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May 23, 2013
This poem I am writing now is a poem I got from an Audio Verse I listened to for about a couple of years already and from that moment on I did remember all of it
Here it is:
May 18, 2013
Growing up in the church, I always felt like it was a very safe place. But as I have gotten older, I noticed that everything that glitter isn’t gold.
My best friend, who is also the pastor’s step-granddaughter ended up getting pregnant and was kicked off of the choir and dance teams once the pastor found out. She isn’t the first girl that this has happened to. There were a few others before her. A young man who got a young lady pregnant was kicked out of all of the youth activities as well.
I understand that my pastor thinks that he is punishing them for the sins that they have committed. But I see the effects of the punishment. What was once a large group of youth has dwindled down to very few. I think that being kicked out of church activities has caused them to run away from my church. Since my friend has told the church about her pregnancy, I can count on one hand the number of times that she has actually been to church.
I understand that being Christians, they have morals and a certain way to go about their lives. But they should also be supportive and understanding of young people.
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 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.”
Apr 30, 2013
My name is Karachi and I am here to share with you the wondrously-baffling gospel of Tyler Perry. Ladies, Mr. Perry would like you to know that if you cheat on your God-fearing, hardworking, high school sweetheart husband, you WILL feel the wrath of the almighty. This wrath will come in the form of HIV, which will be transmitted by the most evil man ever – the HIV-positive, craptastic, psycho of a man whom no woman would fall for…unless of course she was a character in a Tyler Perry movie. ‘Cos we all know that women, black women, are just spineless, money-grubbing hos who destroy perfect marriages and are only brave enough to pour a pot of hot grits on an abusive husband when Madea tells us to.
It is QUITE interesting to see how Perry chose to portray HIV-positive people in 2013. It is especially interesting considering that the immigration and travel ban on HIV-positive people was only lifted 3 years ago, and that the International AIDS conference was finally held in the US again after 22 years as a result of this lift. So imagine how it feels, after all this progress, to have Mr. Perry come along with this epic fail of a movie. No seriously, even if you take away the HIV stigma, and the ridiculous characters who must only exist in the alternate universe contained solely in Tyler Perry’s mind, the movie still blows. I am hopeful that Tyler Perry or one of his employees will see this post, and offer me my $10.50 back, along with their sincere apologies for the atrocities inflicted on my mind and eyes.
I tried unsuccessfully, to vlog about this travesty of a movie, but failed. I failed because the entire time I sat there laughing in incredulity or with this expression on my face.
It was just difficult to flow from point to point without veering off into head-shaking and other assorted expressions of disgust.
So let’s talk about some of the other things that went on in the movie. Warning, there are spoilers ahead as I have to divulge some of the plot in order to create an understanding of the issues I am discussing.
The main character, Judith, is a young woman who has recently moved to DC with her husband; an equally religious man whom she has known since she was young. She dreams of becoming a marriage counsellor, but is working as a counsellor at a matchmaking agency owned by Vanessa fake-French-accent Williams. One day, a young, rich, handsome, black man comes in (after we have been subjected to Kim Kardashian’s forced acting and God-awful voice) and is revealed to be the founder/CEO/whatever of a social media platform. This man, who is to be known from this point onward as “The Devil”, wastes no time flirting with Judith and pointing out the many inadequacies in her marriage. If I ever met this man in real life, I would take off my shoes and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction because he’s a complete nightmare.
Long story short, the blissful marriage begins to sour when Judith finds that the Devil pays more attention to her, and could offer her a more exciting life. Eh-mah-gerd! Sex that doesn’t happen in a bed with the pillows previously fluffed and with the lights off! It’s a whole new life! Judith’s husband offers her the chance to leave a street altercation unharmed after she has been heckled by a group of young, black men, explaining that they could have had guns; the Devil on the other hand, nearly pummels an innocent cyclist after Judith is injured from running into the bicycle because she was too busy trash talking with her head turned backwards during a run. The Devil also offers creepy possessiveness, calling her at home one night and asking why Judith’s husband doesn’t question who she’s on the phone with. “If you were mine, I’d want to know who you were talking to”. *swoon* Yes, this is on the list of qualities a woman looks for in a man, right next to being watched while asleep Edward Cullen-style.
The icing on this grossly dysfunctional cake was watching the Devil semi-rape Judith on his private plane. I sat in the theater, mouth agape, “Wait! What? There’s MORE?!” He pawed her repeatedly as she protested, asking him to stop. He did stop. And then he said something that nearly shut my brain down because it was so hard to process, “Now you can say you resisted”. And because this is an alternate reality, what followed was passionate monkey sex. Douchetards of the world now have another handy technique for raping women. Thanks Tyler Perry. After all that, what came next was predictable…up to a certain point. Judith leaves her husband, the Devil shoves her mother as she tries to stop her erring child from making a mistake, Judith berates him for shoving her mother, and the boxing gloves come out. Her husband finds out the Devil is HIV-positive and swoops in to rescue her, finding her in a tub looking like she just came out of a match against Gina Carano. In the grand finale, Judith is HIV positive, and comes to pick up her medication from the pharmacy where her husband works, and encounters his new wife and son on her way out. The movie ends with Judith walking down the street, ALONE, going back to meet her mother at church. She dissed Jesus, and she was punished, and she has no other place to go but back to him. Yes I get that the entire movie was supposed to symbolize what Perry deems to be normal gender roles and traditional Christianity.
I have so many questions:
Tyler Perry, what in the world is wrong with you?
Are we supposed to believe that a woman who professionally advised people about their relationships completely failed to discuss the problems in her own marriage and vaulted over to the Devil’s side after he bought her roses for her birthday, noticed her new hairdo and took her on a private jet?
What is wrong with you?
Why does no one discuss the Devil’s mode of infection? The status of his health? The fact that this is ignored makes HIV-positive people out to be even more reckless. In this portrayal, they are either uncaring of their effect on the people around them or just plain evil and intentionally infectious. HIV is NOT a form of punishment and HIV-positive people live full, happy lives unlike what you would have us believe.
I believe I’ve asked this before but, what is wrong with you Tyler Perry?
Why are all the strong, educated and successful black men in your movies always so greatly flawed when it comes to personality?
Do you hate women?
If you are looking for a truly horrific movie experience, this is it.
Apr 27, 2013
Tennessee state lawmakers decided to pass a resolution this week. Before I tell you what the resolution was, let me give you a quick background on how Tennesee deals with its social issues. The bills that have been introduced in this state include: school prayer, fines on students who have saggy jeans, public displays of Christianity’s Ten Commandments, public access to the names of doctors who provide abortions, and the most “popular” is the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill which would prevent teachers from ever discussing homosexuality. Tennessee has also pushed the education system to teach the “controversies” of evolution and climate change. This state has also made an attempt to deal with its high teen pregnancy rates by restricting discussion in sex education, in fear that a truly comprehensive lesson might be arousing to the teens.
The latest endeavor has the state of Tennessee set to celebrate “Traditional Marriage Day” on August 31st, after passing a resolution to dedicate such an observation on the date. Gay rights activists are pushing against this measure. They declared that August 31st should be called “Tennessee Marriage Equality Day” instead. Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project suggested that these two different advocate groups have similar goals. He was quoted saying, “We’re not opposed to traditional marriages, but we believe traditional marriage is for everyone.”
Now in the “Traditional Marriage Day”’s defense, advocates for the measure claim that the day is merely about pointing out the economic benefits of getting married, hoping that more couples would be encouraged in doing so. It surely has nothing to do with stigmatizing and railing against marriage equality. No, of course not. Yet the official written resolution itself quotes the Christian Bible and in a clear statement says that marriage is to be “expressed only between a man and a wife.”
This is strange. If “Traditional Marriage Day” was simply about encouraging couples to get married and enjoy economic benefits, then why should same-sex couples be prohibited from doing the same? And isn’t every day pretty much Traditional Marriage Day then? I mean, especially in Tennessee where a state constitutional amendment was passed in 2006, banning marriage equality. This measure was supported by 81% of voters and since then, Tennessee has seen little progress on this issue. But activists are still fighting.
Apr 24, 2013
So far, I have refrained from blogging about the Boston Marathon bombings lest I explode into a ball of fire from the rage I feel. It’s always interesting to see the way that mainstream media latches onto stories about tragedy. Before it’s all over, the story has been told one million different ways, with everybody and their mother having been invited to weigh in. I kid you not, last Friday, every time I tuned the radio to NPR, someone was spouting some kind of analysis or the other. It’s always the same – “experts” postulate, and close friends and family talk about how the perpetrator was someone who could never have done whatever it is that was done.
In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, take away the death and injury, and it’s almost funny to see how confused America is as to how to treat them. The way things usually go is that people of color, no matter whether they are actually victims in the situation (*cough cough* Trayvon Martin), are portrayed as “thugs”, while their Caucasian counterparts are always the quiet, awkward, friendless young men who are subsequently proven to be mentally imbalanced in cases. Yeah, he didn’t have any friends so he decided to shoot a theater full of people whose only crime was wanting to see the new Batman movie.
On one hand, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is, for all intents and purposes, a Caucasian fellow. He is also an American citizen. Logic dictates that this case would be treated as an instance of domestic terrorism. But on the other hand, there are rumors of Muslim involvement, and he is also brown-looking, so this must be an international crime against America right? At least that’s the way the public is reacting to the media coverage. People danced in the streets with the American flag the way that they danced in front of the White House when Osama bin Laden was reported dead. The media is constantly highlighting any possible ties to Islam, because somehow that makes it all much more justifiable. Do you see how Islamophobia is constantly being bred?
Tarring all people who fit in a specific category with the same brush is what leads to situations like an innocent woman being harassed in the street and blamed for the bombings simply because she was wearing a hijab. Let us not forget the false accusations leveled by Redditors against missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi. Usually I love the internet because of its bountiful provision of Corgi photos, but stuff like this makes me wish I could take away internet privileges from some of these really ridiculous people who think it’s ok to sit in judgment, protected by the afforded anonymity of teh interwebs. Seriously, if I was the parent of one of those wanking, racist kids on Twitter, spouting ignorance, he/she would have the fear of Cthulhu put into him/her…and also wouldn’t be able to sit for a month.
Seriously, people. Stick to your day jobs and leave the policing to the actual judiciary system. Also, stop being so racist and judge people for their actual crimes rather than their religion or where they come from. If every ignorant thing said about groups of ethnic minorities were true, according to Oprah, I’d be a criminal regardless of my level of education (Ask me again why I have no respect whatsoever for that woman).
Apr 24, 2013
“I also came to realize that the focus on personhood ignores the fact that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is growing inside of another person’s body.”
|—||Libby Anne, “How I Lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement”|
This is really important to consider. You absolutely can advocate for a zygote, embryo, or fetus. But understand that in doing so, it subsequently infringes on the rights of the person this being resides in.
Giving a fetus personhood is not equality. No one currently has the special right of using another’s person body without constant consent.
Apr 20, 2013
Restrictions Will Force 40-
Year-Old Abortion Clinic To
Close This Weekend
Last week, Virginia’s Board of Health voted to finalizeunnecessary regulations that will force many of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. Those new restrictions — which are known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws — are already having their intended effect. Hillcrest Clinic, which opened to the public just nine months after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion services, will be closing its doors this weekend.
Apr 1, 2013
Mar 23, 2013
If you haven’t heard already, the law makers in North Dakota are pushing for another anti-choice bill. This time it’s an abortion ban on the basis of personhood. If passed, this would effectively give fertilized eggs all the rights of U.S. citizens. And it would cut off abortion care completely. Beyond abortion this bill would also charge doctors who damage embryos in any way with criminal negligence. It also prevents doctors from being able to perform in vitro fertilizations. Now you might be thinking an unconstitutional bill like this couldn’t possibly get passed by Senate or the House, but it did. Shockingly, it passed the House by a vote of 57-35 and it’s currently making its way to the Governor’s desk.
The state’s recent six-week abortion ban is already in direct violation of Roe v. Wade and will bring about several legal costs for taxpayers when challenged. This next measure of a total abortion ban will surely cause North Dakota to face the same results, costing the state more than they bargained for. And how will they pay for these litigations?
During a recent debate between Senator Margaret Sitte and Dr. Kristen Cain about the abortion restrictions and pending abortion ban, Senator Sitte accidentally lets something slip. When asked if these bills will cost taxpayers possibly millions, Senator Sitte unintentionally admits that there are outside interests behind the unconstitutional abortion bans who are willing to spend those millions to make sure people in North Dakota will not have access to reproductive healthcare and rights. Watch as Senator Sitte tries to lie her way out of it.
This abortion ban won’t be a law until Governor Jack Darlymple of North Dakota signs it, and it’s unclear if he will or won’t.
To contact Governor Jack Darlymple:
Office of Governor
State of North Dakota
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0100
Mar 22, 2013
Two personhood bills — Senate Bill 2303 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009 — have already passed the Senate, and the GOP-controlled House is expected to take them upsometime this week. But if North Dakota successfully enacts a total abortion ban, there will be serious consequences for the state that extend even beyond women’s reproductive freedom. Here are five ways the state will suffer under personhood:
1. There will be fewer doctors in the state available to provide medical care. In a historic move for the North Dakota Medical Association, the nonpartisan organization has come out againstpersonhood. The group points out that the anti-abortion measures go too far to “interfere with the physician practice,” and they suspect it will be harder to find qualified medical professionals willing to practice in North Dakota if the state imposes so many complicated restrictions on doctors. Some doctors have already testified before state lawmakersto say they will leave North Dakota if the abortion bans pass.
2. Maternal health care will be compromised. Doctors could becharged with criminal negligence if anything happens to an embryo — which could prevent them from making quick decisions that could help save women’s lives. The tragic case of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died after being denied an abortion in a Catholic hospital because her doctors were reluctant to provide care that could get them in trouble with the law, highlights the serious consequences of state lawmakers coming between a woman and her doctor.
3. Women could be forced to resort to illegal abortion procedures.Under a personhood law, women will end up resorting to dangerous “backroom” abortions, one former pediatrician warned North Dakota lawmakers last week. That Fargo-area doctor did his medical training before Roe v. Wade, when women were dying of bacterial infections after botched abortion procedures — and he warns that the passage of the proposed personhood measures would pull North Dakota back into “the stone age of medicine.” There’s evidence to back up that claim. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the legality of abortion hasabsolutely no correlation to abortion rates around the world, because women will continue to seek to terminate pregnancies regardless of the law.
4. Women won’t be able to use in vitro fertilization to try to have a family. Ironically, in addition to compromising medical procedures for the women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, personhood measures also place restrictions on the women who are trying to get pregnant. “These bills will stop the practice of in vitro fertilization in this state,” Dr. Stephanie Dahl, an obstetrician-gynecologist and reproductive medicine specialist in Fargo, explained to lawmakers. Doctors wouldn’t be able to perform any procedure that carries the risk of damaging some embryos, so women would be forced to travel to South Dakota or Minnesota for in vitro treatment, a six-week process that requires multiple sonograms and up to 12 visits to the doctor.
5. The state will become embroiled in expensive lawsuits. North Dakota’s six-week abortion ban already runs afoul of Roe v. Wade, and will certainly invite several costly legal challenges. A total abortion ban would lead to similar consequences. Two personhood bills were recentlystruck down in Oklahoma, suggesting that the courts won’t take kindly to North Dakota’s push to restrict women’s constitutional rights, either. Nevertheless, even the self-proclaimed “fiscally conservative” Republicans in the state are willing to defend their abortion bans on the state’s dime.
Mar 20, 2013
— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice
Mar 15, 2013
BREAKING: North Dakota legislature passes nation’s most restrictive abortion law, bans all abortions after 6 weeks
Mar 14, 2013
The secretive election process to select the next Pope officially began on Tuesday at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.
To those watching in the Vatican Square, the results of each vote are announced by smoke that emanates from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. The smoke is black if no pope has been elected. White smoke means a new Pope.
According to “The New York Times’” the chimney is connected to two stoves inside the chapel, one stove burns the paper ballots of the Cardinals after the votes are counted. While the other stove releases either white or black smoke, which combines with the smoke from the burning paper ballots before it comes out of the chimney. The conclave uses cartridges filled with different chemicals to produce either white or black smoke.
The practice of using chemicals to color the smoke began in 2005, but until now, the Vatican would not say what those chemicals were.
However the Vatican has revealed what the smoke signals emerging from the Sistine Chapel chimney are made of, after the stir caused by how much more distinct the black smoke in this conclave has been compared to the past.
The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the black “fumata” was made by adding cartridges containing potassium perchlorate, anthracene (a component of coal tar), and sulfur to the burned ballots.
While the white “fumata” is a mixture of potassium chlorate, lactose and chloroform resin.
Prior to 2005 the black smoke was obtained by using smoke black or pitch and the white smoke by using wet straw.
The Vatican is burning the flares following confusion in past conclaves about smoke color. Lombardi said that neither the chapel frescoes nor the cardinals inside suffered from the smoke.
A two-thirds plus one majority were required to elect the Pope. The whole process was extremely well-guarded. The Cardinals were completely cut off from the outside world, locked inside the Sistine Chapel until a decision was made. No TV, radio, newspapers or texts were allowed.
When the Pope Francis was chosen, the white smoke arose from the chapel, the bells of St.Peter’s Basilica rang, as they did in 2005 when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was elected..
This year, it was the French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon, who stood on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to shout “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a pope!”). He presented the new pope, who was in white papal cassocks. Pope Francis gave his first blessing as pope on the 13th of March 2013.
Mar 9, 2013
Malala Yousafzai is the youngest nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize ever.
In her hometown, the Taliban banned education for women. Malala Yousafzai started writing under a pen name for BBC when she was around 11 or 12 years old, describing the inequities. She appeared on television, has done interviews, has done whatever she could to promote her beliefs, that everyone has a right to an education. Now she’s known as an activist for education and women.
This comic serves as a short summary of what Malala Yousafzai is internationally known for: her courage.
[source: watermarked in image]
From a simple Wikipedia search:
On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to a hospital in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation. On 12 October, a group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her, but the Taliban reiterated its intent to kill Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin.
Former British Prime Minister and current U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a United Nations petition in Yousafzai’s name, using the slogan “I am Malala” and demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. Brown said he would hand the petition to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in November. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has announced that 10 November will be celebrated as Malala Day.
SEE COMPLETE IMAGE:
Anti-choice activist Jill Stanek recently published online the name and photo of a woman who passed away following a late abortion at the Maryland clinic of Dr. Leroy Carhart. The name and picture of the woman, I’ll call her Marie, along with information about her job, marriage, and pregnancy were soon all over the internet. Protesters plastered Marie’s picture on signs and marched outside Dr. Carhart’s clinic and held a “vigil” outside the emergency room where she was treated. Internet commentators characterized Marie’s husband, parents, and sister, who traveled with her from out-of-state for the three-day procedure, as everything from bad Catholics to killers. Beyond being immoral, unethical and unbelievably cruel, making the family’s tragedy public without their consent was likely illegal.-See more at: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/02/28/unethical-cruel-and-likely-illegal-anti-choicers-make-familys-tragedy-public-without-their-consent/#sthash.qKSJmEww.dpuf
The Arkansas Legislature has approved the earliest abortion ban in the nation.
And it’s now up to Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to decide what to do next. If he vetoes the bill, his veto could be overridden by a simple majority in the Republican Legislature as it was earlier Thursday on a similar 20-week abortion ban bill.
The Arkansas Senate gave final approval Thursday morning to the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, which would ban abortions at 12 weeks into pregnancy if a heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for cases of rape or incest, to save the life of the mother or for a lethal fetal condition. The bill now goes directly to Beebe.
Through “fetal pain” laws, other states have begun approving abortion bans at around 20 weeks into pregnancy — such a ban became law in Arkansas with the veto override early Thursday — but this bill would go further, turning Arkansas into the only state to ban abortions that early in a pregnancy.
Abortion rights groups immediately urged Beebe to reject the bill. “This extreme legislation would insert politics into women’s personal medical decisions, and we urge Gov. Beebe to veto it immediately,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.
“Lawmakers in Arkansas are placing women’s lives on the line by passing the most severe ban on access to safe, legal medical care this country has seen in recent years,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
In vetoing the 20-week ban on Tuesday, Beebe said the bill violated Supreme Court precedent that establishes states cannot limit abortions before viability. That was one of 10 “fetal pain” laws that have been enacted in 10 states, based on the assertion that the fetus can experience pain after 20 weeks. Cases have been filed against such laws in Arizona and Georgia.
This is a post by a fellow blogger called BrashBlackNonBeliever. These are her words and feelings about how “pro-life” advocates use PoC, specifically Black women and children, to further their agenda. Some of it will be edited for language censorship.
“I am beyond f****** SICK of these so-called “pro-life” advocates using Black women and children to further their agenda.
Those conservative assholes don’t give a F*** about us when we’re walking this earth, but I’m supposed to believe they give a f*** about Black babies? I’m supposed to believe these motherfuckers actually care about pregnant Black women?!
They don’t give a f*** about Black families in the hood, struggling to live.
They don’t give a f*** about the single Black mothers doing everything they can for their kids.
They really don’t give a f*** about the Black parents on welfare.
No, to them, we’re nothing but welfare queens and wh**** who never should have spread their legs.
Our children are nothing but drug dealers, thugs, or future drug addicts and prostitutes who need to be put down like dogs.
That is, until one of us gets pregnant and they need a new face for their “pro-life” campaign.
Then our babies are “precious children.”
Then they pretend to be worried about the future of the Black race.
Only then do we need to protect ourselves against “extinction” by never having abortions.
Only then do they care oh so much about racism and they seek to warn us about how racist Planned Parenthood and abortions are.
Well I, for one, am completely fed up with their BS. I can see right through them. They don’t give a f*** about Black people and they never have.
Stop using Black bodies as props and pawns.”
“When I introduce the concept of reproductive justice to new audiences, at lectures or workshops, I always frame it in the same way. I use a really simple exercise, where I draw a stick figure on a piece of butcher paper, or an easel, or a chalkboard. Then I ask the question: “What things in this person’s life will impact their ability to create the family they want to create?” Usually it takes a few minutes for the audience to get going, but within five or ten minutes the result is a stick figure with many, many issues written in bubbles around them. Things like religion, money, environment, language, race, gender, sexuality, laws, incarceration end up surrounding the person.
This activity is a pretty decent illustration of my definition of reproductive justice—it’s working to build a world where everyone has what they need to create the family they want to create. And that work requires incorporating and taking into account all of those items written in bubbles on the diagram, as well as many we probably leave out. Almost always this exercise results in “ah ha” moments, and it’s had a striking universality—from using it with college students to using it in Latina immigrant communities on the border. Reproductive justice is an easier concept to explain in ten minutes than in a two-word soundbite, like pro-choice, but that additional context also allows for so many more of the issues and challenges or our every day lives to be made visible and explicitly included in our work.”
Feb 21, 2013
Feb 19, 2013
(See link: http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/42021609348/all-states-except-oregon-now-limit-abortion-access)
The above graph lists all the states and their abortion restrictions. Although, Roe v. Wade gives people the right to abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey gave states the right to limit access to abortion without posing an “undue burden.” Even though the World Health Organization has already declared that a restriction or limitation of safe, legal, and accessible abortion leads to a decrease in health for people, specifically women (although we all have the understanding that it’s not just women who are affected by this).
Some states have less than a handful of clinics that can even provide these services and some states simply have unreasonable restrictions that prevent people from getting the healthcare they need. This forces people to travel, sometimes out of their means, to get an abortion. Others seek more dangerous options. Until this changes, there are some things that are helping people right now.
There is a particular page that I have been supporting on my own site (ST*U, Pro-Life) called the Abortion Assistance Blog. This is how it describes itself:
A collection of abortion funds, individuals willing to provide transportation and/or lodging before and after your appointment, and other resources.
This blog is intended to be a resource for people of all genders, races, sexualities, and abilities. If you are offering help, but not willing to help someone based on one of those categories, please say so. Everyone deserves to be safe and supported.
This blog has several links, providing help and information. It lets readers know how they can help or where they can find help. Many people go on the blog leaving contact information or simply letting others know that they could provide transportation, lodging, or monetary support. I recommend to everyone to check it out and share.
It’s just not enough to just say that we support reproductive/sexual health care and rights anymore. It never has been.
Feb 16, 2013
For those who are not really sure where Lebanon is located, it is on the east coast of the Mediterranean and is bordered by Syria (north and east) and Palestine/Israel (south). It is in the Middle East so feel free to assume that all the homophobia one expects to find in that part of the world holds true for Lebanon too. Or maybe not.
I have decided to dedicate this blog to discuss the LGBT reality in Lebanon because this country is very dear to me. To start, there is really just one law that holds the Lebanese LGBT community back. Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits having sexual relations that are “contradicting the laws of nature,” which is punishable by up to a year in prison. The law is rarely applied, as it depends on the personal views of the respective judge regarding homosexuality, but still serves as a threat. More often than not, people who are arrested are arrested for drugs or prostitution instead, and their main worry is being outed to their family. The Lebanese society at large suffers from a rampant homophobia, which is mostly based on religion (mainly Christianity and Islam) and culture (Arabic, patriarchy, traditional, conservative, etc).
That notwithstanding, there is a lot of hope for the new generation, as younger people tend to have more neutral or even positive attitudes towards homosexuality. Exposure to [Western] pop culture and access to Internet more or less demystifies the invalid homophobia society instills in people from the day they are born. Moreover, Lebanon also enjoys an “underground” LGBT movement. There is a number of LGBT publications, such as Barra (Out in Arabic) which is the first gay periodical in the Arab world, and Bareed Mista3jil, which is a female LGBTQ short stories book that is gradually gaining more of an international acclamation. In addition, there is number of organizations working to promote LGBT rights, such as Helem (Dream in Arabic), which also stands for Lebanese Protection for Homosexuals (not formally recognized by the government), and Meem for LGBTQ women (formally recognized as a feminist organization sans LGBT focus).
Feb 12, 2013
Feb 10, 2013
Feb 10, 2013
(oldie but goody)
Feb 1, 2013
Last weekend, I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending the twenty-fifth Creating Change conference. For those who are not familiar with Creating Change, it is the biggest national conference on LGBT equality in the US and receives over 2,000 attendees each year. The conference is organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is an American nonprofit organization with the mission to build the grassroots power of the LGBT community. Creating Change takes place over a long weekend during which sessions are held to explore various issues that face the LGBT community. This year was my first time attending this conference as I was there to represent Advocates For Youth’s International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC) and my country. Thus, I was part of a panel entitled, “U.S. Foreign policy, queer activism, and The Global Human rights movement: Tensions, Trials, and Opportunities.” As its name indicates, the panel looked into the relationship between LGBT advocacy in the United States and the realities of queer activism in the developing world. We had a great turnout of over 75 attendees and the discussion was engaging and informative to all.
That notwithstanding, the highlight of my time at Creating Change was listening to Bishop Gene Robinson and meeting him in person. Robinson is an American retired bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire and is widely known for being the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination. Robinson has done and is still doing a lot to advance the LGBT movement. As a Christian myself, I had a hard time growing up and accepting homosexuality without “betraying” my Christian upbringing. For a long time, I thought Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive. Thus, my spiritual journey was a challenging one, as I had to alter my beliefs to fit both identities together. At Creating Change, Robinson added the cherry on top by explicitly stating how one can be both Christian and LGBT at the same time. To do so, he reminded us of a line in the Bible that reads, “I still have a lot to say to you, but you cannot bear it now. Yet when the Spirit of Truth comes, he’ll guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). According to Robison, the Bible is telling us, “Don’t think for a minute that God is done with you. You will do amazing things later. The Holy Spirit will lead you to all truths.” For him, this is an exciting view of God. “God didn’t say all He wanted to say to us by the end of the scriptures.” He has left a lot out, which shall be revealed to us with time. For example, Robinson believes that the end of slavery, the recognition of people of color and the recognition of women are all examples of the Holy Spirit’s work in human history. This is exactly what President Obama alluded to in his inauguration speech when he mentioned Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall. Therefore, it is only fair to believe that wide recognition of LGBT rights is on its way. Moreover, it is more than possible to achieve it through God’s work, as the Holy Spirit’s job is to bring us to new truths. In the words of Robinson, “there is something comforting about believing that God is still revealing himself to us.” God did not say all He wanted to say in the scriptures. He did not say, “that’s it I’m done, I’m off to the Bahamas [for a one-way holiday]!”
Feb 1, 2013
Roe v. Wade guaranteed abortion as a legal right across the country. A separate decision two decades later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, guaranteed states’ rights to limit access to abortion, so long as it did not pose an “undue burden” on the woman.
States have, over the past four decades, made no short use of that latter right. Only one state, Oregon, has not layered additional restrictions on top of the Roe decision. At the other end of the spectrum is Oklahoma: With 22 abortion restrictions, it has more than any other state. The chart below, courtesy of Remapping the Debate, has the full list. You can also gohere for an interactive version of the graphic, which will let you look at what type of restrictions each state has set.
Jan 31, 2013
Text message conversation:
Friend: What up!
Me: Chillin. You?
Friend: I gotta talk to you but I’ll text you in a bit….
oh man. this might be big.
Me: What’s up ma?
Friend: Nothing what up?
Me: How was school?
Friend: Fo sho! So Umm I gotta talk to ya…
breathe, Rebecca, breathe.
Me: What’s up?
Friend: So umm I kinda need something… From you..
Friend: Lol… Take a guess.. “be protected”
Me: For you?
no, Rebecca, for her cat. of course it’s for her. get it together!
Friend: Mhm.. Lol
Me: Is this something you want?
Friend: Not that I want, I need it. “stay protected” lol you have them…
Me: Yes I know, but have you and _____ talked about this? And have you had time to think about what you want?
Me: Okay, I had to ask. I trust you and I’m glad you asked me. Is there a certain time you need it by?
Friend: I don’t need it soon. Whenever you can (:
Me: Okay, well I want to make sure you have them for protection when and if you need them. I assume you haven’t talked to your mom about this?
why, Rebecca? why are you making assumptions? have you learned nothing from your social work classes??
Friend: We’ve had the “talk.”
Me: Ight lil’ ma. If you have any questions just ask
Friend: Ight I will (:
This was a conversation between a friend and I from a couple of weeks ago. If you can’t tell by the coy wording, we are talking about condoms and sex. Looking back on the conversation I wish I would have just said condoms and sex instead of “it.” What can I say? I was caught off guard. I have known this friend of mine all her life. She is a special person to me, and I consider her to be a little sister, especially since I don’t have any younger siblings. I have always been very open and honest with her, hoping that she would return the favor by trusting me, and I’m glad she did.
Back when I first began my activism with sex education and sexual health, I asked my middle/high school aged cousins and friends about the type of sex ed they were receiving in school. Some were a little embarrassed and tried to laugh my questions off, while others were straight forward and told me that they don’t remember learning anything, but that so and so was pregnant and had to leave school for a bit. No matter which way the conversation went, I always ended it with something like this, “I just want you to know that I will always be here for you, if you ever need anything. I’m in college, and I remember my years in high school; I know sex happens. I can’t tell you how to live your life, but I can tell you this, if you choose to have sex you should respect yourself and your partner by using protection.” I didn’t want to come off as preachy by telling them what to do, but I wanted to get a message across.
When I started having sex I had no formal education and had to research everything online. You can imagine how amazing that process went. I feel that I knew more than some of my peers because I knew that you could get pregnant “even if he pulls out,” and that you can’t get pregnant by having oral sex. However, I didn’t know that oral/anal sex are still sex, so condoms should still be used.
I have always had a great relationship with my parents, but in high school I was scared to talk to them about sex. Growing up in a devout Catholic household might have that effect. I wasn’t scared of them, but I didn’t want them to judge me or get angry. I didn’t know how to approach them. Now, things are much different. My parents are very much aware of the work that I do, and they respect me for it. While there is one particular issue we don’t see eye to eye on (I’m pro-choice, they are pro-life), we still respect each other and love each other. I often joke with my mom and tell her we will probably run into each other at a rally but will be on opposing sides. She rolls her eyes and responds with something like, “estas loca,” and I tell her to pray extra hard for me.
I love my parents, family, and friends. I’m glad that my relationships are always strengthening and growing thanks to the big questions and conversations that allow for both parties to gain trust. These conversations are important, not only for the obvious reasons like preventing pregnancy, STI’s, or HIV, but also to have healthy relationships with the people you love or care about.
Jan 28, 2013
Let the record show that this U-DGurl is in absolute LOVE with Laci Greene!
I am literally watching her video on “A is for Abstinence” and I think it’s such a great thing to do for those who need (and may not need) to be informed about abstinence and making the choice
She’s funny and so real…did I mention funny, too?
I do wish there was a Laci Greene symbol back in my high school days. So many girls grew up, confused about the changes in their bodies, confused about their desires and the world they lived in that seemed to change after they discovered two weird things growing on their chests. And what towhere telling you was worse, the “grown ups” we turned to made it their duty to give developing girls and growing boys the most untrue and confusing information possible. Either that, or they made you feel guilty about know what was happening to your body. It’s Yours! It’s your duty and privilege to know as much as possible about your body, your likes and so on without anyone, anywhere telling you that it’s wrong and sinful to.
Jan 23, 2013
Begging, is all around me. In Nigeria I mean, not literally around me, trailing me, holding me down with entreating eyes and dirty hands holding my shirtsleeves begging for a few nairas to spare. Alright, that does happen. They are everywhere: by motor parks, along the streets in busy traffic, at the doors to shopping malls, at restaurants looking through the mirror at you – a ploy to make you feel guilty for stuffing yourself with that chicken while they and their children are out on the streets, begging for scarps to live on so they could survive for yet another day…
Sad, I know. True….probably not.
I have often heard, read and even observed that begging, especially in developing countries is something that would be described as a very lucrative business, if for instance, one happened to be without personal shame, had no qualms about exploiting themselves and especially their loved ones to the contempt and pity of society and its dangers, and also, if one happened to be doing it professionally.
How low can they go? How far do they come? These are some of the questions that are answered in full on one’s first visit to Lagos State, Nigeria. This is not to say that beggars are present only in Lagos. From my years lived in Nigeria, I can tell you that so long as it is urban, populated and profitable, the begging masses will materialize from everywhere – including the nations of Chad and Niger Republic.
Life as a beggar is profitable, believe it or not. The more dense and urban the area, the more they appear with their arms stretched out, palms turned upwards begging for your pity and religious piety.
But what about the risks? Yes some of these people do it for profit, the “corporate beggars”, while others do it because they are disabled in a society that largely scorns those with disabilities, children who are homeless and forced to beg to survive and give their earnings to a “master”, women whose authoritative male head forces her to do so – what about the health risks: the attacks and molestation, the kidnappings and assaults ..the murders for ritual sacrifices? They are often vulnerable targets for predatory and manipulative people, pedophiles and ritualists.
Street Medicine is practices by some to help those who cannot afford to find treatment and medication from formal or informal health centers or pharmacies. People like Dr. Uche Uruakpa of the Doctors for Humankind Foundation who I have written about previously on my blog, provides such aid. But he is one amongst few organisations who go out of their way to provide such services for the poor.
In a nation who seeks to reduce sexual and reproductive health risks and diseases in hopes of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, where did we go wrong? How can we improve the health of those who are at risk – the women and children who risk their lives in hopes of garnering the pity of passersby and tourists?
Jan 16, 2013
We need to talk about why we’re not talking about Uganda.
A recent report from progressive watchdog organization Media Matters found that despite the hot-button nature of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, cable news networks in America have seriously lagged in covering the legislation. In November, for example, the viral music video for “Gangnam Style” by South Korean rapper Psy received more coverage on CNN and Fox News than Uganda’s attempt to kill LGBT people. In fact, Fox didn’t cover the legislation at all. Notably, MSNBC devoted twice as much airtime to covering the “Kill the Gays” bill as it did to discussing “Gangnam Style.”
from The Advocate
Jan 13, 2013
Click on the link to see the images in full!
Jan 11, 2013
Political Info and Laws in Brief
- Governor Rick Snyder (R) is anti-choice.
- The Michigan House is anti-choice.
- The Michigan Senate is anti-choice.
Michigan bans a safe abortion procedure and has unconstitutional and unenforceable criminal bans on abortion.
Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay
Michigan has a partially unconstitutional and unenforceable law that subjects women seeking abortion services to biased-counseling requirements and mandatory delays.
Counseling Ban/Gag Rule
Michigan prohibits certain state employees and organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Refusal to Provide Medical Services
Michigan allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide women specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals.
Restrictions on Low-Income Women’s Access to Abortion
Michigan restricts low-income women’s access to abortion.
Restrictions on Young Women’s Access to Abortion
Michigan law restricts young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental consent.
Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP)
Michigan subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to other medical professionals.
Michigan law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide the same coverage for contraception.
Low-Income Women’s Access to Family Planning
Michigan provides certain low-income women increased coverage for Medicaid-funded family-planning services.
Protection Against Clinic Violence
Michigan law protects women seeking reproductive-health care and medical personnel from blockades and violence.
OTHER RELEVANT LAWS
Post-Viability Abortion Restriction
Michigan restricts post-viability abortion.
83% of Michigan counties have no abortion provider.
*an issue that does not affect *just* women.
Jan 9, 2013
The Gulabi gang is a group of women vigilantes active across North India. It is named after the pink saris worn by its members. The group was founded as a response to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women. Gulabis visit abusive husbands and beat them with bamboo sticks. In 2008, they stormed an electricity office and forced officials to restore the power they had cut to extract bribes. The Gulabis have also stopped child marriages and protested dowry and female illiteracy.
Jan 9, 2013
Jan 7, 2013
I have always found a foreigner’s perspective on the Nigerian society quite interesting and much needed, after all, it often takes one standing on the outside looking in to fully grasp the situation at hand: they are detached and sometimes, not always, tend to have an objective view. Islamist extremists and terrorist cells in the North; Niger Delta militants and independent kidnapping groups in the South; over population, disease, over riding impoverishment of its people everywhere else; and of course, the corruption. We cannot forget about that.
For a nation with boundless human and mineral resources, diverse and fruitful agricultural potential, the nation is sinking into a quick sand of economic and political muck brought about by the rot that corruption has festered for the last 50 years of the country’s existence. As I write, Nigeria is ranked the 143rd most corrupt nation out of 182 in the world. This goes to show, that no matter how a nation is blessed with resources, or anyone has everything they could ever need to succeed on paper, nothing will work unless the people themselves decide to, and follow through to take actions important to succeed.
Growing up in a nation where corruption is the national pastime as the average person’s ambition – and therefore the average politician’s is to take a very sizable chunk of the “national cake”, as it is called, regardless of the consequences on the masses, it is no wonder that that the developed world views Nigeria as a Red Zone. Economic fortunes can be made without a doubt, especially my multinationals, but usually at the price of the people.
How can a nation that claims to be Africa’s Giant boast knowing and participating to spread the rust deep within its core? Status quo or just plain procedure to survive? I do not know. But one thing I have come to understand about human nature and society, is that logic and commonsense are not so common.
But despite the greed, incredible poverty and lack of infrastructure that continues to plague corrupt nations like Nigeria, we should be thankful of those individuals and groups faced with the odds of improving the state of affairs of the people, and the countries in question. These are the idealists, the fighters, those ridiculed and discouraged by even their own leaders who should be examples for young people to look to. They try in the best way, as hard as it is, and trust me, its excruciatingly hard to keep moving when everyone says you can\’t make it, that you are a fool for believing in the good, the development and sustainability of your own nation.
Cultures that thrive on social and economic inequality, gross injustice to the masses and corrupt leaders have a tendency to face uprisings and revolutions and even civil wars. Let\’s hope that the change to a more sustainable society, a more transparent and functioning government shall not involve too much bloodshed.
It is more than obvious that as a nation, Nigeria has a long way to go in terms of sustainability, especially where the sexual and reproductive health of its young people, particularly the women, are involved. Most of it\’s leaders are too busy looting the resources using its people for their own selfish ends and spending it anywhere but where it\’s needed most; the few who care are focused on other areas of national development. Apparently, issues that concern women and young people in general are much to soft for their tastes.
With hope, hard work and determination (I include them because I know success is not achieved by prayers alone), young people will be the ones to realize that their destinies lie in their hands, and they will do with it what they will.
Dec 23, 2012
Georgia HB 954, also known as “Women As Livestock,” passed. The bill caught national attention after State Representative Terry England (R) came to the bill’s defense and shared his thoughts a few months ago, “…if farmers have to ‘deliver calves, dead or alive’ then a woman carrying a dead fetus or one not expected to survive should have to carry it to term.”
Because that worked so well with Savita Halappanavar, right? And we thought the GOP couldn’t be any more openly misogynistic.
At first this bill criminalized all abortions after 20 weeks, regardless of health conditions. After weeks of negotiation the bill was revised in a way that an exemption will be made for medically futile pregnancies or if the health of the pregnant person is in danger. The revised bill still neglected to make an exemption for pregnant people with mental illnesses. So, those suffering with mental illnesses will still be forced to continue their pregnancy. The bill still has no exemptions for rape or incest.
According to Ms. Magazine and the bill itself:
In order for a pregnancy to be considered “medically futile,” the fetus must be diagnosed with an irreversible chromosomal or congenital anomaly that is “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” The Georgia “fetal pain” bill also stipulates that the abortion must be performed in such a way that the fetus emerges alive. If doctors perform the abortion differently, they face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison.
And this “fetal pain” bill is just based on this silly notion that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks, even though doctors and scientists keep coming up with new studies that the nervous system of a fetus does not register pain until much later in the third trimester–one of many sources being The Journal of the American Medical Association. But whatever point of the pregnancy the fetus feels pain is actually not an issue for me. Pain, sentience, and/or personhood of the fetus, etc, none of that matters to me in this discourse for reproductive health care and rights. Pregnant people continue to be erased from this conversation, and I’m done with that. We need to stop participating in this erasure of people who are actually affected by these restrictions. The focus of the conversation should always be about choice and the people who can make one. Actuality should always come before potentiality. And remember, no one–whether it’s a fetus, a child, or a grown adult–has the right to another person’s body without constant consent.
I post this with the understanding that this issue does not affect only women or all women. I post this with the hopes that we all continue this fight for reproductive health care and rights.
The two sides of the abortion debate in America literally face one another in this documentary from filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. In Fort Pierce, Florida, a women’s heath care center is located at the corner of 12th and Delaware. On the same corner, across the street, is another women’s heath care center. However, the two centers are not in the same business; one provides abortions along with a variety of other health services, while the other primarily offers counseling to women considering abortion, urging them to keep their babies.In 12th and Delaware, Ewing and Grady offer a look inside both offices, as pro-life counselors give women a mixture of concern and disinformation about terminating their pregnancies and the pro-choice medical staff struggles to work under the frequent threat of violence against them. The film also examines the handful of protesters who stand outside the abortion clinic, confronting both patients and staff as they enter and exit.
See the movie: http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/38560890103/because-some-followers-have-asked-about-this-i-am
Congress Passes Amendment to Lift Abortion Ban on Military Rape Survivors
Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, applauded Congress for supporting a provision sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would lift the ban on women in the military using their health insurance for abortion care in cases of rape or incest. Now, the bill makes its way to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
The Obama administration already has voiced its support for lifting the ban on sexual-assault survivors using their health insurance for abortion care.
“Sen. Shaheen and retired military leaders advocated tirelessly to end this discriminatory policy,” Keenan said. “Protecting those who serve our country is an American value. There is no better time than now for President Obama and Congress to remind the country of their commitment to protect and support our servicewomen by signing this bill into law.”
The Shaheen amendment has widespread support ranging from retired military officers to former Secretary of State Colin Powell to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
This ban is one of two unfair restrictions on women’s access to safe abortion care. Looking to the future, NARAL Pro-Choice America also urges lawmakers to repeal the ban on military women using their own money for abortion services in situations beyond sexual assault at overseas military hospitals.
NARAL Pro-Choice America is a longtime leader in advocating for servicewomen’s reproductive rights and has been working with lawmakers and other allies for more than 15 years to repeal this unfair abortion-coverage ban. Nearly 89,000 of the organization’s member activists have taken action to support lifting the ban.
H.B. 5711, the Michigan omnibus anti-abortion “super bill” passed last week during the lame duck session of the state legislature, is a hefty 80-odd pages worth of restrictions and regulations on abortions, providers, clinics, and medical practices. It was overwhelmingly passed by both chambers of the legislature, but how many even knew what they were actually voting for?
Emily Magner of Social Work Advocacy Coalition of Michigan, shares a story onEclectablog of her late November meeting with one local legislator, state Senator Howard Walker, who voted in favor of the bill. A bill which as of the end of November he couldn’t even be bothered to read.
e went on to talk specifically about how this bill will harm Michigan women, disproportionately women living in rural areas like ours. After we brought up a few of these points he put up his hands and said that he couldn’t really speak to those topics … he had not read the bill.
In front of him was a one paragraph synopsis I assume was from the Right to Life special interest organization who drafted the bill.
Howard Walker had not even bothered to read it.
We spoke with him for 20 minutes, the whole time he was dismissive, misinformed, and rude. When his handler told him, “5 more minutes,” I told him that I would never ask him to change his beliefs on abortion, I would protect his right to believe whatever he wanted, but I did want him to consider the harmful implications that this legislation would have on women and consider his ethical obligation to his field to leave his personal views at the door.
Before I could finish my sentence, he waved his hand dismissively and interrupted, “THIS ISN’T ABOUT WOMEN! THIS IS ABOUT PROTECTING FETUSES!”
Republican Governor Rick Snyder has less than two weeks to decide whether he is just as dismissive of women as Senator Walker is or whether he will veto the bill.
Dec 17, 2012
Talking about young people in the part of the world where I come is already a sensitive issue and adding ‘rights’ which is another very explosive issue to this makes advocacy for the placing of youth rights at the heart of development a very difficult but not an impossible task. Behind these words lies the fears, doubts, and optimism of a participant at the just ended International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-Beyond 2014 Global youth Forum (GYF) which held from the 4th to the 6th December 2012.They are also the words that come to my mind whenever I think about this forum and the impact its outcomes will have on the future of young people and therefore our world as a whole. The fruits of the optimism raised and the hopes re-enkindled by the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF not only in the young persons that attended this event but above all in the lives of the millions of young persons that are marginalized, down trodden, and persecuted because of their gender, age, political choices, and sexual orientation, will no doubt become reality as youths irrespective of their social status, religious beliefs, and gender have been empowered and energized by this forum. With most of the recommendations from the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF urging governments, international bodies, and civil societies to recognize the rights of all young persons especially the marginalized, suffering and persecuted(the girl child, sexual minorities, rural dwellers, the uneducated) and establish an enabling environment for the potentials of every young person to be unleashed and his/her dreams fulfilled, the forum is ended but has opened an avenue for youths to claim what is theirs and take their places in decision making cycles in their various countries. Enlightened, empowered, and inspired by the passion and enthusiasm I witnessed in Bali, the following words came to my mind in the evening of the 6th of December as the forum ended: ‘What happens when it comes time to part? Well you know how when you’re listening to music from another room and you’re singing along, because it’s a tune you really love, when the door closes, or a train passes, and you can’t hear the music anymore, but you sing along anyway?’ Just like the song described in this scene from the movie, ‘Music from Another Room’, the journey towards achieving youths rights might have begun long ago, Bali marked a new beginning in this fight for the rights of young people in all their diversity to be recognized and respected in the society where they live.
Dec 12, 2012
WHAT THE MICHIGAN ANTI-ABORTION BILL REALLY DOES
The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate now has before it a draconian anti-abortion clinic bill designed to make the
full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care, inaccessible for Michigan women. The bill passed
the Michigan House in June. The most potentially dangerous, expensive, and degrading provisions in HB 5711 would:
REQUIRE DISPOSAL OF “FETAL REMAINS” LIKE A DEAD BODY
– Michigan will become the ﬁrst state in the nation to
require any woman who seeks an abortion or miscarries to decide how she will dispose of the “fetal remains.”
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
At 10 weeks: A woman must pay for a funeral home to transport fetal remains and to decide amongst burial,
cremation, or interment. Current law requires the products of conception to be hygienically incinerated.
HB 5711, if passed,
Misleads women into thinking of the fetal issue as a person and abortion as murder.
Traumatizes and shames women at a diﬃcult time and adds unnecessary expense to an abortion.
At 20 weeks: Additionally, either the physician or the coroner must ﬁle a Death Certiﬁcate, a public record which
may be reported in the local newspaper and remains permanently on ﬁle with the State. HB 5711, if passed,
Robs women of their right to privacy and potentially makes miscarriage and abortion public.
STOP DOCTORS FROM PERFORMING ABORTIONS – Doctors who would perform more than ﬁve abortions a month in the oﬃce (or who meet other criteria) must do so only in a licensed freestanding surgical facility and buy $1 million in liability insurance.
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Makes providing abortion services prohibitively expensive for doctors so that they will give up the practice.
The requirements for surgical facilities won’t make women safer, the insurance is not currently available in
Michigan and, even if it were, it would likely be prohibitively expensive and make the cost of abortion beyond
the reach of most women. Current laws adequately protect women and should be enforced.
RESTRICT FREE SPEECH IN THE GUISE OF PREVENTING “COERCION” – Doctors must verify that patients have been “screened” about whether they were coerced into seeking an abortion.
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Makes parents, spouses, and others subject to lawsuits for counseling a woman about making informed
choices, while frightening doctors from providing abortions for fear of legal action.
END THE TELE-MEDICINE OPTION
– The new law would prohibit doctors from dispensing safe medication abortions or emergency contraception drugs such as Ella through telemedicine protocols. The bill even requires that medication abortions be performed at a licensed freestanding surgical facility!
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Adds physical and ﬁnancial barriers that discourage women from exercising their legally-protected rights
without making them any safer.
Makes abortion unavailable to women in underserved areas, which includes more than 83% of Michigan
WHAT THESE LAWS ALSO DO IS DISCOURAGE GOOD DOCTORS FROM PRACTICING IN MICHIGAN
- Dr. Michael Allswede of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists tes9ﬁed against the bill, arguing that his organization knows the bill will make it harder to recruit doctors to practice in Michigan. Studies show Michigan could lack as many as 4,500 doctors by 2020, and this legisla9on would make matters worse.
Contact your Senator and Governor Snyder and tell them to reject HB 5711.
See www.michnow.org for contact informa2on.
*this does not affect just women
Dec 12, 2012
**This issue is not just about women’s health, it’s about every single person who could be affected by an attack on reproductive rights and health.**
The latest filings from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads show a last minute contribution of $1 million received just days before the election (10/29/12) from Gary Heavin — the co-founder of Curves International Inc., which calls itself “the world’s leader in women’s fitness.”
Curves, a chain of women-only fitness center franchises, claims nearly 10,000 locations in more than 85 countries. Heavin and his fellow co-founder, his wife Diane, sold Curves International to an private equity firm in October, but they remain prominently featured on the company’s website. The Heavins say they “share a passion for and commitment to women’s health and fitness.” But his massive donation to the right-wing super PAC is only the latest in a long pattern of their efforts
in support of policies that undermine women’s equality in the workplace and restrict women’s access to health care services.
American Crossroads spent $91 million to elect Mitt Romney over President Obama. Romney refused to endorse key pro-women legislation including the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and thePaycheck Fairness Act, but backed reinstating the “global gag rule” on even discussing abortion as a family planning option and supported the infamous Blunt Amendment to allow employers to deny health benefits that go against their personal views. Crossroads also worked to help far-right extremists like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and George Allen. Much of the American Crossroads attack strategy focused on criticizing Obamacare and those who backed the effort to expand health insurance access to all Americans.
In addition to helping fund American Crossroads, the Heavins also combined to give $92,400 to the House and Senate Republican campaign arms, $2,500 to Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), $30,800 to the Republican National Committee, $7,300 to Romney’s campaign, and $2,500 to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2012.
And this past election isn’t the only time that Curves and the Heavins have worked against women’s reproductive rights. Gary Heavin pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars for controversial “pregnancy crisis centers” that try to talk women out of abortions and have been accused to providing false information. They also made large donations to abstinence-only education programs — programs which often misinform and make teens more likely to engage in risky behavior and become pregnant. Curves also pulled its funding for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation over its objection to the charity’s funding for Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening services. In a 2004 editorial, Mr. Heavin attacked Planned Parenthood’s sex education literature, writing “I have a 10-year-old daughter. I would absolutely not allow her to be exposed to this material. I don’t want her being taught masturbation and told that homosexuality is normal.”
That anti-choice and anti-LGBT stance was further demonstrated when Curves partnered with the American Family Association — a group that has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group.” They joined for a 2009 healthy recipe contest and sold a Curves fitness CD on the AFA’s website. Gary Heavin has also been an outspoken enthusiast for televangelist Pat Robertson, who has blamed natural disasters on same-sex marriage equality and blamed 9/11 on abortion, the separation of church and state, and civil liberties groups.
Michigan Lawmakers Are Trying To Sneak Extreme Abortion Restrictions
Women’s health advocates confirm that Michigan lawmakers are likely to revive on Thursday an omnibus anti-abortion bill that sparked widespread protests after it passed the House this summer, in addition to a host of other restrictive abortion legislation they hope to force through the current lame duck session.
As Michigan’s current attempt to pass anti-union legislation dominates the coverage surrounding the state legislature, lawmakers are using the opportunity to revisit anti-abortion measures they hope to slip through before this session ends. Since five anti-choice state legislators lost their seats in last month’s election, this may be the best time for the legislature to advance their far-right agenda — despite the fact that the majority of Michigan residents support legal access to abortion. On Thursday afternoon, the state senate may consider multiple anti-abortion bills that aim to:
1) Regulate abortion clinics out of existence. HB 5711, the massive 45-page legislation that sparked amassive outcry when the House considered it in June, contains additional and unnecessary regulations for abortion providers. HB 5711 would subject any facilities that perform 6 or more abortions per month to burdensome regulations that could be so costly that they force clinics to close their doors, an indirect method of targeting abortion providers.
2) Limit abortion access for women in rural areas. HB 5711 would also place restrictions on telemedical abortions, which provide essential health services to women in rural areas who often lack any access to nearby abortion doctors. Even though telemedical procedures have been proven to be safe and effective, Michigan lawmakers seek to require doctors to be physically present to administer abortion services.
3) Impose further guidelines for the disposal of fetal remains. Michigan already has regulations in place to instruct medical professions about how they must dispose of fetal remains, but HB 5711 wants to go a step further, requiring fetal remains to be treated in the exact same manner as dead bodies. Doctors would be forced to fill out death forms and make arrangements for the fetal remains’ cremation or burial,imposing an emotional burden on the women whose pregnancies end through a medical miscarriage. No other state handles fetal remains at 10 weeks in the same way as it handles dead bodies.
4) Prevent private insurance companies from covering any abortion services. A trio of companion bills — SBs 612, 613, and 614 — would work together to ban the health insurance exchange that Michigan will set up under Obamacare from covering abortion, as well as ban private insurers from covering any abortion services under their general insurance plans. Currently, 87 percent of Michigan’s insurance plans include abortion care in their benefits packages. If private insurers elect to cover abortions, they have to do it as a separate rider, which often ends up being more costly for women.
5) Allow doctors to refuse to perform abortion services because of their personal beliefs. SB 975, which passed the Michigan Senate’s Health Policy committee earlier this week and is now up for a full vote, is a sweeping “license to discriminate” bill that would allow medical professionals to deny health services based on their personal beliefs. It would allow doctors to refuse to provide HIV treatment, vaccinations, or abortions to any of their patients simply based on their “conscience.”
Preliminary reports from women’s health advocates on the ground in Michigan suggest that the Senate has already passed SB 975, and is likely to pass SBs 612, 613, and 614 this afternoon. But Thursday’s push doesn’t represent the only step that Michigan lawmakers have taken during this year’s lame duck session to push through anti-choice legislation. Just a few weeks ago, state legislators also considered establishing a tax credit for fetuses past 12 weeks’ gestation, a dangerous step toward endowing fetuses with the same rights as U.S. citizens.
Sadly, we’ve all grown used to the idea that nothing gets through the U.S. Senate these days without the support of at least 60 senators. Procedural tricks and a misuse of the filibuster rule has ground legislation to a near halt in the years since President Barack Obama took office. But when it came to a vote to ensure that disabled persons have the same rights as anyone else—including the right to avoiding pregnancy or terminating unwanted ones—even 60 votes wasn’t enough.
The Senate voted 61 to 38 to ratify the United Nations Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty, which stated “nations should strive to assure that the disabled enjoy the same rights and fundamental freedoms as their fellow citizens,” according to the Associated Press. The treaty was modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, but anti-choice activists rallied against it, claiming it “sacrifices the most vulnerable—the disabled and the unborn—all in the name of population control,” according to Bradley Mattes, president of the International Right to Life Federation.
Although anti-choice activists claimed concern that the treaty, if ratified, could expand access to abortion and somehow impede their efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, many of those who voted against the measure, such as Utah Sen. Mike Lee, pointed to fear of losing United States “sovereignty” as their reason for opposing the treaty.
Dec 5, 2012
Another day has come and gone over Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum.But as days come and go, the discussion intensifies and young people are more demanding to their governments, religious and traditional authorities, parents, and society at large.
Universal access to education,inclusive education, relevant education, quality education ,financing and partnerships, as well as ccomprehensive sexuality education were identified by participants at the ICPD beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum participants as being vital for comprehensive education to become a reality in our world and were thus recommended in that other for discussion by the United Nations and possible inclusion in its post-2015 international development agenda.
Transitions to decent work, and famiies,youth Rights and well being are the themes which were on the discussion table today.These being of course issues which are relevant to every young person irrespective of where he/she hails, the debate in the plenary was so intense and continued into the various work groups.
During the plenary on transitions to decent employment, it was revealed by the International Labour Organisation’s representative that we now have the highest number of unemployed youths that the world has ever. Also, during this plenary it was disclosed that 1 in 9 young workers in Africa are in the informal sector, 4 out of 10 young workers are working on a temporary basis, and 5 in 10 low paid persons are youths.
Productivity, fairness, and rewarding are the major characteristics of a decent job as defined by the International Labour Organisation(ILO). If one is to go by this definition, one will have no choice but agree with the above statistics. One other area in which there was total agree is on the fact that stronger families, respect of youth rights, and the well being of youths are the basis for any society and so for a world at peace with itself, there was need for these issues to be tackled with maximum care.
According to Mr.Anatole Makosso, the president to the conference of African youth ministers and youth minister of Congo Brazzaville, there exist three reasons for governments to carefully consider the above mentioned issues and ensure that the needs of youths are met: They are the majority, they are the future, they will not identify with any decisions taken without them.
Another day is come and gone, and the desire for action by youths on the part of their governments has not faultered Youths want to make the Bali declaration not only a declaration but a platform for action. Hear our voices!
Dec 4, 2012
What a long awaited and historic day for mankind has today being. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum was officially opened today. In the presence of close to a thousand participants, Indonesian officials, and representatives of governments the world over, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive Director , in his speech decried the situation in which so many young people, especially those in the global south, live in before pointing out the importance of this event, and then inviting representatives of governments and those he termed “Seniors” to look at the young people around them and challenge how they relate to them, and then think of how they can release the potentials of these young people.
Further setting the context of the Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum, the Indonesian minister for people’s welfare, declared that: we believe that a meaningful dialogue is necessary on the means and ways of engaging young people to release their potential. He further emphasized that , young people need to understand the values of life that will make them stay healthy, be educated, foster family life, actively participate in building the world they have always dreamed of.
Staying healthy, comprehensive education, transition to decent work for youth, Families, youth rights and well being, leadership and meaningful youth participation, and realizing youth rights are the themes which will be discussed and recommendations made by the over 650 participants for discussion and adoption by the UN member states as one of its post-2015 agenda.
Staying healthy and comprehensive education were tackled today in discussion groups (world Cafés) and recommendations made on the former. Access to data, putting in place of an enabling environment for youths by governments, religious and traditional authorities, access to quality, affordable, and comprehensive health services, and finally the abolition of laws and policies that that hinder youth empowerment are the recommendations that came out from the 15 sort of work groups that brainstormed on this topic. The recommendations on the comprehensive education will be presented tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th 2012.
It should be noted that the above recommendations were arrived at by participants including representatives of governments, UN agencies, and civil society in a very interactive, safe, and open environment after attending the plenary session that addressed the issue of staying healthy for a young person. At this plenary Advocate for Youth’s Meredith Waters acting in her capacity as young person commentator for this theme, declared amid thunderous applause from the audience that: the Global Youth Forum is a great way to start but not enough. Dr Nafsia Mboi, Indonesian minister of health, answering to questions from the participants declared to conclude the plenary that: Every person, I repeat every person including young people has the right to health.
Good as the speeches may be, world leaders should be conscious that young people are tired of speeches and want to see concrete actions being taken solve the pile of problems in which young people from all part of our beloved world are drowning. World leaders! Take action now or be fired! We are ready for the fight and I assure you we will always out power you; for we are the majority.
Nov 25, 2012
Omg. You can’t just ask people why they’re ignorant.
Over 10,000 people flooded the streets of Dublin, Ireland.
On Saturday, over 10,000 people bombarded the streets of Dublin, yelling and waving signs into the air that say, “Never again!” They were consumed with rage and devastation, and with hopes of possible change. The protesters and their fervent cries has even caused the Irish Government to possibly re-examine their abortion policies. And what was the cause for this reaction?
Her name was Savita Halappanavar. She was a 31 year old dentist. And her husband was Praveen, a 34 year old engineer. She was 17 weeks pregnant but went to the hospital because she had back pain on October 21st. That’s when she found out she was miscarrying. According to The Irish Times, this was what Mr. Praveen Halappanavar had said:
“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive. The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.”
Savita begged for almost three days that her pregnancy be terminated. But the fetal heartbeat was still present and that the procedure to treat the miscarriage should wait, even though the fetus was declared non-viable. Savita spent the next few days in agonizing pain, still begging for an abortion but her request was consistently denied. Savita was even told by the doctors that, “this is a Catholic Country.” The fetal heartbeat finally stopped and that was when the doctors decided to perform the procedure, but by then it was too late. Savita died of septicaemia and multiple organ failure. And Mr. Halappanavar took his wife’s body home on November 1st to lay to rest, because a fetal heartbeat was deemed more important than his wife’s.
As noted by AFY_EmilyB:
“…by law in Ireland a woman has the right to an abortion if her life is in danger. How did this happen? From Salon:
…in a chilling climate where religious belief takes precedent over women’s health, where any choice to abort can be challenged and punished, whose interests are doctors going to protect?
When abortion is stigmatized and condemned without context, when anti-abortion activists elevate the needs and rights of the fetus over those of the woman and make their personal religious beliefs into law, we end up with a chain of events where, for no reason any person with a shred of humanity can fathom, a woman is left to die because doctors can still detect a heartbeat in a fetus they already knew wouldn’t survive. A woman’s life was sacrificed so that a pregnancy that everyone knew was doomed could go on for an additional three days.”
This is all very true. The World Health Organization even states, “When abortion is made legal, safe, and easily accessible, women’s health rapidly improves. By contrast, women’s health deteriorates when access to safe abortion is made more difﬁcult or illegal.” The tragedy of Savita unfortunately serves to highlight the struggles that are faced when mere fetuses are made more important than our friends and family, when full on reproductive health care and rights are restricted.
The United Nations announced, “Access to contraception is a universal human right that could dramatically improve the lives of women and children in poor countries.” CBS News says that this is the first time the United Nations Population Fund’s annual report describes family planning as a human right. CBS even quotes the executive director:
“Family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development,” Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the fund, said in a written statement. “Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labor-force participation boosts nations’ economies.”
But not everyone is happy with this progress. Groups like Human Life International are disgusted with this development. Really, the idea of having some control over when and where to get pregnant, spacing the births far apart enough for optimal health of pregnant person and children, and actually being able to care for the resulting children while saving some money in medical fees is mortifying. Let’s all get up in arms and fight this! I kid, of course. Albeit, there are people who serious with this kind of sentiment, like the folks at LifeSiteNews:
Declaring birth control a right means “everyone else must pay for…the new right” Clowes told LifeSiteNews, “even if those forced to pay for it may object to it on moral grounds. This violates the more basic human right of freedom of conscience, which has for some time now been dispensed with by UN ‘human rights’ champions.”
Despite what they’re saying, the UN declares “that legal, cultural and financial barriers to accessing contraception and other family planning measures are an infringement of women’s* rights.”
*Let’s all try to remember that now all women can get pregnant and not all those who have the ability to become pregnant are women.
Everyone should read this article: What happens when a woman is denied an abortion?
Although it may evoke the same thought I had:
“And water is wet.”
I live about five minutes away from this.
Their typical show of “slactivism” is anti-choice chalk writing on school property, which reeks of emotionally manipulative messages full of misinformation and bad spelling.
And now there’s this recent sign they put up, even after what happened to Savita Halappanavar, see what AFY_EmilyB has to say about that.
Nov 7, 2012
by Deb Hauser
President, Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth congratulates President Barack Obama on his historic reelection. We also celebrate the amazing role that young people played within his administration and his reelection, and we recognize the growing power of youth to drive social and cultural change for a better world. Young people represented approximately 19 percent of the electorate yesterday—a larger percentage even than in 2008!
In the years ahead, we call on President Obama to stand with us in recognition of every young person’s right to honest sexual health education, safe and affordable sexual health services, and an equity of social, educational, and economic opportunity – the type of opportunity that builds healthy lives and strong communities.
Oct 27, 2012
Mary J. Blige, along with actress Julianne Moore and songwriter/producer Bryan Michael Cox, attending the Planned Parenthood Action Fund “Yes, We Plan” in NYC
Oct 25, 2012
Every day, governments all over the world violate the fundamental human rights of millions of women. The Center for Reproductive Rights fights on the front lines every day to beat back these assaults — and Meryl Streep, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, Billy Crudup, Audra McDonald, and many more are standing beside us in this call to action in the global battle for reproductive freedom.
Oct 25, 2012
Jun 26, 2012
Venessa of Fiministing.com reports:
” On Tuesday night protesters gathered in front of a Bridgeport church to let their local Boy Scout leaders know how they felt about a controversial decision.”
The controversy began just last week when a Tiger Scout leader had her membership revoked due to her sexual orientation.
[T]he Boy Scouts of America has a strict policy when it comes to sexual orientation and membership.
“We do not grant membership to individuals who are opened or avowed homosexuals,” said Bob Drury. Drury is the scout executive for the Ohio River Valley. Drury said there was no decision to be made, the policy is very clear.
I think the Boy Scouts were right for ousting the mom, but for all the wrong reasons. I don’t think she should have been ousted because she is gay or homosexual, or a lesbian, or bisexual am in full support of homosexuals having every position, ceremony, tradition, marriage license or job they want (without taking into consideration other limiting factors that can affect them getting those things, i.e. education, unfaithfulness, work ethic ,etc.)
Am I the only one that’s thinking why a woman is a Boy Scout troop leader? Can a man be a Girl Scout Troop leader? I was a wrestler in middle school. I won a few state championships, and I don’t know if the experience would have been the same Ifif “Mr.Knor” would have been “Mrs.Knor.” Let’s be clear, I do believe that women and men can do jobs both equally successful, but in this context, I was very surprised. What are your thoughts? Does it really matter that a woman is a “Boy Scout Troop Leader”?
Jun 12, 2012
Below is an excerpt of a Center for American Progress interview with Urooj Arshad, the associate director of Equity and Social Justice at Advocates for Youth and the manager of the Muslim Youth Project. Read the full interview here!
Sally Steenland: Urooj, you work on reproductive and sexual health issues with young American Muslims. What are some pressing issues these young people face?
Urooj Arshad: Many young people have felt stigmatized talking about sexual health, and there are not a lot of resources for them. Advocates for Youth is a national organization, and we decided it was a priority for us to work with the community. Our Muslim Youth Project seeks to build the capacity of organizations working on reproductive and sexual health issues with American Muslim youth.
It actually came out of a trip I took to Germany, meeting with a coalition of folks coming from all over Europe to talk about multiculturalism and sexual health education. A lot of the meeting was focused on immigrants and Muslim youth, but there was a distinct lack of Muslim representation. I felt that addressing this gap could be a model—not only in the United States but also for people doing this work in other places where there are large Muslim communities but due to lack of representation and resources, reproductive and sexual health are not addressed.
The big challenges American Muslim communities face are silence and stigma. Issues around reproductive and sexual health are either not talked about or not talked about in a way that is healthy. Silence and stigma can lead to negative health outcomes for young people, especially as they negotiate their lives here. All the information they receive from school and other sources can pose a dilemma as to what they’re supposed to be doing.
There is also a lack of cultural competence from mainstream providers. It could be community-based organizations. It could be schools. If you are a provider that’s worked predominantly in the Muslim community, you might not be able to address reproductive or sexual health issues. Or if you are a provider in the reproductive and sexual health community, you might not know how to address issues Muslim young people are facing. Because of this, what can happen in the American Muslim youth community can be quite dire.
Jun 7, 2012
Note: This blog of mine was first published on grist.org.
Days from now, some 130 heads of state and tens of thousands of activists from around the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the “Rio + 20” Earth Summit. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently laid out his vision for the conference in a New York Times article entitled “The Future We Want.”
Ki-moon expressed hope that the meeting will inspire new thinking, focus on people, and issue a “clarion call” for smarter resource use. He gave a nod to the importance of women, who “hold up half the sky,” and of young people, “the very face of our future.”
Still, one crucial ingredient went without mention: sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) The inclusion of SRHR and access to family planning completes the jigsaw puzzle of a just and sustainable world.
To understand why, consider the lives of the women who sell dried fish in my province – Leyte, in the Philippines. The women of Leyte are on the front lines of an unfolding environmental crisis. The Gulf they depend on for their livelihood has been ravaged by overfishing and the destruction of coral reefs, forests and mangroves. Where fishers once reeled in up to 50 kilograms a day, the average has now dropped to just 0-5 kilograms, barely enough to feed a family.
And climate change has disrupted the weather, making it too unpredictable to dry fish under the heat of the sun. The result, for the women of Leyte, is a substantial loss of income.
Large families are still the norm in Leyte, where most women have more than four children. Many would like to prevent or delay having another child; one in three births is unwanted or mistimed. But too many lack access to family planning and reproductive health services and information.
High fertility and declining income forces families to make painful choices. In many cases, one or two or even more of the children will be the “sacrificial lamb” who goes to work so at least some of their siblings can go to school. Most parents — especially mothers – want their children to finish school, since access to quality education can end the cycle of poverty. My own grandmother, who was widowed at the age of 33, struggled to make ends meet so that all of her four children could finish college and provide a promising future for their children.
Climate change and resource depletion will eventually affect all of the world’s people. But it is already gravely affecting the dried fish sellers in Leyte. There are efforts under way to help. The Green Climate Fund will finance climate adaptation in developing countries, and much can be done to promote better land use, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and secure rights for indigenous people.
These measures are necessary, but they are not sufficient. To make a powerful difference in the lives of the women of Leyte, we must ensure that SRHR and family planning are included in efforts to address climate change and promote sustainable development.
Family planning and SRHR is a potential game changer. Women who are empowered to make choices about childbearing are healthier and more resilient. They are more likely to invest in their children’s education; they and their children are less likely to be poor.
Imagine if the estimated 215 million women who now lack access to contraception were able to plan their families. Imagine unleashing the potential of 600 million adolescent girls, by ensuring their access to education, opportunities, and rights. In fact, imagine if every one of the planet’s three billion young people were empowered with rights and opportunity. Imagine that those young men and women are able to make informed choices to stay healthy and free of HIV; to marry if they choose and raise healthy, happy families. Imagine breaking the cycle of poverty and gender-based violence that has haunted humanity for generations and generations.
That is the future I want.
To make that future real, we must first guarantee basic human rights for women and young people. We must build a sustainable economy that is inclusive, not divisive; sustaining, not depleting. But most of all, we must ensure provision of basic social services such as education, health, and family planning for all.
We are a long way from these goals. Of the countries that have submitted plans for adapting to climate change, only the small island state of Sao Tome and Principe has included SRHR and family planning in their sustainable development plans. This is disheartening.
Yet, I do not lose hope. As Philippine Senator Gregorio Honasan said recently, “Doubt is the opposite of faith. And faith is the source of hope.” He is right; we should not lose faith. We need to work hard to bring family planning and SRHR to the Earth Summit negotiating tables. Let’s start with our own government leaders as they head to Rio this week.
May 29, 2012
During an interview with KOAT-TV earlier this month, the Chief Medical Officer of the New Mexico Department of Health was asked about the stunning, 50% increase in cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia among teens compared to this time last year. As graduations are celebrated and summer begins, New Mexico also finds itself at the top of Guttmacher’s list of highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. In light of these numbers, the reporter from KOAT asked Dr. Erin Bouquin a simple question.
Reporter: What are you guys trying to tell kids?
Bouquin: Use condoms. Condoms are very, very important in controlling sexually transmitted diseases.
Reporter: And abstinence?
Bouquin: Abstinence. I like the ABCs: Abstinence, Be Faithful, and Birth Control.
One hour after the interview aired, Bouquin received an e-mail, asking her to meet with Catherine Torres, the state’s Health Secretary. It was during this meeting that Bouquin was asked to resign because she “didn’t meet the governor’s expectations.”
Yet, when questioned about the resignation, both Governor Susana Martinez and the Department of Health both denied any connection between the interview and Dr. Bouquin’s resignation. Scott Darnell, the governor’s spokesperson, even went so far as to say that Bouquin’s comments on birth control did not conflict with the governor’s views.
The governor is a proponent of taking a balanced and multi- pronged approach to controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; there is nothing in Dr. Bouquin’s interview that would conflict with that approach.
If you‘re not buying this, you’re not alone. The now-former Chief Medical Officer believes the reason she was asked to leave couldn’t be clearer.
On the day I was asked to leave, I said the word condom three times on the news.
In an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, Bouquin says that the department is “becoming more political,” and explains that it’s “recently applied for Title V federal funding that stresses abstinence-based sex education.”
Yet, I do see a silver lining here.. Even though the state “does not mandate sex education or regulate its content if taught” (with the exception of information on HIV), and apparently just forced someone to resign for advocating safe sex, they still felt the need to cover up why she was forced to resign, fearing it would make them “look bad” if it was clear that they got rid of her because she said in public that condoms prevent the spread of STIs and STDs.
A 2000 poll commissioned by the New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Coalition found that 90% of adults in the state support sex education for high school students, along with 78% supporting sex ed for middle school students. I believe it is this overwhelming acceptance of sex education that contributed to Governor Martinez making the baseless claim that she prefers a “multi-pronged approach” to sex ed. As 90% of New Mexico could tell you governor, if condoms aren’t one of your “prongs,” you’re aren’t doing it right.
May 28, 2012
Children are socialized into male and female behaviors and sexual identities from infancy, primarily through processes of growth and development, and socialized through imitation, acculturation, enculturation, diffusion, education, and reward and punishment within the family unit. Socialization is the complex whole process of learning knowledge, skill and standards of judgments. Coping with new feelings of romantic attraction and/or sexual arousal, young adolescents are expected to learn a complex set of gendered social rules about how they should look, think and behave and what forms of social and physical intimacy are encouraged, tolerated or forbidden – and with whom. Much is at stake: social acceptance and even admiration on the one hand; mockery, rejection or abuse on the other.
Sexual norms and socialization process is believed to be built upon following stages:Oral stage: 0-1.5 yrs ( primary identification)
• Anal stage: 1.5 yrs – 4 yrs
• Latency stage: 4 yrs – 12 yrs (attraction toward opposite sex – Oedipus complex: attraction of son toward mother and Electra complex: attraction of daughter toward father).
• Puberty stage: 12 yrs -15 yrs (physical and mental growth)
• Adolescence stage: 16 yrs – 25 yrs ( usually get marriage)
• Adulthood stage: Matured and takes social responsibilities
• Old stage: retired life and attracted toward religious activities.
The expanding horizons of young adolescents are filled with explicit and implicit messages about sex and gender – some clear and consistent, some ambiguous or conflicting. Access to magazines, movies, TV, world music, and the Internet opens doors to an increasingly globalized and sexualized youth culture that permeates what may already be a confusing milieu of expectations and ideologies. The sex–gender rules are also played out in boys’ and girls’ partners and motives for sexual initiation. Apart from the forced or unwanted sexual initiation of young girls in arranged marriages or non-marital situations.
Findings, based on gender norms and socialization, are:
• Girls are more likely than boys to say they were motivated to have sex by love, a desire to “deepen the relationship”, a sense of obligation to the boy, or (in some settings) by promises of gifts or money (mostly from older boys or men), whereas boys more often mention curiosity, physical gratification, or “friends are doing it” as their primary motive.
• A girl’s first partner is more likely to be a boyfriend or someone she hopes to marry, whereas boys’ first partners are more often friends, acquaintances,
• Girls are more likely than boys to report pressures from parents and peers to abstain from sex and to mention moral concerns and/or fear of pregnancy or STIs as motivations for postponing sexual initiation, while boys are often encouraged by peers or male relatives (including fathers) to have sex to prove their “manhood”.
• Sexually active boys typically have intercourse more frequently than sexually active unmarried girls do, and are more likely to have more than one partner.
Right from these findings, we can say that: our society is still in the faith of cultural misguidance and conservative traditions. Though, the progress in women’s reproductive health can be assessed, but still rural people are suffering the supernatural beliefs about sex and sexuality. Preferences to son and sexual boundaries in the freedom of girls are rampant in development parts of Nepal. Hence, being a social animal, human have to overcome these social norms and the socialization process should be understood based on change in knowledge, attitude and practices of adolescent.
May 21, 2012
I knew from a very early age I was gay. When I entered elementary, things became very clear to me. I wanted to hold other boys’ hands, I would give them flowers instead of punches, something felt different. At first, I think some adults were amused by this, although as time went on, I noticed a change in their reactions toward me, it was then I first realized I couldn’t “behave” that way.
When I was about eight years old, my brother came out to my parents. I was too young to remember the details, but there was a lot of fighting between my parents and him. I remember hiding at the foot of our stairway, which was at the center of the house, you could hear everything, my parents would plead with him. When that didn’t work, they tried seeing priests and therapists, when therapists told them my brother’s being gay was something they would have to accept, they discontinued their sessions. For some time after that, the family tried hiding my brother’s orientation from me, I went along with things and pretended not to understand.
Throughout grade-school I was often confronted with anti-gay slurs. Some kids would throw “you’re gay!” comments at me, in that “you’ve got cooties,” tone of voice. When I entered high school, there was no difference, only then I was called “fag” or “faggot.”
Around this same time, a gay bar was set on fire in our town. Instead of being offended, I remember hearing a plethora of adults, including my parents, mention how “what they were doing was wrong,” and explaining that things like that happen to gay people.
It was like I was being hit by attacks from every direction, at home, at school, and even from within my community. I couldn’t escape, I felt so small and alone. I went through a strong depression at that point in my life. I wanted to end my life.
Although these events were not the only times I witnessed homophobia in my life in Brownsville, they really affected me. They made me who I am today, and I’m grateful for that, I wouldn’t want to be any different, but I wouldn’t want any kid to experience their childhood the way I did.
May 2, 2012
On May 8th, North Carolina voters will vote on Amendment 1, which, if passed, would amend the North Carolina state constitution to ban marriage equality and civil unions for same-sex couples. To be clear, this is not a vote on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry, but rather to reinforce an already existing law against this right.
There’s been good news and bad news this week. The Bad: The wife of Senator Peter Brunstetter, who wrote the Amendment, admitted to a poll worker that it was written over fear that “the Caucasian race was diminishing,” and that more people needed to reproduce. So their plan was to ban non-procreative marriages? Did it slip their minds that this Amendment does not apply to infertile or childless straight couples? Did they ignore the fact that many same-sex couples do have biological children- with a little outside help? Did they forget that given the high number of children who need to be adopted and the low percentage of people who are openly gay or lesbian, that doubly banning same-sex couples from the rights and protections of marriage would have no effect on the white birth-rate? And don’t even get me started on the fact that gay and lesbian people of color apparently don’t exist in North Carolina!
But there also is The Good: Polling on Amendment 1 shows that support has been dropping and is currently at an all-time low. The most recent PPP poll, released April 24, shows support at 54%, down 6 points from March 29th. Opposition is at 40 percent. In the week since these numbers were released, Protect ALL NC Families (the pro-equality side) has been airing television and radio ads. It looks good that this will further reduce the level of support, because the polling from March also shows that having accurate information about the Amendment makes people more inclined to oppose it.
“…when voters are made aware of what Amendment 1 would actually do, they are opposed to it narrowly; when they’re told the amendment would ban civil unions for gay couples, "support goes down 17 points to 41 percent, and opposition rises 4 percent to 42 percent."
I’m very encouraged by this, especially considering that this is from a Southern state.
But the thing that upsets me even more than the idiotic idea of preserving the birth rate is that this has “inspired” the horrifyingly misogynistic message being preached at children about gender conformity. And aren’t they always the side that wants to keep children out of the marriage equality debate?
Pastor Sean Harris, senior pastor at a Baptist church in Fayetteville, spoke at his church on Sunday about beating the feminine out of boys as young as four and covering up the “butch” in girls with perfume and dresses.
"So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, “Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed. Can I make it any clearer?
Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting to Butch you reign her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”
You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?”
Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that."
If you can stomach it, you can listen to the audio here. I should warn you that the calls of “Amen!” in the background are particularly jarring.
Not only is there a HUGE problem here with violence against children, but it’s coming from such a darkly misogynistic place. It shows such little respect for human life. And how can anyone calling themselves “a man of god” think that it would be okay to tell a child who is still learning about gender, sex, and sexuality and the way that these ideas effect their world, that a certain expression, behavior, or way of dressing- which they express as a way of working out how they fit into their world- is something so terrible that a pastor needs to threaten violence in an intimidating voice?
If my daughter prefers pants to dresses, who am I to tell her that the clothes she’s comfortable in will make her a bad person? If my son wants to wear a skirt and bend his wrists, who am I to tell him that his way of presenting himself sends a bad message? If I was in fact a mother and I heard someone threatening to break my baby’s wrist or dictate that my baby wear perfume because it will make her “attractive” to god knows who, I would be livid as hell. I don’t care what god you claim to believe in, there’s no way I’m going to let you tell my children that who they are is wrong. The homophobia of the gender binary and the patriarchy of thinking that girls exist to look “attractive” to boys only results in distracting from the constructive dialogue that could be happening about the real issue of equality under the law.
I feel sick for the children who had to sit through that sermon, and not just for the gender non-forming ones. All of those children were given strict, unbreakable rules about how to look and behave. I am disgusted that those children aren’t being given the freedom to make their own rules about their bodies. We are all different, all unique, and any institution that doesn’t respect that is wrong and deserves to be publicly and politically discredited.
Think of the children. What does it mean for their social development if the worst thing the could be is a girl- or be like a girl? What does it mean for their sense of safety if they fear that they will be attached if they step out of line? What does it mean for their spirituality (if applicable) if they’re told that a god condemns their existence? What does it mean for their relationships, their friendships, their education, their happiness, their strength to live…?
What does homophobia mean? What does it cost?
When North Carolina votes on May 8th, they won’t be voting on marriage equality. They will be casting a moral vote on the constitutionality of shame. Who are they to pass an Amendment that makes people, including children, fear who they are? And if they believe in a god, who are they to legislate against the person that god made them to be?
May 1, 2012
ACTIVE…………………………….. THE AGGRESIVE SEXUAL PARTNER
ANALINGUS……………………………. KISSING, LICKING AND PENETRATION OF THE ANUS BY THE TONGUE
AROUND THE WORLD…………. … THE ACT OF KISSING THE ENTIRE BODY AS
A PRELUDE TO SEX
BACK SCUTTLE…………………………… PERFORM ANAL INTERCOURSE
BACK YARD……………………………………….. .THE BUTTOCKS
BEAT OFF………………………………………… .MASTURBATION
BITCH……………………………. A LOOSE WOMAN OR FEMININE MALE
BLOW JOB……………………………. THE ACT OF ORAL INTERCOURSE
BLUE MOVIES…………………………………….. ..PORNO MOVIES
BOOBS……………………………………………. FEMALE BREST
BOOBS……………………………………………. FEMALE BREST
BONKERS…………………………………………. .FEMALE BREST
CANDY MAKER…………….. A WOMAN OR MAN WHO MASTURBATES A MALE AND
THEN CONSUMES THE EJACULATED SEMEN
CHEAT……………… .TO BE UNFAITHBUL TO ONE’S REGULAR SEX PARTNER
CHICKEN………………………………. . A YOUNG, ATTRACTIVE MALE
CONDOM…………………………. .RUBBER SHEATH WORN ON THE PENIS
DARK MEAT…………………………….. ..A NEGRO AS A SEX OBJECT
EASY……… A PERSON WHO NEEDS LITTLE PERSUASION TO PERFORM SEX ACTS
EAT…………………………………TO PERFORM ORAL INTERCOURSE
FAGGOT……………………………………….A MALE HOMOSEXUAL
FAIRY………………………………………..A MALE HOMOSEXUAL
GANG BANG………GROUP SEX WHERE ONE IS FUCKED CONSECUTIVELY BY MANY
GENITALS…………………………..THE HUMAN REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS
GET IT UP……………………………..TO ACHIEVE AN ERECT PENIS
GET SOME………………..TO ATTAIN SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH SOMEONE
GET YOUR ROCKS OFF………………………………….TO EJACUATE
GIVE HEAD……………………………TO PERFORM ORAL INTERCOURSE
GOOSE…………….PRESS A FINGER INTO THE CLEAVAGE OF THE BUTTOCKS
HAND JOB…………MASTURBATION,PARTICULARLY AT THE HANDS OF ANOTHER
HARD ON…………………………………………AN ERECT PENIS
HARD UP…………LACK OF SEXUAL ACTIVITY AND NEED FOR A SEX PARTNER
HETROSEXUAL…………ONE WHO DESIRES SEX ONLY WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX
HORNY………………………………SEXUALLY AROUSED; PASSIONATE
JAIL BAIT……………………….ONE WHO IS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE
MAKE OUT……………………………………TO SUCCEED SEXUALLY
MASTURBATION……………………..MANUAL MANIPULATION OF GENITALS
OLD MAN……………………ONE WHO SUPPORTS A YOUNGER SEX PARTNER
ORGASM……………….THE PEAK OF SENSATION DURING SEXUAL ACTIVITY
PENIS………..THE MALE SEX ORGAN CONSISTING OF HEAD, SHAFT AND BASE
RAPE…………………………FORCIBLY PERFORM SEXUAL INTERCOURSE
SEA FOOD……………………………….A SAILOR AS A SEX OBJECT
SEMEN……………THE FLUID PRODUCED DURING EJACULATION OF THE MALE
SWINGER……………………….ONE WHO ACCEPTS FREE LOVE DOCTRINE
TONGUE (VERB)………………………..TO PERFORM ORAL INTERCOURSE
VAGINA……………………………..ORIFACE OF FEMALE SEX ORGANS
WORK OFF…………………………………………TO MASTURBATE
WORK UP…………………….TO CREATE PASSION OR TO BE PASSIONATE
Apr 30, 2012
In our attempt to obtain a piece of land for the building of a youth center, we realized that not only is a youth-friendly space necessary but also the tools to teach young people vocational skills that will give them some sort of economic empowerment especially for out-of-school youth. Sadly, the lack of political-will did not make it possible for us to obtain this piece of land because the minister in position decided to give it to one of its faithful supporters. Many young people in Progresso as well as in many other villages in the north of Belize do not pursue further education after primary school leaving them with the option of either working in the cane-fields for males or domestic work for the females. Other options include working in the Commercial Free-Zone where workers are paid a minimum wage and work 7 days a week, engaging in gangs, alcohol and drug abuse, vandalism and other sorts of crime. If only we had the full support of the government for innovative ideas, if only the government stopped the victimization and worked for the benefit of communities beyond the traditional political divide, if only our youth were placed as a main concern.
When talking about Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), youth-friendly spaces are a priority because the accessing the information and services are mostly young people. Progresso has a small health clinic but the space is not youth-friendly. As a matter of fact, many people are intimidated by the nurse who works at the health facility. Moreover, the clinic is not open on a daily basis making it even harder for youth to access the available services. For this reason, we are trying to influence government and other organizations to fund the construction of a youth-friendly center that will provide youth with the opportunity to learn productive skills, engage in extra-curricular activities that will promote positive youth development as well as make SRH information and services more available. We see this youth-friendly center as a way to liberate our young people from ignorance and misbehavior. Giving them the options and inspiring them to create a positive change in their community by involving them in activities that foster community peace and prosperity, we can be able to transform the lives of many young people.
Apr 4, 2012
Sunday night, someone left a bomb on the windowsill of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, about 30 miles southwest of Green Bay. The bomb started a small fire, which resulted in minimal damage to one of the clinic’s exam rooms. Luckily, no one was hurt. A male suspect, 50-year-old Francis Gerald Grady, was arrested on Monday, though he has yet to be charged. Of the 27 Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin, the one that was targeted was one of only three in the state that offered abortion services. Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin released a statement on Monday assuring that the clinic would remain open.
"Our primary concern today — as always — is our patients, staff and volunteers." "Women deserve safe and compassionate care, and we are proud to provide it. Rest assured, our doors will remain open for the thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin each year for high quality health care.
"We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the law enforcement agencies working with us to ensure Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin continues to be a safe and trusted health care provider," she said.
Having spent time campaigning in the state for Tuesday’s primary election, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum released a statement to TPM on Wednesday, which began by condemning the act of violence.
Violence is never the answer, and I will always condemn any and all violent attacks against our fellow Americans. In this country, we resolve our differences through political discussion and free and fair elections – never by violence.
This seems like a perfectly reasonable and appropriate response, but Rick Santorum can’t seems to pass up any opportunity to disrespect Planned Parenthood and the women who rely on their services. He couldn’t stop at condemning the violence; he had to condemn Planned Parenthood as well.
This upcoming election is about restoring freedom and liberty in America, and a key part of that is to restore a culture that values human life and the dignity of all Americans. While we can and should work to defund Planned Parenthood and push back against government mandates that force Americans and religious institution to violate their faith, violence against our fellow citizens has no place in a freedom-loving America.
I’m not writing about this because I’m surprised that he said it, I’m writing about this because his language and the policies he hopes to enact contribute to the atmosphere that pushes some people to commit acts of violence against women’s health clinics. Defunding preventative care and limiting a woman’s ability to visit a reproductive health specialist causes harm. Telling lies about the government infringing on religious liberty (which is already illegal) causes harm. Depicting Planned Parenthood as an immoral institution causes harm. I can believe that he’s against the use of violence, but it would be dishonest to say that just because that’s the case, Santorum was doing the right thing by Planned Parenthood. Of the Republicans running for President, he is the most outspoken about limiting women’s rights.
The other thing that bothers me about the language of this statement is that he uses words like freedom, liberty, and dignity, but completely overlooks the fact that women deserve the freedom, liberty, and dignity to access the health care they need without worrying about violence-inducing language and dangers of life-threatening violence like bombs or shootings.
I don’t know why Rick Santorum put out this statement at all. He’s certainly been criticized for his long history of being anti-women, and I can see why he would want to avoid further criticism, but in trying to do the right thing, all he really ended up doing was adding more fuel to the fire. What’s curious to me is why he couldn’t just say that what happened was wrong and leave it at that. Why couldn’t he just say that violence is an inappropriate way to deal with something you don’t understand or agree with?
It seems reasonable to suggest that Santorum may have included the language against Planned Parenthood not just because he is against all of the services that Planned Parenthood offers, but to appease the ever smaller and more extreme group of people he considers to be his base. I’m confused as to how his campaign thinks this will work for them. If in the event of a potentially serious act of violence on a women’s health clinic you cannot help but comment on how you irrationally believe that women having access to health care is a bad thing, how can you possibly believe that you have the temperament to lead a nation that stands with Planned Parenthood?
Mar 23, 2012
By Kirsten Bokenkamp, Senior Communications Strategist, ACLU of Texas
Being a teenager isn’t easy. Kids can be hard on each other, and students must contend with the harsh realities of bullying, of lunch rooms fights, of students picking on one another, and of ending friendships over teenage love — all while trying to get an education to prepare them for adulthood, college and a career. Teachers and administrators are vested with the critical responsibility of creating and maintaining an environment where kids feel safe and supported so they can focus their attention on learning — the real mandate of public schools.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way, as one Texas student, called Faith (not her real name), found out last year, after she was raped, at school, by a fellow student. Faith took the brave step of reporting her rape to school officials only to be told to "work it out" with her rapist.
What?!? "Work it out"???
This is rape we are talking about — a violent and invasive act that often requires intensive rehabilitation for the victim. The student needed support and protection from the school officials to whom she reported the assault, and instead, received the opposite. They blew it off.
And it gets worse. The officials at her school ultimately charged her with sexual misconduct, and sent her to the same off-campus alternative school as her rapist, where she "had to not only face him, but the bullying of others because he bragged about it."
We couldn’t sit back and watch. Many people often think of Title IX as a way to ensure there is no discrimination based on sex in school athletics, but the mandate of Title IX expands way beyond that limited scope. Last fall, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and the ACLU of Texas filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on behalf of Faith. We asked the OCR to determine whether the district had violated its obligations under Title IX and requested that the OCR undertake a compliance review of the school district.
All students have the right to feel safe in school, and part of the job of school officials is to protect vulnerable students. ACLU attorneys, with cooperating counsel from Weil Gotshal and Manges LLP, were able to get Faith out of the disciplinary alternative education program she had been sent to with her attacker, and into another school district so she could complete her senior year in safety and graduate on time. Additionally, we sent letters to each of Texas’ more than 1,000 public school district superintendents to remind them of their obligations under Title IX, and to ask them to take a closer look at their policies to ensure that what happened to Faith will not happen to other students.
Mar 12, 2012
Early in my walk with Christ, I took the Christian bible at its word and strived to be chaste until marriage like many new converts. I was aware of the spiritual repercussions of violating the agreement, but very ignorant toward the corporeal repercussions. I had a hearsay education of STDs and HIiV. I thought I’d definitely recognize someone who had contracted these diseases because of appearance of genitalia, odor and skin mutation. I was dreadfully wrong. I recently learned about HPV or human papillomavirus. Frederik Joeving reports that, “it is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least half of all sexually active people will catch genital HPV at some point.”
I also learned that HPV can sometimes have absolutely no symptoms and lead to cancer. Hence, my thesis on appearance, odor and skin mutation had completely collapsed. Now in my strive to be faithful; I’m more afraid of contracting an incurable, undectable disease more than any other factor. I now better understand the phrase “He teaches us precept upon precept.”
Mar 9, 2012
To commemorate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I thought it would be great to share my list of recommended reading. I’ve read each of them over the past few years, so I can personally vouch for their awesomeness. There are a lot of ways to acknowledge, celebrate, and learn about the lives of women, so if reading is your thing, the following list is for you.
This is part two of recommendations. You can find my non-fiction recommendations in Part One.
This list of fiction was chosen based on main characters who were female and were role models of feminine strength. Each girl or woman in these books, despite their age, time in history, and cultural expectations, faces her challenges with courage and fortitude.
1) Cleopatra’s Daughter- by Michelle Moran
When Selene and her brother Alexander, both ten years old, are brought to Rome by Emperor Octavian, they are forced to adjust to a different culture in which they are no longer royalty. As Selene becomes a young woman, she is witness to the grandness and cruelty of Ancient Rome.
As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.
2) Snow Flower and the Secret Fan- by Lisa See
Set in 19th century China, this book chronicles Lily’s life from foot binding at seven years old to marriage and motherhood. With her laotong, Snow Flower, she finds friendship and understanding through the years of strong, cultural rules and expectations they both must follow.
As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood.
3) Matilda- by Roald Dahl
The classic story of the little girl who loved to read but always felt unaccepted, unloved, and misunderstood by her family. When Matilda learns that she can turn her frustration to her advantage, she uses this power to play practical jokes on the family who never appreciated her and on the monstrous school principle, Ms. Trunchbull. With her amazing mind, she is able to improve her circumstances and find the acceptance and love she has always longed for.
4) The Witch of Portobello- by Paulo Coelho
The mysterious life of Sherine Khalil, who calls herself Athena, is told by the people she met in her many travels. Her journey for spirituality, her desire to know more about her past, and her determination to live life to the fullest is beautifully written by Coelho.
Framed as a set of interviews conducted with those who knew Athena, who is dead as the book opens, the story recounts her birth in Transylvania to a Gypsy mother, her adoption by wealthy Lebanese Christians; her short, early marriage to a man she meets at a London college; her son Viorel’s birth; and her stint selling real estate in Dubai.
5) Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café- by Fannie Flag
While visiting her mother-in-law at the nursing home, Evelyn meets Mrs. Threadgoode, who begins to tell her the story of Idgie and Ruth, two best friends who ran a café together in Alabama in the 1930s. Each week she hears more of the story and becomes empowered to make changes in her own life.
6) The Notorious Mrs. Winston- by Mary Mackey
At the time of the American Civil War, Claire Winston finds herself in love with her husband’s nephew. Claire supports the abolition movement, yet John is supporting the Confederacy, eventually joining Morgan’s Raiders. When Claire runs away from her husband, she disguises herself as a male Confederate soldier and tries to find the man she loves.
7) Year of Wonders- by Geraldine Brooks
Inspired by a true story, this novel follows Anna Frith through the ravages of the Plague in her small English village in 1666. As death touches every household in town, Anna does what she can to ease the suffering of her neighbors.
…[as] villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community…
If you’ve read any of these books or want to add to the list, comment below!
Mar 9, 2012
Yesterday marked the International Women’s Day. Education as a Vaccine’s Youth Advocate Group marked it by organizing an event to re-read the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Bill in order to dialogue with House Committee on HIV/AIDS, Health and Women Affairs so that the Bill will accommodate other things that had been left out and can be passed in the upper house.
During our discussions, a participant said that stigma is more of a perception issue than it is of an action. And in living positively and aspiring to attain much in the world; stigma has hindered self-achievement resulting from a low self esteem and a degradation of individual’s self-respect (self-stigma).
It struck a hundred chords in my mind. Simply put, no one can control a person’s mind. It does not matter, though it’s important, what laws are enacted in the favor of dignifying people living with HIV/AIDS and affording them equal opportunities. Controlling stigma is a transition from having faith in the strength of the virus to kill to having faith in the strength of the individual to help somebody else facing challenges. This issue which affects over 60% of the youth population, especially young women has resulted to the wrong concepts and attitudes towards those living with HIV/AIDS.
Stigma has also been attributed to other members of the public, such as people with leprosy, TB and so the first port of call is changing the attitude- using the reality of HIV menace to instigate that care for PLWHA is genuine and not forced. How do we change attitudes? By changing habits and thinking (mentality). The idea of changing mindsets may be viewed through enlightenment and enacting laws. How about affording PLWHA the opportunity to be empowered and to change the lives of others by reason of their inherent capacity to be better individuals, and by offering a convenient and stimulating environment for change? It is almost unfathomable how one can live and impact lives as a carrier of this virus, speaking from my perspective. I have a temperament that tends to get me depressed over my seemingly heavy challenges sometimes, and I have not had such a challenge as being infected with HIV! It is a scary thought for me to wonder how I will live positively. But during this event I met the most positive outlook about the condition from a participant living positively. He was not afraid to shine so that others will shine too. He was not afraid of hurtful remarks; yes they may be hurtful, but not enough to rule his life. That’s the kind of attitude that takes a lot of guts and promotes courageous existence and dreams for each day.
Although there have also been instances where PLWHA use living positively as an excuse to be continually cared for, seeking attention and threatening others, these should be dealt with. The guts however to not consider oneself inadequate to accomplish one’s dreams is the one thing that can also tackle stigma. The reason an individual will try to suppress another’s rights and responsibilities for whatever reason is as a result of fear. Fear makes a person judgmental and self righteous especially in the care for PLWHA. Fear makes for mistreatment and abusive remarks and should be removed to enable for cordial, genuine relationships between citizens and other citizens that are PLWHA.
Other contributions from the meeting and the recommendations for the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Bill included that the Bill should be extended to apply to students and small businesses owners; and making provisions for abusive statements that imply discrimination and insult the individuality as a result of being positive.
The point where we got to dialogue with staff of the Committees had the most impact on me and most of the participants (speaking on their behalf). The Committee Clerks were very pleasant and helpful during the discussion, giving us ideas on making lobbying effective and letting us know that the members of the National Assembly were indeed willing to achieve more in building the nation and guiding her in the right direction.
So basically, the strongest form of stigma exists in the mind and not necessarily a forceful or brutal action. As we continue in the commemoration of International Women’s Day we have a role to play in transforming our thoughts towards PLWHA and other challenges.
Feb 27, 2012
By Amanda Marcotte
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on RH Reality Check.
Nancy Scola has a piece at Salon on the Republican delusion that the newly loud anti-choice war on contraception can somehow be repackaged as “religious liberty” and sold to the public, accomplishing the real goal–undermining women’s fundamental right not to just basic health care but also to make their own sexual and family decisions–and dressing it up as a fight for freedom. The strategy is to cast “religious liberty” as such a broad right, held only by fundamentalist Christians, that it actually extends far past their noses and right into your face and beyond, into your uterus. In this view, women securing equal rights to fair compensation from employers and to comprehensive basic health care coverage is framed as a violation of the right of religious misogynists to control and punish them. It’s a bold tactic, and while many liberals, who are used to rolling over for the right and letting them have whatever they want, fear it’s going to work, there’s reason to be skeptical.
Well, some reason to be skeptical. It is true that if we roll over and let the right define religious liberty as the right to interfere with other people’s personal and religious choices, then we will lose. But if we fight, we can win. We just need to be clear on the arguments here. So I put together a quick rundown of how to argue for women’s basic right to equal protection under the Constitution in light of these new HHS regulations.
1) Women’s right to be sexual beings is protected under the First Amendment’s religious liberty clause. Yes, Catholic bishops and their teeny group of avid followers have a right to believe that God wants women to either be virgins or non-stop baby factories. But women have a right to believe that God has a different plan for them—or to not believe in a God at all. Women have equal rights to their own religious beliefs around sex and reproduction. The Catholic bishops demanding the right to force women not to be able to go directly through insurers for contraception coverage—in essence, giving them extra-governmental power to levy a fine against women for being sexual—is a direct violation of a woman’s religious freedom. These employers cannot require women to attend Catholic mass as a condition of their employment, so why should they be able to require women to pay what amounts to a penance for what the church teaches is a sin as a condition of their employment? Religious liberty exists for all Americans, even women.
2) Religious liberty certainly doesn’t give you a right to tear down entire social systems because someone in them might differ from you on a matter of theology. Since Obama exempted Catholic hospitals and universities from covering contraception directly, the argument conservatives are making to attack women’s access to contraception is that if you pay into a system, you have the right to ban coverage for disliked services for every other person in that system. While they’re pretending to limit this principle to the employees of misogynist employers, if you think about it, believing this means that any single individual who gives an insurance company any money has the right to veto any procedure for any reason, as long as they dress it up as “moral." Which means that if a Catholic hospital buys insurance from a company, if, say, Planned Parenthood does too, under this principle, the Catholic hospital should be able to deny Planned Parenthood the right to coverage contraception for their employees. Or, heart disease treatments, for that matter, if they dress it up in enough religious garb.
And that would extend beyond just employers. Employees pay into the system, too, so presumably if a single dollar from your wallet goes to an insurance company and gives you ultimate veto power over how all the money is spent, then any random person anywhere in the system has this power. In essence, this principle would mean that insurance companies couldn’t function at all.
3) Insurance isn’t a gift your employers give you; it’s a part of your compensation package. If your employer has the right to force you not to use your compensation package in this way on general (and suddenly invented) principles, then why not in other ways? Once the principle that your compensation is your employer’s “money” and that they get to control it is established, then why can’t they step in and stop you from spending your salary on contraception? After all, if health insurance money is still theirs after they write the check, then your salary is, too.
4) Conservatives’ claim to support the right of the religious to intrude on others is an inch deep. While conservatives are claiming that the First Amendment is so broad that it gives your employer a right to discriminate against you for having different religious beliefs regarding sexuality, they don’t generally believe that religious liberty trumps generally applicable laws. For instance, last year a Muslim man in Pennsylvania was accused of assaulting another man who was dressed as zombie Mohammed. The judge dismissed the case, citing a lack of evidence, and the right wing media went wild, accusing the judge of “sharia law” for supposedly letting off the defendant because he took offense at a slight at his religion.
Regardless of the facts of the case, let’s look at the right wing argument. They claim, correctly, that having religious faith should not be grounds for having an exception to a generally applicable law against assault. Because you’re religious, they argue, doesn’t mean you have a right to force your faith on someone who doesn’t share it, especially in direct violation of the law.
By their own reasoning, therefore, employers should not be allowed under the guise of “religious liberty” to opt out of federal regulations requiring employers to compensate their employees fairly for their work. Nor should “religious liberty” give anyone a right to try to force their beliefs on others by withholding medical care. As it stands, conservatives are trying to argue that employers should be able to force women to pay twice for their birth control—once when they paid for it through labor/money when they got their insurance and again when they pick it up—to appease someone else’s religious sensibilities. If their right to religious belief continues well past where their nose ends and where yours begins, then by the same logic, laws against assault should also have religious exemptions, even for Muslims.
They’re obviously not going to sign on to that claim, demonstrating that this isn’t and never was about “religious liberty,” but about finding inventive ways to get between women and their access to contraception.
Feb 21, 2012
Today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will be hosting a hearing this Thursday on “Women’s Health.” According to the announcement:
“The sole witness at the hearing will be Ms. Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, who was blocked from testifying at a recent Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by Chairman Darrell Issa . Instead, Chairman Issa brought forward a panel of all men to testify on this topic.”
While it’s great to give Sandra a space to testify (the story she shares is incredibly compelling-you can click here to listen to what she would have said last week at the Oversight hearing), I must admit that my initial reaction was disappointment in the fact that Sandra is the only person sharing testimony.
Why? Because there are many more perspectives Congress needs to hear from on the important topic of contraceptive access…especially when it comes to contraceptive access for women who use birth control to (get ready for it) prevent unintended pregnancy.
Here is a quick list of folks I’d love to see testifying before Congress on this important issue as well as a little background to show why their voices are so important (and why they’re so great).
Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute. Quoted from their own website, “Founded in 2001, the Religious Institute is a multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. The Religious Institute has emerged as the national leadership organization working at the intersection of sexuality and religion. “
Dr. Renee Jenkins, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at Howard University. Dr. Jenkins is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Chair of the Pediatric Section of the National Medical Association, member of the Institute of Medicine and serves on the Board on Children, Youth and Families of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sister Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the organization who previously objected to the initial contraceptive rule from the Obama Administration but later came out in support of the compromise.
“The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions…The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed. We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished.”
Lizzie Jekanowski & Jessika Parry, Co-Presidents of Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH), “a student group whose mission is to fight for the health education and resources we need and deserve.” In 2009, BCSSH organized a student referendum where with one of the largest voter turnouts, almost 90% of students voted to expand sexual health services on campus-including prescriptions for birth control from their student health center.
Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, and organization that “strive[s] to be an expression of Catholicism as it is lived by ordinary people. We are part of the great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood. We are part of the great majority who believes that Catholic teachings on conscience mean that every individual must follow his or her own conscience — and respect others’ right to do the same.”
Kim (last name withheld for privacy reasons) or other young women who benefitted from the Affordable Care Act’s provision allowing young people to stay on their parent’s health insurance. While incredibly helpful when Kim was searching for a job after graduating from college, Kim’s Mom worked at a religious-affiliated hospital and therefore contraception was not covered in her health plan. Kim had to pay out-of-pocket.
Rev. Carlton Veazey, former President of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Rev. Veazey is a “a minister of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Reverend Veazey is founder of the Coalition’s celebrated National Black Church Initiative, which is breaking the silence in African American churches about sex and sexuality. His long and distinguished career in the ministry and public service and his commitment to social justice brought him to the presidency of the coalition of religious groups from 15 denominations and faith traditions.”
Rachel K. Jones and Joerg Dreweke who authored the Guttmacher Institute report “Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use.” In this report the authors discuss actual (instead of what “leaders” push) contraceptive usage of women (married and un-married) of various faiths.
April Flores, a student leader with the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at the University of Texas at Brownsville. April is a teen mom and uses her personal story to advocate for young people’s sexual health and rights in her community. She participated in (along with young people across the country) a Valentine’s Day Action showing support for contraceptive access in a district represented by Rep. Farenthold, the Member of Congress who compared the Administration’s rule on contraception to smoking bans at the Oversight hearing.
And of course…Sandra Fluke. The issue of using birth control for medical reasons is an important one that must also be shared. We as a movement just have to be cautious that this is not the only perspective we speak about, even if it makes people feel less awkward. At the end of the day, women (married and un-married) do have sex and don’t always want to conceive as a result of it!
Contraceptive access is an important issue. One that the majority of Americans support. One that I as a Millennial never thought I’d have to be fighting for. I need Congress to take this as serious as the young women I work with.
So while this is my quick take at a dream hearing, I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts. Who else do you think Congress needs to hear from?
Feb 17, 2012
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on RH Reality Check.
In his testimony at the February 16th, 2012 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the contraceptive coverage mandate under health reform, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, the Bishop of Bridgeport and spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), defended the claim of "religious freedom" by comparing the provision of essential primary health care for women to a kosher deli being forced to serve pork.
I’ll call it the "ham sandwich defense."
This was but one of a series of you-had-to-be-there-to-believe-it episodes during a hearing on women’s health care that featured nine male members of the religious right and only two female witnesses, all of whom in any case are opponents of the birth control mandate, and the majority of whom oppose the use of contraception per se; saw the constant and intentionally misleading re-definition by the religious right of modern methods of contraception as "abortifacients"; shut out not only the many religious leaders who support both the mandate and women’s moral agency, but also medical and health professionals and witnesses who’d experienced denial of contraceptive care; and also featured constant and strident chiding by the Committee Chair, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), of his Democratic Party counterparts that the hearing was "not about women’s health, contraception, or health reform," while allowing all the anti-contraception, anti-health reform witnesses to speak about nothing but denying women health care, contraception, and health reform. The Democratic women representatives walked out of the hearing in protest.
Moreover, not a single witness provided a compelling case for granting "conscience rights" to institutions, for why providing women insurance coverage for birth control would violate religious freedom, nor for why the accommodation created by the Obama Administration to make sure women working in religiously-affiliated organizations that object to contraception can still get coverage of birth control without a co-pay created a burden for said institutions. In fact, not a single one provided any compelling reason whatsoever that any one’s "conscience rights" trump access to a proven health intervention.
Which brings us back to pork.
To illustrate the basic premise of his argument, Bishop Lori told what he called "The Parable of the Kosher Deli.” In summary, Bishop Lori’s parable told of a new law requiring that "any business that serves food must serve pork."
There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate. The Orthodox Jewish community—whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides—expresses its outrage at the new government mandate. And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork—not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths—because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty. They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle. They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced—under threat of severe government sanction—to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.
I’ll let you read the rest of it here.
Bottom line: as the leading witness for the religious right, Bishop Lori made an astonishingly weak case by urging the nation to compare a fictitious law to override religious traditions governing whether or not to eat a certain type of meat with an actual law intended to dramatically expand access to contraception, a necessary, and often life-saving, essential public health intervention that the Bishops and other religious right denominations desperately do not want women to have.
While Congress is often swimming in "pork" (and there are many members these days who are, to put it mildly, full of baloney when it comes to facts) there is no foreseeable reason any government body in the United States would mandate that kosher delis must serve pork. There are, however, rational and compelling public health, medical, social, and economic justifications for providing universal health insurance coverage without a co-pay for birth control.
Modern contraception is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and virtually every major medical association as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. It enables women and men to voluntarily plan, space, and limit pregnancies and determine the ultimate size of their families. By reducing unintended pregnancies access to contraception also reduces the need for abortion. In fact, the use of contraception as a voluntary, responsible, and effective means of planning families is, as we have noted here repeatedly, virtually universal in the United States, where 99 percent of all sexually-active women and 98 percent of sexually-active Catholic women have used contraception.
Access to contraception also enables vulnerable women to avoid potentially life-threatening pregnancies (i.e. a woman with a serious heart condition or cancer might be advised to avoid pregnancy). It has been proven to dramatically reduce maternal death and disability, and increase infant and child survival. And it is a critical intervention for often painful, sometimes crippling conditions such as dysmenorrhea and polycystic ovary syndrome, which can affect young girls as early as age 11, and which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates affects as many as 5 million women of childbearing age in the United States.
Contrary to the recent protestations of many a male member of the United States Congress and many a male presidential candidate, contraception is not "available everywhere" nor is it "cheap." Paying for birth control pills can run a woman well over $600 per year, not including visits to the doctor for primary care and to obtain a prescription. Insertion of an IUD may carry a high initial cost of well over $1000.00. For students and low-income women, cost is the single most important factor impeding consistent access to birth control.
Providing birth control without a co-pay, however, yields enormous savings both for insurance companies and the public, something one could fairly assume to be attractive to those many bloviators talking about government spending. And yet… no.
By comparing coverage for a major public health intervention to a law mandating that kosher delis serve pork, Bishop Lori revealed just how out of touch the USCCB and the religio-patriarchy writ large are with the needs and rights of women to live as normal human beings, and profoundly trivialized the experiences of women who struggle to manage their fertility, their health, and the well-being of themselves and their families.
If nothing else, the ham sandwich defense underscored just how shallow legally, philosophically and practically is the "religious freedom" argument against access to contraception. It revealed just how desperate male patriarchal religious bodies and their political surrogates are to curtail the ability of women to make decisions about their bodies and their lives. And it laid bare once again the sheer digust and contempt many of them hold for actual, living, breathing women.
Legally, the claim of "religious freedom" to deny women health care doesn’t have a leg to stand on. As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has noted:
"[N]othing in the rule prevents anyone from espousing their beliefs about birth control or attempting to persuade others not to use it. The high courts of California and New York have rejected claims that requiring coverage of contraception somehow violates the First Amendment, and our courts have long held that institutions that operate in the public sphere are not above the law.
Moreover, as has been noted frequently at this point, 28 states already require insurance plans to include contraception, several with the same house-of-worship exception adopted by the administration and several with no exception at all. In several states, Catholic universities and other institutions already comply with state law in providing coverage for contraceptive care. In those that do not, women are often denied access to contraception even when their health and potentially their lives are at risk. How it can be viewed as moral or righteous to deny women basic health care is beyond me.
To my knowledge, unlike contraception, the decision of whether or not to eat pork due to religious edicts does not involve major public health implications. Somehow the sheer banality of this parable escaped whomever it was that drafted Bishop Lori’s testimony.
Contraception is not a side of bacon in a kosher deli, but maybe if it were pork in a barrel we’d get universal access.
Feb 16, 2012
This post is my response to the 4 comments recently left by “rainexxx” on my January 2010 blog titled, “Sex, Marriage, and Immorality.” The blog pointed out the hypocrisy in religiously-based arguments against marriage equality, based on the idea that homosexuality is immoral.
1) Logic is based of facts, so I don’t think it has to be approved by anyone’s “authority.”
2) I’m not sure what you think I “have no knowledge of.” I was talking about the hypocrisy around anti-marriage equality beliefs. I’m familiar with the concepts of heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationships, and also quite aware of the varied opinions about equal marriage rights. If you’re trying to say that I “have no knowledge of” what appears to be your definition of marriage, I assure you that I do. I’m compelled to point out, though, that there’s a critical aspect of marriage that you seem to misunderstand. (More on that in #3.)
3) You seem to be under the impression that “religion dictates marriage” and that “it is solely the religious leaders that decide whom is married.” I don’t know why you think that because it’s not at all true. While many people do include a religious aspect to their act of getting legally married, many people get legally married with no accompanying religious service whatsoever. Having a ceremony in a house of worship, presided over by a faith leader, does not mean that you are married. That’s a plain fact. It’s not a marriage without a legal wedding certificate. You can have a fully legal, state-recognized marriage without setting foot in a mosque, temple, or church and having never looked eye-to-eye with an imam, rabbi, reverend, or priest. The State dictates who’s married. Deal with it.
Or would you still be saying the same if someone told you that women had to wear dresses against their wills, but it was men who decided this?
It took a twenty minute conversation with my mom to sort out what you were saying here, but I think I finally got it. You seem to be making a metaphor suggesting that I or society or the government is in any way forcing people and institutions of faith to accept marriage equality. Again I am compelled to point out that you are absolutely wrong. Because marriage is not decided by religious institutions but rather by the State, the separation of Church and State (a phrase I now realize is biased toward Christianity) allows religious institutions to decide for themselves which official, legal marriages they choose to support. Just as the State cannot force any religious institution to participate in or welcome marriages of which they disapprove, those institutions cannot force the State to reject marriages of which their faith disapproves.
Do not be opposed to something you do not understand, and do not stand for something that violates the first amendment…
I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you think I don’t understand the Christian Church’s dislike of marriage equality. I must say that you are obviously not familiar with my work. Secondly, as I explained above, I am clearly not doing or supporting anything that is against the First Amendment. It is obvious that no religious institution has ever been forced to perform marriages between same-sex couples (or any other couple for that matter). And I never suggested in my blog (or at any other time) that they should. But I was expressing my First Amendment right to point out the hypocrisy surrounding many religious arguments on the issue of marriage equality.
6) You’re assuming that morality can only be learned through religion, and by further assuming that I have no religion, you assume that I am immoral and therefore unfit to comment on morality. Just so you know, I am moral and I am free to comment on anything I want. Not because I am moral, but because of the First Amendment.
7) Homophobia is indeed a real thing and when I say that certain people, words, actions, or groups are homophobic, it’s not because I’m scared of arguing with them it’s because they’re homophobic.
Insults are against Biblical teachings. But since you talk like an Atheist, you must not believe in Souls, or Morals, or Ethics?
Saying that I talk like an Atheist is not insulting, but you seem to be directing it toward me as if it was, defeating your own proclamation that slinging insults is against your Bible. Oops. Also, if you don’t want me to define Christianity for you, then don’t define Atheism for me.
“…all things evil are in our nature.”
“We are beast by nature.”
Which brings me back to the point I made in the blog. If people are immoral yet capable of being forgiven, then how can you say that immoral, straight people can be forgiven, but the LGBT people you view as immoral cannot be forgiven?
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral…NOT THE ADULTERERS, nor the MEN who practice HOMOSEXUALITY…will inherit the kingdom of God.
So lesbians are cool?
So you claim anyone whom is religious, or Christian as being ignorant?
No, I claim that anyone who doesn’t support marriage equality, regardless of religious affiliation, is ignorant.
You claim that anyone holding an opinion is ignorant?
No. I claim that anyone who has ignorant opinions are ignorant.
Your opinions reek of Atheism.
Your opinions reek of a severe superiority complex.
Want to know whom else has committed sexual immorality Samantha? When you look at porn, moaning at the sight of a hot man, or woman, look at another because it is cheating.
I’m quite positive that wasn’t a complete sentence, and personally I prefer reading my erotica over looking at pornography, but thank you for not assuming that I’d only look at men. That’s uncharacteristically open-minded of you.
Marriage is under the Bible, if you don’t like it, stop being discriminant.
You probably don’t know this, but “discriminant” means: “An algebraic expression related to the coefficients of a polynomial equation whose value gives information about the roots of the polynomial.” (Thank you Dictionary.com!)
If the Bible calls homosexuality, and those whom practice it an abomination, would you argue with it?
“All gay people are not Christians, because they willingly, and knowingly practice the thing God hates.”- my view
Your view is ignorant.
18) I do not defend “Sin.” I defend Love.
You want others to not voice their opinion, because it hurts your poor sensibilities? Go live in China where gays are executed on the spot!
Woah, there. Violent rhetoric is not making your point.
…would you say that you hate America, and God, that you would try to silence others?
What I would say is that I dislike any person of any nation who does or does not believe in any god figure if they try to silence others by crossing the bounds of Church and State to legislate their ignorance.
…I do care that gays, and women by majority, try to push the gay agenda by infringing biblical beliefs.
Do I need to explain the Separation of Church and State again? Because I will. I would love to educate you.
We are of God, and in being so, we oppose gays because they are an abomination.
You oppose gays because you’re ignorant. And correct me if I’m wrong, but are you suggesting that if god made all people in his image that some of those images were abominations?
Sodomites and dogs are biblical names for homosexuals.
…So, homosexuals are man’s best friends?
24) Tolerance is not wrong, not sacrilegious, and not “treason to the very word of God.” Tolerance is the Golden Rule. And since I simultaneously “reek of Atheism” and know what the Golden Rule is, I must have thought of it myself because how else could I have learned morality?
Those opposing Gays will not be spare either, because they themselves lust after others, and cheat on their spouses. They will all be equally punished.
Ummm…I think you meant “Those supporting Gays…” Maybe? Continuing that assumption, though, I’m forced to question your opinion on those who support Gays while not “lusting after others and cheating on their souses.” Or do such people not exist in your world?
P.S. Your uses of the word “whom” were just so charming. Most people don’t follow that grammatical rule these days. (But then again, neither do you.)
Feb 10, 2012
Here’s a statement from Advocates’ Executive Director Debra Hauser on today’s White House announcement that insurance companies must cover birth control when religious employers object.
White House Offers Solution on Birth Control Coverage, but the Goal Posts Have Already Moved
Young People Outraged by Continued Attacks on Birth Control
Today’s announcement from the White House represents a good-faith attempt to balance the critical need for access to birth control coverage with exemptions for religious employers. We support this decision because it keeps the policy focus where it belongs — on women’s health. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this policy to ensure that it benefits all women in the ways the President has outlined.
Young women have much to lose if contraception becomes a political pawn in an election year. They rely on birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies and for other health reasons. The recent attempts to politicize preventive health care put young women and their health at risk. Along with young people across the country, Advocates for Youth is outraged that a manufactured controversy has turned birth control into a so-called “election year controversy.” Are we seriously having a national debate about birth control? In 2012?
Now, we will see whether opponents of birth control, both in and out of Congress, will accept “yes” for an answer, or if they will resist this common-sense accommodation offered by the Administration.
Unfortunately, opponents of birth control coverage are not looking for a reasonable solution. Senators Marco Rubio and Joe Manchin have introduced a bill to expand religious exemptions for contraceptive coverage. Senator Roy Blunt is offering an amendment to a transportation bill that would allow employers to reject any preventive care coverage on any moral grounds. And, this week, Speaker John Boehner announced his intention to repeal all contraceptive provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
The Catholic Health Association has already accepted President Obama’s compromise. Birth control is not controversial. Birth control is common sense.
If opponents of women’s health and rights choose to reject this common-sense solution in favor of politics and ideology, we will not stand idly by. Young women can count on us to fight alongside them as we work to protect sexual and reproductive health and oppose the war on contraception.
Ensuring access to birth control is a winning issue with voters. It is a winning issue with women. It is a winning issue with young people. It is even a winning issue with Catholics.
Millennials overwhelmingly support access to sexual and reproductive health care, and they are paying close attention. They will remember those who stand up to protect, as well as those who undermine, their health and rights — and so will we.
Feb 8, 2012
As a child of the 80s, I realize there are many fights I’ve been lucky enough to miss because of the throw down activism of generations of women before me. From the right to vote to Title IX to Roe, women have been paving the way so that my generation and those that follow are not treated differently simply because we have vaginas.
But low and behold, in 2012, we are revisiting a fight that few of my generation ever thought we’d have to engage in: the fight over birth control.
When I was deciding what college was best for me, I looked at schools based on the types of degrees they offered, the quality of the faculty, the professor-student ratio, financial aid availability and more. I ended up attending Georgetown University because of its School of Foreign Service and the Jesuit ideal they espoused of “men and women for others.” While I, a spiritual yet unreligious student, was concerned about going to a Catholic school, I was reassured that the University did not push its faith on its students; it was only there if we wanted it. In fact, in my four years there, the closest thing to Mass I attended was the Convocation.
What I didn’t realize was that while Georgetown prided itself on diversity and inclusion of many faiths and beliefs (we had a rabbi and imam on campus as well), it nonetheless imposed its faith on female students by denying them access to birth control in its student health plans. Condoms were also not to be distributed on campus, except in our free speech zone, or “Red Square,” and by the rogue group H*yas for Choice (not officially affiliated with the university, hence the * that came from a lawsuit).
While students (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) at Georgetown have been fighting back against these restrictions for years, the fight has now gone national as the Catholic Bishops have decided that religious-affiliated employers and universities should be able to impose their interpretation of a religion on their employees’ and students’ health insurance.
To follow most of the media’s coverage on this, you’d think that the Obama administration is force-feeding the pill to Catholic Bishops when in fact, not only do actual churches NOT have to cover contraception, but you, as an employee or student at a religious-affiliated institution, don’t have to access this benefit.
Health insurance exists because it’s incredibly expensive to buy anything out of pocket-including contraception. Birth control can cost around $50 a month. About half of women struggle to pay for what can total $600 in a year. Making contraception accessible means that women are more likely to use it. Shocking, I know. And considering the fact that half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended and we have the highest teen birth rate in the developing world, you’d think access to contraception would be something we’d all agree on (especially those who fight to take away access to abortion services AND complain non-stop about low-income women accessing services like welfare, food stamps and WIC).
When I was at Georgetown, I had friends on the student health plan who were sexually active and went without contraception. After working with students at Boston College, I learned of a phrase that their sexual health group spent their time fighting against, “pull and pray” as in “pull out and pray you don’t get her pregnant.”
Because that’s what happens when you take away access to contraception.
Just because you attend school or work at a religious-affiliated institution does not mean you have to comply with the belief system of that institution. On the college-level, many of these schools brag about their religious diversity as a way to recruit new students-especially student athletes. Could you imagine what would happen to Notre Dame’s football team or Georgetown’s basketball team if they insisted that all students be Catholic? Yeah, right.
The thing is that the media is making this a much bigger deal than it actually is. Just because the Catholic Bishops are pissed does not mean every other Catholic or person of faith is pissed. In fact, new polling data show that the majority of Catholics support the Administration’s decision. When will the media highlight that?
Or what about the fact that in December the House held a hearing on this issue and a representative from the Catholic Healthcare Association had to admit that some of its hospitals already cover contraception.
At my alma mater, while students are denied contraception through their health plans, employees are not.
And in 2009, almost 90% of students at Boston College (70% of whom identify as Catholic) voted to make birth control prescriptions available from their student health services.
The point is, to Americans and especially young Americans, this decision is a big deal in the right direction. To listen to the Catholic Bishops as if they represent the views of all Catholics or people of faith is absolutely absurd.
Like I said before, I’m a child of the 80s. I in no way thought that birth control would be my fight and frankly I’m pissed as hell that it is. I don’t want the next generation of women to have to check into whether contraception is available or not when applying to the college or job of their dreams. It’s 20-freaking-12. We should be long over this fight, but please believe that young women will not back down.
Jan 27, 2012
It is extremely hard to follow the lulzy and chaotic Republican primary (a serial adulterer, a google target in a sweater vest, and an indecisive hatchetman walk into a bar….) without noticing the long shot candidacy of Ron Paul, a cult hero among the Libertarian movement who is currently occupying the Republican primary. While it seems unlikely he will win said primary, he’s in it to shake up the establishment.
So, what is libertarianism? The long and short of it is, it is a political philosophy that is supposed to be extremely fiscally conservative and extremely socially liberal, in other words, a belief that the government’s only function is to pave the roads and lock up the bad guys (and free those who toke and hook). It is a political philosophy that looks good on paper, and I myself, have views on issues such as drugs, sex work, drinking age, and curfews that would make an Ayn Rand loving trust fund baby look like a real nanny-statist, however, in practice, it is a threat to vulnerable peoples, like myself, and assumes that everyone will treat each other equally, when in
Indeed, many on the left have even embraced Ron Paul for his anti-drug war, non-interventionist, and anti-managed trade agenda, including many in the Occupy movement, which of course, goes to show that many grassroots "fight the power" movements tend to be dominated by white, cisprivileged, heteronormative, able-bodied "manarchists" with enough subpoena envy to drive many people out of their movements, and could survive the otherwise 1% enabling of a Ron Paul regime.
For this post, I will attempt to break down many issues affecting the LGBTIQ community and how libertarianism, for the most part, would be counterproductive to those goals.
On this issue, Ron Paul has a view that neither supports nor opposes marriage equality as we know it now. On one hand, he believes that marriage should be a voluntary contract between consenting individuals and should be gender blind. On the other hand, he believes in "leaving it to the church" for recognition. While there are congregations who bless same-gender marriage, leaving anything to religious organizations is a bad idea.
And while we are on the subject of the church’s role in Society….
Ron Paul has blasted George W. Bush’s attempts to outsource welfare from a neutral, publicly funded arbiter to faith based organizations.
In a 2003 statement, Paul derisively labeled Pres. Bush’s faith-based initiative “a neocon project” that “repackages and expands the liberal notion of welfare.” In 2001, he proposed legislation to “amend” the faith-based initiative by offering a tax credit for private donations to faith-based organizations that provide social services. “Churches should not become entangled with government subsidies and programs because truly independent religious institutions are critical to a free society,” he said
While at first glance, this may be a somewhat enlightened stance, the fact of the matter is, it would lead to a situation in which the poor and hungry would be at the mercy of faith based organizations who have less than enlightened views on LGBTIQ issues. Even in the city of Pittsburgh, which I had to flee due to homelessness, the shelter system is run by religious groups who may not be enlightened on trans* issues, and the religious nature of these organizations often exempt them from any anti-discrimination law. Also, even in Austin, one of the most progressive cities in the country, a transwoman died because the local shelter was run by the Salvation Army. Do we want more Jennifer Gales to happen. Libertarians believe in self-determination, however, the unintended consequence is that those who are trans/gender variant will lose our self-determination under a libertarian regime. On the other end, Philadelphia (a libertarian would view many major cities as having a very "statist" government, and Philly would be no exception) has a city run shelter system that RESPECTS people’s gender identity, thus, one could say that the extensive shelter system is supposed to, and has done at times, respected the self-determination of transfolk.
Having a non-discrimination law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accomodations, and education is, I believe, a cornerstone in LGBTIQ rights. However, libertarianism, at its very core, would oppose the creation of the enforcement mechanism (ie: terms like "Civil Rights Commission" in New Jersey and "Human Relations Commission" in Pennsylvania). In an email exchange with Det Ansinn, president of Doylestown Borough council (the municipality has had a non-discrimination ordinance since August 2010), he stated that there have been no complaints, and that the local human relations commission is all volunteer (which seems to be standard for many smaller municipalities which have done these ordinances), thus ending up budget neutral for the borough (and even if there was a complaint, the costs would likely be negligible). However, that wouldn’t matter, as it would be hard for a libertarian to reconcile their opposition to big government with a need to protect the liberty of people who have differing sexual orientations and gender identities.
This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Ron Paul has stated on the issue of Medicare and Medicaid:
In the days before Medicare and Medicaid, the poor and elderly were admitted to hospitals at the same rate they are now, and received good care. Before those programs came into existence, every physician understood that he or she had a responsibility towards the less fortunate and free medical care was the norm. Hardly anyone is aware of this today, since it doesn’t fit into the typical, by the script story of government rescuing us from a predatory private sector.
I am not 100% against, say, pro bono clinics which deal with more cut and dry issues (they are often found in Philadelphia on a scattered basis), they are not solutions that we can bank on. I have exhaustively argued for single payer, and believe that it is the most efficient and cheapest way to take care of people’s healthcare needs, and would also relieve burdens on business and volunteer organizations; the former being forced to be at the mercy of HMOs, and the latter becoming much more overextended under a theoretical libertarian regime.
Then again, we come back to religion. As one may notice, such religious organizations as the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army seem to love to take over where government should be involved. They are a well oiled machine which, if an indigent trans* person was left at their mercy, would not receive the care they deserve, either through refusal to acknowledge gender identity, refusing to prescribe ‘mones on religious grounds, or even telling them to get out because "we don’t serve crossdressers". Not to mention that there are people who believe that hormones are a luxury rather than a necessity (see George Pataki), and the expense of transition, plus the marginalization of transwomen, means that there is a need for transition related expenses to be covered under a national healthcare system.
Given the "let’s bash government for the sake of bashing government" views of libertarians and Ron Paul, its safe to say that the average libertarian would OPPOSE anti-bullying laws (much like "New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights") not only as an abridgement of "liberty", but because it is an "undue burden" on public schools. Since libertarianism at its very core, erroneously believes that people can pull themselves up by the bootstraps
Perusing Ron Paul’s views on education, he claims that he is not 100% against the dismantling of public schools (surprisingly), but encourages homeschooling (which does not always produce consistently good results and shelters the child), and has voted to support vouchers to private and parochial schools, which drain money away from public schools. I do not believe that parochial schools, given their theologically conservative views on gender roles and sexuality, indoctrination towards an anti-choice position, and censoring out responsible sex ed, should receive any solace from the government at the expense of public schools, which, by their nature, are more neutral and students should never have to leave their liberties at the schoolhouse gate.
Basically, should I have to give up my pro-choice views or my gender transition just so I can get an education?
It is hard to decode Ron Paul’s position on reproductive freedom. On one hand, he has said some extremely anti-abortion statements:
Liberty is the most important thing, because if we have our liberties, we have our freedoms, we can have our lives. But it’s academic to talk about civil liberties if you don’t talk about the true protection of all life. So if you’re going to protect liberty, you have to protect the life of the unborn just as well. I have a bill in Congress which I would certainly promote and push as President. But it’s been ignored by the right-to-life community. My bill is called the Sanctity of Life bill. What it would do is it would establish the principle that life begins at conception. That’s not a political statement, but a scientific statement that I’m making. We’re all interested in a better court system, and amending the Constitution to protect life–but sometimes that is dismissing the way we can handle this much quicker. My bill removes the jurisdiction of the federal courts from the issue of abortion. If a state law says “no abortion,” it doesn’t go to the Supreme Court to be ruled out of order.
He has also received a 0% from NARAL, however, he has also stated that laws should stay out of the abortion issue.
They may be, but the way this is taken care of in our country, it is not a national issue. This is a state issue. And there are circumstances where doctors in the past have used certain day-after pills for somebody with rape. And, quite frankly, if somebody is treated, you don’t even know if a person is pregnant; if it’s 24 hours after rape, I don’t know how you’re going to police it. We have too many laws already. Now, how are you going to police the day-after pill? Nobody can out-do me on respect for life. I’ve spent a lifetime dealing with life. But I still think there is a time where the law doesn’t solve the problems. Only the moral character of the people will eventually solve this problem, not the law.
Despite these convoluted stances, Ron Paul believes that it should be harder for those who are low income to be able to terminate their pregnancy, and, sticking with libertarian anti-government philosophies, he opposes the funding of Planned Parenthood, which provides many women’s (and yes, even men’s health services) outside of divisive social issues (think, HIV screenings, breast cancer, testicular cancer, ovarian cancer). Of course, each dollar spent on Planned Parenthood saves money in the long run, but try telling a libertarian that.
In terms of gender equity, Ron Paul leaves a lot to be desired:
Today the lack of understanding and respect for voluntary contracts has totally confused the issue that in a free society an individual can run his or her business as he or she chooses. The idea that a social do-gooder can legislate a system which forces industry to pay men and women by comparable worth standards boggles the mind and further destroys our competitiveness in a world economy.
The concept of equal pay for equal work is not only an impossible task, it can only be accomplished with the total rejection of the idea of the voluntary contract. The idea that a businessman must hire anyone and is prevented from firing anyone for any reason he chooses, and in the name of rights, is a clear indication that the basic concept of a free society has been lost.
In the name of equal rights, Montana has forced insurance companies to charge women additional premiums to make the fees equal to those charged men, regardless of the economic realities that allow for a lower premium.
But once again, if we had a single payer system, THERE WOULD BE NO PREMIUMS TO WORRY ABOUT.
BUT WHAT ABOUT LGBT LIBERTARIAN GROUPS:
The Outright Libertarians are a group dedicated to bringing LGBT people into the libertarian fold. Needless to say, a perusal of their issues page indicates a myopic, bare-bones approach to the LGBT issues of the day.
Libertarians believe that the government has no role to play in the relationships of people, other than possibly as a record keeper. While there may be privately-provided benefits to registering a new relationship with the government (lower insurance rates, for example), there should be no law saying you must do so or who cannot register. There ought to be no government-provided benefits to such registration (such as Social Security survivor benefits), but if such government benefits do exist (and there are currently over 1100 of them), then it’s vital that distribution of those benefits not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (since LGBT folks aren’t exempted from paying the taxes that fund these benefits). So, while Outright Libertarians supports the Libertarian Party’s eventual goal of treating marriage and other personal relationships as private contracts, we are very glad that the Party’s platform calls for the Transitional actions of repealing current laws and opposing future laws defining marriage or assigning special benefits on the basis of sexual orientation, both at the state and federal level.
The government shouldn’t have any role in the adoption of children except as a record keeper; unless the government itself has custody of the child or children involved. Adoption, custody and legal guardianship are private issues to be dealt with between the custodial parent(s) or agency and the person or people who wish to enter into these types of commitments. Neither the government nor the police should become involved unless there is evidence of fraud, coercion or abuse.
Gays in the Military
If the government needs to keep a standing military to defend our shores, then there should be no greater difference made between gays and straights than is made between males and females (such as a stricter standard of what constitutes improper fraternization or sexual harrassment). And, in our opinion, no such differences should be made at all. Tasks should be assigned according to an unbiased assessment of the individual’s physical and mental abilities, not by some prejudice or preset formula that lumps people into groups.
In terms of adoption, it sounds like a reasonable plank; if a loving family with the financial and emotional stability wants to adopt a child, they should be able to, unless there is a compelling reason. However, a look at the phrase "Neither the government nor the police should become involved unless there is evidence of fraud, coercion or abuse" bears further examination. Consider the prevalence of Catholic charities, which had $30.6 million worth of contracts with the state of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services before the state wisely severed that relationship. One has to have a lot of buy-in power in order to contract with the state, and in a libertarian everyone-fends-for-themselves world, the Catholic charities would drown out others, and with the libertarian opposition to civil rights accountability mechanisms, it would sneak theocracy in adoption through the back door, as "coercion and abuse" could mean many different things.
As for "Gays in the Military", note how they did not include the transgender community as well. As for joining the military, Ron Paul’s views as well as those of most libertarians call for a rightful draw down of the military and an end to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. This will mean that under a libertarian world, there would be less people in the one place where sexual orientation non-discrimination is guaranteed. Of course, I have opposed the repeal of DADT as a pro-war and trans-exclusive piece of legislation; the LGBTIQ community being served better by non-discrimination in civilian employment.
Of course, there is a reference to marriage equality, and do I have to explain the flaws here.
Libertarianism, as it relates to the queer community, is something that would look good on paper, however, it assumes that everyone has the same abilities and same life experiences, and is on equal footing to succeed in the world, and frankly, I would not be too surprised if these Outright Libertarian groups end up being mostly cisgender white able-bodied gay males. Unfortunately, with healthcare disparities and ignorance bred by lack of education, among other ills, there needs to be a mechanism of accountability to act as a "great equalizer" or else, advocacy of LGBT rights will be an exercise in futility.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Jan 24, 2012
So, Joe Paterno, who just a week ago, claimed he did not know what to do when one of his subordinates was caught sexually abusing children; the scandal just recently having ended his career, died from lung cancer on Sunday. I know I will sound like a mean old trollette who should just shut up and go under a bridge, but I am increasingly SICKENED by how many people have seem to have forgotten about the fact that he LET CHILDREN GET SEXUALLY ABUSED BY THAT MONSTER SANDUSKY.
Now, we are taught from an early age to not speak ill of the dead, and I’ve learned that lesson well. However, the peer pressure I am receiving concerning my postmortem criticism of Paterno is coming from a place of privilege. I was sexually abused several times in my life, one such time involved similar dynamics to the Penn State case, I was at a very corrupt boarding school, the Grove School in Madison, CT; and was sexually assaulted by a teacher. The boarding school staff, when I told them, just ignored me, saying things like "didn’t happen" and "not my problem". And I was triggered in July of last year to learn that not only did a student sexually assault a girl on campus, but the school washed her clothes and wisked the boy back to Philadelphia before the police could be involved. This was all enumerated in the FEDERAL LAWSUIT this girl is filing against the Grove School. I’ve heard stories, which I will leave those directly affected to tell, but I wouldn’t put it past them to pull some Penn State style malfeasance, oh wait, they already did!!!
I will always remember that warm August night where I was cold heartedly violated by a man who was put in a position of trust, and believe me, I cannot, as somebody who has survived abuse, feel any sympathy for his family, nor can I feel sorry that he is dead. He may be at peace now, but all those children he abused will be going through their own personal hell for the rest of their lives. I think this article on Daily Kos makes the case better than I can.
So, F*** Joe Paterno, he is a monster who should not be celebrated, and I think that statue of him should be taken down. That’s right, I don’t care if Joe Paterno ain’t quite worm food yet, the powers that be should take a chisel and just destroy that statue, just like the cancer destroyed that enabler’s lung and stopped his black heart pumping liquified coal through his withered veins. And perhaps in its place, we should put a memorial to the children who were sexually abused; I don’t know what it would look like; even if it is just a Phoenix with the head of the Nittany Lion on it, I still would rather have a good faith effort at a memorial to the children erected than to keep the statue of A SEXUAL ABUSE ENABLING MONSTER up.
Oh yeah, and F*** YOU GOVERNOR CORBETT FOR HAVING FLAGS FLYING AT HALF MAST. YOU CLAIM TO BE SO TOUGH ON CRIME AND SUPPORT THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, YET YOU WOULD GIVE A PERSON WHO TURNED A BLIND EYE TO MULTIPLE CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE A HIGH POSTMORTEM HONOUR. You, sir, are the definition of hypocrite.
And I don’t care if you don’t like what I have to say; these line from an old Judas Priest song sum up how I am feeling right now "You don’t know what it’s like/you don’t have a clue/If you did, you’d find yourself/Doing the same thing too"
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Dec 15, 2011
…someday I will learn to come up with catchy, creative titles for my blog posts. But not today.
I don’t know what you’ve heard about the Heartbeat Bill in the state of Ohio, but it is quite crazy and needs to be stopped. The bill states that abortion will not be legal after a heartbeat is detected, even in the cases of rape, incest, health of the mother and viability of the fetus (whether or not it can live outside of the womb). There are a whole host of issues with this bill, a few of them being:
– Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant until they are at least 6 weeks along; a heartbeat is typically detected for the first time around 4-6 weeks. Therefore, this law essentially outlaws abortion for everyone who is not expecting a pregnancy.
– It forces women to carry an unhealthy fetus to term knowing that within hours after birth the baby will die.
– It forces survivors of rape to carry the child of their rapist for 9 months.
– It is UNCONSTITUTIONAL! The ACLU has already declared that it will file a lawsuit against the state if this piece of legislation is passed.
– There are hundreds of other reasons as to why this whole thing is terrible, but I won’t spend all of my time telling listing them…
The bill was passed in the Ohio House of Representatives, and was then passed on to the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Aging. Last week, supporters of the bill testified in front of the committee; some of these individuals speaking about how they had at least one, if not two abortions and now regret their decision after seeking help from extremely religious organizations that have shamed them into believing that they are murderers. Other supporters of the bill testified this week with thousands of Bible verses and incorrect "facts" about abortion. I also testified on Tuesday (after about 7 hours of being at the statehouse and 4 hours into the committee hearing)… but I was testifying against the bill. Some main points that I made were:
– I am a female of childbearing age & this legislation that directly impacts me & my peers (I had to point this out as the majority, if not all of the pro-lifers were white, male, and (of the women) post-childbearing age.)
– Until the state government was willing to fully fund education and social programs (including adoption services), they should not be passing a bill that requires families to bring another child into this world that they are unable to care for.
– This piece of legislation tells me that my state government does not respect me as an individual or trust me to make the best decision for my life and my body. Therefore, it makes me want to take my Master’s degree & income tax from my well paying job to another state where I am respected and trusted.
– There must be a separation of church and state. While I don’t know if I would ever have an abortion, I do know that it’s not my right to make that choice for someone else. We are all entitled to worship or not worship in whatever way we choose; we should not be subjected to follow the rules of someone else’s religious beliefs. If your faith tells you that abortion is not a good choice, then you should take that into consideration for your own life; you cannot make someone else abide of the rules of your religion. (I wish I would have articulated this point better after hearing all of the other testimonies…)
– We need to stop wasting time trying to pass unconstitutional legislation and start investing in prevention that works, ie: comprehensive sex education.
Other interesting points made at the hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday were:
– How many individuals on the pro-life movement are adopting children? Specifically children born right here in Ohio, not from third world countries. Realistic answer: not enough.
– What is the pro-life movement doing to support other issues such as education, Medicaid and social programs to support children outside of the womb? Realistic answer: nothing.
– Is Faith to Action (the pro-life group sponsoring this legislation) going to pay the state’s legal fees when this is taken to the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional? Given answer: Only through tax dollars.
– Will current and future physicians choose to practice medicine in Ohio knowing that they could be arrested if they felt the best medical decision to save a patient’s life was to abort their fetus? Answer: Yes, with absolute certainty.
Testifying was a great experience! The room was definitely full of tension, and it certainly was a longggg day – but we made it out alive! I felt very respected by the committee, and occasionally individuals on the othe rside of the debate were semi-cordial. After the hearing was over, I spoke to my senator (who happened to be the vice chair of the committee). He thanked me for coming down and stating my views on the bill; he then went on to express how even though there are very strong beliefs on both sides, he has the highest respect for individuals (especially young people) who come to Columbus to make their voice heard (meaning he didn’t agree with me, but he was glad I was there).
The only downfall to all of this was that there were VERY few young people there testifying. While the pro-choice-ers had a few young people testify, the majority of all people who spoke were 40+…. It made me realize even more how important it is for young people to get involved & make their voice heard. No matter where you stand on an issue, if you feel passionately about it and have done your research to develop an opinion, let the legislators know how you feel!! You are the future of this country and the decisions made today are about YOUR life – they will impact you & generations to come. Voting is huge, but advocating for something can make an incredible difference. Get involved, folks! Stop letting the baby boomers make all of the decisions – this is YOUR country, too!
If you’re wondering what happened with the heartbeat bill – it is going to continue to sit in the committee until further notice. The Senate president told the committee chair to suspend all hearings on the Heartbeat Bill until further notice (which is good news for us because their goal was to pass it by Christmas) …. So who knows when hearings will come about again, but thankfully Ohioans maintain their right to choose…. for now. :-/
Oh, and here is the link to the news clip with my testimony!
Dec 5, 2011
The international conference on AIDS and STI’s in Africa ( ICASA), the long awaited and must attend international conference will bring together youth activists, health practitioners, government representatives, stake holders and every other person engaged in the fight against . To better prepare young people for the main conference, a Pre-conference for young people, hosted by Talent Youth Association (TAYA- Ethiopia) 1-3 December 2011 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, kicked off December 1st at the Ghion hotel. This Pre meeting has over 250 delegates with over 80 of them from Ethiopia. The official opening was done by H.E Alemaw Mengistu, State Minister for the Ministry of Women and children and Youth affairs who called on young people to get involved in the ICASA proper and ensure that their voices are heard. Also present was Dr. Yigeremu Abebe from the Clinton foundation who called on all African people to take ownership of the issues, be accountable and responsible for the response.
Next stop we heard from Dr. Ademola Olajide who echoed Dr. Abebe’s view on accountability but urging young people on their part to lead the way. He said “we need to make the change we need and need to do it now” and to make that changeso, Dr. Akinyele Dairo on his part highlighted that UNFPA was particularly committed to young people and applauded UNFPA and other partners in their response which has yielded some results in terms of reduction in new infections. He said however that the target is the Zero infection point and to reach this young people must either Abstain from Sex completely until they are married and while they are stay faithful to their partners or CONDOMIZE! .The country representative for UNFPA Ted Chabien reiteritated the need for young people to be visible at the ICASA proper , taking the lead, facilitating sessions and making presentations.
Last but not the least speaker in the opening ceremony was Paddy Masembe from Africa Young Positives Association who bore witness to the challenges young people living with HIV/AIDS are facing on a day to day basis which included amongst others stigmatization and discrimination, lack of access to adequate health facilities and programs designed to meet the specific needs of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV) especially Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) living with HIV.
It is worth noting that the theme for this pre-conference is Accountability and the breakout sessions are structured to achieve these goals. I have taken the liberty of summarizing some of the sessions that held on this first day (DECEMBER 1st)that way my readers can get a idea of what went on.
The first session which focused on empowering young people for HIV prevention-challenges and opportunities done by Rick Olson from (UNICEF) explained that there are challenges in the effort to getting to the zero new infection target ,stating that there is increased teenage pregnancy and more young girls and women are getting HIV. He highlighted that this is coming mostly from the lack of information, condom use although increasing, figures still show young people disconnect between young people knowing where to get and actually use them and Voluntary counseling and testing in youth friendly centers, asking how friendly they really are. He made a call to young people to get involved in more condom programming particularly accountability and acceptability.
The other session I found particular interest in was that which focused on reaching unmet needs of sexual reproductive health and rights services of young people living with HIV.(YPLHIV). The speaker called for the status of children born with HIV to be normalized by society. He said so because current family planning does not target YPLHIV, including lack of information on contraception. He stated that YPLHIV needed more support in education and from stigma and discrimination meted upon them for a fault which is not theirs and that they are merely victims of circumstances. He concluded with a call for more work on advocacy, more access to Anti retroviral treatment (ART) more research on 15-19 year olds to be conducted and for the budget to be distributed more fairly amongst the different age groups.
Other sessions included documenting experiences, challenges and new approaches in the fight against HIV/AIDS amongst young people, another was the challenge of Youth in HIV/AIDS prevention policies, programs and fundraising.
Last but not the least was the session on Open societies and rights of PESSP (Gays and Lesbians) and sex workers and the speaker bore witness to the discrimination and stigma that sex workers suffer. The main issues highlighted were male and transgender sex workers and saw the need of services to sensitize thee sex worker and also for society and governments to treat them and their families equally. There was equally a call for support for rape victims especially male rape victims who are usually victimized more afterwards.
By Abongwa Victor
International Youth Journalist
Dec 1, 2011
My favorite parts are bolded!
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 1, 2011
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON WORLD AIDS DAY
George Washington University
10:27 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Sanjay. It is an honor to be with you today and to follow President Kikwete and President Bush. To Bono and Alicia, to the ONE campaign, thank you for bringing us together. Because of your work, all across Africa there are children who are no longer starving, mothers who are no longer dying of treatable diseases, fathers who are again providing for their families. And because of all of you, so many people are now blessed with hope.
We’ve got members of Congress who have done so much for this cause who are here today, and we want to thank them. Let me also thank President Bush for joining us from Tanzania and for his bold leadership on this issue. I believe that history will record the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as one of his greatest legacies. And that program — more ambitious than even the leading advocates thought was possible at the time — has saved thousands and thousands and thousands of lives, and spurred international action, and laid the foundation for a comprehensive global plan that will impact the lives of millions. And we are proud that we have the opportunity to carry that work forward.
Today is a remarkable day. Today, we come together as a global community, across continents, across faiths and cultures, to renew our commitment to ending the AIDS pandemic once and for all.
Now, if you go back and you look at the themes of past World AIDS Days, if you read them one after another, you’ll see the story of how the human race has confronted one of the most devastating pandemics in our history. You’ll see that in those early years — when we started losing good men and women to a disease that no one truly understood — it was about ringing the alarm, calling for global action, proving that this deadly disease was not isolated to one area or one group of people.
And that’s part of what makes today so remarkable, because back in those early years, few could have imagined this day — that we would be looking ahead to “The Beginning of the End,” marking a World AIDS Day that has gone from that early beginning when people were still uncertain to now a theme, “Getting to Zero.” Few could have imagined that we’d be talking about the real possibility of an AIDS-free generation. But that’s what we’re talking about. That’s why we’re here. And we arrived here because of all of you and your unwavering belief that we can — and we will — beat this disease.
Because we invested in anti-retroviral treatment, people who would have died, some of whom are here today, are living full and vibrant lives. Because we developed new tools, more and more mothers are giving birth to children free from this disease. And because of a persistent focus on awareness, the global rate of new infections and deaths is declining.
So make no mistake, we are going to win this fight. But the fight is not over — not by a long shot. The rate of new infections may be going down elsewhere, but it’s not going down here in America. The infection rate here has been holding steady for over a decade. There are communities in this country being devastated, still, by this disease.
When new infections among young black gay men increase by nearly 50 percent in 3 years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter. When Latinos are dying sooner than other groups, and when black women feel forgotten, even though they account for most of the new cases among women, then we’ve got to do more.
So this fight is not over. Not for the 1.2 million Americans who are living with HIV right now. Not for the Americans who are infected every day. This fight is not over for them, it’s not over for their families, and as a consequence, it can’t be over for anybody in this room — and it certainly isn’t over for your President.
Since I took office, we’ve had a robust national dialogue on HIV/AIDS. Members of my administration have fanned out across the country to meet people living with HIV; to meet researchers, faith leaders, medical providers and private sector partners. We’ve spoken to over 4,000 people. And out of all those conversations, we drafted a new plan to combat this disease. Last year, we released that plan — a first-ever national HIV/AIDS strategy.
We went back to basics: prevention, treatment and focusing our efforts where the need is greatest. And we laid out a vision where every American, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status, can get access to life-extending care.
And I want to be clear about something else: Since taking office, we’ve increased overall funding to combat HIV/AIDS to record levels. With bipartisan support, we reauthorized the Ryan White Care Act. And as I signed that bill, I was so proud to also announce that my administration was ending the ban that prohibited people with HIV from entering America. (Applause.) Because of that step, next year, for the first time in two decades, we will host the international AIDS conference. (Applause.)
So we’ve done a lot over the past three years, but we can do so much more. Today, I’m announcing some new commitments. We’re committing an additional $15 million for the Ryan White Program that supports care provided by HIV medical clinics across the country. We want to keep those doors open so they can keep saving lives. We’re committing an additional $35 million for state AIDS-drug assistance programs.
Nov 29, 2011
During the second day of the 7th Conference of Youth (COY7), I had the opportunity to interview some of the delegates of the African Youth Caravan. Nancy Njeri (22, AYICC-Kenya) from Kenya; Don Ole Sapit (Narok Youth Congress) from Kenya; Prince Wilondja (19, AYICCC-Jevograle) from Cameroon; and Heather N. Maseho (AYICC-Kenya) were part of the caravan that traveled in six countries part of the WE HAVE FAITH CAMPAIGN towards COP17/CMP7 climate talks.
The caravan, composed of 150 young people from 12 countries across Africa including those from the United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Norway and Canada traveled in six trucks that started in Nairobi, Kenya passing Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana then to South Africa. In each of the country they have conducted climate justice concerts lead by host countries, graced by celebrities, politicians and prominent personalities.
Their ultimate goal: A Fair and Legally Binding Deal at COP17/CMP7 in Durban, South Africa.
The youth caravan have received overwhelming support, and they were ever more grateful to all the donors. It is very encouraging to note that they receive support form UN organisations. It gives legitimacy and international platform. Partners who have committed to assist us include UNDP, UNOPs, UNEP, UNEP-Tunza Programme, COMESA, NCA, Clearsky , YMCA Norway, YMCA African Alliance, and the Greenbelt Movement.
As we all know, Africa is vulnerable to the terratogenic effects of climate change since most of the countries are still developing nations and still struggling to rise above the challenges from slavery, apartheid, dictatorship, civil war, exploitation, and HIV/AIDS. These things makes their resilience to climate change more difficult as they have few resources and funding to utilize amidst mounting problems and priorities.
A fair and legally binding deal is what everyone is hoping for as the climate talks progresses or at the very least, the extension of the Kyoto Protocol that is set to expire on 2012 next year. One of the issues that needs to be addressed in this conference is the protection of the vulnerable groups such as women and young people. According to Heather, world leaders should help finance Africa in order to adapt to climate change.
You can also watch the video on this link: www.youtube.com/watch
Nov 28, 2011
On the first day of COY, we made our presences felt at the NGO round table where we were the first to make a short and sweet shout out to people highlighting the linkages that we would be talking about during the next two weeks at COY and COP17. As soon as we mentioned sexual reproductive health rights and climate change, one could see the puzzled, jaded and clueless looks on the faces of our audience. It seemed like a good challenge ahead in trying to make the environmentalists think about health of people while they go about their business of fighting for the health of the planet.
But day two of the conference surprised me. This young South African Lady made me realize that maybe I am biased and I need to get back to wearing my don’t-judge-book-by-its-cover glasses again. During lunch when I was sitting towards one corner hiding behind my laptop, she stepped up and with a bright smile and started asking questions. Someone asking me, the born-ask-question-girl, questions was a novel experience. She was 16 and she wanted to make a difference. She wanted to know who I was, where I was from and what did I do….our chat became more interesting when we starting speaking about sex!
I will never get over the surreal feeling of being in a room full of climate people who would like to club up the Pandora box of human rights and sexual reproductive health rights within a small tag called POPULATION (I am in the danger of stereotyping again!! >Roll my eyes< when will I learn?) and there we are two girls from different parts of the world talking about the SRHR situation in our countries.
Sometimes when out of the blue you find someone at the same wavelength as you, you feel good. I guess I was in a similar situation. So she had to be interviewed though it could obviously not cover my moments spent with her but I hope she makes you smile and continue your fight in whatever small way that you are contributing to better our world.
Lady, Thank you. You Will Remain Act as Fuel to Renew My Faith for a Long Time.!
Nov 22, 2011
Every year, on November 20, we commemorate the Transgender Day Of Remembrance; this important day was the brainchild of trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a response to the murder of Rita Hester of Allston, Massachusetts in 1998 (and what is bittersweet here is that 13 years later, her home state would throw trans people under the bus). I did my duty as a member of the community and attended two events in Philadelphia, the first one was at 5pm and was connected with Occupy Philadelphia, and the second, in contrast, was held at the ornate William Way Community Center at 7pm. This is my experience.
I had already promised my friend Dawn, a fixture in Philadelphia’s trans community, that I would help out at the William Way event, but I had decided to go to the Occupy rally and duck out around 6-6:15 to head towards the William Way Center. When I arrived on scene in Dilworth Plaza, I stuck out like a sore thumb, and was nervous that my decision to dress in my Sunday best (think tie-neck blouse, pencil skirt, and nice flats, I had decided to wear it mostly for the WWCC event, because I’m kind of conservative about dressing nice for events like this) would put off some of the radical/anarchist contingent. The Occupy encampment was still going strong, even when Michael Nutter might have been singing an Alice Cooper classic in response to a sexual assault that happened there. People were walking around, carrying on while the main draw was a disabled African-American veteran was singing karaoke (a common fixture in Center City).
I found two people from the queer alliance at Occupy Philadelphia and we immediately looked for support, making announcements and shouting a "mic check" to Occupiers to show solidarity. At least 25-30 people showed up and as soon as Max from Riders Against Gender Exclusion showed up, we would March. The march started ten minutes late due to negotiations with police auxiliary concerning the route we were to take (we would march from Dilworth Plaza on the west side of City Hall to Kahn Park, a common organizing point for queer rallies, travelling through the Gayborhood). Despite the decision of said disabled veteran to soapbox about we should all listen to Mayor Nutter and be civil and vacate Dilworth Plaza drowning out march announcements (a situation in which one disabled transwoman shouted "Being civil does not mean being the mayor’s bitch), we would take to the streets, guided by the police.
Some brought signs, a highlight was Max bringing a cardboard bus to be carried by the protestors as part of RAGE’s "Ride With Respect" campaign. RAGE had decided to take part in this due to the gender stickers putting the trans community at risk of violence, and although it hasn’t necessarily lead to any actual serious injuries or deaths, we don’t want there to be a first time. We walked through the Gayborhood chanting "Trans Rights are Human Rights, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT" and "When Trans People Are Under Attack, what do we do, stand up fight back". We had encountered some snags due to one of the marchers being a wheelchair user and the auxiliary leading us to a non-accessible choke point. We did "mic checks" at various points in Center City. I would do one about drama in the trans community and how we need to band together despite our differences, a sentiment that was met with applause. We would then march to Giovanni’s Room, which is the oldest continuous queer bookstore in the country, and was recently gifted with a Pennsylvania Historical marker. Some staff came out and gave their unwavering support. It was then only a few blocks until we hit Kahn Park and Max from RAGE gave a great speech and started recruiting new members. By that time, it was a little past six, so instead of marching back, I high-tailed it to the William Way Community Center.
When I got there, I was struck by the sight of the two former leaders of Transway whom had caused all the drama, and was nervous they were going to come after me, but they left me alone. I immediately went upstairs to the Mark Segal Ballroom, where the event was being held, and did some setting up with Dawn, Candice (a cisgender lesbian WWCC employee who has been interim facilitator at Transway and who was MCing the event), and Beth, my new housemate. Candles abounded and many of Philadelphia’s trans community and beyond started to come to the space, including some that I brought in from the previous march as well as some more established members of the community.
The first speaker was Candice, who talked about how she was an ally to the trans community, and how it was a great honor to be part of such an event. Next up was Dionne Stalworth, a trans person and activist within the community who talks about how even through a tough life, she had survived. Up next was an interfaith prayer reading, one Christian, one Jewish, one Muslim, one Baha’i, and one Buddhist. Then came the reading of the names, which I was proud to be a part of, even though I stumbled at first. We actually had to add a name to the list at the last moment, due to a murder on Hollywood Boulevard. It was then that Dawn came up and spoke about one case in which she knew the person. Krista Easter was a transwoman who had killed herself due to alienation, and while she was not murdered like most of the others memorialized, it still was a death caused by the transphobia of society.
This then led to a benediction by the Rev. Celeste Brooks in which she gave us encouragement to fight another day, followed by a playing of "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan, probably the most emotional point of the night, in which we all found someone to comfort each other. The final part of the night was Community Reflections, in which people came up and shared their thoughts. I was first up, and talked about how I am one of the lucky ones, and how much the Philadelphia trans community has it pretty well, all things considered. I also mentioned how the Philly trans community needs to move past the drama that seems to happen every week and be there for each other, and that I hoped we could all live to fight another day. Other notable speakers who spoke included a friend of murder victim Mercedez Love, and had almost cried while showing a picture, and pled for all the violence to stop, a transwoman who is facing felony charges in Virginia due to a situation which created fear, and how lucky she was that tommorrow, she would be going to the Center For Transgender Surgery in nearby Bala Cynwyd and "getting her wings". Another great speaker was my roommate Beth, who had given an uplifting and funny speech about defending herself, both against the police and threatening to send in her son, a "6’5 Swede" in to deal with transphobes.
It was a magical night and I walked home emotional as all hell, but empowered that I was able to be a part of two disparate events, in which the crowd and the tone may be different, but we all came together to commemorate the losses of the past year due to senseless violence and hope to educate people.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Nov 16, 2011
Helping to rebuild or improve your community doesn’t always take a lot of money or influence—but what it does take is time. If you’re a young adult who wants to make a difference in your community, you’ll need to spend time preparing for service: identifying a problem or issue you want to address, creating a solution, and finding resources that can help you achieve your goal. Community organization and activism is rarely spontaneous, and you should do what you can to prepare yourself for success.
What’s most important to you about your community? What’s going on in your neighborhood that you’d like to change—and if there’s something inspiring or exciting happening, what would you do to improve it? Make a list of the things you’re interested in, and what you feel most passionately about. From there, you’ll be able to start shaping your idea and building your
network of community partners.
Each major community effort starts as a single idea, but it requires the work of many people to get it off the ground; whether you want to start a community garden or a tutoring program, you can’t do it alone. And your community isn’t just your block or your side of town—any other kid who faces the same challenges you face can be an ally, no matter where they live. If you want to start local, use online message boards like craigslist and discussion forums to recruit people who might be interested in helping you. You can also recruit at your school (provided the school administration gives you permission).
Once you’ve got a group together, do what you can to stay in regular contact. Using e-mail and message boards are good, but face-to-face meetings, or even conferencing software like Skype or onConference, can help you keep people engaged and interested. The hardest part will be getting people to commit to spending a little time listening to you and your idea—but if it’s worth their time, they’ll help you take the next step.
Attracting attention for your group or project will be a challenge, but building a network with community leaders and businesses is one way to get your message out to the community at large. It’s also a way to find some of the resources your organization or project might need—whether it’s funding, meeting space, or other materials. And once your organization yields tangible results, finding more people and community partners will become easier.
Starting a community project isn’t a simple three-step process, and you might not succeed your first time around. But having faith in yourself, and your community, will lead you toward the people and resources you need to make a real difference.
Nov 12, 2011
Circumstances force me to address the firestorm surrounding the football division of Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, in which football coach Jerry Sandusky was caught anally violating a ten year old boy in the showers, and many members of the Penn State community, including legendary head coach, Joe Paterno, were implicated in the scandal. Some have been charged with perjury, others, such as Paterno, have been dismissed.
I am currently dismayed at the events that happened in the minutes and hours after Paterno’s firing, when Penn State "students" (keep in mind, Penn State is famous for being a pro-football training camp with an attached diploma mill) started rioting and flipping over newsvans and destroying everything around them. A few lone voices in the wilderness existed, however, my faith in the youth of the nation has taken a hit from the events that night.
This makes me think about how safe Penn State is for women and LGBTIQ people, as well as those who don’t fit the "jock" stereotype. If people manage to riot over a head coach rightfully being fired for IGNORING THE SEX ABUSE OF A CHILD, it says something about the character of the campus, and makes me question whether if a football player sexually assaulted someone on the campus, it would be swept under the rug, if not the victim being tarred and feathered for knocking the perpetrator off his pedestal and potentially costing the school some championship. I’m not one to make assumptions, but it is more likely than not if investigators looked into disciplinary proceedings at the school, there’d be at least something fishy.
To the rioters: SHAME ON YOU, people have had to take out huge amounts of loans just to attend an institution that, even with these tuition increases, is still suffering from the austerity addiction of some elected officials, but instead of rioting against injustice, you riot because your head coach is no more. What about the victims here? Did you not think of them as you were causing wanton destruction in the name of your tainted idol.
Although I can’t say all the rioters will become rapists, their mentality indicates that many will be.
The actions of the rioters are especially triggering for me, having survived sexual assault at the hands of my old boarding school, which, sadly but not surprisingly, was sued over the summer over another sexual assault. The suit, which is linked on a Scribd account, states (line 86), that the mother "asked if there was any written protocol regarding how the school handled sexual assaults, [headmaster] Richard Chorney responded that there had never been a prior sexual assault at the school, so there had been no call for such a policy". This was in June 2010, almost two years after they knew I was assaulted there. Even though the investigation never led anywhere, it still is damning that they did not at least cover their bases and have a more concrete policy to protect students. My old boarding school and Penn State are not the first entities to sweep abuse under the rug, and sadly, I doubt they will be the last.
These are very unhappy times in Happy Valley, and I think Penn State needs to be shut down. I don’t care about the fact that the students rioted per se, but the fact that they would riot in favour of someone who covers up sex crimes does not give me hope and leads me to believe that the rape culture is more prevalent than usual there.
Please keep those who have suffered under Jerry Sandusky in your thoughts and please think about whether Penn State is a safe place to be.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Nov 2, 2011
Delsie-Ann Bailey unavoidably missed out on an important part of her teen life — senior year. She was unable to celebrate like other teens her age. She missed her senior prom because at age seventeen she became pregnant.
When I leave College and return home to be a mother, “I stop to think how my life could have been different,” Delsie-Ann said to a group of young environmental and reproductive health activists at the One Voice Summit on October 28, 2011 in Washington DC. There were no sex education classes in her high school. Delsie-Ann like many other teens have suffered as a result of the absence of comprehensive sex education, which teaches children, adolescents and youth about abstinence, faithfulness and using condoms and other modern effective contraception.
Delsie-Ann was born in St Catherine, Jamaica. She moved to North Carolina in the United States at an early age. Many people in the developing countries would expect that sex education would be standard for American teens. Today, Delsie-Ann works part-time and attends college full-time. All this she manages while being a teen mom and she still finds time to volunteer with other teens in North Carolina to advocate for comprehensive sex education as well as train teachers how to teach sex ed to teens.
Comprehensive sex education is desperately needed to encourage adolescents to delay sexual debut, reduce sexual partners and teach young people to communicate and make safe decisions about sex.
“No one should have to go through the things I had to go through,” she said. “I advocate because I realize that not only does my work affect people now but also my daughter’s generation.”
Over $1.5b has been wasted on abstinence only until marriage programmes in the USA. Thanks in part to the work of many people, including Delsie-Ann and her colleagues; there is now a Teen Health Act so hundreds of thousands of young people in North Carolina can learn about and safeguard their sexual and reproductive health.
This is remarkable because two young people become infected with HIV every hour in the United States. The rates have stabilized over the years but it is increasing rapidly among young people, particularly among young men of colour who have sex with men, especially young black men.
There is also more good news. About 21 States and the District of Colombia mandate that schools teach sex education, 32 States teach HIV and STD education and 23 States request that abstinence be stressed.
Oct 31, 2011
USA Today ran and article claiming young women are no longer interested in the feminist movement. This is my response.
In the past several years I have found myself as the youngest women in packed rooms at a number of feminist events. At these events speakers stand before the crowd and preach the importance of nurturing the next generation in the movement. They say there is so much work still to be done, and that the current generation is ready to take the torch. At this point either someone will ask these questions directly to the speaker, or mumble them to a person sitting nearby: “Where is the next generation? They are not here! What are we going to do, how do we get them to care?!”
Usually mixed in these statements and questions is some heavy ageism. Once when talking to a legislator about the important of anti-bullying laws in Ohio, he said that “kids” these days (referring to people high school-aged) are running wild terrorizing and beating up teachers and the elderly. I was stunned. Usually ageist comments made at this point include statements about young people being too distracted by the Kardashians, computers or their cell phone. Young people just don’t care about important issues, they cry! This generation is a lost cause!
Well, I am a young women, and DEEPLY concerned about gender equaither. Therefore, I am going to address the main problems with the young feminists missing in action argument…
1. The older generation is looking in the wrong places for young feminists.
2. They are also looking for the wrong people.
Question number one: Where are the young feminists?
The question of where are the young feminists usually occurs in a setting that, for various reasons, is not accessible to young people. It is at a fund raiser for a feminist organization that costs hundreds of dollars to attend, is at a time young people are in class, or at a place that you would need a car to drive to. You cannot create spaces that are appropriate for one generation, and expect another generation to just come a knocking. This is not just true for young people, but also people of different races, classes, mobility, sexuality and so on.
Let me begin to explain all the places I see young feminist. I see them on college campuses. They meet late at night on campus and talk about shackling of pregnant women. They are student leaders in not only groups that address reproductive justice, or gender issues, but leaders in their Greek Life community and academic programs. They are in classrooms talking about the impact of gender roles not only in women studies classes, but engineering and pre-med classes.
They are in our communities. They are on the phone late at night with college friends now across the country talking about balancing graduate school, a budding career, and an upcoming wedding. They get married and plan weddings that are environmentally friendly. They are in gardens fueling an emerging urban farming community. They are serving leadership roles through internships and volunteer work. They are leading and participating in the Occupy movement. They are speaking up on important issues of economic and social justice.
They are on the internet. I would say that 80% of my education on social justice issues is rooted in the internet. Sites like RH Reality Check, Feministing, Amplify, and Sociological images have become places for me to push my values and beliefs and broaden my perspective. I have also found other strong feminist communities on Facebook, twitter and tumblr. #Fem2 anyone?
In addition to looking in all the wrong places, they often are not looking for the right people.
Question: What do young feminist look like?
Feminists work on more than just feminist issues. I see young feminist addressing intersectionality. Occupiers, tree huggers, and civil rights activists are feminists. There are feminists working on all progressive issues. I have an amazing friend working as a community organizer around labor issues in Ohio. She said to me, can women have full rights if people in our state still do not have economic justice? Gender inequality is not an isolated issue, and neither are other social justice issues. This is why you see feminists working in all progressive issues.
Feminist are not only people who are female-bodied. It shouldn’t be assumed that all young people in a feminist movement are women! Some of the most inspiring young feminists I know are men, transgender, gender queer, or other identities other than female-bodied. Therefore, the feminist movement is about ALL feminists, not just women.
I find articles claiming that feminism is dying as not only false but insulting.
At work and in my free time I am surrounded by amazing feminist. My soon-to-be-husband and I often engage in long discussions of social justice and gender inequality. It is part of who I am to talk about these issues, and part of our relationships. I work with amazing women of varied ages, races, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds, economic statuses and life experiences. I work with college students as they form student organizations and work with me as interns. In all of these experiences I get the opportunity to be a mentor, friend, student and partner – all along the way helping to foster an intergenerational feminist movement.
The people I work with allow me to grow. In turn, I get the honor of seeing the growth of others. Nothing about my job gives me more satisfaction then hearing young women talk about why organizing around feminist issues is important to them. It is refreshing and inspiring.
I came to this movement on accident. I wanted to be a health educator, and instead turned into a social justice warrior (not that those two things are mutually exclusive). I came to where I am today because the feminist community is so rich and vibrant to this day. The work of feminists is far from over, and I have complete faith that the next generation of feminism is ready for the challenge.
Oct 28, 2011
In the Kathmandu Valley, I was on my way home when a foreign visitor asked me about the sex symbols crafted on a temple. I had seen those symbols long before in different temples of the valley but was eager to know more about them only when the visitor asked me. Obviously, anyone would be eager to hear and know about them. This was the same case with me when I saw sex symbols in different temples that were crafted around 300 to 400 years ago during the time of the Lichhavi kings.
Many visitors from around the world take pictures of these temples. We have the concept that temples are holy places and places of respect.
According to the Tantrik Bidhi, these crafted arts symbolize real life. Religiously, people believe this art helped to control natural disasters like thunder, earthquakes and lightning around the premises.
Dr. Dinesh Bhuju of RONAST (Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology) said of the sex symbols, “Production in the agricultural sector during those periods was high, as was the death rate. A large number of people died from different diseases like diarrhea and smallpox, as medicine was usually unavailable. So to maintain the population, these types of symbols were used in the temples as a holy deed.”
He also said there was no medium of communication. These art works delivered the message of sex education to people who were unaware of the importance of generational continuity in society.
In some of the books written by foreign writers about the crafted arts, they labeled the temples as “erotic.” For example, we can take the temple of “Jagannath” which is located in the heart of the tourist center Basantapur, (a world heritage site.) This temple was built around 1562 during the period of Mahendra Malla, where more than 64 sex symbols were made.
The temple is a place of respect, according to our tradition and culture. We all have faith in all the temples of God, but hearing and reading such words of a foreign visitor really makes it clear that they have not understood our art and culture to the deepest extent. Without knowing the reality and the core matter, foreign people and magazines write about these matters. But no action is shown by the government.
Beauty depends upon the viewers, in the same way that art has its own language in the way we view it. People looking with the wrong concept see the temple art as pornography while artists define it as a great masterpiece.
(Credit reporter: mr. Bishnu K.C )