Thursday, April 28, 2011

UN Study of No Interest to Republicans:
Sex Education Works, Reduces Costs, Duh

But it's so much more fun to make young pregnant women live in fear!

Breaking news! According to a soon-to-be-released study from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), sex education totally works when it is mandatory and integrated into school instruction. This study comes as a surprise to absolutely no one who understands thing one about public health or educational policy.

The study included 6 different country sites around the world, nations as diverse as the Netherlands, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The programs were not abstinence based. Previous studies on the face-palmingly obvious ineffectiveness of abstinence education have been done in the US but have somehow failed to convince conservatives looking to keep poor people poor that teaching basic information about contraception and disease prevention is a good idea.

From UNESCO's press release:
The study highlights the cost-effectiveness, and potential cost savings in a context like Estonia, where a national sexuality education programme was rolled out alongside youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. Between 2001 and 2009, an estimated 13,490 health events were averted, including 1,970 HIV infections, at a potential lifetime cost of US$67, 825 per patient.
National sexuality education "programme"? "Youth-friendly" sexual and reproductive health services? This is socialism, obviously, and Not Right For America.

Mandating effective sex education and providing equal access to reproductive and sexual health services is all well and good if your goal is to increase the social status and economic prospects of women in your nation.

But if what you want is to keep vulnerable young women in poverty by denying them information and services that could prevent pregnancy and changing the laws to make abortion impossible to get so that the ones who do get pregnant have nothing but "Pregnant? Scared?" billboards to look at as they descend into unending economic despair, then the American approach is totally FTW.

Obviously UNESCO hasn't given any thought to the Texas approach, which includes teaching abstinence and eliminating cost-effective family planning services to fund crisis pregnancy centers instead. Rick Perry knows abstinence works from his "own personal life." Come to think of it, abstinence is fantastic cover for staying in the closet.

Furthermore, we don't have much use in Texas for an organization dedicated to promoting "education, scientific, and cultural" studies anyway. We're pretty busy promoting Tex-Western Civilization and Traditional Family Values, thank you very much.

The complete study will be released in May.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Slutwalk Austin Totally Asking For It On June 4th

The SlutWalk is coming to Austin. June 4th. What a great way to recycle your slutty nurse, slutty construction worker, slutty cookie monster, or hilariously witty 'gold digger' costume leftover from Halloween on 6th Street!

After having had just about fucking enough of cops, legislators, religious figures, and just about everyone else blame victims of sexual assault for 'dressing like sluts,' women in cities around the world are throwing down the gauntlet with the Slut Walk.

The event's purpose is to remind everyone, particularly law enforcement responsible for fucking protecting citizens and fucking prosecuting criminals, that a woman is never 'asking for it' because she dresses in any particular way, even if the cops think that way is 'slutty.' Rapists choose to rape victims--victims do not choose rape. Period.

Texas ladies had their own semi-recent brush with police chiefs blaming victims for sexual assault last summer; we covered that story here, here and here.

I love this Scottish anti-rape video by Not Ever.

Considering the hilarious debauchery Austin is known for on Halloween, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, and basically every other drunk holiday, I hope to see you there June 4th!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Walgreens Encouraging Promiscuity Among Medicare Set

Not that anyone assumes anything ever said on "Fox 'n Friends" is true, but the hilarious claim that women could get mammograms and Pap smears at their local Walgreens (what, not CVS?) went a little bit too far. Walgreens this afternoon released a statement gently correcting the fucktards at Fox. Stephen Colbert wasn't so generous.

What many Walgreens, including the one right down the street from my house, do offer is a small array of routine vaccinations, including flu shots and the shingles vaccine, Zostavax. The thing is, shingles is herpes zoster, and the vaccine was, until March 11 of this year, approved only for people 60 and over. Now the FDA has extended that to people 50 and up.

Is this what we really need to be doing, America? Providing a vaccine that will encourage promiscuity in people over the age of 50, which no one wants to think about? Considering that people over the age of 50 have the lowest rates of condom use of anyone in America, should we really be reducing the consequences of sex by offering a STD vaccine to these obviously irresponsible horny silver foxes?

I have a solution to your rampant STD problem, Medicare recipients: it's called Pants. Teenagers have recently figured out how to keep them on, and failing that, they use condoms more than any other age group. Get it together, gramps.

Oh, you mean herpes zoster isn't a STD after all? Fuck. Don't tell Fox 'n Friends.

Image via.

Inside Sadie's Open Marriage

If you attend Bedpost Confessions, you'll hear Sadie Smythe, one of the organizers and frequently its hostess, read about her open marriage. Sometimes she reads about her relationship with her husband, Scott, and sometimes she writes about the men--or women--she dates outside their relationship. Sadie has just released a book, Open All the Way, which chronicles her journey into an open marriage.

I had the chance to interview Sadie and Scott together a few weeks ago about their relationship.

On the outside, Sadie and Scott a lot like other families. They've been married for 14 years and friends for 26. They have an 11-year old daughter, two cats, a house in East Austin and normal jobs. Scott works in the tech industry, and Sadie part time at a bakery while she works toward a psychology degree.

And they do the hard work of maintaining an open marriage.

When they got married, they knew they wanted to be open to being nonmonogamous. Before getting married, Scott felt he should allow Sadie to continue exploring her nascent bisexuality by making their marriage open to women only. Initially, they were certain that any outside relationships would be about sex only and not love, but they were soon proven wrong.
"You can't have interest in somebody and sex without there being emotion involved at some level," Scott said.

Originally a very traditional marriage, Scott worked in Silicon Valley and Sadie stayed at home and took care of the baby, did the cooking and the cleaning. Eventually, Sadie said, something "shifted." She continued, "We both come from divorced families and we were watching these other marriages fall apart all around us and so we thought maybe [opening up] was a solution."

After almost ten years, they agreed they had gotten to know each other and felt comfortable in their marriage and could carry the weight of something so significant. Sadie made out with a guy at a bar and told Scott about it when she got home. The next night they sat down with some drinks and made some rules for how their relationship would work.

In the beginning, things were easier for Sadie: "There are a million horny dicks that will have sex with a good looking woman regardless of her marital status. But the inverse is not true, really. There's such a stereotype of the cheating husband who's gonna say that it's okay or they have an arrangement so I almost felt like I had to have a hall pass," Scott said. When they moved to Austin, Scott got a lot more attention and found that when he told them about his marriage, women were more interested than they had been in the Bay Area.

Sadie met people on Craigslist, primarily through Casual Encounters, and Scott met people at parties. Each have had dating relationships that have lasted a year or more. Things have gotten better since with the advent of OK Cupid, which allows people to disclose if they're in a relationship or married and avoid feeling like they're doing something secretive, which is exactly opposite of what Sadie and Scott's arrangement is about: honesty and clear communication.

Sadie said, "When we did first start doing this, we operated on the same sort of assumption that we though it would be primarily about sex. One of our rules--number 17--was, 'If you fall in love, break it off.' We realized fairly early on that we needed to renegotiate."

Scott added: "It's a tricky thing when your primary partner tells you they have love feelings for somebody else. We make it very clear when we initiate new relationships that this relationship--Sadie and I--isn't going anywhere."

In terms of how they negotiate the time they spend with their outside partners, Scott and Sadie balance taking care of their daughter, going to her music recitals, and maintaining their primarily relationship with the needs of their outside partners. But family responsibilities come first.

Sadie describes the key to success as compersion, a concept that many people in open relationships use to describe how a person can experience joy based on the happiness that their partner is having with someone else. It's a way of deliberately redirecting jealousy.

"Love is not a finite thing," Sadie says. "Everyone gets to design their own relationship. Our open relationship and the way we do things isn't necessarily going to work for another couple. [But designing your own relationship is] the way people should be living their lives."

You can read more about Sadie and Scott's relationship and how they live their life as an open couple at Sadie's Open Marriage and in Open All the Way.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Texas to Require "Traditional Values Centers" at State-Funded Universities

The Texas House late last night passed one of the more hilariously leotarded amendments in this year's budget session. The amendment belongs to Representative Wayne Christian (R-Center) (at left) and would require a university that has a "gender and sexuality center" to equally fund a center that teaches, ahem, "traditional values." The bill passed 110-24.

Presumably Mr. Christian isn't aware of "heteronormativity" and would surely be comforted to know that, in a heteronormative system, every center, course, and department at every university teaches and privileges "traditional values"--thus creating the need for a locus of support for students, faculty and staff for whom "traditional values" are exclusionary and full of hate.

The full text of the amendment is available here. But the meat is below:
It is the intent of the Legislature that an institution of higher education shall use an amount of appropriated funds to support a family and traditional values center for students of the institution that is not less than any amount of appropriated funds used by the institution to support a gender and sexuality center or other center for students focused on gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues.

Considering the terrible success rate of straight people at living out their "traditional values," such a center could surely do some good. But somehow I doubt Christian envisions a center that would tangibly help straight people build strong marriages and avoid divorce as much as it would disparage feminism, equal rights for non-straights, and be mean to trans people.

We can hope this amendment doesn't make it through the reconciliation process but it's still a dick move to pass it in the first place.