilled in the time it did. I say she pulled me by bootstraps, because it was just that. She pulled me by something I did not have, she pulled me from nothingness. She nursed me to back to emotional health when I had to accept taking an extra semester to finish what I had started. She forced me to put my pride aside, value my worth and be unapologetic about both my abilities and differently-abledness. She worked above and beyond her job description.
We all have different experiences, many of them traumatic; I try to stay away from twitter for that exact reason. But some of us have had positive experiences that may act as a glimmer of hope into a feminist future. I am a more fearless and unapologetic person because of her. When I am in a room of white women, I am unafraid. I hold white women accountable, because I know it is not impossible to be in solidarity with them, and even more to love them and them love me. In 2014, I am calling for a feminism that radically shifts the divisions and adjective-feminism (Transnational feminism, hip-hop feminism, Muslim feminism, etc.) that we know and embrace today. I am calling for the one that is affirming of our multiple identities, positions of power and experiences of oppression. I am calling for a feminism that allowed this Black girl from Bed-Stuy to learn to love a white woman, and call her my chosen-mother. However, this post isn’t about hope or solidarity, it is about my unwavering and unapologetic love for a woman, that because of all things wrong and oppressive in this world, I had to learn to love! And I do and will forever love her!
Jan 10, 2014
Happy New Year Amplify Family! I hope that this year brings you all everything that you have been searching for.
I bring you an exhibit in the case study of male dominated society. A commercial for a women’s product that focuses more on a man.
This is not the first time it’s been done.
Usually it’s cutesy stuff like the Libra ads. A man who is clueless about “woman things” and uses them in the wrong way. This Summer’s Eve commercial however, literally turns the man into a douche. Get it? He uses the douche and becomes a douche? *insert forced laughter* Yeah. I don’t buy it either.
I’m not sure if I want to laugh at his insecurity, or be mad about the fact that the woman isn’t even the subject of a commercial for a product FOR WOMEN. One commenter on the AdFreak website commented on some of the subtleties portrayed in the TV spot – “…All I saw was that nothing is more horrifying or shameful than being a woman. In an ad for a feminine hygiene product (hilarious, do men need a special soap for their testicles?) in which the tagline is Hail to the V (because using the word “vagina” is somehow worse than showing a topless man in the shower,) no respect is paid to the “V” or it’s owner, a person who barely appeared in the spot. The ad said women are pariahs and contamination requires an elaborate purge and purification…”
How funny is traditional masculinity though?
Jan 7, 2014
Drunk in Love = Safe in Love?
A few weeks ago, Beyonce quietly dropped an album (thanks for being awesome #QueenBey), and a hit single “Drunk in Love” is blaring from every angle. Corner stores, cars on the highway, my dentist’s office. You name it, and “Drunk in Love” is on everyone’s playlist. While the entire album is well received by her audience, “Drunk in Love” raises a bigger question about the role of sobriety in sexual encounters.
As a third-year college student in America’s biggest college town, I’ve seen and heard all the effects of alcohol in sexual encounters.
“It makes flirting easier.” “It makes cumming faster.” “It makes talking smoother.”
Easier. Faster. Smoother.
Things alcohol does to your hook-up/sex life (because not all hook-ups involve sex). Sounds good, right? But, then glance over at the role of alcohol in sexual violence and the role of alcohol in America’s rape culture, especially among young people. While there is no direct correlation between alcohol and sexual violence, is there a safe way to be drunk during sex and, of course, during love?
For Beyonce and Jay-Z, one of the most powerful couples in the entertainment industry, their marriage seems like something out of utopia: a child, money, love, fame, etc.
But most couples aren’t like this. In fact, how many women can say that they completely trust their partner when they are drunk? How many times are women left feeling comfortable in their vulnerability and sexuality with their partner?
That’s what struck the most in this song. Beyonce feels safe enough to trust Jay-Z when they’re both drunk. And that’s actually so rare. Society places so many preconceived notions of sex and alcohol, especially on the role of alcohol to get women drunk for sex. With sex comes vulnerability and trust, the trust to be with someone during your most intimate moments and the vulnerability to linger with your most intimate thoughts.
While “Drunk in Love” represents a part of a relationship rarely depicted in media, I would like to see other women feel more safe and secure in their relationships, sober or not.
Jan 3, 2014
Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights
Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.
That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.
But there may be a shift on the horizon.
Dec 31, 2013
After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion. This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans. What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest. And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay. So, what’s to become of that 52%? What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need? We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people. It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need. It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.
Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this. Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:
“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.
What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.
This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.
Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”
But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”
Dec 29, 2013
In my early adolescence, I spent a lot of time at rehearsals. Dance rehearsals, vocal rehearsals, theatre rehearsals, the list goes on. I spent most of my preteen and teenage years in dance studios and on stages, being picked at and prodded. So, of course, when I watched the video “Pretty Hurts” on Beyoncé’s new self-titled visual album (short freak-out- YES!! PERFFFF), I related on a seriously deep level.
The entire song and video, “Pretty Hurts” is a take-down of beauty standards our society has and how they can be detrimental to our women. The ‘perfect’ woman is often seen as having straight blonde hair, tall, slim, fair, and dainty. This is Eurocentric, and these standards and expectations can lead to assimilation, self-hatred, and just nasty stuff.
In my own personal experience, I never really looked much like my friends. I was always the first one to be pointed out, and I was often addressed by physical characteristics rather than my name. I wasn’t white, I wasn’t tall, I wasn’t petite, the list goes on.
Being in an entertainment industry, I was often reminded of this. I lost out on roles that again and again went to the more stereotypical ‘pretty’ girl. I remember I was in a winter musical; I got an old costume that used to be one of my friend’s, and when I tried it on, it didn’t even fit over my bum. My theatre instructor told me I needed to eat a little less and shed some pounds, because I needed to fit into that skirt like my friend did before the show date.
In the video for “Pretty Hurts”, Beyoncé portrays a pageant woman (as she was in the past) that struggles throughout the video with trying to fit the script of ‘pretty’ by taking pills, exercising excessively, getting botox, and vomiting in a bathroom. The entire video she is trying to fit into a set of beauty standards that are suffocating her, quite literally, and then she still loses (to one of her more fair-skinned counterparts, may I note). We see her wreck a room of her trophies and crowns, scream and break her level-headed demeanor, and basically lose her sh#$. It’s only after this at the very end of the video that we see her wash off all of the makeup, take out her hair, look in the mirror, and give the most authentic smile of the video yet.
When I was younger, I tried everything to look ‘pretty’. I wanted to look more like my friends that got the lead roles; I wanted to fit in when I went out with them. So, one summer, I decided to do everything I could to become more fair-skinned. I didn’t go out during the day unless absolutely necessary (covered in pounds of sunblock and clothing), I covered myself in lighter colored foundations and powders, I did everything within reach of my little thirteen-year-old hands. I became depressed, I developed an eating disorder, and I truly hated myself. I was told again and again that I would never make it in the industry, could never be a ballerina because I was too dark and too fat, could never be a singer because my nose drew too much attention. Only when I pulled myself out of that environment and took a long couple of months to myself (and counseling) did I realize that beautiful is not just one thing. It can’t be.
Beyoncé does a wonderful job of ripping these notions to shreds while admitting her own struggle with trying to adhere to them. I saw myself in so many different parts of this video and song, it felt like she read my diary. This song is a beautifully written critique of the unrealistic Eurocentric beauty standards that are ever present in entertainment industries and elsewhere. Queen Bey ends the song with this phrase, “When you’re alone all by yourself and you’re lying in your bed, reflection stares right into you; Are you happy with yourself?”
Beyoncé is unafraid, strong, flawed, and she is starting dialogue and leading us in the right direction.
Yes, Beyoncé. I’m happy with myself – most days – but I wasn’t always. It’s a struggle, and it will continue to be, but the more artists in the spotlight that are diverse and beautiful in everything they do and are (just like you), the easier it will get.
Dec 27, 2013
I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on. And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention. I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.
While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves. I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational. Oh, and guess what? Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.” There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime. Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue. There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.
I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website. It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share. There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting. Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though. An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:
Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…
What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?
How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?
There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series. East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast. And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into. For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.
Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color. Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious. From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:
At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…
We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.
We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.
Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended. Please use the number to the opposite.
(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)
Dec 21, 2013
And read the report itself here.
Dec 16, 2013
“It’s a monumental over ask to expect women to be gentle with the egos of men who only feigned friendship in order to get laid.” – No One is Entitled to Sex: Why We Should Mock the Nice Guys of OkCupid
Dec 10, 2013
[tumblr source: sarahlynne3713]
Dec 4, 2013
The #FeminismIsForTeenMomsToo hashtag was created to both raise awareness and stimulate a much-needed dialogue on the shame and stigma of being a teen mom in our current society. I’ve been swept away, pushed aside, and disregarded as a teen mom and my many issues of concern have been entirely excluded from the mainstream feminist movement.
While the hashtag made over 900K impressions, I can barely see through the fog of negativity that we, as teen moms, must navigate through. Is my life going to be spent trying to convince other feminists that teen parents deserve respect?
This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken about teen pregnancy and teen parenthood, nor was it the first time for many of the women who joined the discussion on Twitter yesterday, but our voices are too often erased from conversations or manipulated to fit agendas.
My fellow teen mom activist, Gloria Malone, shared this thought on the issue:
“For too long teenage mothers have been used as tokens, cautionary tales, scapegoats, appropriated, spoken for, spoken over, edited out of conversations, and so much more because of the stigma that feminism claims to fight against… but is okay with when it comes to pregnant and parenting teens. We’ve had enough. Our voices are multi-dimensional, valuable, and can speak for themselves.”
Teen mothers are shunned, shamed, stigmatized, and stereotyped. So I must ask, what is mainstream feminism doing to amplify the voices of teen mothers and fight for our justice?
When our rights are violated, our children dehumanized, and our lives are turned into a prevention campaigns, where are our mainstream feminist allies to stand beside us?
How will you help end the cycle of shaming and stigmatizing teen mothers?
Want to read more?
-About two years ago, I created another hashtag, #ThingsAYoungMomDoesntWannaHear, to show people the types of negativity and bitterness young mother face on a regular basis.
-A few months ago, I collaborated with 5 other young parents and a coalition of organizations across the country to call out the Candie’s Foundation’s stigmatizing ad campaigns.
Dec 3, 2013
Is the lack of female characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr, Hyde odd?
No, of course not!
The lack of female characters in the book is not odd at all considering the time period in which the story takes place. The setting is London sometime during the 1800’s. During that time period, women were not respected as they are in today’s society. The only time women had jobs were if they were a schoolteacher or a maid, in addition to being a mother and housekeeper. Women were inferior to men and there was no exception. Men were apparently smarter, trust worthier, stronger and able to handle more than delicate, not intelligent, only good to look at, have babies and cook, women. It does not surprise me that there are no strong, intelligent females in the book because during that time period, women were not important and this theme is not only apparent is Robert Louis Stevenson’s novels but all British literature of the time. This theme exists because the writing of authors is generally a reflection of the time and values in which the work was written.
I wish that things were different and that the classic works of the amazing novelists of the time had a strong female lead throughout the stories. I think that instead of bashing the authors for their misogynistic and heteronormative writings, that we should focus our fight on the people that choose what a “true classic novel” is. Because they are the people that choose the strong man and weak wife stories to be told over and over again.
Dec 1, 2013
As the school semester comes to a close and I’m forced to go back through my notes and study for finals, I’m really thankful that I decided to sign up for my women’s studies class that examines women and the ways they’ve influenced comedy. Any class that focuses solely on the accomplishments of women and the ways they’ve been historically oppressed is a “must take” in my book because I think it’s important for all of us to know how certain people in our society have been marginalized. That being said, it still amazes me how many women in today’s society still refuse to utter the words, “I’m a feminist”. Yes, feminism has its downfalls and shortcomings, just like any movement we’ve failed in some aspects and succeeded in others. The most amazing thing though, is that women are holding women back. For this same class, I had to write my final paper on a film and analyze it from a feminist perspective. So, I chose Mean Girls (2004) and spent about a week watching and taking notes on the film, trying to fit it into the different theories and categories of feminist film I learned about when I came to the conclusion that Mean Girls isn’t really feminist friendly. Sure, it satirizes high school girl world and show us all what idiots we were when we cared about being popular, but the amount of girl-on girl hate present throughout the film is actually nauseating. That being said, I wonder how many people have watched this film and thought, “omg I hate girls” or “girls are so catty”. The crazy thing is….we’re not. We’re portrayed through film that way, in addition to television and it reinforces this idea in society that women will do anything (short of pushing someone in front of a bus) in order to get the guy or be the “Queen Bee”. Come on ladies, is this what we really want people to think about us?
I don’t know, maybe I’m overreacting and maybe there’s a funny factor in all of this, but I think women keep letting this humor slide and they just take it as the way things are. Do guys do that though? Do we see men competing with men in the same fashion, breaking “bro code” and claiming that they hate other guys? I’ve never heard a guy react like that, I’ve only seen them stick together and team up against other women when they call them “sluts” and “whores”.
Now, to get to my point, I think feminism is important for young girls today and women in general. I don’t understand what’s so wrong about it or taboo…I mean how did we get this reputation of being crazy, bra burning hippies that want to ruin families and kill babies? Okay, maybe I do understand how that comes right out of Women’s Liberation, but the truth is women need women. If we don’t care about our condition and place in society, why would men? Don’t we want our daughters and little sisters to grow up thinking they can do anything they set their minds to? Don’t we want to live in a society and environment where women support women instead of tear them down for the affections of some loser? I think what really gets me is when women say they aren’t feminists because they don’t hate men. Yeah, neither do we because feminism isn’t about MEN it’s about WOMEN and it’s about appreciating what’s feminine as strong, powerful, and beautiful.
Nov 25, 2013
Dinora, are you really a lesbian?
Dinora, are you sure you don’t like boys?
Dinora, you haven’t meet the right guy yet, give it time.
You’re too pretty to be a lesbian.
You don’t look like a lesbian.
I constantly hear those comments from every guy I meet or become friends with. It’s foolish. I didn’t know you had to be ugly to be a lesbian?
First off, nobody is ugly, everybody is different. And second, just because I’m “pretty” doesn’t mean I have to like guys. Now-a-days, people believe that “pretty” lesbians are only lesbians because some guy ruined it for the next one. That is incorrect. I like girls because they attract me and I can connect with them on a level I can not connect with a guy. I still find guys cute, but they are just not who I want to date or see myself marrying.
I guess I have to wear baggy jeans and big shirts and hats and sneakers to let everyone know I’m a lesbian. NOT ALL LESBIANS DRESS LIKE THAT. Actually, everyone dresses differently. Some people are comfortable wearing this, while others are comfortable with wearing that. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.
It absolutely irks me when someone says its a phase or I need to get out there more and not be scared to talk to guys. I feel as if they’re taking me as a joke or look at me as if I’m stupid. NO!
The sad thing is, what if a lesbian doesn’t get told “she’s too pretty” to like girls? She’ll most likely start thinking she’s ugly, and that will bring her self-esteem down.
People don’t realize how words and stereotypes can affect people. Even though I’m being told I’m pretty, it hurts me to know that people don’t take me serious.
The best thing to do is to ignore the ignorant comments, but how long till it all explodes?
Nov 25, 2013
(original image by The Stigma Project)
We are a grassroots organization that aims to lower the HIV infection rate and neutralize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through education and awareness via social media and advertising. The Stigma Project seeks to create an HIV neutral world, free of judgement and fear by working with both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or background.
Social media has rapidly become one of today’s largest mediums of news, culture, and education. We hope to embrace that with effective campaigns each season that bring awareness to the current state of HIV. Please, whether you’re HIV-positive, negative, or you don’t know (and should), we need your help. Ask your friends to join us in starting a revolution: an “HIV Neutral” revolution. Like us, Share us, Re-tweet us. The more people we reach, the more effective our project. The more successful our mission. YOU can make a difference.
The Stigma Project seeks to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS on a global scale, through awareness, art, provocation, education and by inspiring a spirit of living “HIV Neutral.”
The Stigma Project seeks to create an “HIV Neutral” world, free of judgment, fear, discrimination and alienation by educating both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life about the constantly evolving state of the epidemic. We seek to reduce the HIV infection rate through knowledge, awareness, and effective marketing and advertising. Ultimately we see a future where the world is free of HIV/AIDS.
I’ve already posted this image before but without credit to the original poster, so here it is! I’ve also added information about this organization!
Nov 21, 2013
Reposted by the author from an original post on the Harvard College Women’s Center blog.
After a brief hiatus from the music industry, artist Lily Allen is back on the scene with a critique of her peers in her new music video “Hard Out Here.” In the video, Allen is obviously trying to satirize the standard “Robin-Thicke-and-Miley-Cyrus” approach to Top 40. The video begins with Allen lying on a surgery table, about to undergo liposuction. Her manager is standing by, equipped with his Blackberry, informing her of the nighttime TV hosts who’ve turned her down. He looks down at her body on the operating table with disgust, muttering, “How could someone let themselves get like this?” Allen responds pragmatically, “Uh, I had two babies…”
In this scene, I’m totally on board with Allen–women’s bodies are policed in the media in ways that are unfair and irrational. When a woman like Allen has a body that has undergone pregnancy and birth twice, why is this not celebrated (and instead, criticized)?
The pop culture site Idolator claims that Allen “saves pop music” with this music video. A Yahoo article praises her for satirizing so much of the blatant body-shaming and sexism that exists in the music industry (“Go Lily!”). But the question is, does she go deep enough in her critique?
As the video progressed, I began to take issue with some of Allen’s props and lyrics. I’m going to give Allen and her management team the benefit of the doubt, assuming for the purpose of my own critique that these choices were made with the best intentions. Despite these intentions, however, in her attempt to satirize, Allen still managed to alienate.
The video cuts to black women twerking (a la Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”), an obvious parody of the use of black women as props in pop music videos. This is where I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. While Allen may not have intended to dehumanize and objectify the women of color twerking in her video, she succeeded in doing so anyways–using these women’s bodies as twerk spectacle only serves to further isolate them and fetishize them as “Others” who don’t deserve to be named or identified, who are not on the same level as the white women singing in front of them. It’s hypocritical, but not necessarily in an ironic or satirical way–to me, Allen’s piece reads as mimicry of racist tropes in pop music that do not need to be perpetuated, even “ironically” or with good intent. As Keli Goff from The Root explains, “If Allen really wanted to make a statement about sexism, sexual exploitation and racial exploitation in the music industry, then a real satire might have included a bunch of scantily clad white males writhing around as alcohol is poured over them. Instead of satire, Allen merely perpetuated the status quo.”
Allen’s lyrics can also be read as implicitly racist; is she criticizing black hip hop culture when she says, “I won’t be bragging ’bout my cars or talking ’bout my chains / Don’t need to shake my ass for you ’cause I’ve got a brain?” These kinds of subtle jabs have hit a nerve with black feminists, as evidenced by the controversy surrounding Lorde’s song “Royals.”
I sat down to watch this after seeing it on PolicyMic with the headline, “Lily Allen’s ‘Hard Out Here’ Video Will Make Feminists Proud.” As a feminist of color, I wouldn’t say that my reaction was one of pride, but rather, one of discomfort. It’s catchy, but confusing. Her director wasn’t even willing to call the video a critique, which indicates some misguidedness or some unclear objectives. I respect Allen for her decision to critique some of the oppression and injustice that is found in the music industry (“Inequality promises that it’s here to stay / Always trust the injustice ’cause it’s not going away”), but I’m unwilling to just accept it at face value without raising concerns of race and privilege. It’s “hard out here” for some of us, but maybe not as hard for you, Lily Allen.
Nov 19, 2013
(original photo and post by GLAAD)
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This year, the day is November 20th, 2013.
- An average life span for a trans person is 23 years
- 238 reported cases of murdered trans people happened within the year
- An estimated 78% of transgender people have experienced harassment or mistreatment at work due to their gender identity
Nov 9, 2013
Just in case we were all unaware or had perhaps forgotten that a lot of men are insecure, little, princesses, here is a reminder. Traditional masculinity is so fragile that it is threatened by the mere notion of ingesting probiotics. It has happened comrades, there is yogurt for men now. Yes. Yogurt created and marketed specifically towards men. Excuse me while I throw my head back and laugh.
First it was the “AXE Shower Tool” because manly men couldn’t handle using a regular loofah. I mean, what’s more emasculating than that? Not only did the tool cost more than a regular loofah, but it was also pretty much a regular loofah with extra plastic and the word AXE stamped onto it.Now this spectacle.
And let’s not even talk about the unnecessary sexualization going on here. It’s just yogurt guys. Why are women with phallic objects necessary to entice you into exercising and eating well? Why must life be one long, uninspired porno? Do you really think that the women in the photo would be attracted to someone who needs to eat a yogurt branded as ‘powerful’ in order to feel worthy of the junk between his thighs? Gender stereotypes are overrated. Get over yourself and go buy yourself some Müller or Giant brand yogurt. There are so many choices out there. But of course the world revolves around you and we must all pause once in a while to think up ways to make you feel like you’re the king of the jungle.
Dudes, get your ish together please.
Nov 4, 2013
Here at Advocates for Youth, my job is to focus on engaging young men in sexual and reproductive health. This means highlighting the young men already doing excellent work to influence their peers and it also means helping others improve their work with this demographic. It’s hard to explain exactly what so many different guys are experiencing as they come of age in America today – the pressures, the inconsistent messaging about who we’re supposed to be and how, or the insecurities we might feel but are rarely able to voice. (more…)
Nov 1, 2013
I recently had an interesting experience at a party while I was on the dance floor. It inspired me, and this is the result!
Nov 1, 2013
Oct 31, 2013
I recently got a job cleaning at a bearing store and, let me tell you, it is not easy. I work my tail off making that place as presentable as I can. After my first day, people complimented me on my work and said they saw a noticeable difference. The point is, the other day the president of the company comes in and told me I was doing a good job. He said he knew I’d be the right hire because he figured I’d “clean like a woman.” I still can’t believe he said that to a 17 year old girl. I get that he thought he was being nice, but I was really offended.
Oct 31, 2013
Oct 29, 2013
“Of course, the ultimate moment of being Female in Public comes when a woman, deep in thought, is told by a strange man to SMILE. (And this happens only to women.) Gentlemen, let’s get this straight. There is no part of my body that belongs to you, not even my facial expression. Stop trying to stake out territory there, whether by legislation or verbal imperative. Plus, it never produces the desired effect.” – Laura Lippman in Female in Public
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 24, 2013
Superheroines like the Black Widow, Wonder Woman, Storm and Jean Grey to fight other fictional villains who occasionally plague the human citizens of the world. But who will fight the infuriatingly realistic battles against misogyny, sexism and the like? Enter the Burka Avenger!
I came across this comic on Tumblr. As you can tell, it’s pretty terrific! The heroine’s name is Qahera and she goes around taking names and kicking the butts of those who dare to treat Muslim women as though they cannot speak for themselves.
Not surprisingly, FEMEN, the subject of the comic above, posted it on their site along with the following commentary,
New Islamic oppressive propaganda creation realized in comics was proposed to the public recently.The Muslim superhero Deena Mohammed’s Qahera who is burka-clad superhero who aims to destroy “all the ridiculous dehumanising stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed and helpless.”
In one of the comic the burqa superhero lashes out against FEMEN activists, the topless female protestors. Says Deena: “I absolutely dislike their ideologies. I think they represent a significant mentality that only recognises a certain form of liberation (their own); along with dehumanising Muslim women and reaffirming colonial white-saviour attitudes.”
Well, FEMEN is proud to be in opposition to some oppressive Islamic traditions, such as covering women with burqa. Such comic is an alarm to the world to stand up. Even in painted comics they leave to women inly eyes, covering her body completely. Burqa can’t be a choice of women until in many countries of the world women are obliged to cover themselves being threaten for punishment instead. Woman is not “a sac of shame”! Islam is not a source of morality but source of oppression and violence!
Talk about missing the point entirely.
A Muslim woman has made this fantastic comic detailing FEMEN’s problematic nature and the organization responds by calling it oppressive islamic propaganda. If the women you profess to be liberating say they don’t want or need to be liberated, who exactly do they think they’re fighting for by refusing to see truth and forging forward? Seriously, FEMEN is bordering on PETA-esque behavior. Runway incident anyone? It’s pretty disgusting really.
Oct 24, 2013
Oct 21, 2013
I use Google everyday. Its convenience, its accuracy, and its unheard-of honesty are all things I admire and appreciate on a daily basis. My love for Google, however, became strained as of October 18th, 2013. That was the day I learned of a UN Women campaign aimed at confronting sexism globally. Using Google’s autocompletion feature, phrases such as “women shouldn’t…” and “women can’t…” were searched, revealing the most popular results. While I braced myself for stereotypes and double-standards, these ads proved a far worse truth: sexism is rampant, and even Google knows it.
“Women shouldn’t have rights.”
“Women need to be controlled.”
“Women cannot be trusted.”
“Women should be slaves.”
I wish I were making this up. But instead, we once again are forced to see firsthand just how volatile the war on women is. In order for these results to pop up first, they have to be searched with an unbelievable amount of frequency. So just how many people search these on a daily basis? How many people felt Google could lead them to an answer for these problems?
I think this powerful campaign is a great example of why we need feminism. If you ask me why I am a feminist, I’ll tell you that there is work to be done. I am a woman who does not want to be controlled, a slave, deprived of her rights, or distrusted, simply because of my gender. Thank you, Google, for reminding me just how harsh society can be, and yet refueling my fire to fight for change. I am a woman who stands by, with, and for women.
Oct 10, 2013
As a young (fashionable (I hope)) student at an inner-city school, I hear the song and dance about walking to get food from down the street constantly. Honestly, the catcalls are annoying, but I think the stares are soul-crushing. When I go to adults such as teachers, administration, etc. I keep hearing the same thing.
“It’s because of what you’re wearing.”
What I was wearing allows men and women to stare, make comments, and even follow me? So I was asking for it? Wow, just when I thought old men sitting around a table should stop talking about what I can and cannot do with my body, I am now being told to stop wearing t-shirts and jean shorts because it gives strangers the right to harass me.
A comment made by administration towards why we had the dress code was “The way you dress can attract unwanted attention.” I’d like to state that while our dress code nails the girls with strap regulation, short length the guys can’t show their underwear. That’s all for them.
Shout out to anyone who has never been caught on dress code because you probably have more skills than me with wardrobes.
My fellow ladies and non-binary members of the community, even the men whom I know can be harassed, I believe this has to be a larger issue. What gives people the right to comment on others?
Peace out, my fellow humans, and may the force be with you.
Oct 8, 2013
“But it’s 2013!” you say, “not the freakin’ suffrage movement. Women have the right to vote now. They don’t have to be housewives. We’re all equal now”
Umm, no. If the truth wasn’t so sad I might actually laugh at the idiocy of that assumption. We are nowhere near equality. Have you failed to notice the attempts of grown, white men to keep women from making reproductive choices? Who was that douche who tweeted a link to wholesale hangers, asking women to go stock up? Y’know because we’d need them once abortions became illegal.
The image above covers some of the common gender inequalities faced by women daily – sexual activity, being opinionated etc. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s depressing to think about the fact that women almost never come out on top no matter what we do. We are judged by nonsensical assumptions about our gender instead of our intelligence, hard work, true personalty etc.
So my question is, what can we do to push back?
Comic: “Why Feminism is Important: A PSA” by Ameorry
Oct 7, 2013
(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)
How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.
Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.
Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Oct 7, 2013
If you’re a cosplayer or con goer, you might know who Yaya Han is. She’s a costume designer who is known pretty well in the convention circuit. Recently, she became a cast member on the SyFy show, “Heroes of Cosplay”. Below are a photos of her cosplaying Fiora (League of Legends) and an art nouveau interpretation of Chun Li (Street Fighter) which is one of my personal favorites. As you can see, her work is amazing. I can’t imagine ever being able to perfect costumes the way she does.
Now sometime during one of my random meanderings through the interwebs, I stumbled upon a post criticizing Yaya Han. The criticism did not stem from a lack of diligence in her work or perhaps a nasty attitude, no. Rather, it was about the fact that she had expressed a desire not to be degraded because of her work and her physical endowments. The author of this post felt that Ms. Han should not have any objections to being the subject of wank sessions because her career “centers around her body”. Let’s put that up there with the rest of the justifications for cat-calling and rape now shall we guys? By this person’s logic, the moment Yaya decided to begin a career in cosplay, she was no longer in charge of her body.
Here’s another gem – “Practically all of her costumes have been of skimpily dressed characters with focus on her breasts. Of course, she has legions of guys wanking off to her. You’d think that this would be a well-known and accepted aspect to all successful models. And generally, all women should realize that dressing in a way that shows off a part of their body will attract attention to that part. But apparently Yaya missed the memo. After years of 14-30 year old lonely nerds splooging their mega milk all over their keyboards to her, she seems to have become irritated as she recently let out her thoughts on her facebook page.”
This is such an unbelievably stupid comment. Why are so many female costumes skimpy? Uhhh, because dudes duh. Men are the reason why Wonder Woman wears a bustier to fight le bad guys and female warriors in video games are expected to fight successfully in armor equivalent to a bikini. And don’t even get me started on the anatomically impossible poses. And apparently, the fact that Yaya had a breast augmentation is further justification of her “attitude problem”. The author goes on to list tips such as, “Don’t leave your tits hanging out if you don’t want to be stared at.”, “Don’t be a bitch if your boobs are just that awesome”, “Learn to take it as a compliment” and “Don’t get pornstar implants or try to “improve” your boobs if you’re just going to be in prudish denial about it.”. Tall, dark and rapist anyone? Are your alarm bells going off yet?
Now while I have no idea why Yaya chose to enhance her breasteses, that decision should in no way diminish anyone’s opinion of her. Learn to take a compliment? The breasts are not on your chest so why would you assume that you should have anything to say about it? I mean, really? What are you, a dog? I take that back. It’s an insult to dogs. Even they know what the word “No” means and obey when it is spoken.
NO-ONE should be subjected to such disgusting degradation because of the way they look. It’s really that simple.
Oct 1, 2013
“According to Saudi cleric, Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, driving can affect a woman’s ovaries and pelvis. In response, activists are encouraging Saudi women to share videos of themselves behind the wheel, honking their car horns. Al-Lohaidan’s comments come as a campaign calls for women to drive on October 26 in defiance of the long-standing ban.”
Sep 25, 2013
Volunteer Training with One Royal Oak, discussing possible issues that may come up while phone banking.
Hype about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has died down and our LGBT community sort of gained the right to marriage. Notable “activist” efforts like statuses being made, profile pictures on Facebook being changed, and arguing with not so progressive relatives went on for days until the Supreme Court ruling over DOMA. But since the SCOTUS ruling, there’s been silence and the false notion instilled in a surprising majority that we’ve finally achieved all that we needed to. Discrimination against LGBT folks is over because we can marry in some states and a lot of straight, cis people changed their photos into equality signs!
Our community is still facing several inequities which are more dire than not being able to walk down the aisle. What about making sure our brothers and sisters have a job and a place to live? Only 20 states offer some protection for LGBT people in housing. In 29 states, a person can still be fired without warning simply for being gay. And in 34 states a person can be fired for being trans*. Aren’t these the issues we should be engaging our friends and family with? What’s being done about it while we’re waiting to see what happens with ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) for who knows how long?
Before anyone asks what I’m personally doing about this, I can tell people right now that I’ve joined up with a non-profit, political campaign called One Royal Oak. Our mission is to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in Royal Oak, Michigan which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations “on the basis of actual OR perceived race, national origin, religion, color, sex, age, height, weight, pregnancy condition, marital status, physical and mental limitations, source of income, family responsibilities, educational
association, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status.”
So far I’ve taken part in the volunteer training. I participated in phone banking, trying to gather donations for the cause. I’m constantly trying to make my friends and family understand the importance of this situation. I believe in equality, so I’ll do what I can to help. It’s just one city, but every little step counts. And One Royal Oak isn’t alone in their efforts for equality in the United States. Seek out ways to help our community either by volunteering or simply donating to activist groups like One Royal Oak, whether it’s on a local or federal level.
I’m more than happy that I have the right to marry my girlfriend thanks to the SCOTUS ruling. But between not walking down the aisle and not sleeping on the streets, I would choose the latter. There are many obstacles in finding a job and a place to live, our identity–who we choose to love and who we are–shouldn’t be one of them.
Sep 25, 2013
Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning
Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield
Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.
Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE
Sep 25, 2013
Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States
Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan
To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).
But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.
Sep 25, 2013
Texas woman drives four hours to Planned Parenthood after being shamed for hickey
Reposted from: Raw Story, written by David Edwards
A Texas woman who was shamed by her doctor for having a hickey and wanting birth control says she is now forced to drive four hours to a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care due to the state’s new anti-abortion laws.
Athena Mason told KUT that her first visit to the doctor as a student at Texas A&M was awkward.
“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘It’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.’ But I got a big lecture. [He said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go somewhere else.”
Mason started using the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But that facility is one of four women’s health service providers that closed in August after the state passed new regulations restricting abortions.
So Mason now drives four hours to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin for health care.
In 1998, Cadence King was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on her cervix and became a patient at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. She had returned for regular checkups in the years since, but she has missed visits in recent weeks because the clinic closed.
King is now struggling to find a new health care provider. Her only options are driving three hours to Beaumont or waiting four months for the next opening with the one Bryan clinic that’s willing to take her case.
Sep 5, 2013
The “Snapshot” series is created and curated by yours truly. Through the use of imagery, this series aims to evoke seemingly obscure opinions on things that we would normally miss. Hopefully it encourages everyone who sees it to think harder about the things that surround us everyday.
Women have been screaming about job equality for the longest time and still nothing seems to change. There have been numerous debates about feminism for working class women – whether women can “have it all” or will eventually have to sacrifice their careers in order to be good mothers. I was raised by single parent. She is an architect. And in the first 8 years of my life, she worked ridiculous hours. She would wake up at 4am to put my lunch and dinner together, wake me up, get me ready for school, drop me off and then leave my things with an famely friend who lived nearby. I wouldn’t see her until the next morning. She had to drive about 2 hours out of Lagos where we lived, to supervise a building project in another state. And by the time she got back into town, I would have come back from school, eaten lunch, done my homework, eaten dinner and would be asleep in my nightie waiting for her to pick me up. And the next day it would begin again. Does this mean that she was any worse at her job? Not at all! She worked for the federal government until I graduated high school and now owns her own little firm.
Why are women constantly denied the opportunities to have great careers because they choose to have kids and grow families? Why is there this idea that motherhood is somehow a handicap? In the image above, the woman cannot fit into the space provided not only because it is the wrong shape, but also because she has a child with her. Why is the world still afraid of strong women?
Sep 1, 2013
Most people who occupy the social justice corners of the Internet are sure to have heard of the Edmonton police department’s anti-rape campaign. What makes the campaign so great is the focus on the offenders to not rape rather than telling the victims to not get raped with messages like, “It’s not sex when she’s passed out. Sex with someone unable to consent = sexual assault. Don’t be that guy.” SAVEdmonton even includes men as potential rape victims and broadens the crime outside a heteronormative perspective. From their own page on what makes this so different from other anti-rape campaigns:
Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders – ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault. By addressing sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities. (reposted from SAVEdmonton.com)
Edmonton’s posters with messages of ending victim blaming and targeting perpetrators was successful in its intention to decrease the rate of sexual assaults. But it seems like not everyone is supportive of the campaign and its success. An unauthorized campaign took SAVEdmonton’s original posters and made parody versions.
(image reposted from The Edmonton Journal)
What makes these parody posters so problematic is the perpetuation of the myth of false reporting or allegations, which our current culture is already strongly promoting. These parody posters not only silences actual and potential victims, but blames them for the assaults against them which completely contradicts the original campaign’s message.
Here are the actual posters from SAVEdmonton:
With the current messages that’s fed to our youth on a daily basis, it’s really important to think of the messages SAVEdmonton has to share with the world. It doesn’t promote a rape culture and actively seeks to create a change by preventing sexual assault. SAVEdmonton is truly a model anti-rape campaign.
Sep 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Aug 31, 2013
Too often we will pass judgment upon a person without knowing one detail of their truth. I find this fact to be rather sad and upsetting. For us, to be judged is the worst possible thing that could happen from a stranger. We usually get offended, thinking thoughts like, “How dare they!” OR “They don’t know a thing about me, who are they to judge!?”
To be fair, people’s opinions shouldn’t matter enough to affect how anyone lives their life. But still, I have found that passing false judgments can usually cost a person valuable opportunities or even possible relationships. It’s interesting how, majority of the time people’s assumptions of someone are never like the how the person is in a real life setting.
I’ll catch myself slipping every now and then, using those same stereotypes we all have been conditioned to believe, but then I’ll stop and say to myself “Innocent until proven guilty.” I hope that I am not the only one paying mind to my own false prejudice. If we all paid mind of our thoughts and assumptions, maybe equality could have a bigger meaning.
After all, change begins with you.