Category Archives: Relationships

Consent is sexy – and also just necessary.

By: Cassie Manz

The topic of sex has become less taboo over the years. In magazines, on television shows, in high school sex ed classes, people are talking about sex and all the things that go with it. Opening up discussions around sexual health is crucial because, put plainly, knowledge is power. At colleges, where sexual health is often a workshop during Fall orientation, the importance of consent has become a popular topic.

Sexual assault is all too common on college campuses. In a 2015 survey by the Association of American Universities, 27.2 percent of female college seniors reported that they had experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact due to incapacitation, including alcohol and drugs, or by force. To help combat the staggering rates of sexual assault, the Consent is Sexy campaign was started. So far the campaign has rolled out at four universities in the United States, and has also been implemented at schools in the United Kingdom and Southern Africa.

The Consent is Sexy campaign is a “Sexual Rights Awareness campaign” that seeks to raise awareness of consent and the practice of it, according to their website. Consent is Sexy promotes safer sex, sexual health, and emotional well-being.

The campaign defines consent to have sex as “when both people agree to have sex. But it’s not just allowing something, or giving permission – it’s knowing that you both really want and desire each other.” The campaign also states that consent should be freely given, mutually agreed upon, and never assumed. Yes!

Consent is Sexy is needed and important. It provides a healthy message for young people: that being informed about sexual health and being open and honest about sex with a partner is sexy. Most importantly, it helps to fight sexual assault by enforcing the idea that consent is imperative when having sex because sex without consent is rape.

The problem with the campaign is that it’s built on the idea that sexiness makes consent important. In an article for The Whitman Wire Spencer Wharton wrote, “By making it about what’s “sexy,” the slogan promotes eroticism as a way of determining the worth of an act.”  The campaign says that “sex is sexiest when both partners want it…” But it shouldn’t matter what level of sexy the sex falls under. It shouldn’t matter that consent is sexy. Consent during sex is imperative because without consent it is rape. It’s sexy to have someone you’re into say “Yes, let’s keep going,” but it’s also just necessary.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/us/a-third-of-college-women-experience-unwanted-sexual-contact-study-finds.html

http://www.consentissexy.net/consent

http://whitmanwire.com/opinion/2013/01/31/consent-is-sexy-mantra-well-meaning-but-misguided/

 

 

What’s the deal with the Pill?

 

We’ve probably all heard it. “Don’t get on the pill! You’ll gain weight! What about your libido?” Deciding to start taking the birth control pill can be scary because of all the things we’ve heard. So, just how many of these heavily-warned side effects are true? Is the birth control pill safe? Most importantly, is it right for you?

There are different reasons people go on the pill. Some doctors prescribe it to treat heavy or irregular periods or severe acne. It’s most common use is to prevent pregnancies. The pill can be really helpful and great for some people! (Pro-tip: The pill lowers risk of ovarian and uterine cancer!)

But is the pill bad for us?

The answer is not so simple.

-Some argue that the birth control pill is unhealthy because it’s a synthetic hormone and messes with your body’s natural cycle.

-It has been proven that the pill causes increased risk of a blood clot, though experts are quick to assure that it’s less than that associated with pregnancy. According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstestrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine, the higher the dose of estrogen means higher risk of blood clots.

-What about the increased risk of stroke and heart attack? According to Dr. Minkin, if you’re a smoker and over 40 years old, there is an increased risk. Otherwise, if you don’t smoke and have normal blood pressure you’re pretty much in the clear.

-Should people on the pill be worried about breast cancer? The older pills with a higher dose of estrogen have been proven to have a higher risk of breast cancer, especially the longer one took it. However, according to ob-gyn Alyssa Dweck, after about ten years of being off birth control the risk of breast cancer is about the same as someone who hasn’t been taking birth control. And the older pills with higher estrogen aren’t prescribed as often anymore.

-The birth control pill has been linked to depression and weight gain. According to Dr. Minkin there is data on a linkage to depression because of progestins in the pill which can cause mood fluctuations. She advises that if you have a history of depression, to keep track of your moods if you begin taking the pill. The issue of weight gain remains a little murky. The implant and the shot have a higher risk of weight gain. Generally, it seems that the pill could cause weight gain, but doctors say minimal.

-Now, what about your sex drive? The pill prevents ovulation, which can lower the boost of testosterone that occurs during ovulation. This can lead to a decreased libido. If you experience low libido or vaginal dryness, your doctor might suggest a progesterone-only option, instead of the estrogen-containing pill.

These are some of the main worries people have about birth control and its side effects. If you decide that the pill is the right method of contraception for you, you can visit your local Planned Parenthood health center to get a prescription or visit plannedparenthood.org to learn about all different types of contraception.

 

Sources:

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control

https://bodyecology.com/articles/dangers_birth_control_pill.php

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/how-worried-should-you-be-about-birth-control-risks

 

Birth control on a college student budget

By: Cassie Manz

The United Nations Population Fund describes good sexual and reproductive health as the ability to have “a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.” The UNPF continues that to maintain one’s sexual and reproductive health, “people need access to accurate information and the safe, effective, affordable and acceptable contraception method of their choice.”

 

On college campuses across the country, effective contraception can sometimes be difficult to come by. Condoms are usually pretty easy to find. They’re frequently handed out at RA events and on most campuses there are conveniently placed baskets of them in dorm buildings.

 

However, according to Planned Parenthood, condoms are only about 82% effective at preventing pregnancies in the real world, where people don’t use condoms perfectly every time they have sex. For this reason, people with vaginas choose other methods of birth control, like the pill, to complement or stand in for condoms and prevent unwanted pregnancies.

 

There are several ways you can get birth control pills as a student.

One option is your campus health center. Call, check their website, or visit the center to see if they offer the pill for free. If you have health insurance through your university, your student health plan might cover birth control as well. Go to Coverher.org to contact the National Women’s Law Center’s hotline to see if your university covers birth control through the student health plan.

 

If you’re a college student and you’re not able to get birth control pills through your campus health center, Planned Parenthood can help. At Planned Parenthood, you can get a prescription for birth control pills. The health center will work with you on finding a prescription that matches your financial ability. Most Planned Parenthood centers accept Medicaid and health insurance.

 

Visit your local Planned Parenthood to learn more about birth control and which option might be best for you.

 

Sources:

https://www.bedsider.org/features/359-back-to-school-birth-control-6-questions-to-answer

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/condom/how-effective-are-condoms

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-do-i-get-birth-control-pills

Religion and Sex Ed in the U.S.

By: Nicole McLaren

The history of sexual education in the U.S. has been interesting to say the least. In the 19th century sex ed included pamphlets about the evils of masturbation to the spreading of the idea that masturbation and ejaculation cause loss of energy. The early 20th century brought about the first organized sexual education. Chicago was the first city to implement sexual education in high school although the program was shut down early after it started. The federal government’s first attempt to educate about sex was during WW1 when they began teaching solider’s about STDs.

The U.S. Office of Education began training teachers in sexual education by the 1930s. By the 60’s and 70’s sex ed had become a political issue that religious conservatives used to prevent sexual education in public schools. These religious groups viewed sex ed as promoting promiscuity, even going as far as claiming sex ed was communist indoctrination.

With HIV emerging as an issue in the 80s, sex ed took on a more prominent role but religious conservatives pushed back through the creation of abstinence only programs. From 1981 to 2010 the federal government spent over $1 billion on abstinence only sexual education programs. This began in the Reagan administration and continued into two years of Obama’s first term. Even in the Clinton’s administration there was provisions added, by religious groups, to the Welfare Reform Act of 96 to ensure that abstinence only education was funded by the federal government. The information provided in these programs not only leaves out birth control methods and other methods of prevention, they also distort medical facts and rely on religious doctrine.

While we have started to move towards a more scientifically based sexual education there is still improvements to be made. The need to promote fact based sex ed is ultimately up to the people in each state. We must push our legislators with organizations like Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth to implement sex ed programs in public schools that provide real education for students.

 

 

Do you know how babies are made?

By: Nicole McLaren

The goal of sexual education is to teach young folks how to lead healthy sex lives, at least that is the ideal form of it. Unfortunately only 24 states and D.C. require that public schools teach sex education. Even among these sex education programs there is variance, some programs focus on abstinence only instead of providing a comprehensive education.

Not only have these abstinence only programs been found ineffective at keeping teens from having sex, some of them are not based on scientific fact and actually rely on religion to educate. The federal government has spent taxpayer money to fund these abstinence only programs even after the research found them to be ineffective.  Advocates for Youth claims that overall congress has spent over $1.5 billion on these harmful programs.

Multiple studies have found that parents regardless of educational obtainment, economic class, and religious affiliation, support the idea that comprehensive sexual education should be provided to their children. These studies have been completed nation-wide and in individual states and the results have been the same.

The prevention of teen pregnancy and STD/STI contraction is important for young people to lead healthy, successful lives. The best way to do this is to provide sexual education for teens in school, at home and in the community. Every year, according to dosomething.org 750,000 teen girls will get pregnant in the U.S. That’s 3 out of every 10 teenage girls. Becoming a parent is the leading cause of dropping out of high school, 50% of teen moms never graduate. Only 2% of teen moms earn a college degree.

There is much we can do in way of changing policy by working with organizations  like Planned Parenthood to lobby legislators into listening to the wants and needs of their constituents. Something that we can do right now though is start a free Babysitters Club to help teen moms stay in school or earn their GEDs. Here is a link https://www.dosomething.org/us/campaigns/babysitters-club?source=node/152

Sex Education: The Importance of a College’s Sexual Culture and Sexual Support Systems

By: Jillian James

When you choose a college, you may consider factors like academics and extracurricular involvement. However, it is important that you look at your potential college’s sexual culture and what resources are available on campus. This is critically important because you want to join an environment that is accepting, welcoming, and that will be able to offer a wide variety resources.

Here are some important factors to consider when judging a college’s sexual culture:

  1. Is free birth control offered on campus, like condoms? How accessible are they?
  2. Is there a women’s clinic on campus? Would you feel comfortable going there if you had an issue?
  3. Does the college offer STD/STI testing? Is it free?
  4. Is the campus friendly to the LGBTQ community? Are there clubs and events for LGBTQ students?
  5. Are there support systems in place for survivors of sexual assault and rape?
  6. Are classes offered about sex and sexuality, or is it a taboo topic academically?
  7. What is the social culture like? Do men or women control it? Is their social pressure to hook up or have casual sex?

These questions are all incredibly important because they can help you have a happy, product, and safe time at college. If some of these support structures don’t exist at your current college or university, try to implement them yourself and attempt to create a healthy sexual culture on your campus.

 

 

The History of Planned Parenthood

By: Jillian James

In 1916, a revolutionary and pioneering woman named Margaret Sanger opened America’s first birth control clinic. Now, over 100 years later, Planned Parenthood provides medical care and reproductive services all over the country to woman of all races, backgrounds, and sexual identities. Because of the bravery and compassion towards her fellow women, Margaret Sanger was able to leave a lasting legacy and ensure that future generations of women would be able to receive healthcare.

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger spent a portion of her life working in the slums of New York City as a nurse. She saw first hand how women were affected by frequent childbirths and miscarriages. She also saw women who sought out dangerous backdoor abortions because they didn’t want or couldn’t physically carry another child to term. During this time period the 1873 Comstock Law made it illegal to disperse or provide any information about birth control because it was deemed obscene. Sanger defied the law of the time and opened a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. She was later arrested. Even through her hardships, she never stopped speaking out and being an advocate for women’s access to birth control and a women’s right to be able to control her own body.

Planned Parenthood

In 1921 Sanger’s clinic would become The American Birth Control League. In 1942 the League would become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Since then Planned Parenthood has evolved into a service that sees millions of women every year and is a trusted source for contraception and family planning. Thanks to the vision of Margaret Sanger, women can take control of their lives.

Do’s and Don’ts of Condom Use

It is important to always use a condom when having sex. However, condom usage can be tricky. It is not as simple as simply putting a condom on and being protected from everything. So, here is a list of do’s and don’ts on condom use.

Do Always use a condom

Even if you or your partner are on birth control, that does not protect against STDs. It is important to use a condom because it protects yours and your partner’s genitals from bodily fluids that may carry diseases.

Don’t reuse condoms

Condoms are only good for one use. If you try to reuse one, it will most likely break or spread old bodily fluids. It will also be difficult to put back on.

Do check the expiration date on your condoms

Condoms can expire. When a condom expires, it become weaker and is more likely to break.

Don’t keep condoms in your wallet

Condoms should be kept in cool, dry places. Wallets can become dark and hot, which can weaken the condom and cause it to break.

Do put the condom on before any contact with your partner’s genitals

STDs can be transmitted through other bodily fluids, not just semen. It is possible to catch one even if someone do not ejaculate inside their partner. Be sure you put a condom on before there is any contact between you and your partner’s genitals.

Don’t unroll the condom before you put it on

To put in a condom, you should pinch the tip of the condom while it is still rolled up. Place it on the tip of the penis and unroll it to the base.

Do use water based lubricants

While you can get condoms that are already lubricated, you can also use other lubricants. KY Jelly and most other brands of sexual lubricant are water based and should not hurt latex condoms.

Don’t use oil based products

Don’t use baby oil, coconut oil, cooking oils, or petroleum jelly. These can degrade the latex and weaken the condom.

Do always use a condom

Yes, I already said that. Yes, it is that important. ALWAYS use a condom.

Don’t use more than one condom

Putting on more than one condom will cause friction and make it more likely that the condom will break. This can also happen if you try and use a male condom and a female condom at the same time.

Condom use is very important and will keep you completely safe from STDs and pregnancy if you use them right. Just keep these dos and don’ts in mind to practice safe sex.

The Freedom of Decision: Marriage and Child-Raising are a Choice, Not a Requirement

By: Jillian James

Sociologists are noticing a trend among modern women: they are getting married and having children at lower rates than ever before. Why? Why are women choosing to delay or forgo the experiences of marriage and childbirth, the two things that used to be so commonplace that it seemed like a requirement for women?

Part of it stems from the fact that marriage used to be something that was tied to economics and, for most women, was the only way that they could provide for themselves. Up until very recently in history women haven’t had very many opportunities to attend college, make their own incomes, and forge their own futures. They had to depend on marriage and their spouse to provide for them. The patriarchal structure of society meant that women had to get married at a young age or risk falling into financial despair or becoming dependent on their parents.

Now in modern society, women are finally being given choices. Marriage and child rearing are absolutely wonderful life paths, but they are no longer their only life paths.

Both men and women are now focused on carving lives for themselves and finding their own personal fulfillment before marrying. The emphasis is now on cultivating a relationship with a person and searching for a partner that you truly connect with. Taking the time to grow with your partner before marriage could potentially lead to less divorce and stronger relationships.

Women are also choosing to forgo marriage entirely, focusing on other facets of their lives. They may focus on careers or their own personal well being and fulfillment, or enter domestic partnerships. Many women who don’t marry are still in satisfying and enriching relationships with their partners.

Many women are also choosing not to have children or to delay childbirth until later in life. This could be because women are taking the time to pursue their own personal passions, like traveling, or are waiting until they are sure that they are financially stable and have achieved their own personal goals before having children.

In the end, choosing whether or not to get married or have a child is a personal choice, a choice that every individual woman should make for herself. A woman should always be the one who makes the choice to marry and have children, because then she will be happy and fulfilled with her life and relationships. In modern society, women have the freedom and the power to create their own lives, and that is a remarkable thing.

 

 

A Path Towards Violent Free Sex

By Nicole Mclaren

The term sexual violence refers to sexual activity that occurs without freely given consent. The definition includes a variety of different experiences even sexual harassment even without contact. Sexual violence is still a significant problem in the U.S. According the the Center for Disease Control 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men reported being raped at some point in their life. Over 35% of the women who were raped, were raped between the ages of 18-24. While women are more at risk than men, transgender folks are at even higher risk for being victims of sexual violence. It is important to remember that sexual violence does not impact everyone in the same way and other social identities and situations can influence one’s vulnerability and access to help after the violent act.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) tells us that there are ways that you can prevent being sexually assaulted like not posting your location on social media, staying alert and knowing your resources. There are also ways to help others if you are a witness to the assault. You can create a distraction, ask directly, enlist others in the situation, or call the authorities. It is important that we know our role in preventing and dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault.

If you know someone who is a survivor of sexual assault the first thing that you should remember to do is to listen to them and refrain from judging them or the situation. It is important that you encourage them to seek medical attention and mental health support. RAINN offers a hotline for victims of sexual violence. 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org

https://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/SV-DataSheet-a.pdf

https://www.rainn.org/articles/help-someone-you-care-about