Category Archives: Relationships

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

Marriage before the Age of Consent

By: Nicole Mclaren

Childhood marriage is something that usually we do not think of happening in the U.S. but the definition of a childhood marriage is any marriage in which the parties are under 18. In almost every state this is legal but the requirements to get the marriage certificate changes between states.
The national average is about 5 out of 1000 underage people are married. The two states that have the highest average are Texas and West Virginia both averaging around 7 out of 1000 15-17 year olds being married. Still other states have outdated laws that allow 12 year old girls and 14 year old boys to marry with parental consent. in 2014 there were over 57,000 15-17 year olds married in the US, 55% of them were women.


According to Human Rights Watch, one out of four girls in the world will marry before the age of 18. There are over 7 million women and over 1 million men in the world who are in a childhood marriage. The over representation of girls in childhood marriages in the US and around the world is alarming. It is because of the rights of women and girls being an afterthought in cultures across the globe. Childhood marriage is an outdated system and we should be working to address it in the US and around the world.
Currently there is a bill being proposed in the New York state legislature that seeks to end child marriage by changing the age of marriage from 14 to 17. In the first decade of the 21st century over 3000 children were married in New York. Human Rights Watch has started an email to legislators in the state to push them to pass this bill. The organizations and politicians that support this bill are seeking to help protect the rights of these children, mostly girls married to adult men. Click the link to put your voice in!

 

https://www.hrw.org/EndChildMarriage

The Do’s and Don’ts of Consent

By: Jillian James

 

Do- Always remember that your ‘yes’ can turn into a ‘no’

At anytime, you can change your mind. Just because you consented previously does not mean that you must follow through if something starts to feel wrong. Also, just because you consented to a person once doesn’t mean that you must consent to them again.

 

Don’t- Blame yourself if you are the victim of a sexual assault.

If you are assaulted, never put the blame on yourself. What happened was not your fault. Seek immediate help by calling the National Rape Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE, which can direct you to a local Rape Crisis Center in your area. Rape Crisis Center services are usually free or at a low cost and they can provide counseling, therapy, support groups, case management, legal advocacy and/or medical advocacy.

Do- Keep an eye out for your friends at parties and social events.

Unfortunately we must practice caution when going out to parties and other social events. When alcohol is involved people are more likely to take risks or have unlikely behavior. If a friend is going home with someone, make sure that they are willing and able to give consent.

 

Don’t (EVER)- Slut-shame or say “They were asking for it.”

Lets make one thing clear: no one ever asks for sexual assault. Even if they are wearing a short skirt or a revealing top. What a person is wearing or how much skin they are revealing should never be an indication of whether or not they deserved to be assaulted.

 

Do- Communicate.

If something doesn’t feel right or you change your mind, it is your right to communicate that to your partner. Say “no” and use clear verbal language. Its your right to speak up if things are going further than you would like or you begin to feel uneasy.

 

Do- Have open discussions with your partner and friends about consent

It’s very important to spread the message of consent and communicate exactly what it means: an exact and clear “yes” response to sexual activity. Have discussions with your partner and friends about what consent means and why it’s so important in order to have healthy, happy relationships.

Feminism is for Everyone: How the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too

By: Jillian James

 

Recently millions of women gathered all across the world to advocate for feminism and their rights. The faces of women of all races and backgrounds were on TV screens all across the country as they raised their voices and spoke out, sending a message to the nation.

However, it is important to remember that women’s rights are human rights. While women are the face of feminism, a patriarchal, hyper-masculine society actually hurts both women and men for multiple reasons.

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BREAKING NEWS: PEOPLE CONTAIN MULTITUDES

Every single human being, regardless of sex or gender, feels a wide variety of emotions. Societies that perceive men as being weak or devalued because of their expressions of emotion are creating unhealthy environments and are actually emotionally stunting. Sayings like “boys don’t cry” and “be a man” are toxic. In order to have emotional well-being, every person should feel safe and secure in expressing their emotions, and societies and cultures should applaud and encourage emotional expression instead of making it be perceived as a sign of weakness.

RELATIONSHIPS 101: COMMUNICATION IS KEY

In order to be in a healthy and happy relationship, partners must be willing to communicate and be emotionally honest. This can be a struggle in heterosexual relationships because hyper-masculinity can put up emotional walls. If a society puts little to no value on a man’s ability to be emotionally honest and vulnerable then he will struggle to feel comfortable communicating in an intimate relationship.

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WOMEN’S HEALTH: MEN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT TOO

Men in heterosexual relationships should feel comfortable asking women questions about their health, and women should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it with their partner. Being able to have open discussions about periods, birth control, and other topics in a relationship is incredibly important. Having both partners be well-educated and informed on women’s health can make you both feel more comfortable and confident in a relationship.

Living in a patriarchal society is limiting for both genders. There are actions that can be taken in order to actively fight the patriarchy in society. Don’t be afraid to call out anti-feminist or hyper-masculine behavior. Try to educate the men in your life about women’s issues and women’s health and encourage them to express their emotions. Taking steps to de-normalize toxic masculinity will help create a healthier society as a whole. A society that has gender equality is an overall happier place because the boundaries of gender expectations and ideals are gone, and instead people can live their lives freely and become their truest selves.

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