Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy, in case you hadn’t heard. How dare she remove those ticking time bombs from her chest, amiright? Like, hasn’t she learned by now that her body is public domain and we all get to vote on what she does with it? Sheesh, how selfish can ya get.
I have to say, I really disagree with how this cartoon is positioning Angelina Jolie’s very public choice to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. First and foremost, I don’t believe the issue is about Jolie’s agency surrounding her body - the op is absolutely correct in saying that Jolie does have the right to make whatever choice she would like concerning her body. However, her choice to do this is suggestive of a greater problem. The bodies increased medicalization is making “health” more of an individual’s responsibility than ever before. The era of neoliberalism has made it so bodies with breasts have to take it upon themselves to prevent cancer, rather than a collective effort between institutions and individuals to more actively and holistically look to preventing cancer entirely. Instead of focusing on what is causing cancer in the first place, the notion that a person needs to take it upon themselves to undergo incredibly expensive, potentially dangerous and invasive surgery is being glorified in this instance as the new and ethically “correct” thing to do.
Another aspect to understand here is privilege. Angelina Jolie has the privilege of paying the exorbitant fees to the nations best doctors to run the necessary genetic testing, have the multiple surgeries she likely has undergone to ensure that she remains looking physically “normative”, pay for the necessary medications and for the necessary care to ensure a speedy recovery. In todays market, with the current prices of both medical insurance and medical fees, Jolie is in a very unique socioeconomic position. So what does this say to other people with an 87% chance of breast cancer who find themselves in a different socioeconomic position? Should they make the financial sacrifices, on top of the others that they are surely making, in order to reduce their chances of breast cancer? Furthermore, what this cartoon is suggesting is that if a person has an 80% chance of any kind of health concern, that they should be encouraged to do the “necessary” thing to avoid that. So, since we all have a 100% chance of dying, should we all commit suicide? This may sound extreme and I am certainly not trivializing suicide by any means, but this cartoon is situating Jolie’s decision in a logic that suggests otherwise.
If a person has a high chance of any kind of cancer, should they too remove that part of the body, if living is still possible after its removal? Preventative lymph node removal, preventative ovarian removal, preventative testicular removal? I think this a travesty in many ways. As I said before, why does the responsibility of ones health fall upon the shoulders of the individual when it is much more than just genetics that are contributing to our increased cancer rates? Why isn’t there a greater focus on the environment? On our corrupt food supply? On pollution? On the leading causes of stress and fatigue, all of which are contributing factors to death.
This isn’t about Angelina Jolie’s individual decision (which, however, I would argue that we do have the right to analyze as she has very publicly positioned her choice as one that is in alignment with her work as an activist) for me its about the continued discourse around health, privilege and the neoliberal notion of individual responsibility continuing to create health narratives that encourages people to internalize notions of health and quality of life, rather than do what desperately needs to done, and that is radically change the way we are currently existing on this planet, radically change the way we are approaching “solutions” and begin to recognize collective responsibilities, removing ourselves from ahistorical analyses of health statistics, looking directly at the way in which neoliberal capitalism and globalization are absolutely contributing to poor health internationally, and radically change knowledge production, particularly around health.
Furthermore, it isn’t just about what Jolie has said about her decision, but about what and how institutions of power are going to manipulate and spin this instance of a preventative medicinal choice (and choice here is illusive, there is a great deal that has not been mentioned as to the coercive forces at work leading up to Jolie’s decision) in order to favor and to shift discussions of breast cancer into a different, increasingly unequal and gendered direction.
Hey folks! It is my finals week this week, hence only reblogs. Have some exciting news to share with you, a ton of asks to get to and some original posts to write - all coming soon :)
The Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN) working group and collective was established in 2009, when 18 women of Color came together to strategize ways to increase representation in the field and especially at AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists). WOCSHN has made numerous efforts to ensure women and people of Color working in the sexology and sexuality fields are represented, supported, and included. We are educators, medical providers, counselors, activists, and writers who are committed to mentoring, working, and changing the way sex/uality is discussed about our communities.
Members of the WOCSHN have submitted several presentations to AASECTs 2013 National Conference, many of which were accepted. To have as many WOCSHN members present and able to present our original work, members are in need of supporting funds. All of the funds raised will go directly to each member to cover their needs to attend the conference. Without these funds they will not be able to attend.*
Below is an outline of our needs to have 5 WOCSHN members attend.
UPDATED IN BOLD please see full explanation here and here
$2050(for 5 members) $1550
Transportation $250 (to/from airport and hotel)
$2000(double rooms) $1190
$1000(3 meals a day) $250
$1850(speaker reduced registration fee) $1250
The five WOCSHN members who are in need of funding are each dynamic, thoughtful, and revolutionary Black women thinkers in the field and include:
De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson is licensed in the State of Missouri as a clinical social worker and has served the St. Louis community since 2005. She is passionate about helping others achieve their goals and live as whole persons. De-Andrea firmly believes that you must be the change you wish to see in the world and endeavors to positively impact her clients through her interactions with them. De-Andrea has worked in many settings, serving as a hospital social worker at an inpatient psychiatric unit, a contract therapist, and as a school social worker. She has helped clients with various issues, including addiction, mood disorders, anxiety, chemical dependency, relationship issues, and trauma. Currently, she serves clients in her Clayton, MO office and conducts monthly workshops regarding sexual health and building intimacy.
Nicole Clark a social worker, consultant, and sexual health activist who has worked with local and national sexual/reproductive justice organizations, such as Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS), Advocates for Youth, the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC). She has a B.A. in Psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Masters of Social Work degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work, with a practice method centered on direct practice/counseling & programmatic planning. Nicole’s workshop for AASECT is about sex, gender, race, and religion.
Traci Q. Gilbert
Ms. Tracie Q. Gilbert is the founder of Gilbert Educational Ministries, and has over 15 years of experience working with young people and youth development programs. She has turned her attention toward the issue of holistic sexuality development—particularly among African Americans. She is currently in pursuit of her doctorate in human sexuality education from Widener University, with which she hopes to increase our collective understanding of African American sexual phenomenology. Ms. Tracie was the 2011 winner of Women for Social Innovation’s Turning Point Prize, provided presentations for a variety of different special events, including the Black Male Development Symposium, the National Black Child Development Institute’s Annual Conference, and Congressman Chakah Fattah’s National Conference on Higher Education.
Bianca I Laureano is an award-winning sexologist, consultant, educator, and activist. Her interests include representations of the sexuality of people of Color in media and popular culture, reproductive justice, and positive youth development. She has a BA from the University of Maryland in Women’s Health & Latino Communities, a MA from NYU in Human Sexuality Education, and an MA from the University of Maryland in Women’s Studies with a focus on gender, bodies, sexuality, and race. She is an adjunct professor at a private college, freelance writer, co-founder of The LatiNegr@s Project, abortion doula, and hosts LatinoSexuality.com. All her writings and reviews can be seen at her website BiancaLaureano.com. Her presentation at AASECT will focus on how to include people of Color in the field of sexology and the sexuality needs of LatiNegr@s in the US.
Whitney Sewell is a master’s student of social work at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She majored in sociology at Tufts University, and received a BA in psychology from Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include human sexuality and reproductive justice. At UNC, Whitney is a lead facilitator for the UNC LGBTQ Center’s Safe Zone training program, a training that promotes awareness, inclusiveness and ally development. She also serves as an HIV counselor for the Student Health Action Coalition, providing clients with pre/post test counseling. Whitney is committed to bringing evidence based, culturally inclusive, and sex positive sexual education interventions to marginalized communities.
Fundraising has begun! We will need to register and reserve hotel rooms for the conference by mid-April 2013. We will continue to fundraise until the date of the conference: June 5, 2013. Each donation of any amount will receive a special gift after the conference has concluded.
All additional funds will go to covering a communal gathering of WOCSHN members at the conference.
*AASECT only has one scholarship for people of Color which only offers a reduced registration fee.
we havent raised anything in 2 wks! please help us cover one hotel room and one more plane ticket. consider donating (again if you have already!) and if you can, also please share widely feel free to post on listservs, your blogs, etc.
SIGNAL BOOOOOOOOST!!!!!! THIS AMAZING ORG!!!!!!!!!!!
Esther Mbabazi trained to fly Rwandair regional jets despite her father being killed in a plane crash when she was eight
By Jenny Clover
Esther Mbabazi was eight years old when her father was killed in a crash as the plane he was flying in overshot the runway landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
So when, a few years later she announced her intention to train as a pilot, the planwas not well received by some of her family. But at the age of 24, Mbabazi has made history as the first female Rwandan pilot – although as a woman she says she doesn’t make flight announcements because it scares the passengers.
“Some people questioned why I wanted to do it, they thought I wanted to be a pilot to find out what happened to my dad, but that didn’t have anything to do with it,” Mbabazi said.
“Being a pilot really was my childhood dream, I don’t think anything was going to stop it. It started when I travelled with my family and we would get the free things for kids, like the backpacks. I really liked that and I just liked to travel. The whole intrigue of this big bird in the sky, I was amazed. That and the free backpacks planted the seed.”
Mbabazi, who is fluent in five languages, trained at the Soroti flight school in Uganda before being sponsored to continue her training in Florida by national carrier Rwandair. She now flies the company’s CRJ-900 regional jets across Africa.
The death of her father has influenced the way she flies. “It has moulded my character as a pilot, and I think what happened to my dad makes me a little more safe. It could have stopped me, but an accident is an accident. If someone is knocked over in a car you don’t stop driving. As a pastor’s child I know that you have to let stuff go.”
One person who never questioned Mbabazi’s plans was her mother, Ruth. A strong farmer and businesswoman, she wasn’t fazed to see her daughter take to the air after what the death of her husband, who was a Pentecostal pastor before his death.
“I didn’t get any resistance from my mum,” Mbabazi said. “In her time she was the only girl in her electricity class, so she doesn’t have any issues with what I do. She has five children and whether we want to do fashion or aviation, as long as we’re doing something we’re interested in, she’s happy.”
Mbabazi was born in Burundi, where her family had moved beforeRwanda’s genocide in 1994. The family moved back to Rwanda in 1996.
While not without its critics, particularly on human rights issues, Rwanda is now a secure and rapidly developing country. GDP grew by 7.7% last year and the government claims to have lifted one million people out of poverty in five years. Particular progress has been made towards gender equality. Women make up more than half of MPs.
“Things are changing in Rwanda,” says Mbabazi. “Before you wouldn’t find women driving taxis here, and now you see it. There are men who cook now in Rwanda, when, in an African culture, women have to cook. So I think eventually things change. If you really work hard and you prove that you can do something well, I don’t think there’s a question of you being a woman, it doesn’t come into the equation.
“There are not so many male Rwandan pilots either. So even though I am the first female, my colleagues are the first male Rwandan pilots to be flying commercial planes. So I think it’s a big change for all of us Rwandans and something that should be celebrated.”
Feelings. Nothing more than feelings.
Today is one of those days, and there seems to be many as of late. I am floating above, outside of this body, yet simultaneously within. Is life real? I think not. Today I think not. What am I searching for? My most inner-self, that pure, unadulterated essence of my being, seems to continue to seek for something within another person in a certain kind of way – like a dog who has caught a scent, on an incessant journey to snuff it out. Is the light that shines when submerged in darkness somehow brighter than the light that shines amongst all other light? Stirrings. Stories untold unraveling onto pages of breath. Who are you? Why do we know each other? What have we come here to do, together?
We gather. We commune. We melt and fade and swim.
Life has shown me, on repeated occasions, that there is relief - great relief - great swells of “sense”. This makes sense. I make sense. You make sense. It is all perfect even in the imperfection. Even now, as I float around reality, I know that this is precisely as it should be. Don’t resist, it will only pull the ropes tighter. Don’t fight, it will only hurt you more.
Sit in the discomfort, with the unknown, face the unimagined space that you have no choice but to move forward towards. Right now, each letter I type, each shape that manifests itself through this cursor, pushes into the unknown without choice, without agency.
Am I safe in this world? Are any of us safe?
Breath. Breath is the hand that guides you. I am a cursor on the page of life, and it is breath that unravels this story onto the invisible map. I will look behind me and see an entire world, an entire universe that I have left in my wake.
Dave Chappelle on Hollywood (Part 2)
David, I AM: Trans People Speak. A Methodist clergy member, husband, father, musician, and trans man tells his story.
I get really nervous when it comes to vaginal penetration and clench up. Sometimes even putting a tampon is painful due to my anxiety. Is there anything I can do to relax? (Thinking about relaxing just stresses me out more)
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