Thursday, February 26, 2009

What's the matter with Texas?

I’m sure happy I’m not a teen living in Texas! If I was I might think that condoms are ineffective or that I could get HIV/AIDS from tears or sweat.

Research from the Texas Freedom Network reveals that an overwhelming amount of Texas schools use “scare tactics and spread myths” instead of teaching accurate health information that students could use to protect themselves and their partners.

The results of the schools included in the sample are startling:

  • 41% of school district’s sex education materials include factual errors
  • 41% of errors are regarding condoms; 38.9% regarding STDs
  • 81% of districts receive NO formal recommendations on sex ed from state-mandated local advisory councils.

This is all sorts of wrong! First, I don’t get the whole abstinence-only education thing. I mean yes in an ideal world abstinence would be, well, ideal but we don’t live in an ideal world do we? No. We don’t. And second, sex is a natural (and might I add fun!) part of life. It’s natural for teens to be curious and experiment, especially when their hormones and bodies are changing.

That is not to say that sex doesn’t have consequences. Of course it does. We all know that which is why it is so important to equip teens with information to prevent these consequences (pregnancy, STDS, HIV/AIDS). Shaming students, scaring them, or worst off, giving them wrong information isn’t going to stop them from having sex. It’s just going to create more young pregnant mothers (if anyone has a greater chance of getting pregnant accidently, it’s misinformed teens who are experimenting) and more teens carrying STDs and spreading them because they don’t know otherwise.

And guess what? I’m right! These tactics don’t work. Texas continues to have one of the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rates despite receiving more federal abstinence funding than any other state! Wasted money and lots of confused and shamed teens!

Texas – get your act together!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pink Pantie Power in India!

I'm sure many of you have heard about the pub attack on a group of Indian women back in early February. I was both horrified by what happened and empowered by the reaction of the women and wanted to help raise more awareness.

Check out what I have to say about the attacks and the campaign on Care2.

I read today that 4 more women have been attacked in Banglore in broad daylight with witnesses watching that did nothing to help the victims! Unbelievable!


Penny for MY thoughts ...

Hello all! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing weekend and a nice start to your weeks! All I can say is that I'm glad tomorrow's Wednesday!

I've recently come across some interesting articles / projects that I've been meaning to share so here we go:

1. CNN: "Men see bikini-clad women as objects, psychologists say" - Now I'm sure many of you may have already seen this article and thought, "Well gee surprise, surprise" but I thought in case you didn't I'd share so you could at least get a chuckle at the defintion of the researchers of hostile sexism as, "a more adversarial viewpoint which includes the belief that women attempt to dominate men." And what about this gem: "This is just the first study which was focused on the idea that men of a certain age view sex as a highly desirable goal, and if you present them with a provocative woman, then that will tend to prime goal-related responses." I'm glad we've begun research on the fact that men view sex as highly desirable. I had no idea!

2. Vanity Fair: "Plastic Surgery Confidential" - It's also no surprise that many women have warped defintions of what it means to be beautiful. Thanks to our culture's fascination with thinness, many women are willing to go under the knife to attain this ideal, creating a $13 billion industry that only serves to perpetuate the strive for body perfection. This undercover piece offers great insight into the behind-the-scenes business of plastic surgery and leaves you wondering what business any of these doctors have in suggesting plastic surgery for a woman that is 27-years-old, five-foot-nine, and 120 pounds.

3. Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape -

Over the past 3 years photographer Jonathan Torgovnik has traveled to Rwanda to document and tell the stories of women who bore children from the rapes they endured during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. These stories are no doubt heart-wrenching and difficult to share, but ones that need a voice. Depicting them through photos will be extremely interesting and certainly create an eye opening experience for many. Bravo Mr. Torgovnik!

4. Missing Mothers - Every year 500,000 women die from pregnancy related complications that could have been avoided - That's one woman missing for every minute of every day. Unbelievable!

  1. Check out what you can do to help!

Sorry for the scatter brain approach of this post! Just thought I'd share a collection of interesting things that I've read / are going on.



Friday, February 20, 2009

Int Women's Day - March 5th

What better way to celebrate International Women's Day then with a viewing of the acclaimed documentary film, A Powerful Noise.

The screening will be followed by a live town hall discussion in 450 movie theatres with:

  • Madeleine K. Albright
  • Natalie Portman
  • Nicholas Kristof
  • Christy Turlington Burns
  • Dr. Helene Gayle
You can submit questions to the panelists online and also view a trailed of the documentary at

Buy your tickets now! I'll be there!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Now Pronounce you Wife and Wife

All my Children (AMC) made television history this week with the first lesbian wedding on daytime TV.

Although I have to admit that I'm not a faithful viewer (OK I don't think I've ever seen an episode of AMC in my life), I think this is fantastic news and I might just tune in.

"It is a full romantic, rich relationship between Bianca and Reese, with all the complications that come from any passionate relationship and so it is fully portrayed," Susan Lucci tells ET.

It will be interesting to see how the relationship pans out post wedding. With a married same-sex female couple on the show there is a great opportunity to portray a lesbian relationship on daytime TV. And it looks like this couple also has a child so it will be an even better opportunity to portray a lesbian family on TV.

Here's a segment I found on CNN about the wedding:

Apparently, a lesbian wedding isn't the first first for AMC. They also had the first transgender character on television and first same-sex kiss on daytime television. Bravo AMC!

Here's another video I found with a longer clip of the wedding (actual wedding starts about 6:34 but only goes through one girl's vows - sorry!):

I know soap operas are a unique medium. Let's be serious, soap operas have a lot of ridiculous story lines but this is a great move and one that I hope will pave the way for the portrayal of more same-sex couples across the airways.


Bristol Palin Speaks out on Abstinence

Check out more about what I have to say on Care2!


Monday, February 16, 2009

A Vagina Story

I can’t think about Valentine’s Day without thinking about The Vagina Monologues. I lost my Vagina Monologues virginity my senior year of college – I know that’s pretty late for some but I’ll never forget it. I was so moved by the show’s honest and raw appeal and its ability to explore women and their bodies in such a new and exciting way. I’d never heard anything like it and I knew I wanted more.

That same year on a whim a friend and I decided to invite Eve Ensler to our college campus as our Spring Women’s Studies speaker. We knew it was a long shot, but we decided it couldn’t hurt to ask. And I’m so glad we did. Within the hour we had an email response saying Eve would love to come. I could have died.

It was an incredible speech and one of the most incredible moments in my life, especially because it opened my eyes up to V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls that developed as a result of the popularity of The Vagina Monologues. The idea is so simple, but it’s impact so great and effective. Performances of The Vagina Monologues, and other plays of Eve’s, are performed in over 120 countries around the world with the proceeds going to local efforts to end violence. In over 10 years V-Day has raised over $60 million in over. Incredible.

Last year I went to New Orleans to celebrate V-Day’s 10-year anniversary. It was an amazing weekend with star-studded performances of The Vagina Monologues, slam poetry, dancing, local New Orleans musicians, speeches from world leaders, a non-violence parade through the streets of the city, and so much more! It was the most inspiring weekend of my life.

Here are some pictures of the weekend:

Here are me and my sister before entering the SuperDome - the Superlove for the weekend (notice the wind blowing in her hair - haha!).

Here is the stage in the Superlove - one of the biggest, most beautiful vaginas I have ever seen.

Second runner up for biggest / most beautiful vagina - that vagina sculptor was the entrance to the Superlove.

Marching through the streets of New Orleans with Code Pink and lots of other fabulous people!

Eve Ensler and Agnes Pareyio, the woman who opened V-Day's first Safe House for Girls in Kenya.

The stage where the star-studded performances of The Vagina Monologues took place with a huge performance of R-E-S-P-E-C-T at the very end with Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson and lots others!

So, to make a long story short I love The Vagina Monologues. I love V-Day. I love Eve Ensler. And well, I love my vagina.

What’s your vagina story?


Friday, February 13, 2009

Dad at 13!


More thoughts on it later (since I'm at work - bahhhhh - when will it be 5:30!?)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Does Abortion Change You?

On the subway this morning on the way to work I saw an advertisement for

It was a picture of a somber Asia woman with the following next to her:

“I thought life would be the way it was before.”

Abortion changes you.
The word abortion had been crossed out and in its place in blue sharpie was the word MURDER in caps.

Not the way I’d like to start my day off, but there it was smack in my face. As soon as I got to work I looked up the organization and I have to say I have mixed feelings.

While on the one hand I believe it is important for women to share their personal stories about abortion (that’s why I was so excited about the Glamour article!), this site paints a picture of abortion as something that women should regret.

Each story I read talked about remorse, depression, loneliness, and needing to be forgiven, but the truth is that not all women feel this way. Many are relieved and happy with the choice they have made. This is not to say it wasn’t a difficult decision, but I think it is dangerous to portray abortion in this one sided manner.

I’ve never experienced having to decide whether or not to have an abortion, but if I did I know I wouldn’t be comforted by going to this site. I’m sure abortion changes you, or at least it could, but it’s doesn’t automatically mean a change for the worse. Many women feel they are better off having exercised their choice.

I didn’t read all the stories so I’m sure there must be some that have a different take, at least I hope, but I guess the flip side is that these women are able to openly and anonymously talk about a very difficult decision.

What do you think?


Let's Talk About ... Abortion

Glamour magazine has a great article in this month's issue on abortion that is definitely worth a read.

While we often read about the political debates between the pro-life and pro-choice community in the newspapers, what is often left out of the conversation is women's personal experiences with abortion.

The reality is that 1 in 3 women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45. That's a lot of women who could offer ample advice to those going through the same thing.

What we need to do is create a platform for women to share these stories with one another to give a face to the issue and remove the culture of secrecy we have created around abortion. Hearing women's stories allows people to see the varied reasons why women have abortions and why it is so important to keep Roe v. Wade legal.

Bravo Glamour! We've got to start somewhere.

Have you ever had an abortion? Want to share you story? Please, start the conversation.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lehman Sisters ...say what?

Many people (um, everybody) are wondering why the economy took a turn for the worse. It was Wall St. bankers greedy ways that left us in this never-ending hole, but would the same have been true if there were more women financiers?

Hmm. Check out Nicholas Kristof's NY Times column to find out!

...Wall Street is one of the most male-dominated bastions in the business world; senior staff meetings resemble a urologist’s waiting room. Aside from issues of fairness, there’s evidence that the result is second-rate decision-making...

Maybe the silver lining of this dreadful economy is the doors it will open for women in the finance world.


Feeling Overwhelmed!

So, I don't know about the rest of you but I've been feeling so overwhelmed lately. It seems like there are never enough hours in the day, especially when I count the hours I get to do something for me - like blog!

Work has been crazy for me and I just find myself feeling so frustrated that I can't spend more time here or over at Care2 where I'm blogging as well.

Well I've decided sleep is just going to have to wait (although I have to admit I love to sleep and I've given up coffee) so I can spend a little more me time here!

Also, my wonderful sister is going to take a look at doing a bit of a re-design to my page so if you see some changes going on in the next week or so your eyes are not deceiving you!

Ok, well if anyone can offer some advice or words of wisdom please send your thoughts my way!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sex (I mean Sexism) Sells!

I don't know how many of you may have watched the Super Bowl this past Sunday but I only tuned in during commercial breaks to check out the yearly anticipated advertisements. Boy was I unsurprised by the overuse of sexism to sell just about anything and, of course, garner the loudest laughs.

I'm not sure what it will take to put an end to this tradition of monopolizing women's bodies for the funniest and cleverest ads, but it needs to stop.

Maybe we can start by:

1). Explaining to people who mindlessly laugh along why these commercials are not funny and are actually incredibly offensive.
2). Boycotting companies with said offensive ads. They may be selling sexism, but we don't have to buy it.
3). Writing angry emails or letters to the companies themselves or networks that air their ads, demanding an end to their blatant objectification of women.

Any other ideas? I'm all ears!

For some of this year's most offensive picks check out what I have to say about on Care2

What did you think?


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One step forward and one step back for women's rights

I know I’m a little late on this, but I couldn’t help but do my own celebration post on President Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act!! This is fantastic news and a victorious day for Lilly Ledbetter and women across the nation! Finally we are on our way to equal pay for equal work and it’s all thanks to women like Ledbetter and her "sorority sisters.” Amen! There is more work to be done, but this is a great first step in the right direction.

Check out Jump off the Bridge for a video of Obama actually signing the act! (Ah, technology!)

Unfortunately, I have some criticism for our new President as well for dropping family planning money from the economic rescue bill. I realize the economy is in shambles and we need something to be done now, but cutting family planning will not solve the problem any faster. In fact, covering family planning will only help this country save money in the long run so this move is both unfair and foolish. President Obama should not have caved in to Republican’s demands so quick, but instead been more aggressive in this matter if not for women’s sake, for the sake of our wallets.

We can’t take one step forward and one step back. President Obama, if you are going to promote women’s right’s you are going to have to be an ally for all of us – and that includes both our paychecks and bodies!