Category > Gender and Stereotypes
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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. Furthermore, or health care system hasn’t addressed the issue when you consider the fact that primary care providers are 3 times more likely to take sexual health histories from female than male patients and twice as likely to counsel female patients on the use of condoms*.
Luckily, organizations like A Step Ahead Foundation are ready to change the tune. After a year of operating with the primary focus on providing free long-acting reversible contraception to women in Shelby County Tennessee, ASAF staff recognized that young men were just as interested in information about effective pregnancy prevention methods as young women. The only problem was, there weren’t too many resources for talking to guys about what their options are.
Taking matters into their own hands they created The Man On Campaign, a movement to get young men up to speed on birth control choices — including abstinence. The goal is to give guys the tools to build healthy relationships and start conversations with their partners about birth control or sexually transmitted infections. At The Sexy Ed guys can find out where to get free condoms in Memphis, be directed to HIV testing centers in their area, get support in making the decision to wait, or find some dating advice by yours truly. In addition the campaign will grow to engage young men across Shelby County with posters, booklets, and social media engagement.
Perhaps it won’t stop there. This is merely a great step forward in a revolution of educators, resources, leaders, and health care providers ready to engage young men in sexual and reproductive health. What can you do to encourage guys to take their futures into their own hands? What else is out there that you’ve seen? What do you want others to do? Young men are out there and ready. Like A Step Ahead Foundation and the Man On Campaign, let’s do our part to support them.
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.
This is why I was so excited to read Rosalind Wiseman’s Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World and see so much of it captured so well. (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.
Aug 31, 2013
The public assault on celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, a careerist and independent woman and owner of a £ 23-million empire, by her husband, has drawn worldwide attention.
A recent report by the World Health Organisation says that more than a third of women worldwide are victims of physical or sexual violence, posing a global health problem of epidemic proportions. A vast majority of women are attacked or abused by their husbands or boyfriends. Also, almost two-fifths (38 per cent) of all women murder victims were killed by intimate partners.
A G-20 survey has ranked India as the worst place to be a woman. It is an accepted fact that domestic violence, especially in India, is grossly underreported. Apart from physical violence, emotional or psychological abuse has been extensively practised. As psychological violence is harder to capture in quantitative studies, a full picture of the deeper, insidious levels of violence defies quantification.
The National Crime Records Bureau shows that a crime is committed against a woman every third minute, a woman is raped every 29th minute, a dowry death occurs every 77th minute, and one case of cruelty, committed by either the husband or a relative of the victim, occurs every ninth minute.
The root of the problem lies in the deeply entrenched patriarchy of the Indian society, which has moulded women traditionally into accepting gender dominance. According to the UNICEF’s Global Report Card on Adolescents 2012, 57% of boys and 53% of girls in India think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife. Marriage, a sacred institution, is misused to horrific degrees. Marriage has given men the legal sanction to do whatever they want to their wives. Women have been forced to trade off their bodies for unwanted sex in return for financial and social security provided under marriage. Society attaches too much importance to the institution of marriage and this makes it difficult for women to leave a devastating relationship. Our social norms have made it mandatory for women to be married and bear children to justify their existence. Women need to realise that there is life beyond a failed marriage or relationship.
Tehmina Durrani’s bestseller, My Feudal Lord, provides extraordinary insights into the vulnerable position of women caught in the complex web of Muslim society. She writes, “I realised that our marriage was sustained not by relationship but by complicated external forces, my ego, fear of failure in the eyes of family and society, fear of losing my children, fear of losing my status as a married woman…”
Recent times, though, have witnessed an ever-increasing number of women opting to work, changing the social dynamics. This has further increased insecurity in many men, who are unable to accept the changing role of women. They have become hyper-masculine, aggressive and misogynistic. Verbal, physical and emotional abuses are a way to vent their feelings.
It’s high time men changed with the changing dynamics of gender. There is need to introspect on how we treat our women. Just as women have shed their traditional role of demure housewives, men should shed their egos and break free of the stereotypes that come in the way of accepting the role of the other gender.
The needs of women are not abnormal; in fact, they are similar to what men desire — to feel wanted and be loved. As Sridevi, in conversation with Priya Anand at the end of movie English Vinglish says, Muje pyar nahi, thodi si izzat chahye.
By ATIYA ANIS
(The writer works with the U.N. as a communications specialist. Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Aug 24, 2013
First- Ever Legal Abortion,
And It Saved A Dying Woman’s
(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)
The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.
Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.
The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.
The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”
Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.
Aug 22, 2013
How do you protest the appearance of an anti-gay preacher? Reserve all the seats at his event and then don’t show up. What was he thinking going to a country where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010?
“Why doesn’t feminist media treat immigration as an obvious feminist issue? Why doesn’t mainstream feminism seem to give a damn about undocumented women? Why aren’t more feminist organizations coming out in support of the Dream 9? As a comprehensive immigration reform bill is being butchered by Congress, accomplishing little more than further militarizing the border, and the Dream 9, largely led by women, continue making national headlines after participating in the most radical, risky act of civil disobedience in the history of the undocumented student movement, there is literally no excuse for the silence on behalf of feminist media.”
Great read! Aside from “Dostana” and “I Can’t Think Straight”, I hadn’t even heard about these.
Even though her latest book and other occurrences have changed my perception of her, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is still a voice that needs to be heard.
Why is there even a need to ask this question in 2013? Have you not heard all that we have been screaming about how taking advantage of women and girls in compromised situations is NEVER ok?
Aug 21, 2013
“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.
Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”
Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.
Aug 21, 2013
Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black
(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)
Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.
First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.
What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.
The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.
Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.
As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.
Aug 20, 2013
Aug 20, 2013
One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.
The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:
86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
Aug 19, 2013
Prepare yourself for the RAGE.
Everybody knows that all we’re trying to do is take over the world, Pinky & the Brain style.
“In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan Horse. You’re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it’s a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially. The girl next door, the cool blonde, is a very easy access point, and it’s relatable for a lot of audiences and a lot of networks looking for a certain demographic. It’s useful.”
Well done Jenji. Well done!
“We walk through the world and some of us pass as male,” Woodland, 33, says. “We get left out of this conversation.”
I have no idea what Russell Simmons thought he was trying to achieve with that video. Shame on him! I struggled to find a way to express my anger at dismay at Shana Malcolm’s further plunge into the abyss of dubiousness, and settled on the if-you-can’t-say-anything-nice-don’t-say-anything-at-all approach.
Aug 14, 2013
New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.
This article originally appeared on Salon.com.
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.
But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.
Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)
“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”
Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.
Aug 14, 2013
North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.
Aug 13, 2013
“It’s easy to pretend ‘to be fierce and fearless because living your truth takes real courage. Real fearless and fierce women admit mistakes and they work to correct them. We stand up and we use our voices for things other than self promotion. We don’t stand by and let racism and sexism and homophobia run rapid on our watch. Real fearless and fierce women complement other women and we recognize and embrace that their shine in no way diminishes our light and that it actually makes our light shine brighter.”
When I saw the way that Miley Cyrus was shedding her Hannah Montana persona and moving forward regardless of what people thought of her new image, I was excited for what was to come. I liked a number of tracks on Can’t Be Tamed and I was really looking forward to seeing what the product of working with Pharell would be. I thought her cover of “Lilac Wine” was an indication of where she was headed but apparently I was very wrong.
I never made it through the first 2 minutes of “We Can’t Stop” and every time I hear that song now I cringe. The fact that it’s so high up on the billboard charts is a testament to the ugly society that we live in.
I died laughing and my spirit went wherever spirits are supposed to go. Some of my favorites include, “Miley helped Craig beat Debo on Friday” and “Cyrus v. Board of Education led to the integration of schools”. This stuff is gold I tell you!
How about people stop telling women how not to get raped and teach men not to rape instead?
This Clutch Magazine piece offers up hilarious writing and an insightful discussion of the many ways that women are continuously encouraged to find something to dislike about our bodies; in this case, our vaginas.
Aug 1, 2013
Period Kits are kind of popular nowadays. Not everyone is comfortable with walking down the street with tampons or pads in an almost see-through bag, or wants the hassle of having to run to the shops every month. In answer to that, there exist a few monthly services which deliver tampons, pads, candy and even herbal teas. Hello Flo has recently added a Period Starter kit for young girls. The kit contains pads, liners, tampons, reading material and a few goodies.
How this man expects us to believe this crap, I honestly do not know. A feminist movement? Because the models in your video were told to exude confidence? I blame Paula Patton for all this rubbish. Yes he’s your husband, but when women speak out against the rape-y, objectifying nature of the video, encouraging him is pretty much the same as taking a huge dump all over women’s lib.
Now although I haven’t seen all the shows featured in this article (I refuse to watch Scandal until people stop getting so het up about it), I strongly agree with the analysis of Joan Watson’s character. Everybody go watch “Elementary”!
An interesting read. I had never really thought about this. But it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
Speaking of monthly period boxes…
Aug 1, 2013
I really hate when people respond to others with “first world problems.” I know that to some, it’s a great and easy way of addressing the privilege of living in a “first world” country. But the meme, despite its emergence being seemingly well intentioned at first, is really just seeping with ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism in its simplest definition is the judging of another’s culture using one’s own standards. It’s not something you’d expect from a culturally competent person. The usage of this meme expresses people’s inability to see others as actual people who are more complicated than what our white savior complex induced perspectives would have us believe.
To make it really simple: it’s racist.
When the ever popular hashtag first appeared on Twitter maybe in the late 2009, early 2010–even then I had a bad feeling about it. I know “first world/third world” indicates if a country is industrialized and developed or not. But even those terms just come off as problematic and ethnocentric for reasons I won’t take the time to get into. It’s the language we have though, however questionable the origins of those particular words may be. And I don’t really know what I can do about that except talk about it and hope that you understand.
Yes, my accidental lagging out of my online match of The Last of Us and my tea latte being a little too hot this morning might seem really trivial. But hey, guess what? Things like that happen to my cousins in Vietnam and other developing countries too. I’m not pretending or ignoring that other countries don’t have terrible issues like civil wars, riots in the streets, famine, etc. But those countries don’t need pity. And they certainly don’t need people buying Toms. They need people, especially people in the United States and other supposedly wealthy white-dominated countries, to stop making everyone from “third world” countries into a faceless,
one-dimensional, and monolithic group of suffering and despair. And one of the really easy ways of what you can do to avoid doing that is to stop responding to people’s issues as “first world problems.”
My voice isn’t alone in this. Feel free to check out the following links:
What’s Wrong with #FirstWorldProblems? – Alexis C. Madrigal
The White Savior Industrial Complex – Teju Cole
Jul 31, 2013
Eve teasing has these days become a serious problem prevalent in the society. Every single girl is a victim of this uncivilized activity. It is a euphemism used for public sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. It is usually found in India and other south Asian countries but these days every girl of every country is a victim of this. It is hard for a girl to tolerate it. When it crosses the limit it becomes a serious problem and as a result a girl may even commit suicide to save herself and her dignity from eve teasing. Not only for girl it effects negatively for overall society. People might be afraid to give birth to a girl thinking about the future consequences they have to bear by having a baby girl as a result of which, an angel might be led to death before she gets to see the world. This type of factor can decline in girls birth rate which might one day lead to a male dominant society and finally a full stop on the human development. So, It is essential for everyone to think about what is the importance of a girl, what is the role of her and how should be she treated.
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 30, 2013
I watched a gripping movie yesterday called Due East. Im sure many have heard of it. It was about a small town girl who got a merit scholarship to attend any university she wanted. She lived alone with her dad- her mother died when she was young. At sixteen she fell in love with one of the first guys she was ever intimate with. It so happened they had sex and she got pregnant. However the guy who she loved died afterwards from a motor cycle accident before she knew she was pregnant.
She was motivated by everyone to have an abortion as she was such a promising young lady. She decided against it .. because it was the only piece of her lover that remained. When the principal of the school found out she was pregnant, he expelled her and said she wouldn’t be able to graduate. He said that it was a “disgrace” for someone like her (a pregnant teen) to represent the school. She forced him to reverse his actions when she garnered media attention and the public turned on him and the school. She had her baby and went to college. They made it work
This happy ending often unfortunately doesn’t play out in real life. Pregnant teenagers face severe public criticism and are often stereotyped as “promiscuous” or “grossly irresponsible”. Fear of this public scrutiny often force scared teenagers to seek unsafe means to terminate their pregnancies as they don’t see any other options.
Our society is not a safe place.
The reality is there exists may people like the principal in Due East who act in an unfair way to these pregnant teens causing the issue to be exasperated.
The movie also pointed out the fact that parents don’t educate their children about issues in sexuality. The parents who have kids who are “anti-social” and “to themselves” often fall in this category as they think their children would need such information. Parents should provide the quality and a good quantity of information to their children regardless of their personality, or gender.
Here is more information on the movie.. its a good watch
Jul 29, 2013
Does Robin Thicke’s latest music video for “Blurred Lines” make you uncomfortable? Whether it’s the explicit version or otherwise? Welcome to the club.
Here’s something to make you feel a lot better.
A Seattle-based “boylesque” group called Mod Carousel has remade the video using men as props instead of women. “It’s our opinion that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and does everyone a disservice,” the group explains. “We made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light, one where objectifying men is more than alright and where women can be strong and sexy without negative repercussions.”
YES!!! to it all
Jul 29, 2013
At 18 I have begun to fully have a grasp of what is expected of me .. stereotypically, as a woman in the 21st century. This reality have been weighing down on me heavily over the psst few days as I have begun to question these cultural norms.
The reality of the 21st century woman as I know understand it… feel free to correct me if I am wrong… seems to be as such:
1.) She is not allowed to go certain places or do certain things.
- I came to understand this practically when having dinner with a family friend whom I affectionately call “Aunty Pat”. Her 17 year old son was away for vacation abroad for two whole months. I asked her If she would have allowed her daughter, when she was his age, to do the same. She responded without hesitation “Of course not”.
Girls have less fun.
WHY cant we go out as much as boys? Only because there are men out there who cannot keep their private parts in tact and as such WE are the ones who are at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted.
2.) She is constantly lectured (at least in my house) about the dangers of sex before marriage, or in other house holds … the dangers of unprotected sex.
-Why is it that males dont get the full force of this discourse as well?.. simply because males can’t get pregnant. Girls sometimes now grow up in fear of becoming pregnant rather than embracing the possibility of bringing new life into the world. And when teenagers do become pregnant she is faced with discriminating glares from the public. Mind you, I’m not in any way promoting teenage pregnancy, but I just find it weird that about 3 generations ago it was seen as the norm for girls to have children during their late teens to early twenties, while in this generation it is frowned upon. But well, thats another discussion.
1.) She has to juggle Career, have children, manage a household, while looking after the needs of her husband
-Mothers are not super heroes. And what’s even a bit more disheartening is the stereotype that exists around a woman who decides not to get married and have children. She is looked at as too career oriented and somewhat too “masculine” for her own good. Not surprisingly, a man who decides not to settle down is not met with s similar stereotype.
-> Mothers are not wonderwoman
- They cannot be expected to do all of the above while keeping in shape and looking good. But.. to the few who do.. hats off to you.
May be I am speaking in fear because society makes some big shoes for the 21st century woman to fit.. and I am not sure my feet will ever get there.
May the odds be ever in my favour
P.s I put this on fb as a status update and a male commented the following:
really Kevonnie? last time i checked you hadn’t lived the life of a male, so i don’t know how you could have possibly come to this conclusion unless you have some form of divine intervention. I’m not saying whose life is easier or harder because it is a useless debate that will continue forever. Pregnancy should not come in to this debate altho it always does because women are biologically built to bear children. with regards to the risk of being raped as tru as it MAY be wearing provocative clothing doesn’t help your case either so thats pretty much 50/50, career while looking good – both have to do that, managing a family is done by both – although i know females love to talk about the absence of father’s as if to say they are all absent, do you really think men experience anything different?
I am yet to formulate a response…
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 23, 2013
Curious what was on the front page on the Washington Post this morning?
“After two centuries of monarchy dominated by imposing women — Queen Victoria and the reigning Queen Elizabeth II — the birth of the little prince heralded the coming of an era of British kings.”
Read: Ah yes, all is right in the world again. We can finally get rid of those pesky women!
Any one can be “imposing”, but by suggestively linking such a characteristic solely to women is irresponsible journalism.
Women face discrimination, bias, and violence on a daily basis. While there are still many barriers to achieving justice, blunt misogynistic acts often are not publicly acceptable in the US. However, microagressions largely fly under the radar, so much that insinuations such as that above can be published front and center on one of the most reputable newspapers in the US. Eradication of misogyny requires the elimination of overt AND masked oppression.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
California’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 60 percent as a result of expanded sex education programs, according to a report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday.
The report –- which was based on data collected until 2011 — revealed that the California teen pregnancy rate reached a 20-year low that year. While in 1991, there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19, in 2011 this number decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens.
Teen pregnancy rates fell across all ethnic groups, according to the report. The Hispanic teen birth rate dropped from 73.6 in 2001 to 42.7 in 2011 –- although Hispanics continue to be the group with the highest teen birth rate. Teen pregnancy rates for African-Americans, Whites and Asian-Americans also decreased significantly.
Several factors contributed to the falling pregnancy rates, the department said in a press release. One factor was the state’s school sex education program, which law requires to be comprehensive and medically accurate. The report also credits community-based education programs that provide sexual health information to teens and their parents.
“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.
“California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”
As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
Jul 22, 2013
Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.
Jul 19, 2013
On the same day that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion omnibus bill into law, Republican legislators in the state introduced yet another anti-abortion measure, this time looking to ban abortions after 6 weeks. And while it seems very unlikely at this point that the bill will make it through the state’s legislative process by July 31, the end of the current special legislative session in Texas, the timing is still drawing a decent bit of attention.
There’s only one state in the U.S. with an abortion ban after 6 weeks: North Dakota. And that law is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. The 6-week bans, like the one proposed in Texas, rely upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat by a doctor. Arguing that a fetal heartbeat is “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the Texas bill, HB59, would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat exists before legally performing an abortion. Fetal heartbeats typically register at around 6 weeks, meaning that the bill would effectively make that the cut off for the procedure.
Jul 12, 2013
Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies
The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.
Jul 12, 2013
Jul 10, 2013
The video below is about a wonderful movement I found called Everyday Sexism. Started by Laura Bates after she experienced a crippling instant of sexual harassment, it aims to combat the WHOPPING LIE that we as a society, have achieved gender equality. Women are constantly dismissed and told that we are being too sensitive. If we are raped, of course we asked for it. If we want control over our bodies, we are sluts and murderers. If we want to be treated like actual human beings, then we are accused of having a “political agenda”.
The stories told by these women are ghastly. It’s so disgusting that there are people out there who think they have every right to make such lewd advances.
If you have a story, share it here. Add your voice to the all the others and keep shouting back.
DESTROY. THE. PATRIARCHY!!!
Jul 10, 2013
Jul 8, 2013
When I mention the term taboo I DO mean the game in which you guess the word someone on your team is explaining. I mean taboo as in is a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too sacred or too accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake, under threat of supernatural punishment as explained by Wikipedia(you know you refer to that site). Parents today are just not taking the initiative to teach their kids or even answer questions.Everything starts at home. The schools does not enforce sexual education like they should hence why advocates does the work they do. I hearing all kinds of things that are just plain crazy and I have to correct the young people and send to different resource. If different organizations are providing the resources then parents should back the kids it’s only right. I want education for all dispite the topic. If only I can educate the world.Sex shouldn’t be taboo instead it’s should be talked about. I am positive parents don’t want students learning from the wrong person.
Jul 2, 2013
AP: Ireland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.
Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life. (Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)
Jul 1, 2013
I decided to break the law to provide a necessary medical service because women were dying at the hands of butchers and incompetent quacks, and there was no one there to help them. The law was barbarous, cruel and unjust. I had been in a concentration camp, and I knew what suffering was. If I can ease suffering, I feel perfectly justified in doing so.
-Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian doctor who was arrested four times for performing abortions, but whose arrests eventually led to the 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country.
He died this week at the age of 90. Good obit in the NY Times.
Jul 1, 2013
I posted a couple things here about Wendy Davis’ insanely awesome marathon filibuster to stop SB5, which is a bill from Texas that would close the majority of the clinics in the state that not only provide abortion services, but contraception and general health care. And she wasn’t alone. Hundreds of local supporters stood by her and when the bill was thought to be stopped, the capitol building erupted with cheers.
The lawmakers had to vote on this bill before it hit midnight. But thanks to Senator Wendy Davis, Senator Leticia Van De Putte, and hundreds of reproductive justice advocates, lawmakers fortunately did not get the chance to meet that deadline. Republican lawmakers tried to argue that the bill was voted and passed on time despite clear evidence revealing that the vote ended on June 26 when it was supposed to be June 25. They later took it back and admitted that the vote occurred after midnight and the bill was dead. All Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst could say about it was: “…it’s been fun.” Because taking away people’s rights to health care is so much fun.
The bill was thought to be stopped and everyone in the social justice club was happy. But Texas Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to try to bring SB5 back. This would make all the efforts of the Texans who went to stop this in vain. Governor Rick Perry’s Facebook, Twitter, office website, office address, and phone information has been spreading so that people can voice their opinions. Hopefully the voices of the constituents will be heard.
While the Internet social justice atmosphere exploded at the news of Texan Republicans’ shady tactics, for good reason, Ohio has passed some terrible anti-choice legislation of their own. Ohio lawmakers didn’t even bring it up for debate. They slyly passed the bill last minute the other night. Activists are sharing Ohio Governor John Kaisch’s phone number (614-728-7576) in hopes that he line-vetoes the measure. If he doesn’t, Planned Parenthood and rape crisis centers lose their funding in that state, and those funds will be going to Crisis Pregnancy Centers. And you know what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are like. People will have to will 24 hours before receiving their emergency contraception. Forced ultrasounds will be legalized, and the unwilling patient would still have to pay for it. This measure would even redefine pregnancy, throwing out the actual medical definition, so that using emergency contraception would be considered abortion.
We have our work cut out for us.
Jun 30, 2013
According to Maithree Bikram Singhe ‘Women In Development’ is a tunnel rival i.e. limited to women alone, the gender approach burdens out to encompass men’s and women role and relations in both private and public domains. GAD emerged during 1980’s and is theoretical based on socialist feminism. GAD is centered on the gender difference between man and women. This is derived from the socialist feminist identification of the social construction of production and reproduction as a foundation of women’s oppression
GAD came as an alternative to the Women In Development. Therefore, it not only offers a holistic perspective looking at all aspects of women life, but also it questions the basis of assigning specific gender roles to different sexes. GAD approach made people realize women contribution inside and outside the household. GAD reflects the public and private sectors. It gives special attention to oppression of women in the family by entering so called private sphere. It emphasizes the states duty to promote services in promoting women emancipation. Women in GAD are seen as an agent of change rather than as passive recipients of development assistance.
Jun 30, 2013
Talking freely about sex with the partner is not a issue but yet it is. The free discussion about sex and safer sex is limited in the seminars, promotional programs but in our society it is not the topic to be discussed in family.Our society tells us that guys should initiate sex and girls should not show an interest. The expectations set by friends and society minimize the effects of forcing a girl to have sex. Often guys think girls say “no” when they mean “yes.” The boundaries set by our society has lead to the situation of fear in women and they are forced to unsafe sex. A girl hesitate to suggest her partner to use condom during their sexual intercourse just because talking about sex is a misbehavior in our so called white colored society. Because of this type of restriction women suffer from HIV/AIDS and various kinds of sexually transmitted infections. Similarly one of the another reason behind the story is that male doesn’t find sexual pleasure using condom and thus neglect the suggestion of their partner.
Sex that is fun,which feels good ,can still be safer and safer sex brings relaxation that can allow better enjoyment. Safer sex reduces the risk of getting STIs and being pregnant but still it is neglected in our society just because of gender stereotype and our patriarchal society. Knowing how to have and talking about good sex allows more opportunities to have safer sex. Girls have right to take decisions about their sexual health about what should be done and what shouldn’t be. Government of Nepal has given rights to females to decide whether to have sex or not even within marriage but the decision is implemented just in the papers and women are even not known about their rights. Thus this real and urgent need must be addressed by people who works in and understand the sexual world.
Jun 29, 2013
So lately I have been on a health kick. I partake in so many things to try to get to my goal weight. Green smoothies, juicing, exercise, detoxes, weight loss challenges, you name it. This health binge that I’m on is basically like a whole new lifestyle. Today while I was in the gym I noticed there were many other dedicated individuals who were working hard towards what ever goal they wished to achieve. As I sweat bullets on the elliptical I though to myself that if people where as concerned about their sexual health as they were with their physical health there would be a significant change in the number of sexually transmitted diseases. There are individuals who dedicate hours in the gym each day, eliminate carbohydrates from their diet, and even refrain from eating meat to be “healthier” but do not even know their HIV status. Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere. Your sexual health is just as, if not more, important as your physical health. We need to focus on the body as a whole and not only the outer part. Let’s start working out and getting our sexual health in shape. Knowing is half of the battle. Know your status, get tested, use protection, and spread the knowledge.
Jun 28, 2013
“The greatest pleasure in life is to defeat your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses, and to ravage their wives and daughters.”
-Genghis Khan, in an address to his courtiers.
Wars have been fought since civilization began. These have been for resources, expansion among other reasons. Women have begun to play an active role in wars more recently as they have been recruited in the various militaries of the world. But even before, they had important roles. Women served as nurses, cooks and laundresses. During the Second World War, the Soviet military employed women in many combative positions where they served as aviators and combat soldiers, as well as non-combative ones.
War is a masculine action, one that involves defending women and children and our country- which is almost always considered female. War is about taking charge, feeling strong and powerful, hurting and killing. War demands strength and power, it requires soldiers to go beyond the realm of being mere mortals to perform feats that earn them immortality. Though women have played active roles in many conflicts through the ages, they continue to be perceived as the weaker sex, to be protected by the men in the community. Hollywood’s depiction of the US military, based on actual practices, often shows a loud mouthed officer shouting abuses at fresh recruits. The abuses, while innovative, follow a common pattern. If a soldier performs well at tasks, he or she is considered strong and powerful, like a man. Those unable to perform as well are generally likened to women and homosexuals. These associations are then carried forward to the mind-set of soldiers in active duty. Women are often treated as second class, no matter how worthy they have proved themselves.
According to Amnesty International, in modern warfare, 90% of casualties are civilian; of these 75% are women and children. Women, while regarded as inferior to men in many cultures, are thought to hold the honour of a community. Raping a woman is a method used to destroy the progeny of the family and annihilate a community. It is now included as a tool of genocide and regarded as a war crime.
Reasons for rape during conflicts
“…They stripped a girl naked…she looked scared and lost…three of them held her down. The soldiers told me I should rape her and the others too…“ The recollections of a soldier in Bosnia-Herzegovina who was forced to prove he was a man by his commanding officer, by raping 12 women.
In the wars of the past, the permission to rape women of the conquered community was considered a normal part of war. The lower ranks of the soldiers had some form of enjoying ‘the spoils of war’. It brings with it another feeling of conquest, this time over a woman’s body. Violence of this nature is not just for the sake of sex, it has more deep rooted reasons. These crimes are not committed to claim a woman’s body, but to claim a community.
In groups, men find it necessary to prove their masculinity. In the case of groups, this generally means that men have to prove they are strong, dominant and powerful, especially when it comes to sex. This is a phenomenon that is seen in the civilian population very often, but during a conflict these feelings are elated. They are stretched to dominating the struggle and teaching the opposing side a lesson. This lesson often comes in the form of raping and mutilating women, thereby taking control of the means of reproduction. Raping women and girls is a way for a soldier to prove that he is devoted to the cause and is willing to do whatever it takes to destroy a community.
Rape is used as a violent means to subdue, humiliate and control a population. There are fears among the community because any one of them might be next. Children born of rape are often shunned as well as they are not a part of the community where they live and were conceived from a ‘shameful’ deed. It has often been used as a tool of ethnic cleansing; in this case women are raped in an attempt to eradicate a community, national, ethnic or religious, from an area. Women that have been raped are often scared to go to the authorities. In many cases when they go to file a report they are raped again by the police. Governmental agencies, while aware of these crimes, are hesitant to gather proper data as the survivors are unwilling to report their experiences, and when they are, there are few eye witness reports.
In order to stop the use of rape as a tool of war it is necessary for the world to understand how commonplace it is in conflict zones. There is also a need to hold all perpetrators of this crime to be held accountable and punished. There are many international peacekeeping agencies that have deployed a large number of troops to protect civilians and reduce the fighting in conflict zones, but the sexual violence continues, there should be troops deployed that focus on preventing gender based violence as well. The authorities that are responsible for handling these charges must also be sensitised to the plight of the victims so they are not forced to relive the trauma. The state should also be held responsible to ensure that the victims of these human rights violations receive financial and medical support. Care centres should be set up to counsel these victims along with their families. There should also be more ground level awareness to help the community become more sensitised.
The use of rape as a weapon of war results in long term consequences that are usually ignored. As a part of the community, women play an important part in the reconstruction of a post conflict zone, a task that becomes difficult when they suffer from trauma and/or are ostracised by their families and their community.
Peace becomes difficult to achieve when a large section of society is still stuck in the traumas of the conflict. The long after effects of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the violence they face within their families because they were raped makes them unable to take part in the post conflict reconstruction. As their scars serve as a daily reminder of the conflict, it is often difficult for the community to move past these atrocities as well. While there are still people who seem to be ignorant about the prevalence of this tool or about its effects, the international community as a whole has taken this up as a humanitarian crisis that must be resolved. With the increasing number of conflicts in the world there is little room left for the victimisation of females.
(This blog was written by Subuhi Safvi on Tehelka.com)
Jun 28, 2013
Violence against women and girls is a form of discrimination as well as a violation of human rights. Instances of gender-based violence in the form of physical, sexual, psychological, socio cultural and economic abuse have been rampant in Nepal. Violence against women has damaging consequences on women’s health and their social and economic well-being.
It is sad that usually women themselves are unlikely to report or complain about the injustices faced by them. They practice the culture of silence in a patriarchal social structure like ours.
YALC 2013 considers Violence against Women as a very serious issue that needs to be discussed openly. Hence with this thought, they have initiated an SMS campaign to minimize the social evil against women in our societies. This campaign has been carried out in collaboration with YUWA and Sparrow SMS in recent times. We now have an international social media platform to raise voices against violence.
This has definitely made it easier for the Nepalese people to pour out their problems, bitter experiences and any type of instances related to gender based violence through a sms. Thanks to mobile phones! It has made the procedure to report such cases to be hassle free. These days, most of us have an access to cell phones. Thus, the sms campaign’s main idea is to reach out to most of the people. This initiative has shown that a simple text from our cell phones can now be used to voice our issues to the lager group of people.
We can now sms our voices in 5455. Our voices will be posted in the Facebook group ” Voices Heard”. The main aim of YALC is to act as a mediator and to conduct effective follow up of the cases. Some of the cases have been evident in Facebook group. YALC works to connect the victims to concerned organizations or people who can help them with legal aid, counseling service, protection, case management, referral etc.
Other than that, YALC has been conducting weekly online discussions on Facebook about topic related to gender based violence to promote this campaign. They are also going to visit different schools and colleges to disseminate the information among the Nepalese youth. This is also an effective way of raising awareness.
We hope that this technological boon can be helpful to create an impact in our societies to combat gender based violence.
Jun 26, 2013
An ever-shrinking world over the past few decades has, fortunately, propelled conversations around racial discrimination, cultural acceptance and religious tolerance. The acknowledgement of the diversity in this world has traveled from activism on the streets to discussions on inclusivity in society, business and government. While these have certainly advanced our evolution as a social species, we still seem to be suffering in recognizing and bridging the most basic form of distinction within our societies. Irrespective of race, religion, culture or geography, Gender Equality is an issue that we continue to grapple with across the world.
While the most basic aspects of gender equality and women empowerment, through security, education or healthcare, is almost a fantasy in most parts of the world, the disappointingly low number of women leaders, even in the developed world, in areas of business or politics, is a clear reflection of the issue’s ubiquity. 3% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women, while women hold just 25% of senior management positions across the business world. A free democracy such as the United States has seen only 44 women elected to its Senate since its establishment in 1789. As the world works towards providing access to basic security, education and healthcare in the lesser developed regions of the world, it is as essential that women are provided with more leadership opportunities in areas of business and politics in the more developed regions of the world. This requires not just a focus on policies within corporate and government towards creating more accommodating environments for women to succeed, but also, platforms that inspire women to realize their individual potentials and aspirations.
One such initiative is the Women Leadership Summit on the 26th of June in New York City. The event has three amazing women leaders speaking on their experiences across areas of social service, entrepreneurship, and business. Supported by the Hatchery, the Happiness Assembly and the Wall Street Journal, it promises to be a fantastic gathering aimed at empowering women by, first, inspiring them.
Jun 26, 2013
From Huffington Post:
The Texas anti-abortion bill, which threatened to close nearly all of the abortion clinics in the state and prompted an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is dead, The Austin American-Statesman reported.
Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session’s end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called “a people’s filibuster,”The Associated Press reported.
The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried “Shame! Shame!” when Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
Their cries continued to echo inside the chamber — and over a livestream watched by thousands around the world — until after the midnight deadline passed.
Although some Republican lawmakers later claimed the bill had passed in time, Democrats denied that the vote was completed before the clock ran out on the session.
A time stamp showing the vote completed after midnight was the deciding factor. “This will not become law,” Sen. John Whitmire (D), told The Austin American-Statesman.
In response, the crowd of protesters gathered in the capitol cheered and began singing “The Eyes Of Texas,” the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin.
According to The Texas Tribune, Dewhurst was less than pleased by the evening’s turn of events. After ruling that the time on SB 5 had expired, he told reporters that “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” had derailed legislation that was designed to protect women and babies.
The legislation would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regulated first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers and restricted access to medication abortions. Had it passed, nearly all of the clinics in the state would have been shuttered.
Dewhurst also hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may call another special session to get the bill passed, saying: “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”
Despite a long day of filibustering, Davis was upbeat when she greeted the crowd of supporters, who applauded the senator and chanted her name.
“Today was democracy in action,” Davis said. “You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.”
Jun 26, 2013
From Tumblr blogger kat1712:
(edited for language)
Senator Wendy Davis is a f*cking badass.
There’s this bill that they are trying to pass in Texas that would make it illegal to get any abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would make it very difficult for abortion centers to continue doing what they do. Governor Rick Perry has already said that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will sign it. And Wendy Davis said f*ck no that is not happening.
So she’s filibustering it. That means she asked to talk on the subject at 11:18 this morning, and if she can continue talking about abortion until 11:59 tonight, the bill won’t reach Governor Perry, and they would have to start all over with the bill next time they meet- 2 years from now.
But Wendy has to keep talking. She can’t pause for even a minute, not for food or a sip of water or to go to the bathroom or sit down. She can’t even lean up against anything, or she’s out. So she’s wearing motherf*cking PINK NIKE TENNIS SHOES in the middle of the state senate.
She also has to continue talking about the topic. She sent out tweets an other messages last night asking for anyone and everyone’s abortion story, and received a sh*t load of answers. Her staff is still collecting them, and she’s reading them aloud to the senate. Not only is she making this bill impossible to pass, she may just change some minds while she’s at it.
This is history, guys. Wendy Davis is a motherf*cking badass, and we are watching it happen.
Jun 25, 2013
The only time the argument “men get raped too” is relevant is if someone says “men do not get raped.”
The argument that rape culture does not exist because men can, hypothetically, be raped is ridiculous. Rape culture exists because one in six women in America has been raped, and one in three women worldwide will be abused in her lifetime. An estimated one in thirty-three American men have been raped–and that percent is much higher in America than in the developing world. In 2003, 90% of rape victims were female. It is the bigger problem.
Men get raped. But men being raped is not a societal ill. Men being raped is a problem. Women being raped is a society and a culture. When we treat men and women equally, we can conquer both issues. But simply hearing sexist men say “men get raped!” during conversations about rape culture is pointless.
When men do not feel the need to be dominant to the point of raping women, perhaps they also will not be so full of pride that they will begin to report being raped themselves. The way our society views gender roles encourages rape culture for both genders–so instead of arguing about who we should feel sorry for, we should be trying to change our society and our culture so that anyone who is abused can come forward, regardless of gender.
Jun 22, 2013
“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” AMA board member William Kobler said in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”
The AMA’s stance on amending the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in the U.S. falls in line with recent policy changes in other countries. Earlier this year Canadian Blood Services approved achange in policy that would allow gay men to donate blood if they have abstained from having sex with another man for five years prior to their donation. Additionally, other countries such as Australia and the U.K., require only a one-year window of deferral for sexually active gay men, while South Africa requires only a six-month period.
Jun 21, 2013
For decades, most Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been lying to women, evading questions, and disguising their institutions as health care facilities. They receive federal funding to shame women into believing lies- “abortion causes breast cancer”, “it will make you infertile”, “condoms do not protect against STIs”, etc. They do not have a doctor at these facilities, and are not under HIPAA regulations of non-disclosure of medical records. They are against all contraception forms. They will harass a woman until she is in tears, and then send her on her way with a Christian religious token, and a promise from her that she will keep her child, they will only provide “help” if she agrees to go to Bible Study. This is not health care. Title X funding should be revoked.