Category > Living Positive
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Dec 11, 2014
At different parts of our life we come across many feelings, experiences and situations. Some motivates us for better while others may lead to despair and sadness. Whatever may be the situation there is some lesson to be learnt. It is up to us, how we take such experiences and what we make of it. YALC has been an eye opening and motivational experience for me for which I am really thankful and feel fortunate. Thank you YALC!!
Dec 3, 2014
On December 1, each year the World AIDS day is observed to commemorate the 36 million lives claimed by HIV/AIDS across the world; it also highlights that in the fight against HIV there is urgent work that still needs to be done. It has been more than three decades since scientists identified the HIV virus which causes AIDS and the cure for it still evades the doctors. Leading researchers from Australia, Italy and the United States have said that considerable work still needs to be done before they can find a cure for HIV.[i]
The transmission of the HIV virus is tied to specific high-risk behaviors and has nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation. It is not uncommon for people to blame gender non-conforming people for increased prevalence rates of HIV in society, but the real culprit is the legalized homophobia and bigotry which drive them underground. The oppressed are always blamed for their problems by the oppressors. Societal norms, dominant cultural practices and religious beliefs are responsible for driving sexual minority groups underground due to which they are marginalized from HIV/AIDS related prevention efforts and have limited or no access to such programs. Because of this they are at a bigger risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS. No logical person would willingly want to contract HIV and gender non-conforming people are no different. Numerous research studies have proved that reduced stigma and discrimination always leads to a reduction in the infection rates.[ii]
In Pakistan, an estimated 130,000 people are living with HIV.[iii] But this number could be much higher as a lot of people in the country do not have access to screening services and are probably living in ignorance of their HIV status. According to the UNAIDS website for Pakistan adults aged 15 and above are at an increased risk of getting the virus, and in 2013 there were 4000 reported cases of deaths due to AIDS. A report published by the UN last year highlighted that new cases of HIV were on a rise in Pakistan.[iv] Most of the prevention efforts and Public AIDS control programs in the country are targeted at the sex workers in the country and have yet to include the general population who if not more than are at the same level of risk as the sex workers. The HIV/AIDS national surveys and public prevention programs do not include men who have sex with men and transgender people who are universally acknowledged as two high risk populations. And without including the key affected populations into their prevention efforts the national and provincial AIDS control programs cannot halt the spread of HIV in Pakistan.
Extraordinary advances in the field of medicine have made it possible for HIV-positive people to live long and lead healthy lives. But in the absence of a cure each year tens of thousands of new infections occur. Since 2011, the international efforts to highlight HIV/AIDS awareness have been focused on achieving the common goal of, “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination.” [v] But less than adequate funding for HIV programs, ideological restrictions on research efforts, improper prevention techniques and endless stigma and discrimination have proved to be major roadblocks in the achievement of Getting to Zero. A majority of the world’s population exposed to the HIV virus continues to live in either ignorance or shame about their HIV status. Only through leading by example can we improve the lives of those living with HIV. We can get tested to learn our HIV status and show care and support towards those who have already been tested positive. Together, we can slow the spread of HIV and better care for those affected by it.
Nov 20, 2014
What started as mild and snarky criticism of a casually sexist shirt from some scientists, science enthusiasts, and a few people on Twitter grew into another vitriolic discussion on how feminists are offended by the smallest issues and are reacting wildly. But that’s not quite what #ShirtStorm is, forget what most of the Internet tries to tell you. Cathy Young’s teeth grinding, eyebrow raising editorial on Time, “How To Turn a Cool Moment into a #ShirtStorm” is another piece I wouldn’t trust. I recommend reading it only if you are prepared to contort your facial muscles and vocal chords to their limits when you come across her paragraph on how feminists stigmatize and oppress straight men for their sexuality.
(The shirt in question — photo from the ESA news stream, via @RoseVeleth’s Twitter feed)
Landing a probe on a comet is really cool. It’s a great scientific feat that took about ten years to accomplish, major props to all involved. But does an achievement of any kind really make one immune to criticism? Why are we not allowed to acknowledge both the impressive landing and the problematic shirt? And let’s be honest here, was this ever really just about a shirt?
Do I think Dr. Matt Taylor is a misogynist? From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem like it. It just looks like a classic case of a person who does something problematic but doesn’t realizes it until he’s told exactly why it was offensive and even detrimental. Yes, I know it was made by a woman. Yes, I know he was only trying to promote her artwork. And okay, maybe you might even wear the shirt yourself. It’s clear that his intention wasn’t to hurt anyone. None of that changes what wearing that shirt meant to some women struggling to no fault of their own in STEM fields, areas of academia and careers we know too well are disproportionately male-dominated. The impact is what we’re looking at. And knowing the context and history, how can we even begin to consider intent ever being more important than impact?
When confronted with criticism, Dr. Matt Taylor quickly and tearfully apologized. And everyone, including Dr. Matt Taylor, moved on–or at least, that’s what we all thought would happen. You see, what really made #ShirtStorm wasn’t the small, but diverse group of people who had the courage to speak up about the casual sexism and privilege of an accomplished scientist. It was misogynist keyboard warriors making false parallels of judging a man’s shirt to rape culture and sexual objectification. It was another round on the internet of rampant strawman assertions to the rest of the world on what feminism really is. Sadly we’re not living in a world in which #ShirtStorm is a hashtag describing how misogyny is thriving on the media’s poor representation of people’s concerns over decades of a troubled relationship between women and STEM fields.
#Shirtstorm is just a new name for the same old practice of shaming and silencing those who dare to speak up.
If you think this isn’t a big deal, well, by itself, it’s not a huge one. But it’s not by itself, is it? This event didn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes when there is still a tremendously leaky pipeline for women from undergraduate science classes to professional scientist. It comes when having a female name on a paper makes it less likely to get published, and cited less. It comes when there is still not even close to parity in hiring and retaining women in the sciences.
So yeah, it’s just a shirt.
And it’s just an ad.
It’s just a saying.
It’s just a TV show.
It’s just the Internet.
Yes, but you almost make as much as a man does.
It’s just a catcall.
It’s a compliment!
It’s just that boys will be boys.
It’s just that she’s a slut.
It’s just that your dress is too short.
It’s just that we want to know what you were wearing at the time, ma’am.
It’s just it’s just it’s just.
It’s just a death by a thousand cuts. No one cut does the deed. In the end, they all do.
Nov 3, 2014
When we figure out our most embarrassing
moments in the era of solitude, we begin to see
reasons why hope and faith is of utmost
importance to the benevolence of prosperity and
growth. Sometimes, we say our words cannot
rouse our current situation to a glorious height,
and our feelings for vague reasons is not good
enough to strike a deal with change.
The question is: are we giving twice as much or do
we live in nightmares?
For so many reasons we–youths, have failed to
understand why certain things happen: most
youths attribute unpredictable events to “chance
and luck”. I don’t believe that prosperity happens by
chance, or that unexplainable scenarios take place
when the mind is at rest. I put my trust in destiny:
as it is written, so shall it be.
Well, it may interest you to know that there are two
kinds of attitude towards life–when we are almost
on the verge of giving twice as much to hope and
faith for a new beginning.
*There are those who will never figure out that
They were used to achieve a purpose,
*There are those who will, at a late time figure out
That they were exploited to achieve a goal.
Do you know how it feels to be trapped in this
scene,–“It is like going to heaven on bare feet.”
The most profound aspect is understanding the
essence why ones life is useful in a particular field,
the environment or why it is important at all.
The first portrays the picture of Understanding ,
and thousands of youths have faulted in this act.
Understanding the reasons why you are needed for
an objective to work out, why purpose is necessary
to harness the goodwill of change, and why ones
environment plays a huge role in the
transformation of his “Mutual Being,” signifies the
understanding of self.
The latter, exemplifies purpose: why is it the way it
is, what is the objective on the one hand, and why
is it necessary–will the course change? And if it
does, will we?
Grace provides youths with the leverage to do
more with less, to raise boundaries with little
effort–it doesn’t work without a thorough
understanding of why certain things are needed.
The best way to get ahead, and dwell in the throne
of grace is to “Understand Purpose.” It is what
differentiates the major from the minor.
We are youths for change–let it remain the way it
Nov 3, 2014
We are all feminist!
People fight for every girls right,–whether in secret
or not. We have once said no to those people who,
one way or another have adjusted the beauty of the
Life made things easy, but our new story-telling,
and blueprint-art, shaped the way things used to
be. It is quite beautiful to say we have tried our best
to influence most of the affairs of girls living in
rural areas–“to put a smile on gaunt faces.”
Today, there’s a task on each of us to help raise
awareness and #Write4Girls ; to ring the bell, and
set prosperous margins for them to follow.
In Cotonou, the Republic of Benin; teenage girls are
going through a lot of pains–from hunger strike in
major rural areas, to sexually transmitted
infections, and rape! Most of these girls have no
parents, only few of them have access to hospitals
and parental care. The selfsame happens in
Ekpoma, Edo state, Nigeria (…my state of origin);
girls have turned coated wires, nude. From peer
group relationship to hotel services. Almost 15% of
teenage girls in my environment from (14-17) are
pregnant, 10% are already mothers,–the story goes
From these circumstances “Feminism” becomes a
dwindled act, because majority of the girls we fight
for–(to get quality education, parental care and
reproductive health services…),–are knowingly
doing the wrong things.
But aside from any heart feelings, we are still
There’s always a heart that wants to put a smile on
wrinkled faces–“Malala, is working on education for
every girl child, we too can do our best.”
Today, there’s a new definition, the renaissance of a
new hope; thoughts that begets’ essence, and
notions that raises the bowels that once lay flat.
Our words, written or spoken, can influence and
reach the farthest places. Faults may emerge, and
we may have to shrink to environmental and
governmental laws; but the grace to move on will
spring forth, if we decide to take a stand.
This is for those girls that have lost all, those girls
that have been shut out; raped; coerced for
pleasure; used as slaves; and made to hawk fruits
in the market.
We can do a lot more if we #Write4Girls, and
channel or thoughts to every girl child.
Oct 31, 2014
Recently, Emma Watson has come forward with powerful speeches presenting her personal beliefs about feminism and the role each person has in progressing this movement forward. Her UN speech, which can be seen here, http://bit.ly/1rB2PGG, discussed the HeForShe campaign and was a beautiful start, but recently she has also come out to Elle UK to discuss what feminism specifically means to her. Time has quoted Watson as saying, “Feminism is not here to dictate you… All we are here to do is give you a choice,” (http://ti.me/13eYpMS) which I think is a principle that everybody can support. The idea that feminism is personal is so, SO real. Feminism is different to every person and no type of feminism is wrong or better than another. Feminism is about equality and it can take form in a variety of ways. Here is what my feminism looks like.
My feminism looks like peace. The anti-choice movement pisses me off. So does slut-shaming. And victim-blaming. And general oppression. I identify as a feminist and I care about a lot of issues and I channel that passion into making a difference in the world. More importantly, however, I believe in the power of peace. Anger is a powerful emotion and I could never deny that, but more importantly I identify with peace and the power that tranquility can have on the world. During my freshman year of college my friend Shannon, at the time co-chair for our campus’s Student Women’s Association said to me, “peaceful, powerful, and pro-choice,” and since then I have really identified with it. This does not make me any less passionate. It does not make me any less of a feminist. It makes me, me.
My feminism looks like bandage skirts and crop tops. Sometimes, and not all the time, I like to wear heels and short skirts and heavy eyeliner. That’s okay. Everybody knows that the way a woman dresses or drinks or acts is not an invitation for rape. It’s also not an invitation for hate.
My feminism has no girl-hate. I try to accept women for wherever they are in their life. I accept girls who wear mini skirts and drink and have sex with different people every weekend. I accept girls who think girls like that are everything that’s wrong with feminism. All I want in my community, is for all of the women I know to accept all the women that they know. I encourage us all to focus on girl-love. Love the girls who stay in and study. Love the ones who go out every night. Love them for whatever they need to do to be the woman they want to be. Love each other. Because that’s what makes us all a beautiful and powerful group.
I think as a society we have a tendency to lose sight of what acceptance means. Not everybody has the same opportunities, the same knowledge, the same opinions. It is important for us to each share a little part of ourselves, share the things that matter to us in a way that is both respectful and enlightening for other people. We have to stop expecting that everybody knows what matters to us and start actively teaching each other to care. We have to start realizing that we all have the same goal and together we’ll be closer to the equality we are all striving to reach.
Oct 31, 2014
After reading a beautiful article written by two Harvard College students, Brianna and Kirin, about their experience at Advocates for Youth’s Urban Retreat 2014 and their involvement with “the movement” for sexual health justice for young people (http://bit.ly/1nAOKZH), I decided to reflect on my own experiences and activism work. Here are five of the most important things I have learned by joining “the movement” that I think other people would learn, too. I’m sure the list will grow.
5. Friends will support you, but not always agree with you. I am incredibly passionate about some very controversial political and social issues, including abortion and comprehensive sex education and LGBTQ equality. For me, these are not even controversies, they are rights, but I have learned and been reminded that everybody is entitled to their own opinions. Just because one of my best friends disagrees with me on abortion rights, does not mean that one of us is more correct than the other. More importantly, it does not mean that we cannot be friends. Respect can go a long way.
4. Answers can create more questions. Recently, I was asked to speak at a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 101 class about STD/HIV prevention on college campuses, contraception, and general reproductive justice as it effects my peer group. It is all too easy to assume that everybody has had the same education as you. They have not. There will be questions about consent, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming that will worry you and allow you to question society as a whole. You will have to explain dental dams and female condoms. You might be embarrassed at first, but you can do it. It is a worth-while experience.
3. Activism may lead to assumptions. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is that people want to know how your activism work specifically relates to your personal life. People are willing to cross those boundaries. Recently, I was asked by a stranger, someone much older than me, if the 1 in 3 statistic (stating that 1 in 3 women in their lifetime will have an abortion) was my “personal statistic.” I wasn’t offended, but I was surprised. I would never feel I have the right to ask another woman so blatantly and personally about her own experience. Some people do and they will ask.
2. “The movement” will change the people around you. You will be so delighted and thrilled to find that your friends and roommates and people you don’t even know are willing to support you and your cause. I recently started a student organization on my campus, the Student Alliance for Sexual Health, and found that the people who really care about me are willing to stand behind me for my cause. That leads me to the number one thing you will learn from “the movement.”
1. “The movement” will change you. If you let it, “the movement,” will open your heart and soul. It will fill you with this invincible passion that infects your day-to-day choices, that clears a path for where you need to be in life, for where you’re going, and where you have been. It will cast light on all of these shadows in your life and fill the spaces you need it to fill. Your passion for change is what causes you to become “the movement” yourself. You are not alone. You are a part of a whole. Cherish it.
Sep 10, 2014
(fəˈsäd/) – A superficial appearance or illusion of something
We as individuals tend to just take negative and offensive slurs as not really serious because they may have a joking connotation about them. Instead we have a habit to put on this mask, a facade as to say, pretending we are happy but in reality we are hurting even more. Slurs said and repeated everyday such as “faggot” and “slut” are merely tools used by the weak to try to minimize the confidence of others. Even though things said may hit you hard, that does not mean they are true. As long as you are true to your self you will have negativity thrown your way, but as long as you hold your head high you won’t need to wear a mask of happiness over a face of sadness because you yourself will be happy. Truly truly happy.
-Nicholas Cole, 17
Aug 29, 2014
Just imagine, if you had just a day to live, one last day on earth, then how would you spend those 24 hours? I wonder what I would do! There would be so much to do that could not be fulfilled in a day. I would either spend all the money that I have feeding the poor, or just would eat whatever I want to, without the fear of weight-gain; I would be with my family and spend those precious hours with never-ending smiles, or I would marry my beloved and be with him till my last second on this earth; I would hug all my friends around, ask for forgiveness and forgive those with whom I have disputes, bid them farewell and enjoy the last supper, or I would leave everything aside, just pray to god and wait for the world to end. What would you do? It’s so hard to decide when there is not much time, when every minute is so important, not to finish the task that you are assigned or to attend any business meetings and job interviews but to spent it for yourself, to fulfill one’s spiritual happiness and peace.
Every day we are chasing each other in this materialistic world to gain the materialistic achievements, either to impress others or for one’s materialistic satisfaction. We work so hard and run after those things that make us satisfied but not happy. Sometimes I think we have forgotten the actual feeling of happiness and peace. Nowadays one becomes happy by shutting others down; one remains at peace when other degrades. Nowadays we talk more but listen to the least to reply the worst. With all this competition, we have made our world a system, our body a machine and our materialistic passion as a fuel.
No wonder we have made compromises in numerous steps of our lives, or others might have compromised for us as well in numerous ways. But I am sure we can count those moments when we felt the actual happiness and peace, or some might have never got this chance yet. It’s always about survival of the fittest and existence of the brightest, and one should move on.
Ultimately the race stops one day and we leave this earth as a spirit either with regrets or with spiritual satisfaction. Which one would you be? None knows if heaven or hell really exists but we see and feel both while we are still alive. So here is my question again, if you had just a day to live, one last day on earth, then how would you spend those 24 hours? The best would be to live every day like it’s our last day, and then may be earth will be a better place that would never end.
Aug 2, 2014
Yes, no doubt, we hear people speaking much more about gender based violence and other social issues these days. We can see much people being engaged in social work activity. We write articles and we speak much against social discrimination and gender based violence. But regarding our act, I doubt.
Do we really practice as we speak and write?
I am a person who is trying to be a part of change. Around me there are many good people who act as an activist and I am so much influenced by them. However, many times I have encountered people who all are so good at speaking. They are so influential and seem to be the real change maker/ activist. But when we come to the action, they also lag behind. Sometimes we even fear to speak in public, we fear to share our stories to people. If it’s other’s stories, we take it as an example to share it in our speech to other people. But why do we fear to share our own stories.
Many times, I myself have experienced this. When I hear about others being a victim of social crime, I think of acting against it. I speak boldly against that but there are incidents I have come across when I hadn’t acted as I thought to when it happened to me. This kind of incident really makes me feel guilty afterwards. Before I used to think it’s only me, I need to change myself. I used to think it’s my only problem to not to be able to speak. But these days I have noticed this among many, even with those whom I thought to be great social activist.
We speak great. But do we really act at that level? We come across so many incidents and we become victim many times. But do we really act against it? Do we practice what we write and speak, at our individual level? I fear many of us don’t. So lets not just speak. We have had enough of it now. Its time to act. Lets start to act from the individual level; that’s how we are going to change.
Jul 11, 2014
Sex and the city
A sixteen year old girl got pregnant few weeks before i had completed my exams, and the reeking saint of unwanted pregnancy loomed in my street for weeks ; bearing from the first. Most girls I have talked to in my neighbourhood, often say ; ”their family are poor and they lack the essential resources that will trigger a change — socially, physically, emotionally and economically.
”Today, eight out of ten girls (with ages between 12-17) in my community, gets pregnant every two Months”
In Some families ( where girls are a majority), parents lure their daughters into prostitution : as a result of poverty, and poor social status.
We are the drivers our lives: but what if that life is nurtured and understood. What if girls are taught — with basic morals from mother and father.
”what if, for every mistake, she is corrected and shown the right part ; Then, with other positive attribute laid, change can be achieved.
Jun 2, 2014
(image reposted from DLCentral)
(This post contains SPOILERS. Trigger warning: misogyny and homophobia.)
The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC (downloadable content) came out on Valentine’s Day 2014 with rabid anticipation and celebration from fans of the original Playstation 3 exclusive The Last of Us and TLoU: American Dreams comic series. But not everyone was thrilled with the game.
I won’t hide that I’m personally a huge fan of this franchise. I waited years for The Last of Us and kept track of various nuances in the video game design, legal matters, and updates. I beat both the game and the DLC several times on different difficulties. I’m above hundreds of thousands in terms of skill and rank on the The Last of Us multiplayer leaderboard. I’ve also read the comics. So, let there be no doubt that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to this.
The Last of Us excels in many ways that other games do not. The graphics are miles above the majority of games that came out in 2012 and 2013. The gameplay controls and mechanics are solid and allow players to make choices on how they want to deal with the conflict of each chapter. Want to sneak around like a silent and deadly assassin? Or would you rather jump in on danger with molotovs and nail bombs and guns blazing? Players even get the option to have conversations with some of the NPCs (non-player character) and AIs (artificial intelligence) of the game, with prompts provided of course. The game also limits how much ammo or supplies a player receives. It’s a tactic that makes the players really think about how they should use their items and re-think their strategies against the infected and enemy humans in this post-apocalyptic world.
The first ten minutes prove to be an emotional experience. Each character’s personality, although existing in a fictional post-apocalypse, comes off real and the interactions of these characters are crafted masterfully. Any gamer knows that video games are notorious for having horrible dialogue and even worse voice acting. The Last of Us forces other game companies watching the success of this installment to re-think how they handle these things. Sometimes it’s just not enough to spend hours going pew pew pew or smashing things in a story full of holes and ineffective voiceovers–even though that can be extremely fun too. One of the things that really makes this game is the way it forces companies as well as fans to re-think how they treat people who identify as women in their own stories and gaming community… well, it’s almost there.
Girls and women make up 45% of all gamers in the community. While that’s not a majority, it is still almost half the entire community. And despite such a significant number of girls and women playing video games, our representation still only fluctuate around 17% in TV shows, movies, video games, and even Congress. If we break it down for just the entertainment industry, women only make up 18% of directors and executive producers, 15% of writers, 4% of cinematographers, and 11% of protagonists in a story.
What does this have to do with The Last of Us? Well, the game isn’t perfect. I still felt it lacked female characters even as miscellaneous extras. Most of the humans the player will come across will be men. Most of the women I came across were mushroom infected hordes, officially known as “clickers.”
(Great female representation, huh?)
So what made this game different from the others before it? In this game, women actually made up a half or more of the main characters, which is sadly a rare occurrence. All the main women had motivations that were separate from the male lead, and this isn’t just a rarity, it’s almost non-existent in any form of media. These women were three dimensional and complex. They were flawed, vulnerable, and yet so fierce. Players even get the opportunity to play as a teenage girl in the video game as well as in the DLC. These are all good things when we keep in mind of how much female representation, especially good representation, is lacking in the media. But we shouldn’t get too excited about the bare minimum. It would definitely pass the Bechdel test but while this progressive move is noted and celebrated, we shouldn’t be setting our standards for basic decency so low. As much as I love The Last of Us, the game still followed the same tired formula of brooding white, middle aged man with women being hurt at his expense. So what did MRAs (Men’s Right Activists) and your general misogynists have to say about this bare minimum in treating women as if they were humans capable of complex thoughts?
It provoked angry nerds and geeks to crowd the forums with complaints like:
“Feminists did it. They are ruining one of my hobbies. For anyone who plays video games as one of their hobbies, The Last of Us is a pretty fun game…. The feminist messages were close to ruining a game I waited a year for…”
“…will my games be misogynist? You better ****ing believe it. Misogyny The likes of which will make duke nukem blush.”
(source: Men Going Their Own Way)
“At no point in the making of this game can you imagine Naughty Dog sitting down and saying “what we should do with our apolocayptic epic, is try and tackle feminism!”
“I’m all for stronger female characters but i also am sick of this sexist modern feminism which suggest been an attractive women is a bad thing. I also think it’s sexist to try repress straight male sexuality by suggesting its wrong to find women attractive by referring to it as objectification.”
“There are far more males play games than women…fact.Sick of hearing the constant nagging about sexism.”
(source: these comments are replies to The Last of Us isn’t the solution to sexism in games, but it’s a start.)
Some gamers took issue with the fact that many of the leadership roles in the video game were occupied by women, especially one woman of color named Marlene. She’s the leader of the Fireflies. It’s a rebellion group that’s focused on finding a cure to save humankind from this horrible zombie fungus affliction and dismantling the militaristic government system.
(Photo of Marlene, image reposted from GamerArtHub, original art concept and creation by Soanala Lee)
While the game faced heavy criticism from misogynistic players, The Last of Us hasn’t been left untouched by homophobia. In video games, people who identify as LGBTQ+ are either killed off, villains, or aren’t featured at all. I mean, the same can be said of most venues of media. So there’s no surprise when some of the heated backlash over the progressiveness of the game found its way to one character named Bill. He’s extremely paranoid, tactless, and rough but he’s very reliable. The game heavily implies with obvious subtext that Bill is gay. And it’s not just subtext, it’s been confirmed by one of the directors at Naughty Dog (company that created the game). GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) voted Bill onto their list of most intriguing characters of 2013. And here’s what they had to say about him:
“One of the characters the player encounters over the course of the game is Bill, an unstable loner in the town of Lincoln with a talent for fixing things. Through dialogue and backstory, the player learns that Bill once had a partner named Frank who he loved, but the plague drove them apart and led Frank to a bitter end. Both helpful and contentious, Bill is as deeply flawed but wholly unique a gay character found in any storytelling medium this year.”
(photo of Bill, reposted from GamerArtHub, original art concept and creation by Soanala Lee)
I thought the creators would leave all mention of queerness at subtext and podcast interview like so many others (J.K. Rowling, anyone?). But Naughty Dog took a brave route with their addition to the full game. While this DLC serves as a prologue to the actual game, Left Behind revolves around just Ellie and her friend Riley. Making a video game that completely centers around teenage girls with their own personal motivations and feelings is already unheard of. And how fun, as best friends, they can even take selfies in a photobooth with the players choosing the poses and backgrounds. But Naughty Dog takes it one step further. The writers created a scene of vulnerability, tenderness, and love between two girls in a world ravished by violence, oppression, and plague.
You can watch the three minute scene here. I would recommend that the comments should be left alone though. But in case you need an extra warning, the comments are along the lines of:
“Yeah…. I threw the game in the trash cause of this…….
NAUGHTY DOG! NEXT TIME LET HER KISS A GUY!”
“It makes me angry seeing gays trying to take over media now Games?!”
“the team was influenced by feminism, disgusting.”
“the gay kiss is totally perverted and f***ing sick… Naughty Dog is dead to me.”
(I copied and pasted these comments by the way but decided to leave the commentators anonymous.)
The creators of The Last of Us confirms that Ellie is gay and that the kiss she shares with Riley is of love, not just understandably reaching out for warmth and affection in a cold world, but a kiss with intentions of romantic love. Has anyone ever seen a game like that other than a manipulation of some Sims that we may or may not have made in the past?
It’s taken great steps toward progress, but we should still be fighting for more representation of identities in our media other than the usual white, male, cisgender, and heterosexual. This game, while it probably won’t be a catalyst for a culture shift, should be the kind of thing that gamers use as a standard, a bare minimum for what’s considered acceptable. And as the giants we are, we should go beyond that.
Jun 1, 2014
Dating and choices :
Today makes it 10 years of being single, and i feel awkward about it. I love being single but sometimes i want to be loved, praised and appreciated.
I enjoyed the life i had, but one thing i couldn’t conquer was ”Loneliness”. No matter how hard i try to get it off, it sinks in the more. Loneliness makes most youths delve into early and unhealthy relationship ; and this retards growth and social commitment.
‘I love to connect, to share my thoughts and mingle with friends and love ones, most youths will say.
But how ? Does dating promote mutual acceptance?
Most religious tenets don’t allow dating – and youths entangled with this law tend to miss out in mutual connection.
Dating is meant to connect two unequal persons together, not only in the aspect of mutual or cordial acceptance but to stir up a change in each persons life.
Today, we have youths who can’t decide who to have an affair with. Due to a poor environmental standard and the flaws they were associated with.
When girls can’t express themselves with the opposite sex a barrier rises which shuns the need for acceptance. Which is a major problem for an environment seeking progress in all ramifications.
We are faced with choices that will shape our lifestyle and also influence the way we respond to each other. If dating is now an avenue for unlawful activities in most part of the world – then how do we proceed ?
May 24, 2014
From installing baby gates to fastening bike
helmets and seat belts, parents put their kids’ safety
first. But once kids hit adolescence, the risks can
become less obvious. When it comes to teen dating
violence, for example, many parents are blind to the
risk and so don’t offer the help their children may
need. Even when parents recognize teen dating
abuse, their attempts to intervene can be off-target
and often go ignored.
Given the alarming prevalence of teen dating abuse,
all parents should become educated on risks and
warning signs. Simply recognizing abuse, however,
isn’t enough, say experts featured on Be Smart. Be
Well. Teen Dating. Parents also need to know how
to talk to their teens when they suspect abuse, or
they risk pushing their child closer to the abuser.
Learn to identify abuse and follow these steps to
create your own teen dating-abuse action plan.
Wake up to the risk
Many parents falsely assume their child isn’t at risk
for dating abuse. In truth, teen dating abuse affects
both males and females in all parts of the country
and from all walks of life. One in 10 high school
students reports being hit, slapped or physically
hurt by his or her boyfriend or girlfriend in the past
year, according to the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC). And one in four adolescents report verbal,
physical, emotional or sexual abuse by their
boyfriend or girlfriend.
The numbers are just as worrisome for young
adults in college. According to Liz Claiborne Inc.’s
Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence
and Abuse Poll, nearly half of dating college women
report having experienced violent or abusive
behavior at some point in their dating lives, and
one in five report actual physical or sexual abuse or
threats of physical violence.
Even if young people aren’t being abused
themselves, chances are they know someone who is.
According to surveys conducted by Liz Claiborne
Inc. and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, 80
percent of teens reported knowing someone who
has been a victim of controlling behaviors from a
boyfriend or girlfriend. And more than half of
college women report knowing a friend who has
experienced violent or abusive dating behavior.
“The reality is this is an issue that could affect
anyone at any time. None of us are immune from
it,” says Marjorie Gilberg, executive director of
Break the Cycle, a leading national nonprofit
organization addressing teen dating violence and
one of the experts featured on Be Smart. Be Well.
Domestic Violence. “Smart or not so smart, wealthy
or not so wealthy, it doesn’t matter what color you
are or what you believe. This issue affects
Watch for red flags
Despite the prevalence of teen dating abuse, many
parents remain uninformed. Of teens who reported
being victims of physical abuse, only 10 percent of
their parents were aware of the abuse, according to
a 2009 survey.
That may be because parents are missing the signs.
Abuse can take many forms and doesn’t always
result in obvious bruises or cuts. This list of
potential warning signs, compiled by the National
Teen Dating Helpline, can help parents determine if
their teen is in an abusive relationship.
Warning signs include:
Your teen’s partner is extremely jealous or
possessive. Your teen’s partner emails or texts
You notice that your son or daughter is
depressed or anxious.
Your son or daughter stops participating in
extracurricular activities or other interests.
Your teen stops spending time with other friends
Your teen’s partner abuses other people or
Your teen begins to dress differently.
You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
May 7, 2014
This is my birth story: Fifteen with twins. It was
the night of my year 10 formal. I went with my
boyfriend, Cameron, of 3 years. We had a really
good and fun night and decided to sleep together
later that night.
Around Christmas/New Year time I started to
feel quite sick. I had missed a period but didn’t
think much of it since it was still quite new to
me and the have odd times. On the 5 Jan my
older sister, Kate, took me to the doctors
because of how sick I was.
They looked at me and did some tests and then told
me the news- I was pregnant. At first I was in
shocked. I didn’t know what to do. But then Kate
hugged me and said it will all be ok.
When I got home I was brave enough to tell my
parents. They were both watching TV on the lounge. I
walked in and just told them straight out. They were
so surprised ( I was a straight A student that was in
dance groups, choir, musicals, social justice group
and tennis) they never thought I would get pregnant.
The first thing my mum did was hug me. My dad just
kept saying you should have been more careful.
After that we just talked about and I was keeping the
baby. The next day I asked Cameron over. I sat him
down sand told him. He didn’t take it well and left. I
was so upset but I had Kate and my parents to help
me through it. A few days later I was scheduled to go
out with my two besties, Hanna and Maddie. When I
told them they were surprised and supportive.
Then it was school time. When I returned to school to
start a new year I was already 4 months pregnant but
I wasn’t too visible luckily. I got called a lot of names
but I had Maddie and Hanna to support me and clear
up rumors and things.
When I got my first ultrasound I found out I was
having twins! I had so many emotions then. I was
having twin girls. My whole family was do excited.
We had the baby’s room ready all in pink by the time
I was 7 months.
When I was around 7-8 months Cameron came back
to me. He said he was stupid to leave and can’t
imagine his life without me. I decided to take him
back and give him a chance.
One day when I was just at home reading a magazine
my water broke. I was only 8 months pregnant so I
was shocked! I ran and told Kate and she called mum
and dad and took me to the hospital. When I got
there I was 9 cm dilated and was having really painful
contractions. Because I was so ready I couldn’t have
an epidural and had to push through the immense
2 hours later my beautiful girls arrived. Sophie Lily
Grace Atkins-Portman at 7:36pm, 11 May and Mia
Kate Elizabeth Atkins-Portman 7:52pm, 11 May.
Since the birth of my beautiful girls I went to
university, married Cameron and moved from
Australia to Los Angeles. I am currently pregnant
with my first son.
May 2, 2014
For months, I have thought, read and surfed the
web and other extensive files and documents of
ways by which ; Males and Females , can have
safer sexual intercourse without STDs and not
having to worry about Unwanted pregnancy.
Although , Abstinence is a profound alternative
which is practiced by volunteering to Refrain from
sex , till a divine time. Abstinence is laid on a
foreground of not having any kind of sexual
relationship with a partner – it is simply
diminishing this urge with self will (i.e not willing
But , I have often dabbled at rigorous questions I
can’t answer ( like : Can we all abstain from sex ?)
If only a handful can, then what about the
majority ? I got the idea of Outercourse, from
Medical Reports I came across and other
“Outercourse allows people to express their
sexuality in many ways, to Abstain from sex, and
avoid the risks of sexually transmitted infection
and unplanned pregnancy”.
“Outercourse is any sex play with no penetration
at all, whether — oral, anal, or vaginal”.
It also, defines the situation of intercourse –
between youths and adults experimentally.
Most youths, especially young couples who desire
no intercourse between themselves for a long time
can delve into outercourse :
Because there are no side effects and medical
faults , since the fondling of the body is meant to
cause stimulation and provide satisfaction.
Outercourse is a the best option for the young and
old, since sexual intercourse cannot be ultimately
Outercourse, is not an education, but rather
abdication of the role of guiding youths with the
information they need to make personally
influenced decisions based on sound reasoning
facts. “Knowing, what is safe and what you should
avoid will help you make proud and responsible
Outercourse gives an outstanding solution to the
aches we have in the society due to certain notions
most youths and couples partake in.
There are ways in which youths, couples and
adults can life an outstanding life without being
cut short by unwanted and unplanned
circumstance. For sexual health – which is every
youth desire , Outercourse should be considered to
reduce sexually transmitted diseases and
Apr 22, 2014
Thoughts at puberty”
Thoughts may come and go,
And minds made decisive,
Mates may stay to cuddle,
And tears cease to stop,
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an “Advocate For Youth”.
Apr 12, 2014
Many a time, I have tried to deduce the consequences of some ; Arrogant notions displayed by most youths. The world we live in is Profoundly able to garnish our being to prosperity, and at the same vein make us subjects to harsh circumstances – which will carve us into : Strong, Unrelenting and Determined youths, if we work towards perfection. And destroy our aspect for a Futuristic goal if we reduce our stance, by ploughing the roads of havoc.
Today, we have youths in Prisons, for violating governmental laws and the Commandments ( which is induced in,”LOVE”).
Most parents have Been great and worthy of note, because they have nurtured and trained their children in the right way – using the right principles. Still at this, most youths feel reluctant and partake in ; corruption, rape, killing, cults, sex scandals and other illegal acts.
It’s stated that – “we (Youth(s)) are the leaders of tomorrow.”
But 88% of the world most populous crimes are done by youths. Youths whose future glow more than the stars.
Who is to blame ? Is it the Parent ? I don’t believe that a mother will advise her child to kill or rape a girl.
And I don’t believe a Father, in his sane mind, will propels his son to join a cult.
So who is to blame ?
The environment has a very tremendous phase to play as an assisting dictator of youth growth.
“But should we allocate the illegal acts, committed by youths to the environment ?”
Also, the Government. Poor governance has reduced the overwhelming growth of most countries, and as a result destroyed the countenance of most youths.
This has made most youths swear the, “Oat of Allegiance”, to evil.
Should we then, blame the government ?
Apr 10, 2014
By: Sarah Bradley ’17
On April 5, I and another freshmen member of Students for Sexual Health attended the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts conference for campus organizers, alongside representatives from UMASS-Amherst, Boston University, Tufts University, Northeastern University, Smith College, and Wellesley College. It was a day of instruction and reflection on how to improve our campus outreach programs, strengthen our campaigns, recruit new members, and facilitate those difficult conversations concerning reproductive social justice. Discussions were encouraged as we exchanged ideas and strategies. Representing Boston College—a school where we as a student group have no support from the administration and literally stand on non-BC property sidewalks to distribute condoms—we represented a unique situation within the group.
It was both frustrating and incredibly exciting to hear what other schools were doing, to hear about their incredibly fun and innovative events and creative campus outreach programs. When we explained our situation as an unrecognized sexual health group at a Catholic college, the other representatives were shocked. They were quick to suggest different ways to rally support and to promote our cause, regardless of our campus situation. And they had some great ideas.
Taking the train home, I found myself wishing I attended a more liberal college where our student group could have more freedom with our outreach programs. Then I realized: as great as it is that these other Massachusetts schools have the ability to rally on campus and receive administrative support, the fact remains that this is not the situation we face at Boston College—at least, not now.
I’m a freshman. That means that I have three more years to continue working with Students for Sexual Health here at BC. If I had attended a more progressive college, maybe sexual health would have just been another cause among the lineup of tables at the club fair. But attending a conservative college, as frustrating as it may be, is an important push that maybe I would not have experienced otherwise. It’s not about sulking over the lack of administrative support; it’s about taking it as a challenge.
Personally, I know that I have three more years ahead of me of standing on the sidewalk passing out condoms, holding events off campus, and doing our best even as an unofficial group to educate our peers. And while it may not happen during my time here as a student, SSH will be an official group someday—but even then, Students for Sexual Health will continue to advocate for our cause and for our right to educate our peers here at BC.
Apr 10, 2014
She is passionate to share her love with everyone. She wakes up early in the morning, completes all her household chores perfectly. Then, she steps to external world (professional life) where she is equally competitive and dedicated towards her work. Along with this, she is equally concerned about her household/family responsibility. She returns back home with full enthusiasm (after the official work) to serve and take care of her family. When you feel lonely, she is there to give you a company. When you feel down, she is there beside you to cheer you up. When you feel hopeless, she is there to support you and guide you. This is common role that every todays working woman play in her life of my society.
When I observe the roles that woman are playing, I really get amazed and feel proud to be a woman. How can she play so many roles perfectly? Before, woman used to be confined within the four walls of a house. So, they were limited within the household works. Now, we can see woman flying in all other sector along with their responsibility. She can be seen tackling with every kind of problem; from emotional to economic.
Indeed, life is not easy for them but they manage to make it perfectly beautiful. And I salute to all woman who are proving themselves that they are no weaker than any other people.
Apr 4, 2014
Many a time, I have tried to survey and parry the questioning effect on sex and its constituent. I believe it is a redefined commitment entitled to both parties ( man & woman ) on a divine standard.
The world we live in today define sex as a ‘social commitment’, which is a taboo to fundamental notions displayed from old.
Afore, Sex, occurs after a marriage right is fulfilled – which connects a man and a woman together perfectly. Today, sex, is now seen as an avenue to satisfy common urge.
* some say we should have sex to satisfy ourselves and set our burdens at ease.
* others say, when you feel the urge get someone to have sex with. And a girlfriend should serve as a friend with benefits.
Sex is good and fun in the making, not to be confused with a Mutual Engagement between a male and a female. There are so many medical attributes linked to sex – one dominant property I know of is a reduction in emotional pressure or tension, resulting from ‘Anxiety’.
If we define sex on the basics of mutual engagement, then it is the right for every one (Adolescence,Teen,Youth and Adult), to have sex.
We have a situation where a boy of 16, gets a girl pregnant,at the expense of the so-called love. And the girl demands for an abortion or decides to conceive the child due to having sex at the wrong time.
There’s an increase in Abortion, Unwanted pregnancy and a retardation in fundamental growth of boys and girls. Most people who see sex as a social commitment end up having a bad experience, because they capitalise on the lust of satisfaction, instead of seeking to understand the reason for IT.
In most homes where a man considers sex more than his wife, there’s a high tendency for an upheaval of distrust to occur – which will massively dwindle their growth. Most who youths originated from these homes have become the heir of most illegal acts displayed in the world.
There’s an increase in divorce rate,children from this background become prone to harsh circumstance etc.
Youths who lack parental care and control end up doing irrational things, having unprotected and unwanted sex and other juvenile act.
I believe that if a minimum of 15% of youths are taught :
* Pre-sex affair and its influence.
* The fundamentals of sex education,
* Health education and its relation to sexuality.
Then change can commence.
My question :
* How do we educate boys and girls in : Developing and under-developed countries on sex education.
Proposed Query :
80% of youths living in these areas, constitute to the progression of illegal sex and the un-demanded notion it dictates.
Proposed Answer :
* I believe that changing the dialogue of sex affair is on great step .
Educating Youths on :
– what sex is ?
– why is sex needed ?
– what are the effects of sex on life ?
– who are the right persons to have sex ?
– And the required age for sex ?
* A notion I surveyed recently is doing a Poetry on sex-education : which will play a huge role in schools ( High school mostly, in rural and localised areas ).
In localised areas where there’s a gargantuan growth in sex rate, only few schools teach Sex education and a handful of these schools practise it.
– At locations where there are no computers for learning, no Adverts on sex-Ed, no Online orientation, and no seminars and outlets for diverse learning , an introduction to a reformed part of learning on sex education will help.
If we have a preamble poetry on sex education, health and orientation in under-developed areas, then we can help shape most of the questioning we have.
Apr 2, 2014
Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.
In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.
The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.
Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.
Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.
sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.
I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.
Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.
We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.
Mar 31, 2014
The American porn industry: a world of opportunity for both actors and consumers. Everyone wins, right? Actors and actresses with “desired features” have sex and get paid for their performances; meanwhile, consumers happily perpetuate a market with an estimated value of between $10 and $13 billion, which boosts our nation’s economy. By virtue of increased access to pornographic content through the Internet, the industry has permeated American culture so much that the average person views their first pornographic image at the age of 11. Moreover, by 2006, pornographic videos were released on an average of one every half hour.
This is how capitalists would describe the porn industry. They love it because it’s profitable… and it’s also seemingly becoming more “normal.” But while it can be easy to “normalize” the porn industry in light of statistics like the ones above, the porn industry is far from normal. Notably, the actors and actresses who star in pornographic films are subject to abnormal, oftentimes degrading treatment by the same people who consume their products. This fact may not be readily apparent for most of us – how many pornographic actors do we know personally? More than likely, we know none. Porn actors per capita in an arguably moral nation like the U.S. are few; moreover, those who do star in pornography use stage names – most of the time to protect their anonymity. However, for one freshman at Duke University, the struggle to function in society while performing in pornographic films took a serious turn when her anonymity as a porn star was stripped away from her.
Most of America knows her by her stage name, “Belle Knox.” Her real name is Miriam Weeks, but she has only recently divulged her birth name – out of fear. This 18 year-old Duke University freshman has starred in over 30 pornographic films. Weeks has claimed that starring in pornography brings her both confidence and economic stability. On the one hand, Weeks says that as a degree-seeking 18 year-old, no other job could provide her with enough income to pay for her education – a hefty $50,000 per year bill. On the other hand, Weeks states that freely doing pornography is a part of her agenda as a person – she confidently approaches the adult film industry as a way for her to express herself as a woman and to take a stand against the way sex workers are ostracized.
However, after a fellow Duke student “outed” her name to her classmates, Weeks’ struggle as a pornographic actress trying to live a normal life has spiraled. Her ideals and her dignity have been shattered by threats of rape and death, opinions of her perceived economic freedom, critiques of her morality, and objectifications of her body above consideration of her personal ideals. Intense public scrutiny of her aspirations of becoming a respected member of society while working in the porn industry have done an injustice to the human worth of Miriam Weeks and highlight several important problems with the way this country treats sex workers.
By virtue of our technological society, it is much harder for sex workers to remain anonymous. And when these workers are put in the spotlight, our culture’s perpetual stigmatization of their profession leads to many negative, unwarranted responses on a large scale. Disagreeing with sex work is one matter. However, “slut shaming,” often in the form of death threats, rape threats, belittling, bullying, and objectification are unwarranted but present byproducts of being “outed” as a sex worker in our morally conscious culture. While it can be easy for us to think that sex workers have the ability to shrug off degrading comments because of their knowledge of how many people perceive their work, studies have proven otherwise: Extensive literature on the psychological state of sex workers has shown that the suicide rate among sex workers is six times that of the rest of the population. Clearly, these degrading comments are unsurprisingly degrading the mental and emotional state of sex workers at an unconscionable rate.
A second issue at stake for men and women like Miriam Weeks is society’s perception of the true freedom of sex workers. In Weeks’ case, many have argued that the pressure of paying for college has “coerced” the Duke freshman to seek sex work as a means to survive in a country that often prioritizes the value of an education. This is simply not true, according to Weeks, who claims that the money is only one of several reasons why she loves staring in adult films. However, although Weeks has asserted that she feels completely free to choose to do porn, it is not fair to say that all sex workers engage in their work purely out of their own free will. Sometimes, we hear stories of men and women in disparaging economic circumstances, who resort to sex work as a means to stay alive.
But why do some of us instantly typify Miriam Weeks as one of these people who do sex work as a “last resort” – a way to survive economically? Maybe its because when it comes to sex work, many of us are sharply divided on the issue, even though all of us are trained by society to find compassion for others, especially the “marginalized” members of our community (e.g., sex workers, as you probably guessed.) It’s not necessarily our fault: as soon as a conversation about porn starts, so starts the stigma, and instead of believing the possibility that a human being could ever want to do sex work, some of us tell ourselves that the person is just short on money. They’re just getting by until some other opportunity comes up. We excuse them for making the decision to sell their bodies. But when we perceive sex workers collectively as un-free workers, we all too often put words in their mouths. We rob them collectively of the value of their ability to choose. We rob them of their dignity as a rational human being.
Dignity: a word normally not associated with sex workers. But is there any inherent dignity working as a porn star? Miriam Weeks argues that this question is perceived with great bias by a majority of our society. I couldn’t agree more. There is an inherent dichotomy in the ways in which our society thinks about pornography. Although roughly 50% of American citizens freely admit to watching porn regularly, Weeks thinks that society at large has a tendency to shame pornographic actors and actresses publically and professionally while they cannot get enough of it privately. I cannot help but agree with Weeks that this enigma is one of the great plagues of our society. We jerk off with one hand, and we point our fingers with the other.
Breaking down this dichotomy will be a fundamentally challenging but necessary step to search for justice in the many issues surrounding our perception of sex workers. But the struggle for fair treatment of sex workers only begins there. We as a society also need to stop slut shaming as a means of expressing our discontent with someone’s profession. We need to realize that nobody likes being degraded; even if we consider someone derogatory, they are still a human, equally deserving of dignity and respect. Moreover, we need to give back the freedom of choice that we oftentimes take away from sex workers. Instead of being content with telling ourselves that sex workers as a whole are economically disabled, we should work to ensure that all sex workers are economically enabled. We should help those who are not as fortunate as Miriam Weeks and are struggling economically to be able to choose a career just like everyone else.
In closing, I’d like to address that I say “we” throughout this article because this issue affects all of us. Even if you have never watched pornography (I will be a little skeptical of that, but I will take your word for it) or you have not engaged in sex work, I’m sure someone you know has directly or indirectly struggled with the sex-negativity that so pervades our culture. We need to break the stigma surrounding sex work in our society because the reality is that some of us desire to engage in sex work. And no human being deserves to hear that their desires are disgusting.
By: Eric Thomas Roy
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_in_the_United_States#Economics and
Mar 30, 2014
Being born in traditional Nepalese society, we follow and are bounded with different cultural practices. Along with those there are some superstitious belief as well. Among them, I would like to share the experience of the practice that is done during the girls first menstrual period. “Menstruation” though it’s a biological phenomenon that every girl has to face, in many places it is considered as ‘impurity’ phase of women. Due to this, many times, women are categorised as second class being. Eventually, girls from their tender age itself start to consider self as an impure and inferior being of society.
With the superstitious belief, people used to act in very cruel way with that innocent girl (menstruated for 1st time). Back then; it used to be very inhuman act. However, with the time things are changing. Being born in a family with 3 daughters, I have seen the behavioural changes of my parents during that period.
The practice that was done during the first menstrual period of my elder sister , of mine and my younger sister can comparatively seen different. During my elder sister time, she was taken to our relative house and was locked in a room. She was not allowed to see the sun and anyone else as well. She spent that 15 days in a locked room. Likewise, during my time, I was not taken to my relative house. I stayed in my own house and was not locked as well. But I was not allowed to touch things and move around for 15 days. However, during the time of my younger sister, nothing as such was done. She was treated normally. In addition, she was suggested to be conscious of her health and cleanliness.
Not only in mine, but these changes could be seen in most of the Nepalese houses. Change is a gradual process and can be felt through such behavioural changes of people. Hence, I think this is how we are slowly in the path of progress and “Yes, we are changing!
Mar 27, 2014
Tennessee Sends Religious Anti-Discrimination Bill To Governor
Reposted from The Huffington Post | by Shadee Ashtari
Tennessee lawmakers approved a bill on Monday that seeks to expand religious liberty protections for students in public schools.
The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which passed the state Senate 32-0, would permit students to express religious beliefs in their homework, artwork and written and oral assignments without academic punishment or discrimination.
The legislation’s primary sponsors, state Rep. Courtney Rogers (R) and Sen. Ferrell Haile (R), introduced the measure after a teacher asked a 10-year-old student to choose a subject other than God to write about as the person she admired most, according to the Associated Press. The state House passed the bill earlier this month by a vote of 90-2.
Haile characterized the legislation as a pre-preemptive safeguard against potential lawsuits challenging school officials for permitting religious expression, according to the Tennessean.
The proposal would also allow religious students to organize prayer groups and other religious gatherings before, during and after school to the “same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups.”
Opponents of the bill contend that existing laws already protect students’ rights to religious expression and that the new legislation would only expose students of different faiths to unnecessary religious coercion.
“While purporting to prevent discrimination against students expressing religious viewpoints, SB 1793/HB 1547 crosses the line from protecting religious freedom into creating systematic imposition of some students’ personal religious viewpoints on other students,” the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union said in a recentstatement. “Should this pass, students with a range of religious beliefs, as well as non-believers, would likely routinely be required to listen to religious messages or participate in religious exercises that conflict with their own beliefs.”
Similar legislation, modeled after Texas’ 2007 Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act, unanimously passed the Oklahoma Senate in February.
The Tennessee bill now awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s (R) signature. Given the measure’s overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House, a veto by the governor would likely be overturned.
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 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 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
I did not envision myself to be someone who finds so much enjoyment out of preparing a homemade dinner for when a significant other comes home from work. But more than that, I’m finding happiness with my cooking. Part of my journey to reconnect with my culture is making the meals that are inspired by my ancestors. It’s not enough to re-learn the language and symbols and meanings that were mostly erased in my assimilation to the white culture I sought because of internalized racism. I want to know the taste of my parents’ country and history.
Tonight’s dinner is banh cuon (Vietnamese steamed rice crepes) with pan seared salmon, all lightly dressed with a homemade sweet soy sauce.
I originally posted this on my personal Tumblr blog: hannahology.
I’m contemplating doing a Vietnamese food blog as a way of recording my journey towards a reconnection with my culture. For now, just re-learning everything I’ve lost is the main goal. Positive and healing thoughts and actions with a yummy bonus.
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 10, 2013
[tumblr source: sarahlynne3713]
Nov 28, 2013
I ran across an article about a couple that refused to leave their waiter a tip because of his sexual orientation. This is the note the couple left on the back of their receipt:
“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to God. Faggots do not share in the wealth of God, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your faggot choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for God’s love, but none shall be spared for fags. May God have mercy on you.”
This got me thinking, why are we so busy judging the lives of others when we can’t even handle our own? Why do we insist on telling people what to do, how to look like and how to live their lives when we get upset when people try the same with us? Most importantly, why are we so rude about it? There’s something to be said about those who can share their beliefs while still being respectful to persons who have a different opinion.
We are all different because we need each other’s diversity to thrive. We wouldn’t be who we are today without the people who’ve indirectly shaped us. Our lives are meaningful because everyone comes with different shapes, colors, sizes, sexual orientation, personalities and beliefs. The sooner we can come to this realization the sooner we can provide this world with peace. To those who have already recognized this, accepted it and or welcomed it… we can all learn something from you. This couple could have just as easily not left a tip, and kept their disrespectful and hurtful comment to themselves. Instead, they chose to be rude.
Moral of this rant: It’s cool to have your own opinion; it’s not cool to be offensive about it! At the end of the day we all inhabit this earth, and we all deserve RESPECT.
Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get one.
Don’t like abortions? Don’t get one.
Don’t like drugs? Don’t do them.
Don’t like sex? Don’t have it.
Don’t like your rights taken away?
Don’t take anybody else’s.
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 1, 2013
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 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.
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 9, 2013
Why Obama should not bomb Syria is because before I was and other Americans was born there here In America wars was happening already.Sometimes I ask my self why do we have wars. I think other country\’s people try to rule the world and want the power.Everyone can have the power respect money guns for protection by all country\’s becoming as one big nation, country how ever they want to have it.If Obama want to go over there and start a war. I would like for him to ask him self why because I want him to no that his people are in danger if he go to war with Syria. Obama can interact with the Syria president to have peace talk with him but at the same time he should be at stand by if they want war and to be ready that should go for all other country\’s.I say this because I want to see his dream and other black,white and other races dreams come true. I want to see the dream because every human bean deserve it because I\’m tired of struggling and allot of people dieing because of the wars that take place.
Sep 9, 2013
Why Obama should not bomb Syria is because before I was and other Americans was born there here In America wars was happening already.Sometimes I ask my self why do we have wars I think other country’s are people who try to rule the world want the power.Everyone can have the power respect money guns for protection by all country’s becoming as one big nation country how ever they want to have it.If Obama want to go over there and start a war I would like for him to ask him self why because I want him to no that he are people his people in danger our he can interact with the Syria president to have peace talk with him but at the same time he should be at stand by if they want war and to be ready that should go for all other country’s.I say this because I want to see his dream and other black,white and other races dreams come true. I want to see the dream because every human bean deserve it because I’m tired of struggling and allot of people dieing because of the wars that take place.
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 30, 2013
So, today I attended a press release hosted by the World Bank. Ironically, their focus was centered around “Animation”, which might I add, was a complete shock to me. On the contrary, this surprise did not diminish my thirst to hear full on debates, or sit back and watch sparks of passion collide.
From Presidents, to Ministers, to Private Sector representatives, there were full on discussions, that called for a profoundness in appreciating the talent that others possess. Each year, you hear students say :
” I want to be a doctor” or , “The arts are dumb,science is the way to go.”
Personally, without a doubt I have to express my pity unto these persons. They are truly missing out on the fun side to life. I know ! This might sound biased, but really ! What about persons who are not intellectually capable, or the persons who suffer for disabilities that pose a challenge to their daily lives? Do they not contribute to the vivid society we live in today? Are they not valued as a human, with rights?
We need to stop being narrow-minded, and appreciate what each person can bring forth. We have artists, we have the athletes, we have the dancers, singers, lecturers, and even the homeless. We have to look beyond what the norm is, and accept all. We all are the one long connected line that forms this circle of life. No longer should we stand and let people determine what is acceptable or not. If we are to accepted, lets be accepted as our true selves.
Sorry, I got a little passionate there !
Moreover, all I am saying is, a lot people have a lot to impart unto this big round sphere called Earth. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
It’s worth a shot.
#Acceptance .. #Talent .. #SectorsOfScoiety
Aug 28, 2013
Equal rights for Americans a pharse corrupted by racist shitheaps to mean exactly the opposite of what it says. What Im trying say is for the middle and upper class we are all equal in gods Image no one should be treated different no one is different from each other.We as Americans should have the freedom we deserve and work together for better countrys through out the world. I know everyone have a disability in some type of way and sometimes dont use are mind but as human we should help the Americans that need a helping hand why because diversity brings rich countrys through the world.
Aug 25, 2013
I’ve always reposted things a certain way, kind of like how you do it on Tumblr and general blogging sites and basically any other media outlets, with a source link at the bottom or just simply a link with their name. Being a youth who spends a lot of time on the Internet, that’s just what I’ve always known and seen.
I’ve always thought it was sufficient, obvious, and self-explanatory. Simple, really.
But there were complaints, specifically on the OITNB post I re-posted from Because I am a Woman. I love that blog and just wanted to share that particular post. I definitely had no intentions to claim the work as my own, and I thought with the obvious source link those intentions were clear.
Apologies to everyone. I’ll be more considerate in the future.
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 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
can we stop referring to all sex that could possibly result in pregnancy as “heterosexual reproduction” now
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 2, 2013
Originally posted at Choice USA: Choice Words:
India just banned the use/exploitation of dolphins as entertainment, as they are now considered “non-human persons”. Blackfish, a documentary about the psychological realities other animals face when confined in captivity, has just opened in theaters (at the distress of SeaWorld). Bird brain mapping has recently revealed that birds are “remarkably intelligent in a similar way to mammals such as humans and monkeys,” but ‘bird brain’ is still an insult. And the U.S. State Department and President Obama have decided to push ahead with building the Keystone XL Pipeline’s southern half amongst numerous questionable building practices, even though the previous Keystone I Pipeline has leaked fourteen different times. But isn’t this the Choice USA blog? What does this have to do with reproductive justice? Everything.
Having grown up with cats my whole life and having a vegetarian mother, I guess you could sayI was predisposed: at age 10 I chose to become a vegetarian and at age 19 I chose to begin living a vegan lifestyle. Somewhere in between there I also became a sexual health peer educator and have dedicated all of my time and effort to the reproductive justice movement ever since— including my eating habits.
I, like many of you, am pro-choice because I believe in each individual’s autonomy concerning their own body, lifestyle, and choices. I am pro-choice because I challenge any attempt to infringe on each individual’s freedom to control their own bodies and minds. I am pro-choice because it is not my place to coerce or use another being’s body as a means to any reproductive end she did not choose. And I am vegan for the exact same reasons.
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 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 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
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 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 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.
Jun 21, 2013
“CPCs have a long history of engaging in deceptive advertising. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care. The Family Research Council investigated what names would be most likely to appeal to women, particularly pro-choice women, in a 1998 report. Women’s Resource Center, which gives the impression of a full range of services, was deemed to have the most strategic value in reaching women “at risk for abortion.” The report also showed that women faced with an unplanned pregnancy were most likely to look in the Yellow Pages under the words “Pregnancy,” “Medical,” “Women’s Centers” and “Clinics.” Accordingly, CPCs often are advertised under these categories, as well as “Abortion Alternatives,” and “Women’s Organizations.” CPCs also advertise through posters, signs, and billboards that contain messages like, “Free Pregnancy Test,” or “Pregnant? Scared? We Can Help! Call 1-800 #.” Women report, however, that when they call these numbers the CPC representatives evade questions about whether they provide abortions, and urge the women to make an appointment to meet with a ‘counselor’ to talk in person.”
Jun 21, 2013
Jun 15, 2013
“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”
Jun 14, 2013
Success is in the student not in the university, greatness is in the individual, not in the library, power is in the MAN , not in his crutches. A Great Man will make Great opportunities even out of the commonest Situations..
Jun 11, 2013
Jun 1, 2013
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 31, 2013
Whenever abortion is the topic of a conversation, especially when spoken of as a choice that someone wants to make for whatever reason that’s personally valid to them, there is always someone who pops up and says, “Adoption is an option too!” You know, as if that thought never occurred to anyone ever or it’s some kind of a magical word to rid one of an unwanted pregnancy. I witness it all the time on my STFU Pro-Lifers blog through the large amount of messages I receive on a daily basis, but yesterday a self-proclaimed pro-choicer shared that familiar, derailing insight you hear from anti-choicers. Granted, she had her own personal experiences with abortion and adoption. I made sure that she knew how appreciative and grateful I was to her for sharing those experiences with me. But it was something she said that really bugged me. There were a few sentences subtly expressing privilege and ignorance.
“It isn’t that hard to find someone to adopt a baby…”
She also mentioned the baby she gave up for adoption was blonde haired and blue eyed. It’s another discussion that makes it clear how important it is to be intersectional. She was speaking solely as a white woman in her experiences with adoption. She somehow gained an adoption lawyer at no personal cost to her. Adoptive parents quickly lined up for this white blue eyed baby. And the parents the girl chose to adopt her baby paid for her one year of school tuition. She was happy with her decision, and that’s great. I’m happy for her. Anyone would be.
But for the part about how “easy” it is to get someone to adopt a baby… well, I quickly and politely corrected her. She thanked me and then told me that she loves my blog. The matter was settled. It still bugs me though, and it’s not so much the person but the original line of thinking shared by so many people. You hear things like that all the time. Oh, you’re pregnant and don’t want to be? But there are tons of people out there who can’t have children! You should consider adoption!
I guess no one told them that less than 2% of our entire population actually adopts, and when they do adopt, the less than 2% tend to favor the able-bodied, young, emotionally sound, sibling-less, white baby. [source] And really? Agreeing to the idea of an adoption won’t make an unwanted pregnancy go poof! There are still nine, agonizing months of a condition that was never consented to. I mean, most pregnancies are already really difficult for those who do it willingly. There are tons of complications that arise during those three, brave trimesters. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic it is for those who desperately don’t want to be pregnant but were forced to remain so.
Don’t want to raise a child? Fine! Adoption is definitely an alternative to parenthood. Just keep in mind that abortion is an alternative to a pregnancy. That’s how it works. Don’t talk to me about how there are tons of people in the world who can’t have children. No one should be forced into being a brood mare for someone else. No one owes their body to anyone else.
As pro-choicers, it’s inherent in our very name that we celebrate choice whether it be parenthood, adoption, or abortion. We keep in mind that our lives are individual, and the same can be said about our choices.
May 31, 2013
Born in a very traditional family, I have been brought up within a definite set of rules that a ‘girl’ of such traditional upbringing must follow. While boys are free to do their will, girls are given freedom with the tag ‘conditions applied’. This might seem to be very biased and intolerable but at the same time, I understand that these restrictions are for our good and can proudly say has helped me grow into a dignified person that I am today. While one should never compromise in one’s freedom to live life, I also believe that one should never let go of the values and culture that one has been brought up with. Since early childhood I was taught to respect my elders and love my juniors and this important lesson has shaped my character. My values have taught me to always spread peace and love but at the same it has also taught me NOT to be a mere spectator to injustice. I realize that the world outside the protection of my home is ruthless but I am ready to face it and the conditions that I have lived with, shall help me in every step. Truly said,
‘Respect your language, your culture. And the world will respect you!’
Having been brought up in a society where every family follows a culture that is so different from the other, I have found it exhilarating to explore and understand each of their perspective and I look forward to the same experience in future. Like the combination of the seven diverse colors is what makes the rainbow beautiful, I believe that diversity of life adds charm to a community. Just like any color mixed with a white one forms a different color, I want to bring together all the different experiences and weave a wonderful and memorable experience altogether.
Welcome to my life!
May 30, 2013
There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights. One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action. When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization. According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.” They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites. To this organization, abortion is:
An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken. But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous. Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.
The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website. Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on. One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice. The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth. You can watch her video response here. I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.
It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though. Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action. Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff. The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident. But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.
Seriously! Click the link below to watch!
May 27, 2013
What if all the empathy that transpired in the speeches and talks of policy makers I listened to today at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference could immediately be converted to action? This is the question I asked myself during my reflection on the pre-youth conference that ok place on the 27th May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
Passion, enthusiasm, and determination were perceptible in the way the policy makers I listened to and spoke with today spoke about how painful, frustrating, and humiliating the consequences of inequalities that exist in today‘s world are. But does this mean these people have finally heeded to the call of social activists to act now for inequality to be eradicated? Only time will tell as youths will be keeping a keen eye on these people to ensure that all the promises they will make this time around are kept and within the minimum possible time frame.
“The biggest risk to the continuity of humanity is inequality“, declared UNFPA‘s deputy Director; Kate Gilmore during an intervention at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference. Conscious of this, it is unavoidably true that, by delivering on their promises to not only reduce but eradicate inequalities and injustices of every nature, policy makers will be contributing to the continuity of humanity. Therefore by failing to deliver for Girls, women, and Youths, policy makers of this generation will be committing a crime that present and future generations will not pardon.
But well, we the youths of this generation won‘t sit arms folded to see you commit such heinous crimes, because our silence-that of Girls, Women, and Youths is a roar that will degenerate into something worse if not listened to.
May 27, 2013
May 27, 2013
“Two slam poets with Brave New Voices deliver this fearless indictment of hipster cultural appropriation and all its collateral damage. ”
“Acting like you’re down because you say “f*** the system,” but in the same breathe are quick to gentrify the hell out of my hood.”
“Is that racist? Yes, that is. And we don’t mean to offend you by calling you racist; we know that according to you, we’re all part of the universe. But you have a tendency to treat animals better than humans.”
May 27, 2013
50years is worth celebrating no doubt, but what do Africans have to celebrate the African Union for ? Economic growth ?,political independence ? social progress ?,or technological advancement ? An answer to this will depend on which side of the board one finds his/herself. There is no doubt that strides have been made in some of the mentioned above areas, but if there one area in which the African Union has woefully failed is in the area of the empowerment of girls, women, and youths.
In a write-up to mark this day titled : The Africa We Want to See,the current chairperson of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Nzuma amongst other things talks of this being an opportunity to take stock of Africa today,its assets, capabilities,opportunities , and challenges. She is definitely right and inorder for the African Union not to become mere words as feared by Ahmed Ben Bella, Africa through the African Union and its people must deliver for its main assets which is its people- especially girls, women , and youths. The time is for African girls, women, and youths is now ! I am utterly convinced that the African delegates and other stakeholders at the 3rd Global Women Deliver conference will make cristal clear and that concrete actions will be taken to ensure that the plight of the African girl,woman , and youth takes central stage in the various policy formulation and implementation processes accross our beloveth continent ;Africa.
May 25, 2013
Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths & Miscarriages?
On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”
The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.
If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state would be setting a “dangerous precedent” that “unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide,” says Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal organization that has joined with Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, to defend Buckhalter. If Buckhalter’s case goes forward, NAPW fears it could spur a wave of similar prosecutions in Mississippi and other states.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 16, 2013
Melissa Harris-Perry’s Panel looks at Elizabeth Smart’s recent comments on abstinence-only sex education and whether the policy is effective.
WATCH IT HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty_MA_mrow8
May 14, 2013
I was just thinking how we can prevent young chidren and young adults that not the age of 21 from getting these beverages was to talk to them in school how smoking and drinking can hurt the human body at young age and prevert them from focusing on school also it can have them in sexual activity thats not good if it not consent from each other to be successful in school.I also think they should take these beverages out the corner stores so the young children and young adults want be able get these beverages until the age of 21.I think its good Idea because sometimes smoking can stop your growth at young age and for drinking it can prevent alot of problems for the human body.Then because i see alot of youth choose smoking and drinking for the problems they are facing in school, house hold are even getting bullyed by others i think this could be one successful way so see the next generation succeed in school and the real world.
May 13, 2013
May 11, 2013
“Sadly, real or perceived controversy keeps schools from providing young people with the information and skills they need to become sexually healthy adults. Just like other topics taught in school, sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate, sequential and complete.
Irrational fear – the cultural belief that teaching young people about sex will cause them to have sex – keeps administrators and educators from doing what they know is best: providing young people with developmentally appropriate, sequential and honest sex education. Never mind that 30 years of public health research clearly demonstrates that when young people receive such education, they are more likely to delay sexual initiation, and to use protection when they do eventually become sexually active, than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence. Withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant.
Ninety-five percent of all Americans have sex before marriage. About half of all young people begin having sex by age 17. Providing a foundation of quality sex education is the only way to ensure that young people will grow into sexually healthy adults. It can augment what children learn at home and combat misinformation learned from peers or found on the Internet. Porn is not the best way for teenagers to learn about sex, but it will fill the vacuum when sex education is politicized and withheld from our classrooms.
Quality sex education should start in kindergarten. Early elementary school students need to learn the proper names for their body parts, the difference between good touch and bad touch, and ways in which they can be a good friend (the foundation for healthy intimate relationships later in life). Fourth- and fifth-graders need information about puberty and their changing bodies, Internet safety, and the harmful impact of bullying. And seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are ready for information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, H.I.V. and disease prevention, communication, and the topic they most want to learn about: healthy relationships.”
May 7, 2013
A few days after I turned fifteen( august 2011) my aunt called me and told me about an opportunity I would never forget. I went over to her house and we began reading over a description of what this opportunity would involve, before I knew it I was filling out the application. I remember feeling so excited! I took my time on the application, wanting it to be just perfect. The very next morning I got a call and the man on the other end of the phone offered me an interview. I couldn\’t believe everything was happening so fast but I jumped onto the idea of being an influence to all youth, no matter how hard I had to work.
May 6, 2013
If Nevada and Sexuality listed their relationship status on Facebook, it would undoubtedly read “It’s Complicated”.
A flourishing sex trade? Check! A tourist industry that is based around that 80’s clichéd notion that “sex sells” and continuously uses women’s bodies as the background for marketing strategies? Duh, All about it! Home to Sin City, a place built upon a slogan that tells visitors that you can basically indulge in whatever vice you want, and leave with no consequences? Come on, It’s Vegas, Baby!
But providing young people a comprehensive sex education?! NOW, THAT IS SIMPLY OUTRAGEOUS. At least that’s what many lawmakers and anti sex ed advocates are screaming about in Carson City because of a new comprehensive sex education bill (AB 230) that is currently making its way through the Nevada legislature.
As a homegrown Nevadan, a Las Vegas resident for over 25 years, and an activist who found her voice and strength by engaging in local communities in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada, I can’t put into words how important and HUGE this all is.
See, Las Vegas is a city that has a difficult time having an honest conversation about sex. Sure, its nickname is Sin City, and everywhere you look, some notion of sex is being shoved down your throat (pun unintended). And while prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas itself, there are small towns outside of the city limits where legal brothels boast a steady business. All this to say, Las Vegas and the state it resides in, have not reconciled this economically-driven presentation of sex with the way we talk to the young people growing up around it.
My sex education in Nevada was similar to many others across the country. When the time came to teach sex ed, the health teacher separated us by gender: we then learned the basic anatomy of parts and functions, saw traumatic photos of STDs, and were warned about the varying consequences to having sex. You know, the basic fear-inducing, shame-based ways of talking to young people about sexuality.
Now what wasn’t talked about were all the sex-related things I was actually seeing around me day-to-day. Like the fact that most my friends were already engaged in varying sexual activities at that point. Like how I had no clue what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like for someone my age. Like how I didn’t have a firm grasp on what rape actually was, especially in the context of drinking and drugs. Like how I had internalized the correlation of my sexual desirability and success. Like how I knew that if I went to college, I’d end up making less money than if I served cocktails on the Strip. Like how I saw my male friend get in trouble for wearing makeup to school. Yup, my Nevada sex education really just became another layer of my adolescent confusion, fear and shame around sexuality.
Growing into adulthood, finding my feminist voice, and figuring out sex and sexuality on my own, I slowly shed those layers of fear and shame that had been so prominent in my life as a young person. As my voice grew louder and my activist spirit hardened, I quickly ascertained that Las Vegas and the entire state of Nevada was one of the most unique political landscapes in this country. And also had the most schizophrenic internal conversations with itself about sex and sexuality.
But just a few years ago, I saw a brief step forward in that conversation. I had the privilege to help organize the first-ever LGBT Lobby Day in Carson City where we actually talked with legislators about gender and sexuality. That was also the session where we were able to pass a domestic partnerships bill in Nevada (a state whose constitution includes language on marriage being only between a man and a woman). And after those victories, I often wondered what the next big legislative victory would be.
Fast forward a few years later, and here I am, sitting in an office in Washington, DC, working for a national organization that fights for reproductive and sexual health/rights for young people. And my job? I manage state-based policy and mobilization efforts around comprehensive sex education.
And I’m hopeful to believe that THAT is what the next big legislative victory will be in my home state.
To put some legislative context to this — After failed attempts in 2011, the Nevada Legislature is currently (finally!) debating the merits of providing its young people with a more comprehensive approach to sex education, and advocates are pushing hard this time around to see their vision turn into reality. And to add to that, the nation’s eye has been on Nevada’s legislature recently, most having to do with a new wave of courageous and progressive legislators (Lucy Flores, Kelvin Atkinson, Pat Spearman – I’m lookin’ at you!) that have really pushed the state to see that the Personal IS Political …. even in the Wild West of Nevada.
And though I find myself described as a Washingtonian these days, y’all should know that this little Battle Born activist doesn’t mess around with her Nevada’tude. With Nevada having the 4th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, and topping the charts in STD rates and high school drop-out rates, I’m standing in solidarity and joining my friends in the Silver State to push for a more comprehensive approach to sex education.
Because the adults of Nevada owe it to their young people to finally figure out their state’s relationship to sex; and maybe then, Nevada’s young people will have access to a healthy, positive relationship to sexuality and themselves.
If you are curious about the movement of Nevada’s sex ed bill, follow updates here!