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I am a Feminist. Are You?

Oooh, that scary F-word.  It breaks my heart to hear women say something supporting women’s rights, and then say “oh, but I’m not a feminist”, or, even worse “but don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminazi”.  There is a misconception that being a feminist means that you preemptively hate all men, that you are angry about feminist issues all the time, that you want to scream to the heavens as you burn your bra and declare that all sex between men and women is rape.

I don’t hate men.  On the contrary, between my dad, boyfriend, and some of the lovely men I have the privilege to call my friends, I think that it can safely be said that I love men.  I have surrounded myself with shining examples of men who are loving, kind, and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

I am a feminist because

  • I believe that I deserve to be paid the same amount as a man who has been doing the same job as I have for the same period of time.
  • I believe that I deserve access to medically accurate information regarding my sexual health.
  • I believe that I deserve to have my contraception covered by my health insurance, just like I deserve to have a broken bone covered.
  • I believe that I have the ability to decide my own sexual partner or partners, and that derogatory terms for my sexuality qualify as verbal assault.
  • I believe that I and my partner are the only ones who are responsible for deciding when I have a child, if ever.
  • I believe that I deserve to walk down the street without being harassed.
  • I believe that I have the right to decide my place in society.  If I and my partner decide that I should be a housewife, then that should be acceptable and supported.  If I decide to be the CEO of an international corporation and earn that title, then that should be accepted and supported.
  • I believe that teaching women how to “not get raped” instead of teaching everyone “don’t rape” is a failure of our society.
  • I believe that women and men are raped, abused, and exploited.  I believe that this is a tragedy that is also a failure of our society.
  • I believe that “look at what she was wearing”, “how much alcohol did she drink?”, and “well, she should take responsibility for putting herself in a bad situation”, are classic examples of rape culture, and these phrases should be removed from any discourse.
  • I believe that books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey normalize and romanticize abusive and controlling relationships.  I believe that holding these up as “romantic ideals” for young women creates a generation of victims.
  • I believe that the cult of virginity is toxic.
  • I believe that I have the right to expect that I am treated with respect, and that my stated boundaries are honored.
  • I believe that everyone should have the right to get married, no matter what their sexual orientation may be.

These are just a few of the reasons that I am a feminist.  Do you consider yourself a feminist?  Do you agree with my reasons, or have a few of your own to add?

IUDs Remain Awesome

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has verified what I have known for years now.  IUDs are a fantastic option for contraception.

According to the study, the US has the highest rate of unintended pregnancy among developed nations, and at least half of these unintended pregnancies are due to incorrect contraception use.  As I said before, one of the best reasons to choose an IUD over other contraception options is the removal of human error from the equation.  When you don’t have to remember to take a pill or put on a condom correctly, it makes the risk of an unintended pregnancy almost zero.  In fact, IUDs are 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy in comparison to the pill, the patch, or the ring.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again.  The next time you have a gynecology appointment, talk to your doctor about getting an IUD.  The effectiveness, the peace of mind, and the lack of hassle are worth it.  Arm yourself with information, and if they refuse to consider you for an IUD, then find another gynecologist.  I have heard anecdotal evidence that Planned Parenthood is particularly pro-IUD for anyone who is interested in getting one.

Forget “I Hollaback”. I Call the Police.

As I was walking home yesterday afternoon from the Carnivale street fair, I witnessed street harassment. Four men were standing on the sidewalk, and one of these men approached a girl who had been in the parade earlier that day. She was still wearing her feathered, spangled, and slightly revealing costume.

I qualify that as “slightly revealing” because, quite frankly, a bathing suit in the same style would have been appropriate for a family get together at a pool. I also mention this, because “look what she was wearing” is often the defense for harassment and even for sexual assault and rape. Her costume was appropriate to the occasion, but even she had been walking down the street naked, attire is no excuse for harassment.

The man that approached her practically stood in front of her as he was asking her if she had a Facebook account. She ignored him, stepped around him, and kept walking. He grew angry, and started yelling at her that she was racist for not talking to him.

I also grew angry. Why on Earth should she be obligated to talk to him? She didn’t know him, and he was acting aggressively towards her. He clearly felt that by walking down the street, she somehow owed him some attention. Her outfit was not an invitation to talk to her.

While this is not the most aggressive example of street harassment that I’ve seen, and I’ve certainly been the focus of more aggressive street harassment, it still infuriates me. Women do not walk down the street in order to entertain whomever is watching. We do it to go to work, to get groceries, go to the bank, go to the gym, hang out with friends, go out to eat, watch a newly released movie, etc.

Street harassment has been a hot topic of late, and with movements like “I Hollaback”, women are trying to combat this problem with social pressures, and public advertising of the faces and locations of men who have harassed a woman on the street. But this isn’t enough.

So, what can we do? We can start causing even more of a ruckus, and force the local legislature and keepers of the peace to sit up and take notice of the fact that women are made to feel unsafe every day, while going about our normal lives. This won’t be an easy campaign. As discussed in Cynthia Grant Bowman’s article “Street Harassment and the Informal Ghettoization of Women”, published in Volume 106:517 of the Harvard Law Review, there should be a twofold campaign against street harassment, both in civil litigation and in municipal law.

For those of us who live in an urban environment, more often than not, there are cameras that can see us on the street. There are police officers that patrol the streets. If you are harassed on the street, look around for a camera, and call the police if you can find one. The camera footage is an impartial third party observer to the harassment. Then, accuse your harasser of an intentional infliction of emotional distress to the police officer and say that you want to press charges. Make sure the officer knows that the camera could see the harassment take place, and ask that they procure the footage. Show up to the court proceedings and tell the court how the harassment made you feel. Explain the fear of assault and rape that is inflicted when you are approached. Explain how you live with this fear every day of your life, and that it is the duty of the police and the government to protect you from this fear.

I will no longer “Hollaback”. I will start calling the police and pressing charges against unwanted sexual attention. It is time that we take a stand.

Wednesday Links

Today’s post is composed mostly of links.  Let me know what you think about the below news links!

At-Home HIV tests.

What, exactly, is “Gateway Sexual Activity”?

Republican Named “Bubba” (in Mississippi) Advocates At-Home Abortions with Coat Hangers.

The last one has me facepalming.

Fifty Shades of Red Flags

 

The Fifty Shades trilogy has been at the top of the NYT Bestseller list for 10 weeks now.  I can’t even begin to count the number of people who have suggested I review these books.  I’m on vacation in the Outer Banks, North Carolina right now, and I figured they’d be good for reading on the plane.  I started reading the first book at 3:30am, and knew that I probably wasn’t going to like them, as I had started cracking up laughing at the terrible writing by 3:45am.  Warning, those who have been in an abusive relationship may be triggered by the following post. Read the rest of this entry

Rock the Slut Vote

As I am sure my regular readers are aware, according to Rush Limbaugh, most of the women in America are sluts.

I have previously discussed my issue with the word slut in this post, but I am heartened by this movement.  Rock the Slut Vote.  Take a look at their checklist.  Do you qualify as a slut?  According to that checklist, I am a super slutty slut.  While I hate the word, and I hate the fact that it is used to denigrate women who make decisions about their own sexual health, I support this movement.  If you also qualify as a slut, then you should too.

This movement is not about taking back the world “slut” like the slutwalk movement.  This is about getting women to understand that right now, the Republican party is collectively waging a war on the reproductive rights and sexual health of women.   This is about getting women to go out and make their voices count.

You know that the Republican party has gone too far when a Republican Congressman has added his voice to the cry.  As the sole Republican at a recent Equal Rights Amendment rally, Representative Richard Hanna told the women in the crowd to vote and donate to his political opponents, the Democratic Party.

I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault. I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help. […]  If equality had been enshrined in the Constitution for these past 40 years, I wonder if we would still be hearing today from right-wing presidential contenders that women should not serve in combat, that women should think twice before they seek to work outside of the house, that women should not use birth control, and that women who do are called names that are not fit to repeat here. […]  This is a dogfight, it’s a fistfight, and you have all the cards. I can only tell you to get out there and use them. Tell the other women, the other 51 percent of the population, to kick in a few of their bucks. Make it matter, get out there, get on TV, advertise, talk about this. The fact that you want [the ERA] is evidence that you deserve it and you need it.

What a gorgeous statement.  If you identify as a Republican, or a Conservative, and you don’t feel that your personal beliefs regarding sexual health or equal rights are being represented by your congresspeople and senators, then make a donation to the other party.  Vote for the other party.  Tell your representatives how you feel about their statements in the media.

In other news, if someone buys me this, I will post a picture of myself wearing it as soon as I receive it.  Comment below if you wish to do so, and comment below if you have something to say about this movement.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Part 2

Ideally, in every new sexual relationship, there is a period of time when you and your partner can sit down and discuss your expectations and boundaries in a frank and honest manner. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.   Read the rest of this entry

Abstinence-Only Education is Negligent Parenting

When you become a parent, one of the biggest parts of your new job is protecting your child. You’d never let your child sleep with a plastic bag in the crib; you’d never let him or her ride a bike for the first time without a helmet; and you would never just toss your child the keys to the car without teaching them how to drive it first. So why, then, are so many parents failing at protecting their children from the lies, misinformation, and danger of abstinence-only sex education? Read the rest of this entry

Glee and LGBTQ Youth

Last night’s Glee episode demonstrated once again why I love that show. Although the plot lines can be incredibly predictable, and the auto-tune often bothers me to the point of grinding my teeth, this show has been a great force for LGBTQ youth. Warning: Spoilers after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Talk About Sex

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to have some one-on-one time with a lovely 13 year old young lady. We had a two hour long talk about sex, puberty, and relationships. I was able to answer all of the questions she had regarding these topics, and to give some information that she couldn’t get through school, and was too embarrassed to ask her family members. Read the rest of this entry

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