Friday, August 31, 2012
I think the top sexual issues affecting teens today are STD/STI\'s, abstinence only sex education and a lack of LGBTQ rights and protection. 1/4 teenagers has an STD or STI and the rates of contraction are on the rise. This is a disturbing trend and I think we as a society need to provide teenagers with access and information about having safe sex. This means lots of free condoms and demonstrations in sex ed, access and demonstrations of dental dams and access and information about testing. Also, along with this, teenagers are getting inaccurate and misleading information in abstinence only education, which is the current model funded by the federal government, and used in most states.
Teens are not learning about contraceptives, abortion, menstruation, abuse/violence, LGBTQ issues or sex for pleasure. Because of this, teens are uneducated about their bodies and sexuality. This means they are engaging in normal, healthy sexual activity without having the proper knowledge on how to protect themselves from STD\'s/STI\'s or pregnancy. They are also not learning about healthy sexuality in any sense of the term and we are raising a generation that doesn\'t have accurate information about sex.
Also, this generation is one of the first to acknowledge LGBTQ rights, but is still very much lacking. There is a lot of hate speech, discrimination and harassment LGBTQ youth face and many schools have no policy to protect those individuals from bullying. This leaves a huge percentage of people without a safe space. This is obviously a problem, as LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of committing suicide or other self-harm behavior. These issues need to be talked about and addressed so that we as a society can fix these very real problems teens are facing.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Being a feminist activist in the twenty first century isn’t exactly celebrated. This so called fourth wave feminism is not socially acceptable; identifying as a feminist is usually frowned upon. Feminists are seen as man-haters and menopausal freaks. But, the work of feminism is still not done, even in American society, with women making 81 cents for every dollar a man makes, for doing the same work. Or, the fact that according to the New York Times, on an average day, about 19% more women than men report doing household chores (this is because of the expected gender roles). Even looking at the recent attacks by the government on reproductive health care can show the sexism that is written into the fabric of our society.
The above information doesn’t even account for women who don’t live in America. 140 million women worldwide who have experienced female genital mutilation. There are Even more don’t have access to education, or aren’t allowed to be in school after they menstruate. You also have to remember those who aren’t even allowed to leave their homes without their husband’s permission. With this kind of oppression, it is laughable to say there is no need for feminism.
Feminism is what we need to embrace to fix these societal inequalities. We must get rid of the taboo around the label feminist and instead learn to embrace it. Just because you are a feminist doesn’t mean that you want to dominate men! Quite the opposite! A feminist believe that men and women deserve equal rights; nothing more, nothing less. Feminism has opened so many doors for women already, from getting us the vote to the decriminalization of contraception to a more active presence in sports. It is because of this that we must carry on the legacy, and keep fighting for the changes that society needs to make.
Activism is at the core of feminism. Feminists have used activism as a tool to express their ideas and create social change since the beginning of feminism! Just think of the hunger strikes that the suffragists waged from prison cells or the women of the sixties hosting riots in support of birth control. Activism is key to any movement and feminism is no exception.
Learning to embrace equality is essential to ending oppression. Male privilege is real and its time that our society acknowledges and accepts that fact. Feminism is not the enemy. Women worldwide need us to use our voices to speak up against injustice. So come then, pick up your sign and join the movement; the fourth wave feminism movement.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Oppression is the real reason that social justice exists. Since, if there was no oppression everyone would have equality. Oppression is one of the tricky terms that everyone seems to know, but can get tongue tied when asked to explain its meaning. According to Dictionary.com, oppression is “the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel or unjust manner.” It all lies in how power is used and the context that authority is used in.
Oppression is facilitated in many different ways; through exploitation, discrimination, shaming, unequal allocation of resources and inequality, to name a few. All of these methods work to enhance oppression and keep these ideas in place. They are self-sustaining. Reinforcement is key to keeping the status quo and without oppressive ideas being held in the culture, doing this becomes impossible. It is why, then, the attitudes of moral high-ground, hierarchy and superiority are rampant in society.
Why, then, do we tolerate this? Wouldn’t it make more sense to overthrow these regimes that exude oppression on to us rather than to allow it? Encourage it, even? The answer lies in the reason oppressive social constructions are flourishing; because we are made to be a part of it. Oppressive ideas are instilled in us from the day we are born. Those ideas become integral to our identities and thought processes and formulate our ideas about the world; Fat people are lazy, women belong in the kitchen, men are supposed to be tough, consumption is good, poor people don’t work. The reason these ideas can exist and becomes memes is because we are taught to perpetuate it.
These oppressive ideas we learn through socialization are reinforced constantly through parents, friends, TV, books, magazines, advertising. It is seemingly inescapable. Because these ideas become a part of the culture (through reinforcement on a massive level) they become normalized. These attitudes are normal and also, expected. The expectations then create social pressure, so that we are all but forced to advocate them ourselves. This is then how social norms are created. It is expected that you meet these norms and validate them and not doing so can have serious consequences. Severe shame is often placed onto those who do not validate societal ideas which can spiral into even worse catastrophes of violence.
This is why it is important that we fight back. One of the best ways of doing this is through education. Educating yourself on our society, the way in which it works and what we can do to change it is the key to liberating yourself from these oppressive social constructions. We have to work to then spread the message and send it on! We must help others on their journey to liberation! Just think, if even one in ten people did this, how powerful we as a society could be against these systems! Think of all the social change that could take place! Through education and critical thinking we can create a generation of socially conscious individuals that are not willing to impose oppression on others.
Change is possible. It is not only possible, it is happening constantly. It is a system that is fluid and that we can become a part of. Ending oppression means global change. It means we can have the freedom to live in a truly organic state, in which creativity can flourish and people can be their truest self. This liberation is why ending oppression is so important, because liberation can set us free. Look within yourself and find your liberation. And live it.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
One social issue that I feel most passionate about is women’s rights/feminism. I think this largely is due to the fact that identify as a woman and have used this as a platform to approach other issues of marginalization and oppression. I’ve now been involved in social justice work for a year and half and have learned more than I could ever begin to describe! Both from books and real world experience, I have gained knowledge and insight on oppression, liberation, economics, social constructions, systematic discrimination and intersectionality. But, it all started with feminism.
I remember so vividly the first moment that I truly realized that there wasn’t equality between men and women. I was in the seventh grade and was reading an interesting book on current events during some free time that we had. I remember reading the line “women are only paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same work” and being stunned. My jaw was on the floor…I couldn’t believe that women didn’t get paid as much as men. As we proceeded to switch classes I remember walking down the hallway feeling intense rage seep through every pore on my body. I knew I wanted to, had to, change this. I had to live to see the day that women were true equals.
Since then, I’ve done a lot of reading on feminist theory. I poured myself into book and learned everything I could about feminism. I have to say, I’ve fallen in love with the movement. From there, I started reading various feminist blogs and critiques of the current movement (both positive and negative). Interestingly, feminism is not how I was first introduced to activism, but it has played an integral part in my understanding of social justice. Feminism was the spark that led me to read other books on racism, sexuality, queer theory, sizeism, ableism and economic privilege. It fostered my own curiosity and led me down the path that I am taking. Feminism is what truly lights my fire and gets me enraged. It’s when I first understood that I am oppressed, but also that I am privileged. Feminism is the issue I care the most about because it has been the domino that has knocked all of the others down. For that, I will be forever grateful.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Today I went shopping at Plato’s Closet, a gently used/discarded clothing from other stores shop that caters to teens and twenties. I discussed how size-ist I feel this store and most other stores are towards fat people, as well those that are very tall or short. It felt so good talking to you all about this, as I often feel I have no outlet to express my anger and frustration over these kinds of things. So, when I went shopping there today, I felt a bit anxious but also excited because I love clothing!
When I started looking around, I instantly found some cute shirts on sale (which always happens) but wanted to also get some sort of skirt or dress. I started looking around and was once again discouraged to see such a small amount of Large and Extra Large clothing.
I decided to then just comb through some of the racks and found an AMAZING pink skirt with drapes and sequins covering it! I fell in love instantly. I looked on the tag and saw it was a medium, but decided to try it on anyways. Once I slipped it on, I saw it fit like a glove; not to big nor to small! I was thrilled! It was a MEDIUM and a bottom no less (I usually can never find a bottom that fits that is smaller than an extra large)! So, I bought it and am still thrilled! The skirt was from American Eagle so props to you all for making ACTUAL SIZES THAT FIT!!! I love how positive energy can give you positive experiences.