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  • Round-up: From nail polish to Playboy’s surprising sense

    August 29th, 2014

    by Erin Seatter | @erinlynds

    nail polish

    This week saw much discussion on the invention of a nail polish that can be used to detect date-rape drugs in drinks. Will this protect women? Many anti-violence activists have doubts.

    In “Why is it easier to invent anti-rape nail polish than find a way to stop rapists?” Jessica Valenti argues that focusing on an individual “so long as it isn’t me” strategy isn’t an effective way to end rape:

    If it were truly that simple, previous iterations of this same concept would have worked. Remember “anti-rape underwear”? Or the truly terrifying “Rapex” – a female condom that would insert tiny hooks into an assailant’s penis? You can’t really expect women to wear modern chastity belts or a real-life vagina dentata in order to be safe. That’s not trying to stop rape – it’s essentially arguing that some people getting raped is inevitable.

    Similarly, Julianne Ross describes the nail polish as “simply the latest in a slew of anti-rape products that don’t necessarily make the world a safer place, but do make women’s lives more difficult by adding yet more items to the list of things they ‘should’ do to avoid rape.” In her piece, “If We Gave Men the Same Rape Advice We Give Women, Here’s How Absurd It Would Sound,” she tells men to “wear practical shoes” so they can quickly get away from any woman who’s alone.

    The hard truth is that rapists are people we know, which Ann Brasco points out in “10 Tips for Talking About Sexual Violence with Your Sons”:

    Rapists are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, our friends’ children, and sometimes, our family. No parent wants to believe that their own child could be capable of such an injustice. And that is precisely why this conversation is so critical.

    By having open and critical conversations with all children, sons included, we can work towards a safer world.

    School safety is one part of the equation. Jill Filipovic at Cosmopolitan writes that “sexual violence is an endemic campus problem,” noting that some schools are “owning the issue and working to keep students safe while others simply go into risk management mode or deny they have a problem at all.” In consultation with educators and activists, she drafted “18 Questions to Ask About Your School’s Sexual Assault Policy.”

    “The No. 1 red flag is a school that says, ‘We don’t have a problem with sexual assault,’” says a sexual assault educator quoted in the article.

    Also this week, from another unexpected corner of the World Wide Web, came a flowchart called “Should You Catcall Her?

    A young lady walks by, who you find sexually attractive. You’re probably not clever enough to come up with an original thought, so the only remaining option is to yell out at her, like you are not a smart person. Should you do it?

    The chart walks readers through a sensible series of steps in determining the appropriateness of a catcall.

    The source of such a handy resource? Playboy. I was just as surprised as you are.

    Queer Youth and Vulnerability

    August 22nd, 2014


    by Janet Madsen  |  @janet_madsen

    Although things have come a long way for many people in queer communities, they’re not ideal yet. Sure, there is greater acceptance of gays and lesbians.  In North America, we have celebrities like Laverne Cox and Ellen DeGeneres and Jim Parsons.  If we want to, we can marry in more places than ever, even though that battle is still being waged in many states and countries. Same sex parents are more present, although we still get stupid questions. Trans folks certainly still have tons to battle, and bisexuals can point to Anna Paquin’s education of Larry King as a perfect illustration of how misunderstood sexuality can be.  And yes, there are countries that make us illegal.


    I’ve read a couple of articles in the past few weeks that have reminded me of the vulnerability of queer youth in particular. One was a seemingly contradictory piece about how teen pregnancy rates are higher for queer kids than straight kids. That one makes sense to me- how better to establish straight credentials? I had boyfriends in high school, although I longed for the girls. Sex education can be heterocentric, or something queer kids just tune out.

    Another piece reported on a study of suicidal behaviour in LGBTQ youth. Study participants were three times as likely to have attempted suicide in the study year than their straight counterparts. Racial distinctions were gathered in the study, and found that “Latina LGBT girls had a significantly higher prevalence of suicide attempts than youth of any other race; and Latino LGBT boys reported feeling sad twice as often as boys of other racial categories.”  Researchers recognized that further study needs to look at the social influences that home, school and culture play in the lives of youth from varying backgrounds.

    Yes, “It Gets Better.” But all of us, queer and our allies, need to remember the tenderness of youth. It’s so easy to feel alone in a world where you’re supposed to appear surrounded by tons of friends. We need to think about little and large ways to make change happen.


    Photo: Jeltovsky, Morguefile