The authors of The Feronia Project are employees of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Inc. We vary in our upbringing, education, and experience, but the common thread between us is our unwavering belief that reproductive rights are human rights. At Planned Parenthood, we take pride in providing low-cost health care, empowering people through sexuality education, and advocating for your rights. We think we bring unique perspectives to the sexuality related topics that touch us all. We hope our words raise awareness, engage you, and help you find your voice to advocate for your rights. We encourage you to participate in positive dialogue with us.
I’ve been an advocate for reproductive justice since I was a kid – I was very lucky to grow up in a feminist home where issues like birth control and reproductive justice were talked about openly, and in a family that valued choice and bodily autonomy. This meant that I had lots of books about sexual health and puberty (in contrast to my friends) so I became a guerrilla health educator just as I was starting to get educated myself.
Ever since then, these topics have permeated much of my life. In college, I led a discussion group on issues around bisexuality for three years, had internships with our campus Queer Resource Center as well as with Planned Parenthood, and was involved with numerous other queer campus groups. I’ve worked with a number of youth-based organizations, and have been a resource for kids and their families who are negotiating things like how to come out in a small town. I’ve also provided all-options counseling for women who are facing unexpected pregnancies, as well as for women who’ve had abortions and want to talk about their experiences for 8 years and counting. In addition to my work at Planned Parenthood, I currently provide program support for an undergraduate Gender Studies department.
I don’t remember having a “click moment”, that instant where you suddenly “get it” and start believing that feminism is important. I was raised in a white middle-to-working class home by parents who played in a rock band and left books on astrology and Beat poetry lying around the house. Progressive politics were assumed, if not always put into practice at home. As I grew up my burgeoning radicalism was reinforced by my love of punk rock and growing social awareness combined with sexist and classist harassment in school. I eventually got my bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Philosophy. During college I volunteered for Planned Parenthood, and after graduating I started working for them.
It’s now been about 6 years of educating about birth control, abortion, and sexual health. I did some graduate level coursework in Sociology and Public Health, but ultimately I decided to go to nursing school. I’ll have my RN after December of 2012. I’ve been blogging off an on for the past 9 years, and I’m also currently involved with my local Sex Worker Outreach Program.
I believe in approaching the world with a sociological imagination. I recognize that there is not just one feminism, but many feminisms, and I strongly feel that modern feminism cannot move forward without acknowledging what bell hooks calls the “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” and working to understand the struggles of all people in this system, not just white western middle-class women. I try to keep my head up no matter what the news says, and I’m not afraid of the people working to keep us down. After all, as C. Wright Mills said “Every revolution has its counterrevolution–that is a sign the revolution is for real.”
I’ve been working for Planned Parenthood for three years. Prior, I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree, during which I focused my studies on sociology, psychology, women and gender studies, and the humanities. I’m in my mid-twenties, “middle-class,” and Caucasian. I am extremely aware of how these demographics paint the landscape of my perspective, and the cultural privileges they’ve awarded me. I consider myself a symbolic interactionist, and am constantly seeking deeper meaning in even the simplest of gestures.
In college I was heavily involved with the V-DAY movement, hosting multiple events on campus, including The Vagina Monologues. I volunteer for an after-school program that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold. I’m involved in my community’s Free School movement, Sex Worker’s Outreach Program (SWOP), and a community task force to eradicate human trafficking. I am involved with Women for Women International as a “sister sponsor,” and believe deeply in the work their organization does.
I’ve chosen to use the alias Firdaus, as she is the captivating heroine in Nawal el-Saadawi’s gripping novel Woman at Point Zero, the book that sparked my billowing feminist flame. I use Firdaus as a tribute to the struggles endured by countless women who are forced to live below humanity, encased in systematic patriarchy that gags their very essence. Their oppression is our oppression; sisterhood is forever.
I have Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education. I’m a certified HIV Trainer. I’ve had 20 years in the field. I’ve been a feminist since I knew what the word meant. I’ve seen tremendous strides made in reproductive health and women’s rights, but there is still so far to go, especially globally. When I travel I’m struck by how few opportunities and choices women have in other countries. They are desperate to have choices that women here take for granted. I’ve been privileged to watch the development of my two amazing daughters who both make the world a better place in their own unique ways.
My alias is Fosgood after Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall. These two women did what I didn’t have the courage to do. They went into the jungle to study primates and created awareness of the plight of wildlife worldwide. They helped bring eco-tourism to some of the worlds most impoverished counties and helped people see the magic of the natural world.
I have a Bachelor’s in Criminology and will have a Master’s degree in Management at the end of December. I have worked as a Sexual Health Educator for four years. I come from a long line of feminists. My family gave me “Our Bodies Ourselves” when I was in the 8th grade. I have spent my career in various positions that help make a difference in the lives of youth in my community who haven’t had the same opportunities, or mentors that I have been blessed with in my life. I have a passion for helping individuals learn how to take care of their bodies and each other through sex education.
My alias is Genevieve after my grandmother. She was a nurse in World War II and when working in hospitals saw the horrendous repercussions of women not having access to legal abortions. She made me aware at a very young age how lucky I was as a women to have the ability to choose who I love and when, if I decide to marry or have children. I hope I can honor my grandmother and the women who came before me by never taking my reproductive and sexual freedoms for granted. PLEASE VOTE!
I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Public Health Education. I have a special interest in observing international sexuality education programs and learning how the culture, religious and political forces, and individual biases shape how and what is taught. I spent time in the Philippines getting an inside look at their challenges with sex education, population control, and reproductive/human rights. I spent two years in Latin America as a Peace Corps Volunteer trying to normalize sex education and build the knowledge, self-worth, and self-efficacy of the young people. I am passionate about what I do because I believe that self-realization is the destination along a journey where human rights are for all and where education and experiences make us unique.
For the last 10 years, I have been dedicated to various community efforts, all with the common thread of improving the health and quality of life of people in the world. I write in the name of “Mary” because she is my hero. Mary was my grandmother. She was born and died in poverty, had limited education, and mothered twelve children. Despite limited access to birth control and health care, she persevered and taught me how to channel hardship into quiet strength. Her voice was meek so I lend mine to honor her.
“Eleanor” believes that health care, particularly all forms of reproductive health care, is a basic human right – not a privilege. Her primary focus is on the back end of the blog as well as the Fun Friday posts, though she has a long-standing interest in reproductive history, having done in-depth research on Annie Besant and the beginning of birth control in Great Britain. Eleanor is inspired by her two heroes, the famous Eleanor Roosevelt and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine (1122-1204), the only woman to be Queen of France and Queen of England in her lifetime.