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May 18, 2013
Respect. I think the word that best describes what I’m trying to get at with this blog. I feel like there’s this notion in society today that a women’s self-respect and self-worth lie completely between her legs, and because of this notion a lot of other social issues arise. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard some variation of the phrase have some respect for yourself ladies and keep your legs closed. Statements like this pigeonhole women and keep society in that outdated mindset that all a woman is good for is sex and childbearing. Self-respect, to me, has to do with self-love and standing up for yourself and what you believe in. It’s like a reverse golden rule, “treat others how you would like to be treated” treating yourself that way too. Self-respect has nothing to do with how much sex you have or how revealing your clothes are.
So, “slut-shaming” is what I’m getting at now. “Slut-shaming” is the shaming or acting of woman, making her feel inferior or guilty for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that deviate from traditional norms or expectations. Girls do it, calling each other sluts with no self-respect because they make sexual decisions that are simply different from their own. And by doing this, they open a door for men and the rest of society to disrespect women and look down on women who simply have different viewpoints than their own. This just adds to the inequality of women and double standards, because you less often see anyone calling a man a slut with no self-respect.
So all of this serves to contribute to another, bigger societal problem which is “victim blaming.” It’s the mindset that women are responsible for being raped, or “they were asking for it,” because of the way they were dressed, the way they were acting or the amount of drugs or alcohol in their system. This culture in society emphasizes and teaches victims not to get raped, or not to do things that would promote getting raped, rather than punishing perpetrators and teaching not to rape. No matter what the person is wearing or how they may be acting, forced sex without consent is rape. Keeping in mind that consent cannot be obtained if the person is passed out drunk. So where did “rape culture” and “victim blaming” come from? Well if we’re allowing society to look down on women as “sluts,” then we can’t be surprised when that same society isn’t sympathetic towards them when they are raped.
Back to respect. Respect is essential to stopping “slut-shaming” and the problems that emerge from it. Having respect is having an open mind towards understanding that not everyone’s opinion on sex and how and when to have it is going to be same as yours. Rather than resorting to calling each other names, we should open our minds and our hearts towards understanding people who are simply different than ourselves.
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 15, 2013
May 13, 2013
May 11, 2013
“Sadly, real or perceived controversy keeps schools from providing young people with the information and skills they need to become sexually healthy adults. Just like other topics taught in school, sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate, sequential and complete.
Irrational fear – the cultural belief that teaching young people about sex will cause them to have sex – keeps administrators and educators from doing what they know is best: providing young people with developmentally appropriate, sequential and honest sex education. Never mind that 30 years of public health research clearly demonstrates that when young people receive such education, they are more likely to delay sexual initiation, and to use protection when they do eventually become sexually active, than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence. Withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant.
Ninety-five percent of all Americans have sex before marriage. About half of all young people begin having sex by age 17. Providing a foundation of quality sex education is the only way to ensure that young people will grow into sexually healthy adults. It can augment what children learn at home and combat misinformation learned from peers or found on the Internet. Porn is not the best way for teenagers to learn about sex, but it will fill the vacuum when sex education is politicized and withheld from our classrooms.
Quality sex education should start in kindergarten. Early elementary school students need to learn the proper names for their body parts, the difference between good touch and bad touch, and ways in which they can be a good friend (the foundation for healthy intimate relationships later in life). Fourth- and fifth-graders need information about puberty and their changing bodies, Internet safety, and the harmful impact of bullying. And seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are ready for information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, H.I.V. and disease prevention, communication, and the topic they most want to learn about: healthy relationships.”
May 2, 2013
INTRO: Everyone can say that teen pregnancy is global problem that is growing. People ask, “How come so many teens are getting pregnant so young?” Many teens don’t plan on getting pregnant— Lots of teen pregnancies are unintended teen pregnancies. This is why having comprehensive sex education in schools would be beneficial for all. It also would have taxpayers $6 billion dollars is we work together and stop unintended pregnancies. “In 2012 a total of 329,797 babies were born to women aged 15-19 years, for a live birth rate of 31.3 per 1,000 women in this age group”(CDC,2012,para 1).
THESIS: Although teen pregnancy is a serious problem globally, increasing access to comprehensive sex education and resources can help reduce the rates of teen pregnancy, keep school based center in school and get them into more schools, and help the LGBT kids become more confident and deal with their feelings.
HEALTH RISKS: Pregnant teens can have many health risks that can harm them and the baby. It is very important that teens know what can happen to them and their baby so they make the decision to have a baby now or later in life. “Teen pregnancies carry extra health risks to a mother and a baby…They are at a high risk of getting high blood pressure and having premature birth with a low birth weight”(Medline Plus, 2012,para 1). It is very important to make sure that pregnant women take good care of themselves. That means eating lots of vegetables and lots of fruits. It also means swimming and staying active so that the baby can feel movement. By staying active you can give birth one to two weeks earlier than schedule. Medline Plus (2012) says, “Take prenatal vitamins for your health and to prevent birth defects…avoid smoking…and use a condom, if still having sex, to prevent STDs” (para 2).
STATS: There are many health risks that can harm any pregnant woman and her baby. If teens don’t plan on getting pregnant, then why do they? Well, many teens are not well educated on their sexuality and sexual orientation or even know about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) they can get from becoming sexually active. Young people hear all kinds of inaccurate ways to avoid pregnancy and methods to cure infections. According to Colorado Youth Matter (2012), “Of all new Colorado HIV cases are reported, 15% were diagnosed among youth ages 13-24” (Para 8). The rates about teens in high school and ages 13-24 are unbelievable. Bulling is also a part of teen pregnancies because if a teen is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or a transgender (LGBT) they get pick on for their sexuality. Comprehensive sex education will also teach them how to deal with other, telling their peers, or just being able to talk about it and not keep it to them. National school climate (2011) states, “8 in 10 LGBT students reported being harassed in the last year; 3 in 5 reported feeling unsafe, and 1 in 3 skipped school at least one day due to safety concerns” Para 12) . It is not fair that LGBT teens get treated differently because of how they feel. They should not be treated different because of what they believe. A lot of teens get pregnant when they are in high school. There are some schools that have a child care in them so teens can go to school and still be near their baby, but that is only of some teens. A lot of teens just stop going and there education just stops. According to Stay Teen (2013), “parenthood is the leading reason why teen girls dropout of high school…less than half of teens moms ever graduate high school and fewer than 2% earn a college degree by the age of 30” (Para 5).
FACTS: Stay Teen (2013) states, “That 3 in 10 girls in the US will get pregnant at least once before the age of 20” (para 2). We all can ask the same question “Why are so many teens getting pregnant so young?”, and get a million different answers. Wouldn’t it be nice to get one correct answer and some support for teen moms and teen pregnancies? We could help reduce the birth rates. Research has shown that some teens do not know how to take care of a baby or how their lives would change after. “50% of teens have never thought about how a pregnancy can affect their lives even though having a baby could be one of the most life changing things to have happen to you” (Stay Teen, 2013, para 2). If they had sex education they probably would know a lot and would be less likely to get pregnant. The benefits of comprehensive sex education:
Plus, they use condoms and birth control more consistently. “The US has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the western industrialized world” (Do something, 2012, Para 5). in the US we are so very spoiled with accessories
COLORADO: According to Colorado department Public Health (2013), “The majority (85%) of Colorado parents support comprehensive sex education in schools” (Para 9). Is so many parents are in support of Comprehensive sex education then why doesn’t more schools have them? If parents are in support then why don’t they fight harder for teens by getting comprehensive sex education in their high school? Parents don’t want their teen to get pregnant then shouldn’t fight harder for their children or give them their own sex talk and some sex education. Just to make sure that if their child does decide to become sexually active they will be prepared and will be safe
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 30, 2013
Transgender women are the fastest growing population of the HIV-positive. The National Institutes of Health came out with a report, noting that almost a third of transgender Americans have HIV. Trans women of color specifically are at a greater risk than their white sisters. Through a survey, it was found that 56% of black trans women have HIV. The 2009 study from NIH also noted that many transgender women may not even know their HIV status. With an alarming statistic like this, we have to wonder what’s causing it.
When individuals are thrown into social injustice, it can be difficult to escape from. Trans women are profiled and disproportionately targeted and arrested by the law enforcement. The police will try to use condoms as evidence of sex work, so trans women face the “choice” of keeping themselves and their partners safe or getting arrested. When they’re forced into jail, trans women are often housed with male inmates or they are put into solitary confinement, as if either path is any better. Sex workers are generally more likely to be HIV-positive than those who are not engaged in sex work, but because of the disproportionate targeting of trans women, trans women sex workers’ risk for HIV is four times greater.
While sex work is a valid way of meeting financial needs, some trans women turn to it as an option because of discrimination in employment. In most of the United States, it’s completely legal to turn down or dismiss a person based on gender identity and sexual orientation. People can even be denied housing or become evicted because of their gender identity and orientation. This leaves a dangerously negative and significant impact on their economic well-being and safety. It also makes it difficult for trans women especially to keep up with their hormonal therapy, since it’s often not covered by insurance, if they can even pay for that insurance with what the circumstances are. With lack of access to basic health care, many incompetent doctors, clinics, social stigma, and overall institutions that discriminate against trans women, especially those of color– it’s all a very nasty formula expressing why trans women are hit so hard with HIV.
So, what can we do to help? Trans people are often absent from public campaigns for sexual health and safety. We can start by including them into that, and into many of our discussions and campaigns of social justice as well. We could get trans-specific in our literature in safer sex guides. We could also set up community centers as a safe space for trans people and create some peer groups, which would be strong social networks and a good use of peer outreach for safer sex and HIV testing. And of course we could and should create social support and do our part to de-stigmatize our trans brothers and sisters. Look up a local or national activist organization today.
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 25, 2013
(tw: rape, harsh language)
SEE THE VIDEO HERE:
Apr 24, 2013
Transgender Woman Arrested for Exposing Breasts, Jailed With Men
Trigger warning: transphobia
A transgender woman from New York was arrested in Savannah, Ga., last week for allegedly exposing her breasts, reports Savannah’s WSAV. But when deputies booked Ashley Del Valle, 38, she says a nurse examined her genitals, and determined that she was “technically a male.” As a result, Del Valle was placed in a holding cell in the men’s prison ward.
Apr 10, 2013
This month is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and unfortunately it feels very, very relevant lately. Rape culture has proven itself to be alive and well- from the recent suicide of Canadian high school student Rehtaeh Parsons after photos of her being gang raped were circulated online, to the biased media coverage of the Steubenville rape trial, which sympathized with the convicted rapists and blamed the victim. It can feel very overwhelming and depressing to continually hear about, watch, and endure episode after episode of abuse, violation and degradation, which is why I’m proposing that this month, we self empower through ACTION! Here are some things you can do to actively combat rape culture, and work towards a society in which sexuality is free from violence and full of love, respect, and pleasure:
1. Educate yourself about sexual consent, then pledge to only practice consensual sex by signing the Consent is Sexy pledge! While your at it, you could even bring the Consent is Sexy campaign to your campus!
3. Know the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE). Post it in places your peers will see, such as on the doors of bathroom stalls, in dorm common areas, or health centers.
4. Speak up and Vlog about it! Make a video about the issue of sexual assault. Here are two great ones: WTF HAPPENED IN STEUBENVILLE? by vlogger Laci Greene and this Anti-Rape video by University of Oregon film student Samantha Stendel
These are just a few of a huge number of ways you can take action against rape culture and sexual abuse. There is no limit to the amount of passion and creativity you can draw on! Have some other ideas? Write them in the comments!
Apr 6, 2013
A few weeks back I listened attentively to ‘SOS Doctor’, one of the best health programs that be on Radio in Cameroon. As I listened, I got very happy at the great job that Dr. Dion Grace, a member of the National AIDS Control Committee of Cameroon was doing to educate Cameroonians on anti-retroviral drugs. She eloquently and insightfully answered every one of the questions that were posed to her by listeners who called-in and am sure her intervention in the program was a timely one. Everything was fine until when a listener called-in to ask what is it that could be done to reduce stigma on people who are on anti-retroviral drugs. Dr. Dion as usual gave a very insightful answer to this question going as far as citing the example of Ivory Coast where the drugs are put in anonymous packages so that they can be taken by patients without fear of stigma by the people around them. She went ahead to cite cases where some special containers of various doses is been used in some countries to reduce stigma. This was quiet interesting to know, but when she started advising people on anti-retroviral that they could tell people around them that they are taking vitamins or pills in order to avoid stigmatization I grumbled the following to myself: Do I have to be so ashamed of my status that I have to lie to others?
I have no statistics on this but I can assure you that having to lie on your HIV status is the order of the day in Cameroon especially amongst young people to avoid stigma and discrimination. Well, this to an extend is understandable given that People Living With HIV/AIDS(PLWHA) are considered as being punished by God for either their sisns or those committed by their family. But when telling a lie to avoid stigma is a behaviour that is reinforced health professionals, I have reservations and clearly doubt how efficient this approach could be.
I am utterly convinced that a problem can only be solved if its root cause(s) is/are carefully tackled. As a young person living in a society where most PLWHA are young persons, I compare telling a lie on your HIV/AIDS status to survive to deliberately refusing to tackle the problem from it’s source and launching an attack on its leaves instead.
To reduce stigma in the most sustainable way possible, education rather than lies is required.Young People, their families, and the communities in which People on anti-retroviral drugs have to be educated on the dangers of stigma and on the importance of accepting PLWHA. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ Secretary-General, vividly spelt out society’s responsibility to PLWHA when he declared that, “We can fight stigma. Enlightened laws and policies are key. But it begins with openness, the courage to speak out. Schools should teach respect and understanding. Religious leaders should preach tolerance. The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care.”
Lies do nothing but contribute in amplifying the myth around HIV/AIDS in the Cameroonian society. People on anti-retroviral drugs do not need to lie on their status to survive stigma, they need to accept themselves as they are and deserve the care and protection that every other human being is due by the society in which they live.They deserve to live a real life and not a life of lies.
Apr 1, 2013
Mar 28, 2013
As the co-founder of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, I am a huge supporter of women expressing themselves creatively through the arts. Recently, R&B superstar Beyonce dropped a “buzz track” on her website—“Bow Down” to build attention around her upcoming album.
There have been many negative comments surrounding “Bow Down”. R&B singer Keisha Cole said via Twitter the song is anti-woman. Some women of color argue that “Bow Down” is a diss song. While others view it as anti-feminist.
I admit, the song is catchy, and completely unlike any songs Beyonce has sung in the past. It’s edgier, more hip-hop, and mature in terms of lyrics (with the use of the b word).
To me, I feel that “Bow Down” is Beyonce’s battle cry for independence. I feel that she is stating to the world she is no longer managed by her father, Matthew Knowles, who helped shape her perfect image in the past when everyone else “were little girls” who “dreamt of being in [her] world”. Beyonce is also trying to brush off haters who think that now her husband, Jay-Z, controls her. She wants the world to not “get it twisted” and bow down. Yes, Beyonce sounds crass using the b-word everywhere but I feel the song wouldn’t sound as edgy without it. I do not believe she is using the b-word to degrade women. I feel like she has chosen to use the b-word to set the tone of the song and let the haters know out there that she’s on a new level, and haters need to bow down!
Mar 27, 2013
Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change
“The fundamentally conservative nature of the marriage contract is why, I think, younger conservatives are growing more supportive of same sex marriage. Extending marriage rights to LGBT people does little or nothing to address the structure of oppressive family laws and values in society. It also does very little to change the core of the conservative agenda which is, fundamentally, about power and control. This is evidenced by the fact that young conservatives are increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage at the same time that they continue to be champions of austerity who are deeply opposed to public funding of critical safety net programs. And many are terrible on issues of race, equating black and brown people with destructively out-of-control sexuality, crime, and government debt. So their attitudes about LGBT people may have changed, but their worldviews remain pretty much the same. They’ve just let monogamous same sex couples off the hook for certain societal problems, which is essentially what they’ve been doing all along for heterosexuals who marry.
What appears to be leading to this “success” with young conservatives points to another of my concerns. By presenting LGB (I’ll leave off the “t” here) people as basically conservative in our demands, the most mainstream faction within the LGB movement is subtly positioning us as a model minority. And it’s working. Where once attacks against LGB people relied heavily on messaging that mirrored prejudices historically used against people of color (morally debased sexual predators and criminals seeking anti-American special rights), LGB people are increasingly understood to be all-American and fundamentally non-threatening. The sales job basically seems to revolve around the idea that if you let us in, nothing really changes. And, based on the demands at the center of this agenda, this is, to a degree, true.
Also troubling is my sense that the current strategies ignore something about marriage rights that ought to be obvious to anyone excluded from them, especially when that group is arguing that being excluded has real, material consequences. That is, that we are arguing to be able to use marriage as a shield against wrongs that no one, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, should suffer. No loved one should be excluded from survivors benefits and pensions, end of life decision-making, hospital visitation, and the many other family rights reserved for married couples. And when we argue that being able to wield this shield is a right we deserve because we conform with the values of good people, that shield can become a weapon against those who are still excluded.”
Scot Nakagawa, “Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change,” ChangeLab 3/25/13
Mar 26, 2013
Victoria’s Secrets newest addition of the “Bright Young Things” underwear line has sparked quite a controversy. Parents were outraged at the idea that the company would suggest to make a bra and panty line for young girls that bore suggestive phrases such as “Call ME” and “WILD ONE” across them. Although the “Bright Young Things” line is not geared towards pre-teens but merely an extension of Victoria’s Secret PINK colligate line, the conversations surrounding the outburst re-spark the seemingly forgotten subject of sexualization of young girls in the media. With images such as the once popular BRATZ dolls who bore skimpy clothing and stiletto shoes, Barbie dolls who have unobtainable size proportions and the unlimited number of female celebrities who parade around on stages scantily clad it is almost shocking that parents would be in such an uproar about the release of a “sexy” panty line from Victoria Secret. A company that is wealthy due to its production of lingerie and underwear should not be attacked for doing their job, especially when there are much bigger obstacles to tackle. Although I am excited that people have began to revisit the issue of teen sexualization, I feel as if the conversations should start out with parental guidance and lessons of self-love and respect for young girls opposed to jumping right into their pre-teen stages and possibly hindering their right to choose their own bra and panty sets.
Mar 25, 2013
After the Nov 11 2012 incident of the beating of a student allegedly found in a compromising position with another male, there was both local and international uproar. A few months later, the University of Technology, Jamaica, under partial funding from the European Union, launched the ‘Promotion of Respect, Tolerance and Diversity’.
The project, which targets mainly students and staff, is to address issues related to respect and tolerance of LGBT individuals.
The project should include public forums, researches and surveys, essay and art competitions, debates, and an information campaign among other activities.
The university is also in the process of creating a series of short courses for security guard companies to enrol in to sensitize their staff to the various issues they may face, and how to address them.
I do applaud the initiative, but my concern lies with the execution and information dissemination. As a student of the school, I had the opportunity to be getting the “out of media”, ”live” view of what was really happening on the ground. While the media highlighted the the great initiative by the school, we on the compound were lost. Blind. The only information given to us being what we saw in the media and the rumours that milled around. Rumours that “UTech was putting in a gay course that every one had to take or they wouldn’t graduate”, or that “UTech was conning us into loving gays” etc etc etc and the list went on. Of course, the lack of proper information and the rumours made the initiate a failed venture even before it started. A few weeks after, a mass meeting was held to clarify the rumours; from what I saw, too little, too late.
I won’t be here next semester to see how exactly this plays out, but I will be keeping close contact with my remaining schoolmates to see how everything will work out. I do, however, wish them the best, and hope everything works out amicably for all involved, and it will not be a waste of the $1.2 million donated by the EU.
Mar 23, 2013
Sure, the effect is small, but among both Democrats and Republicans, members of Congress tend to vote better on women’s issues if they have more daughters. Along the same lines, it’s instructive to look at which Republicans in the Senate voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Personal experience makes a difference even here.
Mother Jones - http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/03/members-congress-daughters-vote-better-womens-issues
Mar 20, 2013
— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice
Mar 19, 2013
The verdict is in! In the Steubenville rape trial of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, both were found guilty on counts of rape. Trent Mays was also found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Mays will have to serve a minimum of 2 years and Richmond a minimum of 1 year, and both may have to stay in juvenile detention until they are 21. It seemed a promising verdict that, for once and so rarely, a victim found justice in our legal system.
Unfortunately, however, many people felt differently about this verdict. After the verdict was announced, the CNN reporter Poppy Harlow and others felt necessary to talk about the boys’ wasted potential futures and how good of students they were with no mention of the victim. On top of this, thousands of people took to various social media sites with cruel responses towards the victim asking why she wasn’t charged with underage drinking, that she had brought this on herself and that she had ruined these 2 boys’ lives with her lying and manipulating to hide her own mistakes.
It is one thing to sit here and get angry that victim blaming and slut shaming is still alive and well in our country, but I am sick and tired of reading these responses towards people seeking help for the injustice done to them and watching as they are continually revictimized through our system. Now, we have learned that 2 girls in Steubenville have been arrested for threatening the victim’s life. Will the insanity never end?
We as youth activists and proponents of not, only sexual health, but the health of the youth we advocate for in all its forms should not stand for this. It is time as a generation and a community that we stand up and speak out against this problematic language. When you see or hear someone victim blaming or slut shaming, SPEAK OUT. Let people know that that kind of language will not be tolerated and how their harmful words negatively affects the community and people around them. This problem is not going away on its own, and it is time we did something about it.
Mar 17, 2013
Technology has become more integral to our daily lives, so it’s no surprise that millions use online dating websites and social apps in search of friendships, romance, and sex. This reality continues to bring individuals closer while removing personal communication as well as creating controversial news headlines.
For many LGBTQ youth, using their internet devices to interact with others is both convenient and comfortable, especially for those who are in the closet about their sexual or gender identity. While most of these youths are skilled at using electronics and social media networks, they are also unaware of the potential risks that come with meeting strangers and sharing extremely personal information.
Just recently, a 16-year-old Broward County student contracted HIV after having unprotected sex with two older men he met through a social app. Stories like this as well as rapes, abductions, and murders have been in the news, where young teens meet unknown persons through websites as popular as Myspace and Facebook, yet end in tragedy.
More than ever, it’s become a necessity for teens and adults to become informed about bullying, privacy, and sexuality so they can actively defend themselves from cyberbullying, predators, and sexually transmitted diseases.
As a young queer male, I’ve studied the habits of friends and pop culture trends. While South Florida has a rich network of resources for the LGBTQ population, a large portion prefer to join websites like Craigslist, Manhunt, Plenty Of Fish, BGCLive or download apps like Adam4Adam, Grindr, and Jack’d seeking a new friend, love, or a one night stand.
These websites and apps (especially those catering to LGBTQ persons) emphasize shallowness (you can filter users based their physical appearance, age, and ethnicity) and reinforce unrealistic social standards (many profiles will write phrases like “No Fats, No Fems, No Blacks, No Old”).
I don’t suffer from social anxiety or instant gratification and declare myself an online dating skeptic. In the past, I browsed these websites to understand the psychology of online dating and was shocked at how the members had no hesitation in revealing their partially or fully nude bodies and used explicit or unintelligent language in messages.
When I downloaded an app 2 weeks ago, I revisited the same behaviors I encountered on those sites, except it’s more invasive: you can see how many miles each user is from you. I was messaged daily from users aged 18 to 45, of various racial groups, hobbies, and intentions.
Not only did these last 2 weeks teach me that we’re too dependent on technology, but that it’s important to maintain meaningful and personal contact with each other. Online dating has its upside, but with the increasing lack of privacy and dangers associated with chatting to strangers, you never know who is on the other side of that laptop or iPhone.
We may be more connected than ever, but we must be more safe and protected than ever.
Mar 14, 2013
Steubenville “Rape Crew” Lawyers Argue that Silence is Consent
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows a few details about this case. A teenage girl was drinking at a party, was drugged, became unconscious, and now two guys are on trial for “allegedly” raping her. (Man, I hate that word.) This particular case caught national attention after the internet crew Anonymous unveiled some of the shady business surrounding the actual case. The self-proclaimed Steubenville “Rape Crew” recorded themselves after the alleged rape, describing that the victim had been drugged, urinated on, and raped. They also took photos of themselves with the victim and tweeted before and after the crime, implying that this assault was premeditated. But apparently being on the Steubenville high school football team puts you on a pedestal, and being the alleged rape victim is a greenlight for a slew of death threats and attacks. It’s another case in which we get a glaring view into sports and rape culture, and how blurred the line can be sometimes.
Originally, the attackers (Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond) were charged with kidnapping. They had been moving the victim from party to party without her consent. I’m sorry to say that those charges were now dropped. In response to the rape charges, the attackers’ lawyers have decided to argue that silence is consent even though the victim didn’t have the ability to say no or yes since she was drugged by her alleged rapists and was unconscious. The lawyers of course wanted the charges dropped completely, but the attempt failed. So, they decided that this was the next best course of action: to argue that she didn’t affirmatively say no. It’s okay. Take the time to move away from the computer and scream.
Here’s a bit of light in this situation: protesters have gathered outside the courthouse, local or otherwise, for #OccupySteubenville and Operation RollRedRoll to support “Jane Doe” and other victims of abuse. They describe their occupation for March 13-15:
This will be a SILENT OCCUPY. There will be NO sound system, NO microphones, NO music, and NO guest speaking. ALL attempts from anyone trying to set up equipment will be immediately shut down. WE must now give Lady Justice, who stands on top of the Jefferson County Courthouse, her chance to speak the VERDICT. In doing so, WE will allow our voices to become…SILENT. Only our signs and banners will speak what’s on our minds. Imagine…hundreds possibly thousands of masks, dressed up, remaining peaceful, while occupying in silence. This will be a MASSIVE Anonymous presence that will speak VOLUMES.
This will be a time of standing united, in our support of Jane Doe, with our Anonymous family. We will enjoy each other’s company and act like family.
This is YOUR chance to be creative and artistic in support for Jane Doe. Let your signs, banners, and shirts speak what’s on your mind. Be Creative. Be Positive. Make the statement that YOU want the world to READ. Imagery is worth a thousand words. Let us not forget that we are a peaceful people and we are here to respectfully and peacefully support Jane Doe. Regardless of the verdict…we will remain calm and we will remain peaceful.
Though some media responses to this trial has brought this case forward and revealed tons of supporters out there, other responses haven’t been the most helpful in ensuring true justice for the victim with headlines and descriptions of the attackers like “the almost-certain demise of their dreams of playing football” and articles like this, heavy with sports glorification and victim blaming.
In the words of SPARK activist Carmen Rios:
“When athletes are accused of rape – and this is not the first or, unfortunately, the last time – often their teammates and coaches will scramble to defend them. That’s wrong. Athletes receiving preferential treatment is not uncommon and is undeniable at schools across this country, and in the case of Steubenville the safe haven of a team ready to go up to bat to defend two rapists has effectively squashed discussion around the central problem of the case: it doesn’t matter who rapes, or who is raped. It matters that a rape has occurred and that it occurred on camera and on the Internet and with great pride and joy from those allegedly involved. It matters that when these boys were publicly scrutinized for this behavior, which is undeniably tasteless and violent behavior stemming from probably equally tasteless and violent attitudes toward women, their teammates and coaches defended them publicly and privately. It matters because the only way people learn is by being told the truth – and the truth is that Coach Saccoccia and all of the Steubenville Big Red team should have stood in solidarity with what is right, and not who they know.”
Let’s hope this trial ends fairly and with great justice for those who deserve it.
Mar 4, 2013
While browsing through my twitter page I came across an ad directed at teen mothers in NYC. While seeing this ad disgusted me; I was a little relieved that I had not seen it person in my city, Brooklyn. Not only is this ad extremely offensive (the Post calls it a “Tad” offensive), it has racist, classist and sexist undertones. The ad I saw featured a beautiful brown girl with big brown eyes and read “Honestly Mom… chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” It also quoted a statistic that 90% of teen parents do not marry each other. While this statistic can be shocking to most it also seems to continue to push the agenda of marriage and “nuclear” families among young people, something I wish this country would have let go of in the 1976 Reagan “Welfare Queen” era.
After further research, I discovered that this ad was part of a larger campaign created by the NYC Human Resources Administration. For an agency with the word “resources” in its name, it appears that they do not know how to use them very well. Especially considering the fact that the United States is preparing to undergo sequestration and they thought it wise to use government funding to disseminate disturbing, stigmatizing and shameful ads about teen mothers. Also considering the fact they are a “Human Resources” agency, I would think funds would be better allocated to real initiatives to help young mothers, such as creating real job opportunities for young moms and working with other agencies and organizations to provide childcare so that young women could support their families. It is resourceful to create life-size ads that basically say “Mom you suck for having me.”
While NYC has taken steps to improve the lives of young parents, like closing Pregnancy Schools after advocates insisted these institutions were in violation of Title IX, this initiative seems backwards. This is the same city responsible for the Living for the Young Family through Education program which provides free childcare around the city to help teen parents graduate from high school. In addition to these efforts, the NYC Department of Education mandated Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools in 2011 to decrease the rate of teen pregnancies, HIV and STIs among young people. However, many of the youth that I work with in Brooklyn still report receiving little to no sex education even after the mandate was placed into effect. Having grown up in Brooklyn my entire life and having never received formal sexual education, I know they are telling the truth.
So if you think scare tactics and shameful ads are going to work, think again. In fact it is just making the situation worse. I’m mostly concerned with who the agency talked to before creating these controversial ads. It definitely was not teen parents!! I wonder how agencies feel they can solve a problem without consulting the people on the ground and the young people with the “situated knowledge.” As a millennial of color, research shows that although my peers would like to decrease the rate of teen pregnancies, they also feel that society has a responsibility to provide young parents with the necessary resources and opportunities to lead healthy lives.
Lastly, I think these ads should be taken down, and the funding for this so-called Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Initiative should be redirected to organizations working to provide real comprehensive sexual education, access to contraception, teen parenting programs, affordable childcare and job opportunities for young people. Education, inclusion and empowerment is how we solve real issues not by attaching stigma to young people, especially young women!
Mar 4, 2013
Refusing to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané’s name says, pointedly, you are not worth the effort. The problem is not that she has an unpronounceable name, because she doesn’t. The problem is that white Hollywood, from Ryan Seacrest and his homies to the AP reporter who decided to call her “Annie” rather than her real name, doesn’t deem her as important as, say, Renee Zellweger, or Zach Galifianakis, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom have names that are difficult to pronounce–but they manage. The message sent is this: you, young, black, female child, are not worth the time and energy it will take me to learn to spell and pronounce your name. You will be who and what I want you to be; you be be who and what makes me more comfortable. I will allow you to exist and acknowledge that existence, but only on my terms.
“After being a part of The Real L Word, I learned of many other young LGBTQ people of color who were also in need of LGBTQ role models, a role I certainly couldn’t take on alone. So I wanted to create BlackOUT as a space were LGBTQ individuals can see themselves, people like them, experiences like theirs.”
“…But would it really be horror, Shayla? It’s 2013 in allegedly post racial America. Your president is Black for crying out loud. Wouldn’t that word just roll right off your back?
Quite the contrary. All that is precisely the reason why it doesn’t. A complete stranger has the ability to come along and remind you that, still, after all this time and all the progress you think you’ve made, people still hate you just because your skin is brown. And in an instance, with little more effort than it takes to breathe, can reduce you to absolutely nothing…”
No, really. It did.
Colleen Clark is an Illustrator and she made this awesome comic about body image. It’s short but it highlights the frustrating scale by which a person’s worth is measured. You’ve gotta be something, but not too much.
Mar 3, 2013
By Max Smith
Mar 1, 2013
I have had an abortion. Most people who know me know that. I’m very open about it and fervently pro-choice. I had to start my piece like this, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from. I’m not writing this post out of malice, but for educational purposes. I haven’t been able to find any other pieces on this subject, so maybe I’m wrong. If I am I would appreciate any readers to provide me with some cold hard medical facts. Okay?
Before my abortion I had a transvaginal ultrasound. This was in mid-2011, so before TVUs got famous. When I saw the device I was wary and my reaction was something along the lines of “woah what’s that? Do I have to have that because I don’t want it.” The woman said yes it was necessary for the procedure and she’s sorry. She didn’t say it was required by law or whatever, but that it was necessary. She didn’t show me the ultrasound or talk about it or even offer to. The whole thing was over in about two minutes. I had a surgical abortion at nine weeks and I was assured this was needed for my procedure.
Then eventually the TVU law proposals starting arriving and I was incredibly confused and hurt. Had something wrong been done to me? By that clinic? That clinic that saved my future? That clinic I was eternally grateful to? That clinic that advertises “comprehensive reproductive services in a supportive, nonjudgmental, knowledge-based environment?” That clinic that boasts that it has “the most experienced clinic staff in the region?” That clinic which is part of the National Abortion Federation?
All of these activists were and still are posting images of ultrasound wands with captions like “up mine? Up yours?” and talking about TVUs being a violation and comparing them to rape. This was/is really upsetting to me. I felt weirdly betrayed by my savior clinic. So I called them. I just briefly asked why they do TVUs and the clinic worker said because it was needed for the procedure. I felt pretty satisfied with that answer.
Of course I think this mandatory TVU legislation is terrible and wrong. It’s unethical for legislators with no medical expertise to be putting this into law. Since when are bills about medical procedure? Those are two entirely different fields. Where are the laws going into detail about thermometer or blood drawing procedure? Why is abortion any different? Why would a bill by those with no medical degree be dictating what practitioners do? Also, are states competing for the most ridiculous TVU bill? Now apparently there are bills requiring two TVUs.
Honestly I have not take part in this debate because it made me uncomfortable. The anti-choice side was clearly wrong, but for the first time I also felt the pro-choice side was wrong. They weren’t being outraged about the right things. They weren’t being outraged about why specifically this legislation was terrible instead they were just proclaiming TVUs were terrible. I don’t know why I’m talking in past tense. This is still going on. So, pro-choice activists are proclaiming that what is in some clinics vital to abortion is a violation and basically a desecration of human rights. They’re starting to sound like the anti-choicers to me. I mean what if legislators start listening? What if they start believing TVUs are a violation and try to ban them? What does that mean for the clinics that use them? Will abortion access become more difficult and expensive? Are these pro-choicers hurting the movement?
I’m working on expanding my knowledge. Nowhere on prochoice.org does it say TVUs are “medically unnecessary” like so many pro-choicers are claiming. This week I asked my abortion clinic for more in depth reasoning into their usage of TVUs. This was their response:
“There is no mandated law in TN that requires a vaginal ultrasound although they are trying to pass a law currently to require an ultrasound 24 – 72 hours before an abortion with the sound of a heart beat, verbal description of the u/s picture and a copy of the picture given to the patient. Here at [name removed] we routinely perform a vaginal ultrasound for patients who may be under 12 weeks and an abdominal ultrasound for patient who may be over 12 weeks. Because a patient can have missed a period and not be pregnant or can have a period and be pregnant, (it is possible to have periods all the way up until delivery) until we do an ultrasound we do not know for sure her gestational age. An accurate gestational age supports providing the best possible care for our patients. We do not however show her a picture, hear a heartbeat (which we don’t have the equipment for) or describe the u/s to the patient unless she requests it.”
Basically I’m demanding more education on this issue for everyone. Because honestly I’m offended that my supposed allies are telling me I was violated. It almost feels like they’re belittling rape. Why is it so difficult to find resources on this? Why can’t I find other articles with this viewpoint? Is it the abortion stigma? Are women not talking about it because they don’t feel comfortable talking about their abortion? Are abortion providers not coming forward so that they don’t disclose their profession and put themselves at risk? I’m concerned and I demand more information.
Mar 1, 2013
It passed with votes of 286 to 138.
The NY Times describes the legislation:
The newly passed legislation creates and expands federal programs to assist local communities with law enforcement and aiding victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Most notably, the bill goes further by offering protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse, as well as allowing American Indian women who are assaulted on reservations by non-Indians to take their case to tribal courts, which otherwise would not have jurisdiction over assailants who do not live on tribal land.
And who are the 138 representatives who voted against this?
Here’s the name and shame:
Feb 28, 2013
By now, everybody seems to have heard of the misogynist behaviour of Seth MacFarlane, the creator of 3 animated TV shows, each containing a loveable idiot, an attractive wife, a loser son, a daughter who hates him, a comically sized sadist, and a non-human best friend, at the Oscars on Sunday.
According to the Huffington Post:
Two female California state lawmakers have condemned Oscar host Seth MacFarlane’s comments during Sunday’s awards presentation as degrading toward women and asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to use better judgment in the future.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson…. sent a letter to Academy President Hawk Koch on Tuesday, requesting that the organization disavow MacFarlane’s behavior.
They objected to the comedian’s focus on the physical appearance of several actresses and quips about nude scenes.
“Furthermore, there was a disturbing theme about violence against women being acceptable and funny,” the lawmakers wrote. “From topical jabs about domestic violence to singing about `boobs’ during a film’s rape scene, Seth MacFarlane crossed the line from humor to misogyny.”
Fun fact, I used to be a fan of the show Family Guy, in fact, as a young wild-eyed progressive activist in college, I found a spirit animal (no pun intended) in Brian Griffin, the Prius driving, Michael Moore reading, anthropomorphic dog. However, we trans people, for almost THREE years now, knew of MacFarlane’s misogynistic tendencies, except in that episode “Quagmire’s Dad“, he made fun of transwoman, probably the most marginalized subset of women there are. A few of the most egregious offenses from that episode include:
1) At the beginning of the episode, Quagmire’s father, Dan, who becomes Ida, who is visiting Quahog, the town where the show is set, is portrayed as a stereotypically flamboyant effeminate gay male. When Quagmire asks if his father is gay, he reveals he came to Quahog for gender confirmation surgery. In reality, transition is a long and hard process, I have been out since 2009 and my male genitalia is STILL intact and I still have man-face, even though hormones have helped alleviate such. No surgeon would operate on someone who has not come out yet, and there is no way that someone would go into the hospital presenting as obviously male and come out looking and presenting female.
2) There was a scene where Ida comes over to the Griffin household for dinner and brings a dish, which, unbeknownst to her, gets thrown out, demonstrating a view that we are somehow diseased and that we should be marginalized. I see that incident also as a metaphor for my life as a transgender/LGBQ and progressive activist. I feel like any achievement I might have accomplished is thrown out like that casserole due to the fact that I am a strong-willed transsexual woman.
3) Towards the end of the episode, Brian Griffin, who is absent from the episode as a whole and is unaware of the happenings around Ida, meets her at a bar and then develops a sexual relationship with her. When he finds out that Ida used to be “Dan”, Brian proceeds to vomit for a full forty seconds, as if we are somehow disgusting. He also proceeds to wonder why the neighborhood hasn’t been notified, which plays into fears of transgender women being sex offenders.
The whole problem with this show and Seth MacFarlane’s misogyny, both trans and cis, is that he is NOT your stereotypical image of a misogynist. MacFarlane and Brian Griffin, who is used often as a soapbox for MacFarlane’s Bush-hating, pro-gay, pro-environment view, is a supposedly progressive minded person who appears to be someone who fights for the rights of all, yet harbors deep misogynistic (both cis- and trans-) views. At least with the religious right, you know who the enemy is, MacFarlane’s just an enemy posing as a friend.
And yet, to various degrees, there are a lot of Seth MacFarlanes in my world. They are the people who marginalize me, who pat me on the head and tell me “that’s a good little boy” and then ignores what I have to say. I’ve been ignored and looked at funny at rallies for public education, I’ve been misgendered by people whom I have shared a bus ride with to Harrisburg to fight for a common cause, I’ve even been asked why I am wearing women’s clothing AT AN ANTI-DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RALLY. Sadly, I have to say, these are not my people, and there are so few people that I am in my comfort zone dealing with, that it impedes any good I wish to do.
To all the people who are fans of Seth MacFarlane due to his edginess and his purported progressivism, please remember that if you base your views on social issues on his “comedic output”, you are marginalizing women, both cis and trans, and contributing to physical, emotional, and relational violence against us.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
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.”
“I suspect it’s difficult for men to imagine a world in which their bodies have long been inextricably linked to their value as an individual, and that no matter how encouraging your parents were or how many positive female role models you had or how self-confident you feel, there is an ever-present pressure that creeps in from all sides, whispering in your ear that you are your body and your body defines you. A world where, from the time of pubescence on, you can feel the constant and palpable weight of the male gaze, and not just from your male peers but from teachers and sports coaches and the fathers of the children you baby-sit, people you’re supposed to respect and trust and look up to, and that first realization that you are being looked at in that way is the beginning of a self-consciousness that you will be unable to shake for the rest of your life. Even if they are never verbalized, the rules of bodily conduct for females become clear early on: when school administrators reprimand you for the inch of midriff that shows when you lift your hands straight in the air or youth group leaders tell you that the sight of your unintentional cleavage is what causes godly young men to fall, you learn that your body is dangerous and shameful and that it’s your responsibility to cloister it in a way that is acceptable to everyone else. You learn that your body is a topic of public debate that everyone is entitled to weigh in on, from a male classmate telling you that those jeans make your ass look huge to the male-dominated United States Congress dictating the parameters that rape must fall within to be considered legitimate. To be a woman, and to live life in a woman’s body, is to be held to a set of comically paradoxical standards that make you constantly second-guess yourself and jump through a million hoops in pursuit of an impossible perfection.”
Feb 25, 2013
Quevenzhané Wallis, for those of you who haven’t been following the media buzz recently, is a 9 year-old-girl who is, in my opinion, a superhero. She’s one of those people you read about in magazines or see on TV and feel simultaneously impressed that they’ve accomplished so much at such a young age and terrible about yourself for being so comparatively inadequate. In her short life, she’s become the youngest Oscar nominee for Best Actress, stood up to people who refuse to pronounce her name correctly, and accumulated quite the collection of puppy purses (but seriously if anyone knows where to get one of those, please let me know because they are just about the cutest things ever). She’s also had to experience something completely unthinkable – being called the C-word.
From what I can gather, The Onion tweeted last night “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quevenzhané Wallis is kind of a c***, right? #Oscars2013″ as a satirical observation on our hyper-critical celebrity culture. Fine, okay, we realize that they weren’t ACTUALLY calling her the C-word, but it doesn’t change the fact that they specifically chose a 9-year-old black girl and called her arguably the worst word in the English language in order to make their point. They could have used any other universally adored, older acress (for example “Isn’t Jennifer Lawrence such a b****?!”) but they instead chose a 9-year-old black girl, someone who will have to put up with the patriarchy for her entire life, starting right now.
The Onion released an apology earlier today, but quite frankly, I’m not buying it. They can apologize to that little girl all they want, heck, they can go to her house and apologize in person, but it will never change the fact that they subjected her to a level of racism and sexism unfit for an adult, much less a child. Meanwhile, the author of that tweet is content to hide behind The Onion’s CEO as he makes an apology on behalf of the company, which shows, at least to me, that he’s not really sorry at all.
Feb 24, 2013
“Lasting beauty, never fades, embrace your body by using *****”
Advertisements are created with the purpose to convince people that the product is good for use to them. This point must be quick and direct, therefore in most cases these advertisement appeals or sends a sexual connection to an individual. This is done deliberately as humans react easily to sexual details as we are considered to be sexual beings.
The tag line in the first stanza highlights a section in a well known advertisement on television. Within this advertisement, much emphasis is place on the physic of the female body. Thus, in this advertisement it is easy to get a man’s attention to it as the using of women’s bodies and associate getting the woman if he buys the product. It is playing on his instinctive rather than intellectual view of the world. The advertisement spends no time discussing her qualifications for sexual desire — her mere existence is enough. No wonder, why so many of our young man in our society bleaches the skin. The advertisement promises a lighter skin hue and with its high level of sexual connection to the male gender they turn to the product. Then we say as a nation the young men have not found their identity thus they are not comfortable with their sexuality.
“Four men sit alone at the beach. Three beautiful women in bikinis walk by and ignore the men’s invitation to join them. The drink arrives. Immediately, those same women join the men, sitting on their laps or hugging them. Obviously, it was the drink that convinced the women that these men were desirable.”
After a male view this advertisement they are convinced that this drink is definitely going to give them that sexual appeal to woman that they so desire. Thus this advertisement would prove to be effective to the company that is advertising the product. Even though it is sending a false connotation to the male some males may not detect it that easily, as it arouses their sexual senses. No wonder you hear the popular saying “sex sells” in advertising ones business. These advertisers might play on an individual feelings; the desire to be sexually attractive; strong beautiful or healthy; to be a perfect example of masculinity or femininity.
IYSO Council Member
Feb 21, 2013
Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen To Host Event Encouraging Dialogue Around Educational Inequality
Who: Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen is an annual event designed to showcase female artists and use hip-hop to raise awareness around social issues.
What: This year’s event, titled ‘No Limits…Knowledge is Power!’ features female educators, students, activists, DJs, emcees, b-girls, poets, visual artists and dancers who will convene to advocate for comprehensive sexual education curriculum in all school districts, smaller class sizes and educational opportunities for all children.
When: Saturday, March 2nd, 2013, from 2pm-5pm ET
Where: Hostos Community College Main Theater
450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street
Media RSVP and Interview Requests: Kathleen Adams, email@example.com
For more information visit:
Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen (MHHK) is a multifaceted hip hop event designed to showcase women artists, especially women of color. MHHK serves as a social justice community-organizing platform that educates and empowers women of color on issues that impact their lives, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive justice. Our mission is to create a dynamic interactive exchange and safe space for all women of color to express themselves through art.
Feb 19, 2013
Yet another study that disproves that men and women are fundamentally different.
Everyone, throw out your copy of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. That book is a load of crap anyway. Anyone who has taken a gender studies class has known this. Yet the notion that men and women are inherently different still invades our culture. For some reason, people still look at gender as if it’s on a linear spectrum from point A to point B rather than gradations of several variables.
But lo and behold, yet another study backed up by the American Psychological Association delivers another credible opposition against the idea that men and women are so different from each other from how they act and think.
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology analyzes 122 different characteristics from over 13,000 individuals in 13 studies. The Journal is divided into three sections. According to the study, these sections are:
Attitudes and Social Cognition addresses those domains of social behavior in which cognition plays a major role, including the interface of cognition with overt behavior, affect, and motivation.
Among topics covered are the formation, change, and utilization of attitudes, attributions, and stereotypes, person memory, self-regulation, and the origins and consequences of moods and emotions insofar as these interact with cognition.
Of interest also is the influence of cognition and its various interfaces on significant social phenomena such as persuasion, communication, prejudice, social development, and cultural trends.
Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes focuses on psychological and structural features of interaction in dyads and groups.
Appropriate to this section are papers on the nature and dynamics of interactions and social relationships, including interpersonal attraction, communication, emotion, and relationship development, and on group and organizational processes such as social influence, group decision making and task performance, intergroup relations and aggression, prosocial behavior and other types of social behavior.
Personality Processes and Individual Differences publishes research on all aspects of personality psychology. It includes studies of individual differences and basic processes in behavior, emotions, coping, health, motivation, and other phenomena that reflect personality.
Articles in areas such as personality structure, personality development, and personality assessment are also appropriate to this section of the journal, as are studies of the interplay of culture and personality and manifestations of personality in everyday behavior.
“Although gender differences on average are not under dispute, the idea of consistently and inflexibly gender-typed individuals is,” Bobbi J. Carothers of Washington University in St. Louis and Harry T. Reis of the University of Rochester from the study explains, “That is, there are not two distinct genders, but instead there are linear gradations of variables associated with sex, such as masculinity or intimacy, all of which are continuous.”
Click to see the study here!
Feb 17, 2013
Feb 5, 2013
Due to a number of factors including my laziness, lack of interest and a lack of mastery of the art of tv show recaps, this is my first post about American Horror Story: Asylum. If you haven’t seen any of the seasons, put that at the top of your to-do list. It will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. Most things that fall into the horror category don’t scare me unless they are about twisted humans of the “Human Centipede”/”A Serbian Film” variety. That stuff makes me want to build a colony on Mars away from all the craziness. AHS on the other hand is just the right mix of crazy and mindf*ckery. Take for instance season one – You’ve got the haunted house, the maid who appears to be different ages to different people, the ghosts of all the people who died in the house, the cute boy who always seems to get into the house no matter whether the doors are locked, mixed in with pop culture murder history like the Black Dahlia killing and Richard Speck murders. At one point I began to question my sanity. I kid you not. I do not recommend watching an entire season in one sitting.
Anyhoo, AHS: Asylum is set in Briarcliff Mental Institution, then run by the Catholic Church, and switches back and forth between the 1960s and present day. It begins with a young couple visiting the now abandoned Briarcliff on one of their many haunted house, honeymoon stops. Why couldn’t they just go to the Bahamas like normal people right? Just so I don’t spoil it, bad things happen and the viewers are taken back to 1964, when a serial killer by the name of “Bloodyface” has killed a number of women and skinned them. Around the same time, a newly married inter-racial couple, Kit and Alma Walker, are visited by a strange white light, after which Kit awakes to find his wife missing and himself blamed for the Bloodyface murders.
Enter Lana Winters, journalist and aspiring pioneer of whatever the hell she aspires to be. Lana is a lesbian and lives with her girlfriend Wendy, a school teacher. She visits the Asylum the day Kit is being committed under the guise of writing a story about the bakery. The bread didn’t look at all tasty but well…Lana’s visit does not end well and she ends up herself committed at Briarcliff with no one to help her. Sister Jude, who oversees the institution has threatened to out Lana and her girlfriend and Wendy is scared. I’m really bad at telling stories so I should probably stop now and get to the point. I get my long-windedness from my mother’s side. See?
Let’s just say that I liked the fact that AHS: Asylum explored not only issues of inter-racial relationships – which were at one point illegal – but also, LGBT issues. We didn’t just poof out of thin air y’all. We were always here. In one episode, Dr. Thredson, a consulting psychiatrist, tries Aversion-Conversion therapy on Lana, with the purported aim of helping her get out of there. If she continued to insist that she was gay, she would remain committed because the holier-than-thous of Briarcliff were determined to cure her. And because Lana is sick and tired of Briarcliff and its inhumane conditions, she agrees to try it.
The therapy basically consisted of attempts to recalibrate the sources of her sexual urges. That’s the best way I can think to explain it right now. Thredson had her watch slides of nude women while an IV fed a vomit-inducing drug into her system, in order to ingrain the message of repulsion. He also had a male patient come in and ordered Lana to touch his penis while simultaneously touching herself. What a degrading experience. Makes me wonder if practices like these are employed by so-called gay conversion therapists.
Despite everything, Lana came out on top. She wrote a book about her experiences in Briarcliff and with Bloodyface, and became a national sensation for her journalistic exposés. Plus she cheated death a bunch of times. I can’t discuss it any further without revealing some really good bits. Almost everyone had a peaceful ending, but she was the last one standing. And boy! Did she go out with a bang.
Now go watch all the available episodes of AHS! You can thank me later.
Jan 28, 2013
Call me crazy, call me backward and repressed due to my education and culture because I was born and breed in a highly religious yet corrupt nation like Nigeria. Call me stupid and call me unsophisticated…call me what you will.
But whoever called parents irresponsible, unknowledgeable, unconcerned for the welfare and self esteem of their daughters at Abercrombie and Fitch must have a very crappy relationship with their daughters.
Whoever heard of push up bikinis for & year olds? Why would someone think up of a ridiculous thing like that? It’s bad enough that seven and eight year olds are given bikinis to where, but then create one that’s supposed to attract male attention and make them feel insecure because they don’t have anything to push up? Now that’s just terrible!
I know it’s an old story, but it also calls to attention to this day that companies who target sex and sexuality at young kids should be sanctioned. Why would anyone even consider a product like that? Talk about pushing the boundaries of offering your kid to the pedophile who hangs around the beach on a silver platter.
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 27, 2013
I once read a book in high school involving a sequence of events that highlighted a certain detective’s fight against sexual offenders interested in the participation of child as sexual objects physically while they filmed the act and distributed it to the black market. At one time, the detective watched a video where this poor little girl was cajoled into entering the pool or hot tub with this man, where he did things to her, and subsequently ended her life – while still in the water with him. That is how I recalled that book. And I pitied the detective. I felt so sorry that he had to see that and he was unshaken. I felt sorry for him that he’d spent years of his career seeing things like that as a pice of his soul chipped away when he saw young, innocent 6 years old being used, abused and murdered for some pervert’s pleasure and entertainment.
The possession of and distribution of child pornography is a criminal offense, so says the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
The child is groomed, in some instances to deliberately befriend and establishing an emotional connection with the child, to lowering their inhibitions, preparing them for the sexual activity to come. Exploiting their innocence. Damaging them, maybe irrevocably.
In Nigeria, it is the common belief that the sexual exploitation of a child, or at least a minor is often done in the hands of someone the child knows well, or at least, someone with access to the child without the reservations of the family. What’s worse, it is sometimes seen as the norm.
When I was a little girl, my best friend Anna and I knew this man who would always try to grab us and take us inside as a way of playing with us. He never caught me, but Anna did mention that the one time he drag her to his room, he tried to touch where she usually used to go to the bathroom to pee. We never thought anything of it; we even thought he was a bit strange, playing with little girls almost twenty years older than he was. Now that I think about it, if I were Anna’s mom, that guy would be missing the part of his body his kids would come out from.
In a country where some cultures have no problem with marrying still developing young girls, its not hard to find things like this happening. I am just thankful that we were somewhat protected (believe it or not) and weren’t exposed to worse violations.
The fact was, we didn’t know any better. And I am glad that more twisted things didn’t happen. But every day, one hears news about some poor girl being molested and abused by her father, or uncle or cousin and nothing being done about it. In Nigeria, I’m sure if women compared notes about growing up and the role of sex was assessed, we’d be really shocked about the similarities we had and forgot about.
Sometimes…playing isn’t just playing. Man has a dark side to them. And I hope our children never get to see the extent of which the darkness can reach. If they do, what innocence would we find, then.
Jan 18, 2013
“We realize that transitioning isn’t for everyone. However, too many people make “regret” claims that simply aren’t true. Take a look.”
Jan 15, 2013
A little girl about 7 years old kissing a veranda post (like making out) can be pretty hilarious but what does a little girl know about making out as much as kissing? Many of our young girls aren’t girls anymore but girls that think and behave like women and in some instances even girls who are forced to become women at an early age. It becomes quite scary when we look around us and see the countless numbers of young girls who become pregnant and stop school. The real problem of course is not pregnancy but whether that pregnancy is desired or not, planned or unplanned. When my friend told me about the little girl kissing the veranda post, it made me laugh but then I realized that as funny as that scene might have looked, there is a great problem when we see our children acting and doing things that are quite inappropriate for their age. Part of the problem is due to the media which for the most part revolves around sexuality portraying it as something simply physical and superficial. The media influences the way we think and behave mainly because how we see things influences our attitudes and behaviors. But apart from the media children also learn from their parents and the kind of environment adults create in the home. Whether children see the world as trustworthy or dangerous largely depends on their surroundings and in many instances parents fail to correct the misconceptions that are portrayed by the media. Our children are our future and their decisions regarding their sexuality and that of others are very important considering the situation of our world at present – a world where sexual and reproductive health issues are at the top of the list. Perhaps sexuality is not the best topic to talk about with children but at some point they have to know certain things that are crucial for their survival especially when diseases like HIV/AIDS and STI’s do not discriminate. Like Maya Angelou said, “When you know better you do better.” So as grown ups, let us do our best to teach our children the right things and be for them an example to follow and in the process educate ourselves in this ever-changing world.
Jan 14, 2013
Demand an apology from The Guardian for publishing hate speech
Julie Burchills piece on Comment is Free (Jan 2013) (In response to Suzanne Moores also disgusting comments on CiF) is nothing more than a transphobic hate speech. We call on The Guardian to apologise for publishing a piece which delegitimises the identity of trans* people and incites hatred towards them. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, discrimination against trans* people is unlawful. Lets not let the Guardian get away with publishing pieces of such a disgusting transphobic nature.
AMENDED: The comment is published by the Observer (Guardians sunday paper). It is however on the Guardian Online and therefore they should also be issuing an apology.
Jan 13, 2013
Click on the link to see the images in full!
Jan 9, 2013
No one is a slut. “Slut” is a made-up word to keep women from having as much fun as men. A person who enjoys sex is just a person and a person who is a virgin is also just a person and everyone should lay off each other’s sex lives. Retire the word “slut” please.
From the article: 20 Things We Need to Stop Talking About in 2013
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 18, 2012
By Jordan Craven
I’m pretty sure we’re all familiar with the dishonorable Todd Akin; you know, the one who thinks a woman’s body will prevent pregnancies in the event of a rape? Yeah, well he’s not the only one misinformed about sex.
Read it and weep. This survey from the Bristol Youth Project has shown that many young men and women still do not understand what ‘consent’ really means.
Well? What is consent? Good question. First of all, consent is more than just saying yes (or no). If you are not comfortable with having sex with someone, no matter how long you may have known them, you DON’T have to have sex with them. No joke. If you want to stop having sex while having sex, as disheartening as it may be to the other party, you still have the right to call it quits. Sex, like many have said over and over, should be something you cherish or enjoy, not something you must endure.
As for the ones who are a little too pushy about having sex… Stop it right now. There is never at time, ever, that it is okay to force someone into having sex with you. Like, never ever. Rape is very real, and it happens to people all the time. If the other person shows any inkling of NOT wanting to have sex (and yes, that includes: fellatio, cunnilingus, analingus, or anything that involves sexual gratification), then, sorry pal, you’ve lost your pass. No means no (even if “no” was never said, but implied).
Communication is always important in any relationship involving sex, whether it be a one-night-relationship, or a long-term one. Always communicate what you want and what you don’t want. If the feeling isn’t reciprocated, well, that’s OKAY. If you’re not sexually pleasured, that doesn’t mean you’ll die. That just means you’ll be solo for the night… and honestly, we all know it wouldn’t be your first time on your own.
For the sake of learning, let’s role play.
Assume you’ve been out at the bar with a few of your friends. One of them has shown previous interest in you before, but neither of you have acted on it. Somehow, the both of you end up at the bar alone. A little drunk, you suggest it’s time to take a cab home. Both of you get in the cab, drive to your place, and walk inside. It’s too late to walk home, so your friend asks to stay the night; you oblige. You both talk, things get a little heavy, and before you know it, you’re putting the moves on. But wait! Are you still drunk? No? That’s good, you can make decisions. Cool. Oh, but your partner is still a little out of it? Hmm. Here lies the problem.
To give consent, you need to be ABLE to give consent. Both parties need to be sober & fully capable of letting the other know that “yes, it is okay to have sex with me” (granted, they may be a tad more suave in their wording, but you get the point).
Another point to be made, is body language. Does your partner seem like they want to consent? (Do you want to consent?). Saying just yes or no doesn’t cover it. Make sure, before you indulge in any intercourse or sex act that your partner isn’t just saying yes to please you; make sure they really do want to have sex. If your partner seems timid, shy, or reserved then they may not be ready. Talk first. Ask questions, and let them know that saying “no” is a real option.
Like I said before, sex should be enjoyable, not something you must endure. If you or anyone you know has been forced/coerced into having sex, then please report it. There are plenty of people out there willing and able to help you or your friends. No one should have to tolerate sexual abuse.
So, to all the previously uninformed young men and women (you too Todd), consider yourself informed & make sure you understand what consent really means.
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 11, 2012
Looking for a comic to read but tired of all the heterosexual characters and overall lack of le sexy times, emotional angst and slice-of-life realness? Look no further! Khaoscomix has your answer.
I’m an avid comic reader, and as much as I love me some Ultimate Avengers, New X-Men, and Cyanide & Happiness, sometimes I just want to read something I can sink my teeth into. I did a quick search online for queer comics and most online users vouched for Khaoscomix. I began to read, and I. Was. Hooked.
The series follows the lives of 8 young people, who all hang in the same circle. There’s Steve and Mark, best friends who fall in love with each other; Amber and Nay (pretty much the same thing); Tom, an FTM transman; Charlie an MTF transwoman; Alex, another gay, young man who falls for Tom; and lastly there’s Jamie, friend to Steve and Mark, and consequent boyfriend to Charlie.
When I first started to read it, it reminded me of Advocates own “I Think I Might Be…” series of booklets for LGBTQ youth. Here are 8 young people struggling to come to terms with their sexualities and for Jamie, the abuse he had suffered as a child, and with the way the narration it’s set up, it’s like having someone tell you their story.
Be advised that the side stories are mostly of a sexual nature and hence are highly NSFW. If you’re interested, you can start here with Steve’s story.
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 29, 2012
This piece was originally published in the Harvard Crimson by Reed McConnell and Kate Sim. Reed and Kate are Advocates for Youth Campus Organizers through the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective (IWRC).
Angie Epifano’s recent account of sexual assault at Amherst College brought national attention to the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. In an article, she described reporting her sexual assault to the Amherst administration and the administration’s egregious response to her case—which included institutionalizing her against her will and refusing to allow her to study abroad, all while making no effort at all to punish her rapist.
At about the same time, we joined with other Harvard students to start a campaign on campus called Our Harvard Can Do Better. To encourage Harvard to re-examine its sexual assault policies and practices, the campaign put a referendum on the recent Undergraduate Council ballot calling for reform in sexual assault policy. The overwhelming student support that this referendum generated (it passed with 85 percent of the vote) suggests that undergraduates are alarmed at aspects of Harvard’s policy, including the use of the phrase “mental incapacitation” without an explanation of exactly what this means and Harvard’s lack of a policy of affirmative consent.
However, while the referendum was mainly policy-driven, what lies at the heart of sexual assault issues on campuses everywhere is the ubiquity and persistence of rape culture, a societal attitude that delegitimizes sexual violence and predisposes people to excuse rapists. Furthermore, this culture creates a general understanding of sexual violence that is limited to heterosexual relationships, thereby delegitimizing non-heterosexual violence. Unfortunately, rape culture is an inescapable aspect of American life today.
A central feature of rape culture is that the main burden of rape prevention is put on potential victims rather than on potential perpetrators, and alleged instances of this can be found on our campus. For example, Johany Pilar, who works in the Freshman Mailroom, told students and coworkers last month that she was sexually harassed at work. Pilar says that when she reported this, she was told that it was probably because she gave too many hugs. This is a prime example of victim-blaming, which happens when people suggest that victims are assaulted because they have not “done enough” to prevent assault. This focuses attention away from the fact that the aggressor acted by their own volition. And unfortunately, stories like Johany Pilar’s—stories that demonstrate the ways in which sexual assault is normalized and explained away in our society—are all too common.
Rape culture is real at Harvard, and is perhaps even more pervasive on campus due to Harvard’s history as an all-male institution. We reinforce rape culture through the ways that we conduct ourselves every day, especially through our language. Trivializing rape with phrases such as “that exam raped me” subtly changes our understanding of sexual assault so that we think of it in a lighthearted way, and strips the word “rape” of much of its meaning until it does not reflect the enormity of the violence that so many experience. This trivialization, in turn, contributes to a culture that does not acknowledge the presence of rape in our communities—leading us to question the veracity of victims’ experiences.
Furthermore, saying things that express public or male control of people’s bodies, especially women’s, shifts the way that we understand bodily agency. People subtly reinforce the idea that women’s bodies exist to be commented upon and dominated through everyday speech. For example, they might tell a woman that she should be grateful when a stranger on the street comments on her body, criticize women for wearing either not enough clothing or too much clothing, or suggest to men that the only important outcome of an interaction with a woman is whether they sleep with her. Statements and suggestions like these cause women to feel less autonomy over their bodies, and pressure men to speak about women in a way that implies domination and conquest on their parts. This distortion of our public understanding of who has control over bodies, and to what level they hold that control, is another important way in which rape culture is reinforced.
We all perpetuate rape culture when we fail to speak up against victim-blaming and slut-shaming comments. However, the fact that we all reinforce this culture means that we also can all take part in dismantling it.
Next Tuesday, there will be a rape culture speak-out, a gathering of people dedicated to creating a safe space in which they can share their experience with rape culture and listen to the voices of others. Our hope is that the speak-out will provide an opportunity not only to validate our experiences but also to demonstrate the solidarity and support that we feel for each other. The speak-out will allow us to recognize that our experiences with rape culture are not isolated incidents, but rather a collective struggle. We hope that through hearing these personal narratives of pain, struggle, and resistance that are so often silenced, students at Harvard will begin to rethink some of their behaviors, and that we can all move toward a common discourse and set of behaviors that are conscious, thoughtful, and productive in dismantling rape culture.
Reed E. McConnell ’15 is a social anthropology concentrator in Quincy House. Kate Sim ’14 is a joint social studies and studies of women, gender, and sexuality concentrator in Quincy House.
Nov 29, 2012
In the awesome section today of nerd news today, here is a post I found on Tumblr, critiquing the less than realistic posing on the cover issue of Amazing Spider-Man #601 by J Scott Campbell. I’ve seen a lot of threads discussing the rampant sexualization of female comic characters and superheroes through posing and costuming, but I really like this one because there are men joining in on the conversation. My Spider senses are tingling and I can sense some people telling me to go natter about something else. But you know what? This is a “Stripperiffic trope”, tropes are an important thing to notice and counter when standing against misogyny and sexism, and it’s important to me so, BOOM!
Nov 27, 2012
In today’s disturbing news, a man in Oregon had his daughter pose with a car he was trying to sell on ebay, in hopes of boosting the sales. It sounds pretty harmless when it’s phrased that way. “Awwww she’s helping her Daddy sell stuff!” NOPE. Wait until you see the snaps.
Yup. That’s his daughter. The dad in question, one mister Ridley, told Adfreak that he often uses “sexy photos” of his daughter and her friends in advertising for his products, in order to move business along – “If I felt bad about it, I wouldn’t do it,”. I have so many feelings about this, and most of them consist of me staring slack-jawed and flabbergasted at the screen. It’s a troubling situation, especially considering his response to some of the prospective buyers’ comments about the young lady
I was expecting outrage over the fact that his daughter was called a porn star, and even worse, the fact that the commenter basically insinuated that the young woman was property like the car. But “sure”? I have no words.
Nov 26, 2012
The first time I ever read about Metrosexuality I was in high school. A popular modern women’s magazine in Nigeria discussed the topic on the very last page of one month’s issue, pointing out that metrosexuality was simply a case where men developed better grooming habits and dressed more sharply. From my perspective, the western concept of metrosexuality has slowly shifted to become the norm. Well, not completely. There are still those people who insist on classifying others by the way that they dress. Fashion still plays a big part in how a person’s presentation is received by society. For instance, while it is generally accepted that the younger generation pays a lot more attention to appearance and are a lot more fastidious in their health practices, it is still quite common for people to declare a man ‘gay’ because he wears skinny jeans and scarves.
And this is why I love South Korean and Japanese men. I can’t speak for the men of other Asian countries because I haven’t observed the same phenomena in those cultures. Indian men, as far as I know, still present in the traditional masculine way. Salman Khan anyone? Hrithik Roshan? Shahid Kapoor?
L-R: Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan, Shahid Kapoor
South Korean singers and actors however, are another kettle of fish entirely. I admire the way that they dress and take care of themselves, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the fact that they don’t let the western ideals of masculinity interfere with their Hallyu swag. Over here, we have men so concerned with their masculine presentation that they don’t go to the doctor because according to man logic, healthcare equals pampering so “Nuh uh! I’m just going to treat this gash I got from a buzz saw by myself because Bhagwan forbid that I should be perceived to be taking care of myself”. At first it was shocking to see so many pretty men in the Korean dramas and music videos, and I was further confused by the fact that there were so many women screaming their heads off. “You mean to tell me that women actually like these men who are prettier than some of them?”. But then, I caught the fever and I have been screaming my head off along with the other fangirls ever since. Personally, the fact that a man is so comfortable with his sexuality that he constantly erases the lines between gender presentation is a giant turn-on. It’s a refreshing change from the constant assumptions and constricting gender roles.
Recently, a young Asian-American woman expressed her discomfort with what she called “the feminization of Asian men”. Is that what we’re doing by constantly recognizing the sex appeal of these men? I can totally see where she’s coming from given the fact that up until a few years ago, Asian men hardly registered on the western radar in terms of hotness. If they were mentioned at all, it was amidst discussion about Kung-Fu or Bollywood. But hey! This is only my perspective.
Nov 25, 2012
Omg. You can’t just ask people why they’re ignorant.
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.
Nov 2, 2012
THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO DECEMBER 7th
Boom. The International Youth Leadership Council is looking for college students in the DC metro area to apply to be new council members to start this January.
Need some background?
Advocates for Youth sponsors a project called the International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC), which is designed to develop youth leaders in the areas of international sexual and reproductive health and rights, abortion access, global HIV and AIDS, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and other sexual orientation and gender identity rights. The Council currently consists of seven members who are a diverse group of young people with backgrounds from around the world. Members attend colleges or universities in the Washington, DC Metro area.
IYLC members work with the staff of the Policy Department and The Youth Activist Network to increase U.S. support and leadership for improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights globally and domestically. As members of the council, they develop an understanding of a broad range of issues, including international family planning; maternal health and adolescent maternal mortality; gender inequality; harmful traditional practices, such as child marriage; HIV and AIDS; and LGBT rights. They in turn become familiar with related U.S. domestic and foreign policy, and international agreements that address youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Throughout the school year, council members serve as youth educators, advocates, and spokespeople on sexual and reproductive health issues and polices that affect young people around the world. They organize campus events, utilize online and traditional media outlets, conduct educational workshops, attend conferences, and lobby policy makers at the national and international level.
-opportunities to shape policy from the local to international level
-resources to mobilize your communities
-meet some pretty fantastic people
Be a part of a movement to make youth voices heard!
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
Oct 19, 2012
Oct 7, 2012
Each year over 120 youth activists gather in Washington, D.C. to share expertise with one another and Advocates for Youth staff; learn about the latest findings and legislation that affect reproductive health; participate in trainings; and make a commitment to be lifelong advocates for young people’s reproductive and sexual health and rights. Then they head to Capitol Hill to educate their representatives on why comprehensive sexual health education is so important for young people.
Groups attending the conference included:
1 in 3 Organizers. These college students attend a special pre-conference where they will learn how to support abortion rights through sharing women’s stories. This year, the groups attending the Urban Retreat included:
State Youth Activist Councils from Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, and South Carolina. Working with partner organizations, these groups of young people will motivate for comprehensive sex education and other important youth rights at the state and community level.
Campus Organizers. These students at colleges and universities organize their fellow college students to work for youth reproductive and sexual health and rights.
International Youth Speak Out members from Jamaica, Nepal, and Nigeria lead councils in their home countries to promote youth inclusion and youth sexual health and rights.
International GLBT Health and Rights advocates work for the rights of LGBT people in their home countries.
International Youth Leadership Council members are US-based college students who advocate on behalf of young people in low and middle income countries.
Young Women of Color Leadership Council members advocate for HIV prevention and reproductive justice and the inclusion of young women of color in prevention programs.
YouthResource members advocate for LGBT rights in their communities and provide peer education and support to LGBT young people.
It’s a diverse gathering, but these young people all have one thing in common: they are fierce, motivated activists working hard to make youth voices heard!
“I had such a wonderful time in DC (like always) advocating for Reproductive Justice and being around such amazing young leaders in our country! Urban Retreat always reminds me that I am never alone in this fight!” – Bree, Young Women of Color Leadership Council (more…)
Aug 1, 2012
1Flesh is a new online organization promoting the message that condoms and hormonal contraception are ineffective at preventing STDs/STIs and unintended pregnancy as well as being harmful to the health and relationship of a couple. They believe that people should not have sex before they are married, and then should use a method of “birth control” called the Creighton Model, which is really just a suped-up version of the Rhythm Method (despite how much they tried to convince me otherwise).
This is part three of an in-depth interview I conducted by e-mail with Anna Buckley of 1Flesh, from July 15- 19. All of their responses are printed in full and unedited. My response and criticism can be found below.
1) What kind of government involvement, if any, is appropriate when it comes to sex education?
Tough question. The government has recently become involved with what for all time has been considered an intensely familial matter.
We imagine that a daughter told by her mother that she is beautiful, loved, of infinite value, worth a man who will cherish her as such, and that sex is a positive good and a total gift of self oriented in its nature and chemistry towards "forever," would be more likely to make holistic sexual choices and achieve inner happiness than if by watching a Planned Parenthood employee put a condom on a banana.
Similarly, we believe that a father telling his son that he is proud of him, that he loves him, that sex is a positive good and a total gift of self oriented in its nature and chemistry towards "forever," that it is no manliness to use women for pleasure, but it’s epically manly to sacrifice your desires for the good of your beloved, and to seek the woman who you will promise to be with forever, and once that promise is made, then fulfill that promise with your entire body in the act of sex — We believe this would be — in the long run — far more effective than being shown a slideshow of diseased penises and getting free rubbers from your gym teacher.
However, we’ve created a culture of awkwardness between parents and their kids, to the point where this discussion has become a far scarier one to have than it should be. We are inundated with the culture’s idea of sex from a young age, and thus parents feel like they’re competing with everything cool in a kid’s life. Want to talk to your son about this when he turns 12? 11 is the average age a boy is exposed to hardcore pornography. Want to tell your daughter her body is valuable and beautiful? She’s already seen the female body used to sell cars on TV.
So if the government is to be involved in sex education, we believe it should be finding people who can effectively speak against the current sexual culture that’s making everyone miserable. Maybe Obama could help us out. After all, he speaks very effectively on the importance of families staying together, and of fathers resisting the easy route of divorce and instead being present for their wife and children, to which we tip our hats.
2) Do you believe sex education courses belong in schools? If so, and if you were able to write the curriculum, what would you include?
See previous question. Add to it teaching the Creighton MODEL to girls.
3) As part of sex education classes, you would recommend the Creighton Model be taught to girls. If the boys in the class will presumably one day be married to women, isn’t it important for them to be familiar with the Creighton Model as well?
Absolutely. You’ve got fantastic ideas: Teach it to boys and girls — perhaps not together, as there could be a maturity gap in the discussion of things like luteal phases and mucus patterns — and watch the male respect of the intricacy and beauty of the female body soar.
4) You refer to girls as having "infinite value." How do you define this phrase? And is the same true for boys?
The value of the human person is immeasurable, priceless, and infinite. We hold this truth to be self-evident, that the value of all else pales and bows before the value of a single human life. And yes, the same is true for boys.
5) In your ideal conversation of how mothers talk to their daughters about sexuality, you say that girls are "worth a man who will cherish her as [having infinite value]." To me, this phrase suggests that her value is her virginity and her ability to become pregnant. I agree that every person deserves to have a partner (if they want one) that loves and cherishes them, and treats them well. But I don’t believe that virginity or fertility are the reasons someone deserves to be valued and treated well.
We had no intention of suggesting that a girl’s value is her virginity and her ability to become pregnant. That’s ridiculous. Girls are worth men who will cherish them as having infinite value for the simple reason that they are girls. That they are human persons. Dignity and infinite worth are products of being a human person, and girls — who are so often bombarded with the idea that their worth depends on being "hot", being productive, having sex, making children, being popular, being rich, etc. — need to be affirmed by their lovers in this manner: "You are of infinite value to me because you are."
6) Do you think it’s important for religion to be included in sexuality education?
No. Then again, we’re a little confused why it’s so important for the government to be involved with sex education, but whatever.
7) How does information of and access to condoms increase the chance of someone -who wants to remain abstinent- having sex?
There’s folks way more qualified to answer that question, so we’d again refer you to the following study.
Response and Criticism
1) The Federal Government has been involved with funding sex education programs, unfortunately giving hundreds of millions of dollars to abstinence-only programs that are proven failures. But there’s been no federal law about what is taught in these classes. Some states don’t require sex ed be taught at all. And the curriculum for sex education programs are decided largely by the school districts with consideration for community input.
Also, were you serious when you said that telling your child they’re loved is more effective at achieving a positive, health sexual outlook and practice than learning how to prevent STDs and pregnancy? I agree that the female body is often objectified in media, but, if anything, wouldn’t that make it easier to talk to your child about body image and sexual autonomy since you have so many accessible, cultural examples to make your point?
2) Much more on the Creighton Model later!
3) Since I don’t think you’re suggesting that the Creighton Model should start being taught in 5th or 6th grade (where they wouldn’t understand it anyway) or in jr. high (see how far you get talking about cervical music to a room of 13 year olds), I don’t think that a maturity gap is what you should be worried about.
4) If the term “infinite value” has the same meaning for boys as it does for girls, why have both times you said it, you’ve applied it to girls, especially considering that you made the choice to use different language for boys?
5) It’s a nice thought, but there’s no denying that girls are held to a much higher standard of “purity” than boys.
7) This link is to the Duke study, described above. If 1Flesh doesn’t feel they’re qualified to answer this basic question, I guess I’ll jump in. Knowing how to use a condom will not magically make a person who has chosen to be abstinent change their mind and make sex a “habit.” Sex is a personal and consensual choice. Just because I have a life-jacket doesn’t mean I’m going to go water skiing.
Next Up, in pt. 4: Sex
Jul 31, 2012
Issues of early marriage and young pregnancies to improve reproductive and sexual health among young people.
Early marriage can have devastating impact on girls’ lives. It can adversely affect their physiological and psychological health leading to gender-based violence, school dropout, makes them prone to sexually transmitted diseases and also to pregnancy-related complications.
Beyond the physical trauma, child brides suffer from post-traumatic stress, experiencing feelings of helplessness and depression.
Although the legal age of marriage is 20 for both male and female, it is hardly implemented in Nepal
According to Muluki Ain marriage chapter, the legal age for marriage is 20 for both male and female since 2010 or 18 where the marriage is solemnised with the consent of guardians.
About 55 per cent women aged 25-49 were married by the age of 18 in 2011, according to Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS).
The percentage is said to be second highest in South Asia after Bangladesh where it is 66 per cent. Likewise, 18 per cent of women aged 25-49 years in Nepal are married by the age of 15.
Women in Nepal get married at a fairly young age — the median age of marriage for women aged 25-49 in 2011 was 17.5 years.
Only 19 per cent of men in the same age group are married by 18 years of age and the median age at first marriage for men aged 25-49 is 21.6, four years later than women, NDHS reported.
As per the survey, only two per cent of Nepali women aged 25-49 years had given birth by the age of 15, while 23 per cent gave their first birth by the age of 18.
At One Of the Health Conference Mangala Manandhar, senior public health officer at Family Health Division at the Health Ministry, said the government has been launching various programmes like family planning, safe motherhood, safe abortion services and social mobilisation through Female Community Health Volunteers to address the issues of early marriage.
According to her, the Health Ministry is working with the Ministry of Education to incorporate reproductive health issues in the school .
The government also said to be working to decrease adolescent fertility rate from 98 to 78 by 2015.
………………..Ministry of Education & Health Ministry should not Delay on the matter Of ’Preventing early marriage for better health among women’ ……….
…………….Let the Promises not remain Just In the Statement we want to see the Actions igniting this issue………………..
Jul 29, 2012
I had heard once that HIV is the disease of most discussion, because there is most emphasis of we people and media; huge fund is oriented on HIV programs; this is the most advertized disease. It is because what we mostly want and think becomes the most prioritized one. I accept the fact that youths are mostly affected, but also youth from are also engaged in HIV preventive activities, from awareness to rehabilitative programs. “Reaching out Youth mind”, is one of the program organized by YUWA and MTV (staying alive) in Nepal. I always fond of any programs organized by YUWA organization, being a part of YUWA and YALC in Nepal, I got an opportunity to know myself as Youth. Well, as I had attained one day program on “Reaching out youth minds”, I feel the reality of what youth perceive on HIV and what youth power can do for HIV prevention. The enthusiasm of those 22 participants and those program coordinating youths really make all feel passion and tolerance on HIV pandemic.
Photo: 4th Reaching out youths mind at IOM Nepal
12 percent of youth aged 15-24 in Nepal are suffering from HIV, but still comprehensive knowledge on HIV is lacking. What can we do? We are students; we have not our own earnings; we are chained through our traditional practices, unemployment and ignorance. All we have is anger to the HIV and love to those sufferers. We have innovative ideas, we can advocate, but politics has used us as “Roadway Killers”, and Rent organized fighters”. We have conflict on our self to take the leadership on HIV prevention. Poverty and unemployment has kept us at the border of theory knowledge and never happening practices. Basic knowledge on HIV is still lacking on youth population. Migration of youth population is earning HIV as their main assets, though they are away for money. Whom to blame? Whether our desires or our ignorance; whether our dirty politics or the business of organization working on HIV?
“Youths are not only the leaders of tomorrow; they are the leaders of today as well”. Neither the less never the more, the balanced anger nor emotion in youth can lead them to the height of self-humanitarian decisions. The “Reaching out the youth minds”, has not only helps to share the perceptions on HIV, but also we dealt about the situation of HIV; Issues on transmission and Challenges on Interventions as well. I found only knowledge on youth cannot prevent HIV. I mean, what the hell these over 300 organizations working for HIV in Nepal are doing; all are teaching people, but the need is to act at rural community population. I wonder, when I heard the real cause of HIV on youths, “HIV s not a disease itself, it is actually the result of Socio-behavioral, biological and economical aspects of the community. I am truly inspired with this, Youth organized. “Reaching out youth minds”, thoroughly I suggest YUWA and MTV staying alive to expand their programs to the grass root level and address the real cause. BEST OF LUCK FOR YOUR INITIATION….
Jul 29, 2012
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. Analyzing this inspiring quote, Youth for me is a source for energy and innovative ideas. After a long procedure on coalition between change makers, YUWA and YALC organized a YUWA – Coalition Building: “A step towards healthy tomorrow”. On behalf of YUWA and YALC, I must say that this is new initiation of how youth people can act together for one voice. YALC as a council body we have objectives: to amend the Environment, population and Health curriculum and make it age appropriate, and to ensure the youth participation at decision making level. Though, coalition building is a tough task in aspect of its formation and maintenance. We fulfilled it using first meeting on 19th July followed by 2 days training on 20-21st July. Youth participants from different 10 organizations were welcomed at Dhulikhel village resort, Nepal. Viz. FPAN, SISO Nepal, Sakriya Sewa Samaj, Youth Action Nepal, Blue Diamond Society CAC-Nepal, Sparsa Nepal, National women federation on HIV Nepal, WTH- Nepal, WRRP/CAED Nepal and YUWA.
I always don’t want to miss the workshops, trainings or discussions conducted by YUWA. They in real create a confidence on me, and let me to understand my strengths and weaknesses. The group work activities and presentations in front of groups are other attractions for me. With a lot of fun and energizes, YALC had finally reached its goal based on action plan for coalition building. National scenario on youth SRHR was reviewed, and the words of circle was initiated through discussion on what other organizations are doing and advocating for. Mostly, participatory activities were conducted to ensure the understanding of all the participants. Ice breaks were followed by energizes. Basic understanding on advocacy, advocating tools and methods and media were well presented. This was learning for we, Nepalese, who adopt Strike as major advocating tool. This bad culture can be overcome through innovative advocacy tools. I had presented on the policy brief prepared by YUWA and YALC. We reviewed gaps in existing policies in Nepal that guides in the decision making process for SRHR in Nepal and also the recommendations to withdraw these gaps. What we actually doing is advocating for these gaps. Hence, including the participants from different 10 organizations we finalized the action plan for sustainable and effective coalition. The name of coalition was put on consensus as, “Youth Advocacy Coalition on SRHR”. The coalition had set the action plan to achieve the coalition objective for appropriate comprehensive sexuality education in Nepal. We strengthen the power of youth for upcoming Youth day celebration through ‘Youth Conclave’. I salute to those youth participants, who know themselves and their power to make change. Yep, exactly how can I miss my crush.
Jul 27, 2012
“Turn to the person next to you, and for thirty seconds each, describe the best meal you have ever had.”
Detailed descriptions of meals consumed ensued, with participants employing every adjective they could think of to describe the sensual meal experiences they had had.
“Now turn to the same partner, and once again, for thirty seconds each, describe the best sexual experience you have ever had”. Murmurs rippled across the room and looking at my discussion partner – a man who looked to be well into his sixties – I thought to myself, “Hell naw! Ain’t no way that’s happening.” Luckily, it was a ruse, one designed to show how reluctant people are to talk about sex even when moments before, they had just been describing what sounded like a near-orgasmic episode with food.
Anne Philpott of The Pleasure Project led the exercise and spoke of the need to acknowledge pleasure in order to efficiently address the issues around unsafe sex. According to her, sexual gratification is one of the main motivators for sex and has been proven to lead people to practice safer sex. It seems pretty logical since one of the reasons why people aren’t fond of contraceptive methods like condoms (especially female condoms) is because they aren’t considered sexy.
You can find out more about The Pleasure Project on their website.
Check out the following awesome publications by the same organization:
* “Everything you wanted to know about pleasurable safer sex but were afraid to ask.”
* “The Global Mapping of Pleasure: A directory of organizations, programmes, media and people who eroticize safer sex”
Jul 27, 2012
Last Sunday ,July 23rd, as the 19th International AIDS conference opened in the Washington DC, I got very curious and wanted to know how news on this very important event was been reported by local and international media houses. Undertaking this task, little did I know the discovery that my curiosity will lead me to. Talking of discoveries, they were all very bitter; in the first place in the local media it was business as usual with very little or no allusion being made of this year’s international conference on AIDS and then there was this paper on the conference by French news channel ITele which in my opinion was much more centered on the statistics and the fact that this conference was being held in the USA than on the plight of persons living with HIV/AIDS(PLWHA) and the ever growing number of children which AIDS daily render orphans in this part of the world.
35 Million Deaths and 35 million infected persons most of whom live in Africa with a majority of them being women. The above among others are the plethora of figures given by ITele’s reporter in the above cited paper. Since its discovery in the early 90s using statistics as the key elements to describing the effect AIDS on people around the world has gained grounds to the extent that the only thing most people can remember about AIDS is the number of people it is killing. I remember that my while at secondary school when asked to describe what AIDS was, my class mates and I will almost ever start with something like this: AIDS is a very dangerous disease that kills millions of people around the world.
At the time I described AIDS as above, I had of course never met a person living with HIV/AIDS, growing up and knowing persons living with HIV/AIDS and the precarious conditions in which these people live in Cameroon has led to a glaring reality that what really matters in talking about HIV/AIDS is not the statistics but how those living with the AIDS virus are treated in their families, communities, and countries.
AIDS is still considered in some parts of Cameroon as being a punishment for one’s sins and those suffering from the disease are considered as outcasts and excluded from mainstream society. This stigma against PLWA has not only heightened people’s fear for the disease but also increased the rates of infections as most people in Cameroon have not done and are not willing to do an HIV/AIDS screening test. A few who go for the test and are tested positive really ever inform their family members of their status neither do they seek medical advice and so die in silence. This fact has been pointed out by the numerous health surveys conducted in Cameroon with statistics from the 2011 health survey showing that the Northern regions of Cameroon (densely populated with high illiteracy and early marriage rates) having the highest number of PLWHA in Cameroon.
While it is true that to face facts, we need to face the figures, when the figures overshadow the facts, full understanding of the gravity of a problem is at risk. While I understand the excitement of media persons at this year’s international conference on AIDS being held in the USA, something which was impossible before 2009 when the ban imposed on zero positive persons in the early 90s was lifted, I am deeply convinced that beyond statistics there is a scaring reality which we must face: AIDS is committing more atrocities than the so many we pretend we know.
Having closely followed Cameroon’s strategy to fight against HIV/AIDS over the years, I can comfortably say that: it doesn’t suffice to make antiretroviral free, how those living on these anti retroviral drugs are perceived and treated also matters. Let’s face reality, if we continue to consider the fight against AIDS to be the scientists sacred cow, we are going to woefully fail, because the fight against AIDS requires much more than pure science, it requires a fundamental change in the way PLWA are being currently perceived. Stigma kills more than the HIV virus itself and needs to be tackled with equal measure as the search for a cure to AIDS.
It is time we face and denounce the scaring reality of stigmatization, guilt, persecution, pain, and death that is lived daily by millions of people around the world because they are infected by HIV/AIDS. Being infected with the HIV virus in most cases in this part of the world mean forfeiting one’s right to education, health, and shelter. Therefore, I am convinced that while it is true that AIDS kills zero positive persons around the world, stigma, guilt, and persecution, and ignorance fastens these deaths. This year’s international AIDS conference will live to be remembered if and only if its participants go beyond figures and face this scaring reality.
Jul 26, 2012
Ian O’Brien, Youth Activist Network Coordinator, reflects on "Young People Leading the Fight Against HIV/AIDS – US and Global Perspectives on How to Make a Difference," a panel held last night at the International AIDS Conference.
“Change can’t happen if we’re not involved in it.” Lawrence Stallworth’s words synthesized the sentiments expressed by panelists at a panel on youth activism in the global HIV/AIDS movement during the 2012 International AIDS Conference.
The coolest part about this panel was that youth were involved, and people were listening.
Stallworth joined four other youth activists in a discussion about the work of young people on the front lines in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Ronnie Cho, President Obama’s Liaison to Young Americans, acted as moderator for the panel. He opened with a reaffirmation the President’s commitment to seeing an AIDS Free Generation and the belief that change “does not come from the top down, but from the bottom up.”
Well, the bottom is causing a ruckus, and they are ready for the top to start paying attention. These five youth described the incredible work they and their peers are doing.
Karachi Opara is a current intern with Advocates for Youth and has worked with the organization’s Young Women of Color Leadership Council since 2009. She was a part of DIVAS for Action, a campus organization that helped empower fellow women of color. Opara’s note at the end of presentation was particularly insightful in efforts to mobilize young people towards activism: “No one should feel like they can’t do anything. If you have spoken out against HIV/AIDS, you are an activist.”
“When the media isn’t talking about young people, young people are creating these stories for themselves.” Ernesto spoke about the role of social media in youth movements, and his work at the Cascade AIDS Project in Oregon. Ernesto talked about the innovation of young people in using tools like Facebook and Twitter to organize efforts to disseminate information and resources in unconventional routes to avoid suppression by adults, citing a particular instance of condom distribution at a college campus. He also mentioned Advocates for Youth’s recent call for a Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day and how young people were integrated into the process. “What was awesome about this message was that instead of sending out a press release, it was announced at a small venue full of young people. And then young people started sending out this message, tweeting about it, posting on Facebook.”
“So you can get busy living or you can get busy dying.” Lawrence Stallworth opened with a quote from The Shawshank Redemption that he said convinced him to start doing activist work after he learned he was HIV positive. Lawrence works with AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland in Ohio where he serves as an Outreach Coordinator and Educator. Lawrence spoke of the importance of continuing to voice the stories of young people to policy makers and invested organizations in order to make sure that youth’s issues are not being pushed to the side. He challenged the audience: “If they aren’t hearing from us, how are they going to make things better?”
Talking about the Red Card Project in her home country of Nigeria, Kikelomo Taiwo mentioned the current successes that youth have had with local policy makers. By connecting and mobilizing young people and strategically reaching out to key stakeholders, The Red Card Project has been able to make sure that fighting stigma against HIV/AIDS is present in the minds of policy makers. Kike also spoke about how helpful her work with the International Youth Speak Out Project and the Red Card Project have been in helping her find her own voice and take hold of her life, and how doing so has helped her to inspire others.“The moment you decide to break out of your silence, you are setting the stage for others to follow.”
Falin Patel spoke about his work on Advocate’s for Youth International Youth Leadership Council in DC and the role youth play in domestic and international lobbying efforts. “Being given the chance to see the documents and processes behind these policies first hand helps secure my understanding of what is being done and where I fit in” Falin recounted about his experiences lobbying both the United Nations and United States Congress. Falin drove the point that it was necessary for youth to be a major part of policy efforts. “40% of new HIV infections occur in young people under 25. Young people should be involved when these decisions are being made.”
Apathy was a topic that kept appearing during discussion, with multiple mentions by the panel and several questions about it from the audience. Ernesto spoke about the lack of connection between young people and the history of HIV/AIDS. He said that gay men, particularly gay men of color, do not have visible role models – or sometimes, role models at all – to help them relate to the impact HIV/AIDS has had on our communities since it first appeared. Lawrence offered himself up as that connection: “When it comes to complacency, I’m the example.” Being in public spaces, and speaking out about these issues, as young people who are gay/black/positive/undocumented/trans or members of other marginalized and silenced groups, makes this work relevant, and makes the impact tangible.
And sometimes apathy can be fought with inspiration from our adult allies. It was an honor to have Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a staunch supporter of youth rights, LGBT rights, and HIV prevention, attend the panel, and put in her support for the call for a Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. Lee remarked: “Young people elected our first African American president… You are who we need to move this fight forward.”
Young people are doing amazing work on HIV/AIDS around the world. Our work is valuable because we are valuable. It is essential that our stories, our lives, and our activism be given the venue and attention we deserve. Bring us to your events. Invite us to your coalitions. Listen to us. Fund us. Reach out to us. Help us network – networking and connecting with other young people was echoed as invaluable by all of the panelists. I think it was Ernesto who got straight to the heart of the matter, both in relationship to logistics and young people’s metaphorical relationship with activism: “Bring food. We’re hungry.”
See more pics here!
Jul 25, 2012
That is, they have the necessary condition can be a bargaining chip with their rivals, to win the game, and also the efforts of the players and the corresponding timing and luck, the real battle, they are still to a large extent, to be at a disadvantage the.
But, then again, Auxerre’s squad there is a near-open hung Li Yun, AJ will be able to make their own strength, authentic nfl jerseys,an amazing leap to the advantages of such a partial and establish global victory. The team even do not have such conditions, Li Yun has may be able to single-handedly defeated is stronger than their opponents, let alone the team has reached this condition.
Above these conditions, of Auxerre, the absolute strength of a fight with any formidable opponent, and they of winning is still quite large, can be seen from the case today against Arsenal in the future with Auxerre against the Yankees, there is danger.
Stay in the UK for a long time, Wenger and more accustomed to using English to express their emotions, when you see the Auxerre knocked the side of the goal, a professor in the stands could not help but burst a foul language to vent that let him tell the frustration.
The professor’s mind, can be described as a variety of mixed emotions, resentment, frustration, and there is jealousy.
Resentment of the injustice of the referee in his eyes, if not the referee in this game a few times unfair on Arsenal penalty, his team will not have reduced to such an extent, if the referee can be fair penalty to Auxerre left back early penalty, or not to Vieira red card, at least, leading, it must be Arsenal, which round of Auxerre.
Helpless, Auxerre, indeed, has a decent strength, but now they seem to have found a method to deal with Arsenal, Wholesale Coach Handbags,is very effective to use and thoroughly to control the situation in their hands, even if they’re not stands above command, but on the sidelines in such circumstances, it is difficult to restore this situation.
Jealousy, Auxerre the ball will actually be able to have such as Lee Woon-jae, a super genius, a superstar powerful genius! Although very young, but not consistent with the age of maturity and powerful, with the existence of such a player, are a huge threat for any opponent, Arsenal today to fully appreciate the power of this kid. The two shot a pass score, King Henry, Highbury, are far behind.
"If I had such a player, and certainly be able to win all I want to take the championship!"
Wenger "pedophilia", which is well known, Later, he built the Arsenal team, almost all young people around the age of 20, he introduced the players, are all based on 20 teenager under the age of the main. Therefore, cheap authentic jerseys,based on this, the inevitable, this outrageous young genius of Li Yun, very appreciated.
It is because of the appreciation of Li Yun, the professor very envious and jealous of Guy. Lu can get the talent. The idea of the professor, if he has a Li Yun’s words, he has absolute confidence be able to defeat all opponents to win the championship, he is definitely around Li Yun build out a rampant throughout the world, invincible army, to when all opponents must be to surrender with his feet!
The game, Li Yun’s superb performance for the professor to look to the eyes of Li Yun, more fervent, and he is really anxious to immediately this treasure to grab their own hands, so that all the wishes of their own, are able to achieve.
But Professor is somewhat YY over, he has forgotten, Arsenal want the introduction of Li Yun’s the biggest obstacle to money!
In order to build a new stadium, Arsenal are now very short of money, Wenger Why the next few years has been another major reason to buy young players, because this player is cheap, you can save money, while the finished product after can be sold at high prices, and full compliance with Arsenal’s business strategy.
Arsenal have no money, even Li Yun has a very strong interest, but also difficult to afford the net worth has soared to in his age absolutely expensive to be called horrible players, so if the professor really want to reach this goal, then he built the invincible warships also need to think about ways.
Li Yun field is not being a "pedophile" guy stared at, if he knows will inevitably creeps. An old man staring at, in particular, "pedophilia" the old man so staring, nfl jerseys china,who replaced do not like.
Sad reminder of Li Yun
"I do not what pedophilia! I want to sue you slander!"
Wenger said the case. However, some people believe it?
"As for you, believe it or not, anyway, I do not believe it!"
Li Yun said such.
One hundred and twelfth chapter wins! Wins! Wins!
"Now, you can not be taken lightly ah! I do not want to painstakingly built up the situation, so be lost!"
Jul 25, 2012
From a youth standpoint, Tuesday has been the most youth-centric day so far at the IAC. From a rap cipher, to the “We Can End AIDS” march, the youth were well represented in many capacities. It’s a joy to see so many educated and committed youth transcending language and cultural barriers to communicate their support for the great work that everyone has done so far.
It seems as though I discover a favorite booth every day. On Monday, it was the Body & Soul charity from the UK, an organization dedicated to promoting “…the respect, dignity and wellbeing of children, young people and families living with and affected by HIV in an environment of aspiration…” Body & Soul is here at the IAC promoting their film titled “Undefeated”, a project of their “Life in My Shoes” campaign which you can read more about here.
“Undefeated” is the story of a young woman living with HIV and facing stigma and discrimination from her peers at school after the administration reveals her status. “Undefeated” will be in theatres and on DVD sometime this year. Being an avid fan of British youth cinema, I’m excited to see this film, and have no doubt whatsoever that it will elicit deep thoughts and strong emotions in all of us. It is my hope that one day, American youth will be as powerfully represented in the television and film arena as their British counterparts are.
On Tuesday, my favorite booth was “Girl Like Me”, a product of The Well Project. It was endearing really, to hear the woman at the booth speak so passionately about it. “Girl Like Me” is a blog and online support community for women around the world living with HIV to connect and share their experiences. The woman said to me, “I’m from Uganda and I had never met anyone else at this booth before the conference.” It’s great to see that such a resource exists.
The rap cipher was great! Organized by the DC Youth Coalition and the Street Wize Foundation, it featured 3 DC rappers whose challenge was to freestyle rap while incorporating the DCYC’s advocacy messages of access, partnerships, and equality. It was just the perfect thing to hype the young people up before they headed out to the march. Here’s video of the actual rap battle.
Jul 25, 2012
by Bianca Laureano
I didn’t want to write this post. Who wants to write a “goodbye” or “last post” piece? What I really didn’t want to do was realize this part of my life was wrapping itself up. I was afraid of what that would mean. Then, I put my trust in the universe and my community and I realize this is one way of telling me it’s time. Time for new voices, new opportunities, new growth. All the while I was avoiding writing this and I’m now experiencing a really amazing sense of accomplishment. As someone who was pushed out of a PhD program for not writing well enough almost over 5 years ago by the same folks who heavily recruited me, and finding opportunities to write that nurture my spirit and life, grounds me. Reminds me my words, thoughts, and actions are important in this world.
Three years ago when this column premiered I had lots of ideas. I still do about what is possible when writing and living media justice. Reading over the posts of the past 3 years, almost 125 of them in total, I’ve seen myself evolve, transform, and become a person, educator, sexologist, and radical femme of Color that makes me proud.
Reflecting on various topics in the media, our communities, interviewing amazing media makers, and publicly thinking about what’s next or solutions to communal healing was what I needed. What an amazing gift to be given and to be able to share and heal worldwide.
I’ve learned a lot about myself, the media, and about justice and freedom. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past 3 years:
We are all media makers. Every single one of us. We may not enjoy the media that others may create, we may challenge and critique it, we may not consider what others do “media” because of our rigid or unclear ideas about what media is defined as; but it’s still media and it’s still powerful and that is something to value right now. It’s also something to fight for, especially as people of Color, with disabilities, who are immigrants, working class, trans*, queer, and who remain oppressed.
Sometimes it hurts too much to care and it’s okay to admit this; it’s part of the healing process. There were times when my spirit, body, and commitment to taking intellectual risks were not strong and in pain. Putting my ish on paper as Gloria Anzaldúa has written really was an incredible part of my own healing. Knowing I could not “care” about a topic because it would impact me in a way I was not ready for was a reminder that I center self-care. It was also a reminder that I know myself better than I thought I did, my triggers, the space I occupy and can offer for others to occupy, and how valuable my time is. I’ve also learned that caring for me comes when I am able to fully witness and experience what is occurring.
We do a lot of important work quietly. I’ve become more introverted as I’ve aged, more selective, thoughtful and mindful in a way that is comforting because I know I’m doing hard work within myself. It’s exciting to see and interact with youth who are having the exact same experience I am but at a different time in their lives. So much about this world and our societies have shifted and changed. I’m learning so much from youth right now and absorbing those new skills and creating that new knowledge is joyous! Sometimes I just have to sit with that joy and put my hand to my heart and savor it, thankful for it’s presence in my life.
Community can be and is online and saves lives. There’s always been resistance to when folks who experience oppression and/or marginalization find ways to survive. I’ve witnessed and benefited from having this online space to dialogue and build with others. I’ve also been a part of and seen it heal and work to protect, support, and embrace our communities. Folks question the validity of online spaces and I’ve got to say that there are many examples of how these spaces are crucial for many of us.
I’m not sure what else to share, but you can still find me online writing and posting at my blog LatinoSexuality.blogspot.com where I’ll continue to do this work and writing at RH Reality Check on topics specific to communities of Color, sexuality, and reproductive justice.
As I tell my students each semester: You each deserve to be anywhere and everywhere you want to be! You have power and don’t ever forget that even when some may try to take it from you, scare you from using it, your power is your own. Thanks for witnessing and being a part of this journey.
Give yourself a gift and go see Beasts Of The Southern Wild and ask yourself “what does it mean to be free?” And then go get free!
“The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece, the entire universe will get busted.”
Jul 24, 2012
One thing that is advantageous for a person in the media who is covering the XIX International AIDS Conference is that, people who speaks in the plenary (upstairs) goes down to the Media Center (downstairs) and holds press conference. Aside from being a media delegate, I am also one of the seven media delegates whose attendance to the AIDS 2012 was sponsored by Global Fund. So, it was to my great delight that we were one of the first to meet and have a press briefing with Global Fund General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo.
During the press briefing, which was held at the Media Center in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last Monday evening, Mr. Jaramillo answered the questions thrown to him by the people in media. Most of them were issues concerning funding, governance, and participation of the different stakeholders. Among these were questions about the continuous presence of Global Fund in countries were funding stops this year, youth participation, corruption allegations among recipient countries, and sustainability.
Gabriel Jaramillo is the General Manager of the Global Fund, a position created in 2012 to implement a process of transformation, as the Global Fund accelerates the fight against the three pandemics by focusing on better financial and risk management to deliver impeccable grant management. He was a former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sovereign Bank, has more than 35 years of experience in the financial sector and more than 20 years as a chief executive officer that won him admiration of his peers in the banking sector.
Mr. Jaramillo served as a Special Advisor to the Office of the Special Envoy for Malaria of the Secretary General of the United Nations and Member of a High Level Panel that looked at the Global Fund’s fiduciary controls and oversight mechanisms which oversight reforms in managing the fund. When the Board of the Global Fund approved a plan of transformation, it decided to appoint a General Manager to put a new strategy into action, and invited him to be in that position. Gabriel Jaramillo is a native of Colombia, and a Brazilian citizen.
You can also watch the video on this link: youtu.be/4rBuY3b-JT4
Jul 24, 2012
- Queen Elizabeth II, September 11, 2001
Above. A gloomy Washington, D.C. greets the participants for the AIDS 2012 Memorial Quilt.
Last Saturday, as the rain pours down from the heavens above down to Washington, D.C., tears were also pouring in equal amounts for those people who attended the AIDS 2012 Memorial Quilt, a momentous to honor the memory of our loved ones, friends, and brothers and sisters who have lost these lives in the AIDS epidemic. Many people from D.C. and from around the world (I am one of those) have volunteered to unfold the quilts made by people from all walks of life. The participants of the Washington, D.C. YouthForce Pre-conference had the opportunity to make some of these quilts. For the first time in years, the ceremony goes back to the nation’s capital, after 16 years of absence.
I cannot say anymore than this as I am on the verge of tears. Let the pictures speak for itself. As the names of the people who died of AIDS were slowly being read, deep in my heart, I said a prayer to the Almighty above, and mentioned the names of DOLZURA CORTEZ and SARAH JANE SALAZAR, two of the bravest Filipino women who came out into the open that they HIV in the 90s when it was still too hard for a people living with HIV to come into terms with their infection and with the society in which they were living are too afraid to accept them into their fold. I hope their story along with the stories of millions of have unnecessarily sacrificed their lives will not be forgotten by those who live.
Above. Advocates for Youth staff and volunteers cover the ground with big rolls of cellophane where the people will gonna be stepping in.
Above. Harriet Sanford, Vice-Chairperson of The NAMES Project Foundation, the organization behind The AIDS Memorial Quilt speaks in the event.
Above. The first of the quilt arrives.
Above. You don’t have to be a seamstress or a designer by profession to make one of this beautiful quilts.
Below. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, singer and song writer Annie Lennox speak during the ceremony.
Below. The very first quilt made by the employees of Levi’s to commemorate their co-workers who died of AIDS. Along with it is the new quilt they made. Everyone is really trying hard to hold back tears.
Above. Volunteers in their UNTIL THE LAST ONE t-shirts come together in the spirit of bayanihan to carry the quilts.
Above. Some of the names of the people who died of AIDS are on display in The Mall.
Above. Panoramic view of the quilts held by the volunteers.
Jul 22, 2012
My eyebrows raise far stretched when I hear people talk about Caribbean people and Jamaicans in particular and their anti-homosexual stance.
Firstly, Jamaica is not the only country in the world that does not support homosexuality on a large scale and it is not the most drastic country in terms of punishment either.
Are all jurisprudences tolerant of homosexuality? Do all countries have laws to protect homosexuals? Do all countries give them the same amenities as other citizens?
In fact, there is no law that speaks directly to homosexuality in Jamaica.
Buggery however, is illegal. It is defined under section 76 of the Buggery Act as anal intercourse between a man and a woman or between two men.
The Offences Against the Person Act prohibits "acts of gross indecency" – this means that persons can be arrested and charged for exposing themselves in public or have sex in public. Is something wrong with that?
So where does the discrimination and hate come in?
1. Jamaica is a very religious country. Regardless of the vast participation in strong secular activities, the nation is one of high religious conviction which is translated into almost mandatory morals.
2. The highly influential cultures within the society such as Dancehall and Rastafari strongly encourage and require one to prove his/her sexual prowess. And as such the man must be able to please his woman while the woman should be very able to keep her man through sex (for Dancehall). In Rastafari, the man is considered complete when he has the complement of his Empress. Man and woman relationship is strongly encouraged and not just for sex but also for having children. Jamaicans value the ability to have children. A woman who is able to give birth is prized; one with an inability may be referred to as a "mule". A man who is able to impregnate a woman or many women for that matter is considered "don". For the very same reason abortion is looked down on, the ability to have one’s own children is a prize.
3. Is the problem with men who have sex with men or does it include women who have sex with women too? Because much of the hullaballoo that I have witnessed has had to do with men having sexual relationships with other men or acting in a way that it is believed they want to compete with women in the feminine arena.
Yes, i agree. Discrimination based on sexual orientation affects development but so many other things such as crime, education, employment etc affect development too.
Are they really denied access to health care? Are they denied access to education? Does it prevent them from joining financial institutions? Are they unable to obtain employment anymore than the average citizen? Does it prevent them from having a social life by going to clubs and church?
Also, the HIV stigma is not solely dropped upon the heads of homosexuals… Prostitutes i think get a bigger portion of such and relatives of infected persons.
Note that, violence met by homosexuals in Jamaica is also dished out in enough cases among themselves. So it is also unfair to "demonize" the general population about not tolerating them and not encouraging them to be peaceful among them.
Next thing, I get the feeling that this is a one way thing. Taking into consideration what Jamaicans were taught by the church that Sodom n Gomorrah was destroyed by God due to acts of homosexuality, and other scriptures that condemns the act.
With that said, Jamaicans are becoming more tolerant of homosexuality and acts that are considered associated with such. Credit given to cultural diffusion, lobby groups, the media and travel. It is also only fair that the nation becomes more tolerant. This doesn’t mean that they are betraying their religion or culture. But the said religion that preaches love, peace and leaving vengeance to God is also driving a hate spear in the hearts of its followers.
The impression I get is that there fails to be equilibrium, the gays and not-gays fail to agree.
So what approach do we really take?
I say, don’t choke the lamb. Feed it in stages and it will eventually eat all.
It’s nobody’s business what happens in peoples’ bedrooms if the law is not broken (mark you, the law is still broken in heterosexual bedrooms too). Also, it won’t be anybody’s business if you don’t make it.
Jul 22, 2012
Couple of days back while reading the paper I saw what is called “fragment” why is it called a fragment? I have no idea but when I went through the article I was shocked to see some reveling inside of the situation of the country’s leadership. The first paragraph says;
“The dust had not yet settled after the presidents infamous “I don’t give a damn” statement, when he was asked about publicly declaring his assets during the presidential media chat on Sunday June 24, when he came out with yet another controversial statement on Tuesday, saying that Nigerian should embrace birth control legislation in order to check population explosion.”
Well I believe you will also be wondering what is bad about the president asking Nigerians to brace up Birth control, but the truth of the matter is these; when there are so many pressing issues that need to be addressed other things like birth control will not be National priority. And when information is missing which is supposed to help the citizens make informed choices is not available, then a big problem is within it government.
Nigerian population stand at approximately 170million people with about 62% of the population are young people and 47% of the youth are Unemployed, apart from that; The Educational sector need to be reformed or else the rising population will be more dangerous than what is being seen now, you will agree with when I say “Education and Information is vital to the population”.
Looking at it this way when 10% of populations of 130 people are educated, give this population just 20 days and you will find out that the behavior of these population will gradually start changing by the rate of which informed decision made.
Now looking at health sector; when the health sector is not in place where can the poor people access the birth control pills when they cannot even provide to their family 3 square meal, talk more of them going to the health care centers to get these contraceptives. I myself will advocate to birth control when the time is right, but for now I believe that any thing that before these basic amenities which includes;
I know that the president means well, but the timing was off. Nigeria has a lot of problems, problems that if not being taking care of? The country will not develop, well not any time soon.
Corruption has eating more than just the country’s economy but the countries dream and if not addressed we are at the verge of break down.
My message to All Youth is and Will always Be "Learn More About Your Right (LMAYR)"
Jul 21, 2012
Cable, they’ve got it.
Internet, yes they have it.
If you live in a country like Jamaica and you take public transportation – yes there’s load of it.
Its in the movies, songs, commercials, the club, in the streets.
Fact is sex sells. It sells so much it is being sold into our cultures.
You cant tell a 3 year old anymore that mommy got the baby from the grocery store or the fairy.
He/She pretty much knows that sex happened and the baby is the result. He/She wont have details but the idea is there, i can guarantee.
It has to do, in my opinion, a lot with the evolution of morality which is driven by those who have enough power to influence and of course $$$.
Ill make my point.
The younger generation is so much drawn to what they view on TV and their computers, hear on the radio and watch in the clubs and their chill spots. What do they see? People selling sex in such an attractive way. And who sells these? Their idols/role models/entertainers/peers/relatives.
So, the song has a good beat, you must move your body, but its not just the beat. Its the words of the songs… And yes, they dont only dance their hats off, they do listen to the words and try to follow them like strict instructions.
The movie shows irresponsible high school and college students having all roots of sex without thought of consequence…
Then how do we expect those who come behind us to see sex? Certainly not sacred or an act that requires maturity due to possibilty consequences or responsibilities.
Do we see AIDS popping up in these forms of entertainment? Naaah! Save that for the Heath Report.
And if entertainment isnt enough to embrace sex in all forms, good or bad….
Have you thought of a hidden message behind commercials that encourage the use of a condom or birth control methods? Yes, I agree that it is emphasising safe sex (secondly, because marketing for sales must be their first reason) but do our teenagers who havent reached sexual maturity need to know to be safe? Or do they need to know its ok to wait?
Haha! Id love to see one that has two messages: One to wait and one to be safe
Are the adults in our immediate environs to be held accountable too?
I mean, I have witnessed adults who not only carry on carelessly in the presence of children and young teens, but they encourage sex for whatever reason…. And the biggest one I have seen so far has to do with sexuality. They want to teach their sons that they should have women and not men.
How about teaching your son to wait while intstilling whatever Religious or Social belief you have?
But what about adults who directly encourage them into "sexual deviance"? Yes, there are laws in place but what about the collective attempt without hypocracy to minimalize such acts?
I question the role of organisations such as those Religious, do they play that much of a significant role anymore? Or have they just become a weaker force now?
How much are governments doing to protect the innocence of children? Yes, Yes, there are policies, there are laws, there are seminars and tough talks but at least from where I am, I dont see that changing enough.
So, do we fix it or do we embrace?
Remember we have to face it!
Jul 19, 2012
For a country reckoned as a vanguard of democracy and promoter of human rights, criminalizing people living with HIV (PLHIV) in their own backyard is unthinkable. But hey, its happening! And its absurd! Yesterday, Adrian Guzman from the Positive Justice Project, a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to combat HIV criminalization gave a parallel session on this topic entitled “HIV Criminalization: Are you at risk?” at Ballroom A of the Kellogg Conference Hotel here in Washington, D.C. This is still part of the Washington, D.C. YouthForce Pre-Conference, a gathering of young people before the XIX International AIDs Conference.
For me his discussion was very much interesting and alarming. What I know is that the United States is very much strict on its immigration policy for foreigners who would want to come into the country especially women in sex work and PLHIV. But alas, its more difficult for PLHIV and their loved ones who live in the States to deal with the kind of policy measure in place. The continuing prosecution PLHIV is stemmed from something that is not scientific, which could be easily debunk by scientific evidence, but rather it stems from the existing misconception and paranoia perpetrated by media and politicians coupled with years of prevailing stigma on people living with HIV.
Most of the states, 36 of them, including U.S. territories have HIV-specific criminal laws, but people living with HIV are also being prosecuted for assault and other crimes under regular criminal laws. HIV criminalization makes behavior that is legal for people who do not have HIV, or don’t know they have it, illegal for HIV+ people. PLHIV are being arrested for not having consensual sex and even for things like spitting on another person which is, pardon my French, just ridiculous! The following are the examples cited by Adrian in his work on HIV Criminalization in the Positive Justice Project:
• A man with HIV in Texas is serving thirty-five years for spitting at a police officer;
• A man with HIV in Iowa, who had an undetectable viral load, received a twenty-five year sentence after a one-time sexual encounter during which he used a condom; his sentence was suspended, but he had to register as a sex-offender and is not allowed unsupervised contact with his nieces, nephews and other young children;
• A woman with HIV in Georgia received an eight-year sentence for failing to disclose her HIV status, despite the trial testimony of two witnesses that her sexual partner was aware of her HIV positive status;
• A man with HIV in Michigan was charged under the state’s anti-terrorism statute with possession of a "biological weapon" after he allegedly bit his neighbor.
Where is the rational thinking of these people? Lack of education and sensitization of United States’ police force and law enforcement is one of the reason why this has been continuing. But what I see is that, there is no policy in the national level that scraps all these laws in the state-level. This has prompted U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee to introduce H.R. 3053, the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act on September 23, 2011 which would require a review of all federal and state laws, policies, and regulations regarding the criminal prosecution of individuals for HIV-related offenses with an aim to explore repeal or reform of laws and practices that unfairly target people with HIV for consensual sex and conduct that poses no real risk of HIV transmission.
Moreover, most of the HIV “criminal transmission” or “criminal exposure” laws require HIV+ people to disclose their HIV status to their partners before having any kind of sex, but proving that you disclosed can be tough since these cases often boils down to the idea of one person’s word against the others. In his presentation Adrian cited some examples on how to protect one’s self against HIV-related criminal prosecution by having partners sign a “disclosure acknowledgment” statement, save emails or text messages, or discussing one’s HIV+ status with her/his partner. It may be helpful, but still, there’s no guarantee that you can escape prosecution in court.
For me, however, what was far more important in his discussion was on how to deal situations wherein a PLHIV is arrested or is at risk of getting arrested on an HIV criminalization charge. First is not talking to police or investigators without the presence of one’s lawyer.He also extolls people in this scenario not to give a statement to the police or investigators before getting legal representation. Getting advice and finding a lawyer by connecting to a local HIV legal or service organization is a good choice to take. Moreover, I think that one should not consent on any medical tests nor signing anything without consulting a lawyer.
I know that HIV criminalization is not an isolated case in the U.S. Around the world, a lot of countries (even developed nations such as Norway) have HIV-specific criminal laws. In my country the Philippines, the City of Manila criminalizes the usage of contraceptives like condom, which can prevent HIV transmission especially those who are engage in sex work. We have colleagues who get arrested for conducting HIV 101 (basic information about HIV/AIDS) in the streets of Manila and for distributing condoms. In countries like Uganda, you could face the gallows and meet your end. HIV Criminalization is a major issue that needs to be addressed by countries like the U.S. Let’s start turning the tide by starting with our world leaders who will be coming to D.C. this weekend.
Jul 18, 2012
Discrimination against homosexuals continues to be very prominent around the world, especially within the caribbean.
and suprisingly the discrimination and hate comes from "strong christian principles" and reports in the media, headlines such as "gay plague" which was used to dehumanise gay men blaming them for the rapid spread of HIV.
There are many effects of being homosexual in Jamaica are many, they experience; malicious gossip, name-calling, intimidating looks, internet bullying, vandalism of property,discrimination at work, isolation,rejection and death threats.
Living in a extremely homophobic environment like Jamaica forces gay Jamaican men to conceal their sexuality in fear of the negative reactions and consequences of people finding out. And with christianity being the order of the day in Jamaica for those who grew up with the thought of being gay wrong, the realisation that they might be gay can cause feelings of shame and self-loathing, leading to low self-esteem. Suppressing homosexuality involves denying an important part of a person’s identity, and can have a serious impact upon their life and relationships. Furthermore, the dilemma of whether to ‘come out’ or not can cause a great deal of personal distress.
Homosexuals who make the decision to declare their sexual orientation can face prejudice and discrimination from their family, friends, and also from wider society. Homophobia can cause extreme harm and disruption to people’s lives. Many become homeless as a result of being rejected by their families after revealing their sexual orientation.
In Jamaica there is one organisation which is trying to tackle rights for homosexuals, by lobbying for the government to repealing these laws which help to make homosexuality so taboo would reduce discrimination against LGBT people, encouraging societies to embrace the diversity of different sexualities. Eradicating homophobia is crucial for improving quality of life for LGBT people, promoting fundamental human rights, and also preventing the spread of HIV.
Jul 17, 2012
The role of Muslim women in the Islamic world is one that is prone to much discussion and assumptions; unfortunately the discussion is more often than not a negative one. The most common perceptions are of women living under the oppressive dictatorships of their husbands and fathers, forced into marriage, and of course suffocated under the veil. In terms of her contribution and role in society the caricature is one of the women restricted to five metres away from the kitchen sink.
The discussion of Muslim women and their roles is an important one for every Muslim, firstly because it’s an area in which there are many misconceptions by non-Muslims which need to be corrected and secondly some Muslims treat women unjustly in the name of Islam when in actual fact their actions are often a result of cultural or tribal customs and not Islam.
Misconceptions surrounding the treatment of Muslim women arise from two sources; from Muslims who may justify their oppression and mistreatment of women on the basis of Islam. Sometimes other people have and try to misinterpret Islam. In recent times the treatment of women in Afghanistan has been used to present the picture of Muslim women being oppressed and abused and then blame the Shar’iah texts. An apt example of the former is the recent murder of Banaz Mahmood in the United Kingdom killed by her father and uncle for the sake of ‘honour’. There is also the example of Mukhtar Mai in Pakistan who was gang raped as a punishment due to her brother allegedly having a relationship with a village elder’s daughter. Even though these actions are not from Islam the western media have linked this crime to Islam.
The role of the Muslim woman is clearly defined and outlined in Islam. In short her primary role is with the upbringing of her children and in being a dutiful wife. She is encouraged to carry out all the duties she takes up with devotion and enthusiasm. The following Hadith also explain more saying;
A woman came to ask the Prophet (saw) about some matter, and when he had dealt with it, he asked her, "Do you have a husband?" She said, "Yes." He asked her, "How are you with him?" She said, "I never fall short in my duties, except for that which is beyond me." He said, "Pay attention to how you treat him, for he is your Paradise and your Hell."
(Reported by Ahmad)
Abu Huraira narrated The Prophet (saw) said, "The righteous among the women of Quraish are those who are kind to their young ones and who look after their husband’s property.".
Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala (SWT) mentions that Men and Women are equal in his sight. Allah (SWT) also mentions that the only difference is that of piety of gaining reward and of obeying Him (SWT). It is not physical equality. To state the obvious, Allah (SWT) has made Men and Women different and in terms of roles he has made the means to gain reward different.
Certain commands in Islam are general and are applied on all Muslims irrespective of being male or female, certain duties fall specifically on men whilst others only apply to women.
The activities she can engage in are varied and in some cases duties upon her which she must not compromise. The notion that Muslim women cannot be educated or work is an absurd one. A basic understanding of the life of prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Allaihi Wassallam (SAW) and knowledge of the wives of the Prophet (SAW) show examples of women excelling in their fields of knowledge. The Prophet (saw)’s wife, Khadijah Radiallahu Anhu (RA) was not only a businesswoman but also a successful one at that. His (SAW)’s wife Aisha (RA) is widely renown to have been an authority of hadith who related a large number of hadith.
Muslim women are not only allowed to receive an education and work but should be given and will be given opportunities under the Khilafah State to excel in their areas of expertise. The need to acquire knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim whether male or female and the Khilafah State is obligated to provide women an education to the highest level. Women are seen as valuable citizens of the state who not only offer their knowledge but also educate, nurture and instil the Islamic personality in the next generation. In every way the Muslim woman contributes to and has a vital and honourable role to play in society.
From amongst the many activities that the Muslim woman is able to engage in, one of the most important is her right to enjoin good and forbid evil and discuss the affairs of the Ummah. With the growing resurgence and political awakening of Muslims worldwide, the political voice of Muslim women in contributing to this must not be ignored. Indeed, examples of such activism exist from the time of the Prophet (SAW) to the present day. Islam defines politics as taking care of the affairs of the Ummah, Muslim women do not live separately but live amongst and are part of the Ummah, they feel the problems that exist in society and the world at large, they feel the absence of Islam, and see the injustice of the oppressive regimes.
Muslim women engaging in politics is not a new phenomenon, an early example of this is at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) when the leaders of Yathrib (Madinah) sent a party of Bani Khazraj to pledge their allegiance to the prophet. This group consisted of sixty-two men and two women who pledged allegiance; the pledge of Aqabah is well known to have had both spiritual and political implications. The pledge was not only a declaration of accepting Islam but was a promise of political support and military protection. Later examples continue to support the idea of women in politics. In the early fourth century A.H, Um Muqtadir Billah, the mother of the Abbasid Khaleefah set up a tribunal for the purpose of settling people’s petitions and lawsuits and placed one of her female courtiers as judge.
Muslim women have for too long been told they are worthless and not capable of expressing themselves on a political platform, the tide however is changing more and more women in Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt are expressing their views and concerns in a public arena; accounting rulers, having an opinion on educational and health matters, calling for Khilafah in the Muslim world. Muslim women are part of society; hence they have a key role to play in the development towards a truly Islamic society and beyond. In Islam a women is seen as an honour and an invaluable part of the Ummah. The role of the Muslim woman is that of being obedient to Allah (swt) to not worship man but to submit to the One that is worthy of worship.
These is to tell you that not only are Muslim women allowed to go to school but also to let that Muslim women can at the same time participate in politics.
By April Flores
Jul 15, 2012
This past weekend, I attended the National Council of La Raza’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I had the most amazing time in the NCLR conference. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead a workshop with an amazing individual, Ana Laura Rivera, in the Lideres Summit [the youth component of the NCLR Conference]. In addition, our coordinator Hemly Ordonez was (and is) amazing throughout this entire conference. Also, I met awesome DREAMers!
Our presentation was titled, “Sex Education Advocacy: Helping Youth Make Sound and Good Decisions” and we had approximately forty high school and college students. Our presentation offered an array of valuable information. Also, we felt that it was crucial to engage our audience through thoughtful questions. For example, we asked, “What do you think consists of an effective sex education class?” and we even had a fun game called, “Named that Contraceptive!” in which we displayed a photo of a contraceptive and asked the audience to correctly name it. In this presentation, we began with defining sex education and the two types of sex education [abstinence-centered and comprehensive sex education]. Second, we described different methods of contraception and passed around a female condom so our audience could have an actual view of a type of contraceptive. Third, we provided statistics of birth rates among adolescents in the United States with a special emphasis on Latino adolescents. Lastly, we informed our audience on how they could effectively advocate for this issue and others. Overall, we had an informative and fun presentation with a receptive audience! After the presentation, Ana Laura and I were interviewed by the Huff Post Voces, the Spanish segment of AOL’s Huffington Post.
My flight was scheduled for 1AM Sunday but I missed it because I confused the times. However, if I would have left, I would not have learned many valuable things, especially about myself, on that exact Sunday. For example, Hemly helped me understand and shape my own identity as a Latina, as a young mother, and as an activist. I learned that it in order to shape your identity you must understand your past, history, and culture and how it fits in the larger context. In this blog, I want to talk about my culture, my upbringing on welfare programs, and teenage pregnancy.
On welfare programs…
In the Nuestras Voces, Nuestra Salud: A Critical Conversation About Latina Reproductive Health, a policy workshop, I became emotional because I finally understood the issues that Latinas face in a larger scale. I saw my entire life in those three simple PowerPoint presentations. I first saw it through my childhood as a Medicaid recipient. My three siblings and I grew up with the assistance of welfare, including Medicaid, housing, and food stamps. The first time my mother received Medicaid was when she was pregnant of me because it was considered a high risk pregnancy. She had not received it before because at the time she lived in Matamoros, Mexico and she believed that it was not correct to receive government services. Ultimately, she returned to the United States because she was extremely poor in Mexico, even though she was born in the U.S. and loved Matamoros. These programs helped us tremendously when my mother and father worked on minimum wage. On a separate note, we got sick often! Medicaid helped us when we were sick, when my brother broke his arm, when we needed a checkup to play sports. Even though we lived with a low socioeconomic status, we received quality healthcare insurance and medication because of Medicaid. Once I became pregnant, I knew that I needed healthcare insurance for my pregnancy, so I applied for Medicaid. Throughout my pregnancy, Medicaid helped me tremendously! It assisted me in providing for monthly and weekly medical visits, prenatal vitamins, and additional services I needed. It paid for my hospital bill when Frida was born. After the pregnancy, I placed Frida on Medicaid and I also received assistance from WIC. So in this presentation, I also learned about the Affordable Health Care Act and became ecstatic to learn about the services that would assist many people without medical insurance. At the moment, my brother, sister, and myself are without insurance and I immediately thought of them. I dislike thinking that my brother or my younger sister cannot visit a doctor because he has no medical insurance or sufficient money.
On teenage pregnancy…
On a booklet titled “2011 Bringing Opportunity Home: A Latino Public Policy Agenda for the 112th Congress” [provided by NCLR] it stated [in regards to teen pregnancy from a study in 2006],
“Among racial and ethnic minorities, Latinas ages 15-19 have the highest teen pregnancy rate (126.6 per 1000) and highest teen pregnancy rate (70.1 per 1000). To put this into perspective, 52% of Latinas get pregnant at least once before the age of 20, and Latinas accounted for nearly 33% of births to teens ages 15-19 in 2009.”
Clearly, I fell into this statistic. Even though the Latino birth rate has decreased, we still possess the highest teen birth rate [Texas ranks fourth!]. I also want to note that on a study conducted by the CDC, teen childbearing in the U.S. cost approximately $10.9 billion. These are the reasons why:
“Women who become pregnant as a teenager face a host of challenges, particularly as they relate to education. Furthermore, the effects of a teen pregnancy go beyond the teen mother. Children of teen mothers have higher rates of poverty and are more likely to repeat a grade and drop out of school… Many of these factors have a disproportionate effect on Latina teenagers given the challenges they already face in obtaining a quality education.”
The presenters also mentioned that an overwhelming amount of Latinas do not utilize contraceptives because they cannot afford it and the existing stigmatization.
Teenage pregnancy and young parents face many social inequalities that hinder their development and the possibility of realizing their full potential. In addition, we must provide strong bases of support for young parents to counter these obstacles. Luckily, I have been able to continue with my post-secondary education because of the tremendous help my mother and government services have given to me. I see that they want me to succeed for myself and for my daughter. Initially, I viewed my goals with those motivations in mind but now I have realized that it is much more than that. I am motivated by other pregnant teenagers and young parents. I am motivated by the fact that I am breaking those barriers to success and stigmatization I face for being a young parent. I am motivated by the fact that I am an example that it can be done and that we can help others.
The common theme for this year’s NCLR conference was sparking a movement. For this issue, we spark a movement by initiating the conversation. We must engage in honest and open conversations with adolescents, without the omission or distortion of information. It does make a difference.
In a workshop at the AFY Urban Retreat, we were asked to write on an index card why we are acitivists and we were asked to pass them around and read them out loud. I was given this one and it resonated with my life so much that I decided to keep it. I have had it ever since.
On my Mexican culture…
In this conference, many of the presenters spoke about how their parents raised them with a strong cultural upbringing. They embraced their culture. It is important to note that in Texas, I did not receive any education on my culture and how it played an important role in Texas. It was not until I was enrolled in Mexican American Studies [in college!] that I learned about the Chicano Movement. I am ashamed to say that I did not consider myself a woman of color until I attended the AFY’s Urban Retreat last year. Whenever I was presented with a questionnaire that asked for my race, I did not select white or black. I knew [or at least I thought I did] that I was not white but I was not white, I was Hispanic. However, when other people had “white” on their birth certificate we were all confused. Now I understand that many Mexican Americans registered as white to their birth certificate to avoid many oppressive methods that were placed on them. So, there is confusion when it comes to our role in Texas and the United States. I did not know the history of my ethnicity and I did not understand it. I never questioned it because it was never taught. Our culture was not taught or embraced in public schools. This is a problem in Texas that must be undone. We must teach children and adolescents about our culture, our history, and our past. We can change our future if we become educated on our history. It does not matter if Latinos are the fastest growing group in the United States, we must still become informed, teach others, and empower them to become civically engaged.
Why Learn Mexican American History?
From the Barefoot Guide!
Jul 14, 2012
The Philippines mourn for the demise of its King of Comedy, Dolphy who died at the age of 83 Tuesday last week, a couple of days short before his 84th birthday due to multiple organ failure. His passing marks the end of decades of comedy which brought joy and laughter to generations of movie-goers. News of his death was even carried by major foreign press around the world, something that speaks about the huge contribution he has given to the Philippine movie industry.
I have to admit, I am not a Dolphy fan. Sometimes, I do not find his jokes funny. Not because I am deviant, but, maybe because of the culture I was brought up with (try reading Dr. Victor N. Sugbo’s essay on Humors in the Plays of Iluminado Lucente can be found on Kandabao Essays on Waray Language, Literature, and Culture published by Divine Word University Publications pages 149-170). Nevertheless, I always admire how he constantly reinvents himself in order to give comedy a new face in the six generations that patronize his movies. He was indeed a versatile actor, an icon, and a legend of his time.
What made me more admire about this man was the fact that he was the pioneer actor who portrayed gay roles in the Philippine cinema even before Indie movies came into existence in an era where strong conservatism and discrimination against gays were still predominant. His gay roles in the movies through the years reflects the status quo of the LGBT community in those particular times. But what is more enduring than his role in making the Filipino people accept homosexual men in society by means of movies, a very influential medium to change attitude and mindset of the people.
Among his icnonic gay roles in movies were:
“Facifica Falayfay” (1969)
“Fefita Fofongay, Sarhento Fofongay” (1973)
“Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” (My Dad, My Mom) (1978)
"Darna Kuno" (1979)
Mga Anak ni Facifica Falayfay (Facifica Falayfay’s Children) (1987)
“Markova: Comfort Gay” (2001).
He was however, famous associated for the serious gay roles he played in Ang Tatay Kong Nanay (My Dad, My Mom) and Markova: Comfort Gay. As a gay beautician named Dioscoro Derecho, nicknamed Coring, in the movie Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, he takes good care of a child entrusted to Coring’s care whose father he was in love, who leaves him, and returns sometime later with the child. In “Markova: Comfort Gay”, Dolphy portrayed the real-life story of Walter Dempster, Jr., a.k.a. Markova, an aging man who was a comfort gay during World War II. The latter made him won a Best Actor award in Brussels, Belgium.
Although the Comedy King was criticized for his stereotypical portrayal of gays in some of his movies, his two serious gay role films outweighs everything that was said against him. As Coring, he showed to the Filipino audience that gays can raise children very well, contrary to the popular notion in the Philippine society that gay parents are bad parents and incapable of raising children well. In Markova, he showed the sad plight of comfort gays during World War II and how, along with the case of comfort women, justice remains elusive to them. No compensation, nor recognition of Imperial Japanese soldiers’ atrocities to women and gays during World War II were recognized by the Japanese government.
“Dolphy made it okay, no-big-deal, to cross-dress and play gay; so much so that people like Joey de Leon, Michael V, Ogie, and even Vic Sotto weren’t scared to do ‘faggotry’ and serious ‘faggotry’ at that. That’s a game-changing thing in the heterosexual world,” says famous Filipino movie director Peque Gallaga in an interview. Indeed, Dolphy takes the credit with him to his very own grave for breaking barriers in Filipino cinema by being a heterosexual man who is so much comfortable portraying a homosexual man in films. As many says, there could be no other Dolphy. They are right.
When he was asked what was his memorable film roles in his more than six decades in the showbiz industry, his reply was: “Ang memorable sa akin ay yung mga pagbabakla. Ako ang nagpasimuno ng mga pabakla-bakla na yan (The most memorable to me are the gay roles I played. I initiated it)," he said. After a whole week of endless press coverage and media interview with those whom he left, the Comedy King was peacefully laid to rest last Sunday in a private internment attended only by his family members, friends, and loved ones.
Decades of comedy and laughter has it final chapters closed.
For those who were able to witness him in films, we are privileged and thankful.
The King of Comedy is dead…
Long Live the King of Comedy!
Rest in Peace Mang Dolphy!
Jul 12, 2012
by Bianca Laureano
This isn’t about coming out stories or labeling Frank Ocean a term he does not identify with (as many folks are doing, he never said he was gay, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, he just said he loved another man). Instead I want to create a post that highlights the out queer identified rappers.
My reason for creating this post is because I think folks are asking the wrong questions when it comes to Frank Ocean’s post about his experiences with love. Folks are often asking why the homophobia and heterosexism in the Hip-Hop genre is present, how it impacts queer rappers, and why queer rappers may not come out. My concern with these queries is that they may isolate and ignore the already out and queer rappers currently. Why don’t folks know of the out queer rappers in the Hip-Hop genre, community, and culture? This is a very different question from “why more rappers won’t/can’t ‘come out’.”
This is not to say that because queer rappers are queer they must speak about queer issues or be that queer artist. It is an aspect of our identities that impacts our perspectives, however, they are artist in a genre that folks claim is extremely toxic to queer artists without recognizing the queer artist that are surviving and moving the genre forward. So my hope is that this list will evolve, you’ll post your favorites not mentioned here, and we’ll collectively support and purchase their music!
I tapped into my community and asked them who are their favorite out queer rappers. Of course folks may remember this Colorlines article highlighting 8 queer identified people in the Hip-Hop genre. That list, like this one, is not exhaustive yet these are continuations! Below are some of the folks and artists people in my community and networks have mentioned. When I can I’ll post their videos just be mindful some of the lyrics may not be “safe” to listen to depending on your location.
Let’s start with one degree of separation from Frank Ocean. He is part of the Odd Future crew, which has out queer artist Syd the Kyd. This year Syd the Kyd was featured in LA Weekly and spoke directly about her sexual orientation and thoughts about folks inquiring about it in an interview. If you haven’t seen her video for the track “Cocaine” check it out below where her “love interest” is another woman. Also keep an eye out for the forms of violence that are represented here.
THEESatisfaction is a Hip-Hop duo whose most recent track QueenS lit the internets on fiyah! When you check out the video you’ll see why! Everywhere I looked online for a good 3 weeks this video and song was everywhere and none of us minded at all! Thanks to Malik for being the first person to suggest them for this piece!
Malik also suggested Angel Haze whose upcoming album will be released July 17, 2012. Fader magazine highlighted Angel Haze last year in their piece on up and coming artists, be warned the piece reads extremely sexist and condescending! However, her song “New York” does not and check it out below.
When I asked folks online for suggestions Iyssyboobears said their favorite rapper was Kelow. The first song and video I heard from Kelow was “Haters” and right now I’m really loving this song “Uptwnz Finest.” Kelow has a tumblr page that has most up to date videos and fotos.
Lady Sovereign was introduced to me in the early 2000s by my homeboy Jerome, who I have created an imaginary Hip-Hop crew with similar to Wu-Tang where we are the core 2 and have a fluctuating 30+ members. From the UK Lady Sovereign has discussed her queerness openly for years.
Azealia Banks discussed her bisexuality earlier this year and how she’s living life on her own terms and not wanting to be the “lesbian rapper.” It’s really her songs and lyrical content that are grabbing the well deserved attention of many. Her latest song “Liquorice” calls out so much of the fetishization of the Black bodies of women and the men of Color who buy into white supremacy. Check out her video for the song below.
Israeli-born and Detroit raised rapper Invincible has shared that she learned English via US Hip-Hop. Invincible has been put in the same spaces as Lauryn Hill when describing her contributions and flow. She is an activist and openly speaks out about oppressions people all over the world are experiencing and making connections to colonization. Here’s “Ropes”
invincible | Myspace Music Videos
My homegirl Becky suggested Cazwell. I dig this song “Rice and Beans” because of the simple fact that Eduardo in the video is a LatiNegro! Ok I also dig that Cazwell talks about how he brought the condoms! And not just that but I also appreciate that although the hook is “take me to your mama’s for dinner” and it assumes that the mama is cooking, I don’t see this as a problem, but rather a way that mama’s of Color support and love their openly queer children and challenges those stereotypes that parents and people of Color are homophobic!
Now, Cazwell is Polish, so his use of men of Color, Spanglish, and other such forms of cultural production by people of Color may be troubling to some, it may be for me I just haven’t spent enough time engaging with his work to make a full analysis, but I want to put it out there that I do see some things coming up for me.
The next several artists were suggested by my online Femme’ily
Siya has been around for a minute. This is one of the many artists that I struggled with which video to post here for ya’ll to watch because I really dig all of their videos! So, I decided to start with “I’m Gone” but def check out Siya’s website for other videos as well!
Le1f’s “Dark York” you may download and get the song &Gomorrah also below. I’m not completely sure if Le1f identifies as a rapper exclusively as he is creating music in ways beyond lyricism. His myspace page identifies his music as concrete jungle, but I think Hip-Hop evolves and is more inclusive than some folks may want to believe.
Sgt Sass are a duo from Philidelphia with K.D. and D.T. Formed in 2004 and making music seriously since 2007 and shared that in their song “Faggot Snappin” they desire to embrace and claim a term used by outsiders to harm and isolate them. In “Faggot Snappin” they say “you know who the f*&% we are we aint scared of none of ya’ll” which I really dig. The video is below.
Benni E is from Philadelphia and has been described as the “blood pulsating through” the heart of Philly’s queer Hip-Hop scene. Below is a video from 2009 in Toronto for the Blockorama Pride event.
MC Jazz from Toronto is an “anti-swagger, political queer Egyptian rapper & poet, who makes you move while you groove to truth. Welcome to the Queer Hip-Hop Movement; MC Jazz’s lyrics smash the social, sexual and political limitations of today’s Hip-hop. She creates strong messages and promotes inclusive music that speaks for those without a voice. She attacks and tears down stereotypes of "who and what we should be" with a vengeance and brings back the real purpose of the spoken word in Hip-hop. After war, and experiencing daily prejudice based on being the "immigrant", rap and spoken word became MC Jazz’s most powerful outlet and means of activism” as her Facebook page states. In her song “Boys Like This” she addresses the use of the term “faggot” by heterosexual men. Check out the live performance below.
Mykki Blanco gives me life on a daily basis! In an Interview feature Mykki speaks of being a Black trans artist and rapper. Below is featured clip that includes an interview and street performance by Mykki. I adore that the young women of Color on the street are loving her and supporting her so openly and completely.
Zebra Katz who, along with Mykki Blanco have gained the attention of many media outlets, especially the BBC who did a story on both of them and the “rise of queer rap.” I was introduced to Zebra Katz earlier this year by his song “Ima Read” featuring Njena Reddd Foxxx which is below. For those of you not in the know, to read is something that stems from queer people of Color cultural production and engagement. Maybe you’ve heard some folks say “The library is open.” Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx basically close the library.
Saye Skye is a 23 year-old Iranian lesbian rapper and activist. Learn more about her work, life, and hear her music at this interview done September of last year. Below is one of her songs “Executing Rights” with lyrics in English on the screen.
There were so many more suggestions that came my way by the time this had to be sent to my editor! Here are some links of the ones that made it in before publication but that I didn’t have too much time to research and get information on. I’m sure there will be more and I’ll leave them in the comments!
Cakes da Killa
The Lost Bois
Jul 11, 2012
The world is overpopulated.
Overpopulation is everywhere.
It is a major cause of most of the crises we face.
We can fix it…humanely, voluntarily, and starting today.
Six things stand in our way.
This week a few human rights and too few environmental organizations will observe World Population Day. In 1989, as world population passed the 5 billion mark, the United Nations declared July 11 World Population Day. In the 23 years since, we’ve added another 2 billion.
The UN’s latest mid-range scenario has us passing through 10 billion before this century ends. We’ve been adding a billion to the planet about every 12 years, but the UN expects fertility rates to decline such that it will take nearly 80 years to add the next 3 billion. This scenario also has us hitting peak population just after 2100. Some feel this means population growth is no longer a concern.
I’m as worried about population growth today as I was when I decided twenty years ago to stop at two children. Why? Today alone we’ll add more than 200,000 to the planet. This week we’ll add more than a million – over 80 million this year. Yet according to data from the Global Footprint Network, published in the WWF’s Living Planet Report, the current 7 billion of us are living like there’s no tomorrow. We’re pushing other species off the planet at a record rate, draining the world’s major rivers and pumping aquifers dry, liquidating fertile soils, toxifying our land and waters, and heating up our climate.
We’re doing this while half the world’s population lives at a lifestyle we’d consider impoverished. We’d like all the people on the planet to have an opportunity to live like we do. Unfortunately that’s just not possible. The scientists crunching the data tell us it would take 5 Earths to support all 7 billion of us living like North Americans. Even if we could pull this off for a day or a week, it’s not sustainable and we’d very quickly destroy the life support systems upon which we depend.
So it’s a sticky wicket at 7 billion, and the problem is amplified if we go to 10. Clearly those of us living materially rich lives need to scale back our levels of consumption. But that is not enough. The prospects of achieving worldwide economic justice and equity do not get better as we overpopulate the planet.
The good news is we don’t have to follow that UN scenario. It’s not inevitable. It is physically possible for population to peak at 8 billion or even less. Families the world over can begin today making informed, responsible decisions about family size. What stands in the way?
1. The myth that growth begets prosperity – We are convinced our recent 200-year binge (harnessing the power of fossil fuels, industrialization, globalization, settling and exploiting the frontiers of the Americas, etc.) is the way life is supposed to be. These exploits allowed us to improve our lives, and they were accompanied by explosive population growth (1 billion in 1800, 8 billion in 2000). We think we can repeat this binge behavior going forward. In fact, many of us believe we must. The evidence and the science tell us clearly we cannot. We can take power away from this mythology by pointing it out whenever it is repeated or used to guide behavior or policy. We must be relentless in demolishing this myth.
2. The assumption continued population growth is inevitable – Many also have the impression it would take decades to change that steep upward trajectory. But all the talk about demographic momentum assumes people of reproductive age will not dramatically alter the choices they make. We can get over this hurdle. It just takes a little information. Growth can stop 9 months from now if it’s enough of a priority.
3. Our fear of addressing the issue – The “population taboo” has many forms. We think it’s an inalienable right to reproduce as many offspring as we wish. It’s none of our business to suggest someone else limit family size. Some critics leap to the conclusion that sustainable population advocates in the developed world are trying to avoid addressing our overconsumption and blame humankind’s unsustainability on the procreation of people in the developing world.
For these and other reasons many good people avoid the topic. It’s become politically incorrect to use the word “overpopulation.” “Population dynamics” has replaced “population growth.” “Reproductive health” is mentioned instead of “contraception.” We see it at the UN and in statements from environmental and human rights groups. This PC approach to the topic pervades most of our media.
Perfect examples are statements from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From an early World Population Day 2012 message:
“A world of 7 billion is both a challenge and an opportunity with implications on sustainability, urbanization, access to health services and youth empowerment.”
A challenge and an “opportunity?” Give me a break! And from his actual World Population Day 2012 statement:
“Multiple crises — food, fuel and financial — have caused significant suffering and served as a wake-up call about the need to pay far more attention to the building blocks of sustainable development. Reproductive health is an indispensable part of the sustainable development equation.”
That’s the best he can muster. In his defense, he does go on to actually use the word “contraceptives.” That in itself is astounding progress. But he does not have the cojones to tell the full truth. Here is what he ought to say (my words now):
“The world is overpopulated. We must find humane, voluntary ways to bring population growth to a halt as soon as is humanly possible. And we need to do this in the developed world as much as in the developing world.”
This is a tough beast to tame, but I’m going to suggest the George Carlin approach. Let’s get over our goody-two-shoes fear of the truth. Stop beating around the bush. Use the words. Our planet is overpopulated. Population growth is not good for our children. It would be in their best interest for us to conceive fewer of them. You can say it! It’s the compassionate, loving, humanitarian thing to say. If we say it and write it enough, world leaders may follow (the irony is not lost on me).
Let’s also admit the developed world is overconsuming and we must deal with that issue simultaneously. And if we’re overconsuming, that means we North Americans and Australians have a population problem, too (Europeans not so much; many of these nations are experiencing population decline – which they should embrace with joy).
4. Our culture is addicted to growth – Our cities, states and nations compete to have the fastest growth. We pursue population growth because we connect it with economic growth, which is of course the Holy Grail (and a subject for another day). It’s impossible to have a sustainable world in which most of the geopolitical units are pursuing growth. Frankly, it can feed a hypocrisy in which rich cities and countries increase population and footprint, while thinking birth control for poor peoples and nations will solve our sustainability problem. It’s all nonsense. Of course we need to expose this mythology for what it is, and progress to more enlightened, sustainable prosperity strategies.
5. Propaganda from growth profiteers keep reasons 1-4 in play – We are programmed from birth to believe in and worship everlasting growth. News media and advertising reinforce that indoctrination on a daily basis. Some of this happens innocently enough – because journalists grow up with the same programming. However media companies and business tycoons benefit from a growing market so they intentionally serve up a steady diet of pro-growth Kool-Aid.
6. Family planning under attack – Lastly, we have the ultra-conservative attack on funding of family planning. I’ll say it: access to contraception. As more and more people come to understand that limiting family size is critical, compassionate and responsible, I think we can prevail. It starts with having frank dialog about it. World Population Day 2012 seems like a good day to start.
Dave Gardner directed the film, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, and has created www.worldpopulationday.org, to encourage honest conversations about overpopulation. To order the film or find a screening near you, visit www.growthbusters.org. Both are non-profit projects of Citizen-Powered Media. Permission is granted to publish this essay elsewhere in its entirety, provided full credit and link back to these sites is included.
Jul 10, 2012
Here’s my interview on Jet, a young person from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. He is from the city of Puerto Ordaz but now resides in Caracas, the capital city of this rich country in Latin America. Jet was one of the delegates to the 6th World Youth Congress and participated in the Rio+20 Earth Summit representing his organization, World Youth Alliance (WYA) Venezuela. WYA is an international, non-governmental, non-profit youth organization which works to promote the dignity of the person at the international and grassroots level. World Youth Alliance works to build solidarity between developed and developing nations. In 1999, the World Youth Alliance was founded in New York City at the United Nations. And although his organization may sometimes take a different stand on issues we tackle, I am glad in finding a common ground with Jet on Sustainable Development issues.
You can also see this video on this link: www.youtube.com/watch
Jul 5, 2012
Take a look at this picture and tell me who you think it is.
Would you believe that this is the same woman?
The top picture is concept art for a series of Disney Villain dolls that will accompany a new limited edition beauty line of nail polish, eye shadow, and lip gloss. The villains inspiring this new line include Ursula, Cruella De Vil, the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Mother Gothel, and the Queen of Hearts.
Ursula’s makeover is the most extreme, but the Queen of Hearts has been drastically slimmed down as well. You can see a partial image of this on the compact mirror (far left figure).
Cruella De Vil, already bone-thin, was also modified to have softer, rounder curves.
Four points on this:
1) I don’t have a problem with character-inspired makeup lines. I actually think it’s a neat idea.
2) However, given the fact that this is Disney-inspired and is limited to nail polish, lip gloss, and eye shadow, it seems pretty clear that this is being marketed to girls and young teens. I am in no position to tell anyone if or when they should start wearing makeup or what kinds of makeup, but I do have a problem with girls being marketed something that associates them with not just an older age but presentation and behaviors associated with that age. I’m not saying that something like nail polish is going to make a 7 year old girl act like or be perceived as a teenager, but in an environment where selling makeup to girls is normalized, girls are expected to act older at a younger age.
3) Changing the bodies of these Disney villains, especially Ursula, for the sake of beauty sends the message that female beauty has one shape only. While this (literally) narrow version of beauty isn’t surprising from Disney- or anywhere else- I still think it’s unfortunate that they felt it necessary to modify long-existing, well-established characters in order to sell their dolls. Considering that they are being marketed as companions to a beauty line, there’s no escaping the connection.
4) I also want to address the association between fat bodies, old age, and villains. While not all of these Disney villains are fat, all of them are significantly older than the young, thin, female heroines. For a long time, characters who are immoral, vengeful, or angry have been depicted or represented by these physical characteristics. They are irrational, unattractive, and sexually unwanted. Ursula and the Queen of Hearts are fat and manipulative. Cruella De Vil is materialistic and seen as barren, needing to steal young ones from others to find fulfillment. Snow White’s Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Mother Gothel are vain and take out their anger on the young girls who they believe are receiving unearned attention and praise. None of these characteristics are desirable, leaving women who are fat, childless, or old with largely negative media representations.
Jul 1, 2012
Amplify has the stories you need to hear! With so many great contributors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want you to miss out on the top insightful and informative stories of the week. Check in each week for a list of must-read posts. Whether it’s a national story or a individual experience, these are the issues you care about!
June 24- June 30
Stats this week: 29 blogs by 22 writers
Inside this post:
Based on the unconference model, organisers should strive to create a space for its particpants to share ideas and insights, craft creative solutions to problems and become more proficient in tackling the various issues covered after having left the conference. Of course, conference attendees also have the responsibility for their own learning and development. However, it is possible that the unconference model may be able to facilitate easier more efficient decision-making processes.
The “SHUGA” Radio Project- by Mbotiji
Inside this post:
why the radio?
The partners of this project really want to effectively disseminate correct information about HIV/AIDS and inspire youths to know their serological status and take necessary actions to live healthily. The main targets are youths in the rural communities who donot have access to television and other modern forms of communication like the internet.
Keeping Our Youth Alive- by JamesMLee
Inside this post:
…there’s great progress happening in these places, but like I said, it’s not happening fast enough. Our youth are taking their own lives or having their lives taken from them. The climate here is not a welcoming, inviting, healthy environment for our youth. This is why they’re taking their own lives and this is why they’re having their lives taken from them. Now, we can’t change the climate unless we stand up and we say something. If you’re not exercising your vote, then you’re not standing up. You’re not doing enough.
Rio+20 Developments? Our Leaders and Hot Air- by U-DGurl
Inside this post:
Sadly, we’re left with fighting our way through individual government policies that don’t support sexual and reproductive rights, youth voice or even climate and poverty alleviation. I just hope that despite all this, despite the lack of progress the complete halt in global change initiated by the world’s government, that it takes us as activists; us as concerned citizens of the world, to do something truly wonderful to give our children and their children a world they truly deserve.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
My blog post this week:
Dove’s campaign for real beauty? Only if you’re white. (i.e. "normal")
Jun 30, 2012
The long awaited and much talked about United Nation’s Sustainable Development conference has now come and is gone, and yet nothing not even an iota of a thing has changed in the conditions of living of the billions of people who the world over had great hopes in this conference. Please think not that I am mad and expecting miracles to happen just a few days after the Rio+20 conference. I, like many people believe that change takes time to happen. But I am also convinced that the days in the run up to an event like the Rio+20 conference and the days immediately after are more determining than any other days for the resolutions to be taken and/ agreed upon. This is because anything happening at this particular moment, however small, could influence to a level no one could imagine its outcome. Action time is now. The people are watching!
A group of people who should not only be watching but taking active part in Cameroon’s sustainable development is the youth. Youths according to official statistics, make up close to 65% Of Cameroon’ 20 million inhabitants and place in have since the independence of this country never been given their rightful place in society.
Youths, who are the most affected by poverty either directly or indirectly; are the most important or should be the most cherished gifts of any nation. But this is a fact that is often ignored by most decision makers of our world. The lack of interest for youth involvement and participation in policy formulation and implementation is one of the most visible traits of decision makers in Cameroon which has no minister younger than forty.
But can extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS and other diseases be eradicated or reduced without youths being associated to efforts aimed at doing so? Can infant mortality, illiteracy, gender based violence and environmental degradation be achieved without involving youths and most especially those in the rural areas who are most affected by these ills?
The answer to the above questions is of course a big “NO”. Youths have consistently proven wherever and whenever they have been given an opportunity that their numerical strength (close to half of the world’s population and 86 percent of the population of the global south fall in the 15-24 years bracket according to the United Nations ),their energy and unending search for new and ever innovative solutions to today’s global challenges are tools to be reckoned with if poverty and all forms of suffering is to be overcomed and the MDGs achieved.
The exclusion and marginalization of youths has made their participation in the running of the country so marginal and resulted in development being considered as either as the “government’s” or “politician’s” thing.
The conclusions of the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations Organization (UNO) of September 2010 that nations?- especially developing ones like Cameroon, still had a long way to go if MDGs are ever to be achieved, is unavoidably linked to the unilateral conception of development and “confiscation” of all development efforts from the people, especially the young ones, by politicians in these countries.
Jun 30, 2012
Trip to the condom aisle so that you can see the options available and how fun condom shopping could be.