Category Archives: Sex & Health in the News

How Television Falsely Depicts Abortion

By: Jillian James

Kerry Washington in an episode on Scandal, one of the few shows that have portrayed an abortion in an honest and realistic manner.

 

When it comes to the media’s depiction of abortion, there is usually more fiction on the screen than fact. The University of California San Francisco ANSIRH program’s Abortion OnScreen project studied how abortion was portrayed in a wide variety of television shows. According to the study, “42.5 percent of plot lines included a complication, intervention, or major health consequence” as a result of an abortion.

 

That is huge contrast to the actual outcome data from abortion procedures. Only 2.1% of all abortions have any sort of complication, and they are usually minor. In reality, an abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure that carries very small risk.

 

According to the study, TV makes having an abortion seem like a high-stakes operation. Characters who receive abortions on TV are frequently depicted as having serious, life-altering complications from the procedure, including “infertility, depression, and death.” According to the study, 5% of the characters in the television samples studies died from having an abortion. That number is astronomically high and dangerously incorrect.

 

People internalize what they see on television, and television has the ability to shape public views and public policy. With women’s rights and reproductive access constantly being attacked by government officials, it is crucial that people have a proper understanding of abortion and its level of safety. Portraying abortion in such a negative light can falsely lead the public to form biases again abortion that are not based on fact, and using abortion to add drama to a television show is blatantly misleading the public.

 

An abortion is not a dangerous decision. Its time for the media to stop portraying it that way.

 

SOURCES:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/04/18/abortion_is_20_times_more_dangerous_on_tv_than_it_is_in_real_life.html

https://www.ansirh.org/news/tv-greatly-exaggerates-medical-and-psychological-risks-associated-abortion

 

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

Trump Kills Worker’s Protections: Featuring Trump’s many tweets about women.

By: Cassandra Hedrick

It’s no surprise that Donald Trump has very little respect for women. It also shouldn’t be surprising that on March 27th he signed several bills that will take away important protections for women workers. He revoked the 2014 fair pay and safe workplaces order, which made companies allow paycheck transparency and banned forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases.

By taking away these regulation, Trump has made it possible for companies to discriminate against women workers. By taking away paycheck transparency, businesses will now be able to pay women less. This means employers can make it policy for employees not to talk about salaries with coworkers, therefore, women will not know if they are being paid less.

What’s worse, is that companies can now put forced arbitration into their employee contracts. This means, if a woman is sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace, she must go through the employer and settle the case outside of court. This lets companies to keep sexual assault scandals within the company. It also prevents victims from wanting to come forward about sexual assault cases in their workplace.

But why would Trump do this? He claims he respects women’s workers, you would think he would want to protect them.

But it seems to him that protecting women workers is not nearly as important as de-regulating the economy. He claims these regulations are an unnecessary restriction on businesses. However, without these regulation, employers will be able to pay women less and they may become victims to sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. I’m sorry not discirminatting against women is such an undue burden on businesses.

 

Protections for Transgender Women Or lack Thereof

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Transgender women are one the least protected demographics in America. They are often murdered but it is rarely investigated. In many states, Transgendered individuals can be discriminated against in both housing and employment. However, they are still people and American citizens and there for are entitles to the same rights and protections as cisgendered individuals.

While things are getting better for the trans community, they are still missing many of the same rights most Americans enjoy. They are often targeted for unnecessary questioning and random pat downs by police and are not allowed to ask for an officer of a different gender. When they are in prison, Male to Female transgendered individuals are often housed in male prisons. Not to mention the fact they can be arrested for using the bathroom that does not match their biological sex.

In addition, insurance companies can refuse to cover someone who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (feeling as though they are a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth). Also employers are not required to provide transition related medical treatment as a part of employee insurance policies.

That being said, we are on the right track. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia all have protections for transgendered individuals. There have also been several court cases that have provided protections. For instance, the department of Housing and Urban Development is not allowed to discriminate against anyone from the LGBTQ+ community and Title VII protects them against employer discrimination in some states. Things can continue to get better if we all come together and accept trans people as people and treat them as such.

“Lean In”: How to Help Other Women Achieve Their Potential

By: Jillian James

In 2015, 104 women served on the United States Congress, making up only 19% of the 535 members. Currently, women only hold 5% of all Fortune 500 CEO roles. However, women make up over half of the total U.S. population.

It is absolutely vital for leadership to be diverse. The United States is comprised of a vast amount people of different genders, backgrounds, ethnicities and religions. If the leadership is equally as diverse, then different perspectives and issues will be brought to the table.

So how can we inspire more women to become involved in leadership?

When you see a fellow woman succeed, then go out of your way to acknowledge it. Encourage them to pursue their passions and instill within them the confidence to try to succeed. If you are in a leadership position, then it important that you genuinely listen to ideas and concerns of your subordinates. Be accessible to them and treat their thoughts with respect and integrity.

If you are a woman in a position of power, don’t be afraid to use your voice. Speak up and give your unique perspective on issues, and make sure that you are providing equal opportunities for others to rise up.

            By taking the time to acknowledge the power and light that each individual woman has, you can create an uplifting and positive culture where women feel empowered to use their voice and take action.

 

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/series/inspiring-leaders

http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/women-us-congress-2015

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_women_CEOs_of_Fortune_500_companies

 

 

 

 

Crash Course in Periods: Part 3 (Debunking Period Myths)

A lot can be said about periods. Unfortunately, not all of it is true. Let’s go through some of the most common myths and talk about why they are not true.

You can lose your virginity to tampons

This is a myth I have heard a lot. Tampons are generally not big enough to break your hymen. Even if they were, many different things can break your hymen, like riding a bike, doing splits, or getting hit in the crotch. The hymen is not an indicator for whether or not you’ve lost your virginity and you can only lose it once you have had sex.

You can’t have sex while on your period

This is by far the most common myth. You can absolutely have sex while you’re on your period. It could get a little messy, but it’s possible. You can also get pregnant while on your period so make sure you still use protection.

Women are moody when they are on their periods

It is true that irritability and mood swings are symptoms of PMS, but it does mean they are completely moody and irrational throughout their entire period. In fact, when they are moody is when there is a spike in their testosterone right before their period.

You get your period every 28 days

You do get your period around every 28 days, but every cycle varies. Some cycles can be less than every 28 days, others can be closer to 30 days. Your cycle can also change depending on birth control, stress, illness, etc.

As a final note, one misconception I have heard some men have is that you can stop bleeding at points during your period. It’s not true. The reason your period can be called a flow is because you bleed continuously throughout the week.

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.

 

 

Plan B & Emergency Contraceptives

 

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Emergency contraceptives are ways to prevent pregnancy after your first form of birth control has failed. The most popular form of this is the Plan B pill. Here is everything you need to know about Plan B before you take it.

How and when should you take Plan B?

Plan B is for times when things like forgetting to take you birth control or when the condom breaks. You can take it up to 3 days after having sex, but it works better the sooner you take it. Plan B should not be used as your primary birth control method, but it can be very helpful in case of emergencies.

Where can you get Plan B?

Plan be can be bought at just about any pharmacy. You can also get it at your local Planned Parenthood. If you go on the Plan B website you can use their store locator to help you find the closest place you can get Plan B. You type in your zip code and it will show you all the stores that carry the pill.

What are the Risks?

Plan B is generally safe. It is just a high dose of Levonorgestrel, the hormone found in most birth controls. However, like any medication, it comes with some side-affects, which includes…

  • A period that is lighter, heavier, early, or late
    • Nausea
    • Lower abdominal cramps
    • Tiredness
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Breast tenderness
    • Vomiting

If you puke within two hours of taking the pill, call a medical professional and ask if you should take another dose.

                Plan B can be very helpful in preventing pregnancies, even though it should not be your primary method of birth control. While it does come with some side-affects, it is generally safe. You can get it at just about any pharmacy and you do not need an ID. While you should talk to your doctor about getting on a birth control regimen, if that ever fails there is a backup

Are Gender Roles Even Relevant ?

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Traditional gender roles tend to play a major part in heterosexual relationships. It divides the workload, determines who proposes, it even decides who pays for dinner. Andrew Rogers from the collegian disagrees. He wrote an article titled “Recent Studies Prove Traditional Gender Roles Bring Greatest Happiness.” In which he makes the claim that couples are happier when they follow traditional gender roles. However, I disagree.

Roger’s first claim is that couples who follow traditional gender roles have more sex. This is based off of a study from the American Psychological review. The major problem with this study is that it implies more sex means greater happiness, but that is not that case. There is much more that makes a relationship work than just sex, like mutual respect and affection.

The second claim he makes is based on a study on data gathered by the National Surveys of Families and Households in New Zealand. They used survey results to say that both men and women are happier in relationships with Benevolent Sexism (which they ironically refer to as BS). However, the results are based on the “subjective wellbeing,” meaning it is based on perceived satisfaction which does not necessarily mean actual satisfaction.

Happiness in relationships are completely subjective. It is not based on gender roles or how much sex you are having. The division of labor based on gender roles is completely arbitrary. That should depend on the family and relationship dynamics. In some relationships, traditional gender roles work better. In others, the opposite is true. The point is, you can’t determine how well a relationship works based on how much sex they have. Trust me, I know.