ChoiceWords Blog

Posts Tagged: young people

Creating an Unbiased Campus Health Environment

One in four college students has a sexually transmitted infection according to the Stanford University’s Sexual Health Peer Resource Center. While number is way too high, I refuse to be a statistic. Campus health centers should be furiously educating students about prevention and treatment of STI’s and creating campaigns for free condoms and wellness checks. I know that is not the case. My friend at a university in an urban area went to her campus health center after she had vaginal discomfort, a rash, and a fever. The nurse practitioner heard her symptoms and, without even doing a physical examination or asking about her sexual history, handed out antibiotics for an ingrown hair. She proceeded to get sicker and had to lie around in bed for days. After the insistence… Read more »

Doing More Than Filling the Gaps in Sex-Ed

One of my younger brothers is in the midst that casual dirtbag period of early tween-dom. You know the one—where he every other joke is about jerking off and his ratio of obnoxiousness to actual humor is 10 to 1. Still, he’s my brother, and I love him, and he’s not a jerk a decent amount of the time. The two of us have a fairly open and honest relationship actually, and we talk about his crushes, about politics, and yes—even about sex. Seeing as he currently attends the same Catholic school I attended for all of grade and middle school—which still calls it’s “sex-ed” program “Adam and Eve” and segregates boys and girls only to give them the same talk about chastity, the evils of the “homosexual lifestyle,” etc…. Read more »

“Wait…THAT’s What Assault Looks Like?”

One of those funny things that’s sometimes forgotten about being young is that you’ll pretty much take what you see at face value. Not that we don’t question the world around us, but if something is happening all around young people, every weekend, and people call it hooking up or they call it dancing or they call it flirting, it’s pretty easy to simply believe them. So when I was 18 and dancing with a boy at that party and he moved quickly to put his hands up my skirt without even showing me his face, I thought that’s just what happened when you “accepted” (read: didn’t reject) a dance partner. When at age 19 a guy I worked with got me alone and asked for “just one touch,” then… Read more »

Sexual Harassment in the Lives of Working Students

by Moira Bowman, Deputy Director, Forward Together I saved up money to go to college by working in restaurants–and continued working at restaurants my first year of school. Some days I sat fancy people at fancy tables and served them fancy food and cocktails. Other days, I slung what felt like hundreds of plates of deep fried fish cozied up to big steak fries and counted the hours till I could shower off the coat of grease from my face and arms. I haven’t thought back on those experiences for many years–but recently my organization, Forward Together, began working on a research project in collaboration with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) to look at experiences of sexual harassment and assault in the restaurant industry.  And I’ve been taken off guard at… Read more »

Masculinity and Queerness

The thing about “ideal masculinity” is that we will always fall short. I didn’t even stand a chance growing up, playing with my sisters’ Barbie dolls and gossiping with the girls during recess. I was also sexually attracted to other men, and although I wouldn’t claim the word gay until the age of 18, I knew that my attraction didn’t fit what a man should be. This tension between my masculinity and sexuality became the centerfold of a very arbitrary process concerning what I could and couldn’t do. I could think about men, I reasoned, as long as I didn’t date one or admit it out loud. Just as I could watch Disney movies, but not wear the color pink. Internalizing this impossible standard of masculinity, I didn’t have the… Read more »

NQAPIA: The Foreign Concept of Home

The biggest parts of my identity consist of being API, queer, and a sweet southern gentleman. Never in my life did I think these three communities could possibly come together. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA Southern Summit launched its first of five regional leadership conferences this weekend! Being from red states and located in the Bible belt, it was important to hear about the political momentum necessary to overcome being such a small community. For the first and only time in my life, I felt at home. Everyone says y’all and complains about the weather just the same and southern hospitality has never been more comforting than warm fried rice and catered Indian cuisine.

What it means to be a “Man of Strength”

“Pray not for easy lives, pray to be stronger men.” President John F. Kennedy once said these famous words while the United States sat on the edge of nuclear war. Of course, at the time he was referring to strength in reference to national resolve and fortitude. In his gendered statement he was expressing desire for Americans to hold strong to national values of freedom and peaceful compromise. Our modern world is sitting on the edge of a very different type of abyss. This is one formed not by nuclear bombs, but by a culture that has been systematically damaging the way men and women interact for decades. This culture is one that is too tolerant of objectification and dehumanization of women. Evidence of this tolerance can be seen everywhere… Read more »

Five Things I Want to See More At Social Justice Conferences

I adore social justice conferences. I love the spaces, the atmosphere, the fact that I know I have something in common with every person in the elevator. I almost always feel safe to be who I am at conferences. I will acknowledge that attending them and feeling safe at them is often a privilege, no matter how accessible they tend to be. I have been very fortunate that I have attended so many throughout college, but I have noticed that some of them fall short when it comes to really implementing inclusive spaces. These are some of the observations I’ve made about how to make them more inclusive. 1. Child care/child-friendly This is something I rarely see at conferences! Having kids in social justice spaces is so essential to keeping… Read more »

The Real Reason Students Are Fighting for Leggings

Most middle school girls learn the tricks of avoiding being sent home because of their clothing choices. They can scrunch up shoulders to avoid the fingertip rule, hide from the teacher that walks around with a ruler to measure tank top strap width, or sneak a sweater in a backpack for when the principal is around. Schools have had the right to implement dress codes since Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. Dress codes are put in place to decrease class room distractions. They also can help students from a lower-income background receive less shame if they cannot afford the expensive popular clothing brands. However, the intentions have mutated to have sexist connotations and lower a student’s self-esteem. Two years ago a principal in Minnetonka, Minnesota sent an… Read more »

Hey NPR: Stop Shaming Teen Parents!

Earlier this week NPR published an article detailing the success of comprehensive sex-education in lowering the teen pregnancy rate in Denmark, South Carolina. While I believe firmly in the power and importance of comprehensive, sex-positive, sex education for all young people  I was disappointed by the assumption that all teen pregnancies are unwanted and that all teen parents would be better off postponing their families. The article quotes Michelle Nimmons, an advocate for comprehensive sex-ed from Denmark, S.C., saying, “”Great-grandmamas were in their 40s, and parents were in their teens, so a lot of education had to happen.” While I don’t doubt that Denmark’s sex-education was in dire need of a revamp, this kind of rhetoric shaming young parents has dangerous implications for families and the reproductive justice movement as… Read more »