Friday, April 9, 2010

Bristol Palin

Bristol Palin is the new spokesperson for Candies' Foundation's abstinence only campaign -- yes, the same Bristol Palin that had a lot of sex and a baby in the last few years. Now, I agree preventing teen pregnancy is an important and admirable goal , but this campaign (and most abstinence only supporters) focuses heavily on shaming women, putting the pressure on women to prevent sexual activity, and ignoring gender stereotypes create unhealthy sexual situations.

Here is the transcript of her PSA and a LINK:

Transcript: What if I didn't come from a famous family? What if I didn't have all their support? What if I didn't have all these opportunities? Believe me, it wouldn't be pretty. Pause before you play.

According to Palin, its OK that she wanted to have sex as a teen because she is rich, has a supportive family, and is famous. Everyone that has sex but lacks these qualities... what are you thinking!?

This is a ridiculous classicist approach to preventing teen pregnancy and it has no place in the education of teens about sex.

Also, if the heavy abstinence only education did not work for Bristol Palin -- why on earth would it work for any other teens she is supposedly reaching. Part of me feels like (or kinda knows) this campaign is her effort to reassert her "purity" now that she potentially resides in the "whore" category in the mind of her parents -- and mother's most loyal followers. The PSA reeks of Bristol's self hatred and the wider conservative movements distaste for women harnessing their sexuality.

Ultimately, this campaign gives no answers. What do teens do when they find themselves having sex (like Bristol)? How do teens talk to people they trust about sex? How do women address simultaneous expectations of sex and no sex? How do men address constant assertions that being a man = have sex with a woman? What if you are sexually assaulted? WHAT DO YOU DO!?

Answers Bristol?... until you can, please go away.

(I found this lovely PSA on feministing, check it out)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Alternative Menstrual Products

Hello Ladies!

In honor of the upcoming Vagina Monologues and all the "The Vaginas are Coming" signs posted all over campus, I wanted to share something that I have recently discovered about my own vagina. My vagina is concerned about the environment and has decided to embrace environmentally friendly menstrual products. I have always had problems using disposal pads and tampons. They are expensive, wasteful, and they always seem to throw my vagina out of whack. Pads can be bulky and chafe and tampons tend to be uncomfortable and absorb all the good fluids that we all have down there. Also, when using tampons I was constantly worried about TSS and I would have to basically arrange my life around the removal of tampons every 5-8 hours (there is NO risk of TSS when using menstrual cups).

Thankfully, I have a wonderful sister who was able to offer some alternatives to tampons and pads. She told me about her menstrual cup and how much it has improved her periods. Menstrual cups are basically little cups made of medical grade silicon (they also come in rubber or latex for ladies with allergies). You place the cup in your vagina and it cups your cervix and catches the menstrual blood. There are many brands of cups available in different shapes and sizes (and they come in pretty colors!!! Mine is pink and super cute!) to suit different women's anatomy and flow amounts. You can leave it in for up to 12 hours and it can last for many years.

If you feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of a cup, you can also look into cloth pads as a way of reducing your environmental impact. However, I would recommend that everyone at least consider menstrual cups. They help the environment, your wallet, and you will learn a lot about your vagina and your periods. I have used mine for one cycle and I already feel so much more in touch with my body.

For more information, visit the ultimate resource on menstrual cups--

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sex Positive Sex Ed

After learning about the explosion of the violent porn market from Robert Jensen and how our culture's obsession with sexualizing young girls has impacted our personal intimate and sexual relationships, I have been wondering how we can, as women, men, people who like sex, create an sex positive environment where all people feel empowered and comfortable with their sexuality.

And VOILĂ€! A potential answer to my question! Scarleteen is a comprehensive sexual education site that holds huge amounts of supportive information that, instead of chastising young people's interest in sex, encourages the personal exploration of one's sexuality.

Now this doesn't mean Scarleteen encourages all people to have sex all the time, like the media does, it is simply a non judgmental resource that addresses all types of questions about sexuality that young people might have. Instead of condemning sex, sexual identity, and sexual development, as an unspeakable subject, Scarleteen suggests that sexuality is a positive piece of the human experience and supports sexual expression that doesn't involved sexual exploitation or violence or sexual objectification or low self esteem or judgment.

In resorting to popular media for my sexual education, I not only picked up various degrees of what the APA calls "Sexualization by the media" (where girls learn our value comes from our sex appeal, achieving a narrowly defined definition of attractiveness is the only way to create this "sex appeal", and sex is for the pleasure of men and rarely for me) but I was never encouraged to think about my sexuality as an incredibly personal and individual part of my life. Popular media often suggests a narrowly defined version of sexual expression, defined as heterosexual with differing roles for attractive women and attractive men, but never suggests that sexuality varies across a wide spectrum and is different for every individual person.

Being unable to access information about our sexuality, I would argue, compounds the effect of young girls turning to media images that impose a gross misrepresentation of women's sexual needs and ultimately women's self worth on the most vulnerable of female groups, teenage girls.

But I believe this can change with sex positive information, as laid out by Scarleteen...

Scarleteen emphasizes a Feminist Sex Education that, and I quote, "Emphasizes -- for all sexes and genders -- autonomy, personal responsibility, full and active consent, sexuality in the holistic context of a whole, well-rounded life and healthy, equitable relationships self-esteem, nonsubordination and nonviolence, safety, health , happiness and pleasure and very real equality in sexuality, in which equal voice and accord are given to and issues from any and all partners in sexual partnerships and sexual activity."

If this message was spread across every magazine, television set, and Health Class poster in Highschool, I am certain teens and adults would find much healthier ways to express their sexual identities and dialogue about these IMMENSELY IMPORTANT aspect of every person's life.

Scarleteen also provides proof that there are alternative ways of teaching about sex that do not involved judgmental Abstinence Only Education curriculum (that has been proven entirely ineffective even by the Bush Administration who championed it).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween and feminism

This weekend, we all experienced the excitement of Halloween. Whether that meant staying in and watching The Shining, going to a party, or roaming the streets of Hollywood, we saw some scary costumes, crazy costumes, or maybe some interesting ones. Some costume choices on Halloween always bring an element of feminism into question.

As we wandered down Hollywood boulevard, my friends and I couldn't help but notice the ability to make every character or costume item revealing or sexy. We saw sexy nurses, maids, teachers, doctors, and bumble bees? I know this has been a common occurrence for some time now, but it always surprises me how much the holiday has become an excuse for many women to dress in an ultra-revealing way. Interestingly, very few men dress in as revealing outfits as women.

I believe this shows a remaining gender inequality. Why should women be expected to dress in an ultra-revealing way on a holiday that is simply about self-expression. I personally dressed as a crazy old woman and had a great time. Elementary schools, right here in Los Angeles, cracked down on inappropriate costumes this year, including ultra-sexy attire. This is certainly the appropriate action when dealing with 7 year olds in sexy French maid outfits.

Thoughts? I hope everyone reading this had a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blogs that Rock!!

So, while procrastinating and reading Feministing I came across another awesome blog to read!! Its called EverySaturdayMorning and it is the blog of an Escort at the ONLY abortion clinic in Louisville, KY. Its really great to see how many women (and men!) are doing important work to protect women's right to choose. Also, these escorts are volunteering their time to protect these women from the intimidation and harrassment of the pro-life protesters. How cool is that?? If you watch the videos you will see how scary and threatening some of the tactics of the pro-lifers are.

So, definitely add this to your daily rotation of feminist blogs and websites. I know I will!!

Disney is No Feminist

I know we all already knew this but I thought this little image summed it up pretty nicely. Also it was posted by our own Professor Lisa Wade on her amazing site Sociological Images! Check it out!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Women in the Recession

While perusing the New York Times tonight, I came across an interesting article concerning women's role in the economic downturn. Although it may seem progressive that women are on track to hold more than half of our nations jobs, this statistic is deceiving. Ultimately, women have gained more equality in the workplace simply in response to the action of their male counterparts.

In the 1940s, women worked because men went to war. In the 1950s and 60s, women stopped working or took lower-paying jobs as a result of returning soldiers. In the 1980s and 1990s, women worked "telecommuting" jobs under the pressure of a two-income household with a man out at work. Today, it seems, women will become the majority of workers because a) they are still cheaper for employers than men and b) women are concentrated in lower-paying industries that have been less affected by the economic downturn. Because of these facts, Lisa Belkin argues that real progress might be shows when men and women are equally losing jobs.

I have an issue with this argument. Not only is it significant that women will hold more jobs than men, but the economy would certainly collapse without the support of all the women in their respective fields, even if they are concentrated in "lower-paying industries" like health care and education. We should be celebrating hard-working women everywhere, not showing the short-comings of the gender equality movement. I certainly hope to join these hard-working women in the near future. Don't you?