I’ve got two rants today.
The first one is short and the second will take me all day if don’t stop myself.
Numero uno: Last night, I went down to Confluence Park behind REI to cross the fire dancing and drum circle business off my summer bucket list. It was definitely more crowded than I had expected it to be. I would guess that there were a little over a hundred people there. I’m glad we got there late, it wasn’t anything wildly exciting, but it was cool to watch the people who dared to perform swing fire around and I’ve always been a sucker for drumming.
With all of the hippies gathered around me, I was surprised to see the amount of litter that seemed to be accruing throughout the park. It annoyed me. First of all, the weekly summer gathering is a relatively un-minded event; I was actually quite surprised at the lack of police presence despite the population that was gathered there and the amount of weed I’m sure was being consumed. For that, everyone there should have been grateful for the privacy and the peace and should have been a little bit more respectful of the space.
Spilled beer isn’t a whole lot, but someone has to pick that litter up.
I drank beer, I walked to a trashcan and put the bottle in. I should have recycled it. I didn’t. But I didn’t leave it on the concrete steps so that there might have been the possibility that it would have gone into the river. I didn’t leave it in the dirt under the tree so that it could languish until cleaned up by someone whose job title most likely does not involve picking up the litter of disrespectful people who should have been happy to be left alone to get high or drunk or whatever or stay sober to watch fire dancing and listen to music.
I’m sure someone isn’t taking too kindly to that behavior.
Bruce Randolph, with parental consent, is giving out contraception and emergency contraception. This morning, I was listening to KS107.5 while flipping through radio stations on my way out to pick Mike up, and they were discussing the situation.
And one of the deejays said something about “daughters as sluts.” The female deejay tried to say something about it, but she didn’t put up a fight at all and let it go. So they continued to comment on it and I really didn’t appreciate it.
Pregnancy is a huge deal. Teen pregnancy is a bigger deal.
People calling girls who try to be proactive about protection and contraception “sluts” is ridiculous. It’s disrespect on a whole new level and it shows that there are still double standards in place as far as gender expectations go.
As a woman, I find it horrifying that should I want to protect myself from pregnancy, I might risk being labelled a whore. I think the girls who reach out to accept the contraception are making mature decisions and should be rewarded with respect and fair treatment.
For young girls today, the pressure to be sexually active is immense. While I’m not arguing that the pressure isn’t equally immense if not more so for young men, girls are hit with the inability to maintain the sexual habits that their male counterparts are allowed. And with the use of the word maintain, I mean that there are social stigmas attached to girls who wish to engage in sexual behavior. Society in this way reinforces the restrictions for women but glorifies young men who are able to attract larger numbers of sexual partners.
It’s annoying. And it needs to stop.
Young people are going to have sex. It’s a fact.
We can preach abstinence all we like, but I think knowing the facts and figures could be helpful as well. But when push comes to shove, availability of contraceptive methods such as condoms and birth control pills can help prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
I read this article a few days ago and kept it open thinking it might be useful, and I’m linking to it below:
It talks about reasons why many young people are forgoing relationships in favor of “hooking up,” which involves all the best parts of dating without any of the hassle. But once again, it’s women that are considered too weak to be able to engage in this particular behavior set. (While I’m not arguing that the “hooking up” is healthy, I think it’s interesting that women are pinpointed as not being able to handle the emotional consequences. Again, it’s the women engaging in behavior similar to their male counterparts yet being socially sanctioned for doing so.)
Here’s another article that’s not more than a blurb, but the pictures with it say a lot about the perpetuation of the Madonna/whore dichotomy (a popular theme for those of us who survived gender studies programs): http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/08/19/sti-transmission-wives-whores-and-the-invisible-man/
The article discusses the ways in which men are removed from the equation, much as they are being done in the debate about contraception. All of the babies that result from teen pregnancies, well, any pregnancy, have fathers, an equal participant in the choice to engage in risky or unprotected sexual activity.
It’s not hard not to get pregnant.
But it does require effort on both sides. And for women who face pressure from boyfriends or partners who might refuse to use a condom, having a second choice is not a bad thing. The availability of protection and in some cases, emergency contraception is a positive statement about sexuality, something that is so often pushed under the rug. (Again, the refusal to use a condom should never be a part of any sexual equation and connotes something sinister about the intentions of the male or female who makes such a refusal. But it does happen. And many women aren’t confident enough about their sexuality at that point that they are able to speak out against it.)
I know that contrarians are going to argue that emergency contraception is just that and shouldn’t be regularly prescribed or used as birth control. I agree. But even those kids who are engaging in protected sex sometimes have accidents and the fear that results from those is a reminder of the consequences of engaging in such actions. Choosing emergency contraception does not cause an abortion to take place but can be a mature, responsible decision to continue the use of protection.
Either way, I think we need to normalize contraception, including neutralizing the way we converse about it. Women should never feel “demonized” for seeking out protection and shouldn’t have to listen to others say anything negative about those positive decisions. Shame on KS107.5 for not being dignified in their discussion of the story and shame on their female deejay for allowing the men to dominate the conversation and to neglect her interjection. Calling people “sluts” is not only a cheap shot but it shows a lack of respect (for women) and maturity. I can fully say I refuse to support a station that promotes commentary such as that.