The “Pro-Life” Movement: Dangerous, Selfish, Lazy

So…362 anti-abortion bills were proposed in 2011, and over 350 have been proposed so far for 2012.

Anybody else getting nervous?

You’ve probably noticed that Planned Parenthood, a sexual health services provider for millions of people living in the USA, has come under an extreme political attack. Major threats to defund the organization, straw-man sting operations, and multiple bombings of clinics are just a few recent events in this chaotic spiral.

Planned Parenthood provides a much needed service in the United States: birth control, family planning, pregnancy testing, cancer screenings, STI prevention, HIV/AIDS services, and various other vital reproductive health services that a healthy country desperately needs access to. So why all the violence?

Because 3% of Planned Parenthood’s funds go toward abortion for accidental pregnancies.

Extremist Christian groups, under the dishonest banner of “Pro-Life”, have thus made it their top priority to shut down the entire organization that is Planned Parenthood in order to stop the abortion care. The debate about this Planned Parenthood/abortion/pro life stuff typically revolves around how we should feel about abortion.

But I think invested time and resources in that debate is futile.

Humans will never have universal feelings about abortion. We just won’t – it’s a personal issue that examines how humans feel about their own existence. Tough stuff. The sooner we become okay with having different feelings about it, the sooner we can take a look at the practical side of things….that is, the scary amounts of terrorism surrounding access to abortion. I know the word “terrorism” sounds extreme and dramatic in itself, but if we’re going by dictionary definitions, this one fits the bill. There has been:

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50 More Ways To Be Sex Positive!

In this week’s sex+ called “The Slut Shamer“, I used a variety of mini-skits to give some basic principles of sex positivity. Here are 50 more things that I do to complement my sex positive lifestyle. Help grow this list by sharing your ways in the comments! Can you think of more ways to be sex positive? :)

Sexuality
explore & find out what feels good!

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cunt, fag, nigger, etc.

Language is powerful. So powerful, that I’d be willing to guess that even the title of this post makes you feel *something*. Language has the ability not only to indicate basic ideas, but to also to convey our emotional response to ideas. Taken out of context, some words can mean entirely different things:


vs

Hmmm. Let’s talk about some words that seem to rely on context these days:


1. Cunt
2. Fag/Queer
3. Nigger

Funny that today’s attack words all pertain to women, gays, and black americans (minority groups…), but let’s not go there right now. What I’m wondering is: is it really possible to “reclaim” words? Or should we leave oppressive language behind and replace it with new language?

In Favor of Reclaiming Language

South Park made a statement about the fluidity of offensive language in the episode “The F Word” which commented on the new usage of “fag”. The female sexuality program I facilitate at the university has a reclamation of “cunt” and “queer” written right into the curriculum. And as for “nigger”, these days it’s hard to come across hip hop music that doesn’t spew the word vehemently. These movements suggest that it isn’t the history of the word that dictates the emotion behind it, but the emotion that we choose to invest; that reclaiming a word can rob it of its history. Reclaiming words can be empowering.



In Favor of Leaving Language Behind

Language can carry a lot of baggage. Let’s look at race here. To a new generation, using “nigger” may not have as much pain attached to it as a generation where the word was used to dehumanize them. In this context, words become a soul force that have the power to destroy, whether or not we like it. It’s basic conditioning.

This is why I myself do not use the words “nigger” or “fag”. In fact, just typing it brings me a little bit of discomfort. Going with the n-word example, I am white, and I don’t feel like “nigger” is mine to reclaim. However, I know people who reclaim words that have nothing to do with their identity (i.e. a white man who uses “nigger”). But what’s the difference between reclaiming the word and being a racist? An old partner of mine used the n-word and he argued that it depends on context. The problem is, when I visit websites like 4chan (warning: NSFW), I realize that “context” is what you make it, so things that are actually racist can still pose as being race neutral.

So, here are some thinking points: Can oppressive language be reclaimed? If so, who can reclaim it? Anyone, or only the person the word refers to (i.e. cunt can only be reclaimed by people with a vagina)? Or, conversely, should oppressive language be abandoned and left to rot from its painful roots?

Have a tit-ilating Tuesday ;D

The Virginity Ring

Today I managed to get myself out of the house to take care of some errands I had been meaning to do for weeks. Since mid-December, I’ve been visiting my parents, so I went toddling around the city where I grew up. Waiting in line at an obnoxious department store (the colors, the lights, and the noise, noise, NOISE!) I did a double take at the woman behind me; could that be Melissa*? Snotty Melissa who made fun of my shoes in 9th grade? The Melissa who callously gossiped and lied Monday-Saturday and then showed up to church with me Sunday to worship? Oh yes, it was her. Drat.

Secretly, I hoped I wouldn’t be recognized. Unfortunately, I was. “LACCIIIIII!!!! Oh my GOD I haven’t seen you in years! How are you?”

The conversation sucked, so I won’t go there, but she did remind me of something. In 9th grade, during class at church, Melissa had proudly shown off a large diamond ring she wore daily on her finger. “A virginity ring”, she said. Even at 14, I was rolling my eyes.

Virginity rings (aka purity ring), a symbol for abstinence, come endorsed by schools and churches across America. They are worn by teenagers, often after receiving them from authority figures (pastors, mom, dad, older bro or sis, prudent Sister Smith from church, etc). The ones that I have seen have been both beautiful and expensive. Should a teen choose to take it off after agreeing to wear it, many face harassment from various extremist figures in their life…or, y’know, the media. Poor Selena Gomez.

I personally have several problems with purity rings:

1. The implication of a “purity ring” is that to have sex, you are no longer “pure”. Sex is thus dirty, defiling, and wrong instead of natural, healthy, and an act to be approached in an informed fashion.
2. Taking off the ring when you first have sex symbolizes something being taken AWAY from you. Real empowering, right? In healthy cases, you are not LOSING your virginity, you’re GAINING access to a new part of yourself–you’re making your sexual debut!
3. They are not effective. Studies have repeatedly shown that purity pledgers engage in the same sex acts in the same numbers. The only difference? Purity pledgers are significantly less likely to protect themselves, so they end up pregnant or transmitting diseases instead. Great.
4. Purity rings are a tool to “keep up appearances” and perpetuate bad communication between kids and their parents. As the studies have indicated, pledgers STILL HAVE SEX. They just learn to get really good at lying about it. Or, for the quiet parents, if they can see the ring on, they never have to talk about sex. Phew–problem solved! (Not.)
5. In my own experience, purity rings carry a lot of baggage. My sister wore one all through high school and continuously reprimanded me for not wearing one. I distinctly remember sitting across from her at Fresh Choice 5 or so years ago; leaning over her soup, she aggressively whispered: “Obviously you’re having sex since you won’t wear one.” It gave her an opportunity to demean my choices every day, even though I wasn’t even sexually active at the time. Wearing the purity ring also made her feel 10X more guilty when she finally did have sex.

…And my sister definitely didn’t end up waiting until marriage. In fact, my sister has more sex than me. As for Melissa? Well, she’s not married either. She also has a daughter, with another one on the way.

Abstinence vows oft mean learning the hard way, if they learn at all. Guilt, harassment, unplanned pregnancies, and maybe even a few STD/STIs later, some learn to approach their sexuality more realistically.

I just hope her parents didn’t spend too much on that ring.

*Her name isn’t actually Melissa. Actually, it might be, I couldn’t remember her name.