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.

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Read All About it!

by Randy Glasbergen

by Randy Glasbergen

I’ve talked about this a lot.  Now, we have a professional article from a legitimate source talking about the handling of sexual assault and rape in universities and colleges.  Honestly it just needs to be talked about in general.  This is serious, this is way more common than it should be, and it’s not slowing down.  Educate yourself, and force the schools to as well.

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.

From the Mouths of Babes

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

Okay, so maybe college students aren’t exactly babies anymore.  Some of them do have legitimate political opinions, formulated through personal research and attention to current events.  But, as I’m about to display, many of them have little to no idea what’s happening in the real world.  I took a poll of students at Texas A&M University, via several large (widely used) groups online.  Each of these groups requires a Texas A&M certified email to be a member, so it ensured that I would be polling only students.  Texas A&M is considered to be a relatively conservative university, with its agriculture roots and heavy military presence attracting many students from small-town Texas.  Naturally, I thought producing a survey regarding opinions and education surrounding same-sex marriage based here would produce some interesting results.  There were lots of conflicting responses.  The first question was “The Supreme Court recently turned down petitions halting same-sex marriage. This means that (at least temporarily), same-sex marriage is legal in at least five more states, paving the way for countless others to legalize same-sex marriage. What are your feelings about this?”  Out of exactly 100 responses, 61% reported favorable responses such as “It’s about time!”  There were 26% who reported negative feelings such as shock, feeling offended, and being unhappy to hear the report.  The other 13% said they had been keeping up with the news and already knew about the development.

The next question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court is indirectly supporting same-sex marriage through this decision?”  Students reported 65% belief that SCOTUS was supporting same-sex marriage, 22% belief this didn’t show support, and 13% confusion/no opinion about the topic.

The next question got a wide range of responses, as it was open ended.  I asked “Do you know how many states currently allow same-sex marriage?” with simply a blank below the question for them to fill in.  I arranged their answers in groupings of ten for ease of reporting.  49% of those surveyed said they didn’t know or didn’t care to guess.  There were 21% of guesses between one and ten states, with the most common guess being five states.  Frankly, I found this to be a bit shocking.  I know that this is a commonly changing number, especially right now, but by 2010 the number was far greater than 10.  There were 11 guesses between 11-20, and 17 guesses between 21 and 30.  All things considered, I wouldn’t say this is very far off of what I expected.

The next two questions had remarkably similar results, though I don’t consider them to be overly related.  The fourth question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court will eventually have to step in for same-sex marriage to be allowed in all 50 states?”  This is something I myself have spent quite a bit of time pondering, so it formed the basis for an interesting set of statistics.  The overwhelming answer was “yes,” with 71% of the vote.  There was a 24% vote for no, and a 5% vote for “I don’t know,” which I suppose is essentially a lack of vote.  The final question, which I wanted as a base to compare to the rest of the questions, was simply “Do you personally believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized?”  I say it’s simple, but for a lot of people I suppose it isn’t.  It got 68% of votes for “yes,” 16% of the votes for “no,” and 16% for “I don’t know.”

Now, why is this information at all significant.  It’s a sample of a sample.  My opinion is that these statistics are a representation of what’s happening next.  Texas A&M is full of college students, learning and creating their own identities that they will still have when they vote in the future.  Texas A&M is also full of people with religious and conservative backgrounds, in an incredibly conservative state.  If even a majority of the students here believe that same-sex marriage is on its way to be legalized (and agree that it should be), that’s worth noticing.

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.

Don’t Carry it Alone

I’m sure a lot of you heard about Emma Sulkowicz and her project “Carry that Weight,” in response to her school (Columbia University) refusing to expel her rapist.  She vowed to carry her dorm mattress around until he was removed from the University.  The project gained a significant amount of support, with other students assisting her and waiting outside of her classes to help carry the mattress.  The project has now taken even more exciting turns, gaining notoriety and support from within the university and around the world.  She has inspired other students, even some so close as the same floor of her dorm, to join in the mattress-carrying, awareness-raising, change-demanding movement.  Students all over the world joined together for one day to air out their mattresses and their personal struggles in a demonstration of how poorly sexual assaults are often handled on college campuses everywhere.  Huffington Post reports over 10,000 RSVPs for “attending” on the facebook event page for the protest.

Now, I’ve written about this issue before, both in my “Objectification Nation” post and in my “Not So Frat-tastic” post, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve been following this as well.  What should surprise you, is that there haven’t been many responses from schools.  This article from Time.com displays link after link of investigative reporting and opinion reporting of sexual assaults on campuses (specifically regarding their handling by administration).  That in itself should show you this isn’t one person’s problem.  This isn’t one school’s problem.  This isn’t even one country’s problem.  This is something that affects all of us and it needs to be addressed until it’s changed.  Whether we use demonstrations, articles, petitions, or simple conversations, we need to keep reminding ourselves and others that problems like this exist because we let them, and we shouldn’t continue that cycle.

History Ignored

by Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune

by Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune

I’ve covered the topic of abortion from a sort of abstract perspective in the past.  I’ve talked about the political perspective and the women’s rights perspective, but here is yet another angle.  Historical instances of abortion and pregnancy terminations are rarely discussed.  This article from Katha Pollitt’s Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, which can be purchased here.  Alternet was able to post an excerpt that recalls instances and trends of abortion throughout cultures and decades of history.

It’s an incredible perspective on an issue that is viewed as very current and divisive.  Even I tend to tiptoe around the subject.  However, when you consider how long abortions have been occurring, how ubiquitous they were between locations and cultures, and how similar previous legal battles and limitations have been, it adds another dimension to the debate.

The article addresses misconceptions and stereotypes projected by the media relating to abortions today, even though a lot of the statements aren’t exactly popular.  It strongly focuses on how abortion needs to be viewed as something that affects both woman and child.  Typically people address the fetus while viewing the woman as simply a vessel, as if her body (and mind) are no longer something to be taken into account.  It discusses how abortion has positive impacts on some women, and negative on others (and for some, a mix of both).  Many pro-life movements will state how abortion induces depression, suicidal tendencies, and a variety of other things that aren’t universal reactions.  There are even regulations requiring the results of these (incredibly biased) studies to be read to those considering abortion procedures in certain places.

This article takes an incredible standpoint in an old and tired discussion.  It seems that all religious reasons, personal reasons, medical reasons, and women’s rights reasons for pro-life or pro-choice standpoints have been said again and again.  This is the first thing I have read in a long time that has offered an alternative perspective.  Regardless of where you stand in relation to this schismatic topic, this is an article well worth reading.  It may not change your mind on anything, but it will definitely offer you an education that you won’t find easily anywhere else.