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May madness- “Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Month” -hit a usual high  low when Las Vegas police, religion, and local state efforts all worked together to tell young women that they should “Choose Purity.” The event was *great* and featured police offers with guns, body bags, and scary ass monologues all in the name of “brining awareness to the problem of teenage pregnancy.” This even would be shocking if it wasn’t a prime example of what American society thinks sex education looks like. 

I’m assuming the event went something like this.
Good morning everyone,

Oh, you want to know about the reproductive system lets watch this highly accurate and informative video about where babies come from.

Because none of you will ever have sex( because you need to be pure) there is really no need to address the diseases out there however, in an effort to not be accused of only trying to scare you all without providing information, let’s cover some of the basics.
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I’m sure the end of the event didn’t end like this even though it should have
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​In reality we all wish our parents were a bit more like Regina’s mom (in terms of offering condoms)

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or more like Jim’s dad,

so we wouldn’t be so lost when it comes to sexuality, sexual health, and think that Apple pies really felt like vaginas, because really vaginas only feel like vaginas.

For more informative sexual health information you can check out

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(image reposted from DLCentral)

(This post contains SPOILERS.  Trigger warning: misogyny and homophobia.)

 

The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC (downloadable content) came out on Valentine’s Day 2014 with rabid anticipation and celebration from fans of the original Playstation 3 exclusive The Last of Us and TLoU: American Dreams comic series.  But not everyone was thrilled with the game.

I won’t hide that I’m personally a huge fan of this franchise.  I waited years for The Last of Us and kept track of various nuances in the video game design, legal matters, and updates.  I beat both the game and the DLC several times on different difficulties.  I’m above hundreds of thousands in terms of skill and rank on the The Last of Us multiplayer leaderboard.  I’ve also read the comics.  So, let there be no doubt that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to this.

The Last of Us excels in many ways that other games do not.  The graphics are miles above the majority of games that came out in 2012 and 2013.  The gameplay controls and mechanics are solid and allow players to make choices on how they want to deal with the conflict of each chapter.  Want to sneak around like a silent and deadly assassin?  Or would you rather jump in on danger with molotovs and nail bombs and guns blazing?  Players even get the option to have conversations with some of the NPCs (non-player character) and AIs (artificial intelligence) of the game, with prompts provided of course.  The game also limits how much ammo or supplies a player receives. It’s a tactic that makes the players really think about how they should use their items and re-think their strategies against the infected and enemy humans in this post-apocalyptic world.

The first ten minutes prove to be an emotional experience.  Each character’s personality, although existing in a fictional post-apocalypse, comes off real and the interactions of these characters are crafted masterfully. Any gamer knows that video games are notorious for having horrible dialogue and even worse voice acting. The Last of Us forces other game companies watching the success of this installment to re-think how they handle these things.  Sometimes it’s just not enough to spend hours going pew pew pew or smashing things in a story full of holes and ineffective voiceovers–even though that can be extremely fun too.  One of the things that really makes this game is the way it forces companies as well as fans to re-think how they treat people who identify as women in their own stories and gaming community… well, it’s almost there.

Girls and women make up 45% of all gamers in the community.  While that’s not a majority, it is still almost half the entire community.  And despite such a significant number of girls and women playing video games, our representation still only fluctuate around 17% in TV shows, movies, video games, and even Congress.  If we break it down for just the entertainment industry, women only make up 18% of directors and executive producers, 15% of writers, 4% of cinematographers, and 11% of protagonists in a story.

What does this have to do with The Last of Us?  Well, the game isn’t perfect.  I still felt it lacked female characters even as miscellaneous extras.  Most of the humans the player will come across will be men.  Most of the women I came across were mushroom infected hordes, officially known as “clickers.”

(Great female representation, huh?)

So what made this game different from the others before it?  In this game, women actually made up a half or more of the main characters, which is sadly a rare occurrence.  All the main women had motivations that were separate from the male lead, and this isn’t just a rarity, it’s almost non-existent in any form of media.  These women were three dimensional and complex.  They were flawed, vulnerable, and yet so fierce.  Players even get the opportunity to play as a teenage girl in the video game as well as in the DLC.  These are all good things when we keep in mind of how much female representation, especially good representation, is lacking in the media.  But we shouldn’t get too excited about the bare minimum.  It would definitely pass the Bechdel test but while this progressive move is noted and celebrated, we shouldn’t be setting our standards for basic decency so low.  As much as I love The Last of Us, the game still followed the same tired formula of brooding white, middle aged man with women being hurt at his expense.  So what did MRAs (Men’s Right Activists) and your general misogynists have to say about this bare minimum in treating women as if they were humans capable of complex thoughts?

It provoked angry nerds and geeks to crowd the forums with complaints like:

“Feminists did it. They are ruining one of my hobbies. For anyone who plays video games as one of their hobbies, The Last of Us is a pretty fun game…. The feminist messages were close to ruining a game I waited a year for…”

“…will my games be misogynist? You better ****ing believe it. Misogyny The likes of which will make duke nukem blush.”

(source: Men Going Their Own Way)

“At no point in the making of this game can you imagine Naughty Dog sitting down and saying “what we should do with our apolocayptic epic, is try and tackle feminism!”

“I’m all for stronger female characters but i also am sick of this sexist modern feminism which suggest been an attractive women is a bad thing. I also think it’s sexist to try repress straight male sexuality by suggesting its wrong to find women attractive by referring to it as objectification.”

“There are far more males play games than women…fact.Sick of hearing the constant nagging about sexism.”

(source: these comments are replies to The Last of Us isn’t the solution to sexism in games, but it’s a start.)

Some gamers took issue with the fact that many of the leadership roles in the video game were occupied by women, especially one woman of color named Marlene.  She’s the leader of the Fireflies.  It’s a rebellion group that’s focused on finding a cure to save humankind from this horrible zombie fungus affliction and dismantling the militaristic government system.

 

(Photo of Marlene, image reposted from GamerArtHub, original art concept and creation by Soanala Lee)

While the game faced heavy criticism from misogynistic players, The Last of Us hasn’t been left untouched by homophobia.  In video games, people who identify as LGBTQ+ are either killed off, villains, or aren’t featured at all.  I mean, the same can be said of most venues of media.  So there’s no surprise when some of the heated backlash over the progressiveness of the game found its way to one character named Bill.  He’s extremely paranoid, tactless, and rough but he’s very reliable.  The game heavily implies with obvious subtext that Bill is gay.  And it’s not just subtext, it’s been confirmed by one of the directors at Naughty Dog (company that created the game).  GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) voted Bill onto their list of most intriguing characters of 2013.  And here’s what they had to say about him:

“One of the characters the player encounters over the course of the game is Bill, an unstable loner in the town of Lincoln with a talent for fixing things. Through dialogue and backstory, the player learns that Bill once had a partner named Frank who he loved, but the plague drove them apart and led Frank to a bitter end. Both helpful and contentious, Bill is as deeply flawed but wholly unique a gay character found in any storytelling medium this year.”

(photo of Bill, reposted from GamerArtHub, original art concept and creation by Soanala Lee)

 

I thought the creators would leave all mention of queerness at subtext and podcast interview like so many others (J.K. Rowling, anyone?).  But Naughty Dog took a brave route with their addition to the full game.  While this DLC serves as a prologue to the actual game, Left Behind revolves around just Ellie and her friend Riley.  Making a video game that completely centers around teenage girls with their own personal motivations and feelings is already unheard of.  And how fun, as best friends, they can even take selfies in a photobooth with the players choosing the poses and backgrounds.  But Naughty Dog takes it one step further. The writers created a scene of vulnerability, tenderness, and love between two girls in a world ravished by violence, oppression, and plague.

You can watch the three minute scene here.  I would recommend that the comments should be left alone though.  But in case you need an extra warning, the comments are along the lines of:

“Yeah…. I threw the game in the trash cause of this…….

NAUGHTY DOG! NEXT TIME LET HER KISS A GUY!”

“It makes me angry seeing gays trying to take over media now Games?!”

“the team was influenced by feminism, disgusting.”

“the gay kiss is totally perverted and f***ing sick… Naughty Dog is dead to me.”

(I copied and pasted these comments by the way but decided to leave the commentators anonymous.)

The creators of The Last of Us confirms that Ellie is gay and that the kiss she shares with Riley is of love, not just understandably reaching out for warmth and affection in a cold world, but a kiss with intentions of romantic love.  Has anyone ever seen a game like that other than a manipulation of some Sims that we may or may not have made in the past?

It’s taken great steps toward progress, but we should still be fighting for more representation of identities in our media other than the usual white, male, cisgender, and heterosexual.  This game, while it probably won’t be a catalyst for a culture shift, should be the kind of thing that gamers use as a standard, a bare minimum for what’s considered acceptable.  And as the giants we are, we should go beyond that.

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When it comes to Beyonce Knowles, I have long been of the opinion that there are only two options when it comes to her. One could either be a hardcore stan (overzealous fan) or indifferent. I fall in the second category. I enjoy some of her music, but I am not at all vested in the aspects of her personal life. Her fans irritate me quite frankly, because they never critique her faults, no matter how numerous they are. It’s hypocritical.

 

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the fact that bell hooks, popular feminist and social activist, called Beyonce a “terrorist” during a panel discussion titled, “Are You Still a Slave?”. Many have taken to the internet to accuse hooks of policing feminism. Those criticisms highlight just how little people know about feminism, as well as their unwillingness to condemn a favorite; someone whom they view as a powerful black woman due to her fame and financial success. It is important to note in the process of evaluating bell hooks’ comments, that there are problems within feminism, and part of Beyonce’s appeal is her status as a highly popular celebrity, which would make it possible for her to act as a strong voice for black women everywhere.

 

My interpretations of the Time Magazine cover which sparked commentary from bell hooks are as thus. On one hand, the bodies of black women are overly sexualized in comparison to their white counterparts. We’ve seen it before with the comparisons between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus – a true #solidarityisforwhitewomen moment. Chances are, if it were a white woman on the cover of that magazine, tongues wouldn’t wag as much. That said, I don’t quite understand the intersections of terrorism and partricentric views of sexuality. For the most part, I disagree with hooks’ conjecture that dressing in that fashion enslaves women to the male gaze. I for one, don’t dress to please anyone but myself and like to say that the day I dress to please a man, is the day I prepare to meet Jesus. Part of overthrowing the patriarchy is making decisions for ourselves. But I do agree that there is still a correlation between dressing sexy and being more popular. Sex sells right?

 

In conclusion, yes Beyonce is a problematic person. I think things would be alright if only people would stop thrusting the mantle of feminism upon her. For goodness sake the woman threw in a domestic violence reference in “Drunk in Love” and it has since been parroted all over the world with no regard to the meaning. Her image is too controlled for anyone to imagine that they could ever truly know what she is all about.

 

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Bill O’Reilly believes that Beyonce does not deserve to be on the cover of Time magazine because she causes young women in the black community to have unintended pregnancies…. Seriously, he said that.

As a young black Latina who had her daughter at 15, I don’t even know where to start with his ridiculous claim. I can however promise you that Beyonce and her music were the LAST things that led to my being pregnant at 15 years old. Terrible sexual health education classes in my conservative southern school; poverty; lack of access to  affordable  birth control options; and low self esteem are a few of the things that led to my unintended teenage pregnancy -  but certainly not Beyonce.

While O’Reilly is making ridiculous claims about the black americans and unintended pregnancies being attributable to a very married, committed, and self employed black women, Beyonce, I wonder when he will address the lack ofcomprehensive sex education being taught in public and private schools across America? When will he address the fact that low wages keep many parents out of the home for hours on in, working for wages so low that they can barely afford to pay the rent  - let alone spend real and quality time with their children? I wonder when/ if he will take a look at policies in place that keep access to affordable birth control options to all persons, free of coercion, an option?

It simply doesn’t work or add up to be anti- birth control, anti livable wages, anti Beyonce and paint yourself as the voice of reason for a group of people you know very little about.

This decline seems to coincidentally line up with that fact that Beyonce’s first single album was released in 2003, and since then teenage pregnancy rates have continued to drop.

 If we want to play the game of false equivalencies and correlation being causation, I will take a note out of the Brookings Institute “findings” and say that it is not the show Teen Mom but is in fact Beyonce and her jezebel music you speak of that have led to the decrease in teenage pregnancy.

There you have it folks, Beyonce is the cause of the decline in unintended pregnancies. (see how ridiculous that sounds?)

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an “Advocate For Youth”.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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The American porn industry: a world of opportunity for both actors and consumers. Everyone wins, right? Actors and actresses with “desired features” have sex and get paid for their performances; meanwhile, consumers happily perpetuate a market with an estimated value of between $10 and $13 billion, which boosts our nation’s economy. By virtue of increased access to pornographic content through the Internet, the industry has permeated American culture so much that the average person views their first pornographic image at the age of 11. Moreover, by 2006, pornographic videos were released on an average of one every half hour.

This is how capitalists would describe the porn industry. They love it because it’s profitable… and it’s also seemingly becoming more “normal.” But while it can be easy to “normalize” the porn industry in light of statistics like the ones above, the porn industry is far from normal. Notably, the actors and actresses who star in pornographic films are subject to abnormal, oftentimes degrading treatment by the same people who consume their products. This fact may not be readily apparent for most of us – how many pornographic actors do we know personally? More than likely, we know none. Porn actors per capita in an arguably moral nation like the U.S. are few; moreover, those who do star in pornography use stage names – most of the time to protect their anonymity. However, for one freshman at Duke University, the struggle to function in society while performing in pornographic films took a serious turn when her anonymity as a porn star was stripped away from her.

Most of America knows her by her stage name, “Belle Knox.”  Her real name is Miriam Weeks, but she has only recently divulged her birth name – out of fear. This 18 year-old Duke University freshman has starred in over 30 pornographic films. Weeks has claimed that starring in pornography brings her both confidence and economic stability. On the one hand, Weeks says that as a degree-seeking 18 year-old, no other job could provide her with enough income to pay for her education – a hefty $50,000 per year bill. On the other hand, Weeks states that freely doing pornography is a part of her agenda as a person – she confidently approaches the adult film industry as a way for her to express herself as a woman and to take a stand against the way sex workers are ostracized.

However, after a fellow Duke student “outed” her name to her classmates, Weeks’ struggle as a pornographic actress trying to live a normal life has spiraled. Her ideals and her dignity have been shattered by threats of rape and death, opinions of her perceived economic freedom, critiques of her morality, and objectifications of her body above consideration of her personal ideals. Intense public scrutiny of her aspirations of becoming a respected member of society while working in the porn industry have done an injustice to the human worth of Miriam Weeks and highlight several important problems with the way this country treats sex workers.

By virtue of our technological society, it is much harder for sex workers to remain anonymous. And when these workers are put in the spotlight, our culture’s perpetual stigmatization of their profession leads to many negative, unwarranted responses on a large scale. Disagreeing with sex work is one matter. However, “slut shaming,” often in the form of death threats, rape threats, belittling, bullying, and objectification are unwarranted but present byproducts of being “outed” as a sex worker in our morally conscious culture. While it can be easy for us to think that sex workers have the ability to shrug off degrading comments because of their knowledge of how many people perceive their work, studies have proven otherwise: Extensive literature on the psychological state of sex workers has shown that the suicide rate among sex workers is six times that of the rest of the population. Clearly, these degrading comments are unsurprisingly degrading the mental and emotional state of sex workers at an unconscionable rate.

A second issue at stake for men and women like Miriam Weeks is society’s perception of the true freedom of sex workers. In Weeks’ case, many have argued that the pressure of paying for college has “coerced” the Duke freshman to seek sex work as a means to survive in a country that often prioritizes the value of an education. This is simply not true, according to Weeks, who claims that the money is only one of several reasons why she loves staring in adult films. However, although Weeks has asserted that she feels completely free to choose to do porn, it is not fair to say that all sex workers engage in their work purely out of their own free will. Sometimes, we hear stories of men and women in disparaging economic circumstances, who resort to sex work as a means to stay alive.

But why do some of us instantly typify Miriam Weeks as one of these people who do sex work as a “last resort” – a way to survive economically? Maybe its because when it comes to sex work, many of us are sharply divided on the issue, even though all of us are trained by society to find compassion for others, especially the “marginalized” members of our community (e.g., sex workers, as you probably guessed.) It’s not necessarily our fault: as soon as a conversation about porn starts, so starts the stigma, and instead of believing the possibility that a human being could ever want to do sex work, some of us tell ourselves that the person is just short on money. They’re just getting by until some other opportunity comes up. We excuse them for making the decision to sell their bodies. But when we perceive sex workers collectively as un-free workers, we all too often put words in their mouths. We rob them collectively of the value of their ability to choose. We rob them of their dignity as a rational human being.

Dignity: a word normally not associated with sex workers. But is there any inherent dignity working as a porn star? Miriam Weeks argues that this question is perceived with great bias by a majority of our society. I couldn’t agree more. There is an inherent dichotomy in the ways in which our society thinks about pornography. Although roughly 50% of American citizens freely admit to watching porn regularly, Weeks thinks that society at large has a tendency to shame pornographic actors and actresses publically and professionally while they cannot get enough of it privately. I cannot help but agree with Weeks that this enigma is one of the great plagues of our society. We jerk off with one hand, and we point our fingers with the other.

Breaking down this dichotomy will be a fundamentally challenging but necessary step to search for justice in the many issues surrounding our perception of sex workers. But the struggle for fair treatment of sex workers only begins there. We as a society also need to stop slut shaming as a means of expressing our discontent with someone’s profession. We need to realize that nobody likes being degraded; even if we consider someone derogatory, they are still a human, equally deserving of dignity and respect. Moreover, we need to give back the freedom of choice that we oftentimes take away from sex workers. Instead of being content with telling ourselves that sex workers as a whole are economically disabled, we should work to ensure that all sex workers are economically enabled. We should help those who are not as fortunate as Miriam Weeks and are struggling economically to be able to choose a career just like everyone else.

In closing, I’d like to address that I say “we” throughout this article because this issue affects all of us. Even if you have never watched pornography (I will be a little skeptical of that, but I will take your word for it) or you have not engaged in sex work, I’m sure someone you know has directly or indirectly struggled with the sex-negativity that so pervades our culture. We need to break the stigma surrounding sex work in our society because the reality is that some of us desire to engage in sex work. And no human being deserves to hear that their desires are disgusting.

By: Eric Thomas Roy

Sources:

1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_in_the_United_States#Economics and

          http://www.xojane.com/sex/belle-knox-duke-university-freshman-porn-star

2.  http://www.internetsafety101.org/Pornographystatistics.htm

3.  http://www.internetsafety101.org/Pornographystatistics.htm

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Sex(ed) The Movie Website

Watch the trailer

Check out this upcoming film on sex ed in America! From the website the movie is self-described as:

“To get at the truth behind the history and current state of sex education in the United States, SEX(ed) The Movie examines sex education films from the 1920s up to the present day. Often hilarious, sometimes instructive, and almost always awkward and embarrassing,these films reflect the changing moral, cultural and political attitudes that inspired them.”

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The other day I was having a very interesting conversation with a friend that helped me realize how horrible young women are being portrayed.

My friend tells me how on twitter she read a tweet from a young “man” saying. “No loyal females now-a-days”… Women can say the same thing about men, but that wasn’t what bothered me, it was the fact that he kept on tweeting about girls saying we are sluts, no self-respect, stupid, liars, cheaters, and just more ignorant comments.

I thought to myself, “Where is he getting this idea from?” and it came to me… THE MEDIA!

All I see on TV or magazines are  women half naked, or the hottest celebrity scandal on how she’s pregnant, or she cheated, or she got plastic surgery; just pointless information that does nothing to benefit anybody.

It upsets me on how men talk about women, making it seem like they’re the victims and we are the bad guys. But when we try to earn some respect and want to be treated the way we deserve we are considered “bitches”. There is no winning for us. Men are awesome, but the ones growing up in todays generations are becoming little monsters.

I wish the media would change how they portrayed women but it is what it is. I will still fight for my respect.

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Facebook has introduced new gender identity options for users, broadening its selection to 58 options. Here’s a recap of the great and not so great aspects of this move.

The Bad:

  • While you now have the ability to self-identify in more diverse ways, Facebook still embraces the gender binary and stigmatizes those that do not fall within this binary. From the drop-down menu you can select male, female, or “custom”. My gender identity is not a magical outlier that needs to be customized.
  • Once “custom” has been selected you must begin to type in an identity for suggestions to pop-up, instead of another drop-down menu that lists all options. This is not the easiest design Facebook could have implemented and is difficult for users to fill-in who aren’t familiar with the dozens of gender identities Facebook now allows.
  • Facebook is still seriously lacking pronoun options. Users only have three options: he, her, or them. In recent years there has been a rise in other pronoun options becoming common and vernacular, and it would be great for Facebook to validate these.
  • Some, including me, would be just as pleased to see Facebook eliminate all gender identity options. Or at the minimum have an option for no response. I respect individuals’ authority to believe in gender and identify in any way they want, but on Facebook you cannot choose your performance and reproduction of gender. For instance, Facebook bombards you with gendered ads that you cannot opt out of.
  • So far the new gender identities are only available when using Facebook in English (US). Hopefully, this step forward will be extended to all language platforms soon. It would also be wonderful to see Facebook include linguistic selections for gender identities around the world.

The Good

  • The inclusion of options has already sparked conversations regarding gender identity. Even introductory conversations on the difference between gender and sex by the masses are monumental.
  • Facebook has always been an intuitive and accessible platform. The ease of use has continued for selecting your gender identity option. I especially like that Facebook allows you to separately choose your gender identity and preferred pronouns. So you can list that you identify as a cisgender woman who uses he/him/his pronouns, or any other combination you wish.
  • It is refreshing that Facebook included gender identities common within various communities. For example, users now have the option to identify as “two spirit” which has historical and modern relevance among First Nation peoples.
  • Equally as exciting is Facebook’s decision to not just add “transgender” as a gender identity, but a spectrum of gender-variant options. Diversifying the “T” reminds folks that transgender is often employed as an umbrella term, and there are dozens of identities within the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

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A week ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Creating Change 2014, organized by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Houston, Texas. Although this was my second time attending this conference, my excitement was surprisingly higher than last year’s, thanks to this year’s keynote speaker being Laverne Cox. I have become a huge fan of Cox the moment I saw her on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out big time). Ever since, I started following her on social media and kept up with all of her appearances on TV and in other media outlets. The qualities I admire the most about Cox are her high level of intelligence, exceptional eloquence and fierce poise. I was so lucky to listen to her live during Creating Change’s opening plenary where she delivered a speech that was out of this world. She did not leave a single issue facing the transgender community without mentioning it, especially when it comes to transgender women of color, whom she represents so well. I especially loved the point she raised, saying, “The conversation about trans people in mainstream media has centered on transition and surgery.” Cox explained that limiting our trans conversations to transition and surgery objectifies trans women and does not leave us room to discuss the myriad of pressing issues that face the trans community today. This is exactly what happened on CNN with Piers Morgan a few days ago when he interviewed Janet Mock, who is another incredible trans activist. Instead of focusing on Mock’s newly released memoire “Redefining Realness,” Morgan bombarded her with questions about her physical transition and romance life. The next day, Mock came to his show again to explain how his show attempted to sensationalize her story instead of focusing on the real issues at hand. In her speech at Creating Change, Laverne Cox talked in length about the many injustices trans people, especially trans women of color, face nowadays, including violence, discrimination in the workplace and lack of healthcare access. In Cox’s words, “Healthcare for trans people is a necessity. It is not elective, it is not cosmetic, it is life-saving… But we are more than our bodies.” I remember the entire audience standing up and clapping after she articulated these powerful words.

I truly loved how this year’s Creating Change gave more space for the conference attendees to discuss the issues facing transgender people and learn more about this marginalized community. I personally attended the screening of “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” which is a documentary film about Los Angeles-based trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo. The film is very touching and eye opening to the serious struggles of trans women of color. I also attended a workshop entitled “Transgender People Unite Against Hate and Violence” in which Bamby was one of the panelists. The panel was very informative about the various forms of violence that transgender people experience, not only on the streets and in the workplace, but also at home and from the police. This workshop made me realize that there is not enough data available to us in order to reflect trans people’s struggles, thus making trans activism especially hard. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “of the 25 documented anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2012, 53.8% of the victims were transgender women. [Moreover], transgender people were 1.67 times as likely to experience threats and intimidation, 3.32 times as likely to experience police violence, and transgender people of color were 2.46 times as likely to experience physical violence by the police.” The reality is very sad for trans people, especially trans women of color. But I am so happy that Creating Changed highlighted this community’s struggles and made room for us to share solutions and success stories. There is a lot more we can do, but visibility is a great step in the right direction.

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Piers Morgan continues to believe he’s in the right.  This is his response to Janet Mock’s calling him out for the way he sensationalized her story and experiences.

Instead of really discussing her lived reality as a woman of color, especially as a trans woman of color, he obsesses over her past relationships and anatomy.

He told her: “…you used to be yourself a man.”

The on-screen captions of the discussion is ridiculous.

From a Buzzfeed article, Janet Mock says:

“My book is not about Aaron or my relationship, but that’s the most sensational thing they want to pull out,” she said. “They’re not talking about my advocacy or anything like that, it’s just about this most sensationalized … meme of discussion of trans women’s lives: ‘We’re not real women, so therefore if we’re in relationships with men we’re deceiving them.’ So, it just feeds into those same kinds of myths and fears that they spread around, which leads to further violence of trans women’s bodies and identities.”

The on-screen line that she “was a boy until age 18” reflected “bad judgment” and “reductive thinking about gender,” she said.

“What they’re saying is, ‘Only until I got the surgery, then I was a woman,’” she said.

But, she said, the interview — for better and worse — is part of want she chose to do by “going out of the bubble” and being public with her story.

“This is my first mainstream television show, was that moment, with Piers Morgan, and you see what they did to my story. Compared to a moment if I’m on Melissa Harris-Perry, which is slightly different, a more sensitive and safe space. But I go onto Piers Morgan, and all of my followers and everyone are like, ‘What is this?’” she said. But, she noted, “It’s also more representative of the ignorance that there is about trans people’s lives. We’re out of the safe bubble of social justice.”

On that same Buzzfeed article, you’ll see many of the responses Piers Morgan vomited on Twitter.

One example being: “As for all the enraged transgender supporters, look at how STUPID you’re being. I’m on your side, you dimwits. @janetmock

 

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I tried really hard to write a post about Beyonce’s Grammy performance and the whole “Eat the cake, Anna Mae” controversy, but as usual, I am too upset to actually put anything into words.

Beyonce frustrates me. Her fans’ insistence on refusing to critique her wrongs frustrates me. I agree she is talented. I agree that her body, and the bodies of other black women, are considered overly sexual in such performances in comparison to their white counterparts. I agree that her all female band is great and illuminates female musicians of color. But I do not agree with the notion that she some kind of a feminist champion. Until she begins to be accountable for her problematic actions and learn from them, I cannot endorse that image.

With that said, here is an article from Colorlines which pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say.

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At The Grammys, Beyonce and Jay-Z Made The Case for Marriage That Most Conservatives Can’t

“And in my favorite recent example, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jay-Z got on the Grammy stage last night and did what conservatives have been dying for someone to do for ages: they made marriage look fun, and sexy, and a source of mutual professional fulfillment. As Caitlin White wrote in her review of Beyoncé’s self-titled album: “She claims female pleasure as pure and grown, something dominant that can coexist with monogamy and marriage and her own status as an artist.” And that’s particularly true of the song Beyoncé and Jay-Z chose for their Grammys collaboration.”

via Think Progress

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(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)

President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.

“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.

The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”

 

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rape black women paint

Attending a Historically Black University has caused me to enlighten myself on the harsh realities of race and gender imbalance. The actual depiction of black women continues to be in a negative light. The simple fact that when I was home attending meetings at a corporation that funds multiple organizations in the community and the topic of human trafficking and sex slavery was swept over. I frequently I asked myself  “ Why is it that no one took interest, in stopping children from being sexually exploited and from being sexual slaves. Myself responded, “Because they are minority girls and boys”. The sad harsh reality is that this issue is very much present.

 

I took trip down history lane and begin to look at how the Europeans raped and killed off the Native American population and then forced Africans to foreign lands and begin to mistreat and abuse their bodies. Our first lady Michelle Obama is a direct descendent about abuse during slavery. Her grandfather father’s was his mother’s slave master. That was typically beginning of the desexualizing of black women.

 

Black women are continuously being depicted negatively especially in the modern television. The reality television doesn’t help the imagine of black or the current television shows such as “ Being Mary Jane”. The world-renowned Scandal also even made the series “racey”!

 

I like to think that black women are beautiful, mothers, and jewels. I just want the world to eliminate that bias European mindset, when it comes to not respecting black women. I made a promise to dedicate my life to the advancement of colored women, that’s why I educate in hopes of saving us!

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Drunk in Love = Safe in Love?

A few weeks ago, Beyonce quietly dropped an album (thanks for being awesome #QueenBey), and a hit single “Drunk in Love” is blaring from every angle. Corner stores, cars on the highway, my dentist’s office. You name it, and “Drunk in Love” is on everyone’s playlist. While the entire album is well received by her audience, “Drunk in Love” raises a bigger question about the role of sobriety in sexual encounters.

As a third-year college student in America’s biggest college town, I’ve seen and heard all the effects of alcohol in sexual encounters.

“It makes flirting easier.” “It makes cumming faster.” “It makes talking smoother.”

Easier. Faster. Smoother.

Things alcohol does to your hook-up/sex life (because not all hook-ups involve sex). Sounds good, right? But, then glance over at the role of alcohol in sexual violence and the role of alcohol in America’s rape culture, especially among young people. While there is no direct correlation between alcohol and sexual violence, is there a safe way to be drunk during sex and, of course, during love?

For Beyonce and Jay-Z, one of the most powerful couples in the entertainment industry, their marriage seems like something out of utopia: a child, money, love, fame, etc.

But most couples aren’t like this. In fact, how many women can say that they completely trust their partner when they are drunk? How many times are women left feeling comfortable in their vulnerability and sexuality with their partner?

That’s what struck the most in this song. Beyonce feels safe enough to trust Jay-Z when they’re both drunk. And that’s actually so rare. Society places so many preconceived notions of sex and alcohol, especially on the role of alcohol to get women drunk for sex. With sex comes vulnerability and trust, the trust to be with someone during your most intimate moments and the vulnerability to linger with your most intimate thoughts.

While “Drunk in Love” represents a part of a relationship rarely depicted in media, I would like to see other women feel more safe and secure in their relationships, sober or not.

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Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights

[Original image and post found on ThinkProgress, writer: Tara Culp-Ressler]

Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.

That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.

But there may be a shift on the horizon.

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After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.  It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion.  This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans.  What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest.  And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.

The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay.  So, what’s to become of that 52%?  What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need?  We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people.  It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need.  It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.

Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this.  Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:

“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.

What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.

This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.

Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”

But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”

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“I invite you to find your voice and let it be known that you stand for abortion rights and the dignity of a woman to be the master of her own life and body.” – Mark Ruffalo

http://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/stop-patriarchy/a/313/mark-ruffalo-sends-support-to-abortion-rights-freedom-ride-en.html

Original image posted by Tumblr blogger Burrsquee

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I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on.  And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention.  I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.

While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves.  I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational.  Oh, and guess what?  Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.”  There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime.  Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue.  There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.

I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website.  It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share.    There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting.  Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though.  An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:

Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…

What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?

How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?

There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series.  East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast.  And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into.  For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.

Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color.  Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious.  From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:

At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…

We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.

We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.

Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call  Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended.  Please use the number to the opposite.

(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)

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So, I was returning to Delhi on 11th December, 2013. We were a company of 6 people returning from a friend’s wedding. We were exhausted and trying not to look too tired on reaching the Delhi outskirts as we had offices or classes to attend.

I can still remember the moment so vividly when one of the people got dropped, my friend moved to the front of the car to make himself more comfortable, I did not wish to open my eyes when I heard someone switch on mobile, the twing of a whats app message and my friend announcing:

I am a criminal now!

Was it his announcement or the quietness of the moment or the dramatic mathod of delivery that got to us but something did because the quiet moment changed into one of activity where some laughed as they thought he was joking, someone else wanted to know what did he mean while I for once started checking my mobile hoping to understand what did he mean.

He was speaking about the Indian Supreme court verdict on Section 377. So a quick social media search got me these updates:

#377updates Six things you should know after the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, Indian Penal Code: [credit - Varta]

a) On December 11, 2013, the Supreme Court reversed the Delhi High Court ruling on Section 377, which means this law is back in force, as it was till before July 2, 2009.

b) Section 377 criminalizes any sexual act that does not involve penile-vaginal penetration. It applies to all people, irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation. That means straight people are also affected by this law, and not just those who are homosexual, bisexual or transgender in orientation.

c) Section 377 in itself does not mean that you can be arrested for simply being or saying you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Hijra or Kothi. Your freedom of expression is not under threat.

d) Arrest under this law requires medical forensic evidence of specific sexual acts having taken place – oral, anal or other non penile-vaginal sexual acts.

e) You cannot be arrested for being in a declared or undeclared same-sex relationship. Strict material evidence of specific sexual acts will be necessary for arrest.

f) Community, family, workplace or police harassment, blackmail and extortion may take place under threat of Section 377 or even because you appear or are known to be “not straight”. But more than anything else, it is these acts that are illegal and they can be tackled with a dose of courage and sound legal action. If you have concerns around these issues, please send your queries to vartablog@gmail.com. Your confidentiality will be respected.

This is a simplistic analysis of the law and what the Indian Supreme Court decision meant for the LGBTQ community (feel free to read a legal analysis here: http://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/?p=3702) but what it doesn’t bring out is that this is possibly one issue that united the voices of certain religious leaders (who otherwise are always out for each other’s blood) or how easily this issue could (and has) become political (afterally our bodies are not ours but political tools of contention).

So, let me give you a preview of what the scenario in India has been like: everything is about the elections in 2014. People want a change, the present governmance has not been very effective while people are dealing with high inflation and raised food prices. In the middle of all this, last two weeks have been about Lok Sabha (or the lower house) elections in four states, including Delhi.

Now guess what, the political parties are coming out with some surprising statements about how they support or don’t support criminalisation of homosexuals. Of course their deliberations can be very patronising and sometimes downright ridiculous but they need to be followed as whether a sexual identity could make one into a criminal or not is to be deliberated in the Legilature!

This (of course) will raise up more discussions around live-ins, LGBTQs and create more stigma.

However, as of now all I can hope is that the protests happening at Jantar Mantar, Delhi (one that I participated in) and various parts of India influences the legislature.

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*This post speaks about sexually based crimes-specifically rape- and has the potential to be triggering for survivors of sexually based crimes. Please practice self-care before, during, after, and always* 

Scandal is known for its hard hitting fast paced story telling.  In one of the most recent episodes viewers found out that Mellie had previously been raped by her father in law. 

 
I remember watching the scene and basically having an absence of thought. The rape happened so quickly and the scene in which it was part of had no indication that a rape was about to take place. 
 
After thinking about it more I, never being the survivor of rape, felt okay with the scene. I kind of felt like the quickness of how the rape took place could be realistic to how a casual encounter with someone could turn sexually violent so quickly. I also felt that having a sexually based crime on a show that millions of viewers tune  into watch would cast a light on how pervasive rape is in the lives of many people. 
 
 
Reading the article I could see what the author meant but didn’t entirely agree. 
 
While talking to a few friends I learned that they were very upset about Mellie’s rape scene, how it had no forewarning, and how extremely triggering it was to them. 
 
I was blown away. I finally “got it”. 
 
Like it or not media has a sense of social responsibility to its viewers. Providing trigger warnings for viewers when an episode includes a violent sexually based crime should be paramount to “not spoiling the shock value”. 
 
In the past when an episode of Scandal had a consensual sex scene they warn the viewers that “viewer discretion is advised”  before the episode begins. However, for the episode that included a rape scene no warning was made.  NONE. 
 
When will the entertainment media stop using rape simply as a “shock value” way to rank in views? Rape is real so personally I do not feel it should never show up in shows however, including a sexually based crime in an episode with no warning, no real story line, and with no heads up to it’s viewers is disrespectful, lazy, rude, and dangerous. 

 

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(original image by The Stigma Project)

About them:

We are a grassroots organization that aims to lower the HIV infection rate and neutralize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through education and awareness via social media and advertising. The Stigma Project seeks to create an HIV neutral world, free of judgement and fear by working with both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or background.

Social media has rapidly become one of today’s largest mediums of news, culture, and education. We hope to embrace that with effective campaigns each season that bring awareness to the current state of HIV. Please, whether you’re HIV-positive, negative, or you don’t know (and should), we need your help. Ask your friends to join us in starting a revolution: an “HIV Neutral” revolution. Like us, Share us, Re-tweet us. The more people we reach, the more effective our project. The more successful our mission. YOU can make a difference.

Their mission:

The Stigma Project seeks to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS on a global scale, through awareness, art, provocation, education and by inspiring a spirit of living “HIV Neutral.”

Their vision:

The Stigma Project seeks to create an “HIV Neutral” world, free of judgment, fear, discrimination and alienation by educating both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life about the constantly evolving state of the epidemic. We seek to reduce the HIV infection rate through knowledge, awareness, and effective marketing and advertising. Ultimately we see a future where the world is free of HIV/AIDS.

I’ve already posted this image before but without credit to the original poster, so here it is!  I’ve also added information about this organization!

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(original photo and post by GLAAD)

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This year, the day is November 20th, 2013.

Find a vigil near you!
Visit www.transgenderdor.org or  www.hrc/tdor for the complete list of events happening in your city. The list of people in 2013

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Sean_Saves_The_World_59569

The termination of NBC’s The New Normal left a hole in our hearts as far as LGBTQ representation in the media, but no fear, a new show is here to save the day! Sean Hayes plays a single dad on the new show, Sean Saves the World. I was a little skeptical at first, but the humor quickly won me over. And now I wait eagerly for the next episode.

It’s definitely nowhere near as serious as TNN was in terms of tackling real life issues, but it’s a welcome respite from the largely heterosexual television shows. I guess the world just wasn’t ready to handle the truth about LGBTQ people. We’re not immoral pedophiles, just your regular, everyday people.

At first glance, Sean Saves the World looks like every other sitcom out there with a laugh track. At close glance it reveals itself to be an endearing yet humorous story of a formerly closeted man who is raising his daughter alone after his ex-wife moves away. Supporting characters include Sean’s mother Lorna, Max the quirky boss, and friends Liz and Hunter.

I guess one of the reasons why it works well is because it mixes in a popular theme in sitcoms – family life and parenting. I also like the fact that it blends in so well and is viewed as just another story about a divorced, single dad. I hope it stays on long enough for people to begin to accept the rest of us as the new normal. Yeah I said it.

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hanging_polaroids_by_anushka04-d5h9fus

 

I mean, really?

The author of the post about Miley Cyrus is one Jincey Lumpkin, founder of Juicy Pink Box – “a lifestyle brand that entices all women to explore their lesbian fantasies” and sex columnist at HuffPo.

She has since written a blog post apologizing for her piece in which she entirely disregards the claims of appropriation and use of black women as props, choosing instead to focus on Miley’s right to express her sexuality. A standpoint which, from my point of view, is not really the main concern. Yes it’s a little disturbing that her tongue seems to spend a lot more time outside her mouth than in, and that her latex shorts were seriously eating her butt during her VMA performance (*cringe*), but I think we all know that it’s unfair for her to be the sole target when Mr. Robin Blurred-Lines-is-a-Feminist-Movement Thicke was an equally inappropriate part of the performance.

Granted, the two posts in the snapshot above were written by two different people, but it’s a pretty good depiction of the lack of inter -sectionalism in feminism. That brings to mind the following quote:

“Black women wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see Black women. White women wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see women. White men wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see human beings.” - Michelle Haimoff

 

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(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)

How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.

Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.

Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.

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(Image reposted from Amplify Facebook – click here for more)

Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier.  Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound.  We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share.  We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world.  All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives.  But we celebrated our diversity.  And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.

I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first.  I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend.  It was a place I had never been to on my own.  I would be surrounded by strangers.  But these strangers quickly became my friends.  And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them.  And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well.  Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders.  And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives.  It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.

I even got to meet Janet Mock!  We talked and had dinner.  She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!

It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice.  And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource.  Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan.  I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore.  The realization was bittersweet.  But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.

 

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If you’re a cosplayer or con goer, you might know who Yaya Han is. She’s a costume designer who is known pretty well in the convention circuit. Recently, she became a cast member on the SyFy show, “Heroes of Cosplay”. Below are a photos of her cosplaying Fiora (League of Legends) and an art nouveau interpretation of Chun Li (Street Fighter) which is one of my personal favorites. As you can see, her work is amazing. I can’t imagine ever being able to perfect costumes the way she does.

 

 

Now sometime during one of my random meanderings through the interwebs, I stumbled upon a post criticizing Yaya Han. The criticism did not stem from a lack of diligence in her work or perhaps a nasty attitude, no. Rather, it was about the fact that she had expressed a desire not to be degraded because of her work and her physical endowments. The author of this post felt that Ms. Han should not have any objections to being the subject of wank sessions because her career “centers around her body”. Let’s put that up there with the rest of the justifications for cat-calling and rape now shall we guys? By this person’s logic, the moment Yaya decided to begin a career in cosplay, she was no longer in charge of her body.

Here’s another gem – “Practically all of her costumes have been of skimpily dressed characters with focus on her breasts. Of course, she has legions of guys wanking off to her. You’d think that this would be a well-known and accepted aspect to all successful models. And generally, all women should realize that dressing in a way that shows off a part of their body will attract attention to that part. But apparently Yaya missed the memo. After years of 14-30 year old lonely nerds splooging their mega milk all over their keyboards to her, she seems to have become irritated as she recently let out her thoughts on her facebook page.”

This is such an unbelievably stupid comment. Why are so many female costumes skimpy? Uhhh, because dudes duh. Men are the reason why Wonder Woman wears a bustier to fight le bad guys and female warriors in video games are expected to fight successfully in armor equivalent to a bikini. And don’t even get me started on the anatomically impossible poses. And apparently, the fact that Yaya had a breast augmentation is further justification of her “attitude problem”. The author goes on to list tips such as, “Don’t leave your tits hanging out if you don’t want to be stared at.”, “Don’t be a bitch if your boobs are just that awesome”, “Learn to take it as a compliment” and “Don’t get pornstar implants or try to “improve” your boobs if you’re just going to be in prudish denial about it.”. Tall, dark and rapist anyone? Are your alarm bells going off yet?

Now while I have no idea why Yaya chose to enhance her breasteses, that decision should in no way diminish anyone’s opinion of her. Learn to take a compliment? The breasts are not on your chest so why would you assume that you should have anything to say about it? I mean, really? What are you, a dog? I take that back. It’s an insult to dogs. Even they know what the word “No” means and obey when it is spoken.

NO-ONE should be subjected to such disgusting degradation because of the way they look. It’s really that simple.

 

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Volunteer Training with One Royal Oak, discussing possible issues that may come up while phone banking.

Hype about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has died down and our LGBT community sort of gained the right to marriage.  Notable “activist” efforts like statuses being made, profile pictures on Facebook being changed, and arguing with not so progressive relatives went on for days until the Supreme Court ruling over DOMA.  But since the SCOTUS ruling, there’s been silence and the false notion instilled in a surprising majority that we’ve finally achieved all that we needed to.  Discrimination against LGBT folks is over because we can marry in some states and a lot of straight, cis people changed their photos into equality signs!

Our community is still facing several inequities which are more dire than not being able to walk down the aisle.  What about making sure our brothers and sisters have a job and a place to live?  Only 20 states offer some protection for LGBT people in housing.  In 29 states, a person can still be fired without warning simply for being gay.  And in 34 states a person can be fired for being trans*.  Aren’t these the issues we should be engaging our friends and family with?  What’s being done about it while we’re waiting to see what happens with ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) for who knows how long?

Before anyone asks what I’m personally doing about this, I can tell people right now that I’ve joined up with a non-profit, political campaign called One Royal Oak.  Our mission is to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in Royal Oak, Michigan which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations “on the basis of actual OR perceived race, national origin, religion, color, sex, age, height, weight, pregnancy condition, marital status, physical and mental limitations, source of income, family responsibilities, educational

association, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status.”

So far I’ve taken part in the volunteer training.  I participated in phone banking, trying to gather donations for the cause.  I’m constantly trying to make my friends and family understand the importance of this situation.  I believe in equality, so I’ll do what I can to help.  It’s just one city, but every little step counts.  And One Royal Oak isn’t alone in their efforts for equality in the United States.  Seek out ways to help our community either by volunteering or simply donating to activist groups like One Royal Oak, whether it’s on a local or federal level.

I’m more than happy that I have the right to marry my girlfriend thanks to the SCOTUS ruling.  But between not walking down the aisle and not sleeping on the streets, I would choose the latter.  There are many obstacles in finding a job and a place to live, our identity–who we choose to love and who we are–shouldn’t be one of them.

 

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Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning

Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield

Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.

Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE

 

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Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States

Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan

To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).

But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.

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Texas woman drives four hours to Planned Parenthood after being shamed for hickey

Reposted from: Raw Story, written by David Edwards

A Texas woman who was shamed by her doctor for having a hickey and wanting birth control says she is now forced to drive four hours to a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care due to the state’s new anti-abortion laws.

Athena Mason told KUT that her first visit to the doctor as a student at Texas A&M was awkward.

“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘It’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.’ But I got a big lecture. [He said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go somewhere else.”

Mason started using the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But that facility is one of four women’s health service providers that closed in August after the state passed new regulations restricting abortions.

So Mason now drives four hours to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin for health care.

In 1998, Cadence King was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on her cervix and became a patient at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. She had returned for regular checkups in the years since, but she has missed visits in recent weeks because the clinic closed.

King is now struggling to find a new health care provider. Her only options are driving three hours to Beaumont or waiting four months for the next opening with the one Bryan clinic that’s willing to take her case.

 

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The more I think about it, the more I realize that people in this world are seriously weird. We are constantly trying to police things that do not need policing – body sizes, vaginas, love, wombs etc. I really can’t get over  the fact that people get all het up about things that don’t even concern or affect them and then try to control it all by encouraging the government to trespass in people’s lives.

Why are you so concerned about who I choose to spend the rest of my life with? Have kids with? Why do you tell me that I shouldn’t have affordable birth control? That I can’t have condoms on my college campus because they will encourage promiscuity; and then when I fall pregnant, deny me the right to terminate a pregnancy that I did not plan for? A pregnancy which will change my life forever? And more on that, why are you so hypocritical that you claim to fight for the rights of unborn children, yet do nothing to help those who are already born and do not have parents, food, shelter or healthcare? Neither will you assist me in raising my child if I do give in to your concessions and carry my pregnancy to term.

There I go again…rambling.

What brought me here is this article on Jezebel about a man named Mister Cee. He’s apparently a former DJ with Hot 97 (I have no idea what that is). During an interview with Morning Show‘s Ebro he apparently said the following:

I know I’m still in denial because I know that I love women — any woman that’s been with me knows that I love women — but occasionally I get the urge to have fellatio with a transsexual: a man that looks like a woman. But I’m here saying I’m not gay because I haven’t penetrated another man.

I will not be the one to define this man’s sexuality because I hate when people do that to me. Also, human sexuality is an ever-changing phenomenon and no-one should be reduced to a mere checkbox. This is not the same thing as “good Christian girls” who claim that they are virgins because all they’ve done is cunnilingus and anal. With that being said, I feel sorry for this poor man because he has been pushed into denying his urges by a society that constantly judges others by the most superficial things.

This brings to mind a similar case involving rapper Chingy, who has been accused of consorting with transgendered women on a few occasions. In one incident involving model Sidney Starr, the model claimed that after Chingy discovered that she had male genitalia he allegedly said, “Nah, I still want that. I still want that.” Well what’s the problem with that? The man met someone, was attracted, and was not fazed by the appearance of a penis instead of a vagina. Granted, it turned out to be a lie told by Starr but  still, I don’t understand what the big deal is really.

I guess for me it’s different because what’s on the outside doesn’t really matter. I don’t care what bits you’ve got in yer knickers as long as there’s a connection and it’s real.

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Wrecking Ball

In the overall scheme of things, Miley Cyrus is Lindsey Lohan is Brittany Spears is I don’t care anymore, why are we still talking about her, seriously?

 

In the context of contemporary news, she is, interestingly enough, a segue-way for so many conversations. Why is black culture automatically associated with hyper-sexuality? Should the appropriation of ratched culture be a concern to the African American community?

 

Is nudity automatically sexual?

 

Miley Cyrus has once again created a controversial musical video and once again everyone is talking about what a slut she is and how she shouldn’t be doing all this simply to make money.

So slut shaming aside, here are the problems I have:

The video has some intentionally provocative parts. Sex sells. It sells because we buy it. I’m not going to dwell on the hypocrisy of slut shaming in a culture that condition women to think being provocative is the only way to be desirable.

 

But, the video also has some incredibly emotional parts. Save the amazingly horrible fake crying, there are some great moments of turmoil within the music video: the destruction of the set, the lying amidst the wreckage, and, in my opinion, the nudity.

 

The song is all about trying to break down someone’s walls and being destroyed in the process.  It’s a song about demanding openness when you’re not willing to be open yourself. Most importantly, it is a song about vulnerability, the denying of it, the demanding of it, and finally, the allowing of it. This person (represented by Miley) is, for the first time, laying themselves figuratively bare before their partner, even if they realize that it’s too little too late. The visual translation of this into nudity makes complete and total sense. Miley has already clarified that that was its symbolic intent.

 

But that, of course doesn’t matter.

 

What matters is our obsession with the female form. Miley’s body cannot be a symbol for anything OTHER than sex. For all the many wonders our bodies are capable of, the only one we ever seem to acknowledge is reproduction, especially when it comes to young, attractive young women.

 

I could have done without the licking of the hammer, the gyrating on the wrecking ball, etc. But the nudity doesn’t bother me. It had a purpose, besides continuing to bolster Miley’s bad girl reputation. It had symbolic intent.

What really bothers me is that the same immaturity that had Miley’s nudity as a hot topic is affecting how we discuss reproductive issues. Our hyper-sexualization of women stops us from actually helping women and that’s not okay. Our society freaking out over Miley being naked is a bigger deal than Miley being naked. As a person who is over anything Miley Cyrus related, it is my sincere opinion that if we ignore her she’ll calm down. As an advocate it is my sincere opinion that slut shaming and hypersexualization of women are harmful practices and we all need to chill out.

 

But most importantly, as a nineteen-year-old girl who still has an obsession with cartoons, it is my sincere opinion that we need to all grow up. Seriously.

 

 

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Most people who occupy the social justice corners of the Internet are sure to have heard of the Edmonton police department’s anti-rape campaign.  What makes the campaign so great is the focus on the offenders to not rape rather than telling the victims to not get raped with messages like, “It’s not sex when she’s passed out.  Sex with someone unable to consent = sexual assault.  Don’t be that guy.”  SAVEdmonton even includes men as potential rape victims and broadens the crime outside a heteronormative perspective.  From their own page on what makes this so different from other anti-rape campaigns:

Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders – ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault. By addressing sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities. (reposted from SAVEdmonton.com)

Edmonton’s posters with messages of ending victim blaming and targeting perpetrators was successful in its intention to decrease the rate of sexual assaults.  But it seems like not everyone is supportive of the campaign and its success.  An unauthorized campaign took SAVEdmonton’s original posters and made parody versions.

(image reposted from The Edmonton Journal)

What makes these parody posters so problematic is the perpetuation of the myth of false reporting or allegations, which our current culture is already strongly promoting.  These parody posters not only silences actual and potential victims, but blames them for the assaults against them which completely contradicts the original campaign’s message.

Here are the actual posters from SAVEdmonton:

Definitely check out the other posters on SAVEdmonton.com!

With the current messages that’s fed to our youth on a daily basis, it’s really important to think of the messages SAVEdmonton has to share with the world.  It doesn’t promote a rape culture and actively seeks to create a change by preventing sexual assault.  SAVEdmonton is truly a model anti-rape campaign.

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Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog.  It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr.  Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10.  And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session.  Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal.  Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education.  No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active.  If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!

The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:

I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.

Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!

My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice.  My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both.  I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources.  I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives.  Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me.  What’s your vision for sex ed?

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It’s impossible to escape the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell. It plays constantly at my work, likely upwards of 3 to 4 times an hour, not to mention everywhere else. It’s definitely catchy, but there are many issues that have been raised in regards to the content of the lyrics themselves. An interview with Robin Thicke that he did with GQ has been shared widely. In this interview he is quoted saying “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” Thicke claims that they are the perfect people to make fun of women as they are all happily married with children. This seems to imply a level of irony, but the way Thicke seems to fully appreciate and understand what he claims to be making fun of casts a problematic shadow.

 

What many have found problematic about the video and song is the juxtaposition of carnal and derogatory imagery towards women while the lyrics respond to discussions of consensual, sexual relationships. The “I hate these blurred lines,” is especially an issue because it is said as if the right to say yes or no to sex is ultimately a game in which the male must figure out to win in order to get what he wants. This theme has always been too common in media culture, but songs of this past summer have flirted greatly with the boundaries of good times going bad, and glorifying them for it. Thicke claims that he is “making fun” of this, but is a song that is just a giant, implicated rape joke something that is actually funny? Thicke blurs many lines in this song, and they are much more harmful than he seems to believe.

 

What are your thoughts? How great of an influence is the media in our sexual and reproductive health messaging? For information on where to find sexual assault services in your area, text SEXT to 74574.

 

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Ireland Has Performed Its

First- Ever Legal Abortion,

And It Saved A Dying Woman’s

Life

(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)

The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.

Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.

The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.

The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”

Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.

The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.

SOURCE

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Yay Iceland!

How do you protest the appearance of an anti-gay preacher? Reserve all the seats at his event and then don’t show up. What was he thinking going to a country where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010?

“Why doesn’t feminist media treat immigration as an obvious feminist issue? Why doesn’t mainstream feminism seem to give a damn about undocumented women? Why aren’t more feminist organizations coming out in support of the Dream 9? As a comprehensive immigration reform bill is being butchered by Congress, accomplishing little more than further militarizing the border, and the Dream 9, largely led by women, continue making national headlines after participating in the most radical, risky act of civil disobedience in the history of the undocumented student movement, there is literally no excuse for the silence on behalf of feminist media.”

Great read! Aside from “Dostana” and “I Can’t Think Straight”, I hadn’t even heard about these.

Even though her latest book and other occurrences have changed my perception of her, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is still a voice that needs to be heard.

Why is there even a need to ask this question in 2013? Have you not heard all that we have been screaming about how taking advantage of women and girls in compromised situations is NEVER ok?

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Ohio Republicans Pledge to Reintroduce Heartbeat Ban

“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.

Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”

Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.

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Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black

(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)

Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.

First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.

What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.

The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.

Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.

As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.

BECAUSE I AM WOMAN

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One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.

The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:

  • 86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

  • 71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

  • 72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

Source: http://rhrealitycheck.tumblr.com/

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Source:

boku-no-poltergeist:

can we stop referring to all sex that could possibly result in pregnancy as “heterosexual reproduction” now

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Fetal Pain Is A Lie: How Phony Science Took Over The Abortion Debate

New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.

This article originally appeared on Salon.com.

Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.

But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.

Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)

“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”

Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.

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North Carolina House Republicans sneak abortion rules into motorcycle safety bill without notice

North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.

 

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Period Kits are kind of popular nowadays. Not everyone is comfortable with walking down the street with tampons or pads in an almost see-through bag, or wants the hassle of having to run to the shops every month. In answer to that, there exist a few monthly services which deliver tampons, pads, candy and even herbal teas. Hello Flo has recently added a Period Starter kit for young girls. The kit contains pads, liners, tampons, reading material and a few goodies.

How this man expects us to believe this crap, I honestly do not know. A feminist movement? Because the models in your video were told to exude confidence? I blame Paula Patton for all this rubbish. Yes he’s your husband, but when women speak out against the rape-y, objectifying nature of the video, encouraging him is pretty much the same as taking a huge dump all over women’s lib.

Now although I haven’t seen all the shows featured in this article (I refuse to watch Scandal until people stop getting so het up about it), I strongly agree with the analysis of Joan Watson’s character. Everybody go watch “Elementary”!

An interesting read. I had never really thought about this. But it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

Speaking of monthly period boxes…

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When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”

Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!”  State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this.  But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.

There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident.  Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things.  You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in.  It’s not just one old, white male politician.  It’s several.  And they’re not necessarily always white men.

Brace yourself.  This is pretty triggering.

“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”

— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”  —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.

“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”

—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.

“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.

“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth.  The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education.  It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life.  And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen.  So, we advocate for the youth.  We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.

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California’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 60 percent as a result of expanded sex education programs, according to a report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday.

The report –- which was based on data collected until 2011 — revealed that the California teen pregnancy rate reached a 20-year low that year. While in 1991, there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19, in 2011 this number decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens.

Teen pregnancy rates fell across all ethnic groups, according to the report. The Hispanic teen birth rate dropped from 73.6 in 2001 to 42.7 in 2011 –- although Hispanics continue to be the group with the highest teen birth rate. Teen pregnancy rates for African-Americans, Whites and Asian-Americans also decreased significantly.

Several factors contributed to the falling pregnancy rates, the department said in a press release. One factor was the state’s school sex education program, which law requires to be comprehensive and medically accurate. The report also credits community-based education programs that provide sexual health information to teens and their parents.

“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.

“California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”

As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/california-teen-pregnancy-rates-drop_n_3625090.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

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Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.

Why? The politics of abortion in Latin America

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Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies

The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.

READ MORE HERE.

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APIreland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.

Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life. (Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)

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I decided to break the law to provide a necessary medical service because women were dying at the hands of butchers and incompetent quacks, and there was no one there to help them. The law was barbarous, cruel and unjust. I had been in a concentration camp, and I knew what suffering was. If I can ease suffering, I feel perfectly justified in doing so.

-Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian doctor who was arrested four times for performing abortions, but whose arrests eventually led to the 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country.

He died this week at the age of 90. Good obit in the NY Times.

Image from Vancouver Sun.

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I posted a couple things here about Wendy Davis’ insanely awesome marathon filibuster to stop SB5, which is a bill from Texas that would close the majority of the clinics in the state that not only provide abortion services, but contraception and general health care.  And she wasn’t alone.  Hundreds of local supporters stood by her and when the bill was thought to be stopped, the capitol building erupted with cheers.

The lawmakers had to vote on this bill before it hit midnight.  But thanks to Senator Wendy Davis, Senator Leticia Van De Putte, and hundreds of reproductive justice advocates, lawmakers fortunately did not get the chance to meet that deadline. Republican lawmakers tried to argue that the bill was voted and passed on time despite clear evidence revealing that the vote ended on June 26 when it was supposed to be June 25.  They later took it back and admitted that the vote occurred after midnight and the bill was dead.  All Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst could say about it was: “…it’s been fun.”  Because taking away people’s rights to health care is so much fun.

The bill was thought to be stopped and everyone in the social justice club was happy.  But Texas Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to try to bring SB5 back.  This would make all the efforts of the Texans who went to stop this in vain.  Governor Rick Perry’s Facebook, Twitter, office website, office address, and phone information has been spreading so that people can voice their opinions.  Hopefully the voices of the constituents will be heard.

While the Internet social justice atmosphere exploded at the news of Texan Republicans’ shady tactics, for good reason, Ohio has passed some terrible anti-choice legislation of their own.  Ohio lawmakers didn’t even bring it up for debate.  They slyly passed the bill last minute the other night.  Activists are sharing Ohio Governor John Kaisch’s phone number (614-728-7576) in hopes that he line-vetoes the measure.  If he doesn’t, Planned Parenthood and rape crisis centers lose their funding in that state, and those funds will be going to Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  And you know what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are like.  People will have to will 24 hours before receiving their emergency contraception.  Forced ultrasounds will be legalized, and the unwilling patient would still have to pay for it.  This measure would even redefine pregnancy, throwing out the actual medical definition, so that using emergency contraception would be considered abortion.

We have our work cut out for us.

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From Huffington Post:

The Texas anti-abortion bill, which threatened to close nearly all of the abortion clinics in the state and prompted an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is dead, The Austin American-Statesman reported.

Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session’s end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called “a people’s filibuster,”The Associated Press reported.

The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried “Shame! Shame!” when Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

Their cries continued to echo inside the chamber — and over a livestream watched by thousands around the world — until after the midnight deadline passed.

Although some Republican lawmakers later claimed the bill had passed in time, Democrats denied that the vote was completed before the clock ran out on the session.

A time stamp showing the vote completed after midnight was the deciding factor. “This will not become law,” Sen. John Whitmire (D), told The Austin American-Statesman.

In response, the crowd of protesters gathered in the capitol cheered and began singing “The Eyes Of Texas,” the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin.

According to The Texas Tribune, Dewhurst was less than pleased by the evening’s turn of events. After ruling that the time on SB 5 had expired, he told reporters that “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” had derailed legislation that was designed to protect women and babies.

The legislation would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regulated first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers and restricted access to medication abortions. Had it passed, nearly all of the clinics in the state would have been shuttered.

Dewhurst also hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may call another special session to get the bill passed, saying: “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”

Despite a long day of filibustering, Davis was upbeat when she greeted the crowd of supporters, who applauded the senator and chanted her name.

“Today was democracy in action,” Davis said. “You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.”

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From Tumblr blogger kat1712:
(edited for language)

Senator Wendy Davis is a f*cking badass.

There’s this bill that they are trying to pass in Texas that would make it illegal to get any abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would make it very difficult for abortion centers to continue doing what they do. Governor Rick Perry has already said that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will sign it. And Wendy Davis said f*ck no that is not happening.

So she’s filibustering it. That means she asked to talk on the subject at 11:18 this morning, and if she can continue talking about abortion until 11:59 tonight, the bill won’t reach Governor Perry, and they would have to start all over with the bill next time they meet- 2 years from now.

But Wendy has to keep talking. She can’t pause for even a minute, not for food or a sip of water or to go to the bathroom or sit down. She can’t even lean up against anything, or she’s out. So she’s wearing motherf*cking PINK NIKE TENNIS SHOES in the middle of the state senate.

She also has to continue talking about the topic. She sent out tweets an other messages last night asking for anyone and everyone’s abortion story, and received a sh*t load of answers. Her staff is still collecting them, and she’s reading them aloud to the senate. Not only is she making this bill impossible to pass, she may just change some minds while she’s at it.

This is history, guys. Wendy Davis is a motherf*cking badass, and we are watching it happen.

Dallas Live Video

CBS NEWS: Senator Wendy Davis

Twitter Results for Wendy Davis

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“CPCs have a long history of engaging in deceptive advertising. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care. The Family Research Council investigated what names would be most likely to appeal to women, particularly pro-choice women, in a 1998 report. Women’s Resource Center, which gives the impression of a full range of services, was deemed to have the most strategic value in reaching women “at risk for abortion.” The report also showed that women faced with an unplanned pregnancy were most likely to look in the Yellow Pages under the words “Pregnancy,” “Medical,” “Women’s Centers” and “Clinics.” Accordingly, CPCs often are advertised under these categories, as well as “Abortion Alternatives,” and “Women’s Organizations.” CPCs also advertise through posters, signs, and billboards that contain messages like, “Free Pregnancy Test,” or “Pregnant? Scared? We Can Help! Call 1-800 #.” Women report, however, that when they call these numbers the CPC representatives evade questions about whether they provide abortions, and urge the women to make an appointment to meet with a ‘counselor’ to talk in person.”

Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice

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 It is no mistake, and it is not mere happenstance, that Lifetime refused to allow me to make a show for them about complex, nuanced Latinas, yet greenlit a show about Latinas as sexy domestic servants. It isn’t a matter of me being too sensitive and lacking a sense of humor, and it isn’t a matter of me not liking maids. It is about the way the Latina maid stereotype beautifully cleaves to the time-honored imperialistic way this country has dealt with its Spanish-speaking neighbors in the Americas. My vision of us – as autonomous human beings – is simply too threatening to be considered realistic.”

Opinion: The problem with “Devious Maids” goes far beyond Hollywood

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If you haven’t watched any videos by the rib-crackingly funny YouTube blogger Hart, you’re in for a treat. Hart is the “Lesbian lover from another mother, with boobs and a vagina. It’s all necessary.” Prepare thineself for the hilarity.

I came across this video entitled “Watermelon…” in which Hart explains why one’s love for women does not mean that one has to dress in the stereotyped fashion of feminity.

Do yourself a favor and follow Hart on…

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/hartgotbeats
TUMBLR: http://ihartbeat.tumblr.com
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/ihartbeat

Also, check out Hart’s music video about “Lesbian Issues

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Go Missin

Rape Culture is when a culture normalizes, excuses, tolerates or even condones rape.

Exhibit A:

Imagine this. I am driving in a car when Go Missin by Usher comes on. The person in the car with me starts singing along.

Harmless right?

WRONG.

The correct reaction to this song is for me to pull the car over and we both hop out, screaming our heads off. Because that song is scary guys. It is pull the car over in the middle of traffic and run away scary. Everyone is raving over how innovative the sound is, and futuristic, and cinematic in feel, building suspense.

Building suspense for what, though? I’ll tell you what: MURDER. RAPE AND MURDER AND NECROPHILIA.

For those who don’t know what Necrophilia is: ITS RAPE OF DEAD PEOPLE.

And yes, potential troll, Necrophilia is indeed rape BECAUSE DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T GIVE ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT THEY ARE DEAD!

Why is this song okay? Is it the fact that it is so clearly serial killer rapey you could never mistake as something sexy or do people really think being abducted and sold to sex slavery is sexy!

SEX SLAVERY IS NOT SEXY YOU GUYS.

Listen to these lyrics:

“Its crowded up in here what you doing all alone?”

Translation: Attractive young female with no one around to note her absence. Target found.

“Its so dark in here and you don’t even have your phone”

Translation: No one will see my face and you have no way to contact the police or any other form of help.

“What kind of man would ever want to leave your side?”

Translation: I shall now play on your insecurities in order to lure you into placing your trust in me.

“Shame on him you’re coming home with me tonight babe”

Translation: My playfully demanding nature is just the right balance of joking so you don’t suspect anything but sexy so that I can lead you to my cellar of doom. And not the good kind of cellar of doom. The bad kind.

“Go missin Baby ain’t nobody got to know”

Translation: That way no one can track me down when they discover you body washed up on some distant shore.

“Conscience tellin you shouldn’t go, don’t listen”

Translation: Don’t listen to your gut feeling saying I’m a serial killer.

“Go missin. Go missin”

Translation: Go missin.

The end. Go missin.  Because I played on your feelings and manipulated you into ignoring your conscience that told you I was a serial killer AND IT WAS RIGHT, I AM I AMA SERIAL KILLER.

Well not me. Usher. Well, Usher’s persona in the song.

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

With all the hallabaloo about women needing to step up their game and be more careful and drink less and blah to avoid getting raped you would people would be all

“How dare you romanticize a situation in which a female is abandoned by their lover in a strange place and seduced by a strange man!”  but nope. Huffington Post’s Kia Makarechi just casually mentions that the lyrics are “serial killer-esque” and no one sees a problem with it.

The casual way we accept this kind of creepiness, and furthermore promote it, is completely terrifying. Everyone’s reaction when they hear a song that is practically an ad for the sex slave trade should be to pull their car over and run away. Not “Oh the beat is so futuristic.”

THE BEAT IS FUTURISTIC? REALLY? THAT’S THE THING YOU NOTICED ABOUT THE SERIAL KILLER ANTHEM?

I was really hoping there was a music video just to see if someone acknowledged that in the end the girl is never to be seen again and newscasters lament her abduction while casually adding that “She did go off with a strange man.” You know just to really drive home how okay we are with, not only rape, but the victimization of rape victims.

And get this: The song was released on Valentines day. What? What’s that banging sound you hear? Oh it’s just me hitting my head on the wall repeatedly.

WHAT ABOUT ABDUCTION IS ROMANTIC, AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?!

What do you guys think? Am I overreacting? Let me know in the comments.

Peace and Love.

FYI: This is an amazing Spoken Word piece that really emphasizes why this song is scary and reinforces harmful tendencies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kuo9mgcYPGI

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Rape Culture is when a culture normalizes, excuses, tolerates or even condones rape.

Exhibit A:

Imagine this. I am driving in a car when Go Missin by Usher comes on. The person n the car with me starts singing along.

Harmless right?

WRONG.

The correct reaction to this song is for me to pull the car over and we both hop out, screaming our heads off. Because that song is scary guys. It is pull the car over in the middle of traffic and run away scary. Everyone is raving over how innovative the sound is, and futuristic, and cinematic in feel, building suspense.

Building suspense for what, though? I’ll tell you what: MURDER. RAPE AND MURDER AND NECROPHILIA.

For those who don’t know what Necrophilia is: ITS RAPE OF DEAD PEOPLE.

And yes, potential troll, Necrophilia is indeed rape BECAUSE DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T GIVE ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT THEY ARE DEAD!

Why is this song okay? Is it the fact that it is so clearly serial killer rapey you could never mistake as something sexy or do people really think being abducted and sold to sex slavery is sexy!

SEX SLAVERY IS NOT SEXY YOU GUYS.

Listen to these lyrics:

“Its crowded up in here what you doing all alone?”

Translation: Attractive young female with no one around to note her absence. Target found.

“Its so dark in here and you don’t even have your phone”

Translation: No one will see my face and you have no way to contact the police or any other form of help.

“What kind of man would ever want to leave your side?”

Translation: I shall now play on your insecurities in order to lure you into placing your trust in me.

“Shame on him you’re coming home with me tonight babe”

Translation: My playfully demanding nature is just the right balance of joking so you don’t suspect anything but sexy so that I can lead you to my cellar of doom. And not the good kind of cellar of doom. The bad kind.

“Go missin Baby ain’t nobody got to know”

Translation: That way no one can track me down when they discover you body washed up on some distant shore.

“Conscience tellin you shouldn’t go, don’t listen”

Translation: Don’t listen to your gut feeling saying I’m a serial killer.

“Go missin. Go missin”

Translation: Go missin.

The end. Go missin.  Because I played on your feelings and manipulated you into ignoring your conscience that told you I was a serial killer AND IT WAS RIGHT, I AM I AMA SERIAL KILLER.

Well not me. Usher. Well, Usher’s persona in the song.

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

With all the hallabaloo about women needing to step up their game and be more careful and drink less and blah to avoid getting raped you would people would be all

“How dare you romanticize a situation in which a female is abandoned by their lover in a strange place and seduced by a strange man!”  but nope. Huffington Post’s Kia Makarechi just casually mentions that the lyrics are “serial killer-esque” and no one sees a problem with it.

The casual way we accept this kind of creepiness, and furthermore promote it, is completely terrifying. Everyone’s reaction when they hear a song that is practically an ad for the sex slave trade should be to pull their car over and run away. Not “Oh the beat is so futuristic.”

THE BEAT IS FUTURISTIC? REALLY? THAT’S THE THING YOU NOTICED ABOUT THE SERIAL KILLER ANTHEM?

I was really hoping there was a music video just to see if someone acknowledged that in the end the girl is never to be seen again and newscasters lament her abduction while casually adding that “She did go off with a strange man.” You know just to really drive home how okay we are with, not only rape, but the victimization of rape victims.

And get this: The song was released on Valentines day. What? What’s that banging sound you hear? Oh it’s just me hitting my head on the wall repeatedly.

WHAT ABOUT ABDUCTION IS ROMANTIC, AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?!

What do you guys think? Am I overreacting? Let me know in the comments.

Peace and Love.

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Rape Culture is when a culture normalizes, excuses, tolerates or even condones rape.

 

Exhibit A:

 

Imagine this. I am driving in a car when Go Missin by Usher comes on. The person n the car with me starts singing along.

 

Harmless right?

 

WRONG.

 

The correct reaction to this song is for me to pull the car over and we both hop out, screaming our heads off. Because that song is scary guys. It is pull the car over in the middle of traffic and run away scary. Everyone is raving over how innovative the sound is, and futuristic, and cinematic in feel, building suspense.

 

Building suspense for what, though? I’ll tell you what: MURDER. RAPE AND MURDER AND NECROPHILIA.

 

For those who don’t know what Necrophilia is: ITS RAPE OF DEAD PEOPLE.

 

And yes, potential troll, Necrophilia is indeed rape BECAUSE DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T GIVE ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT THEY ARE DEAD!

 

Why is this song okay? Is it the fact that it is so clearly serial killer rapey you could never mistake as something sexy or do people really think being abducted and sold to sex slavery is sexy!

 

SEX SLAVERY IS NOT SEXY YOU GUYS.

 

Listen to these lyrics:

 

“Its crowded up in here what you doing all alone?”

Translation: Attractive young female with no one around to note her absence. Target found.

 

“Its so dark in here and you don’t even have your phone”

Translation: No one will see my face and you have no way to contact the police or any other form of help.

 

“What kind of man would ever want to leave your side?”

Translation: I shall now play on your insecurities in order to lure you into placing your trust in me.

 

“Shame on him you’re coming home with me tonight babe”

Translation: My playfully demanding nature is just the right balance of joking so you don’t suspect anything but sexy so that I can lead you to my cellar of doom. And not the good kind of cellar of doom. The bad kind.

 

“Go missin Baby ain’t nobody got to know”

Translation: That way no one can track me down when they discover you body washed up on some distant shore.

 

“Conscience tellin you shouldn’t go, don’t listen”

Translation: Don’t listen to your gut feeling saying I’m a serial killer.

 

“Go missin. Go missin”

Translation: Go missin.

 

The end. Go missin.  Because I played on your feelings and manipulated you into ignoring your conscience that told you I was a serial killer AND IT WAS RIGHT, I AM I AMA SERIAL KILLER.

 

Well not me. Usher. Well, Usher’s persona in the song.

 

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

 

With all the hallabaloo about women needing to step up their game and be more careful and drink less and blah to avoid getting raped you would people would be all

“How dare you romanticize a situation in which a female is abandoned by their lover in a strange place and seduced by a strange man!”  but nope. Huffington Post’s Kia Makarechi just casually mentions that the lyrics are “serial killer-esque” and no one sees a problem with it.

 

The casual way we accept this kind of creepiness, and furthermore promote it, is completely terrifying. Everyone’s reaction when they hear a song that is practically an ad for the sex slave trade should be to pull their car over and run away. Not “Oh the beat is so futuristic.”

 

THE BEAT IS FUTURISTIC? REALLY? THAT’S THE THING YOU NOTICED ABOUT THE SERIAL KILLER ANTHEM?

 

I was really hoping there was a music video just to see if someone acknowledged that in the end the girl is never to be seen again and newscasters lament her abduction while casually adding that “She did go off with a strange man.” You know just to really drive home how okay we are with, not only rape, but the victimization of rape victims.

 

And get this: The song was released on Valentines day. What? What’s that banging sound you hear? Oh it’s just me hitting my head on the wall repeatedly.

 

WHAT ABOUT ABDUCTION IS ROMANTIC, AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?!

 

What do you guys think? Am I overreacting? Let me know in the comments.

 

Peace and Love.

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“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”

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Generational amnesia is a disease many adults suffer from today. Often times older generations seem to negate the fact that they themselves were ever teenagers or young adults.

Signs of generational amnesia become very apparent when youth behave like youth and are curious about relationships, sexuality, drugs, and sex.
Symptoms of generational amnesia include statements like:
  • When I was young we listened to our parents and didn’t do___.
  • When I was young we knew better than to disobey our parents.
  • When I was young we knew better than to have sex outside of marriage.
  • When I was young I knew about sex, you can’t possible tell me you need someone to teach you about sex.
  • When I was young we knew if we even thought about disobeying our elders we would have hell to face.
  • When I was young no body wondered if they were gay or not.
  • Note that “When I was young” can be replaced with “My generation” and still be signs of generational amnesia.
Generational amnesia is very harmful,  it can lead to:
  • youth feeling uncomfortable when it comes to speaking to adults about sex, relationships, drugs, and sexuality.
  • Older generations isolating themselves from a youth’s reality and challenges of growing up.
  • Older generations feeling youth, “need to just figure it out on their own.”
  • Older generations creating ads and public service announcements that do not reach youth because they are created by people who do not understand youth.
The cure for generational amnesia is still unknown however, if you know someone who suffers from generational amnesia gently urge them to remember their youth in an honest way.
If their parents are still living ask their parents to help their child accurately recount their teenage and young adult years.
Please note that there are several types of generational amnesia including but not limited to: privileged amnesia, the arts are a waste of time amnesia, body image amnesia and several more.
As a youth it is important to understand generational amnesia and work on not developing it as you grow older.

 

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In an interview with the Guardian on June 2nd, actor Michael Douglas revealed that his throat cancer was caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). The stage four cancer was originally deemed fatal when Douglas was diagnosed in August 2010. While he has been cancer free for two years, his outcome could have been much worse if he had not seen a doctor in Montreal who correctly diagnosed him. Before learning HPV had caused the cancer, he had seen many specialists who failed to notice the large tumor on his tongue and link it to HPV.

Approximately 25-35% of oral cancers are HPV-related, yet many of Douglas’s doctors and various media outlets assumed that the cancer was caused by Douglas’s tobacco and alcohol use. Substance use is often correlated with cancers of the throat, however, oral sex is often not connected in our conversations. Our culture tends to stigmatize those experiencing STIs and downplay the frequency of occurrence. Often this stigma drives people away from seeking the treatment they require. While the Guardian article is fairly objective, it does subtlety further this norm through its diction. By declaring Douglas’s admittance as “surprisingly frank”, the article acknowledges the silence regarding this subject, while simultaneously assigning oral sex and its possible health risks as a subject that is unnatural to be discussed.

In addition, this article and similar conversations are worrisome because they sensationalize the act of oral sex, rather than focus on the health implications of such cases. Instead, conversations should center on how to adapt our health institutions and processes to better diagnose and treat HPV-related cancer cases. The article quotes a recent study in which 57% of 1,316 patients with oral cancer tested positive for HPV-16. Over 100 variants of HPV exist and many are symptomless, but HPV-16 has been linked to a type of oral cancer. This increase in HPV-related oral cancer cases can be attributed to various factors such as the rise of oral sex and fluctuations in safe sex practices. Whatever the cause, health professionals must adapt to the changing causations and be open to discussing their patients’ sexual history, so that the diagnostic period can happen as quickly and as accurately as possible. Luckily for Douglas, oropharyngeal cancer is highly curable even in the latest stages of intervention. If dialogue about our sexual practices and history becomes more embedded in our culture, then the linkage between certain health problems and sexuality will not be an afterthought, leading to earlier intervention.

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Tomorrow, the HUB network premieres the first episode of it’s new cartoon series, SheZow. The show, focused on a young boy who transforms into a female superhero has, unsurprisingly, drawn a lot of criticism, concern and outrage from some who feel that it might somehow convince young kids to become Trans*. While this is obviously ridiculous, I still have my apprehensions before we declare this a win for the LGBTQ community and reproductive justice as a whole.

In discussing this with my mom, she pointed out the distinct difference between Guy and his female alter-ego, SheZow. Guy is, well, a guy; the creators went so far as to name him that as to affirm his masculinity and make sure he is as far on the male side of the gender binary as possible. Guy plays video games, skateboards, and wears a baggy T-shirt and cargo shorts. Meanwhile, SheZow is on the complete opposite side of the binary. All of her gadgets are pink, she wears eyeliner and eye-shadow, and her costume is a pink leopard-print catsuit. Though this is not abnormal of children’s television, the fact that the show appears to adhere strictly to the binary and uphold established constructs of gender doesn’t sit right with me.

I’m also concerned as to how this show might represent Trans* issues. I’m concerned not about “exposing” children to the concept of what it means to be Trans*, rather how children are being exposed to it. I admit, I don’t have a lot of faith in the media, and I’m concerned that the show might trivialize or misrepresent Trans* issues, causing kids and teens who are beginning to question their gender identity to feel even more uncomfortable.

The show hasn’t premiered yet, and I could be wrong, and hopefully I am. But for now, I think we need to hold off before we definitively call this a victory.

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On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.

El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureauthe National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.

The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.

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There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights.  One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action.  When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization.  According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.”  They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites.  To this organization, abortion is:

An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken.  But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous.  Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.

The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website.  Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on.  One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice.  The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth.  You can watch her video response here.  I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.

It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though.  Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action.  Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff.  The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident.  But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.

Seriously!  Click the link below to watch!

http://www.slate.com/articles/video/slate_v/2013/05/abortion_clinic_video_exposing_fake_selectively_edited_hidden_camera_footage.html

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UPDATE: Many of you signed the petition, sent out tweets and posted FB comments, and we’re happy to report your activism has paid off. Facebook has agreed to remove content that condones and encourages violence and hate speech against women. They’ve acknowledged the problem and are taking steps to fix it. Let’s see that they do.

Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of injury for women between the ages of 15 and 44, more then rape, muggings, and car accidents combined. Nearly 1 in 4 women experience at least 1 physical assault from a partner during adulthood. That works out to roughly 3-4 million women a year.

May 24 – Advocates for Youth has signed on to a letter asking Facebook to stop hosting groups, pages, and images with graphically violent attacks on women.  Facebook has banned other hate speech and should ban gender-based hate speech.

In a world in which hundreds of thousands of women are assaulted daily and where intimate partner violence  remains one of the leading causes of death for women around the world, it is not possible to sit on the fence.  We call on Facebook to make the only responsible decision and take swift, clear action on this issue, to bring your policy on rape and domestic violence into line with your own moderation goals and guidelines.

Please share, and call on Facebook’s advertisers to support this action!

 

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Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths & Miscarriages?

On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”

The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.

If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state would be setting a “dangerous precedent” that “unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide,” says Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal organization that has joined with Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, to defend Buckhalter. If Buckhalter’s case goes forward, NAPW fears it could spur a wave of similar prosecutions in Mississippi and other states.

Mississippi’s manslaughter laws were not intended to apply in cases of stillbirths and miscarriages. Four times between 1998 through 2002, Mississippi lawmakers rejected proposals that would have set specific penalties for damaging a fetus by using illegal drugs during pregnancy. But Mississippi prosecutors say that two other state laws allow them to charge Buckhalter. One definesof manslaughter as the “killing of a human being, by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another”; another includes “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth” in the state’s definition of human beings.

The cause of any given miscarriage or stillbirth is difficult to determine, and many experts believe there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to drugs in utero can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. Because of this, prosecuting Buckhalter opens the door to investigating and prosecuting women for any number of other potential causes of a miscarriage or stillbirth, her lawyers argued in a filing to the state Supreme Court—”smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, exercising against doctor’s orders, or failing to follow advice regarding conditions such as obesity or hypertension.” Supreme Court Justice Leslie D. King also raised this question in the oral arguments last month: “Doctors say women should avoid herbal tea, things like unpasteurized cheese, lunch meats. Exactly what are the boundaries?”

READ MORE HERE

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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.

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“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.”

READ MORE HERE.

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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:

  • youth wait LONGER to have sex for the first time,
  • they have LESS sex partners (helps protect against sexually transmitted infections)
  • they have sex LESS often

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

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butwhy5b65d

Hi!

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.

 http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3cLpmZJw6qY/T-HqRUrjyBI/AAAAAAAAC3w/0stx-dLVMtY/s1600/jackie+chan+my+brain+is+full+of+fuck+meme+blank+template+lol+wtf.jpg

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:

  1. Tyler Perry, what in the world is wrong with you?

  2. 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?

  3. What is wrong with you?

  4. 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.

  5. I believe I’ve asked this before but, what is wrong with you Tyler Perry?

  6. Why are all the strong, educated and successful black men in your movies always so greatly flawed when it comes to personality?

  7. Do you hate women?

 

If you are looking for a truly horrific movie experience, this is it.

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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.

 

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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.

 Check out the Tennessee Equality Project’s Facebook page and proclamation!

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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.

Read more here.

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Poster-01

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!

2.Support victims of sexual abuse by going to a Take Back The Night event on your campus or in your community. If there isn’t one, get started planning your own for next year!

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!

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STIGMA

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.

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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!