27 July 2012

AIDS 2012 THGS12 I [heart] Being a Girl Tea Party

Here you see few pictures taken after today's session (the second one, yes) where we were joined by Anzaira from IPPF MA in Philippines and Shubha from Y-PEER on talking about gender, the importance of positive focuses and such.
Presentations and more stories from the session coming soon, we promise!

Yes, we can!

AIDS 2012 THGS08 Society, Sexuality and Pleasure

The presentation that we gave in our AIDS 2012 session today:

25 July 2012

AIDS 2012: No, objectification of women is NOT OK!*

* Yes, even if that's your way to get people to use condoms!

We attended a non-commercial satellite session yesterday morning TUSA07 Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know About Pleasurable Safer Sex but Were Too Afraid to Ask. Instead of having a very early (7:00 AM, mind you) breakfast and a conversation about bringing pleasure and sexuality back to all the people-scaring prevention messages, we got

This how MYX Annaïs recounts her experience:

On Tuesday I woke up bright and early to attend a session at the International AIDS Conference titled Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know About Pleasurable Safer Sex but Were Too Afraid to Ask. The session was led by Pleasure Project which “builds bridges between the pleasure/sex industry and the safer sex world by avoiding negativity, and by ensuring that erotic materials include examples of safer sex, and that sexual health materials include pleasure as a key element”.

To say I was excited is an understatement; you see I make it my personal mission to talk about pleasure whenever and wherever possible. In a society that sexualizes everything and everyone we seem increasingly scared to acknowledge our right to pleasure. Yes, we have the right to pleasure, whether it be physical or sexual pleasure, to the immense pleasure you may get from being in bed with a tub of ice cream… But back to the point at hand, I believed this session would look at how we can position condoms (and indeed other forms of contraception) within the sphere of immediate sexual pleasure. In other words, I was hoping this session would address the idea that condoms can and are sexy and can and does enhance sexual pleasure.

Instead, I heard from two representatives from DKT (a family planning services, and reproductive health products provider for the developing world) about how they have advertised and marketed condoms in recent years. I’ll give you all two guesses on how they have gone about doing this. Not that you need any clues, but the first clue is naked women. Yup, it turns out if you want to sell condoms you have to objectify women and reduce their sexuality and pleasure to a tool to excite men. Below are a couple of examples of the ad campaigns DKT Brazil have employed, they don’t look all too different to beer, perfume, or car commercials do they? Now I understand that selling condoms kind of requires sex and I’m not against that at all, what I am against is the idea that a woman’s sexuality is only good for the pleasure of a man.

When asked by a YSAFE member why images that reinforce negative images of womens’ sexuality, race, and beauty, were being used, they responded with (and I paraphrase) ‘Well everyone else is doing it so why can’t we? And we all know SEX SELLS!’ Now I don’t know about you, but that it the laziest answer ever. So what, because everyone else is presenting women as an object of mens desire in the media you can too? Wouldn’t it be a greater accomplishment to portray sexual pleasure as something for all partners? Wouldn’t it be better to illustrate safer sex within the confines of a healthy relationship?

What are your thoughts on the ways in which DKT are marketing condoms is it different from how women are represented in the media as sexual objects?

The right-outside-the-session example on how "DKT does not objectify women".

You can respond to this on Facebook or Twitter, and share your excitement or disagreement about the way it has been done in campaigns they do. Oh, an they have a Twitter account too, in case you are interested...

Nevertheless, while ranting and raving about this, we still love The Pleasure Project that does a wonderful job transforming the "if you use a condom, all the hot babes will jump on you" discourse into an honest dialogue on safe and pleasurable sex. So, our hope is that this is just an unfortunate hook-up they've had with DKT.
Or, Pleasure Project could do some training for DKT just to make sure they finally get the difference between performing hegemonic heterosexuality in a "sexy" way and actually bringing the sensuality back to safer sex.

24 July 2012

Women at AIDS2012: U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee: If We Don't End Discrimination, We Will not End AIDS

Although there are things that seem forgotten and overlooked in the global response to AIDS, like condoms that are present everywhere on the Conference venue but not that much in the speeches. The Pleasure Project shares their disappointment with it here, and we can only agree that condoms are still the very popular, accepted and cheap double protection device we shall keep working with...

Although the tensions between structural disadvantage women keep facing and shortcomings of health care providers failing to work in human rights framework are still piling up (today's workshop My Body, My Rights: Ethics and Human Rights for Women Living with HIV in Research, Care and Treatment Settings tried to shed light on these issues)...

Still, there are also a lot of very inspirational people in the Conference, not only among all the amazing activists but also among people holding offices. So, since yesterday U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee is our hero!

23 July 2012

The AIDS 2012 programme aka lousy excuses

Sorry for all the delays in reporting.
We are still very-very busy choosing Conference tracks, roadmaps and sessions.

* Though we certainly suggest to all the big conference people to rethink the need for these bricks. We get damaged spines and destroyed trees/wasted water and other resources at the same time and no good.

22 July 2012

SRHR work via Social Media (AIDS 2012 Youth-Pre)

So, here - yes, finally - is the presentation Annaïs and Maya gave during their Session on SRHR work via Social Media:

And some Tumblr goodness shared during the session:
Also, Laci Green is still on Youtube!

And Life in My Shoes - a very innovative approach to address the mix of personal and anonymous frequently needed when working with SRHR and people affected by HIV directly particular - was presented.

20 July 2012

AIDS 2012 Youth-Pre, Day 2

Starting the Session on the labyrinths of Social Media and SRHR messaging using them!
The presentation they used in this Session is coming soon!
And, talking about the local I [heart] Being a Girl Tea Parties, ...
Trying to breathe (which does not always come easy).
Maya working on her 1st Day report to be found here!
And you just do not mess with people then!

19 July 2012

AIDS 2012 Youth-Pre, Day 1

Maya participating in the opening panel Turning the Tide: Where do we go from here with the global HIV/AIDS response? and insisting on the crucial importance of comprehensive sexuality education. Everybody on the panel agreed, off course.
Annaïs during her session Sexual and Reproductive Health Education: What is Comprehensive?
Luize co-facilitating the session on best peer education practices around the world. Talking about the importance of keeping gender in mind when doing peer education. You can find the presentation on the topic below!

Gender in Peer Education (AIDS 2012 Youth-Pre)

The presentation we gave in the AIDS 2012 Youth-Pre Conference today while sharing a session on best peer education practices with Leo and Jackie:  Youth pre peer_ed_gender_luize_ratniece
View more presentations from jauatkales.

17 July 2012

To Washington D.C. we go (or, IAC'12, here we come!)

As we already said, we are excited to bring I [heart] Being a Girl back to the International AIDS Conference that will take place, well, bascially, starting from NOW! in Washington D.C, USA.

Below you can find the sessions we will be participating in, both during the Youth Pre-Conference and in the Global Village's Youth Pavilion.

As always, both our Facebook and Twitter will be on and going! And we will be wondering around looking for new ideas to bring back, new friends and new insights. Catch us if you can!

11 July 2012

Girls + pregnancies

In the SRHR community, we spend a lot of time talking about maternal morbidity and mortality, about the need to insure access to health care services and supplies. We insist on need for access, real access to education for girls. We advocate for mandatory Comprehensive Sexuality Education since very early in one's life.

But the curious thought that sums it all up, as presented by Hugo Schwyzer, somehow surprised me
"Sperm kills.* For hundreds of millions of women over the course of millenia, the riskiest action they ever took was having sex (consensual or otherwise, married or not) with men. As medical historians will tell you, until the 20th century, childbirth was the leading cause of death for all women of childbearing years; in some societies that maternal mortality rate may have reached 40%, while other researchers prefer a lower figure of 1 in 5. Given that many women in the developing world still have half a dozen children or more, as they did in previous centuries, the overall risk is compounded by the sheer number of pregnancies carried to term. (1 in 7 Afghan women today die in childbirth.)
To put it even more bluntly, men have killed far more women by ejaculating inside of them than they have by any other method. Semen has killed more people than any other body fluid."
He concludes that, culturally, as a collective unconscious knowledge, it might be one of the reasons to fear the patriarchy-wise channeled male (hetero)sexuality even in places where the feminist fight is not anymore about the legal right to say "no".

A thought-provoking read, anyways.

10 July 2012

Starting later thanks to books and your Mom,

Books do good things to everybody!
Although early (go, define!) sex is nothing bad, in case you think it has to be avoided, here are your answers. And, no, it is not socio-economic class of the family or race/ethnic origin (we are talking US data here, keep in mind).
Two factors play critical roles in protecting girls-regardless of their socioeconomic status and household structure-against early sexual activity: (1) the quality of their relationship with their mothers and (2) achievement in school, specifically their reading proficiency.
(The research from Girls.inc + the commentary from Feministing.org)
So, education and social networks are the key! We can still look more into some more particular variables and such, but you get the general image.
And knowing that the academic success is also very much household attitudes-bound, more support for education (oh, books! oh, good public education!) and quality family time (oh, parental leaves! oh, work that's compatible with private life!) should be the key for anybody that actually feels like supporting family values (!) and postponing sexual activities.

If that's not your cup of tea, this might be,