Porn: Is it feminist?

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Porn has been around since cameras and it is not going away anytime soon. Lots of people have tried to limit or ban it, but it hasn’t worked. It has split the feminist community into pro and anti porn feminism. Both have arguments about why they do or do not support pornography as a feminist. Let’s explore both sides.

Anti-Porn

Porn videos tend to be male centric. There are a variety of videos that can be considered degrading to women. Many videos feature what is called the “money shot” where the girl gets cum on her face. This kind of stuff can negatively affect how women are viewed by some men as well as give unrealistic ideas about sex and sexuality to younger viewers.

Another argument is that is causes low self-esteem. However, a study done by Psychologist James Griffith showed that women in porn do not have lower self-esteem or higher rates of mental illness when compared to other college aged women.

Pro-Porn

Other feminists argue that porn is actually empowering to women as it allows them to control and express their sexuality for both actors and viewers. Basically, they believe women should be allowed to do what they want with their bodies, even if that means porn. Nina Hartley, former porn star said anti-porn feminists are actually taking away choices and putting down other women.

 

No matter what side you are on, as a feminist, you should agree women have the right to do what they want with their bodies. Even so, we can also acknowledge the negative affects porn can have on the view of women and address that by not watching videos that degrade women. I believe, as long as the sex is between two consenting adults, there is nothing wrong with it.

 

Why Prostitution Should Be Legal?

 

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Prostitution is considered one of the oldest professions, though I don’t think there is research to back that up. It still persists today, despite being illegal in most places worldwide, however there are some places that have legalized and regulated it. Because it is illegal, it actually makes it more dangerous for women who choose to do it, which of course does not include anyone being prostituted against their will.

I spoke with a former prostitute (who wishes to remain anonymous), who said “Well, I think it should be legal because simply it’s an exchange of goods for a service, people just don’t agree with it from a moral standpoint, but that shouldn’t influence legislation.” When asked why, she said “I think it’s ironic that the one advantage women have over men in our society, their sexuality, is only allowed to be monetized on big companies and the governments terms. You can use women to sell anything you want, you can sell their appearance, the idea of their body, everything. But the second a woman wants to take advantage of their over-sexualisation and monetize their bodies for themselves it’s illegal. It limits women’s agency over their own body and sexuality.” She also explained that illegal prostitution means workers cannot report assaults or they will also be charged with a crime.

On the topic of safety, the former prostitute explains that legal brothels would make the work much safer, stating “Legalization would also allow for brothels to be run, which if run correctly can be much safer for women than independent work.” She says. She goes on to explain the benefits of legal brothels, which includes a safe space for prostitutes to work. Brothels also set the pricing so individual workers don’t have to deal with the hassle of negotiation because “negotiating price can be degrading, stressful, and sometimes dangerous. In a brothel a price would be set and the women are not forced to negotiate their worth and risk the patron getting angry and potentially violent when discussing cost.” In addition to the safety of workers, we can tax brothels and put that money back into the community, essentially eliminating the need for women to get into sex work just to support themselves.

Prostitution should be legal and regulated for the safety and autonomy of the workers. There are many ways we can make prostitution safe and legal, while banning it makes it more dangerous. In the words of a former prostitute, “it is possible to form legislation that protects women and gives them the control in the situation.”

 

Biphobia : No, I’m not just confused

 

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Biphobia is the prejudice against bisexual, pansexual, queer individuals. It can come in many shapes and forms. Such as making assumptions about a person based on their sexuality or not believing them when they tell you their sexuality. The most common is suggesting they are not bi, just confused and will eventually just pick a side. This is known as bisexual erasure. What sets biphobia apart from homophobia is that it can come from both the straight and queer communities

One common thing that has been said about bisexuals is that all bi girls are just straight and all bi guys are just gay. One of the most common forms of biphobia I have experienced as a bisexual women is lesbian’s not wanting to date me. They are under the assumption that I don’t really like women, because I still like men. Men, however, have the opposite problem, where people insist they are just gay, but don’t want to admit it.

Aside from the basic “bi people are just confused” mentality, bisexual people are also often oversexualized, especially by straight men. I’ve had many experiences where men assume I want a threesome because I’m bisexual or say it’s hot that I make out with girls. Newsflash, buddy: if I’m making out with her, I’m not going home with you. Another way we are oversexualized is that we tend to be seen as slutty simply because we like both genders. This assumption makes people think bisexuals are more likely to cheat. However, just because I am attracted to both men and women, does not mean I am automatically attracted to everyone I see.

Bisexuals are just like everyone else, we just happen to be sexually attracted to more than one gender. We are not confused or greedy or slutty. We do not automatically all want threesomes. So, if you meet a bisexual, just treat them like a normal person and don’t make assumptions about them.

Successful Sexual Education Must Align With The Reality That Students Already Know About Sex

By: Jillian James

 

There are two crucial elements to sexual education that are key to its success: not underestimating a student’s ability to comprehend and understand sexual topics and understanding what information they have already been exposed to.

 

Here are the facts: Students in America are constantly being exposed to sexuality through music, movies, TV, and other media sources. Some of these forms of media may be exposing students to sex and sexuality for the first time.

 

Meanwhile, some parents nervously avoid talking to their children about sex because they think that the act of talking to their child about sex is an endorsement off the behavior. And even more frightening is the fact some schools still only teach abstinence only education. This mean that students are receiving contradictory information all around them. They being exposed to hyper-sexualized images in the media and then only being taught abstinence only education in the classroom.

 

Sexual education is most effective when the classroom environment is an open, honest, and engaging one. When teachers and curriculum creators are aware of what their students have already been exposed to and take that into consideration the reality that most students are coming into a sexual education classroom with some sort of background knowledge. Sexual education can debunk the sexual myths and stereotypes that are perpetuated by porn and popular television and music.

 

Parents must also be willing to be open and honest with their children about sexuality and not create a stigma around sex. An article from TIME magazine compared the parenting styles of the Dutch to the Americans. According to an article, “Dutch parents keep nothing from children. Nothing is taboo. Questions are answered simply and honestly, at the child’s level of understanding and maturity, as they arise.” The article states that the Dutch have one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world while America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in any developed country. This could be because Dutch children are well informed about sex.

 

We must demand that our sex education curriculum is comprehensive and doesn’t turn a blind eye to what students already know. Parents must also be willing to openly discuss sexuality with their children when they have questions. This will lead to a more educated and better-prepared generation that will develop healthier attitudes about sex and sexuality.

 

Sources:

http://time.com/4759485/dutch-sex-ed/

Constantly Shifting Roles

By: Nicole McLaren

When thinking about gender roles it is important that one realizes that they are shaped by culture and exist in a historical context. One of the biggest changes, since the middle of the last century, in the U.S. is the shift from a single income household to a household in which both spouses are responsible for providing income. This has dramatically impacted the roles women are able to take on, not only in their homes but in the workplace and society.

While women have taken on new roles and responsibilities, it seems that men have been slow to take on “traditional” female roles. The roles of caregiving, nurturing, and tending the house are still thought of as feminine, which is unfortunate for all members of the household.

In a recent study that questioned if and how gender roles have actually changed the researchers found that people still believed in gender characteristics and gender role behaviors. The study also found that men believed more strongly in male gender stereotypes and women believed more in female gender stereotypes.

It is not the fault of the individual that gender stereotypes are still being reinforced by society but it is the responsibility of each of us to combat these stereotypes in our lives and in our own roles.

Whether you are a student, an employee, a parent or child, it is our roles as male, female, transgender, nonconforming to combat these stereotypes about the social construct that gender is. For those in positions of power it is imperative to know what sort of gender cues they are giving off so that you can combat them. For parents or siblings this could mean just pointing out sexism when you see it and not discouraging children from activities that have been gendered by our society. For teachers or managers it means creating safe spaces, challenging stereotypes when you hear them, and putting males and females in leadership positions. This is just a start to how to change gender roles but it is an important one that we all have the power to do.

 

Female Circumcision aka Female Genital Mutilation

 

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, is a procedure that removes part or all of the outer part of the female genitals. It is very painful and dangerous, causing pain throughout the victim’s life. It happens mostly in eastern Africa and parts of Asia, but can happen to girls anywhere.

The mutilation can range from just the removal of clitoris and lips (clitoridectomy) to sewing the lips over the vagina (infibulation). It happens to girls in infancy or adolescents, but can also happen to older women as well. The immediate consequences include severe pain, infection, shock, and sometimes death. However, the effects are lifelong. Long term consequences include urinary and vaginal problems, need for surgery later in life, and psychological problems, such as depression and low self-esteem.

Female circumcision is most popular in western and eastern regions in Africa, the Middle East, and some countries in Asia. In these places, it is considered a social norm and believed necessary to raising girls. It is also considered a way to keep women sexually pure by stopping them from wanting to engage in sexual behavior. It is also supposed to increase marriageability.

Female genital mutilation is considered a violation of human rights. Recently, there has been a wider international effort to stop it through more political involvement in countries where it is popular. These  efforts include strengthening the health sector involvement in this issue and education people on why female circumcision is harmful. Stop FGM Now is a campaign working to stop female genital mutilation. You can learn more about how to get involved and save women from female genital mutilation at their website.

The Link Between Depression and Reproductive Health: Yes, they’re connected

By Cassandra Hedrick

 

Recently, doctors have been looking into the connection between reproductive health and depression in women. Depression is a severe sadness that comes with lack of motivation and can cause suicidal thoughts. According to Dr. Mendel, who conducted a study on this topic, “Psychological symptoms continue to shift in relation to reproductive events—for example, the menstrual cycle, childbirth, menopause— across women’s lives.”

 

This study found that girls are at higher risk of depression during puberty due to the drastic change in hormones. Similarly, women show some symptoms of depression during PMS. The same goes for women during pregnancy. 14-23% of pregnant women develop depression, however, it tends to go undiagnosed because it is assumed to be a just a hormonal imbalance. This can be dangerous for both the mother and child. Postpartum depression, meaning depression after giving birth, is also very common. It has not been previously talked about, but women are trying to bring more attention to it.

As a woman, you may be at higher risk for depression. Throughout your life, with the changes your reproductive system, you may experience depression due to hormonal changes. These changes happen through puberty, pregnancy, and after pregnancy. If you think you may be experiencing depression, talk to your doctor and get help.

Biological Sex DOES NOT Equal Pre-existing Condition

By: Nicole McLaren

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) that recently made it through the House and will now be voted on by the Senate treats the female sex as though their anatomy is a burden that they should carry the weight for. This bill was designed by 13 men, not a single woman had a say in it. Maybe that is why the pre-existing conditions that disproportionately effect women. It leaves it up to the individual states to determine what a pre-existing condition is and how they will be covered by insurance companies.

Some of these “pre-existing conditions” include: c-sections, domestic violence, sexual assault and postpartum depression. These are clearly forms of gender discrimination since these “conditions” effect mostly people who identify as women. The AHCA claims that it does not allow insurance providers to discriminate based on gender, although that is clearly not the case when they have taken away coverage for preexisting conditions.

Before the passing of the Affordable Care Act this was the case for women in the U.S. who faced discrimination from insurance providers because they were seen as more costly to insure. In 2002, The Huffington Post shared a story from Christina Turner, a woman who was denied health insurance after being raped and taking medication to prevent HIV. Even though she did not develop HIV the insurance company would not insure her because they viewed her as too much of a “risk”.

When insurance companies are allowed to put profits over providing healthcare to people, discrimination against women and other at risk groups will continue to occur. The AHCA bill allows states and insurance companies to decide what is a pre-existing condition and to make a profit off of the misfortune and unpreventable circumstances that happen to so many women, like having to have a c-section, being a victim of rape or abuse, and suffering from postpartum depression.

Why should having a child or being a victim prevent someone from obtaining health insurance? That is the question we have to ask our Senators now that our House representatives have failed to use their power to oppose this bill.

https://www.women.com/angie/lists/trumpcare-targets-women-could-deny-coverage-due-to-assault-or-c-sections

Education Rights for Women (Or lack there of)

By: Cassandra Hedrick

In first world countries like America there is not really a gap between boys and girls school attendance. However, in many countries around the world there is an issue with girls not being able to get an education. In Afghanistan, girls only make up 1/3 of students and they make up 2/3s of illiterate adults worldwide. While we are moving in the direction of gender equality when it comes to education, we are not quite there. There are many factors contributing to this lack of education for girls, the main ones being poverty, race or ethnicity, and location.

Kids in poverty stricken countries are less likely to attend school. Girls are 2% less likely to go to school because they tend to stay at home and help with household duties. Similarly, girls from rural areas are less likely to attend school for the same reason, as well as because of the distance they live from schools. In parts of the world where there is a lot of war and violence, girls may not be able to attend school because it is dangerous for them to go. However, no matter where are in the world, racial and ethnic minorities always attend school at lower rates. This means the gender disparities are accentuated.

We need to pay more attention to gender inequality in education. Just because we don’t see it very often in America, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen all over the world. There are gender disparities in education, caused by poverty, location, and race. If you want to help fix this, you can visit the United Nations Girls Education Initiative to find out more.

Women in Prison: It’s nothing like Orange is the New Black

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Men and women’s prisons are very different from each other. For example, men’s prisons tend to have higher security than women prisons. But even though men and women are separated in prison, there is still an issue of gender inequality. There are only 170 women’s prisons in America and they are not funded as well as the men’s prisons. This causes women prisoners to return to prison at a higher rate, which is known as recidivism.

Even though women’s prisons tend to be more comfortable, they are not as good as men’s prisons. Women tend to stay in dormitories or cottages, rather than cells. Also, like I said before, they have much less security and therefore more freedom. However, they lack in rehabilitation programs. This is a serious issue because many women inmates have substance abuse problems and mental illnesses. Meanwhile, men’s prisons have more rehabilitation programs due to the amount of violent offenders; prisons feel as though they need to rehabilitate them for the protection of the community. This lack of rehabilitation programs is what causes the much higher rates of recidivism for women prisoners.

While the rate of women in prison has tripled since 1980, the funding has not. Just because women get more freedom in prison and the facilities may look nicer, they still aren’t as good as men’s prisons where is counts. Their severe lack of rehabilitation programs causes the inmates to suffer once they leave prison, and inevitably go back. Women need more rehabilitation programs in order to become successful after leaving prison.