26 September 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Turn Left at the End of the World (2004)


Somehow I've got the impression that there are more coming-of-age stories about boys than girls... and that's why the effort here is to pay attention to the ones telling the stories of girls, and preferably not only those made in USA. As a result of that, here you have Turn Left at the End of the World (2004, Avi Nesher).

The plot is that of an encounter of two girls - both immigrants in 1960's Israel - and forging a friendship while sailing the troubled waters of deciding futures, bending cultural restrictions, falling in love, discovering that people might not be the ones you believed them to be... the usual growing up stuff that hurts so much at the moment.

The most similar of our past suggestions is Towelhead (2007). Turn Left... is a much milder version of the cultural and sexual tensions, though. Sara and Nicole - the central characters of Turn Left... - are almost grown-ups themselves and in position to negotiate their lives with much more agency than little Jasira, despite the fact that the time and place depicted is supposedly so much more conservative.

Plus points are gained with:
- Scene of female masturbation (still too rare in movies).
- Depiction of a close friendship that's intense and sensual but does not enter the territory of a full-blown romance. Romance is good (see Show Me Love (1998) for that, by the way), of course. Nevertheless, there's a whole vast area of attractions and intimacies that happen in friendships that balance on becoming a love affair but never get there, and it's nice to see them depicted in cinema.

25 September 2014

Thinking bit: the Empowering Advertisement, the oxymoron

Depending on where you live and what media you consume, you may have seen more or less of this rather confusing genre of advertisement. But they are all over the social media the next day causing a debate among allies over their pros and cons...

Below you can find three examples that came out quite recently and can serve as good enough illustrations to the puzzle that they are.

+ They call attention on a topic - how gendering character traits, hobbies, and professions hurt people (and knowledge driven societies) - to audiences that never venture to read the latest outrage in the feminist blogosphere. Therefore, much good may be had if viewing such an ad would lead to a reconsideration of the behavior of parents, teachers, etc.

- They serve to sell the products, obviously. And even in this very small sample the relevance of the products varies greatly. All menstrual hygiene products  - no matter the brand, the type, or even if they are industrially made (see this great practice from Nepal) - are crucial for women to be able to get out of the house and lead an active and participatory life (google "dignity packs" for this).
Still, it's mostly Always toying with what it means to be girly without ever linking it to the product. Then the shampoo and shiny hair would still actually playing into the "be (even more) perfect (with our product) (because people may discriminate you less if your hair is shiny)" dynamics. And then Verizon who tries to get you to buy their wireless because they are concerned about the proportion of women in STEM. Slightly confusing. I'm all for corporate responsibility, but I don't need corporations telling me the status quo of the structural discrimination of women.
The action - apart from better perception of the products - that they offer are "inspire more kids to get involved with STEM" and "ban bossy [from your vocabulary as an adult qualifying the behavior of girls]". Nice, but far from revolutionary. And nothing for the already grown-up shampoo users, from what I gather.

- If they invert the traditional, discriminatory narrative, telling us - once again - that all the stakes are against them, the this is a stereotype ridden world where you will be called either girly or bossy, pushy, vain, and pretty over smart or brilliant. Much more emphasis put on that instead of alternatives. Not fun. At all.

- There are accuracy gaps. The truth is not all rosy, of course, but there are ways how - without inventing stuff - all these ads could've been made using a positive narrative of different femininities, different ideas of success (including interest for science, leadership roles, and careers in STEM for those passionate in that direction) instead of clashing traditional feminine with traditional masculine, insisting that the traditional masculine is much more valuable and perceived as more valuable... and promising an eternal fight (and frustration) for equality. Thank you very much, I already get that from the news!

+ On the other hand, provided that we live bombarded by advertisments, most of them extremely toxic and sexist, I much prefer any of the below than any disgusting Snickers BS on the "natural" sexism of a well eaten builder.


19 September 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: The Witches of Eastwick (1987)


You can, of course, analyze the classical piece that The Witches of Eastwick (1987, George Miller) is as a tale of seduction and revenge. But that's by far to easy... there's so much nuance in this + the perfect ending.

As I've claimed before, love interest, romance and passionate affairs can be - and often are, especially in cinema - the vehicles of empowerment and emancipation. This narrative can be rather predictable and slightly overused, but, hey, if the authors know how to show that it's not the man that has to be central to one's life in order to transform but an relationship offering an alternative mode of doing things that has a capacity to change people. Can be friendships. And can be romance. See examples here, here, here among many more. 
Yes, it is a heteropatriarchal way of constructing female emancipation. But better this than none, provided that the protagonists know what they are doing!

And The Witches... offer much more than just emancipation via Jack Nicholson.
You get the friendship that's prior to scandal and that remains afterwards. You get sexual emancipation based in pleasure and indulgence in bodies. You get creativity and playfulness. And you get the healthy realization that some things have gone too far and have to be gotten rid of.
It's a John Updike novel after all.

17 September 2014

A Tribute To African Women

Antonio Sacristan is 29 years old volunteer from Madrid, Spain who spent 6 months of his life in Zambia, Mongu village. During his stay he was doing community development work. Together with his colleagues they saw that many woman are harassed and abused on the streets, so they decided to create a workshop for a men, women, teenagers and children to talk about feminism, gender roles and sexism.

The workshop was even more difficult than expected. Woman role in the Zambian society is very important because she is doing everything from household and childcare to earning money for the family. In many cases the money that is earned by the men is spent firstly on his needs and entertainment and after for the well-being of the family. Suddenly this model of living was questioned by three men from Europe. It created a lot of thinking and was taken serious but it didn't create any solutions.

The main feeling after the workshops was that people can be informed but not changed in six months. People must be educated daily and it has to start from the childhood, then the situation can be improved. The system must be developed in order to improve women's health and possibilities from the big cities to African villages.

Before the experience in Africa Antonio was interested in gender equality, now he is loud enthusiast. Fighting for women rights and educating other people to have a better tomorrow for the whole world.

16 September 2014

Global Female Condom Day, September 16


  • 222 million women in developing countries who wish to avoid a pregnancy have an unmet need for contraceptives.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 million people acquire a sexually transmitted infection every day.
  • UNAIDS reports that in 2013, an estimated 2.1 million people became newly infected—the majority through sexual transmission.
  • A UNAIDS 2014 report estimates that young women 15–24 years old in sub-Saharan Africa are twice as likely as young men to be living with HIV.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Black women in the U.S. are disproportionately impacted by HIV, accounting for approximately two-thirds of women living with HIV.
  • The CDC reports that young Black gay men and other men who have sex with men comprise the overwhelming majority of new HIV infections in the U.S.
  • Globally, gay men and other men who have sex with men are 13 times more likely to be HIV-positive than the general population.
  • Female condoms can be used by women and men living with HIV to meet their family planning needs and claim their rights to healthy, mutually respectful, and fulfilling sexual relationships.


  1. Female Condom is a sexually transmitted Disease prevention tool and a contraceptive tool which prevents unplanned pregnancies
  2. It is 17 cm long which is about the same length of the unrolled male condom and wider than a male condom
  3. Female Condom shouldn’t be used together with male condom because it could be damaged during sexual intercourse due to the friction
  4. Female Condoms are made of polyurethane or nitrile, which make them strong and durable. There is no need to store it in a special storage conditions as it is resistant to humidity and high temperatures
  5. It gives women the opportunity to share responsibility for the condoms with their partners. It also provides the alternative if the partner is unwilling to use a male condom due to personal, cultural, religious or other reasons
  6. The female condom is safe, simple, and convenient
  7. You can insert it ahead of time or as part of sex play
  8. Globally, female condom distribution increased by 10 million between 2008 and 2009.
  9. Today the female condom is available in over 90 countrie
  10. In 2008, donor countries supplied 18.2 million female condoms globally, compared to nearly 2.4 billion male condoms

On Global Female Condom Day, Sept. 16, we’re showing the world that women and men want access to female condoms by dancing for demand! Anyone can participate, alone or with a group!
Get started: www.femalecondomday.org. #Dance4Demand

12 September 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Maleficent (2014)


If you haven't seen Maleficent (2014, Robert Stromberg) yet, drop everything and go get it! If you have, this might be a nice moment to watch it again. And again. Because as far as Disney (and many more) movies go, this is as directly grrrl power and smash the patriarchy as it will probably ever get in the mainstream entertainment business*.

First of all, do not listen to those who call this a version of Sleeping Beauty. While Aurora is involved, this is a completely different story. One that makes more sense, I - without even being of the branch of eco-feminism and essentialism - would say.

The interpretation of the script that resonates with me is the basic idea that if you (violently) crush somebody's sense of self, their capacity to express themselves and enjoy the life, expect trouble. Applied to a girl-child with powers to revenge her loss magically - and, oh, so powerfully - here you have Maleficent.

The fact that the harm is inflicted by a man, masked behind a romantic interest, just makes it more close to reality for many survivors around the world, really. Jolie herself has spoken out both on gender-based violence and rape, and on possible parallels with it you can find in Maleficent. Yes, rape exists and you can start a conversation about it using this Disney movie.

And the good news are: people can heal when time and support is given. Yes, thank you, Disney!

Additional points go to the creators for making the prince to be against the idea of kissing an unconscious girl he barely knows. Great, the need for enthusiastic consent can be evoked right here! Even more, in this movie - as in Frozen (2013) - the real love is not the one coming from a prince on a white horse. Kudos, Disney, I'm very impressed!

* I hope that's not true and I shall see more and more explicitly feminist movies coming up where the pink princess culture was, but I don't hold my breath for that. Therefore enjoy this one as intensely as you can!


I ♥ Being a Girl people, Magdalena

Hi cuties!

My name is Magdalena Druid and I am just as bananas as I look!
SRHR has been my biggest passion for as long as I can remember, but when you are nine years young it is one of those interests that you tend to keep to yourself. When I started a new school in 2008 I decided that it was also going to be a new beginning and my chance to be all me. This led me to join RFSU (Swedish association for sexuality education) in my local RFSU group; RFSU Linköping. Soon I became active and joined the local board. I also participated in different trainings and became a peer educator within the project “Color of Love”. Since then not a day goes by without med breathing and living all things SRHR. A friend told me about YSAFE and I immediately fell in love with the whole idea of young people being in charge of these topics. Then I met all the wonderful activists, and I became hooked for life! I have now been a member of the YSAFE SC since feb 2013 and I have been the Vice chair since February this year. It is such a privilege to be a part of a network that has come such a long way and that will only continue to get even better.  

Those rare occasions when I have tome for something other than SRHR I love to read, hang out with awesome people and try to make the world a better place.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
Realise that ALL people are the same.
Eat more chocolate.
Do more unexpected things that make them happy. (I for example attended a underwear party once, and it changed my life J ).

Before I’m 80, I’d like to have made a difference for the better in someone’s life. And I hope that I can look back at a life full of laughter, activism and really tasty food ^_^

05 September 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)


For when you get tired of debating sex work policies, pondering on your views on porn and other types of adult entertainment - no, we are not having that discussion now - watch the most light-hearted sex work themed movie ever (at least from what I've seen): The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982, Colin Higgins).

It's pure US-made kitsch as only the 1980's were able to do it replete with cowboy dance numbers, songs and *good, clean fun* in the brothel run by the icon, the one and only Dolly Parton who gets in trouble because of religious bigots.

Leaving aside the whole sex work debate (do it someplace else), the strong points of the movie are:

+ A female entrepreneur fighting for her business and employees.

+ Two adults having a non-traditional form of organizing their romantic and sexual lives, which they are pressured to do because of the social perceptions of proper behviour.

+ A very precise depiction of the double standards of the crusaders for morality...

+ The chemistry between Dolly and Burt Reynolds is abundant, oh! uh!, fun to watch actors that 'click' doing the romance scenes.

+ An overall light and fun attitude towards sex and sexuality.

+ Who would have thought that this cheesy piece came from a movie centered around sex work?