Underage and Over-Criticized

referenced from alicevega.com

referenced from alicevega.com

I’m sure many of you have seen this story already.  Sasha and Malia, America’s First Daughters, were criticized by a GOP aide for their attire choices.  She resigned shortly after.

Now, I realize that sounds harsh, but allow me to elaborate.  GOP aide Elizabeth Lauten specifically said

“Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department.  Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”

That is quite the quote. Even if we ignore the blatant disrespect dished out towards the President and First Lady, it’s still a bit shocking (at least to me).  Sasha and Malia are respectively 13 and 16 years old.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been able to show half of the maturity they do every day when I was that age.  So they made some faces.  So they showed their knees.  Elizabeth Lauten is an adult, and the lack of sympathy and harsh judgements she showed these young girls is awe-inspiring.

So why do I care?  Why is this being talked about on Carnal Politics?

It’s just another manifestation of rape culture, in my eyes.  Women in short skirts/shorts are sluts.  Women with low tops are sluts.  Women who spend too much time focusing on their appearance are sluts.  Apparently, now underage girls wearing perfectly sensible holiday-wear are also sluts.  “A spot at the bar?”  THEY AREN’T EVEN OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE BEEN IN ONE.  Why is it that, especially in politics, women are judged so harshly?  Even the women on the sidelines who aren’t there to be judged or assessed?  They didn’t ask for dad to be one of the most visible men in the world.  They aren’t thinking about whether their outfits ask for the right kinds of attention.  They got dressed for Thanksgiving, had to stand on national TV for a couple hours, and made a few funny faces in the process.  Good for them.  They deserve to be kids.  Why can’t we, for once, remember that’s exactly what they are?

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Teach Us Something We Don’t Know

By Mikhaela Reid, referenced from mikhaela.net

By Mikhaela Reid, referenced from mikhaela.net

Salon.com posted an article recently about sex-ed, and it’s definitely worth looking in to if you’re interested (or plainly enraged) by the topic.

Here is a very in-depth look at what exactly is happening (or rather, not happening) in the US school systems in regard to sexual education, and why.  It highlights the use of abstinence-only programs, and why that can be so very damaging to teens, and anyone else exposed to it.

Genderless Ideas

I meant to post this on Transgender Day of Remembrance, but missed by one day.  In all fairness, my Thursday was absolutely insane.  I’m making up for it by posting an extra-long blog for y’all today!

Transgender rights has been something that has weighed heavily on my mind lately.  I’m not sure why exactly, but every situation where a trans person would be uncomfortable seems to trigger me.  I think that with all of the developments being made in the arena of gay marriage and gay rights I feel like the basic, simple, everyday rights of transgender people are being forgotten (or at least overshadowed).

So I decided to take a basic internet survey (via posting in several completely non-related groups), regarding transgender bathroom assignment.  To me, this seems relatively straightforward, so I wanted to see how many people agree.  I was also hoping to prompt some interesting conversations for people who haven’t spent any time researching or considering transgender rights.  The survey was fairly simple.  You were asked three questions regarding what bathroom transgender people should use (each question identified a different age group), and you were given three options for answers.  There was then a space for people to express why they had chosen what they had chosen, but this wasn’t required.  I feel that I got responses from people on just about every part of the spectrum, opinion-wise.

The first question was “Do you believe that transgender elementary students should be able to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the options of “Yes; they should use the bathroom that matches their gender,” “No; they should use the restroom that matches their biological sex,” or “They should use a single-stall separate restroom.”  Out of 65 responses, 38 chose “yes,” 20 chose “no,” and 7 chose “single-stall.”

The second question was “Do you believe that transgender high school students should be able to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the same answer options as question one.  I decided to choose two different school settings because of the controversy surrounding younger transgender people transitioning while in school.  I was also interested in the younger vs older comparison because of the arguments surrounding the possibility of sexual assault, if restrooms are used by transgender students.  Again, out of 65 responses, 42 chose “yes,” 11 chose “no,” and 12 chose “single-stall.”

The third question was “Do you believe transgender people should be able to use the public bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the same “yes” and “no” options, but the third option was phrased slightly differently for clarity’s sake.  The third option said “They should use single-stall alternate (family) restrooms.”  I knew that there would be a significant amount of adults taking the survey, and considered them more likely to approach the student questions from a mindset of protecting younger people.  I inserted this questions to attempt to force them to investigate their own personal feelings regarding both being in a restroom with a trans person, and forcing someone their own age to use a restroom they may be uncomfortable with.  I had hoped they would put themselves in the trans person’s shoes when asked from this perspective.  Out of the same 65 people, 46 said “yes,” 8 said “no,” and 11 said “single-stall.”

I was a bit shocked that the statistics didn’t significantly change between questions.  Most people picked all of one answer (i.e. 3 yes or 3 no).  There were only a few people who selected different options for different scenarios.  It seemed that people either decidedly were uncomfortable with people using bathrooms based on gender, or they simply weren’t.  The open responses brought all types of responses; the open-minded, the angry, the explicit, the indifferent, and the generally unrelated.  The prompt simply read “Why or why not?”  Responses ranged from “Biological sex is their true gender regardless of what gender they believe themselves.” to “Because that is their gender even if they weren’t born that way.”  There was on response that used the prompt as an opportunity to criticize America’s handling of restrooms in general, saying

“I personally see no problem with both genders, and sex, sharing the same bathrooms. I think that in America going to the bathroom is over sexualized, where people are appalled at the idea of men and women sharing. The main argument I’ve heard against it is that men will attack women in the bathroom, however, if something like that were to happen I think that would have much more to do with the amount of violence in that area. If someone is twisted enough to attack someone in a bathroom then they’re going to do it regardless of if they’re “allowed” to be in that particular stall or not. A bathroom is a bathroom, we all have to use it, so what’s the big deal with keeping everything separated?”

There were slightly humorous takes on the situation, such as “Because everyone has a right to pee in peace.” and there were also very serious observations, such as “they’re just trying to apply to our socially ascribed rules as fits them.”  There was even a response that simply listed “tough questions” at the end of the survey.

Out of everything contained in this, the thing that shocked me the most were people who seemed to believe that the single-stall bathrooms were a way to make everyone comfortable.  I purposefully placed that answer to see if people genuinely believed that this was a fair solution for all involved, and it seems that many do.  The people who chose the single-stall answers left comments like “It doesn’t bother anyone if they use a family bathroom, and it’s probably less awkward for them, not getting stares and what not.”  They argued that “It’s disrespectful to others that aren’t comfortable with the transgender population.”  They even left responses as blatant as “Because I can’t pee if a person with a penis is in the stall next to me.” I’m not kidding.  I was shocked.  I can’t imagine being told, my whole life, that I can’t use the same restrooms as almost everyone else around me.  Wouldn’t that feel, to you, like you were shouting to the whole world “HEY, LOOK AT ME.  I’M TRANSGENDER.” every time you walked into the single-stall handicapped/family restroom?  There are so many transgender people who go to great lengths to conceal the fact that they are transgender that we don’t even have any accurate statistics on how many people transgender people there are.  Asking them to identify themselves in public by using a specifically dictated bathroom is inhumane.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s hard for me to believe that people think that it’s fair in any respect.

There were two remarks that expressed concern for the safety of the transgender person themselves, saying “I don’t think our society is ready to responsibly and humanely integrate transgender students/adult in a public restroom setting.” I think that this is a valid concern, especially right now.  As this survey clearly indicates, there are a lot of people who are still incredibly uncomfortable with even the idea of a transgender person, forget an actual human being.  That being said, there are many hard-fought wars over basic human rights that have happened within even the past 100 years.  Most of them have resulted in some bloodshed.  I know plenty of transgender people who are willing to fight, and fight hard, for rights as basic as using a public restroom.  There are plenty of LGBTQ people and LGBTQ Allies that will join in that fight (and already have) and shed blood right alongside them.

I don’t think that this survey itself will change the world.  I don’t even know how many people will make it to the end of this post.  What I do know, is that this has opened my eyes to the discrimination coming from all around me, to people who have done nothing to deserve it.  I hope that I’m not the only one it impacts, but if I am?  I’ve certainly taken on a new respect for what’s happening around me.  And with that, I’ve taken on a new fight.

Taking Control of the Future

From the film: Mean Girls reference from vegasseven.com

From the film: Mean Girls
reference from vegasseven.com

Sex education has been a big topic for years now.  Some states have better curriculum than others, but the bad ones tend to be absolutely awful.  While this seems to be an easy topic for adults to throw around ideas relating to, you rarely hear opinions from those actually in the programs.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that in Nevada, groups of students are letting their school district know exactly what they think about the sex ed. program currently in place.  Apparently, a comprehensive sex ed program was suggested (shocking!), and parents began to object.  This article from alternet explains some of the *incredibly controversial* (insert sarcasm) things the comprehensive program plans to educate students on.  Surprisingly, only 22 states require sexual education programs, and only 19 require any provided programs to be medically accurate.  If you ask me (which no one did), the kids who are currently receiving and evaluating these programs in person should have a little bit more pull than the parents.  We’re talking about a primarily high school program.  There’s even a student talking about how the abstinence-based program made her, as a rape survivor, feel as though she was worthless.  That’s worth listening to.

The Issues with Personhood

referenced from politicsplus.org

referenced from politicsplus.org

I came across this article while browsing alternet.org today.  These are obviously extreme examples, but these display what happens when the “personhood” mentality becomes legally enforceable.  It’s not healthy to treat pregnant women as nothing more than a container.  It’s certainly not lawful.  Everyone has personal rights except women who have a something developing in their uterus?  I don’t know how you could possibly agree with that.

Lets Talk Boobs

by Heather Cushman-Dowdee

by Heather Cushman-Dowdee

Excuse me, “breasts.”  I had to get your attention somehow.  We’re talking breastfeeding today.  Honestly though, this has been a big issue for quite a while now.  Not only is it something that affects quite a few people, but everyone seems to have an opinion on it as well.  Recently, a story came out about a woman in Florida, who seemingly took every precaution to avoid offending anyone while breastfeeding on an elementary school campus, but was still approached (by the principal) and asked to cover up or leave.  Now, after this interaction, the story gets a bit fuzzy.  She later confronted the principal regarding her rights as a breastfeeding mother, and the rest of the story is contested and hearsay.  Regardless of her behavior, she was correct on her rights to breastfeed in public.  Florida law states she may breastfeed in public, with any amount of breast or nipple exposed.  However, there is no enforcement provision in Florida, which is where the problem occurs.  It essentially means that you’re required to follow this law, but there’s not penalty if you do not.  Seems a bit contradictory to me, but who am I to judge?

Incongruous Terminology

referenced from grimmy.com

referenced from grimmy.com

I almost wish I hadn’t used the “personhood” cartoon in my “History Ignored” post, because it would fit perfectly here.  How was I to know that it was becoming such a current issue in North Dakota?
This article is the first I’ve seen that indicates the the personhood movement may be making serious progress.  Dangerous progress.  They’re relying on confusion to pass a very significant legal decision in the form of an amendment qualifying an embryo at any stage as a person with inalienable rights.  The article lists some of the many issues with both the ambiguous phrasing and the momentous potential behind them.  It would open up pathways for fertility clinic regulation and lawsuits, birth control restrictions, and basically anything else that could be even remotely connected with the idea of “personhood.”  The amendment is designed to attract people who would otherwise be unsure about the pro-life vs pro-choice arguments that are typically made.  It essentially seems designed to trick people.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to think that amendments should be passed based on informed decision.