17 September 2014

A Tribute To African Women


Antonio Sacristan is 29 years old volunteer from Madrid, Spain who spent 6 months of his life in Zambia, Mongu village. During his stay he was doing community development work. Together with his colleagues they saw that many woman are harassed and abused on the streets, so they decided to create a workshop for a men, women, teenagers and children to talk about feminism, gender roles and sexism.

The workshop was even more difficult than expected. Woman role in the Zambian society is very important because she is doing everything from household and childcare to earning money for the family. In many cases the money that is earned by the men is spent firstly on his needs and entertainment and after for the well-being of the family. Suddenly this model of living was questioned by three men from Europe. It created a lot of thinking and was taken serious but it didn't create any solutions.

The main feeling after the workshops was that people can be informed but not changed in six months. People must be educated daily and it has to start from the childhood, then the situation can be improved. The system must be developed in order to improve women's health and possibilities from the big cities to African villages.

Before the experience in Africa Antonio was interested in gender equality, now he is loud enthusiast. Fighting for women rights and educating other people to have a better tomorrow for the whole world.

16 September 2014

Global Female Condom Day, September 16


WHY DO WE NEED FEMALE CONDOMS?

  • 222 million women in developing countries who wish to avoid a pregnancy have an unmet need for contraceptives.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 million people acquire a sexually transmitted infection every day.
  • UNAIDS reports that in 2013, an estimated 2.1 million people became newly infected—the majority through sexual transmission.
  • A UNAIDS 2014 report estimates that young women 15–24 years old in sub-Saharan Africa are twice as likely as young men to be living with HIV.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Black women in the U.S. are disproportionately impacted by HIV, accounting for approximately two-thirds of women living with HIV.
  • The CDC reports that young Black gay men and other men who have sex with men comprise the overwhelming majority of new HIV infections in the U.S.
  • Globally, gay men and other men who have sex with men are 13 times more likely to be HIV-positive than the general population.
  • Female condoms can be used by women and men living with HIV to meet their family planning needs and claim their rights to healthy, mutually respectful, and fulfilling sexual relationships.


10 FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE FEMALE CONDOMS

  1. Female Condom is a sexually transmitted Disease prevention tool and a contraceptive tool which prevents unplanned pregnancies
  2. It is 17 cm long which is about the same length of the unrolled male condom and wider than a male condom
  3. Female Condom shouldn’t be used together with male condom because it could be damaged during sexual intercourse due to the friction
  4. Female Condoms are made of polyurethane or nitrile, which make them strong and durable. There is no need to store it in a special storage conditions as it is resistant to humidity and high temperatures
  5. It gives women the opportunity to share responsibility for the condoms with their partners. It also provides the alternative if the partner is unwilling to use a male condom due to personal, cultural, religious or other reasons
  6. The female condom is safe, simple, and convenient
  7. You can insert it ahead of time or as part of sex play
  8. Globally, female condom distribution increased by 10 million between 2008 and 2009.
  9. Today the female condom is available in over 90 countrie
  10. In 2008, donor countries supplied 18.2 million female condoms globally, compared to nearly 2.4 billion male condoms

On Global Female Condom Day, Sept. 16, we’re showing the world that women and men want access to female condoms by dancing for demand! Anyone can participate, alone or with a group!
Get started: www.femalecondomday.org. #Dance4Demand

12 September 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Maleficent (2014)

#inspirationalmovies


If you haven't seen Maleficent (2014, Robert Stromberg) yet, drop everything and go get it! If you have, this might be a nice moment to watch it again. And again. Because as far as Disney (and many more) movies go, this is as directly grrrl power and smash the patriarchy as it will probably ever get in the mainstream entertainment business*.

First of all, do not listen to those who call this a version of Sleeping Beauty. While Aurora is involved, this is a completely different story. One that makes more sense, I - without even being of the branch of eco-feminism and essentialism - would say.

The interpretation of the script that resonates with me is the basic idea that if you (violently) crush somebody's sense of self, their capacity to express themselves and enjoy the life, expect trouble. Applied to a girl-child with powers to revenge her loss magically - and, oh, so powerfully - here you have Maleficent.

The fact that the harm is inflicted by a man, masked behind a romantic interest, just makes it more close to reality for many survivors around the world, really. Jolie herself has spoken out both on gender-based violence and rape, and on possible parallels with it you can find in Maleficent. Yes, rape exists and you can start a conversation about it using this Disney movie.

And the good news are: people can heal when time and support is given. Yes, thank you, Disney!

Additional points go to the creators for making the prince to be against the idea of kissing an unconscious girl he barely knows. Great, the need for enthusiastic consent can be evoked right here! Even more, in this movie - as in Frozen (2013) - the real love is not the one coming from a prince on a white horse. Kudos, Disney, I'm very impressed!

* I hope that's not true and I shall see more and more explicitly feminist movies coming up where the pink princess culture was, but I don't hold my breath for that. Therefore enjoy this one as intensely as you can!

 

I ♥ Being a Girl people, Magdalena

Hi cuties!

My name is Magdalena Druid and I am just as bananas as I look!
SRHR has been my biggest passion for as long as I can remember, but when you are nine years young it is one of those interests that you tend to keep to yourself. When I started a new school in 2008 I decided that it was also going to be a new beginning and my chance to be all me. This led me to join RFSU (Swedish association for sexuality education) in my local RFSU group; RFSU Linköping. Soon I became active and joined the local board. I also participated in different trainings and became a peer educator within the project “Color of Love”. Since then not a day goes by without med breathing and living all things SRHR. A friend told me about YSAFE and I immediately fell in love with the whole idea of young people being in charge of these topics. Then I met all the wonderful activists, and I became hooked for life! I have now been a member of the YSAFE SC since feb 2013 and I have been the Vice chair since February this year. It is such a privilege to be a part of a network that has come such a long way and that will only continue to get even better.  

Those rare occasions when I have tome for something other than SRHR I love to read, hang out with awesome people and try to make the world a better place.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
Realise that ALL people are the same.
Eat more chocolate.
Do more unexpected things that make them happy. (I for example attended a underwear party once, and it changed my life J ).

Before I’m 80, I’d like to have made a difference for the better in someone’s life. And I hope that I can look back at a life full of laughter, activism and really tasty food ^_^

16 August 2014

I ♥ Being a Girl people, Ilze

Hey-ho folks!

My name is Ilze Leimane and this is my story!

There are thousands of things that can make me happy but three that always work are
TRAVELLING, VOLUNTEERING & LEARNING SOMETHING NEW

What brought me to I ♥ Being a Girl? The fact that I ♥ Being a Girl!
Once upon a time (5 years ago) I started to volunteer in  Latvia's Association For Family Planning and Reproductive Health which inspired me to educate myself more about the issues all over the world and one of them (with thousand sub-issues) is sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). From the local I decided to go global. I have been volunteering in Europe and Asia, gained experience and inspiration to do something on this topic. For quite a while I am part of the YSAFE group where I have met dozen of inspiring people with the interest to improve the SRHR=Human rights.

Surely world be a better place if we would
  • watch more documentaries over various topics. Here you can find bunch of them. Personally, my last favourite is Schooling The World (2010) 
  • listen reggae, meditative and tribal music! And here is one great musician Asa (Asha)! You should get to know her!
  • read more books as such! I recommenced Khaled Hosseini books (very strong, cruel and honest stories from the Afghanistan that won't let you go for a while after finishing the book). Also, you should read blogs, start with the I ♥ Being a Girl to make world a better place! One more recommendation is this blog. It's about the 20-years-old girl who is cycling around the world! Inspirational!
  • step in a another man's shoes for a day. Just try and you will break many of your own prejudices and stereotypes!

There are millions of things I want to do before I am 80! I want to create something sustainable for the people around me and beyond, visit 6 continents and learn 6 languages, learn how to dance, how to play ukulele, how to balance! Live in African village at least for a year, return to Puducherry, live in a eco-village, change someone's life, overcome my fears, change my stereotypes and hike the Kilimanjaro! I want to be healthy and unstoppable! Proud, useful, happy and the most important - to have a choice!

Emotions are contagious, spread more positivity and good thoughts. It will affect other people who will affect more people. If you think that you are too small to change something, try sleeping with a mosquito in the same room.

Peace!


15 August 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Frida (2002)

#inspirationalmovies


There are many reasons to be obsessed with Frida Khalo. Her paintings, her life story, her activism, her style, her resilience... Frida (2002, Julie Taymor) offers a taste for all of it. It's a high-budget Hollywood interpretation, of course, and bound to be an interpretation after what's known about her life and what can be seen in her paintings through the prism of the director and many other people. And through the Frida Kahlo myth too, of course.

Nevertheless there are certain aspects of her life that are very clear.
  • The use of personal, painful, often gendered experiences in creative expression, working through and with them (very similarly as Sylvia Plath, by the way). 
  • The courage to embrace her roots and go beyond them at the same time. Her way of both painting and dress is clearly based on Mexican imagery, but then she takes it a step farther and makes it her very own.
  • The wish to follow her desires, to act upon them. While this is not supposed to be always easy, there's no doubt that Frida's journey was an authentic one.  
Etc, etc... the internets are full of people - including us, of course - swooning over Frida's work and icon that the popular culture has turned her. Go, read some! But, whatever you read, keep in mind that, as somebody on tumblr said:
"Frida Kahlo was a disabled politically active woman of color who deliberately fucked with gender roles and don’t you ever forget it."

P.S. For the dessert, here's the story on her dresses: 1, 2.

08 August 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Summertime (1955)

#inspirationalmovie 

Just in time for August, another treat with Katharine Hepburn: Summertime (1955, David Lean). And exactly as it happens with many more classic - and contemporary - movies, there are several ways how you can read the plot. Our mission is emancipatory, so on that we shall focus...

1) A woman traveling solo to a country she does not know without speaking a word in its language. Already daring.

2) She is not young. Or breathtakingly beautiful. Or overly confident. But she's very excited to be doing things and going places.

3) She meets a person. And has lots of fun with them. While nobody is promising marriage or happily ever after.

4) After that, she takes a decision to stop a relationship that is not promising anything more than she has already seen. She leaves. To go back to her life. Because she has a life. For real.   

Obviously, all of this happens in a sauce of she wasn't really living until she met the right man, but - as we did with Roman Holiday (1953), which has a very very similar narrative - let's treat the love interest as a driver of empowerment and self-discovery instead of being a prince charming and a savior. Because in both of these movies (both set in Italy, curiously enough, the paragon of loose morals for 1950's Hollywood, apparently), the protagonists have romantic fun and then move on. With a bittersweet break-up, yes, but with little doubts about what they have to do and where are they going.

And before most of the above happens, this quote:
"Renato De Rossi: Listen to me! Stop behaving like a schoolgirl! What my wife does is not your business. What signora Fiorini does is not your business. You come here and what you do? You hide in a gondola and you sigh “Oh, Venice is so beautiful, so romantic! Oh, these Italians, so beautiful, so romantic! Such children!” and you dream of meeting someone you want: young, rich, witty, brilliant, and unmarried, of course! But me, I’m a shopkeeper, not young, not rich, not witty, not brilliant and married, of course. But I am a man, and you are a woman. But you see…it’s “wrong” it’s “wicked” it’s this, it’s that. You’re like a hungry child who is given ravioli to eat. “No!” you say, “I want beef steak!” My dear girl…you are hungry. Eat the ravioli.
Jane Hudson: I’m not that hungry.
Renato De Rossi: We are all that hungry, Miss Hudson."
Realizing your most authentic needs and fulfilling them is very important. And sometimes other people might help with that.



01 August 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Sylvia Plath movies

#inspirationalmovie

This is a tragic story. We've warned you. But it's also essential for your herstory knowledge and a very good way to empathize with the problematic of The Feminine Mystique, to understand the great drama of those women educated (therefore craving stimulus and self-realization) but confined to running a household and suffering whatever comes in order to keep up the appearances and keep the family together*.

We offer a double feature about the poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963). Open her wikipedia page, scan through it, then start with the movie version of her acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar (1963) - The Bell Jar (1979, Larry Peerce). A coming-of-age story gone sour is just what you need to observe the moment when the idealism and ambition (to become a renowned poet) clashes with the adult world. In this case the adult world implies dumbing things down for the audience of a women's magazine, men that think people owe them sex, fear of pregnancy, fear of the future, invasive and traumatic psychiatric treatment, the desire to disappear...

The novel is based on the experience Plath had while doing an internship in a New York magazine and her consecutive mental breakdown. A version about that summer in Sylvia's life can be read in Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953.


Then go on with Sylvia (2003, Christine Jeffs) covering Plath's career after the recovery, relationship with Ted Hughes, and suicide at the age of 30. While putting no stigma on Sylvia's history of mental health issues, the movie charts the path from poetry and love, through the hell of betrayal, inability to create and utter abandonment, back to writing from the darkest places of her experience and moving generations of people with the sheer force of her suffering. 

The relationship dynamics are pretty much the same as depicted in Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012) - full of the struggle to create, to get out of the shadow of a celebrity-partner and deal with their ego - just more intense and with a tragic ending.


* Here it is about running a household instead of doing anything else as a consequence of social norms requiring it (while offering almost no alternatives, and demanding that you become a wife and a mother primarily even if you are a great poet, scientist, dancer, doctor...). It is obviously not the same as being able to decide to dedicate yourself to caring because that's what resonates with your most authentic self.

25 July 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Fake Orgasm (2010)

#inspirationalmovies


While normally we do not mind spoilers (assuming that analysis = spoiler), this is an exception. Click "play" and watch this 2010 documentary on conceptual/performance artist Lazlo Pearlman. The title Fake Orgasm refers to one of his performance which included a fake orgasm competition... but that's just the beginning as he goes much farther exploring and demolishing the notions of gender, heteronormativity, gendered expectations in the bed and out of it.

If you are already familiar enough with the notion that gender binary is an anachronistic concept, this won't be that surprising, of course. But it can still give you ideas about possible work in bringing this message to other (unsuspecting) people and breaking down the cages that social constructs like this may be for people.  

There are some moments of Spanish spoken with no translation in this version, but you should be able to manage through it. All the crucial narrative is in English.

18 July 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011)

#inspirationalmovies


For a culturally stimulating watch that familiarizes you with one of the icons of the men's men's men's world that fashion was and still is to a large extent, get Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011).

Introducing Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) - especially to those that were born after her epoch in Vogue had already ended - and through archive footage and people that knew her showing that:

You don't have to be conventionally pretty to have fun with dressing-up and to become a style paradigm on your own.

You don't necessarily need a formal education to be good at something and get a job that you are passionate about (although this part is clearly much harder than it was in the 1930's).

You may realize and act upon the fact that family life may just not be for you. Nevertheless - and as the children of Diana confirm - would be nice to realize that before actually bringing any children into the world.

You should be able to express yourself and speak clearly and loudly from your most authentic self. This is not a victimless advice, of course, but the clear satisfaction you can see in Diana's face when commenting on how she perceived the world is priceless. (Again, this is not to promise that just anybody can become the editor-in-chief of Vogue, but to encourage to practice creative self-expression whenever and however you feel it to be adequate. And maybe a bit over the top too.)

You should - to the extent that's possible, obviously - surround yourself by things and people that entertain, educate, and inspire. Because the eye (and the mind) has to travel.