Some of our staff and volunteer's fave links and reading from our Facebook and Twitter feeds this week:
Rae's Faves: How Modesty Doctrines Made Me Hate My Body:
This isn’t a story about how modest clothes allowed me to “let myself go” and conceal a growing figure. It’s not even a story about how wearing modest clothes kept my self-esteem at rock bottom and thrust me into a too-close relationship with Ben & Jerry. It’s a story about how modesty doctrines impacted my mind, in ways that had real, negative effects on my body. Modesty was one of the reasons my defining relationship with my body became whether or not I was “fat.” Modesty was one of the engines that pushed me into a full-blown eating disorder. It’s not just a dress code: it’s a philosophy, and it’s one that destroys young women, mentally and physically.
Modesty taught me that my first priority needed to be making sure I wasn’t a “stumbling block” to men. Not being sexually attractive was the most important thing I had to consider when buying clothes, putting them on, maintaining my weight (can’t have things getting tight!), and moving around (can’t wiggle those hips, or let a little knee show). Modesty taught me that what I looked like was what mattered most of all. Not what I thought. Not how I felt. Not what I was capable of doing.
The term “out” is of massive importance to queers. It is a term that describes how brave we are, how open, and most important how good we are at being us when everyone else insists that we shouldn’t be us. Denying blending trans people access to this term is identity policing in the worst way, and of course, it’s cissexist.
In a specifically trans context, to be out means to be honest and open about one’s gender identity. When a trans man tells someone he’s male, or walks into a men’s bathroom, or says, “From a guy’s perspective…” or does anything that indicates that he identifies as male, he’s out as a man. And he’s out. Full stop. He’s put his gender identity out there. The idea that he needs to add being trans to that as some sort of qualifier is a huge double standard. We don’t demand that all cis people come out as cis in order to be honest about their gender identities, even though it’s entirely possible that some of people in our lives whom we assume are cis are actually trans.
Karyn's Faves: Glee Teen Sex: Facts & Opportunities Using CDC vs. Hollywood TV:
Truth is, Hollywood is lying about teen sex. Big time.
New CDC research points to numbers that might as well frame Hollywood shows as a public health statistical version of ‘The Lying Game’ since TV consistently paints youth onto a recklessly bleak canvas of stereotyped imagery as impulsively hormonal lusty idiots …when the exact converse is true. Of those teens that have had sex, they did so using protection. And get this…according to the CDC, less than 43% of teens have ever had sex, meaning teenagers having sex are now in the MINORITY. (NYT/CDC) Contrary to “realityTV,” teen birth rates are down, based on data collected between ’06-2010. (and that worrisome ’05-’07 bitty bump that blipped up briefly slid back to decline and we are now at the lowest rates ever recorded in the US)
And yet, what are we seeing on teen shows? A gaping chasm between the reality of teens today and the “hot or not” salaciousness of bed-hopping flings, teen moms and baby bumps galore, sexting storylines, and fixation on appearance-based boinkability… We see consistent media depictions of a 24/7 teen focus on sex. Either overly romanticized with ‘gift giving’ overtones. Or under-handed, manipulative, sex as power tool.
When Jamie Hubley was in Grade 7, teenagers on a school bus tried to stuff batteries down his throat because he was a figure skater. Jamie Hubley, as many Canadians sadly know, was the 15-year-old Ottawa youth who took own his life just more than a month ago. From what he wrote and what's been stated, he took this drastic and tragic measure because of depression, because he was the only openly gay student at his high school and because he had been the target of homophobic bullying at school for years. In his final blog entry, he expressed concern that life might not get better and that he could not endure the hurt for another three years.
It is difficult to know which part of the school bus batteries story is most shocking: the fact that the aggressors were teenagers bullying a seventh-grader; the sheer viciousness of the assault; the fact that Jamie was victimized because of figure skating and because of perceptions about figure skaters and because of homophobia; or the fact that he was on a school bus at the time, presumably surrounded by students who should have known something was wrong, and at least one adult who should have been informed and able to help.
“"The day after my 18th birthday this year, my adopted parent kicked me out," he says. "At the time, I was really infatuated with this guy, and she was listening to my phone calls. She started telling my family, 'He is this, he is that, he is gay,' and talking about me as if I wasn't part of the family."
Beaverly was lucky — he had friends whose parents were more accepting. He stayed with them until he finished high school. Now, in New York City, he is in emergency housing — only available for 90 days.
Vero's Faves: Sex Educators and the Politics of Attractiveness:
There are certainly some media “sexperts” (both female and male) who I am pretty sure are sexperts because they are conventionally attractive and willing to talk about sex. I say willing, but not necessarily well-equipped. And there are some who are smoking hot, in conventional and unconventional kinds of ways, and are totally well-equipped to be talking about sex in smart, helpful ways.
And it’s even trickier than that because there’s a balance. It turns out that if you’re a legitimate, hard-working, earned-her-credentials kind of scientist/sex educator like me – and yet conventionally attractive – media folks don’t always know what to do with you. Having served as a sex expert for several TV shows, I can tell you that the producers have sometimes struggled with how I look. In one episode, they wouldn’t let me wear my own clothes because they wanted to dress me in more professional, conservative and high-necked clothes so that I would look “less sexy”.
A few years back when my school principal became aware of my sexuality I was given a lecture about not publicly promoting my sexuality. I have not been successful in applying for any promotion since. I should be first in line because I am the most senior teacher in the school and I hold a Masters of Education degree. I have regular visits from the local priest to keep an eye on how I am teaching religion. No other teacher in the school gets these “visits”.
Most of my fellow teachers are not regular mass-goers. Their lives do not all fall into the norms of Catholicism when it comes to marriage. Yet they are not singled out like I am. The INTO have been sympathetic, but I was told that the school is not breaking any rules by enforcing religious practise on me or curtailing my freedom to discuss my life in the staffroom. They advised that I do not rock the boat.
What was going on here at Scarleteen in the last week?