Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Because You Think Being A Girl Is Degrading"

(Above) Do androgynous models catch flack for rocking the very concept of
gender binary to its core? Well, if they do, they're probably too
busy making snow angels in piles of cash to notice.
When I was in 8th grade, my teacher wanted to liven things up by giving us a debate topic that was a tad more risqué than usual, at least by middle-school standards. The topic was: Is it better to be a girl or a boy? Not "which sex is better?", but literally "which sex has the better end of the deal?"

I remember being excited by this question. As a little feminist-in-the-making (which at that age probably translated to "Woo! Girls rule!"), I had my answer perfectly formulated before anybody else had time to blink: 

Obviously, girls have it better because we have more freedom when it comes to doing the things we want. Girls can play sports and do other "guy stuff" and people think it's cool. But poor boys, if they want to knit, or bake, or do stereotypical "girl stuff" people make fun of them for it.

I was confident with this answer. It felt rock-solid, and I didn't think anybody would be able to come up with a good counter-argument when it came time to duke things out in the classroom. Truth be told, I can't remember what words were exchanged that day, but I do remember feeling utterly betrayed when my friend — a Korean chick who, to this day, is still one of the coolest and funniest people I know  sat on the boys' side of the argument. I just couldn't understand why she thought boys had a better deal in life. What happened to sisterhood?

Looking back, I realize now that my friend (who I'll call Ki-Jyeong Mung for legal reasons) was smarter than all of us. While the rest of us girls sat in smug satisfaction that we had a pretty good set-up in life (We could choose to be tomboys or girly-girls! How liberating!), we didn't understand the deeper implications of our opinion. When a girl is admired for kicking tail on the basketball court but a boy is called every number of degrading names for wearing a holiday sweater that's too "feminine," what is that really saying about the female gender?

After all these years, I finally get it. And I think this picture (which quotes a Madonna song) sums "it" up perfectly.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The "R" Word (By Randi S.)

This piece was written by Randi S., and also appears on her blog The Radical Idea. Randi is an activist, writer, and student of international women's issues.

Rape. Go ahead, say it. It’s not such a pleasant word, of course. We don’t like to delve too much into the issue of rape, or how widespread it is. We don’t like to look at the heartbreaking accounts of victims’ experiences. We don’t like to imagine it could happen to us.

But it is there, the dirty laundry we’ve somehow failed to clean up. And it’s not just "there." 17.6% of women in the United States are victims of an attempted or completed rape; and on college campuses, that proportion rises to 20-25%. On top of that, 64% of those crimes are perpetrated by current or former spouses, cohabitating partners, or boyfriends. And that’s just the crimes we know about: the FBI estimates that less than 40% of rapes are reported to the police.

That’s a little uncomfortable to think about, no? Now, many colleges offer crash courses in defense against rape  my own university offers a class called Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD. But that isn’t always enough. Among college women, about 47% of rapes were by dates or romantic acquaintances, and that applies to both male and female rape victims, mind you.

Unfortunately, colleges do tend to downplay problems like sexual assault, according to Jennifer Dorsey, a RAD instructor at American University in Washington, DC. Dorsey, who instructs women in moves used for self defense, says that a lot of what RAD teaches deals with mindset — focusing on understanding those who have been raped to be survivors, not just victims.

That’s an important point, because often victims of rape do suffer from psychological consequences, including anxiety, guilt, and depression. It can be a traumatic and redefining experience, but people shy away from talking about it, and the problems it cause make victims even more likely to be re-victimized. On top of that, 44% of women who have been date-raped say they’ve considered suicide, because they often feel they’ve lost who they previously were, or because of the shame/depression that accompanies this kind of situation.

Now, it can’t be denied that some percentage of rape cases are false accusations — but that’s about the same rate as other violent crimes, and yet you don’t see victims of burglaries or assault painted the same way that rape victims often are. In fact, sexual violence is a real problem because of the stigma attached to it — and because of the sense of humiliation and hurt that most victims encounter, making them reluctant to come forward about their experiences. According to Dorsey, many women don’t come forward "because (a) they feel it’s their fault or (b) they fear they’ll be judged for admitting it happened." And those two reasons are linked back to an increasingly prominent problem: victim-blaming.

Cases of victim-blaming are becoming more common, or at least more publicized, as people become increasingly agitated about the phenomenon. An AOL news story in March of 2011 reported that following the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas, much of the outrage was in fact directed at the victim.

In a remark that caused the controversy that would eventually inspire the SlutWalk campaign, a Canadian police officer commented that "if women want to avoid being raped, they should avoid dressing like sluts." This kind of victim-blaming is (a) not uncommon and (b) is probably part of why victims are reluctant to come forward. But the reality is, rape is not about sex: it’s about control. And people can try to point fingers at girls in short skirts and say they create temptation, they create opportunity, but that doesn’t make the rape any less of a crime. And odds are, if rape is about control, it’s more a matter of "when" than "if" — the victim was more likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So right here, right now, I just want to state very plainly what every crisis center and advocacy group and counselling resource has ever said: victims of rape and sexual assault are not at fault for the crimes perpetrated against them. 

As a character in Jodi Picoult’s The Tenth Circle states, "A rape victim and a fatal accident victim are both gone forever. The difference is that the rape victim still had to go through the motions of being alive." Blaming the victims only removes blame from the people who actually commit these crimes and violate other human beings. The job of friends, family, and communities is not to shove blame onto these victims, but to help them try to make sense of their lives in the aftermath of what has happened to them.

And on top of that, "no" always means "no". Even if you’re already making out, even if you’re past making out, even if clothes are coming off, no one is ever obligated to go through with a sexual act against their will. The other person may get angry, call them a tease, whatever, but the minute those words turn into action and consent is violated, it is rape. It is a crime. And it is always the fault of the person who actually commits that act.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How do you feel about NY's same-sex marriage ruling? Submit your opinion to the online zine Grrrl Beat!

Sophie, the creator of the online magazine Grrrl Beat, is seeking submissions from teens about their views on this momentous ruling. If this issue is at all important to you, I highly suggest whipping up a response and sending it to as soon as possible!

This was my response: 

Before finding feminism and identifying wholly with the movement, I wasn't too familiar with the LGBTAQ (lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, asexual, queer) community or its struggles. I certainly didn't have a problem with people who fit under the acronym's umbrella, but I knew as much about their varying lifestyles as I knew about theoretical physics (which wasn't much).

Considering I can literally count my family members on two hands (and the number of non-Christians on about three fingers), I didn't experience much diversity growing up. My parents were cool about most things and taught us to be honest, hard-working, etc., but homosexuality was something we just didn't talk about at the dinner table. (We rarely ate at the table, anyway. Most of the time we had our butts planted to watch Seinfeld. Bonding at its finest.)

Feminism introduced me to a litany of human rights issues. I'm still not as well-versed in the LGBTAQ movement as I would like to be, but I do have a child-like passion for equality. "Should two people of the same sex be allowed to get married?" seems like such a stupid question. If two people love each other, why shouldn't they be inclined to do whatever the hell they want? Love is love. It doesn't matter what form that takes.

When Sophie (from Grrrl Beat) emailed me the news  that same-sex couples can now get marriage licenses in New York  I was ecstatic. It was one of those fist-pumping "Hell yeah, equality strikes again!" sort of feelings. This may only be a small win in the grand scope of things, but this win will inspire another, and that win will inspire two more.

People are going to fight us every step of the way, but activists and feminists and allies are rising up in mighty hordes. Imagine if we (those of us who want to) go on to have kids of our own, passing on ideas like "equality" and "acceptance." Our kids will teach their kids, their kids will teach their own kids, and then those kids will go on to teach their kids (the only difference is they'll have robot butlers by then).

This world is changing for the better, and I am so damn excited.

Life Lesson: Always Love Yourself First (By Natalia K.)

This article was submitted by Natalia K., a Drama major with serious passions for "theatre, acting, films, feminism, food, traveling, and Starbucks." Check her out at This is Natalia!

Whether we like it or not, we all have to go through a long list of  "firsts" in life: first kiss, first date, first "serious" relationship, first time you have sex, and the first serious breakup (which is never, ever, an easy thing to go through). But being a feminist definitely made it easier for me to make the dreaded and life-altering decision. 

I had my first serious boyfriend right at the end of high school when I was 18. I was young, naive, sheltered, and completely confused about what I wanted in life. He was an amazing first boyfriend though; he respected me, we were very compatible, and most importantly, he was always supportive of the changes I went through (the best boyfriend a feminist could ask for). 

As you can imagine, I went through major life changes when I started university. My relationship with theatre (my life-long passion and university major) drastically changed for the better, my feminist identity became much stronger (and louder!), and I simply just became an adult. However, somewhere in the past three years, I no longer felt a strong connection to my boyfriend. I knew I had to end the relationship because I was no longer madly in love with him and I had the desperate need to be on my own and live my life with my new identity. The last time I was single I was 18 and I was a completely different person back then. 

It's been a month since I broke up with him and it hasn't been easy. At times I feel guilty because he was a great guy and an amazing boyfriend, and somehow I feel that I'm causing him suffering that he does not deserve. This is a major reason why many women don't have the courage to end a relationship, because we feel that the person we share our life with does not deserve to be broken up with. As usual, women put someone else's happiness ahead of their own because that is simply the way we are conditioned. Although I really wish there was a way I could minimize his pain, I simply can't, and I cannot get back together with him for that reason either. I know too well that I am entitled to go out there and live my life. To meet new people and keep rediscovering myself in new ways because I am only 21. 

My friends have praised me for my choice because I found the courage to end the relationship. I know that many of my friends and women in general have trouble finding this courage. Well here's my advice: this is your life and you have to do what's best for you. It is sad when a relationship comes to an end but just be thankful that you got the privilege to spend a part of your life with that person. And most importantly, you may think you're doing that person a favor by staying with them, but you are actually harming them just as much as you're harming youself. Because everyone in life deserves to be loved and be happy.

I'd like to end this post with a very wise quote from Sex and the City (I know this is kind of ironic because a lot of feminists dislike this show. I personally think that this quote is amazing).

"I'm gonna say the one thing you aren't supposed to say. I love you . . .
 but I love me more." - Samantha Jones

Friday, July 22, 2011

Feminist Essay Contest

My friend Talia runs a fabulous blog called Star of Davida (the title's a tribute to her dual love for feminism and Judaism). Like many of us teens who will soon rely on sweet, sweet financial aid and scholarships to get into college, Talia is in a sticky situation. She's been hunting for essay contests online, hoping to score a little cash to feed her "hungry college fund," but when it comes to writing about her passions she has pretty much come up empty-handed:

As a financially needy student who wants to go to a really great college, I’ve been obsessively looking for essay contests to win so I can build up my résumé and get some money . . . As a feminist, I’ve tried to find essays relating to feminism, but I haven’t been so lucky. I actually found an essay contest whose title was “Why is Abstinence Before Marriage the Best Choice for Teens Today?” Needless to say, it made me gag, but it didn’t stop me from writing the most pathetic essay I’ve ever written and submitting it. (I won an honorable mention. Go figure.)

Talia's epic-failure-of-an-essay-hunt wasn't totally in vain, however, because it inspired her to start the Star of Davida Essay Contest. For a chance to blab about your love of feminist and win a copy of Care Bears on Fire's newest album, Girls Like it Loud, here are the rules!

  • Description: Answer the question “How has feminism changed your life?” Has feminism helped you get through a rough time, accept yourself for who you are, changed how you live your life, your aspirations, etc. etc. Go crazy. As long as it’s between 250-750 words.
  • How to Enter: Send your essay as a doc, docx, or PDF file to If there’s a technical issue with your entry, Talia will be in touch  don’t worry. In the subject line, make sure to write “Essay Contest” or something to that effect. On the top of the first page include your full name, age, and email address.
  • Deadline: October 10, 2011
  • Eligibility: If you’re a feminist, and you’re a student (ranging anywhere between preschool and a PhD program), then you can enter.
  • Awards: The top three winners will each win a copy of Care Bears on Fire’s newest album, Girls Like it Loud! They will also get their essays published on Star of Davida!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For Teens: Why Talking About Birth Control Matters

This post is for a blog carnival called "Birth Control: We've Got You Covered," which is being sponsored by the National Women's Law Center. Soon the Web is going to light up with who-knows-how-many bloggers, each giving their own two cents on no-cost birth control and other related issues. Personally, I want to speak to teens and younger girls about why birth control is so dang important (even if it doesn't figure into all of our lives just yet).

Those ain't no Sweet Tarts!
If you're a relatively new feminist like I am (my glorious "click" moment only came about a year ago), it's easy to get sucked up into the feminist agenda  everything from equal pay to reproductive rights  without thinking too deeply about these issues or considering why they're so pivotal to the women's liberation movement.

New feminists, especially us young'uns, seem to go through a crazed, sugar-rushed phase where we're just so excited to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We start calling out sexist jokes in the produce department, we start doodling feminist-y things in our school notebooks, and we can't help but pose like Rosie the Riveter each time we catch ourselves in a mirror.
(Tip: Don't do this in public. People will stare.)

Don't get me wrong, this "feminist awakening" phase is zealous and incredibly life-affirming, but it can also hurt us if we begin nodding our heads to every single thing our feminist role models say just for the sake of proving our "feminist-ness." (I was guilty of that when I started calling myself pro-choice just because "all the feminists were doing it." I still call myself pro-choice, but now I've got the understanding to back it up. Yea-yuh.)

Support for birth control is one of those feminist ideals that "comes with the job description," but how many times, as teens, do we sit down and actually talk about it, or think about the implications it will have for our futures?

*cricket chirps*

That's what I thought.

Support for birth control has been synonymous with the feminist movement for decades, but when many of our older feminist allies (and I don't mean "older" in a bad way, just literally "older" than those of us born in the Era of Classic Nicktoons) talk about birth control and contraception, the focus automatically shifts to women in their 20's and 30's. Like birth control doesn't also affect our lives.

If you're a young person today, you know about sex. 

Say NO to virgin-whore dichotomy.
Sex saturates every ounce of media that we soak up: it's in books, movies, video games, steamy vampire dramas, the list goes on and on. Parents need to realize that if we're not getting our information from them (via one of those mythical "sex talks"), we're getting our information from less reliable sources — and many times this misinformation is coupled with ridiculous virgin-whore dichotomy (i.e. "good girls don't do that") which makes us even more confused about what the hell is going on with our bodies, about what's acceptable and what's not.

We get it, parents.

It's weird to think about your "babies" as sexual beings (it's weird for us, too, believe me), but that's no excuse to keep us from the realities of sex, contraception, STDs, and pregnancy. And just because we're not on The Pill now, doesn't mean that someday we won't be. As feminists, teens, girls: we need to know that contraception matters.

Right now, the Department of Health and Human Services is deciding "whether or not prescription contraceptives should be available under new healthcare plans without co-pay or other out-of-pocket costs." If the DHHS comes out with a favorable opinion, that could mean no-cost birth control for countless women nationwide. Considering birth control can cost upward of $100 per month (depending on one's method), many women in today's economy have had to choose between contraception and cancer screenings, between contraception and groceries.

In the 50's and 60's, many women were hearing about their
reproductive options for the first time. (Shock!)
The average woman spends three quarters of her reproductive life trying to prevent pregnancy, so yeah, birth control is a big deal. The National Women's Law Center is hopeful that the DHHS will "see the light" on this issue, and ultimately heed the recommendations given by a non-partisan, independent panel of scientific and medical experts at the Institute of Medicine (the panel's recommendations range from providing "yearly well-woman preventative care visits" to "screening and counseling to detect and prevent interpersonal and domestic violence").

For the millions of women who rely on birth control to keep their options open, and for your future and mine, I really hope the DHHS is able to reach a favorable consensus. In teen lingo: I hope they don't screw the heck up.

But until then, let's place our hands on our chins, act cool, and ponder some random facts birth control . . .
Birth control gives "power to the people," or rather, it gives women the opportunity to make choices that are right for their personal, individual lives. We're all different, life is short, and we should all be given the choice of how we spend our time — raising a family, going to work, or maybe even both. 

Nothing should be off-limits to us.

Sage Adderley (Sweet Candy Distro) Interview

Andrew Jacobs is a writer for Stuck In The Past, a "90's hardcore webzine" dedicated to reviving (or, at least, blogging about) music that has since faded from the limelight. Recently, Jacobs had an interview with Sage Adderley, a self-made businesswoman, former tattoo artist, and mother. Feeling that this interview didn't quite fit in with his own webzine's theme, Jacobs suggested that the readers of this blog might find it interesting!

I'm of the opinion that women owning and running businesses is one of the many pinnacles of the feminist movement. As the owner and operator of Sweet Candy Distro since 2004, Sage Adderley is a fine addition to that lofty peak. Ms. Adderley is also a 13 year accomplished tattoo artist and she puts her extensive tattooing expertise to good use as the National Tattoo Art writer for I hope that you enjoy this interview with this extraordinary woman.  Andrew Jacobs

Jacobs: When and why did you start doing zines?

Adderley: I made my first personal zine in 2004. At the time, I was taking creative writing courses at Kennesaw State University in Georgia and I thought it would be wonderful to create an indie publication featuring a variety of literary and visual arts. I began searching online for groups to post submission calls and I found a zine community. I was intrigued by some of the zine descriptions, so I ordered a zine from a writer in Florida. I popped a dollar and a stamp in the mail with a handwritten note requesting her zine. When the zine arrived, it was love at first sight.

J: Who were some of your influences when you first started doing zines?

A: My first zine was centered around my childhood, basically what it was like to grow up with heavily tattooed parents (one of them a tattoo artist) in the '80s and in the Bible Belt. I would have to say I was greatly influenced by my family and my mom's tattoo studio.

J: You own and operate Sweet Candy Distro. For those people reading this who don't know what a distro is, please provide a layperson's description.

A: A distro is a distributor of independent media. Some distros solely carry music, while others carry zines and often you'll find distros that carry a mixture of both. I carry a variety of items at Sweet Candy. The majority of items are zines, but I also stock CDs, DVDs, pins, handmade items, books, and magazines. My mission is to support zine writers and do-it-yourself creators by making their goods available to a wider audience. Some distros do mail order, I prefer to have my distro online but I do receive some mail orders.

J: Are paper zines and distros still viable in the digital/internet age? Why or why not?

A: Most definitely. There is something completely special and magical about paper zines that the internet would never be able to replicate. It's like comparing a book to an audiobook. It's two totally different experiences. For me, the beauty behind the zine is the process in which it was created, by hand!

J: You may have already answered this but just in case you didn't, because you come from the paper zine world, what are your views on digital only zines and the blogosphere in general?

A: I love reading blogs. I follow quite a few but I think there is a huge difference between a blog and a digital zine. I truly don't have an opinion about digital zines because I don't read them. I don't mean to sound like a jerk but digital zines just don't interest me.

J: You were a tattoo artist from the mid '90s until 2010. Do you recall doing very many Straight Edge, vegetarian and/or vegan tattoos during that time? If so, what sorts of those types of tattoos did you do?

A: I tattooed in a small, southern town so it was very rare to get people in the tattoo shop who lived these types of lifestyles. I'm not saying they weren't out there, I just never saw them getting tattooed during that time. I probably tattooed the triple X symbol a handful of times.

J: Was there anything that you refused to tattoo on people? If so, what and why?

A: No, I never felt like it was my place to judge what others wanted to get tattooed on their bodies but I think if someone had come in for a homophobic or racist themed tattoo, then I would have turned them down. Luckily, I never encountered anything of the sort.

J: If you don't mind me asking, why did you decide to stop tattooing?

A: I took a break from tattooing in 2009 when my son was born. I tattooed almost my entire pregnancy with him. It's tough to raise a family in this industry. The hours aren't 9-5, you know? My husband tattoos full time, so I decided to take a break to stay home with my son. I also have two daughters, my hands are pretty full. Whether it is a temporary or permanent break is yet to be determined.

Right now, I am having a blast writing about the tattoo industry and tattoo info articles. I had an interview published in Urban Ink Magazine and I am the National Tattoo Art writer for It feels great to be able to offer guidance to tattoo clients through my writing. I receive quite a few emails from people who read my articles and ask for tattoo advice or opinions on tattoo artists and studios. I am still a part of the tattoo industry, just in a different way now.

J: Feel free to shamelessly plug any of your other endeavors here.

A: I'm looking forward to releasing my new issue of Tattooed Memoirs zine at the Portland Zine Symposium the weekend of August 5th. I'll be tabling Sweet Candy there! Locals should come out and say hello.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friends, Romans, feminists . . . lend me your faces!

Show the world (or maybe just a
few hundred people) what a
feminist looks like!
I hope you've all had a chance to check out my Faces of Feminism project. On November 24th (yep, Thanksgiving) I'll be publishing a special post to showcase as many  supermegafoxyawesomehot* feminists as possible! 

I want to shatter any stereotype that erroneously assumes feminists are all cranky, hairy white women with cacti shoved up their backsides (no offense to my cranky, hairy white women friends). 

Feminists come in every shape, size, color, age, nationality, gender  I shouldn't have to list anymore classifiers to make that point. Just take a look in a mirror and you'll see how truly unique and awesome a feminist can be . . .

Now that I've (hopefully) buttered you up, I desperately need your help! My goal is to collect at least 100 feminist photographs by November 17th, so I need you all to send in your most epic, badass pictures to include in the post!

You can send your pictures to (make sure to title them "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like"). To show my thanks, I will be more than happy to link your picture to your blog/website, just make sure to include the link in your email!

If you're looking to climb up a few more rungs on my I-love-you ladder, you can help me by spreading the word about this project to all of your "feministy" friends. Feel free to re-post (and tweak) any of the following:


Society is stuck on a very narrow-minded image of what a feminist "should" look like, but in November Danielle B. from Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist will be publishing a special post titled "The Faces of Feminism" to show just how diverse the feminist community really is! Feminists, please help Danielle by submitting a picture of yourself for her to post! Photos can be sent to:!


Attentions feminists! Submit your photos to this 
blogger's "Faces of Feminism" project! 

Tumbler (post stolen from this cool chick):

Danielle Burch, who runs the lovely blog Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist is doing a blog post this November featuring The Faces of Feminism. To be a part of this, all you have to do is email her at with a picture of yourself and if you’d like, a link to your blog. Go to her blog for more information! I submitted this photo [link "this photo" to a photo of yourself!] the other day because it’s basically the most badass picture of me ever. Please let all your feministy friends know!


*Any A Very Potter Musical fans out there? 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pro-Choice is Pro-Life (By Amelia G.)

This article was written by Amelia G., a woman who describes herself as "an undergraduate, feminist, seafood enthusiast, bookworm (and, more recently, blogworm)." She writes for Plenty of Otherwise!

"If you can't trust a woman with a choice,
how can you trust her with a baby?"
The other day I came across an article in the Michigan Messenger about how Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican running for president in 2012, signed a "Pro-life leadership pledge." This means that if elected, he'll "nominate pro-life judges, select pro-life cabinet members, de-fund Planned Parenthood and support legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy."

CPCs pose as abortion clinics, but do not provide abortion or contraceptives (nor do they refer women to organizations that do). As the Ms. article points out, CPCs are notorious for providing false medical information about abortion in order to scare women out of considering it as a viable option that might work for them.

I'm really uncomfortable knowing that I live in a country whose government damn near shut down over an argument about whether to de-fund an organization that does as much good as Planned Parenthood. And it hurts even more to learn that people are actively working to ensure that the nation's laws are on the side of CPCs that flat-out lie to women who come to them for help and comprehensive information.

As someone who cares deeply about reproductive justice and people in general, I'd like to take this opportunity to explain  to Representative McCotter, Judge Pauley, and everyone else behind all of the legislation that has come up since the last election — that pro-choice is pro-life.

A lot of people will be surprised to hear this, but I didn't always identify as pro-choice.

Yeah, really. Because let's face it: the rhetoric sounds great. Don't kill babies. That's something I could totally get behind, you know?

Neither of my parents are U.S. citizens, so they can't vote. Therefore, politics just weren't discussed in our house when I was growing up. I've read that statistically, parents have a great deal of influence over their children's political views. That wasn't really the case for me. I had a few opinions, but those were based shallowly on what I felt to be common sense.

So, when asked for my views on abortion, I would proudly declare that I was pro-life and thought abortion was wrong.

But once I got to high school, I noticed that a lot of people I really respected were especially passionate about their pro-choice views. And important things were going on at the time that forced me to seriously reevaluate my stance. In 2006, when I was a junior, my school district considered adopting an abstinence-only sex education program, to replace the comprehensive one that was in place.

People went apeshit. Friends of mine spoke out against the proposal at school board meetings. Medical professionals came in from out of town to voice their opinion, too. And in the end, we stuck with a comprehensive program.

I was pleased with the school board's decision not to adopt an abstinence only program (even though I didn't believe in abortion, I wasn't quite that conservative; I've always fully supported birth control). But I still could not understand how or why my friends felt so strongly about the abortion issue in particular. And because I knew my friends to be intelligent, compassionate people, I wanted to understand their point of view, so I started researching the topic.

I don't remember a specific moment when I "became pro-choice." I do know, though, that I kept finding instances where I could see myself agreeing that abortion was an acceptable option: rape, incest, poverty, etc.

But what won me over fully in the end were the personal anecdotes. By reading tons of stories about women's experiences with pregnancy, I discovered that it was impossible to put them into boxes marked with the aforementioned labels. It hit me that I couldn't call myself pro-life without taking women's lives and diverse experiences into consideration.

The Supreme Court's upholding of the "partial birth abortion" ban in 2007 (the year I graduated from high school) is the event that both tested and solidified my new pro-choice views. I was furious with the decision, even though when George W. Bush had signed the bill four years prior, I hadn't had a problem with it. That's because on the surface, "partial birth abortion" sounds awful; it evokes images of selfish women who, after 35 weeks of pregnancy, suddenly freak out and realize that they don't want to carry the pregnancy to term. So they go out and have an abortion.

But for one thing, "partial birth abortion" is not a medical term; it was coined by right-wing politicians. And secondly, come on, there have to be reasons for women to get an abortion that late in the game.

And damn good ones, at that.

One woman's story has really stuck with me over the years. It appears on page 14 of  The War on Choice by Gloria Feldt:
We were awaiting the arrival of a son. I'm diabetic, so I had more prenatal testing than most women. At twenty-five weeks I had an ultrasound and the doctor's exact words were, "Vick, you are disgustingly normal and so is the baby." At thirty-two weeks I went in for another ultrasound and my world came crashing down. They discovered that [the fetus] had not grown past twenty-five weeks, and further testing revealed that he had nine major anomalies, including a fluid-filled cranium with no brain tissue at all. He could never have survived outside my womb. My body was the only thing keeping him alive, and I chose to remove my son from life support. I'm a mom. I had three beautiful children, and in fact I have a new baby boy who's here with me now. Who are the people on the anti-choice side to judge me? They've never been in my shoes. I never in my wildest dreams thought something like this could happen, but it happened to me.
The abortion she had in 1996 was made illegal under the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. Her experience reminds me of the woman in NE who, earlier this year, was denied an abortion and forced to watch her baby die in her arms shortly after giving birth.

So this is why I feel so strongly that lawmakers should not get between a woman and her doctor. As NARAL's Speak Out for Choice Award recipient Katie Stack said earlier this year during her acceptance speech: "Women's experiences with abortion are nuanced and complicated. But . . . if [we are] given the opportunity to share these diverse realities, we can begin to challenge the stereotypes and falsehoods that are promoted by the anti-choice movement."

Pro-choice is pro-life. That's something I firmly believe and discovered simply by being curious and open. By reading. By trusting/caring about people, and respecting their personal opinions and choices.

I don't think that's too much to ask of humanity.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

20 Best Biographies for Women in Business

This article was submitted to me by Florine C. over at

What do Ruth Handler, Martha Stewart, and Oprah have in common? They're all included in an article titled 20 Best Biographies for Women in BusinessThis article features books about influential women who have overcome many of the trials that go along with being female in the male-dominated world of business and economics. 

If you're an aspiring entrepreneur (or simply have an insatiable hunger for new reading material), you should definitely check these books out — literally, from your library!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pug Shots #2: Meet Penni the Pug!

You may have already heard me talk about Po, our 7-month-old pug (as seen in the first picture below). Well, meet the newest addition to our family, Penni (a.k.a. "Panini" and "Li'l P")! She's 7 weeks old absolutely adorable. She's a lot smaller than Po was when we first got him, but she's also very 
spunky when she wants to be. 
(Bias? Or scientific fact?)



Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Modest Proposal (Abortion Edition)

Last year in class we read A Modest Proposal (1729) by Jonathan Swift. It's a satirical piece in which Swift suggests that the Irish should eat their own babies rather than tackle problems of overpopulation and poverty head-on. We were asked to write a similarly satirical piece about an impassioned issue, so I chose abortion rights. [WARNING: The keyword here is "satire," people!]

Which side am I really on?
Written October 9, 2010

Abortion has been one of the most fiercely debated topics of the 21st century, and frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it. If right-wingers truly believe abortion is a sin, and the women who choose to abort are evil, heartless murderers, it’s time to do something rather than settle for bad picket signs and expect anything to happen. What, are we just going to say “no more abortions!” and wait for them to disappear like rats up a drain pipe? We need to get to the root of the problem.

First, we need to ask ourselves: what drives women to have abortions? Are these women simply born with demonic souls, or are they driven to kill after years of reckless partying, drinking, and hardcore drugs (because obviously, any woman callous enough to get an abortion must be sniffing the Big H)? 

Some will have you believe that the decision has less to do with a woman’s lifestyle, and more with what she can expect for the future of her baby. If a woman becomes pregnant, these pro-choicers cry, and her partner is irresponsible, refuses to pay child support, or just gets up and leaves, she may not have the means to provide for a child. Pro-choicers want us to think that if a woman has a dead-end job, absolutely no support, and struggles just to find her next meal, it’s okay for her to choose an abortion rather than let her child suffer. 

Evil, right?

I propose three solutions to the abortion epidemic in this country. First, we must outlaw condoms and sex education. By exposing children to the mechanics of sex and pregnancy prevention as early as middle school, we’re basically telling them (a) it’s okay to “get jiggy with it,” and (b) there are ultimately no consequences because any mistake (i.e. pregnancy) can simply be undone (i.e. abortion). By outlawing condoms, couples will know that their actions may result in an unwanted pregnancy, and they’ll refrain from doing the deed in the first place.

Next, we must set up a national fund to pay women for choosing life over murder. If a poverty-stricken woman is given a choice between having an abortion or receiving a lump sum and letting her baby live, she’ll definitely choose the money. Thus, dinner is served and she can live happily ever after — guilt and problem free — with her bouncing bundle of joy.

Finally, we must make it illegal for two people to have “relations” without first signing mutual contracts in which they provide vital information, including (but not limited to): their name, age, sex, complete medical history, social security number, financial records, and high school transcript. By making the intimate details of our medical histories accessible to the public, we will know at once who has heart conditions, bladder control problems, hemorrhoids, STDs, clinical baldness, etc. and can thus make better decisions about our sexual partners. Not to mention, women will never be in the position of deciding whether or not to keep her child because of an irresponsible partner  she will already have access to his bank account! It’s the perfect solution!

As long as we’re willing to give up any shred of privacy whatsoever and allow the government to have free reign over our personal lives, we can eradicate abortion in America once and for all.

Sure, we could take the easy route and assume women are intelligent and conscientious enough to make their own decisions about their own bodies; we could have faith in the fact that women don’t take abortion lightly, that they think about it long and hard, and are affected by it each and every day for the rest of their lives; we could even focus on better sex education and allow free access to birth control to lessen the chance that couples would have to face an unplanned pregnancy in the first place.

But we’re Americans, and we don’t like to take the easy route.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

From the Curious Depths of My Backpack #3

If you haven't been following this post series, this is where I pull random crap from my backpack and post it (yay)! I wrote this particular piece for my AP Language and Composition class. We were given a list of "wacky laws" and told to write a fictional story about one of them. I chose a law that says women in Corvallis, Oregon can't drink coffee after 6pm. (I apologize, there's one typo near the end.)

Written February 8th, 2011

Other posts in this series:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Women From Around the World, Who've Changed the World

Susan B. Anthony reeks of awesome.
My friend Catelyn, owner of a 60's-themed blog called Throw Back Rag and a Facebook addict, suggested that I share an article called Women Who Changed the World, which was originally posted on an online biography website. If you've got a spare minute (or two!), you should check it out  it covers spectacular women from present day all the way back to 570 BC.

If you're really into this sort of thing, you can also check out a database I stumbled across called 300 Women Who Changed the World. It covers all the major names that glorify the pages of history books (i.e. Eleanor Roosevelt, Catherine the Great, Joan of Arc), plus plenty more that I guarantee you've never heard of!

While I was sifting through the site, it was extremely exciting to come across names I've never seen before or otherwise couldn't pronounce (i.e. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Sofya Kovalevskaya, and Oodgeroo Noonuccal, to name a few). I feel like we — Americans, anyway — have been programmed to associate "women in history" with American suffragettes or English queens, and fail to give women of color and other nationalities proper attention and credit. So for this post, let's check out some women from around the globe who've made an impact! 

Go ahead, click on a picture:







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