"This map shows the birth rate among girls aged 15 to 19 by state. And it clearly shows that more conservative states have higher rates of teenage births. ... Many of them, including the seven states with the highest rates, do not require schools to teach contraception. Some states do not require sex education at all. Other states that do have sex education require teachers to stress abstinence and advise children to wait until marriage. Studies have concluded time and time again that abstinence-only curricula are not as effective at reducing teen pregnancies and births."(Mouse over each state for info & click/hold to move around the map)
Posts in category Sexuality
The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book -- If Beauty Is inside, Why Do We Hate Our Guts?: Pop Culture, Sexism, & Body Image. Read the first chapter here.
It's time to declare independence, to separate ourselves from the bad habits, the stifling expectations, and the negative messages that no longer serve us (assuming they ever did).
It's time to declare independence from media messages that tell us we're ugly if we don't look like the "flawless" images of celebrities on the screen and in the magazines. It's time to stop buying into the manipulation and stop wasting time trying to chase an illusion that doesn't even exist.
It's time to declare independence from the belief that having the perfect body will make us worthy of love and respect. We're already worthy of love and respect in the bodies we have now -- no amount of weight loss or plastic surgery will increase our value.
It's time to declare independence from dieting, from deprivation, from seeing food as the enemy. The American weight loss industry makes nearly $60 billion a year trying to convince us that we're not good enough -- if diets worked, would they be this profitable? It's time to stop contributing to their false sense of hope.
It's time to declare independence from body loathing, from looking at our bodies with disgust instead of love. It's time to appreciate all of the amazing things they do for us -- the jiggly arms that give great hugs, the flabby thighs that carry us through the park, the droopy breasts that fed a child, the wounded heart that still knows how to love, the exhausted brain that still manages to tell our lungs to breathe.
It's time to declare independence from spending so much time, energy, and money trying to fit into someone else's idea of whom we should be. It's time to put ourselves first, to focus on our own desires and do what we want instead of what's expected of us. It's time to trust our instincts and become someone we're proud of.
It's time to declare independence from shame, from the belief that we're not good enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not clever enough, not sexy enough. It's time to declare that we are already enough -- that we are perfectly imperfect exactly as we are.
It's time to declare independence from the oppressive labels of virgin or whore, straight or gay. Our sexuality does not define us. It can't possibly define what kind of person we are or what's in our hearts or our minds. Any attempt by others to claim otherwise is an attempt to control us, to police our behavior, and to shame us so that they don't have to examine their own ignorance and fear.
It's time to declare independence from the belief that we can bring sexual assault upon ourselves based on how provocatively we're dressed, how flirty we act, or how drunk we get. The only person responsible for a rapist's behavior is the rapist himself. We have a right to feel safe in the world.
It's time to declare independence from legislators who think the female body should be controlled by wealthy, middle-aged, white, conservative men. Our bodies belong to us -- it's time to declare our freedom to make our own decisions about them. Because if we cannot, then we are truly not equal citizens and this country as not as free it claims to be.
It's time to declare our independence from any force that tries to hold us down -- especially those forces that limit us from within.
Advocating for same-sex marriage may not initially seem related to the topics of body image and sexism, but it is. I created www.beautyisinside.com and the Beauty Is Inside Facebook and Twitter pages to encourage self-acceptance and to serve as a reminder that our value as human beings lies within, hence the name "Beauty Is Inside". My intent was to inspire people to be the best version of themselves, to question society's limiting messages, and to speak out against them. Each of us has the inherent right to live our lives free from oppression. We deserve dignity and autonomy over our own bodies, including the right to be treated as more than a collection of sexual body parts, the right to control our own bodies and reproductive choices, and the right for consenting adults to love whom we want to love. There is no moral justification that entitles anyone to deny a person of these basic human rights.
But it doesn't keep people from trying. Last Friday, a subscriber to the Beauty Is Inside Facebook page told me that I was going to "burn in hell" after I posted this image:
The person -- a woman -- left this comment (errors left intact):
"So basically your saying that the bible is wrong when it clearly states that Homosexuality is wrong and is a sin. U will be burn in hell for that one."
I'm always surprised when a minority member doesn't see the irony in denying other minorities of their rights. I'm also surprised that a person would condemn me to burn in the fires of hell for believing that people have the right to love who they want. I was not at all surprised by the poor spelling and grammar though.
This comment pissed me off -- not because I fear some fire-and-brimstone afterlife retribution for my evil liberal ways -- but because it's a reminder that some people have such judgment and hatred inside of them and they'll use their religion to justify it. (I don't believe in the concept of hell anyway, so ooh! What a burn!)
Opposing equal rights is a way for a person with a form of social privilege (e.g., being straight, male, white, etc.) to have power over those with less privilege. They selfishly believe that they're entitled to the good stuff, but others aren't. The opposition to marriage equality is no different, but there's the added element of homophobia, which often stems from a person's shameful feelings about gay sex, or just sex in general. We live in a culture that's afraid of, yet obsessed with sex. Just consider how the media treat women's bodies as sexually objectified parts, how the government holds politicized debates about women's rights over our own bodies, how far-right conservatives call women sluts for using birth control, how both conservatives and the porn industry fetishize virginity, and how legislators and voters oppose same-sex marriage because the idea of same-sex sex grosses them out (or even turns them on).
Both exploiting and controlling another person's sexual expression are two sides of the same coin -- it defines people by their sexuality. People are more than mere bodies, so it's dehumanizing to equate what we do with the parts between our legs with who we are as human beings.
I believe that people can be defined much more accurately by their hearts and their minds. If judgmental homophobes want to condemn me to hell for thinking that we all have the right to be loved and accepted, to be treated as equal under the law, and to be defined by more than our sexuality -- then so be it. At least I'll be in good company.
Still not satisfied? Read this related post: "Epi-Curious? 10 Foods that Women Want to Have Sex With"
I recently launched the Purple Paper Project, an "ad campaign" that critiques the way advertisers market to women. In a separate post about advertising, I wrote that "In our image-and-diet-obsessed culture, indulgences like chocolate are forbidden. ... What do you think happens when we’re culturally pressured to be chocolate virgins? We turn into chocolate whores, of course." While all of the following ads show women pleasuring themselves with food, those marketed to women imply that it's a personal and private indulgence. However, the ads created from the perspective of a male viewer depict women seductively eating in a way that vicariously pleasures men. See if you can tell them apart (there is some overlap). Here are the top 10 hottest foods for women:
1. York Peppermint Patty
Woman passionately rips the wrapper off the so-cool-it's-hot peppermint patty. She takes a whiff and her eyes roll back into her head (in a good way). She bites the patty and clutches the wrapper like a bedsheet as her eyes dilate and she gives her O-face. Narrator: "York Peppermint Patty. Get the Sensation." Yeah, I think she just did.
2. Ghirardelli Squares Chocolate
This chocolate has the "ingredients for the most intense chocolate experience" (read: best orgasm). Narrator: "Take time to enjoy your Ghirardelli squares chocolate slowly ... very slowly." Tagline: Ghirardelli. Moments of timeless pleasure." Ladies, this is a chocolate to make love to, not just fuck like a cheap peppermint patty. Because this chocolate's all classy and shit.
3. Dove Chocolate
(Cue bow-chika-wow-wow music) Woman takes a bite. This seems to trigger all-over-body groping from a flowing ribbon of silky chocolate ... yes, even right between her legs. Wow, some chocolates have balls. Narrator: "Only a chocolate this pure can be this silky and make you savor, sigh, melt." Tagline: "My moment. My Dove." You can be damn sure she just had a moment with her Dove.
4. Lindt's Lindor Truffles
This chocolate is "created with passion by Lindt's master(bating?) chocolatiers" -- one of whom stares disturbingly at a chocolate-covered whisk like he's planning to use it in a passionate way. Narrator: "When you break its shell, Lindor's smooth center begins to melt ... and so will you." Tagline: "Do you dream in chocolate?" (Unofficial tagline: "Do you wet dream in chocolate?")
5. Dove Ice Cream
Ah, another adgasm from Dove. The woman stares into the camera as she seductively opens her mouth and pleasures the ice cream bar, and then bites into it (ouch!) She finger-feeds herself and puts the stick between her teeth like a Flamenco dancer's red rose. Tagline: same as the Dove chocolate ad above -- "Your moment. Your Dove" -- but this ad says to share your "moment" on Facebook. I'd recommend against sharing, especially if you ever plan to run for public office.
6. Magnum Ice Cream
While stuck in traffic, Rachel Bilson jumps barefoot from car to car, so she can blow an ice cream bar. (Side note: Magnum is also a brand of condoms, so if you use them together, the ice cream has zero calories!) Narrator: "Nothing will keep you from Magnum." Not even criminal charges from damaging a police vehicle and several other cars, abandoning your own car in the middle of the road, or inciting a riot. Tagline: "Magnum: For pleasure seekers." I hope it was worth it.
7. Lay's Potato Chips
Woman flirtatiously opens up the bag and bites her lip as either the chips or Al Green serenades her with: "I'm so in love with you, whatever you want to do is alright with me." That's good, because she's in the mood to get ... lay-ed. Narrator: "One taste and you're in love." She should try Ruffles next time -- they're ribbed for her pleasure.
8. Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Six-Dollar Burger
Padma Lakshmi strolls through an outdoor market. "I've always had a love affair with food," she says. After sitting down on a front stoop, she begins a girl-on-burger makeout session. The burger drips special sauce on her, and she licks it off. Narrator: "Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Six-Dollar Burger: More than just a piece of meat." How very clever. Hardee-har-har.
9. Disaronno Amaretto
One drink makes the list. In this ad, the bartender tries to take the woman's glass away after she finishes, but she stops him so she can seductively suck the last drops of amaretto off an ice cube. Narrator: "Disaronno's warm and sensual (sexual?) taste makes you wish it would never end."After enough drinks, you'll wish it ended sooner. Tagline: "Disaronno -- pass the pleasure around" ... along with the STDs.
10. Baby Carrots
Yes, it's an ad for carrots. In this tongue-in-cheek (tongue-on-carrot?) ad, the woman gets freaky with Bugs Bunny's favorite treat. (What's up with that, Doc?) As the woman strokes a carrot up her own arm, the female narrator says: "Feel that feeling -- you know the feeling," to which the male narrator answers: "It's overt sexual innuendo." I just hope they don't move up to adult carrots ... or fingerling potatoes. That would just be dirty.
BONUS: Axe Dark Temptation Body Spray
Although this is technically not a food, it still makes the list. Guy sprays on Axe, which turns him into Irresistible Chocolate Man. As he walks down the street, he breaks off pieces of himself and feeds them to women. Then women start grabbing licks and bites for themselves. These two women go for the ears first, just like a chocolate Easter bunny. Tagline: "As irresistible as chocolate. New Axe Dark Temptation." Wonder if he's solid or if he has some kind of filling?