Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘women’ Category

Charity (Fawcett Society) warns 8 million women won’t vote in the general election on June 8

A century anniversary for voting women

With two weeks left to register to vote, the Fawcett Society is warning that millions of women are set to miss out on the chance to have their say as they celebrate almost 100 years since the right to vote was granted

By 9 MAY 2017

There are a “missing eight million” women who won’t vote in the general election on June 8.

Shocking figures compiled by the Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading charity for gender equality, also reveal that fewer women than men are registered to vote.

An average of recent polling shows that 2.5% points fewer women than men say they are certain to vote.

When applied to turnout at the 2015 general election this could see eight million women not exercising their rights, half a million more than the 7.5 million men who are not certain they’ll vote.

There is also a gap in voter registration with 2.5% points fewer women than men saying that they are currently on the register.

With the deadline to register to vote just two weeks away, the charity is warning that millions of women won’t be able to have their say almost a hundred years after women won the right.

Actors (L-R) Anne-Marie Duff, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter take part in filming of the movie Suffragette at Parliament
Actors (L-R) Anne-Marie Duff, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter take part in filming of the movie Suffragette at Parliament (Photo: Getty Images)
The charity is also urging candidates to take on board their women’s manifesto.Fawcett Chief Executive Sam Smethers said: “Almost 100 years on from the first women getting the right to vote, we still see what is likely to be a significant gap in turnout by gender.

“We are calling on all women to make sure they register to vote before the deadline.”

“With the overall gender pay gap still at 18%, violence against women and girls still rife in our society, and Brexit posing a risk to hard-fought protections, it is as important as ever that women have a say.

“We urge women across the country to take these demands to their candidates.”

Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society said society is quick to blame the victims of sexual assault
Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society is encouraging all women to have their say (Photo: PA Photo/Handout)

Fawcett analysis also shows that, across different polls, women have different priorities to men in the general election.

Women consistently view the NHS as a more prominent issue, with 63% in an average of polls saying it is key compared with 50% of men.

Men are slightly more concerned with Brexit , with 50% rating it as an important issue versus 45% for women.

The charity’s manifesto calls for measures to get more women into power, including for at least 45% of parties’ parliamentary candidates to be women.

How Facebook, fake news and personalised ads could swing the 2017 election – and what you can do about it

Other key recommendations include:

· Women to be represented at every level and stage of Brexit negotiations.

· An increase in the national living wage to bring it up to the level of the real living wage.

· An extended, dedicated, well paid period of leave for fathers

Suffragette demonstration in London, 21st March 1906
Suffragette demonstration in London, 21st March 1906 (Photo: Mirrorpix)

· A requirement for large companies who have to report their gender pay gaps to have an action plan in place, and penalties for those who do not comply.

· A long-term, national, and sustainable funding strategy for specialist women-only services including domestic violence refuges, in order to meet our Istanbul Convention obligations.

· A National Care Service, giving social care parity with the NHS, and investing in social care infrastructure with a professionalised care workforce.

The Manifesto also addresses equal representation, defending women’s rights post- Brexit , ending violence against women and girls, and ensuring women are not hardest hit by any economic downturn or spending cuts.

How do I register to vote?

Visit and fill in 11 questions.

They include your name, address, National Insurance number and whether you want a postal vote.

There’s not much else you need to fill in.

Role of Clergy in the Abortion Fight Before Roe v. Wade

May 02, 2017

“Today I want to speak to The Challenge of the Sexual Revolution, or to The Use of the Body in Regard to Abortion,” declared the Reverend Charles Landreth on, June 6, 1971. From the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Fla., Landreth invited those present to imagine different situations that led to a “problem pregnancy.”

Landreth prodded his congregants, asking them to consider what an unwanted pregnancy and lack of access to abortion could mean to an older married woman, a young woman who had been raped or a high-school girl “scared literally to death to tell her staunch Catholic parents and therefore very tempted to run to a quack.”

That Sunday, at Tallahassee’s oldest church, Landreth argued that Jesus’ declaration that the first stone should be cast by those “among you without sin” was a “radical challenge to the Scribes and the Pharisees and to their conception of morality and authority.” Invoking these scriptural passages, Landreth protested against the immorality of Florida’s laws, which prohibited abortion unless the pregnancy endangered a woman’s life.

Toward the end of his sermon, Reverend Landreth revealed to his congregation what they may have already learned from Florida newspapers in the preceding weeks: he and his colleague Leo Sandon had been helping women in Tallahassee obtain abortions.

Landreth and Sandon’s abortion referral activities at Florida State University had drawn the attention and anger of a state senator and a district attorney who in turn denounced them in the press. After twice appearing before a grand jury, the clergymen worried that they would be charged and prosecuted.

But Landreth and Sandon were not alone.

Their experiences reveal how, in the half-decade before Roe v. Wade, respected religious leaders participated in a nationwide struggle to make abortion more accessible.

This largely forgotten history undercuts the popular myth that religious people oppose abortion rights.

Fifty years ago this month, in May of 1967, as mainline Protestants and Reform Jews called for the liberalization of abortion laws, a group of clergy in New York City founded the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS), an international network of clergy that helped women obtain legal and illegal abortions from licensed medical professionals.

When Landreth spoke out, it was as part of CCS, which by then counted over 2,000 other ministers across the United States and Canada as members.

“Whenever we try to make conditions for each other more human, we are engaged in a religious pursuit,” Landreth once explained. “Christians and the Christian church simply cannot turn their backs on the problem of abortion and the dilemmas which it creates.”

As trusted members of their communities to whom congregants turned for counseling, clergy witnessed a medical crisis unfolding because of restrictive abortion laws.

In the 1950s and 1960s, prohibitions against abortion drove anywhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million women to obtain illegal abortions. By the end of 1972, the CCS had helped between a quarter and half a million women obtain safe legal and illegal abortions from physicians.

CCS members also demanded that their state legislators repeal abortion laws, and publicly testified for that cause. In 1968, Reverend Carl Bielby spoke with Michigan lawmakers who were conducting public hearings on that state’s abortion laws. Bielby was a leader of Michigan’s CCS.

At the hearing he represented the Michigan Council of Churches’ position that, “as a matter of human right, each woman be given the control of her own body and procreative function, and that she has the moral responsibility and obligation for the just and sober stewardship thereof.” Likewise, Reverend Allen Hinand of the Philadelphia CCS proclaimed at a 1972 legislative hearing that it was time for women to “rise up and take control of a situation and a choice that belongs to them as females.”

Most importantly, CCS clergy emphasized that no single religion had a right to impose its religious values upon others. For these clergy, freedom of religion had to include freedom from those religious groups that sought to place restrictions on abortions.

Many branches of the Clergy Consultation Service operated openly and advertised their abortion referral services, citing “higher laws and moral obligations transcending legal codes.” They publicly challenged restrictive abortion laws as infringements upon religious freedoms, and sought media coverage to widely broadcast their message.

Some district attorneys and state politicians investigated and attempted to disrupt the CCS’ referral networks in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. Undercover female investigators would pose as pregnant women to survey and analyze CCS activities. Clergy members and CCS-approved abortion providers feared arrest and prosecution.

Indeed, Florida’s state-led anti-abortion efforts prompted Reverend Landreth’s sermon in the summer of 1971. Fearing prosecution, he decided to challenge two Florida statutes, which prohibited advising, aiding or assisting women “to procure miscarriage” and likewise banned the circulation or distribution of material that gave “any 
advice, direction, information or knowledge may
be obtained for the purpose of causing or procuring the miscarriage of any woman pregnant
with child.”

With the official backing of both the Synod of Florida’s Presbyterian Church and his own First Presbyterian Church, Landreth filed a lawsuit and asked for an injunction prohibiting the district attorney from prosecuting the CCS.

In September of 1971, a three-judge panel rejected the clergymen’s case as “too speculative.” The court did not rule on the validity of Florida’s abortion statutes. However, other courts were willing to evaluate the constitutionality of these statutes as numerous groups challenged abortion laws.

Three months later, an Alachua County judge declared these same statutes unconstitutional when he voided charges against a University of Florida student who had circulated a list of abortion referral agencies on campus. The following year, Florida’s Supreme Court invalidated the state’s abortion law as unconstitutionally “vague, indefinite and uncertain.”

The history of Reverend Landreth and Reverend Sandon’s brief and unsuccessful legal battle is remarkable, not because of what it accomplished, but because it occurred at all. Across the country, most police, politicians and prosecutors turned a blind eye to the CCS or quietly endorsed its activities.

The moral authority of CCS clergy offered them protection when they broke the law. The Reverend Charles Straut led the New Jersey branch of the CCS and managed, among other things, to have his group’s phone number listed on the first page of every New Jersey phone directory from 1968 onward. In an interview, he reflected on how his status as a clergyman enabled him to avoid punishment: “It’s hard to remember and hard to imagine if you are not old enough to remember how clergy were treated in those days.”

Fifty years ago, the CCS offered public moral and practical support to women who wanted abortions and to the doctors who performed them. After Roe, many branches of the CCS disbanded while others merged with local Planned Parenthoods or formed new reproductive health organizations.

The CCS, in other words, shaped many of the institutions that continue to help women control their reproductive lives. Recovering the history of the CCS reminds us that contemporary demands for reproductive rights and abortion access, far from being secular or immoral, had and continue to have deep moral and religious roots.

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The Long ViewHistorians explain how the past informs the present

Gillian Frank is a Managing Editor of NOTCHES: (re)marks on the History of Sexuality and a Visiting Fellow at Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Making Choice Sacred: Liberal Religion and Reproductive Politics in the United States Before Roe v. Wade. Gillian tweets from @1gillianfrank1.

Related? KansasKansas Archdiocese: Girl Scouts Aren’t a ‘Compatible Partner’ to Help ‘Form Young Women With Virtues’

This Misconception on the mother: A link has been lacking for so long?

The more I read the stories, analyses, ideas, opinions, about the Mother and more I tell myself that they lack a link. Why?

My next book MISCONCEPTIONS is attempting to provide answers in an entire chapter, and I confess to delve into this issue I am left less whole than when I wrote about it.

I was feeling not whole because of what I know today: We were in this regard long prisoners of the simplistic cliché and reducer that seeks the mother in his wife or mistress…

A look under the microscope and you realize the complexity of the human need…

It is something else that we are looking for and I tried in my novel narrative to bring arguments that are more serious than plausible .

Justify to seeking the mother in the self rather than in any other, is a chimera, but today I will say no more

Jamil Berry on FB

Inside the Growing Movement of Women

Who Wish They’d Never Had Children

It’s unthinkable, and it’s definitely unspeakable, but women all over the world are coming forward to say it: I regret having my children.

The Disturbing History of African-Americans and Medical Research Goes Beyond Henrietta Lacks

Lily Rothman. Updated: Apr 21, 2017

Ask a given person what they know about the history of the use of African-Americans as unwilling research subjects and they are likely to mention one infamous incident: Tuskegee.

“Such a failure seems almost beyond belief, or human compassion,” TIME wrote when the study made headlines in 1972, as the world learned that for four decades the U.S. Public Health Service had been conducting an experiment in which proven remedies were kept from syphilis patients in Alabama, all of whom were black men. But there’s a lot more to that history.

“Tuskegee shouldn’t be the first thing people think of,” Harriet A. Washington, the author of Medical Apartheid, tells TIME. “It’s the example that the government has admitted to and acknowledged. It’s so famous that people think it was the worst, but it was relatively mild compared to other stuff.”

With the premiere on Saturday of the HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, based on Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book of the same name, another piece of the puzzle may get a little closer to the first-to-mind fame of Tuskegee.

Lacks was, as TIME explained in its initial review of Skloot’s book, a black woman treated unsuccessfully for cervical cancer in 1951, from whose tumor doctors kept a sample of tissue. Her cells provided a breakthrough would prove invaluable to medical research, but her family was kept in the dark even as they themselves became the subjects of scientific interest.

Washington, who has interviewed the Lacks family, says that one problem with the national narrative about Tuskegee is the risk that those unaware of the larger history that surrounds both that study and the story of Henrietta Lacks might think that African-Americans are “overreacting to a single study” if they express distrust of the medical establishment.

Rather, as Skloot also notes in her book, distrust like that expressed by the Lacks family is related to what’s summed up by the subtitle of Washington’s book as The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present.

“We’re talking about something that began in the 17th century,” Washington says.

Though the line between therapeutic medicine and research was blurrier at the time, she says it’s clear that doctors in the colonial American context would often try out new ideas on white patients when they hoped that the experiment would help the person in question; they would use African slaves and Native Americans as subjects when the point of the research was to benefit others.

Perhaps the most infamous example of antebellum medical research being performed on slaves is that of J. Marion Sims, whose innovation of a revolutionary gynecological procedure was made possible by multiple practice runs on enslaved women. Washington also found that slaves’ bodies were used for experiments after they died, despite widespread belief that maintaining the body’s integrity after death was religiously necessary.

“Historically, one of the larger connections is that, if you’re talking about the appropriation of African-American bodies when enslavement was part of the law of the land, that represented an extension of slavery into eternity,” she explains.

When it comes to the 20th century, though slavery was no longer the law, Washington says that there was a widespread belief that people who did not pay for their medical care would “owe their bodies” to the medical community in return.

As a result, patients from marginalized communities, like the poor and immigrants, did not receive the same ethical consideration that others did. Though that idea would have applied to poor patients of all races, segregation at the time meant that black patients were confined in many places to “black wards,” and they were disproportionately affected.

Washington says that one big misconception she often hears is that in 1951, when Lacks was treated, what happened to Lacks would have been just the common practice at the time. In reality, she has found that — while it is true that the laws and regulations that govern such experimentation have changed between then and now — basic ethical concepts such as informed consent were already very much in play.

In fact, she says, especially in the wake of the world learning of Nazi medical experimentation, some organizations kept consent rules that were even more stringent than those in play today. “These conventions tended to be rigorously adhered to when it came to white people,” Washington notes.

And, though medical research can be complicated, she believes the basic idea — then and now — is simple: “Subjects who have normal adult intelligence are capable of understanding whether their permission has been asked.”

But, if those ethical standards have generally endured, other things have changed.

Washington points to 1980 as a turning point, thanks to changes like the law that changed the medical-research economy and a Supreme Court decision that has been interpreted to mean that living things are subject to patents.

The need for tissue on which to experiment continues, but now it can be a lot more financially valuable if things work out. Washington believes that economic pressures have led to an erosion in the application of informed consent in the years since.

That’s part of the reason why Washington is glad that Henrietta Lacks’ name is becoming more famous.

“People tend to underestimate the extent and breadth of this,” Washington says. “There’s no sphere of American medicine that was not touched by the use in research of African-Americans.”

Teaching a young introvert?

Were you an introverted kid? This one is for you:

TED posted this article
What should we do with the quiet kids?
A conversation with Susan Cain on the future of classroom education.

Susan Cain sticks up for the introverts of the world. In the U.S., where one third to one half the population identifies as introverts, that means sticking up for a lot of people.

Some of them might be data engineers overwhelmed by the noise of an open-floor-plan office.

Others might be lawyers turning 30, whose friends shame them for not wanting a big birthday bash.

But Cain particularly feels for one group of introverts: the quiet kids in a classroom.

Cain remembers a childhood full of moments when she was urged by teachers and peers to be more outgoing and social — when that simply wasn’t in her nature.

Our most important institutions, like schools and workplaces, are designed for extroverts, says Cain in her TED Talk. [Watch: The power of introverts.] “Nowadays, your typical classroom has pods of desks, and kids are working on countless group assignments.” Yet if up to half the population has introvert tendencies, why is it that kids who prefer to go off by themselves or to work alone are seen as outliers?

We gave Cain a call to talk about how schools, both right now and far off in the future, could better care for the needs of introverted students. Below, an edited transcript of that conversation, with some very surprising answers.

Could we rethink the chaotic school cafeteria? How about recess? How about the very definition of “class participation?” Cain offers bold ideas in these areas and more.

Photo by Tom Woodward/Flickr.

What kind of response did you get to the part of your TED Talk about the education system and how it isn’t optimized for introverts?

I’ve heard from so many teachers and school administrators and parents and students about the problems that they feel are embedded in the system.

I’ve heard from students feeling that they are unfairly docked for not meeting current standards of class participation. I’ve heard from teachers who now, in many cases, are required to make a majority of their lessons centered on group work.

Even when the teachers feel that’s not a good idea, they have to do it, because the teachers themselves are evaluated on that basis. They don’t have the wiggle room to modify it, even though they think they should. Overall, I’ve seen firsthand in the wake of my TED Talk that there’s such an enormous need for parents and teachers to better understand how to love and cultivate the introverted kid.

“What an extroverted act it is in the first place to go to school. All day long, you are in a classroom full of people with constant stimulation.”

What can be done in the short term to help teachers better understand how to do that?

I believe that we need to do general teacher training to just make them aware of what makes a student an introvert, what that means, and how best to cultivate the talent of those students. To raise awareness of what an extroverted act it is in the first place to go to school. All day long, you are in a classroom full of people with constant stimulation. Even for introverted kids who really like school, it’s still a very overstimulating experience.

In general, teachers should avoid setting social standards for what is normal. There’s research that shows that if a student has no friends at all — zero friends — that is problematic and should be addressed.

But a student who has one or two or three friends, and prefers to go deep with their friendships instead of being one of a big gang, there’s nothing wrong with that at all, in terms of it being a predictor for adulthood.

That style of socializing is perfectly fine. So we should identify problems when they are there — like a student who would really love to make friends but doesn’t know how. But at the same time, we shouldn’t make problems when they aren’t there by saying, “You should be more social.”

If the kid is perfectly happy the way they are, they need to get the message that the way they are is cool.

Photo by lecercle/Flickr.

One thing I think that educators should bear in mind: we allow adults all kinds of flexibility in terms of what kind of social life they want.

Adults who have two or three friends, no one thinks twice about it. But we don’t allow children the same degree of flexibility. I often ask people to imagine their next big, milestone birthday and to think how they would want to celebrate it.

Some people want to celebrate with a big bash full of friends, and other people would rather just go out with family or a couple of close friends. But think about what we expect children to do for their birthday parties.

We expect them to invite the whole class, and make it this big, uproarious affair. I get letters from parents all the time, saying, “We invited the whole class over for the birthday, and my child seemed happy for the first 15 minutes, and then she went to her room and wouldn’t come out.

What I’d say is: celebrate the way the kid wants to celebrate. Don’t give the kid the idea that there’s only one way to do it.

What are some small changes that teachers can make in the classroom right now that might make a big difference for kids who are introverts?

Number one would be to make sure to build quiet time into the school day, especially when kids are younger. Have 15 minutes set aside every day where the students just read.

Make sure that the classroom design accommodates nooks and crannies so you’re not just reading within groups of people, but you can go and sit on a sofa in the classroom and curl up with your book. When I was researching Quiet, I traveled around and sat in as a fly-on-the-wall in all kinds of classrooms, and many already do this — but not all of them. That would be one easy thing.

Photo by Greg Williams/Flickr.

Another would be reforming recess.

Teachers should think about providing alternatives to recess, which for many students is unnecessarily chaotic and not that interesting. Open up a classroom and let students sit and play board games in small groups, or read a book, or just hang out and chill.

The notion that all students should restore themselves by running out into a big, noisy yard is very limiting. Some will like it, some won’t. Some will like it on some days, but would prefer an alternative on other days.

The classroom is crying out for a solution that is less one-size-fits-all.”

Interesting. So the theme seems to be giving students more options.

Yeah, the idea is just to maximize choice. All the suggestions that I’m giving are along those lines of providing lots of different alternatives for how you get your learning and how you get your restorative time.

Let it be more of a pick-and-choose situation instead of it being, “Oh, let’s do it this way.”

There’s a well-known study in psychology by a guy named Russell Geen. He gave learning tasks to kids to solve, with varying levels of background noise. He found that the extroverts did best when the noise was louder, and the introverts did best when the noise was softer.

If you take that research and apply it to the classroom, it’s crying out for a solution that is less one-size-fits-all — and that allows students to pick the amount of stimulation that is right for them in that moment.

How can teachers make introverted students feel more comfortable when class is in session?

I’d say: less group work in general. Teachers should really mix it up fairly between individual work, group work, and have students do more work in pairs, which is a way that both introverts and extroverts can thrive.

There’s one technique that a lot educators will know of already, but should be reminded of: it’s called “think-pair-share.” What you do is ask a question, like “Why did Romeo do what he did?” or “Why did Juliet react the way she did?” and then the teacher thinks about it, and students sit by themselves for a minute or two and they think too.

Then they pair up, and discuss their thoughts with their partner. The share part is when they share their thoughts with the group. A lot of students who might be reticent at first will feel emboldened by having first discussed it with a partner.

Photo via iStock.

I’d like to challenge teachers to rethink what they mean by class participation and start thinking of it as classroom engagement instead.

Participation ends up rewarding quantity, so you get kids raising their hands for the sake of talking, and that’s not really in anybody’s interest. But engagement recognizes that there are a lot of different ways to engage with the material and with your peers.

If you think more broadly about it, a student who’s a good listener or who gives one really great, reflective comment is just as valued as the one who’s always raising their hand.

By the way, Greenwich Academy in Connecticut has adopted a lot of these ideas and has really been using them to great effect.

Was that jumpstarted by your talk and book?

Yes. Their teacher reading assignment over one summer was to read Quiet. They also had a group of students who embraced it and started really getting their peers and teachers to address it. They started a little movement within the school.

In May, I talked to the TED Blog about our whole Quiet Revolution. One of the segments that we are going to be tackling is education, because the need is so great. This is the area that is closest to my heart. With our Quiet Revolution, we plan to be doing versions of this with schools across the world — we just need to build out the resources for it.

We’re just at the beginning, but our intention is to partner with private and public schools all over the U.S., and ultimately globally, to really make sure that everything I’ve just been talking about can actually happen. We’re looking for the right leader for that right now.

Once we have the right leader, I think it will move at the speed of light, because there is so much groundwork in place already. So watch this space. We’re trying to create something that will really give schools the tools that they need.

“We should be getting away from school design that has students jostling together in one gigantic mass of humanity.”

Now, forget school in the form we know it. If you were designing schools of the future, what would they look like?

I really love the whole “flipped classroom” — Salman Khan’s model, where students do a lot of the hard work on their own the night before, and then come in and have the opportunity to engage one-on-one or in small groups with a teacher to resolve the remaining questions that they have. I think that’s really key for all students. The best way to learn, for sure.

I also think we need to rethink classroom design. It’s definitely integrating way more nooks and crannies and alternative sorts of spaces into our classrooms, but also rethinking our school designs in general. We should be getting away from school design that has students jostling together in one gigantic mass of humanity. There are a lot of students who just don’t thrive like that.

So instead of crowded halls, a design that channels students into different spaces?

Yeah. I’m imagining spaces that are more flexible so at any given moment, you can choose: Do I want to be in a solo space? Do I want to be in a small group space? Do I want to be in a more crowded, lively space?

A design that really takes into account the fact that all of us toggle back and forth in our days between wanting each of those three kinds of spaces. Right now, our schools are designed with a kind of monolithic sense of space.

Photo by Lexie Flickinger/Flickr.

How will the curriculum in schools of the future vary from what we see now?

I think the future of education will take into account the research of Anders Ericsson, who invented the concept of “deliberate practice.”

He’s a psychologist, and he studied what makes people into really expert, superstar performers — whether it’s in tennis or chess or math. He found that for most people, it’s not a question of having superior talent, but rather a question of having engaged in many hours of really concentrated, deliberate practice at the craft that they wanted to master.

He says that the key to deliberate practice is that you shouldn’t be doing it in a group where you’re going to be spending too much of your time working on stuff that’s either too hard for you, too easy for you, or not interesting to you.

You should be working alone or one-on-one with someone who can coach you along, and answer your questions at the right time. That whole body of work — and it’s pretty extensive right now — really needs to be integrated into the curriculum. That’s one of the reasons I love the flipped classroom idea, because I think it’s heading in that direction.

What kinds of differences would you imagine in how teachers are trained and evaluated?

In terms of teacher training — and I should say, I’m not an educator per se, so I am speaking from my specific corner on this — I think we need way more instruction in knowledge of temperament.

There’s a lot of attention in education paid to difference in learning style, and I think not enough understanding of differences of temperament and how that shapes who children are and how they learn and socialize. In terms of how teachers are evaluated, we need to give them way more freedom to design curricula they think will work for their students.

Earlier, I was telling you how many teachers tell me that they don’t want to do so much group work, but have no choice. Gosh, that really needs to change.

What kind of social activities are Not part of the school day now that could be in the future?

Small-scale socializing. Socializing in pairs and small groups. If you look at your typical school cafeteria, it is set up with the expectation that the students will eat lunch at gigantic tables full of kids. Why? A lot of us would much prefer to socialize with one or two people at a time.

So we should have small tables too. I think playgrounds could be designed to encourage more one-on-one or small group play as well. All the social structures should keep that modus operandi in mind.

Photo by Lexie Flickinger/Flickr.

Let’s talk about technology. How could technology be integrated into the classroom of the future to give more options, and be there in positive ways for students who are introverts?

I know from talking to educators that there are already tools that can be incredibly helpful — tools that allow students to participate through their electronic devices as opposed to raising their hand.

Apps that allow students to contribute to class discussions, sometimes anonymously and sometimes not. Even if it’s not anonymous, the fact that a student is participating in a class discussion or a class blog online removes some of their own psychological barriers to participation.

The same kid who might not raise their hand in class might write something really interesting into some kind of classroom app or blog. Then other students see their ideas, and they start talking about it in real life. It’s a bridge to participation.

I think we’ll move toward anything that encourages student participation through an online medium. It could be for student artists or student writers, for example — giving them opportunities to contribute to a class blog or something where their classmates will get to see their hearts and minds in this other forum. I think that really opens things up.

Featured illustration by Dawn Kim.

lies we tell pregnant women

“When we tell women that sex isn’t worth the risk during pregnancy, what we’re telling her is that her sexual pleasure doesn’t matter … that she in fact doesn’t matter,” says sex researcher Sofia Jawed-Wessel.

In this eye-opening talk, Jawed-Wessel mines our views about pregnancy and pleasure to lay bare the relationship between women, sex and systems of power.

Sofia Jawed-Wessel. Sex researcher

Sofia Jawed-Wessel’s teachings utilize a sex-positive and pleasure-inclusive approach to providing medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education. Full bio

Filmed Oct. 2016

We’re going to share a lot of secrets today, you and I, and in doing so, I hope that we can lift some of the shame many of us feel about sex.

0:21 How many here have ever been catcalled by a stranger? Lots of women. For me, the time I remember best is when that stranger was a student of mine. He came up to me after class that night and his words confirmed what I already knew:

“I am so sorry, professor. If I had known it was you, I would never have said those things.”

 I wasn’t a person to him until I was his professor.

This concept, called objectification, is the foundation of sexism, and we see it reinforced through every aspect of our lives. We see it in the government that refuses to punish men for raping women.

We see it in advertisements. How many of you have seen an advertisement that uses a woman’s breast to sell an entirely unrelated product?

Or movie after movie after movie that portrays women as only love interests? These examples might seem inconsequential and harmless, but they’re insidious, slowly building into a culture that refuses to see women as people.

We see this in the school that sends home a 10-year-old girl because her clothes were a distraction to boys trying to learn, or the government that refuses to punish men for raping women over and over, or the woman who is killed because she asked a man to stop grinding on her on the dance floor.

Media plays a large role in perpetuating the objectification of women.

Let’s consider the classic romantic comedy. We’re typically introduced to two kinds of women in these movies, two kinds of desirable women, anyway.

The first is the sexy bombshell. This is the unbelievably gorgeous woman with the perfect body. Our leading man has no trouble identifying her and even less trouble having sex with her.

The second is our leading lady, the beautiful but demure woman our leading man falls in love with despite not noticing her at first or not liking her if he did. The first is the slut. She is to be consumed and forgotten. She is much too available. The second is desirable but modest, and therefore worthy of our leading man’s future babies. Marriage material. We’re actually told that women have two roles, but these two roles have a difficult time existing within the same woman.

 On the rare occasion that I share with a new acquaintance that I study sex, if they don’t end the conversation right then, they’re usually pretty intrigued.

 “Oh. Tell me more.”

3:20 So I do.

“I’m really interested in studying the sexual behaviors of pregnant and postpartum couples.” At this point I get a different kind of response.

“Oh. Huh. Do pregnant people even have sex? Have you thought about studying sexual desire or orgasms? That would be interesting, and sexy.”

Tell me. What are the first words that come to mind when you picture a pregnant woman?

I asked this question in a survey of over 500 adults, and most responded with “belly” or “round” and “cute.” This didn’t surprise me too much. What else do we label as cute? Babies. Puppies. Kittens. The elderly. Right?

When we label an adult as cute, though, we take away a lot of their intelligence, their complexity. We reduce them to childlike qualities.

I also asked heterosexual men to imagine a woman that they’re partnered with is pregnant, and then asked women to imagine that they are pregnant, and then tell me the first words that come to mind when they imagine having sex.

Most of the responses were negative. “Gross.” “Awkward.” “Not sexy.” “Odd.” “Uncomfortable.” “How?”  “Not worth the trouble.” “Not worth the risk.”

4:57 That last one really stuck with me. We might think that because we divorce pregnant women and moms from sexuality, we are removing the constraints of sexual objectification. They experience less sexism. Right? Not exactly.

What happens instead is a different kind of objectification. In my efforts to explain this to others, one conversation led to the Venus of Willendorf, a Paleolithic figurine scholars assumed was a goddess of love and beauty, hence the name Venus.

This theory was later revised, though, when scholars noted the sculptor’s obvious focus on the figurine’s reproductive features: large breasts, considered ideal for nursing; a round, possibly pregnant belly; the remnants of red dye, alluding to menstruation or birth.

They also assumed that she was meant to be held or placed lying down because her tiny feet don’t allow her to be freestanding. She also had no face. For this reason, it was assumed that she was a representation of fertility and not a portrait of a person. She was an object. In the history of her interpretation, she went from object of ideal beauty and love to object of reproduction.

I think this transition speaks more about the scholars who have interpreted her purpose than the actual purpose of the figurine herself. When a woman becomes pregnant, she leaves the realm of men’s sexual desire and slides into her reproductive and child-rearing role. In doing so, she also becomes the property of the community, considered very important but only because she’s pregnant. Right? I’ve taken to calling this the Willendorf effect, and once again we see it reinforced in many aspects of her life.

Has anyone here ever been visibly pregnant?

Yeah. Lots of you, right? So how many of you ever had a stranger touch your belly during pregnancy, maybe without even asking your permission first?

Or told what you can and cannot eat by somebody who is not your doctor, your medical care provider?

Or asked private questions about your birth plan? And then told why those choices are all wrong? Yeah, me too. Or had a server refuse to bring you a glass of wine?

This one might give you pause, I know, but stay with me. This is a huge secret. It is actually safe to drink in moderation during pregnancy. Many of us don’t know this because doctors don’t trust pregnant women with this secret —  especially if she’s less educated or a woman of color.

7:52 What this tells us is, this Willendorf effect, it’s also classist and racist. It’s present when the government reminds women with every new anti-choice bill that the contents of her uterus are not her own, or when an ob-gyn says, “While it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy, sometimes you never know. Better safe than sorry, right?”

She’s denied basic privacy and bodily autonomy under the guise of “be a good mother.” We don’t trust her to make her own decisions. She’s cute, remember? When we tell women that sexual pleasure — excuse me.

 When we tell women that sex isn’t worth the risk during pregnancy, what we’re telling her is that her sexual pleasure doesn’t matter. So what we are telling her is that she in fact doesn’t matter, even though the needs of her fetus are not at odds with her own needs.

8:56 So medical providers, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have the opportunity to educate about the safety of sex during pregnancy. So what do the experts say?

ACOG actually has no public official statement about the safety of sex during pregnancy. Guidance from the Mayo Clinic is generally positive but presented with a caveat: “Although most women can safely have sex throughout pregnancy, sometimes it’s best to be cautious.”

Some women don’t want to have sex during pregnancy, and that’s OK. Some women do want to have sex during pregnancy, and that’s OK, too. What needs to stop is society telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

Pregnant women are not faceless, identity-less vessels of reproduction who can’t stand on their own two feet. But the truth is, the real secret is, we tell all women that their sexual pleasure doesn’t matter. We refuse to even acknowledge that women who have sex with women or women who don’t want children even exist.

10:07 “Oh, it’s just a phase …  she just needs the right man to come along.”

Every time a woman has sex simply because it feels good, it is revolutionary. She is revolutionary. She is pushing back against society’s insistence that she exist simply for men’s pleasure or for reproduction. A woman who prioritizes her sexual needs is scary, because a woman who prioritizes her sexual needs prioritizes herself.

That is a woman demanding that she be treated as an equal. That is a woman who insists that you make room for her at the table of power, and that is the most terrifying of all because we can’t make room for her without some of us giving up the extra space we hold.

I have one last secret for you. I am the mother of two boys and we could use your help. Even though my boys hear me say regularly that it’s important for men to recognize women as equals and they see their father modeling this, we need what happens in the world to reinforce what happens in our home.

This is not a men’s problem or a women’s problem. This is everyone’s problem, and we all play a role in dismantling systems of inequality. For starters, we have got to stop telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

This includes not treating pregnant women like community property. If you don’t know her, don’t even ask to touch her belly. You wouldn’t anybody else.

Don’t tell her what she can and cannot eat.

Don’t ask her private details about her medical decisions. This also includes understanding that even if you are personally against abortion, you can still fight for a woman’s right to choose.

When it comes to women’s equality, the two need not oppose one another. If you’re somebody who has sex with women, prioritize her pleasure. If you don’t know how, ask.

If you have children have conversations about sex as early as possible, because kids don’t look up s-e-x in the dictionary anymore. They look it up on the internet. And when you’re having those conversations about sex, don’t center them on reproduction only. People have sex for many reasons, some because they want a baby, but most of us have sex because it feels good. Admit it.

And regardless of whether you have children or not, support comprehensive sex education that doesn’t shame our teenagers.

Nothing positive comes from shaming teens for their sexual desires, behaviors, other than positive STD and pregnancy tests.

13:17 Every single day, we are all given the opportunity to disrupt patterns of inequality. I think we can all agree that it’s worth the trouble to do so.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.
“When we tell women that sex isn’t worth the risk during pregnancy, what we’re telling her is that her sexual pleasure doesn’t matter … that she in fact doesn’t matter,” says sex researcher Sofia Jawed-Wessel. In this eye-opening talk, Jawed-Wessel mines our views about pregnancy and pleasure to l…




May 2017
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