Friday FREAK OUT! Legitimate rape

On Sunday, August 19, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri made a statement during an interview on the Jaco Report on Fox 2 that outraged Democrats and Republicans alike. When asked about his position on abortion in cases of rape, he replied:

“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney even denounced Akin’s statement, twice!

And rightly so. This is one story that we should be freaking out about. The media frenzy surrounding Akin’s statement and even the aftermath of apologies and calls to quit the race have created a forum of dialogue about a sensitive topic. We are looking at the facts of rape, which is about control and power, facts that Akin clearly does not understand. Twitter feeds have exploded with comments about not just rape, but sexual coercion and even sleazy partners.

@ieatmykidzsnack: So a woman’s body can block “rape semen?” Don’t you think we’d be able to block “never gonna call again semen” & “no good loser semen” too?

The fact is that Akin is wrong- women do not have a magical power to dispel the semen of a rapist. And now anyone paying any attention to the news this week hopefully also knows that, thanks to this outrageous, absurd statement!!

Sexuality educators can use media frenzies like this one to talk about how people learn, and unlearn, myths about rape, and please be sure to set the record straight with your participants! Penile-vaginal penetration by ANY penis (even a rapists’) without using a barrier method or contraception can result in pregnancy. It doesn’t always, but it can.

For a great, concise summary of the statements/events related to Akin’s statement, check out this NY Times article.

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Tuesday tip: urban dictionary!

Tip for Tuesday!

Not sure what your participant means when they say things like:
Common law girlfriend
Shatner texting
Yolo
Cuffing
Boomtangle

Look it up on urbandictionary.com.

Better yet- ask your participants what it means, then look it up! It’s ok to admit you don’t know the meaning of slang terms- showing that you aren’t a walking encyclopedia (or google) can help a participant feel more comfortable acknowledging that they don’t know everything!

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Friday FREAK OUT! Olympic Boobs & Boners

The XXX summer Olympics sure have given sexuality educators a lot to talk about! While athletes have been worried about performing their best, keeping up with the competition, representing their country, and winning a medal, WE have been preoccupied with boners and boobs.

On Monday, US rower Henrik Rummel stood happy as a clam with his team as they received a bronze medal in the coxless four rowing competition. The photo went viral, as many pointed to Rummel’s apparent erection. On Tuesday he did post a statement that his penis was not erect, but it was simply the position and angle that made it appear that way. Huffington post did a great summary of the ordeal. Either way, a lot more people found out about this bronze medal than would have without Rummel’s help!

A day earlier, a US v Spain water polo match was aired on NBC without editing out an underwater shot of an exposed breast. The headlines about the exposure indicate that viewers were shocked!!! OMG! Check out this story about the big reveal. (the match ended up as a tie, 9-9)

Both these stories about standard body parts hit the headlines running. What impact do these freak outs have? They teach us that parts of our bodies are different enough to freak out about, which could simply exacerbate existing body image issues and bodily discomfort. Sexuality educators can use these opportunities to explain that while our society might freak out about boobs and boners, they are really just natural parts of the female and male bodies, and are nothing to be ashamed of.

Friday FREAK OUT! Gabby’s Hair!

What are people freaking out about these days?  Friday FREAK OUT will help you stay up to date!

Today’s FREAK OUT…Gabby Douglas’ HAIR.  Yep, that’s right- the 16 year old won the all-around gold medal in gymnastics, and people are freaking out on Twitter about her hair. Check out this Huffington Post article that outlines the freak out- you can also vote in their poll, “What do you think of Gabby’s hair?”.

This FREAK OUT highlights society’s obsession with appearance and expectations of conforming to gendered norms.  Instead of applauding Gabby for her great accomplishment and fabulous performance, people are blowing up about her use of the appropriate amount of gel.  This kind of focus on appearance perpetuates the expectation that individuals need to look a certain way, rather than cultivating appreciation for individuality.

And while we are focusing on the gymnasts’ appearances- why not point out the glitter factory on the Russian team?  Or the blue eyeshadow on some of the other Americans? Why are we only hearing an outcry about Gabby?

Societal expectations of appearance can take a daunting toll on individuals as they seek to stand out from the crowd while fitting in, to feel comfortable in their own skin and identity while being accepted by others.  It doesn’t help a 16-year old to have people jumping down her throat for her hairstyle, when really it’s absolutely fine.  She already has to worry about judges critiquing her flips, tumbles and landings without the public criticizing her hairstyle.

Educators- how can you help your participants understand the value of individuality, personality, and achievement rather than obsessing about conforming to societal expectations of hair?