29 March 2011

CLPP

Contact: Lani Blechman
Civil Liberties and Public Policy, Hampshire College
413-559-6834, lblechman AT hampshire.edu
 
Reproductive Justice Conference Celebrates 30thAnniversary
 
With activists around the country focused on recent attacks on reproductive rights, more than 1,000 community activists, students and national and international leaders will gather next month to build new strategies for reproductive justice and social change.
 
From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom, to be held April 8-10, is sponsored by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy (http://clpp.hampshire.edu) and Population and Development (http://popdev.hampshire.edu) programs. The conference is held at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.
 
The 30th anniversary conference reflects the significant growth of CLPP and PopDev over the past three decades. The conference will be nearly 30 times bigger than the first, with more than 60 sponsors and a diverse, inclusive range of speakers and activists from different generations, the U.S. and abroad. “There’s so much energy and vibration on the campus,” says Leticia Contreras who is a 2011 student conference coordinator. “With activists, artists and social justice participants of all forms of the spectrum—people who really want to change the world in so many different ways. You feel this energy instantaneously.”
 
In the face of an emboldened right-wing assault on abortion and reproductive rights, the conference focuses on broadening the fight for reproductive rights and the health of our families by drawing connections between many social justice issues. “Although the Right has been encouraged by legislative gains, we have always been bold,” said CLPP Director, Mia Kim Sullivan. “And our movement is now so deep and strong, we have a new capacity to meet these political and cultural battles, on our own terms.” 
 
Over 180 speakers and 70 conference workshops will highlight successful examples of activism and how struggles for reproductive and sexual rights are intricately linked to movements for economic, social and environmental justice and peace. Topics of workshops and strategic action sessions include abortion access in the U.S. and internationally, alternatives to the prison industrial complex, climate justice, the recent democratic uprisings in the Middle East, resilient community food systems, disability justice and reproductive justice, and organizing in state, campus and spiritual communities.
 
 “We have over a thousand activists from all over the country here, and also international activists,” said PopDev Director Betsy Hartmann. “It’s a space for creative political thinking, for thinking about the future of our movements, for crossing movements, for bridging differences and exploring those differences in a safe space. It’s also a place where people can speak out about their experiences with abortion and feel safe about it.”
 
The three-day conference kicks off Friday afternoon, April 8th, at Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College. For a full list of conference speakers and workshops, please visithttp://clpp.hampshire.edu/projects/conference/2011/overview.  Friday workshops will run from 4 to 6 p.m., and will be followed by Breaking Silences: An Abortion Speak-Out. Workshops continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.
 
To mark the 30th anniversary and launch our fourth decade of activism, the conference includes a celebration ofcollective leadership and strength, honoring CLPP and PopDev founders and supporters, on Saturday, April 9, at 7p.m.
 
The conference closes on Sunday, with a plenary session around the theme of revolution, re-building community, re-imagining national priorities, and "waging peace” in cross-movement organizing.  Speakers include local, national and international activists, among them Anders Wyatt Zanichowsky, a Hampshire alum who has been organizing with Genderqueer Madison and on the frontlines of labor rights in Wisconsin; Loretta Ross, the national coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective; and Sylvia "Guy" Claudio Estrada, co-founder of Likhaan, which advocates for women's health issues in the Philippines. 
 
The activism that CLPP and PopDev has fostered over the last 30 years—and will continue to inspire into the future—reverberates in different movements in the U.S. and all over the globe.  On April 8-10, celebrate this collective work, find new ways for collaboration, and be part of building the movement for reproductive freedom.
 
Student conference co-coordinators are available for interviews: contact Leticia Contreras or Emily Ryan at 413-559-6834 or clpp AT hampshire.edu.  Conference speakers are also available for interviews upon request. International speakers include reproductive and sexual rights advocates working in the Czech Republic, India, Kenya, the Netherlands and the Philippines.

Planned Parenthood

              In late February a bill was presented which would eliminate all federal funding going to the organization known as Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood has been supplying citizens with reproductive health services for nearly 100 years. Free contraceptives, pap smears, breast exams, counseling, and birth control only represent a fraction of things which Planned Parenthood has to offer.  This bill will eliminate each one of these programs throwing the millions of Americans without even further under the bus.
Eliminating all funding to Planned Parenthood is a farce, although people will have you believe that it’s an economic decision. This is nothing but an attack on a women’s right to an abortion. During this now lengthy debate of the funding, many people have quoted that they do not want their tax dollars to be put towards funding abortions. Fun fact, the Hyde Amendment, which was passed 3 years after Roe V Wade eliminated federally funded money to go to abortion unless in a case of rape or incest. Currently 0.001% of a penny per person goes to fund abortion each year.
The rest of the money given to the organization goes to something that is completely necessary; sex is something that every person, organism in existence can relate to. We came from sex, eventually we will have sexual urges, and the one organization that is there to help us when we have questions, concerns, health needs, problems is one that is expendable? Last year we spent billions of dollars bailing out banks, and insurances agencies, planned parenthood is falling it does not need more money, we need planned parenthood.

03 March 2011

Military Funeral Protest Ruled Constitutional

On Wednesday February 23 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Anti-Homosexual protests taking place at military funerals. The court voted 8-1, in support of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. The Westboro Church is known for their belief that the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's punishment for America's view on homosexuality. Rev. Fred Phelps and some member of his family and congregation picketed the funeral of Albert Snyder's son,who died in the Iraq war. They carried signs which proclaimed "Thank God for dead soldiers" "God hates the USA" "Thank God for 9/11".
The Supreme Court upheld a previous verdict by the court of appeals which ruled against the Snyder family revoking a 5 million dollar settlement from a previous court case. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion stating that ruling against the church would be ruling against our 1st amendment rights. MSNBC quoted Roberts saying "Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker,". Justice Alito wrote the descending opinion stating "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,". 48 states and 42 U.S. senators sided with Alito and the Snyder family. Margie Phelps, daughter of the Reverend and lawyer who argued the case had this to say about the courts decision and the public outcry "The wrath of God is pouring onto this land. Rather than trying to shut us up, use your platforms to tell this nation to mourn for your sins."

02 February 2011

Redefining Rape (Click here to sign petition)



Ever since Roe vs Wade legalized abortion, the fight against it has been strong, and in a lot of attempts successful. The Hyde Amendment which prohibited federal funding for abortion, unless it fit certain criteria established in the bill. The Hyde Amendment has fluctuated in severity over the years. This year, a new bill has been proposed by the GOP which will limit the rights of women once again. This new bill proposes a new definition of rape, it states that only women who have been "forcibly raped" will receive federal funding for their abortion. It's very difficult and disturbing to pin point what counts as "forcible rape", because it is my understanding that the meaning of rape according to Merriam Webster is "to seize and take away by force" . There is that word "force" right in the definition, how dare any one try to redefine the word when it comes to a right given to every women by her government. Every women, seeking an abortion after being rape now has fight for her right to choose, she has to prove that her right to choose her sexual partner was taken away from her, in order for her to have her right to choose which was given to her by Roe Vs. Wade. I urge everyone who not only supports abortion rights, but anyone who supports woman rights to sign the petition on moveon.org to stop this bill in its tracks. The passage of this bill, will not only limit abortion rights, but undermine the power of women, by saying putting a price on an event as tramatic as rape.

15 January 2011

GirlUp Event


While girls in the United States are more educated, socially connected, and empowered than ever before, many girls in developing countries still struggle for the opportunity to go to school, see a doctor, or be included in their communities.
Femtastic! wants to help change this reality. So we partnered with the United Nation's Girl Up Campaign (www.girlup.org), which works to provide needed education, healthcare, and protection from sexual violence to some of the world's hardest to reach adolescent girls. We are hosting a benefit concert on Feb 11, which will feature youth from Ithaca and Trumansburg who are donating their talents to raise funds and awareness for this cause. And by attending, donating 5 dollars, relaxing with your friends and listening to some good music, you can contribute as well.
Where will your 5 dollars go? To initiatives to combat child marriage, build schools, and operate health clinics in Malawi. To combat female genital mutilation in Ethiopia. To set up microloans in Guatemala to
help girls set up their own businesses.


We are honored to have Dr Muna Ndulo as our keynote speaker at the event. Dr. Ndulo has served in a number of United Nations peace-keeping missions and is currently the chairperson of Gender Links, a south African NGO that creates initiatives to improve the status of women in Zambia. He is currently a professor of law at Cornell. Read his bio here-http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/faculty/bio.cfm?id=53


Performers:

Host- Alexi Bouvet-Boiclair

Musical-
Cody Aceto & Sophie Potter
Sarah Beckwith
Jacob Kotler
Maxine Fallon-Goodwin & Sierra Murray
James Eaglesham & Peter Pillardy
Corey Mahaney
Dorian Delfs
Daniela Bizzell & Cassie Engstrom
Jack Gallagher
Emily Behrmann-Fowler
Village @ Bay

Artwork-
Ruthie Grigorov
Chelsea Starkweather
Cassie Engstrom

12 January 2011


I thought this was a great video summarizing the challenges women in developing nations face and solutions that are easily feasible in our time.

Half the Sky,  written by Sheryl WuDunn and Nick Kristof is a book highlighting the abuse and discrimination women in developing nations face. The book lays out an agenda for the world's women and three major abuses: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute.

After the success of the book, the authors, WuDunn and Kristof started a HalftheSkyMovement in which outsiders can help in hopes of making a difference. On the site, they have a variety of resources and forums in which people of all generations can get involved.

http://www.halftheskymovement.org/

I found the authors to be truly inspirational because they are showing real struggle and mistreatment through this book. There is sexism in America  and these must be dealt with. However, leaving here, we have a lot more privileges than most and sometimes, it is hard to image the lives of others who are facing something we can't possibility relate to. Through Half the Sky and the Half the Sky Movement, WuDunn and Kristof reminds us the importance of gender equity. Even from a purely utilitarian viewpoint, it doesn't make sense to not utilize 50% of our resources. Eradication of poverty, hunger, and a lack of education will exponentially speed up when equality among men and women exist throughout all regions.

zoloo brown

11 January 2011

"All I have to say about that is it’s every woman’s responsibility once a person cares about social justice, it becomes I believe a woman’s journey to be mindful of good talented women and open, hold hands with, and partner with as many women as you possibly can, because only by women expressing themselves, to themselves, in unison being received by a male & female audience for Talent is the only way I see a possibility of balance in western society as a worldwide example in Media within the Hollywood industry. It’s not about Latino, Black, White, Girl or Boy, I feel the industry is truly about Life, Love, The Pursuit of Happiness in an Art-form that imitates life itself." - Michelle Rodriguez

09 January 2011

"Yes. Yes I am. I am a feminist. I reject wholeheartedly the way we are taught to perceive women. The beauty of women, how a woman should act or behave. Women are strong and fragile. Women are beautiful and ugly. We are soft spoken and loud, all at once. There is something mind-controlling about the way we're taught to view women. My work, both visually and musically, is a rejection of all those things. And most importantly a quest. It's exciting because all avant-garde clothing and music and lyrics that at one time were considered shocking or unacceptable are now trendy. Perhaps we can make women's rights trendy. Strength, feminism, security, the wisdom of the woman. Let's make that trendy."
-Lady Gaga

02 January 2011

Becoming Active by Maxine

            The other day I was sitting at the table talking with my younger sister (age 14) and my little cousin (age 11). After recently aiding in the start of a feminist group at my high school I am often subject to random interrogations from my family about how my group remains active. When I began to explain my groups cause, both of my younger relatives turned to me, with the same disgruntled look on their face and asked a question that was surprisingly difficult to answer. "What is a feminism". I sat there, shocked, angry, and finally incredibly depressed. I have had the tenacity to call myself an active teenage feminist, yet two of the young women closest to me are completely unaware of our campaign. 
         This is when I realized that coming up with a quick and easy to understand definition of feminism is not that easy. Do I start with the history, explain the suffrage movement, and how much the feminist movement has evolved since then? Do I begin ranting on the under representation of women in politics? Or do I hit them where it hurts, and explain how pop music, " The Real Housewives of (enter major city her)" is actually hurting their gender. I believe, strongly, that to notify our youth of modern women issues, that we must some how find away to infiltrate the media outlet. Whether it be a public service announcement, or getting highly prominent figures in feminism on major news networks. There is so much that we can, and must do in order to actually do something. I do not mean to sound pessimistic about the feminist movement, but my main problem is how do we reach those who actually need our help. That is where we need to put all our energy, into those who, like my sister and cousin, do not even know what a feminist is. We do a lot to educate ourselves on feminist issues, that is the first step, but it is now time to take the second step and engage those who need it most. Send a letter to a major news network, plan an assembly at your school that everyone is required to attend, create a public service announcement and put it on the morning announcements, educate the people who really matter, not people who already call themselves feminist.

16 December 2010

RE-BLOG The (Big-Breasted) Curse of Women in Video Games By Danielle B



Video games. Sweet, succulent video games. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day . . .?
Um, sorry about that.
Though my gaming experience hardly compares to my brother’s (who I swear was playing Zelda: A Link to the Past in the womb), I still consider myself a full-fledged gamer, and a darn good one at that.
But what does it mean to be a gamer and a girl? “Teenage boy” and “video game fanatic” are often synonymous, but the same can’t be said for someone like myself. In fact, in her article What Women Want, Aleah Tierney suggests that to be a girl and a gamer is to be “a stranger in a strange land . . . a male-created virtual space.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think Tierney is that far off. According to We need more women in games, an article by blogger Jacob Aron, women represent nearly 38% of all gamers, but only 11% of game developers. But when you think about it, is it really shocking that more women aren’t lining up to work at places like Nintendo, Capcom, and Konami (just to name a few)? Childhood I-want-to-be-a-ballerina fantasies aside (hey, don’t look at me!), women are taught to be practical. *Puts on sarcastic tone* Why risk doing something so math- and science-oriented like developing video games when we should be flexing our natural abilities as helpers and nurturers?
Video game developing just doesn’t appeal to most women (sadly enough), and that’s probably why a majority of the game universe has been molded around puke-inducing male fantasies of macho, gun-totting heroes and exotic, large-breasted women.
Though they make up only 49% of the US population, research shows that 85% of all video game characters are male – and that figure rises to 90% for characters that players can actually control. Excluding race as a factor (which is another issue entirely), male characters in video games are as diverse as ever. They can be bulky-as-heck, gaunt, or average-looking. They can be triumphant heroes, shady villains, or your Average Joe off the street. They can be hunky, intelligent, sleazy, or badass – it doesn’t really matter. There’s no end to the possibilities of what male characters can be.
Expectations for female video game characters, however, are much more constricted. They’re often forced to play the “helpless princess” role, giving a male lead the chance to flex his muscles and “save the day.” Female characters are also constantly portrayed as meek, shy, submissive, innocent, na├»ve – the list goes on and on. I’ve even noticed that 4 times out of 5, fantasy-game-women are given roles as healers or sorceresses rather than sword-wielding warriors. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with having supernatural abilities (heck, I wouldn’t mind having a few myself), but it makes me think back to the whole “women are supposed to be helpers” theory.
Helpers. Sidekicks. Servants?
Now, for those of you who don’t play video games, I hope you don’t think they’re all sexist piles of crap! On the contrary, there are plenty of awesome, strong women who hold their own against male counterparts (Samus Aran from Metroid and Jill Valentine from Resident Evil both come to mind). But I do have one gripe . . .
Women in video games are always, always, always inhumanly “beautiful.”
Whereas male characters can place anywhere on the scale of attractiveness from “purposefully repulsive” to “god-like,” video game women always have to fall under the latter category. With physiques that make Barbie look average, these characters have impossibly long and slender legs; skinny waists (but wide hips); and breasts that mimic medium-sized watermelons. Just type in “women in video games” to Google Images and you’ll see what I mean!
What the heck? Do you think the people who created these – um – overly-endowed characters just sat down one day and said “so, how big do you think we can get these puppies”?
Because it seems pretty frivolous to me.
I’d say the body proportions of 90% of female video game characters are a huge insult to women in real-life. What is it, video-game-developer-who-lives-with-his-parents, we’re not good enough for you?
Aleah Tierney wrote about her own frustrations when playing Tomb Raider for the first time. The game’s lead (Lara Croft) is often seen as a beacon of female empowerment, but Tierney didn’t exactly see things that way:
“I couldn’t wait to load and play Tomb Raider when it first came out, but when I saw Lara, I just couldn’t take the game seriously. The giant twin pyramids mounted onto her chest look like something she could use to impale her enemies. In many ways her kick-butt presence is a triumph, but the designers’ decision to sexualize her to the point of deformity angered me. I couldn’t get past her proportions, so I put the game away. I’m waiting to see if Lara (or her designers) will evolve in future versions of the game.”
I don’t think Lara’s changing anytime soon, pal. In fact, video games are becoming more and more sexualized as time goes on – and as kids (people in general, actually) are becoming de-sensitized to staggering levels of violence and sexualization in all areas of the media, I don’t see conditions improving for video game gals anytime soon.
It’s kind of funny, actually. I can play the bloodiest, goriest games ever – the kind with chainsaws, zombies, and flesh-eating dogs – and they don’t bother me a bit. Why? Because killing zombies is hardly something I’m going to pick up as an actual hobby (and I don’t foresee a People for Zombie Rights group anywhere in the near future, so I’m not offending anybody by takin’ them out). But the gender stereotypes and hypersexualization in games? That affects us. And it sucks. It really, really sucks. Because no matter how kickass a female character is – like I said before – as soon as you type her name into Google Images you’re going to be bombarded with twenty pages of fan art of the woman flashing her (mutant) breasts. It’s degrading.
So I’ll be sticking to my survival horror games, thank you very much, because zombies don’t care if you’re male or female – or whether or not you have gargantuan jugs – they’ll try to eat your brains either way 

15 December 2010

Science Fiction and Feminism By Maxine

  Science fiction as a genre is known for not being entirely female-friendly. If you enter any video store, or search the genre on netflix many movie covers show pictures of skantly clad women clingy to brawny men for security. This has always been a problem for a young women such as myself to be a feminist, and a self-proclaimed sci-fi geek. When I find myself disapointed by the lack of female representation in a Sci-Fi film or television series, there are two shows that I can revert back to in order to fufil my feminist and nerd void.

Battlestar Galactica


In the original series Starbuck, the hooligan star piolt, was played by a male. The directors of the latest series decided that they wanted to change that. They indroduced us to a new Starbuck, Kara Thrace. Not only does Starbuck fly circles around male piolts, but she also holds her own in any boxing ring. When Starbuck is not shooting cylons out of the sky, she spends her time drinking and beating the crap out of her male peers. Starbuck does not represent the only positively bad ass female role in BSG. The president of the colonies Laura Roslin  is also a women. Laura takes on one of most important roles left in the post-appcolyptic world the characters of BSG are living in. Laura calmly and wisely makes many decisions for the betterment of what's left of humanity. Not only does she out-smart male leaders, but she does this all while dealing with a spiritual quest, and breast cancer. So that's a president, and a top notch piolt in one Sci-Fi series, but there is so much more. Sharon Valarie/Boomer/Number 8 is a cylon model who embodies 3 different female characters in one role. Number 6/ Caprica 6 is a very powerful figure in the cylon world, not only does she haunt Gius Batlers everyday life, but she also can kick ass and take names. Dee, works on deck right next to commander Adama punching numbers and saving the human race. As the series goes on there are many minor powerful female roles, whether they are evil robotic cylons, or humans all the female charcters have just as much power if not more than male characters. Many would say that the female characters are hypersexualized, Number 6 being the main victim of the scurtiny. However, as you watch the series you realize that it isn't an over abdunt sexuality with out pleasure from the females like in many other female roles. The women of Battlestar Galactica are sexy, and sexual, they do not let the men of the world dominate their sex lifes and feel free to explore their sexuality freely. Number 6 may be a hyperlysexual character but in this role it is not a negative. She finds the balance between being sexy being powerful. She remains very feminie in fashion and apperance whilst remaining in a powerful posistion. The show is 6 seasons, and besides begin female friendly, it is also filled with  action, humor, fear and so much more. I reccomend this show to any science fiction fan out there, or even a fan of top notch television with a positive message.



Firefly


Although the show was banned after just one EPIC season, what it covers in terms of feminism in its short life span are worth disscussion. Firefly follows the life of people living on a space shuttle called Serenity. 4 out of the 9 main characters are all powerful women.  Zoe was a fighter in the rebellion against the allance, and now works as Captain Reynolds right hand women. She is also married to Walsh, the ships piolt. They do not have the relationship often portrayed in the media, Zoe is not in any way submissive. The two often joke about their sexual exploits and are completely open about it with the rest of the crew. Not once in the show is Zoe seen as a submissive woemn role, there relationship remains balanced and neither charcter take total control of their relationship. Kaylee is a sweet young women who happens to be in charge of the ships engine. Kaylee is often depicted with a dirty face wearing the average enginers clothing. Kaylee, like other characters, jokes about her lack of a sex life on the ship and often remarks about how close she has become with her "toys." Her personality remains both adorable, and incredably genius. Kaylee works the engine room better than any other engineer shown in the series. River, is the only female character that is portrayed as mentally unstable. But with good reason, the government has been experimenting on her brain, only because she was considered to be a genius. River may be completely insane, but she also is the smartest character on the show. She often will randomly know things that the other character wont understand, and will catch on to just about anything with no practice at all. Inara is the final female character and possilby the most controversial. Inara is a companion, she is the futures prostitute. In this world becoming a companion takes training and much schooling and Anara is the best at her job. There are many differences between the modern prostitutes and Inara's compainionship. The main one being that Inarachooses her clients, they send her a request and she can either deny or accept it. She says that she tries to find out who the person is and lets that guide her to her decision. She is also her own boss, in this world the word pimp is meaningless. Inara's work is not degrading but regarded as a respectable profession. She does not feel guit for her work but it is obvious that she enjoys her job and is good at what she does. Firefly is really easy to get through, considering its one season life span. The female characters drive the plot along, it is also filled with much action and invigirating conflict.

14 December 2010

Gender Inequality and Education- Written by Alyssa Pritts

Although gender inequality is still present in the U.S, women in developing countries are still denied basic rights. Such rights are  ownership of property, access to education, reproductive rights, and political influence. How can a country move forward if half it's citizens are left behind?
UNICEF's third millennium development goal is "to promote gender equality and empower women". UNICEF has come to the conclusion that the first step of gender equity is education. Each year of education a girl receives makes her future earning power increase by 10-20%. She is also less likely to marry and have children early, and is better able to control her life. UNICEF wants to eliminate disparity of education at all ages in the next four years. This is a challenging goal considering the status of women's education and with statistics where they are now. In order for that goal to be achieved, it is up to us to educate ourselves and others.
Here is the link for a full comprehensive description of UNICEF's goal for gender equality.
This link is to an essay written by a student named Lazarus Lynch. He discusses gender inequality in Swaziland and what can be done to help improve the situation.
In February, Femtastic will be hosting a Girl-up Campaign, to educate our school and community about the challenges women and girls face in developing countries. If you would like more information or are interested in donating or volunteering at this event, please send us an email at femtastic19@gmail.com

12 December 2010

A Visit From Our Local Crisis Pregnancy Center -written by Selena Torrado

Why the abstinence speakers from Ithaca Pregnancy Center did not belong in our school
Let me start this off by saying that I really, truly believe that abstinence is one of many safe, realistic, and healthy options for teenagers concerning their sexuality. Which is why I am really glad that it is a part of Trumansburg’s sex education curriculum, along with information about contraceptive use and std education. Recently, the high school had guest speakers come in to health classes to talk specifically about abstinence.
The speakers came from the Ithaca Pregnancy Center, a center which provides “alternatives to abortion”. This seems like a needed public service, until you look closer into the background of the organization. The Ithaca Pregnancy Center is a part of a larger network of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and can be found in listings of Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the United States. CPCs often exist to dissuade women from having abortions by offering information about the “emotional repercussions” of abortion, graphic, exaggerated  descriptions of abortion techniques, and ultrasounds. In New York State,there have been probes into these centers in response to complaints of blatant misinformation. 
Whatever an individuals personal beliefs about abortion, a factual unbiased approach should be embraced in the classroom. We deserve to learn the facts about intercourse, STDs, abstinence, and abortion from unbiased educators without an agenda. Bringing in speakers who are affiliated with a staunchly anti-choice organization, and presenting them as sex educators (which implies that everything they say is factual), polarizes and adds an element of discomfort to a classroom in which students should be presented with facts that enable them to make their own informed decisions.
The speakers included a married couple in their twenties, a woman in her early thirties, and two teenage girls. They made their message clear from the beginning: Abstinence until marriage is the best option for teenagers regarding their sexuality. They presented marriage as the ultimate and only complete safe haven from the dangers of intimacy. There are two problems with this message. 
The first is that assuming that one option (in this case, abstinence) works for all teenagers is wrong. Teenagers are a diverse population of people with a plethora of opinions and backgrounds. Taking a “one size fits all” approach to sex is counter productive and alienating. The second problem is the “until marriage” part of the message. This completely excludes any gay or lesbian student, for whom marriage is not an option. It also idealizes marriage, making it seem as though it magically makes all the risks of sex- STDs, pregnancy, rape, emotional distress- disappear. It is possible to contract an STD, get pregnant before you are ready, and be raped by your spouse, but this was not addressed, which is dangerous.
They also gave the message that abstinence is not only an option, but the ONLY safe option by completely discrediting the use of condoms and not mentioning birth control. One of the speakers said “Condoms are an option, and claim to be effective...but they only are when used correctly so there goes that.” She then said that condoms can allow STDs to be transmitted, and can break. Which is factual, however she did not discuss ways to maximize the effectiveness of condoms (such as the use of spermicide and pulling out before ejaculation), or how to wear them properly. This gave the impression that condoms are ineffective, and therefor the idea of “safe sex” being possible outside of abstinence is false. 
Abstinence, like condoms, is also effective only when used correctly. If you slip up once and engage in a sexual act, or use selective abstinence (ex abstaining from genital but not oral sex) then the 100% effectivity rate lowers. If students are under the impression that condoms are ineffective, practice abstinence, then slip up, they are more likely to not use protection. Teaching abstinence in a way that discredits contraceptives is irresponsible and counterproductive to the comprehensive sex education policy that our school follows.
The most important thing for a education program to do is not to idealize sex (marital or premarital), marriage, “love,” a non marital romantic relationship, or fetishize virginity or the loss of virginity. Sex ed should be honest and inclusive, and should provide an unbiased understanding of the multiple theories about sexuality (feminist, religious, etc.). Sex ed should, above all, enable students to communicate and advocate for what they do and don’t want their sexuality to consist of. Comprehensive sex education does this to an extent. These speakers, however did not. They should not have been included in our health curriculum, and should be prevented from being included in the future.


Club Event!

Help Femtastic! and GirlUp Improve the Conditions of Teen Girls in Developing Nations
During the Month of February, Femtastic! will be hosting a fair to raise money for the GirlUp campaign. This is an exciting  United Nations Campaign that “Addresses the needs of some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent  girls by channeling the energy and compassion of American girls as a positive force for change.” The money that we raise will go to funds for programs of the UN which work to provide girls in Ethiopia, Guatemala, and other countries with the ability to go to school, see a doctor, have access to clean water, and stay safe from sexual violence. 
The fair will feature informative posters on the issues of each country the GirlUp campaign is involved with, and keynote speakers who are experts on issues such as sexual violence and healthcare in developing countries. We also want to highlight the talents and achievements of local teens by showcasing their artwork, having a poetry reading, or live music. If you want to contribute art, poetry, or music to this event, or have some other talent that you think could be showcased, contact us at femtastic19@gmail.com. To learn more about the GirlUp campaign visit www.girlup.org