Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

December 8, 2010

Rally for Girls’ Sports and Community

Rally for Girls’ Sports Day When discussing how sports benefits girls — which many of us are doing today as part of the National Women’s Law Center Rally for Girls’ Sports Day — I keep coming back to the idea of community.

While sports certainly has many individual health and social benefits for girls, it also gives girls a space to develop relationships based on teamwork and respect. Bolstered by their team, girls are able to step in front of their larger school community and exude confidence and pride that might be missing in other parts of their lives.

Girls’ relationships with that larger community, however, are often complicated when schools in underserved neighborhoods have trouble providing girls (and all athletes, for that matter) with a safe space in which to perform.

Here in Chicago where I live, Chicago Public Schools are struggling with many inequity issues. CPS is at the top of the list of schools against which NWLC has filed administrative complaints for Title IX violations. The district has a whopping 33 percent sports participation gap between girls and boys (the next closest complaint is for the Sioux Falls School District with a 15.6 percent gap). See the NWLC’s briefing paper (pdf) for more vivid detail.

But poverty and the constant threat of violence also play a big role in forming sports communities. A recent story by Lisa Pevtzow in the Chicago Tribune highlights the struggle of the girls basketball team of the Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy in Humboldt Park, a neighborhood on the west side of the city. Because of lack of facilities, the team — along with other boys’ and girls’ teams at the school — have had to walk to a nearby YMCA to practice:

Keeping close together, the players make their way past boarded-up buildings, crumbling sidewalks and a gantlet of drug pushers and users who tug on their coats, grab at their equipment and hurl abuse.

“If we don’t respond, they call us names. It can be very scary,” said team member Ronye Scott, a junior at the Humboldt Park high school.

Thankfully, the school has just broke ground on a new gym of their own that should be ready for next year. But the past experiences of the students will most certainly linger — and act as a reminder of how a safe athletic environment needs to be a right for girls and all athletes.

Marlon Tobin, athletic director and assistant principal at the school, told Pevtzow some of those telling stories:

“We have to beg, borrow and steal space for our programs,” Tobin said. “We’ve already tapped out everything in the neighborhood that’ll let us in.”

Beyond causing inconvenience, the lack of gym facilities has created a significant safety problem, he said. A year ago, a group of Rowe-Clarke students were jumped on their way to play soccer. More recently, Tobin said, the school learned the hard way not to let the girls soccer team walk down the street in their shorts and jerseys, because they were harassed when they did.

“We tell kids to do the right thing and play sports, and now we have to tell them it’s not safe,” Tobin said.

Plus: For more reading about the importance of girls in sports, check out these posts compiled by the NWLC.

November 17, 2010

Replacing “Perfection” With Action: SPARK Summit Sounds Alarm About Sexualization of Girls

by Nekose Wills | OBOS program assistant

The challenges girls face today are unlike the challenges many of us faced growing up. I’m 32, and I remember not caring about my Oscar the Grouch eyebrows, who designed my clothes, or how sexy I looked in them. Girls growing up today don’t have such freedom — they’re sexualized everywhere they look.

SPARK SummitThe SPARK Summit, held Oct. 21 at Hunter College in New York City, was an alarm, waking us up to the role we can play in bucking the status quo and giving us the tools to take on this fight. SPARK stands for Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge.

The day started with opening remarks from Hunter College President Jennifer Raaband and MTV’s Amber Madison, summit host and author of “Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-Out Guide to Sex And Sexuality,” a book aimed at young women about sexual health, sexuality and relationships.

Feminist media critic Jean Kilbourne, creator of the groundbreaking “Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women” film series, also spoke, followed by a keynote address from the actor Geena Davis. Perhaps best known for her role in the film “Thelma and Louise, ” Davis has long advocated for increasing and diversifying the presence of female characters in media aimed at children. Her presence was a welcomed reminder that not everyone in Hollywood accepts business as usual.

The SPARK Summit encouraged young women to find their voices. There were a number of workshops specifically geared toward self-expression, such as Street Theater, FlipCam Journalism, and Blogs Rock. Throughout the day, it was clear that girls are very cognizant about being sold images of who they should be, but they lack resources to actively combat those images.

Media literacy is the first step. Melissa Campbell who works on media literacy in San Francisco and founded the Manfattan Project (“real fashion, large bodies”), led the Hard-Core Media Literacy workshop. In other workshops, girls created radio spots, photography and art, and shared personal stories. They discussed topics such as street harassment and legislation that would fund media literacy and youth empowerment programs (H.R. 4925).

My favorite part of the day was the Numbers Don’t Lie panel, during which researchers presented findings on how media images and messages influence girls. Among them:

• Even in video games where women are strong, central characters, their sexualized appearance negates the effect of the character’s power — “Video Game Vixens: The Sexualization of Women and Girls in Video Games,” Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz (University of Missouri-Columbia)

• Black women are the most sexualized group in music videos. — “Sexualization in Popular Female Artists’ Music Videos: An Analysis of Race and Genre,” Jennifer Stevens Aubrey (University of Missouri-Columbia)

• Black youth consume more media than their white peers, but they are less affected by the body image ideals perpetuated — “A Woman’s Worth: How Media Use Shapes Black and White Teens’ Views of the Feminine Ideal,” L. Monique Ward (University of Michigan)

• When the media sexualizes female athletes, it negatively affects girls’ perceptions of themselves and of female athletes — “‘You Can Score With Me’: What Girls Think of Sexed-Up Media Images of Female Athletes,” Elizabeth Daniels (University of Oregon)

• Low grades can spur girls to participate more in their own sexualization — “High Heels, Low Grades? The Costs Associated With Sexualization,” Rebecca Bigler & Sarah McKenney (University of Texas, Austin)

• The attire of women and girls in G-rated movies is no different than portrayals in higher-rated movies — “General Audience or G-Porn? A Look at the Prevalence and Sexualization of Females in Film and Children’s Television programming,” Stacy Smith (University of Southern California)

I also learned that Barbie is still evil. One study — “‘I can be … Anything?’: Playing with Barbie Reduces Girls’ Career Aspirations,” by Aurora Sherman and Eileen Zurbriggen (Oregon State University and University of California, Santa Cruz) — found that playing with Barbie lessened girls’ perceptions of attainable occupations. It didn’t matter if girls played with Doctor Barbie — they still thought they could not achieve as much as when they played with Mrs. Potato Head.

The panel made me realize the extent to which girls are encouraged to see themselves as sexual objects — even girls as young as 3 can still be the toddler in a tiara.

We are told that if we just buy enough products, go on enough diets, and work hard to emulate airbrushed and Photoshopped images of girls and women, we might achieve perfection — and there’s something inherently wrong with us if we don’t dedicate ourselves to this quest. It’s time to take our sexy back.

There is nothing wrong with sexy as long as it is not forced on girls and as long as women get to define it on their own terms, not through the lens of a voyeuristic, paternalistic society.

My favorite quotes from the conference were “I am whole, not a ho!” “I am a quirky black girl and proud of it!” and, finally, “Freedom is never really won, you have to earn it in every generation.” We are trying to earn freedom for the well-being of today’s girls.

Years ago, I learned to disconnect from the constant onslaught of negative media images by consuming less. When I stopped watching music videos, especially the ones on BET, and stopped buying women’s magazines, I was much happier. There were less false images for me to compare myself with.

Those images were replaced by the women I saw on the train and on the street, who were in my life as three-dimensional people, with non-airbrushed photos and presences, with blemishes on their faces and extra fat rolls on their sides; real women, beautiful as the reality of an honest life.

The SPARK Summit was the reminder I needed that we can be who we are, with no apologies. We can replace the constant drumbeat of fake “perfection” with action, resistance and knowledge. And, most importantly, we need to have this dialogue on a continuing basis.

From the moment we put girls in front of a television, turn on the radio, drive past a billboard, or let them look at a magazine, we need to reinforce what it means to be beautiful, media literate, and critical of the world around us. I have a few young ladies I need to call.

November 15, 2010

What Does New Research on Adolescent Brain Development Tell Us About Designing Adolescent Reproductive Health Services?

by Karin Ringheim | Population Reference Bureau

A recent NPR story on the biological basis for the sometimes confrontational, erratic and seemingly irrational behavior of adolescents reminded me of my own experiences in raising adolescents (and gratitude that this particular stage of life is now behind me).

As Garrison Keillor recently reminded us, to be a parent is to live a life of constant silent prayer — prayer that everything will turn out all right. We know that adolescents don’t always exercise the best judgment, and now, at least, we have a better sense of why this is the case.

The Teen Brain – A Work In Progress

The physical evidence gathered from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), according to Harvard researchers Frances Jensen and David Urion, shows that the adolescent brain is only about 80 percent as developed as an adult brain.

In adolescence, the brain’s frontal lobe, responsible for such important functions as reasoning, planning and judgment, is not as well-connected to the rest of the brain by myelin, or “white matter,” as it is in an older individual. Because of the immaturity of their brains, adolescents are less capable than adults of rational thought processes.

White matter grows substantially over the course of adolescence, providing insulation that increasingly enables nerve signals to flow freely from one part of the brain to another. When the frontal lobe is fully connected to the rest of the brain, around age 25, the brain is more capable of “connecting the dots,” processing complex notions — such as that actions have consequences.

Brain development from age 5 to 20 / Source: Paul Thompson, professor of neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Death and Disability Rates Double During Adolescence

If parents did not already intuit this, the difficulties that adolescents have in controlling their emotions and behaviors lead to a doubling in rates of death and disability during adolescence as compared to rates among younger children.

According to Ronald Dahl, Staunton Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, increased risk-taking, sensation-seeking and reckless behavior lead adolescents to higher rates of traffic and other accidents, substance abuse, suicide, eating disorders, depression, violence and risky sexual behaviors.

Although Dahl does not promote a mechanistic view of biology as destiny, he does note that the life trajectories established in youth can have a major impact on later life, and it is best to alter these trajectories in a positive direction while one can.

Youth Reproductive Health: A Politically Charged Issue

Adolescents who become unintentionally pregnant or become infected with HIV are certainly in for a life-altering experience, and usually not one that will be advantageous.

For at least 15 years, reproductive health advocates have called for “youth friendly services” to enable youth who are, or intend to become sexually active, to obtain the information and services they need to remain healthy.

The concept of reproductive health services for adolescents has been, and remains politically controversial. In 2004, ideologues charged that the Global Health Conference [pdf], an international gathering of health professionals held annually in Washington D.C., would be a platform that year to advocate for youth reproductive health services, instigating a last-minute withdrawal of federal funding for the conference from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

While the conference proceeded with funding from other donors, the action had a chilling effect on some federal grantees, who swept their websites clean of any potentially damaging information. U.S. programs for youth in developing countries supported under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, were firmly grounded in the “ABCs” — Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms, even as domestic research showed that abstinence-only programs had no long-term health benefits.

Meanwhile, in some African countries, one in five young women is HIV positive and as many as one in two has been pregnant. In South Africa, 22 percent of young women attending antenatal care are both pregnant and HIV positive. These astounding statistics have largely been unmoved by the infusion of PEPFAR and other funding for proscriptive youth reproductive health information and services. And politically shaped policies in the United States help maintain pregnancy, birth and abortion rates among adolescents that are the highest in the developed world.

An Evidence-Based Practice

How should societies respond to the knowledge that adolescents may not be capable of obeying our pleas to “just say no,” “abstain until marriage,” or “always use a condom”?

Adolescents are capable of understanding, if not fully controlling, their own immature thought processes. They need realistic, truly “youth-friendly” tools and resources to help them make better decisions and remain healthy and safe.

If, based on brain research, adults come to view adolescence less as a period of self-centered disobedience and more as a period of innate vulnerability, we will do a better job of providing youth with comprehensive, compassionate services and education. We will do whatever we can to help them navigate this vulnerable period without becoming pregnant or HIV-positive, or undergoing an unsafely performed abortion, and if such outcomes occur, we will aim to minimize the harmful life-altering consequences.

Our obligation is to protect as best we can, those who by virtue of their not-fully-realized intellectual capacity, are less able than we previously assumed to look out for themselves.

Karin Ringheim, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a senior policy adviser at the Population Reference Bureau

July 6, 2010

Media Gone Wild: The Continuing Sexualization of Girls and Multiple Strategies to Stop It

Back in 2007, we reported on the release of a devastating report from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Its findings about the impact of sexualized images on young women weren’t necessarily revelatory for long-time activists, but the thoroughness and precision with which it outlined the cultural crisis provided a renewed foundation of evidence and authority.

Inspired by the report, a coalition of organizations — Hardy Girls Healthy Women, TrueChild, Women’s Media Center, Hunter College and the Ms. Foundation for Women — is convening the SPARK Summit: Challenging the Sexualization of Girls and Women, on Oct. 22 at Hunter College in New York City.

getting real: challenging the sexualization of young girlsThe event will include “girls and media professionals, thought leaders and funders, researchers and activists” and “serve as a national call to action and campaign for change.”

You can follow the build-up to the summit on Facebook and on Twitter (@SPARKsummit). You can even help decide on the meaning of the SPARK acronym by voting on the Hardy Girls blog.

A recent collection of essays out of Australia, “Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls,” edited by Melinda Tankard Reist, also strikes a tone of urgency in its insistence that the problem is only increasing and activism must rise to meet it.

Noni Hazlehurst writes in the preface:

The insistent and ubiquitious presentation of this unbalanced view of the world is nothing less than a form of child abuse. Why is it we kick up such a fuss about junk food and obesity, but are unwilling or unable to tackle the lack of quality sustenance for child’s minds and spirits? [...]

In my view our children’s imaginations are dying. Their sense of themselves as worthy, strong individuals who are valued because they are unique is constantly being undermined. Only a few can withstand that sort of pressure. And very few will be in a position to be encouraged to be different, as many of today’s young parents don’t remember when there were alternative ways of looking at the world and other ways to value an individual’s noteworthiness.

Media critic Jean Kilbourne, among others, provides a rousing endorsement of “Getting Real” — and Kilbourne has just updated her landmark film series, “Killing Us Softly,” on the same subject. “Killing Us Softly 4″ can be previewed and purchased at Media Education Foundation. From the film’s description:

The film marshals a range of new print and television advertisements to lay bare a stunning pattern of damaging gender stereotypes — images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. By bringing Kilbourne’s groundbreaking analysis up to date, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence.

Kilbourne also continually updates her definitive list of “Resources for Change” — which provides an exhaustive, clearly categorized set of links to useful reports, websites and allied organizations.

Miley Cyrus Can't Be TamedDespite the availability of all these resources and the continual, varied calls to action, however, many young women on the frontlines of this cultural crisis remain conflicted and confused, caught in an impersonal media machine. Possibly the most prominent example of this struggle is, yes, Miley Cyrus.

In his review of her latest album, “Can’t Be Tamed,” Jon Caramanica of The New York Times discusses the difficulty 17-year-old Cyrus has coming of age as a woman and an artist, negotiating her well-established Disney “Hannah Montana” identity and her need to assert her adulthood.

In her now infamous 2008 Vanity Fair photo shoot (remember the outcry — and response to the outcry?), and in the literally wild video for the title track of her new album, the seemingly inevitable sexualization of her image is well underway.

But Caramanica sees a much more hesitant and haphazard construction of identity. Instead of solidifying a new sexualized Miley, the album as a whole reveals the “frayed seams of her identity”:

Ms. Cyrus’s metamorphosis isn’t nearly as radical as “Can’t Be Tamed” — the title track, the video, the title — would suggest. Rather, she’s evolving into something far less controversial: a pop star, confused like all the rest of them.

This confusion is most clearly evident in one of the later songs:

On “Permanent December,” written with Claude Kelly — who also helped write “Party in the U.S.A.” — Ms. Cyrus tries out a sneering type of sing-rapping, à la Fergie: “Don’t call me a Lolita/’Cause I don’t let ’em through.”

On a more coherent album, that idea would be explored further. But the fact that Ms. Cyrus feels little need to assert her sexuality, or lack thereof, is consistent with her rejection of a single new identity in favor of a cluster of experiments. Perhaps she hasn’t had time to think it through, or maybe she’s realized that evading the subject for now is a more flexible strategy than tackling it head-on.

Of course, presuming that Miley’s original Disney identity didn’t involve its own form of sexualization would be naive. And I’m not just talking about the crazy Mickey Mouse underwear ads that debuted in China a couple of years ago, or the “dive in” underwear for girls that Disney wrote off as an “oversight.”

Last month, according to the Orange County Register (more here), the YWCA of Australia sought “a PG rating for tween magazines Disney Girl, Barbie Magazine and Total Girl, saying that the publications teach young girls that their bodies need to be improved upon.”

UPDATE: The New York Times reports that young fans of Miley Cyrus aren’t super thrilled with her new path. Also, see the comments for great information about the Healthy Media for Youth Act, H.R. 4925. The Girl Scouts is a strong supporter.

February 23, 2010

Panel de la FDA recomienda vacuna contra el cáncer cervicouterino; Joven de Florida se opone a Gardasil como vía a la ciudadanía

Publicado por Christine / del orginial en inglés Sept 15, 2009:

OBOS is committed to expanding our audience and in this spirit we’ve asked former board member Moises Russo to translate into Spanish several of our blog entries. We hope to translate more entries in the coming year.

En OBOS estamos comprometidos a expandir nuestra audiencia de lector@s  y en este espíritu le hemos solicitado a Moisés Russo, ex-miembro de la Junta de OBOS, que traduzca al español varios de los blogs que tenemos en la página electrónica. Esperamos continuar con dichas traducciones durante este año.

Una segunda vacuna diseñada para proteger contra el cáncer cervicouterino estará disponible pronto en Estados Unidos.

La semana pasada, un panel de la de Food and Drug Administración (FDA) dio su aprobación a la vacuna Cervarix de GlaxoSmithKline PLC*, esencialmente recomendando que la FDA apruebe la vacuna para el uso en mujeres de 10 a 25 años de edad. La recomendación no es obligatoria; la FDA puede rechazar la decisión, pero ésta generalmente acepta la opinión de paneles externos de expertos.

La vacuna protege contra dos tipos de virus papiloma humano (VPH), asociados al 70% de los cánceres cervicouterinos.

Escribiendo en el Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Corbett Dooren resumió las preocupaciones con respecto a la seguridad que la FDA levantó acerca de Cervarix, incluyendo “una mayor tasa de abortos entre las mujeres que recibieron Cervarix”. La FDA refirió además “no se puede excluir un ‘pequeño efecto’ sobre los embarazos”. (La vacuna no está aprobada para su uso en mujeres embarazadas).

GlaxoSmithKline intentó por primera vez conseguir la aprobación el año 2007, pero la FDA solicitó más información luego de que algunos reportes sugirieron una tasa más alta de abortos en mujeres embarazadas. Dooren escribe:

La agencia dijo que se requeriría de un estudio de seguridad post- marketing para monitorizar los resultados de embarazos en mujeres que pudiesen recibir Cervarix, junto con otras potenciales preocupaciones sobre su seguridad incluyendo el desarrollo de enfermedades autoinmunes como Artritis Reumatoide y Esclerosis Múltiple. En su revisión del año 2007 de Cervarix, la FDA indicó que tenía preocupaciones sobre un “desequilibrio” en posibles desordenes autoinmunes visto en algunos estudios clínicos. Sin embargo, la agencia ha dicho que revisiones adicionales de los datos realizadas por sus propios equipos y por un reumatólogo externo concluyeron que las diferencias no eran estadísticamente significativas.

Oficiales de Glaxo dijeron que estaban planeando un estudio de post-marketing que enrolaría a 100.000 mujeres en los EEUU, el cual incluiría un registro de embarazos. La compañía también se encuentra realizando otro estudio de post-marketing de grandes proporciones en Finlandia.

Gardasil, la popular vacuna contra el VPH fabricada por Merck y & CO. Fue aprobada por la FDA el 2006. Uno de los principales investigadores para la vacuna recientemente ha comenzado a denunciar preocupaciones con respecto a sus riesgos, beneficios y agresivas estrategias de marketing – principalmente que la protección puede no durar más allá de los 5 años, por lo que las niñas que sean vacunadas a una edad temprana pudiesen en el futuro aún encontrarse en riesgo.

El mes pasado, Rachel apuntó a una editorial del Journal de la Asociación Médica Americana sobre los riesgos y beneficios de la vacunación contra el VPH y analizó un comentario en la misma edición de JAMA (sólo resumen) sobre el marketing de Gardasil. Describiendo los hallazgos de los autores, Rachel escribió: “ La táctica de la compañía fue fomentar que todas las mujeres dentro de un cierto grupo de edad se vacunaran como una medida para evitar el cáncer, en vez de trabajar con oficiales de la salud pública para enfocarse en aquellas niñas que tienen un riesgo más elevado”.

Los Centros para el Control y Prevención de las Enfermedades (CDC por sus siglas en inglés) recomienda la vacuna para niñas de 11 y 12 años, y niñas y mujeres entre las edades de 13 y 26 años que aún no hayan sido vacunadas. Esa recomendación sin embargo se convierte en un mandato para las mujeres inmigrantes entre 11 y 26 años que buscan la ciudadanía Estadounidense. Gardasil fue agregada a la lista de vacunas requeridas el año 2008.

Simona Davis, una niña de 17 años en Florida que nació en el Reino Unido está buscando la ciudadanía Estadounidense pero se rehúsa a vacunarse. El noticiario ABC News tiene un reportaje completo sobre su rechazo a la vacuna. Davis, que es una cristiana devota que dice no tener intención de iniciar relaciones sexuales en el futuro cercano (menciona su promesa de virginidad como una prueba), está buscando una exención por razones morales y religiosas. Los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de los EEUU han rechazado su solicitud.

“La decisión de incluir el VPH como una vacuna requerida fue hecha por el CDC”, ha dicho la vocera de los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de los EEUU Chris Rhatigan a ABC News. “Nosotros seguimos la ley….La objeción a una exención debiese ser a todas las vacunas, no solamente a Gardasil”.

Un vocero del CDC ha dicho que se espera que el CDC publique nuevos criterios dentro de aproximadamente un mes para determinar que vacunas debiesen ser recomendadas a inmigrantes a los EEUU.

January 25, 2010

New Documentary on Young Women’s Sexuality

I recently learned of a new documentary film that may be of interest to readers. In “Subjectified: Nine Young Women Talk About Sex,” director Melissa Tapper Goldman interviews nine U.S. women from different backgrounds and locations about their sexuality and experiences.

The film attempts to overcome stereotypes and assumptions using women’s own words, “to overwrite some of these associations, with something more real, more nuanced, deeper and more heartfelt.”

Goldman writes:

This project began as a simple question and a simple frustration. I thought I understood the motivations and pressures regarding girls’ sexuality within the community where I grew up, but I had no clue what sexuality meant for other women around the country… The stories were both more sophisticated and more powerful than what I had anticipated.

Two trailers for the film are available online; view one below.

Readers in and around the Boston area can attend a free film screening, followed by a Q&A with the director and one of the women featured in the film. The event will take place at MIT in Cambridge on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m.  The screening is part of the “Chicks Make Flicks” series.

Others who are interested can keep up with the film at the blog and on Facebook and Twitter.

October 24, 2009

A “Real” Sex Ed Story: A Teenager Recalls Lessons From “Our Whole Lives”

by Meg Young
Our Bodies Ourselves intern

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SEICUS) would like you to get REAL about sex education.

SEICUS has declared October “Sex Ed Month of Action,” and the organization is encouraging young people to raise awareness for the need for comprehensive sex ed — and specifically the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act [pdf].

Introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the legislation (S.611, HR.1551) calls for a dedicated federal funding stream ($50 million) that would cover state grants for developing comprehensive sexuality education programs. A petition in support of the REAL Act is online at

Reviewing these quick facts about the need for comprehensive sex education, I was reminded of my own “real” sex education.

Picture this: It’s Sunday morning, and I’m competing in a condom-stretching contest in the basement of a pre-school. Other kids are trying to blow up the largest condom-balloon, shoot a condom the farthest (rubber-band style), or beat my record of 24-inches for the condom-stretch (all the way from the floor to my hip). Four adults are recording scores and announcing winners. In the center of the room, next to a few condom-clad bananas, sits a box of donuts, a subtle bribe to get us out of bed so early on a weekend.

I was in eighth grade, and I was a reluctant student in Our Whole Lives.

Our Whole Lives (OWL), a sexuality education curriculum developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, was first published in 1999, and subsequently updated in 2005. The class provides a comprehensive, interactive, unabashed look at sexuality, offering six sets of curricula for age groups spanning kindergarten to adulthood.

The “big curriculum” for seventh-to-ninth graders is predominantly offered outside of schools (I took OWL as part of Sunday school at my local UU church), and tends to take a more personal angle than classroom based sex-ed classes, offering time for discussion, games and unlimited questions.

The first sessions of the curriculum focus on building rapport between the instructors and the students, as well as creating a high level of comfort between the students themselves. One of my OWL classmates recently said: “Because of the intimate environment of OWL, it felt really awkward at times, but in the end was really effective in achieving its purpose… There was room for open discussion, and questions arose that never would have when surrounded by 22 random kids from school.”

This “intimate environment,” as well as the fact that, by virtue of being taught outside of the school system, OWL does not need to conform to any state or federally-imposed limitations, means that OWL can address sexuality education more broadly. Topics include everything from anatomy and physiology (I clearly remember being ejaculated on by a working model of a penis built by a class-mate), to gender roles in dating (we had a long argument about who should pay for dinner and a movie).

There was a whole session devoted to “love making,” and another devoted to masturbation. Trading colored m&ms taught us about the terrifying ease of spreading sexually transmitted diseases. We played with condoms, diaphragms, female condoms and spermicidal gels. We discussed our feelings about abortion at length. We spent three weeks discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. At an all-class sleepover, as part of our unit on responsible sexual behavior, we watched “American Pie.”

When I took OWL at age 14, issues like herpes, emergency contraception and “responsible sexual decisions” often seemed remote to the point of irrelevance, and I can’t deny that my high school health class served as somewhat of a necessary refresher. However, what I really absorbed from OWL at the time, and what I have carried with me ever since, is an outlook on sexuality that was strikingly absent from my sex-ed unit in health class: OWL taught me that sexuality is not something to be ashamed of, to be hidden or feared. It is something to be questioned and explored, respected and protected. It is nuanced and complex, and sometimes infuriatingly confusing.

Most of all, it is an essential part of the human experience that last from birth until death – Our Whole Lives.

So, am I bitter that I had to be up by 9 a.m. every Sunday for a year? Yes. I’m I glad my parent made me do it? Absolutely.

Meg Young recently graduated from high school in Middlebury, Vt., and will enroll at Tufts University in the fall of 2010 after taking a gap year.

September 15, 2009

FDA Panel Recommends Cervical Cancer Vaccine; Florida Teen Objects to Gardasil as Path to Citizenship

A second vaccine designed to protect against cervical cancer may soon be available in the United States.

A Food and Drug Administration panel last week gave its approval to GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s Cervarix vaccine, essentially recommending that the FDA approve the vaccine for use in females 10 to 25 years old. The recommendation is not binding; the FDA can reject the decision, but it generally accepts the opinions made by an outside panel of experts.

The vaccine protects against two strains of human papilloma virus (HPV) that are associated with 70 percent of cervical cancers.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Corbett Dooren summarized the safety concerns the FDA raised about Cervarix, including “a higher rate of miscarriages among females who received Cervarix.” The FDA also “couldn’t rule out a ‘small effect’ on pregnancies.” (The vaccine is not approved for use in pregnant women.)

GlaxoSmithKline first sought approval in 2007, but the FDA asked for more information after reports suggested a higher miscarriage rate in pregnant women. Dooren writes:

The agency said it would require a post-marketing safety study to monitor the outcome of pregnancies in women who might receive Cervarix along with other potential safety concerns including the development of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In its 2007 review of Cervarix, the FDA said that it was concerned about an “imbalance” of possible autoimmune disorders seen in clinical trials. However, the agency said an additional review of the data by its own staff and an outside rheumatologist concluded the differences weren’t statistically significant.

Officials from Glaxo said they were planning a post-marketing study that would involve 100,000 women in the U.S., which would include a pregnancy registry. The company is also conducting another large post-marketing study in Finland.

Gardasil, the popular HPV vaccine manufactured by Merck & Co., was approved in 2006. One of the lead researchers for the drug recently started speaking out with concerns about its risks, benefits and aggressive marketing — namely that the protection may not last beyond five years, so girls who are vaccinated at an early age may still be at risk.

Last month, Rachel pointed to a Journal of the American Medical Association editorial on the risks and benefits of HPV vaccination and discussed a commentary in the same JAMA issue (abstract only) about  the marketing of Gardasil. Describing the authors’ findings, Rachel wrote: “The company’s tactic was to encourage all girls within a certain age group to be vaccinated as a cancer avoidance measure, rather than to work with public health officials to target those girls at the highest risk.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for 11- and 12-year-old girls, and girls and women age 13 through 26 who have not yet been vaccinated. That recommendation becomes a mandate, however, for  female immigrants between the ages of 11 and 26 seeking U.S. citizenship. Gardasil was added to the list of required vaccines in 2008.

Simone Davis, a 17-year-old girl in Florida who was born in Britain is seeking citizenship but she refuses to get the vaccine. ABC News has a comprehensive story about her refusal. A devout Christian who says she has no intention of having sex anytime soon (she mentions her virginity pledge as proof), Davis is seeking a waiver for moral and religious reasons. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has rejected her claim.

“The decision to include HPV as a required vaccine was made by the CDC,” Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Chris Rhatigan told ABC News. ”We follow the law … The objection to a waiver would have to be to all vaccines, not just Gardasil.”

A CDC spokesperson said the CDC is expected to publish new criteria to determine which vaccines should be recommended for U.S. immigrants in about a month.

August 17, 2009

Double Dose, Part 2: Clinton Focuses on Elevating Women; Whole Foods Fight; Our Genders, Our Rights; The Gender Politics of “Mad Men”

Clinton Prioritizes Women’s Rights: “Clinton intends to press governments on abuses of women’s rights and make women more central in U.S. aid programs,” writes Mary Beth Sheridan at the Washington Post. “But her efforts go beyond the marble halls of government and show how she is redefining the role of secretary of state. Her trips are packed with town-hall meetings and visits to micro-credit projects and women’s dinners. Ever the politician, Clinton is using her star power to boost women who could be her allies.”

“It’s just a constant effort to elevate people who, in their societies, may not even be known by their own leaders,” Clinton told WaPo. “My coming gives them a platform, which then gives us the chance to try and change the priorities of the governments.”

Whole Foods Fight: I’ll be posting a more studious healthcare round-up, but for the moment: The New York Times Opinionator blog did a nice job pulling together comments from around the web about the anti-government healthcare reform op-ed written by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey that has some shoppers calling for a boycott.

One commenter recalls a food boycott from years ago that was more win-win: “I *loved* the Domino’s boycott way back when. Pro-choice cred PLUS I don’t have to eat cardboard pizza!”

feminism_and_sexismOur Genders, Our Rights: The summer edition of On The Issues Magazine discusses a topic that the editors describe as “both utterly fundamental and wildly revolutionary: gender norms and gender identity.”

Among the many offerings: “How a Feminist Found Her Sexism,” by Helen Boyd (with image at left by Gavin Rouille); “Trans Health Care Is A Life and Death Matter,” by Eleanor J. Bader; and “Virtual Switching, or Playing Games?” by Georgia Kral.

The Gender Politics of “Mad Men”: Cheers to Feministing for making Mondays that much better with a weekly feminist analysis of the popular AMC series “Mad Men,” and to RH Reality Check for hosting an ongoing “Mad Men” salon. And don’t miss Crystal Merritt’s insider perspective, as an ad woman and feminist.

New Column, Great Advice: Jaclyn Friedman is one of our favorite people for many reasons. She runs the annual Women, Action & Media conference as part of her role at Center for New Words; she co-edited, with Jessica Valenti, “Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape“; and now she’s writing a weekly column for Amplify Your Voice, a project of Advocates for Youth.

Read Friedman’s “Open Letter to Miley Cyrus,” which should be shared with all 16-year-olds.

Ovarian Cancer Surgery and Fertility: According to a new study published in the journal Cancer, five-year survival rates for stage 1 ovarian cancer patients were the same for patients who had both ovaries removed and women who had only the cancerous ovary removed, reports the L.A. Times. Though ovarian cancer occurs most often in postmenopausal women, up to 17% of ovarian cancers occur in women 40 or younger and that rate is believed to be rising.

Plus: Chicago Tribune health columnist Julie Deardoff writes: ”One of every 1,000 pregnant women in the U.S. has cancer, a relatively rare but stark convergence of life and death. For these women, treatment is possible. But it comes with a host of terrifying decisions for the family.”  The story focuses on Sarah Joanis, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 26.

“Menopause, the Musical”: “This isn’t retro; it’s just old,” Anita Gates writes in The New York Times of the eight-year-old musical that, despite corny songs and stereotypes, has been produced in 14 countries and in more than 200 American cities. “Who calls menopause the change of life? Edith Bunker, maybe, on the 1970s sitcom ‘All in the Family.’ And she would have been in her 80s by now. Women who read ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ in their youth don’t use euphemisms.”

The musical is underway at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, and while Gates is clearly not enamored with the premise, she is a fan of the current staging and cast: ”And thanks to a shift from self-deprecation to self-actualization (and a few nice costume changes), by the end, against all odds, the show is actually exhilarating.”

August 10, 2009

War on Birth Control: The Colbert Report Goes After Student Suspended for Taking the Pill

Back in April, the Washington Post reported on a Fairfax, Va., high school honor student who received a two-week suspension and was recommended for expulsion for — wait for it — taking her birth control pill.

In the era of zero-tolerance, many schools have rules prohibiting students from possessing over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In Fairfax, the penalties are stiff:

In Virginia, school systems must comply with state code regarding prescription medications and illegal drugs on campus. Students face expulsion if they bring to school any “controlled substance” or addictive drug regulated by the federal government. “Imitation controlled substances,” which could include virtually any prescription pill, are subject to the same hefty repercussions. Local school boards can give a lighter punishment after a review.

A small portion of school health clinics across the country distribute birth-control pills to teens. But in Fairfax, even carrying the pills in a backpack is counted among the most serious offenses in the Student Responsibilities and Rights handbook.

In a 2008 survey, a little more than a quarter of Fairfax teenagers, and 44 percent of 12th-graders, reported being sexually active, according to the Post. And 10 percent of those who said they were sexually active reported not using contraception the last time they had sex.

Deb Hauser of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that focuses on adolescent sexual health, put it best when she said: “To put birth control in the same category as illegal drugs or handguns stigmatizes responsible behavior.”

But leave it to Stephen Colbert to fully contextualize the punishment alongside America’s war on drugs. The student, Freesia Jackson, 17, is a terrific sport in this segment, which aired last week. Fallopian dopers, beware …

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Nailed ‘Em – War on Birth Control
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Meryl Streep

July 22, 2009

New CDC Report Reveals Disparities, Declines in Young People’s Sexual & Reproductive Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new report on the sexual and reproductive health of people ages 10-24 in the United States. The agency compiled data from its various surveillance and survey systems for the period of 2002-2007 in an attempt to answer questions about how many young people engage in “sexual risk behaviors” and the related health outcomes, and to compare the findings with historical data.

While the report includes a number of details on rates of sexual intercourse, sexual violence, use of contraception, pregnancy, births, abortion, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV/AIDS (all of which are freely available for viewing online), perhaps most interesting are the information on health disparities and changes over time.

In a press release on the report, the CDC notes signs that progress in sexual and reproductive health of young people may have slowed over the report period. They explain:

Among the signs that progress has halted in some areas:

  • Teen birth rates increased in 2006 and 2007, following large declines from 1991-2005.
  • Rates of AIDS cases among males aged 15-24 years increased during 1997-2006 (AIDS data reflects people with HIV who have already progressed to AIDS.)
  • Syphilis cases among teens and young adults aged 15-19 and 20-24 years have increased in both males and females in recent years.

Additionally, a lack of change in the rates of some items isn’t necessarily a positive outcome. For example, the prevalence of dating violence was “stable overall” and did not decrease, as was the prevalence of ever having been physically forced to have sexual intercourse (except among 10th grade males, whose rates declined). Rates of “nonfatal sexual assault injuries” were also “relatively stable.”

The authors also note that “noticeable disparities exist in the sexual and reproductive health of young persons in the United States.” For example:

  • Pregnancy rates for female Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adolescents aged 15–19 years are much higher (132.8 and 128.0 per 1,000 population) than their non-Hispanic white peers (45.2 per 1,000 population).
  • Non-Hispanic black young persons are more likely to be affected by AIDS.
  • In 2006, among young persons aged 10–24 years, rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were highest among non-Hispanic blacks for all age groups.
  • The southern states tend to have the highest rates of negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including early pregnancy and STDs.

For more resources on adolescent and young women’s health, see our collection of web links on this topic.

April 14, 2009

The Sex Talk – With a Focus on Respect

Do boys and girls need to be taught different lessons, particularly about sex? Pediatrician Perri Klass talks to other doctors about the lessons they share with their patients about sex and respect for their partners.

Her conclusion:

As a pediatrician with two sons and a daughter, I acknowledge the need to emphasize manners and respect as boys maneuver into adolescence and adulthood, and to help them understand the implications and obligations of their increasing size and strength. And I acknowledge that for their own protection, boys need to understand that there are people — male and female — who will see them as potential predators, and judge them automatically at fault in any ambiguous situation.

But I am enough of an old-fashioned feminist to want to teach daughters the same fundamental lessons I teach sons: err on the side of respect and good manners; understand that confusion, doubt and ambiguity abound, especially when you are young; never take advantage of someone else’s uncertainty; and, just as important, remember that adolescence should be a time of fun, affection, growth and discovery.

It’s too bad that one side of teaching our children about sex and relationships means reminding them that there are bad people in the world; stay away from them, stay safe, speak up if someone hurts you or pushes you. But everyone needs that information, and that promise of adult support. We have to get that message across without defining some of our children as obvious perpetrators and others as obvious victims, because that insults everyone.

February 21, 2009

Double Dose: The VBAC-lash; Agreement on Health Care Reform?; Teen Sexual Harassment in the Workplace; Bye Bye Go-Daddy …

Searching for Common Ground: Robert Pear of The New York Times reports on an apparent consensus emerging among key players in the health care debate:

Many of the parties, from big insurance companies to lobbyists for consumers, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, are embracing the idea that comprehensive health care legislation should include a requirement that every American carry insurance.

While not all industry groups are in complete agreement, there is enough of a consensus, according to people who have attended the meetings, that they have begun to tackle the next steps: how to enforce the requirement for everyone to have health insurance; how to make insurance affordable to the uninsured; and whether to require employers to help buy coverage for their employees.

Health Care “Reform” is Not Enough: “Most current health care reform initiatives, including those of Barack Obama, focus on providing wider access to health insurance. They do little to address the underlying problems with our health care system,” writes Susan Yanow in On The Issues magazine. Yanow identifies the top five problem areas for women with our insurance-driven health system.

Plus: This list of 10 ways to spend less on health care during a recession is well-meaning, but the list assumes a level of privilege that leaves out millions. I keep thinking of this story from last week.

“Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?”: The PBS program NOW has collaborated with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University on an unprecedented broadcast investigation of teen sexual harassment in the workplace. Check your local PBS station schedule for air dates.

The NOW website has a terrific collection of useful links and resources, as does the Schuster Institute, including an interactive map with links to information about specific teen sexual harassment cases gone to court. Keep in mind the map reflects a tiny proportion of probable cases. Kudos to EJ Graff for kicking off this project with her article, “Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?,” published in Good Housekeeping in June 2007.

The Trouble With Repeat Cesareans: “Much ado has been made recently of women who choose to have cesareans, but little attention has been paid to the vast number of moms who are forced to have them,” writes Pamela Paul at Time magazine. “More than 9 out of 10 births following a C-section are now surgical deliveries, proving that ‘once a cesarean, always a cesarean’ — an axiom thought to be outmoded in the 1990s — is alive and kicking.” A good look at the VBAC-lash.

North Dakota House Passes Egg-as-Person Bill: “On Tuesday, one body of North Dakota’s state legislature voted, 51-41, not only to ban abortion, but to define life as beginning at conception. Such a measure, considered extreme even by pro-life standards, would have far-reaching consequences on women’s health,” writes Kay Steiger at RH Reality Check.

Understandably, Rachel Has Some Concerns …: About a proposed Tennessee bill that calls for testing some pregnant for alcohol and drugs.

Gone Daddy Gone: I couldn’t agree more with Creativity magazine editor Teressa Lezzi, who writes at

After this year’s Super Bowl, I just couldn’t do it anymore. As it was, any time I had to log on to Go Daddy I felt some combination of embarrassment and annoyance at the registrar’s approach to women and marketing. But after its execrable ad efforts around this year’s game, I found that I just couldn’t stomach contributing anything to this organization any longer. I’m transferring my domains and my insignificant little piece of business elsewhere.

GoDaddy turned me off years ago because of its super lame ads, though I sometimes have to deal with the company for other clients. If sexist advertising isn’t reason enough to stay away, GoDaddy’s user interface sucks.

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Usage in California: A study by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research found that one in four teenage girls in California  — about 378,000 out of 1.5 million — received at least one dose of the Gardasil vaccine in 2007, its first full year of distribution, reports the L.A. Times.

Truth Catches Up: Remember the eye-catching “truth” anti-smoking ads? Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the American Legacy Foundation estimate that the nations’ largest youth smoking prevention campaign saved $1.9 billion or more in health care costs associated with tobacco use. The findings appear in the Feb. 12 online edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The American Legacy Foundation, which launched the ads in 2000, spent $324 million to implement and evaluate the truth campaign.

Plus: Cigarette-maker Philip Morris was ordered to pay $8 million in damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer in a case that could set the standard for 8,000 similar Florida lawsuits, reports NPR.

February 19, 2009

Show Your Love for Sex Ed & Scarleteen

Those of us beyond our teenage and young adult years can only wish that — a website that delivers progressive, inclusive and accurate information about sex and sexuality — existed when we were growing up.

But we can do something to help ensure today’s teens have access to this information — and more — at no cost.

A donor to Scarleteen has agreed to match donations made through March 15. And now that Scarleteen is affiliated with the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco, it has nonprofit 501c(3) status, which means donations are tax-deductible. Read all about it here and make a donation.

Heather Corrina launched Scarleteen back in 1998. It currently has about 20 active volunteers and is one of the top-ranked sites for young adult sexuality education. Despite its popularity, Scarleteen averages just one donation per every 500,000 users. That’s because most of the website’s visitors either do not have their own income or do not have access or permission to use credit cards or checks to make donations. So it’s up to us older folks to step up.

With more funding, writes Corrina, Scarleteen could do so much more:

  • Creating and distributing outreach print materials for schools, clinics and community groups, based on content like our popular Sex Readiness Checklist, our anatomy articles, and our pieces on abuse, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Providing our volunteer staff extra training. In the next year, we’d like to get a few of our staff trained or certified in either or both pregnancy options counseling and/or basic sex education.
  • Stipends for some of our volunteer writers and columnists, which will both sustain a quality of content and allow us to keep up with the frequency of updates we have had in the last year. Paying writers also can nurture a greater diversity of voice and content.
  • Maintaining a part-time freelance developer to help us best manage and maintain the site for optimum useability.
  • A part-time, in-person assistant for myself as director.

Plus: There is a way for young people to make a difference through Scarleteen’s new campaign, Do You Give a Buck About Sex Education? Yep. Just a buck or two, sent by mail, would be most appreciated.

Either way you can help out, this is a sex education campaign that we happily support.

February 5, 2009

Yes Means Yes: Q&A With Lisa Jervis & Brad Perry

Today we’re pleased to present an interview with two outstanding contributors to “Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape,” a collection of essays recently published by Seal Press.

Lisa Jervis, the founding editor and publisher of Bitch magazine, and Brad Perry, sexual violence prevention coordinator at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, take on popular perceptions of rape and what needs to be done to transform regressive attitudes toward sexual violence — in both the media and among young men.

In “An Old Enemy in a New Outfit: How Date Rape Became Gray Rape and Why it Matters,” Jervis deconstructs the latest blame-the-victim terminology. Perry’s essay, “Hooking Up With Healthy Sexuality: The Lessons Boys Learn (and Don’t Learn) About Sexuality, and Why a Sex-Positive Rape Prevention Program Can Benefit Everyone Involved,” revisits advice Perry received as a teenager and the more enlightened strategies he has encountered in his work.

Ultimately, they grapple with how to create an atmosphere for a healthy and empowering sexual experience for both women and men.

Please add your thoughts on the discussion, or your questions for Lisa or Brad, in the comments. And don’t miss the next stop on the “Yes Means Yes” virtual book tour: a live chat on Feb. 9 at Shakesville with co-editor Jaclyn Friedman.

Our Bodies, Our Blog: What is the allure of so-called “gray rape” for anti-feminists? How does it help serve a conservative agenda?

Lisa Jervis: The construct of gray rape does two things: it minimizes rape, seeks to make it seem like less of a big deal — if it was a “gray area,” can it really be that bad? — and it also justifies victim-blaming and its close friend, slut-shaming. This actually serves anti-feminists in two really different ways, though they’re both pretty much classics of sexism and misogyny.

The minimizing encourages an attitude of, “What are all those angry women complaining about now?”; and almost every feminist issue has been minimized at some point over the history of the struggle for gender equality.

The victim-blaming part is even more disturbing, as it updates and revitalizes one of the biggest obstacles to transforming rape culture. And it’s particularly insidious because of how it cultivates self-doubt and self-blame even more than previous victim-blaming discourses have. And, especially when paired with slut-shaming — which makes women and girls feel bad about the existence of a strong sex drive and any entitlement they might feel to (gasp!) satisfy their desires — it serves as an attempt to keep a tight cultural lid on women’s sexuality. It’s an updated and vastly more complex version of “good girls don’t.”

OBOB: Brad, how has the notion of “gray rape” complicated your teachings?

Brad Perry: In my experience, the attitude about acquaintance rape (which is what the term “gray rape” is usually referring to) amongst most policy makers, many students, and a good chunk of the general public has not changed drastically since it first entered the public’s awareness 20 years ago. There has been some progress in getting people to understand that usurping another person’s sexual autonomy is rape under any circumstances, but old mindsets die hard.

In that context, the gray rape thing just seems like more of the same but with a new name — as Lisa eloquently discusses in her essay. The only way my work has been complicated by the notion of “gray rape” is that now people have a convenient label. I don’t think it’s necessarily changed many people’s minds on whether or not to take acquaintance rape seriously — the people who are going to deny it are usually going to find a reason to do so until something happens to change their mind — but it has given those folks some hip new contemporary language to dismiss acquaintance rape.

We’re a country found by patriarchal religious fanatics who were (among other things) obsessed with denying human sexuality, so it’s not at all surprising to me that we keep revisiting the issue of social control over women’s sexualities. That’s not too say I think we should throw our hands up and say, “Oh, well” — in order to remember how much history we have to overcome so that we don’t lose our minds trying to make progress.

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