From November 2nd to the 4th, I went on my first weekend-long Alternative Service Break (ASB). An Alternative Service Break is provided by the Center for Volunteerism and Social Action at the Department of Student Involvement at University of Idaho. I am an ASB Coordinator, and my job is to create relationships with community partners to promote engagement and relationship building between the community partner and our student volunteers. Our mission statement is, “The Alternative Service Break (ASB) program gives students the opportunity to challenge themselves and develop leadership skills through service across the globe, grounded in social justice issues, including urban poverty, racism and domestic violence.” Our program offers a variety of ASB trips that are held during weekend, winter, spring and summer breaks. Weekend ASB provides short-term service opportunities within a five-hour drive from Moscow, Idaho. Winter ASB is a more extensive service break where student teams travel abroad internationally. Spring ASB offers week-long service trips based in the Pacific Northwest. Summer ASB sends students domestically, throughout the United States, to serve our national communities. Weekend ASBs are costless to the volunteers. To be a
volunteer, all you have to do is fill out an online application on orgsync. For longer trips, financial aid can be applied for. We want any students who want to participant to have the financial means to do so.
My first ASB experience was a weekend-long trip to Sandpoint, Idaho. We partnered with community non-profit, CCS (Community Cancer Services). CCS was originated in 2002
with the mission “to improve access to medical resources, spread information about public health in rural communities, and provided emotional support for individuals who have been affected by cancer.” We volunteered “at one of CSS’s largest annual fundraisers, “A Night to Remember,” to hear the stories of survivors whose lives had been forever shaped by the staff at CCS.”
I began research for a presentation I was going to give in my Queer Literature class taught by Toby Wray, here at the University of Idaho, when I came across the concept of compulsory heterosexuality. Once researching further into the subject, I found it originated from an author, Adrienne Rich, who first developed the theory of
compulsory heterosexuality. What is compulsory heterosexuality? In literal terms: compulsory, meaning required or obligatory, and heterosexuality, referring to sexual relationships with the opposite sex.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, otherwise known as RBG, is the second woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court. She was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993 and after the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor, retired, she was the only woman on the court for a while. In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and, in 1973, she became the ACLU’s general counsel.
The Women’s Rights Project and related ACLU projects participated in over 300 gender discrimination cases by 1974. All the while, RBG was a wife and mother. Within the first few years of this project, Ginsburg fought six cases of discrimination before the Supreme Court, and won five. She chose to focus not just on problems faced by women, but demonstrated that gender inequality was detrimental for both men and women. She took part in expanding the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to include women. She also argued for a widower with children who, when his wife passed, was unable to collect any benefits to help him support his dependents. She’s part of the reason that jury duty became mandatory for women as citizens of this nation, and why women in Oklahoma could legally drink at the same age as men. Continue reading “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Real Big Deal”→
It’s that time of the year again, the time when we all spend way too much money and eat too many cookies, all to celebrate the magical holiday season. As you are doing your shopping, there’s one item that makes the perfect gift for every person who menstruates, and that’s the Diva cup.
So what is a Diva cup? A Diva cup is a flexible silicone cup that’s inserted below the cervix during menstruation as an alternative to tampons or pads. The Diva cup is just one brand among many that make menstrual cups. It lasts for up to twelve hours and can last years before it needs to be thrown away. They are comfortable and leak-proof when inserted correctly, making it so you can completely forget that you are even on your period. Their price ranges from twenty to forty dollars, but that is nothing compared to how much people who menstruate normally spend on other menstrual products. They also significantly reduce landfill waste, making them much better for the environment.
With all of these reasons that make the Diva cup sound so amazing, it seems kind of crazy that people don’t use them already. Somehow, 98 percent of people who menstruate use tampons or pads instead of a more sustainable option. My experience has been so positive since I first started using a menstrual cup in August that I feel like I have to spread the good news (I have not been paid or contacted by this company to sponsor this product.) I am here to address your concerns, and the main concern I hear about the Diva cup is this: it’s scary. So let’s chase away those fears!
One of the fears I’ve heard expressed is the fear of putting it in correctly. I can see why people are concerned, when you look at the menstrual cup, it looks far too big to shove past your vaginal walls. Then, if you do manage to get it in, it has to pop open. This may seem daunting at first, but it is actually far more intuitive than putting in a tampon. It took me years to figure out how tampons worked on my own, and it took me a few minutes to figure out the menstrual cup. I would recommend putting it in for the first time in the shower, that way you don’t have to worry about getting blood anywhere. If your shower is combined with your bathtub, that also gives you a nice ledge to prop your leg on, which can make insertion a lot easier. Since menstrual cups don’t have a handy applicator like a tampon does, you do have to use your fingers. After a few days with the cup, you’ll be much more familiar with the anatomy of your genitals, but that is a good thing! Using your fingers also makes it a lot easier to make sure the cup is exactly where you want it to be. If you’ve put it in right, it’ll be super comfortable and you’ll hardly be able to feel it. But, you don’t have to just listen to me, there are lots of videos and guides about how to insert the Diva cup.
The other major fear I’ve heard is the fear of taking it out. People are terrified of seeing their menstrual blood. Trust me, you have nothing to worry about. Tampons and pads are way grosser than anything I’ve seen in my menstrual cup. Just like with putting it in for the first few times, I would practice taking it out in the shower because the process can take some getting used to. Even the best of us have accidentally dropped our cup in the toilet or dribbled some blood on the floor. One of the biggest lessons that the menstrual cup has taught me is how important it is to just go with the flow. Once you have some practice, however, taking it out isn’t any more of a hassle than it is to take care of other products. It’s also super convenient for traveling or backpacking because of the lack of waste. Most of the time, though, you can empty it in the comfort of your home since you only need to do so twice a day. The other big issue with taking it out is actually reaching it, and this is where you get to practice your Kegels. Kegels are super good for you, and the diva cup has been a great reminder that I need to exercise all of my muscles, not just the ones that help me carry boxes or run upstairs.
The last fear is choosing which menstrual cup is right for you. There are so many options! If you are exploring menstrual cups and you aren’t sure which one to get, I would recommend taking this quiz, which matches you to your ideal cup.
Personally, I think the biggest reason that menstrual cups are so uncommon is because we aren’t used to using them. Pads and tampons have been the norm for so long that generations of women have used them. When I first got my period, I had never even heard of menstrual cups, and I had been bleeding for almost a decade before I decided to make the switch. It’s easy to get caught up in our routine, and that’s why this holiday season is the perfect year to start a new tradition. This is the year of the menstrual cup! Seriously, many people would be too scared to go out and buy one themselves, but what would happen if they were given one as a gift? They would make a perfect stocking stuffer! We can be the generation to pass our knowledge of menstrual cups on to our children. All it takes is the courage to try it once, or maybe twice, until you never go back to those stinky, uncomfortable, wasteful pads and tampons that you used to tolerate so much.
Explicit Content Warning: This article contains explicit sexual content, including the sexual experiences of teens.
I can’t remember the first time I ever heard the word virgin. Although I was not raised Christian, I would guess that the beginning of my understanding came from the Virgin Mary. Since then, I have observed the power this word has over people in our culture. As an adolescent, I learned that virgin meant both pure and prude, both good and bad. I learned that losing your virginity was painful, that women often bleed, but that somewhere along the way sex would become fun and pleasurable, a way to express love. I learned that losing your virginity meant breaking your hymen through vaginal-penetrative sex, that for some reason, oral and anal sex didn’t count. My concept of virginity was fraught with inconsistencies, and I didn’t understand the reasoning behind many of them. I only became more aware of the problems with what I was being taught about virginity as I learned more about queer experiences and became more of a feminist.
Wanting to better understand people’s perceptions about the concept of virginity, I decided to interview eleven diverse individuals about that very topic. This is what they had to share.
Pay attention to the word history because very rarely has it made room for her-story unless it was beneficial to man. In English we have archetypes: the angel of the house, the witch, the mother, the martyr, the virgin, the whore, and where do these come from? Largely until the last few centuries ago, wealthy educated men. In western cultures, these men were also primarily white and culturally insensitive. That’s a topic for another day though, today I want to address something I have seen affecting my mother, and my friends:their health as women.
Despite common misconception it is and has been vastly different from men’s health but is often treated as the same. Yet, women wait an extra 7-16 minutes in the E.R. and after surgery they are only half as likely to receive pain killers. Treatments and study groups are mostly men or male mice. Women are also more likely to be misdiagnosed and sent away before receiving proper treatment and why is that?
Pro-choice vs pro-life is a highly controversial social issue that the United States debates over continuously. Abortions have been a part of American legal history since as early as the 1820s. The first law against abortions was instated in 1821, in Connecticut, targeting apothecaries who sold “poisons” to purposely induce a miscarriage. Coming into the 20th century, some states had anti-abortion laws emplaced until the Supreme Court’s decision in the Roe vs Wade trial of 1973. The Supreme Court’s decision decriminalized abortion nationwide.
Later with the 1992 Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Planned Parenthood vs Casey, emplaced the original guidelines of the laws on abortions nationwide. In the 2016 Supreme Court decision in the Whole Woman’s Health vs Hellerstedt case, led us to the abortion laws we have in place today. Each state has their own laws pertaining to abortion in the United States. Most of the common state-level laws regarding abortion are parental consent for minors, mandating counseling meant to persuade women from continuing with the abortion, limitations on public funding, excess regulations on abortion facilities, and a mandated waiting period before the abortion. Continue reading “Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life”→