Boston University Reproductive Bill of Rights

 By Riya Gopal

Currently, Boston University has no language in any of its policies guaranteeing easy access to sexual health services. In contemporary society, such language is crucial in creating an environment that serves to educate others on the importance of sexual health and improve upon conditions that may lead to sexual misconceptions. I am a part of a Reproductive Bill of Rights Task Force that is in the process of drafting a bill to create advancements in BU’s policies regarding reproductive healthcare. Listed below are our current propositions.

1. Plan B should be available for all students at Student Health Services without an appointment.

2. Free condoms should be available via dispensers in all bathrooms of the first floor of every Boston University Charles River campus residence hall. This includes both internal and external condoms.

3. Menstrual hygiene products should be available via free dispensers in all student-facing restrooms across Boston University’s Charles River campus. 
4. There should be gender-neutral bathrooms in all Charles River campus residence halls, a minimum of one on every floor. Other Boston University buildings including schools, FitRec, student centers, and dining halls should also have one clearly labeled gender-neutral bathroom per floor. 
5. Wellness & Prevention Services and Student Health Services must regularly collaborate and host free STI testing clinics available for all Boston University students. At a minimum, there should be two clinics per academic year. 
6. All written statements, policies, regulations, and other literature published by Boston University and its schools must consistently contain gender-neutral language. If the literature is highlighting or referencing any gender identity in particular, an accurate and comprehensive explanation of said identity will also be included. 
7. A Boston University-affiliated website will be built and be a central source of reproductive and sexual health information for all Boston University students, faculty, and staff, as well as the general public. This website will include statistics, lists of on- and off-campus health resources, fast facts regarding sexual health, and LGBTQIA+ affirming education. This website will also have quick links for confidential and non-confidential resources for disclosing or reporting all forms of gender-based violence.
8. All first-year undergraduate students are required to complete the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention center’s “Step Up Step In BU” bystander intervention training. This should also be required of all transfer students, regardless of year. Students who do not attend and receive credit should be unable to register for courses for the following semester. 

 

If you want to become a part of this incredible task force, there are many ways to get involved! Sign our petition using this link http://chng.it/htF6sMnvB4, or email bubortf@gmail.com if you want to contribute to this petition and become a part of the task force. Together, we can make a difference.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Mystery Poem

By Melissa Hurtado

I pee every 5 minutes

Do you?

I’ve gone to 4 different doctors

How about you?

They all tell me it’s a UTI

But that’s not true

I have pelvic floor dysfunction

And you probably do too


Pelvic floor dysfunctions are common in 1 of 3 women. Most of the time people live undiagnosed because they are too scared/embarrassed to report their symptoms or are misdiagnosed. They are not life threatening but can significantly affect the quality of life. Women, especially WOC, tend to underreport their symptoms and so they are the most affected by this. It is important to talk about your pelvic floor muscles and how you can get treated. Part of the reason why there’s still such a mystery regarding the dysfunction and ways to treat it, is because women’s health issues are understudied and at times ignored. Men with pelvic floor dysfunction experience erectile dysfunction… and guess what? THERE’S A CURE FOR THAT.

What can we do about this? Talk about your symptoms! Talk to your friends, doctors, join facebook groups, and continue to seek help. It’s okay to be in pain but it is not okay to hide it.

For more information about PFD, read these articles:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/pelvic-floor-dysfunction

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180717-the-pelvic-floor-is-still-a-mystery-in-anatomy

I Did a Gratitude Journal for a Month, and Here’s What I Learned

By Riya Gopal

Psychologists and neuroscientists have created headlines everywhere explaining the health benefits of gratitude. Between creating an increase in overall happiness, deeper sleep, and reduction of cellular inflammation, who knew that a simple act of appreciation could go so far? However, gratitude is not just a half-hearted “thank you” to the people around you. True gratitude requires taking time out of your day, even if just a couple of minutes, to really reflect on what creates a genuine sense of joy in your everyday life. Of course, after reading so many articles on the benefits of this practice, I simply had to try it.

My intentions towards the beginning of my practice were very intrinsic in nature. Would this make my skin clearer? Would I win a million dollars? I decided to write down five things I was grateful for each morning, first thing when I woke up. The first morning, I excitedly opened my empty blue journal, flipping it to a clean sheet and taking out a colorful purple pen. As my pen touched the paper, this inexplicable change in quality shifted my mind from my intrinsic thoughts to the atmosphere around me. I began to notice things I hadn’t noticed before. I was suddenly so grateful for the way the sunlight streamed into my room. I was grateful for the tea that was sitting next to me, steaming aromatically from my cup. I was grateful for this moment of peace, in a still room, my legs crisscrossed underneath me. Paying such active attention to such pleasant feelings gave me this incredible rush of joy, one that is only experienced when in touch with genuine appreciation. Since that day, I can say that my joy has only grown more as I have continued this practice.

In addition to such genuine happiness, I also noticed something about myself. I had a tendency to appreciate others while neglecting what I loved about myself. While looking back at my past entries, I came to the realization that there has to be a balance between internal and external gratitude. I focused so much on the external, yet felt like I would be cocky if I wrote down what I liked about myself. This, my friends, is a toxic female habit. We as women tend to minimize our self-worth, feeling as though highlighting our strengths makes us less humble people. We deny and deflect compliments rather than simply saying “thank you.” Confident women get told by men that they are “bitches.” I never truly understood how much this vicious gender dynamic impacted my ability to express self-gratitude, but I embraced this revelation and changed my ways of appreciation. Of course, my external gratitude still remained, but I began to congratulate myself on my accomplishments, or tell myself that I was beautiful.

Being able to express both of these means of gratitude on paper changed me as a person. It has only been a month, but I already feel my chin rise higher than normal when I walk. I raise my hand more in class. I express how proud I am of myself. Not only has my relationship with myself changed, but my relationship with others has blossomed. I take the time out of my day to call my loved ones, or stay up with friends and really listen to what they have to say. I hug people a little harder before parting ways. So, pick up a blank journal near you, pick up a colorful pen, and really tap into what you love about yourself and what is around you. You will be surprised by how much you learn about yourself.

Ayanna Pressley: My Hair Speaks Volumes

By Thea Gay

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley  of Massachusetts’s 7th congressional district recently came forward about her natural hair journey. It’s a story of love, loss, healing, and acceptance as she herself has had to come to terms with what her hair means to the world and to her image.

In January of 2020, Pressley came forward about her struggle with having alopecia (sudden hair loss). Pressley speaks on behalf of the journey that all Black people deal with as natural hair has always been seen as defying and even defiant. For years, Black hairstyles––especially on Black women––have been criticized as “ghetto” and unprofessional. Hair for Black women, regardless of if you have it or not, is political.

Learning to love your hair is a process, and when you do it’s so empowering. But losing it can feel like you’ve been robbed of the opportunity to reach self-love. Pressley’s decision to speak out comes from her passion to represent her community and others living with alopecia, and also to find healing within herself. By learning to accept who she is for how she is, Pressley openly wears her hair bald. This short poem is inspired by Pressley’s journey, her passion, and her continual leadership to never let someone else tell her story unless herself.

I am not what you think

But I am all that you are

My hair is my weapon

My personal tool

My ability to be free from the reigns of your rule

No matter how it chooses to be, it sends a message to be known

Something that needs to be heard, more importantly shown

It’s careful, powerful, and strong

My blackness is my beauty even with no hair at all

pressley

Photo Credit: The Root

Harry Styles and the Fine Line Between Journalism and Intrusion

By Avery Serven

 About a month ago, I saw an interview with Harry Styles in The Guardian. In the interview, the writer was incessantly asking Styles about his sexual orientation and all the details surrounding it. They pointed out that the cover of his latest album, Fine Line, features the bisexual pride flag colors: pink, purple and blue. Styles responded by saying that he chooses colors and aesthetics based on the fact that he wants things to look a certain way, not because of their meaning or implication.

 The interviewer also directly asked Styles about his sexuality, to which Styles asked why that would be a question in the interview. He went on to say that it shouldn’t matter, stating “‘It’s just: who cares?’”.

 By the end, the interviewer had probably got the hint that Styles was a bit confused by his questions, so he asked if any of the questions had bothered Styles. He replied with: “‘What I would say, about the whole being-asked-about-my-sexuality thing – this is a job where you might get asked. And to complain about it, to say you hate it, and still do the job, that’s just silly. You respect that someone’s gonna ask. And you hope that they respect they might not get an answer.’”

 This interview really bothered me, and I thought about it for a while after I read it. I was not only bothered by the interviewer grilling Styles about his sexuality (because he’s right- it’s nobody’s business), but also by the fact that Styles said he knew he would be asked because of his job. Why is that? In my mind, it is so intrusive to ask that question of anyone, celebrity or not. He’s right that it is nobody’s business, but it also shouldn’t matter. I believe we ought to live in a world where sexuality is not something that should be labeled or questioned, but just accepted. It is what it is, and it should only matter to each individual- not the media, nor the tabloids, nor one’s fans.

 I believe Styles took this interview in stride and handled the situation quite well considering the fact that the interviewer was clearly crossing a line. For the future, I urge fellow writers as well as those in the media to stop forcing celebrities to label their sexuality. It is the business of no one except the celebrity, and it endorses a culture of outing, labelling, and confining sexuality. Allow everybody to make their own private decisions about their life and way of living, free of labels. Once we start endorsing a culture that does this, the world will be a better place for all human beings.

 Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/dec/14/harry-styles-sexual-ambiguity-dating-normals-rocking-a-dress

Unfair and Not Lovely

By Riya Gopal

My earliest memory that I can recall is trying to figure out why the terms “dark” and “beautiful” were inversely related. During frequent trips to India with my family, posters of light-skinned women littered each billboard, advertising a brand called Fair and Lovely. I remember feeling confused, noticing a disconnect between the porcelain models on the poster and my own darker complexion. Why were there no models with my skin color on the billboards? I asked my mother what Fair and Lovely was, and she explained to me that it was a bleaching product that whitens skin. Having grown up in the US with its white-washed media, this revolting product somehow made sense to me.

Since then, I felt incredibly insecure in my darker skin, believing that beauty was only achievable through being light. My aunt would chide my mom for letting me play in the sun, as it made me tanner. Boys at school started telling me I was “pretty for an Indian.” I would watch Bollywood movies that seemed to only cast actors based on how white they looked. I had the audacity to believe that fairness of skin tone equated to how lovely you were, and I let it consume me for years.

The Fair and Lovely epidemic is not specific to India. According to a recent study published by World Health Organization, 77% of Nigerian women have admitted to using skin lightening products. Why is this product so prevalent? The colorism connoted in the ads for these products portrays lighter skinned people as more desired and successful. The psychological implications of this are serious, with young women facing low self-confidence that negatively impacts their personal and professional successes. Such beauty standards can essentially direct the course of someone’s life, making them feel too worthless to pursue certain goals.

The bottom line: change needs to be made in the societal perception of beauty and product marketing. I think a lot about how I want the prevalence of colorism to change for the next generation. I think a lot about my future children, and it is scary to consider how this standard of beauty will make them feel in their own skin. I am terrified that whiter people will persistently dominate the workplace, and that the dark-skinned children of future generation will be too scared to pursue their dreams. As women of color, we have the right to sovereignty over our bodies, and the right to unapologetically embrace our melanin. Dark is lovely.

How To Make DIY Cork Stamps!

MATERIALSNEEDED

If you are a crafts-lover like me, and looking to add a fun and inexpensive new DIY to your next crafting session, look no further! In this tutorial I will be teaching you how to make your own stamps out of recycled cork from wine bottles. Let’s get to it!

MATERIALS NEEDED:

–  Cork (from a wine bottle, the one I am using is from Barefoot)

– X-ACTO Knife or Box Cutter 

– Pencil

– Piece of Paper

– Ink or Acrylic Paint

(Note: An advanced version will sub out the cork for an eraser)

STEP 1: TRACING

Take the cork you plan to carve and trace its outline on a sheet of paper. This allows for more precision when transferring your design on the cork itself. STEP1

STEP 2: CREATE A DESIGN

Design your stamp! Be sure to draw within the lines to make sure your design successfully transfers to the cork. Use clean lines to ensure the ease of tracing later!STEP2

STEP 3: CUT OUT YOUR DESIGN

Using the X-ACTO knife or box cutter, cut out the design you created. STEP3

NOTE: You may have to make adjustments, using the cork as a guide, trim where needed

STEP 4: TRANSFERRING THE DESIGN

Place your design cut-out on top of the soft side of the cork and trace! NOTE: If your design contains text, be sure to transfer the design backwards, so that your final stamp will be legible from left to right.STEP4

STEP 5: ETCHING YOUR STAMP

Using the X-ACTO knife, cut the design you have traced into the cork. Be sure to get a deep slice for clean lines.STEP5

STEP 6: USE YOUR DIY STAMP!

You did it! Now you can use your stamp. Using the paintbrush, layer the ink over the surface of the stamp. NOTE: Be sure to use the ink liberally for a clean print. STEP6

For more fun stamp ideas, try etching into an eraser! 

Happy stamping!
Tutorial by Jo

Instagram: @jvhxnnxh

ASHES TO ASHES

A Prose Poem by Mackenzie Arnold

“Beloved,” he spoke, with eyes that looked to me and then to the black bible open in his hands so that he could taste the word of God in his mouth again. “I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. First Peter. Chapter Two. Verse Eleven.” He had to part his jaw like a gasp, teeth grazing bottom lip, tongue rolling to form the words, “passions of the flesh.” I thought they sounded so romantic until it was my flesh that he wanted.

Afterwards I burned my own bible, and I stayed to watch the ashes stir until I realized that they must have done the same at the end of all the witch trials. The fire was already out, but tears fell from my eyes anyways and so I cried in bitter irony. I imagined they were holy water—the tears—and as they ran down my cheeks I parted my lips so that they could wash his hypocrisy from my tongue.

I realized too late that it was not God I wanted to burn, but the one who liked the taste of God’s words in his mouth—if only to trick himself into thinking that he was                                                                                                                                                                  Divine.   

———

Abstract:

I never thought much about religion as a child. Despite growing up just outside of Dallas, Texas, where mega-churches and celebrity pastors reign supreme, I remained largely untouched by the dogma of these institutions because my family simply didn’t go to church. When I began high school at a private Christian academy though, I was suddenly plunged into a very suffocating environment that made it very apparent that my existence as a girl, and any form of feminine sexuality, was wrong. 

I wrote this prose poem in hindsight, looking back on my experiences in a place that was supposed to educate me, and yet insisted upon waging war on my body. In my poem, the emphasis is on the hypocrisy of the male figures I encountered during that time, and how confusing it was to be both punished and desired for my body—of which both outcomes were somehow my fault, and because of which it was often hard to distinguish between the two in the moment. These experiences led me to hate religion and any type of spirituality in general, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s not these beliefs that are toxic, but some of the people that practice them. I now find it gratifying to be able to use spirituality and what I suppose you could call religion, which was so often used to shrink me, as a way to empower myself—especially as a woman.

Five Great Female-Curated Podcasts

By Thea Gay

Looking for something interesting to listen to? Although it can be hard to find a podcast amid the more than 30 million episodes of podcasts to listen to, this list delves into 5 great podcasts centered around intersectional feminist history, issues, and health. This list compiles some of the best female curated podcasts available on either Stitcher, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts.

1.) The History Chicks

history chicks

Dynamic duo Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider cover the history of women throughout all time periods and in folklore. They do so through the analysis of historical and factual evidence explained throughout the podcast and through the show notes. Beginning with an introduction and overview Beckett and Susan explore the lives of women who changed the course of history like Phillis Wheatley, Ching Shih, and Hypatia of Alexandria.

2.) Reset

reset

Curious about how the world of tech is changing how we live? From algorithms that push certain interests to the increase of robotics in the workforce, follow the reporting of Arielle Duhaime-Ross, a Vox Media reporter searching for the truth in how every story essentially becomes a tech story. Some topics covered so far in the show are: Instagrams war on nipples (specifically those they identify as female) and how Google is attempting to make its Pixel 4 better at scanning Black faces.

3.) Unladylike

unladylike

In Unladylike, another feminist empowered duo, Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin, dive into uncovering the truth about the inequality faced by women, girls and gender-nonconforming folks everywhere. Cristen and Caroline cover topics like politics, cursing, and body hair, with special guests such as Rain Dove, Geena Davis, and Elaine Welteroth.

4.) Boom Lawyered!

boomlawyered

Law nerds listen up! This podcast is for you or anyone else interested on the impact of court cases and legislation in the United States. Follow legal experts, Jessica Mason Peiklo and Imani Gandi, as they investigate how the legal system works, look at important issues that take place in courts, and how these issues will then go onto to change our lives. The legal analysis spans across topics regarding: the Bathroom Panic, The 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Abortion Rights.

5.) Confidently Insecure

confidentlyinsecure

Take a look into the life of Buzzfeed’s Kelsey Darragh as she learns the stories of badass women in history and reveals the dynamics of her life as a bisexual woman in an open relationship. Kelsey is not afraid to admit she doesn’t know everything, and that’s why she takes her listeners through a wide range of topics to learn with them. Through interviews and her own life experiences Kelsey talks about having HPV and anxiety, and the humanization of sex work.

A Long Road for Women in Politics: How 25-Year-Old Kinn Badger is Paving the Way

By Sabrina Schnurr

“You’re saying no because you’re bitchy.”

Most high school students spend their weekends sleeping in, catching up on homework or spending time with friends. Kinn Badger, however, spent her weekends in Illinois and Georgia knocking on doors and walking in parades with senators.

After graduating from American University, Badger immediately hopped onto the campaign for Jon Ossoff for Congress; her efforts in the special election hoped to disrupt the long-safe Republican seat in Georgia’s 6th District. Although Ossoff was later defeated in a runoff election, the campaign broke national fundraising records for a U.S. House candidate (according to the New York Times), and it was the closest a Democrat had come to winning the 6th District since 1992.

Despite the loss, Badger drove 600 miles from Georgia to New Jersey to work on Vin Gopal’s 2017 campaign for New Jersey Senate. Months later, Gopal became the first Indian American to be elected to the New Jersey Senate, and his victory was described by NJ.com as “perhaps the biggest upset of the night.”

Badger, 25 and also Indian American, now serves as the executive director of the Monmouth County Democrats, where she is responsible for organizing all Democrat candidates and fundraising across the county’s 53 municipalities, 4th and 6th Congressional Districts, and four districts in the New Jersey Legislature.

Below is a segment of my interview with Badger, in which we discussed being a woman in politics and other issues she’s interested in pursuing.

Sabrina Schnurr: Do you think being a young woman has affected your experience in this position?

Kinn Badger: 100 percent. Definitely. I mean, people are sexist. Even within the Democratic Party. You feel it anywhere.

SS: How has that [sexism] been manifested?

KB: A lot of that is because there has only been male executive directors for a very long time. There was one woman over 10 or 15 years ago. Obviously ,the way I look has impacted me greatly. I’ve been called an intern, or told that I have no experience because I’m not from New Jersey.  Maybe people are intimidated? I mean, that’s a baseline of why I think someone would say those things to me. I’ve been called many names on the job—names that I know men would not be called. It’s because a lot of times I tell them no, and the easiest way for them to deal with that is to say “Oh, you’re saying no because you’re bitchy.” Bitchy is the classic one I get. Or when I say something, they respond, “Why is your attitude like that?” And my attitude is fine. I don’t know what they’re referring to. Sometimes, they call me aggressive—oh, that’s a classic! “You’re so aggressive.” No, I’m being assertive.

SS: How do you deal with getting called names?

KB: Well, it depends on the situation. Sometimes I’ll say something back. But most of the time—I hate that I have to say this—I just let it go. It makes my job a whole lot easier when I don’t have these hiccups. And it sucks because as a young woman—and a young minority, democratic female—a lot of the times I’m like, “This just makes my job 10 times harder.” Because it’s not going to go away. We’ve normalized this in the workforce no matter what career you’re in. It’s unfortunate.

SS: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t working in politics?

KB: That’s a tough question for me because this is my life, and it’s been my life for a very, very long time. I know this is probably a cop-out answer, but I would probably be more into advocacy work. I think politics and advocacy work well together, they go hand in hand. So that’s why I said it was kind of a cop-out answer. I’ve always had an interest in Planned Parenthood, being a young woman. And especially with the change of climate right now regarding women’s reproductive rights, I think that’s a huge initiative that I would like to be a part of. It’s a part of my current career, but I don’t get to spend as much time on it as I’d like.

SS: There’s a Planned Parenthood at the end of our campus in Boston, and there are protests out there that people have to walk through on their way to class, and it’s not something you generally expect in Boston.

KB: Boston is a little more progressive than most areas. I’ve seen it, too, though. I’ve volunteered as one of those people that help bring other people into Planned Parenthood through the protests a couple of times before. It’s really hard because Planned Parenthood has so many services besides abortion services, and most of the time women are coming for other services, but are judged for the former.

SS: What do your family and friends think of your job? I can assume your family’s very supportive because it’s been your life, but what do your friends think?

KB: It’s really weird because a lot of my friends are in politics. So of course, they’re really supportive. My friends who are not into politics or who have been my childhood friends for so long, they’re just like, “Well, this is you. This is just what you love to do.” They say, “When I think of Kinn, I think of her trying to elect all these Democrats. That’s just what she’s always done her whole life.” My friends have always been super supportive. Since 2016, I think my friends have changed in the sense that I don’t interact with the ones that I don’t align with politically. I think this has happened because of my job and because it’s hard to argue with them when this is what I do for a living. And they’re like, “Well, but that’s just not true.” And I’m like, “But I do this for a living, and here are the facts to prove it.” And they’re like, “See, you’re so into MSNBC and CNN.” And I’m like, “Oh my goodness, that’s not what this is at all.” Right? I’ve definitely shifted towards having friends that align with me politically, maybe because of convenience or maybe it’s because I know I’m going to be supported by them.

SS: Do you plan on running for office in the future?

KB: If I ran for office, I would want to run within my community. The Board of Ed[ucation] is something I’ve been looking into. I would not run for any sort of higher office because I work with candidates every single day, and I always say staffers make the worst candidates because you know everything that’s happening behind the scenes. You’re worried and focusing on all these things that are supposed to be happening behind the scenes when your main concern should be talking to voters and going door-knocking or making phone calls. So I would make a terrible candidate because I focus on all these other things, like how much money is in our bank account, or what’s the theme of our next direct mail, or what’s the opposition doing and all this other stuff rather than focusing on just trying to talk to my constituents. So I really, really like being behind the scenes.

We need more people supporting candidates and people running for office becoming staffers. It really isn’t for everyone. I also say that I cuss way too much to be an elected official, but I really do like supporting people. Being an elected official is hard. You’re constantly “on” all the time. I see this a lot, especially with [New Jersey Senator] Vin [Gopal]. He is just “on” everywhere he goes, whether it’s just a quick bite to eat with his wife and someone spots him or just walking outside and constantly being “on.” That’s so exhausting, and I know for myself, I just couldn’t do that. I love people, but sometimes I’m also like, “All right, I’m done for the day.”

Badger has no plans to run for office herself. Staffers make the worst candidates, she says, because they focus too much on logistics when their main focus should be talking to voters.

“I also cuss way too much to be an elected official,” Badger said.

Over the past 18 months, she has learned to embrace the responsibilities of a job she once found intimidating.

“I don’t think I’m a person who needs to have a gold star every time, but it’s the little things, such as when people come up to thank me,” said Badger. “That’s why I do it.”

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