Stitching The Divide
Winter Issue 2017
"Letter from the Editors"
Welcome to the 3rd issue of the Girl Talk Magazine!
For this issue, we decided to do something different. Rather than have articles and artwork revolve around a specific theme, we opened this issue for any submission generally relating to gender, sexuality, and feminism, both politically and on a personal level. There is a lot is going on in the political world right now, and there is a lot people have to say. This is reflected in our open issue where we present to you a diverse range of articles that tackle important issues such as political unity, female monuments, gender fluidity, reproductive justice, and more.
From international voices from the Netherlands, India, and America, this issue is a special compilation of feminist discussions. It reveals deeply personal thoughts and opinions, and comments on gendered conflicts occurring in Palestine and other countries around the world. Welcoming both liberal and conservative opinions, we hear from those who dislike the feminist movement’s agenda and others who feel as if the feminist movement is unfairly characterized.
The phrase “what a time to be alive” perfectly describes today’s day in age. Inflammatory words are being thrown out from people with all sorts of ideologies, and it’s becoming difficult to keep track of what exactly is going on not just in our country, but on a global scale. For such rapidly changing times, the only way for women to continue to remain an influential part in society is to constantly engage in discussion. Through Girl Talk Magazine, we hope to provide a feminist forum for people to try to piece together the words and events that are circulated around the world daily.
"Letter from a Nonbinary Person"
Let’s address the elephant in the room: I am nonbinary. I identify as genderfluid, which is very easily explained by its name. It means that some days I feel pulled more at a masculine level, others feminine, and others both or even neither. These phases last for days, or weeks, or months or even years for some people. And it is totally a real thing. Dysphoria is not made up, and it is one of the most uncomfortable feelings a person can experience.
Try to put yourself in a NB (nonbinary) person’s shoes. You are a boy, but you are forced to wear clothes that make you uncomfortable and sit quietly. You can’t play your favorite sport, and instead you are forced to cheerlead; you are expected to act well mannered at all times and are to be seen and not heard. Or the other way: you aren’t allowed to wear any makeup even though you feel incredibly out of place without it, you are expected to be strong and to never show emotions, to go out for sports and you would much rather become a dancer. You would constantly feel miserable and out of place.
Sometimes when I ask people to use the pronoun “they/them” when referring to me, the person will respond with, “Oh, it makes me feel weird because that’s not proper grammar. Will you just pick one?” It’s crushing to hear that they care more about grammar than how you feel, and respecting you as a person. One of the hardest things for me was to accept how I felt, and it was even harder to tell my friends. It makes me so sad when I look up nonbinary and some of the first search results are cringe compilations and rant articles. Both are blatant homophobia and not only upsetting to see, but scary.
My father can sometimes be transphobic. I feel so unsafe when I hear him talk about trans and nonbinary people. He has no wrong intentions, but what he says is very bluntly homophobic. I do not have a chest binder, I am expected to always dress feminine, I can’t come out to my family or teachers, and I don’t want anybody to feel anywhere near like I do. I’m hoping that if anything, this teaches you that tolerance is important. Last year, at school, I met someone who also identified as nonbinary, and although I was calm when I met them, that night at home I cried for a very long time. Although this time I cried not out of fear or sadness, but out of relief and joy that there was someone out there like me. Someone who felt the same way. I was so overcome with joy that there were other people like this, that I realized something that has stuck with me ever since. Wallowing in self pity, fear, and sadness helps nobody, especially not yourself. (Not to say that you can’t have a good cry once in awhile). What helped me most was one person’s kindness and openness. I was at one of the worst times of my life when I met this person, and ever since I’ve always kept in my head a golden philosophy, which is that kindness and bravery come around. I may not be here if not for this wonderful person. They weren’t kind to me because they knew I was going through hard times, they were simply kind out of the goodness of their heart and those few lunches we ate together made my life one worth living.
It’s so easy to be tolerant, and I want to try and share some knowledge so that people who identify as gender-nonconforming can feel a bit more comfortable, and you won’t have to feel awkward when you don’t know what to do
If you mess up on someone’s name/pronouns
It’s totally normal to mess up at first, but you should work to grow so you and your friend can feel more comfortable. If you do mess up, though, correct yourself and move on. Don’t make a huge deal about it! Just quickly correct the mistake and move past it, and everyone will leave happy.
If you don’t know what pronouns to use and/or make an incorrect assumption
If you don’t know what name/pronouns to use, ASK. You can be subtle or upfront. If you’re embarrassed, ask if there’s any nicknames they go by.
If you wrongly assume someone identifies differently, apologize and fix your mistake. Don’t try to justify yourself! It’ll only make things worse. Just correct yourself and move on.
If you’re unsure
Ask! Ask about anything you feel unsure about. It’s better to ask than to assume.
I hope some of you found this helpful. Or maybe you thought it was all really stupid, I don’t know. But I hope you can walk away from this having learned something, whether it be a profound revelation or the smallest trivia fact, I hope this has somehow taught you something. And with that, I’m out.
"Reproductive Justice Access Around the World"
Reproductive Justice is a term coined recently in 1994, by a group of black feminists during a pro choice conference. Seeking to combine the words “reproductive rights” and “social justice”, the term “reproductive justice” was created to address both a woman’s right to choose and the various structures of oppression that uniquely target minority and lower income communities. The international community, whether it be the United Nations, international non profits, or country governments, has embraced this term to address an intersectional feminist perspective, to promote a culturally respectful and situation sensitive approach to reproductive health policy.
Research is now stronger than ever that sexual reproduction rights and family planning are absolutely essential not only for women’s empowerment, but for global empowerment in relation to economic, social, and political development. Unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and an overall lack of awareness of safe sexual health procedures are the leading causes of poverty in many nations. These causes impact developing nations disproportionately, with the “greatest needs for services concentrated in the poorest communities and poorest countries”. Thankfully, a solution is available. A simple investment in reproductive justice of $9 per person yields 3 million fewer unplanned births, 36 million fewer unplanned abortions, and 220,000 fewer maternal deaths in each country. The areas desperately in need of investment include funding for HIV and STD prevention, contraception, and family planning/abortion.
Although the media no longer actively covers the HIV crisis, every 5 minutes, an adolescent is diagnosed with HIV/AIDs. Furthermore, millions of people, both males and females, around the world are stigmatized and isolated because of easily preventable and treatable sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund and the International Rescue Committee have been actively working to combat both the stigma and presence of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. In some areas, they have experienced significant success such as in Kenya, where the provision of STD/STI medication has increased by 80 percent, but in other areas, communities still continue to be plagued with false myths and stereotypes that prevent affected people from accessing care.
Furthermore, an essential area that organizations have been focusing on to promote reproductive justice includes the provision of contraceptives. Although 78 countries around the world require parental consent for adolescents to access contraceptives, there has been a global trend to campaign for the easily accessible and confidential provision of contraceptives. Whether it be short term options such as monthly birth control pills or condoms, or long term options such as 10 year lasting intrauterine devices, 214 million people across the world are desperately seeking contraceptives. The World Health Organization has designed a series of reproductive health kits that contain essential contraceptives specifically designed for emergency situations, and other organizations are working to provide a variety of contraceptives and combat the religious and social oppositions facing the provision of them.
Although many women ideally wish to prevent pregnancy before it occurs, many women are faced with the reality of unwanted pregnancies. Therefore, the need for abortion procedures are high, especially in countries with strict anti-abortion laws. As Patricia Da Silva, Senior International Focus Officer at the IPFF states, “rich women abort, poor women die.” Access to abortions are increasingly regulated and sparse in poorer communities, and a multitude of other health problems arise when women in these communities seek alternative methods of abortion not offered by licensed medical professionals. Although internationally recognized NGOs cannot fund for abortion procedures in countries where abortion is outlawed, in countries with less stringent laws, organizations have been working to promote safe, confidential, and easy access to abortion services in a non judgmental environment.
The fight for reproductive justice is far from over, yet research and past advocacy experience from many different organizations have displayed a viable pathway to achieve reproductive justice. As in any conflict situation, education is key - and organizations continue to recommend education for all members of society, such as education for healthy couple communication, comprehensive sexual education, and education that encourages girls to stay and finish schooling. Both the public and private sector must come together to promote funding and research for healthy, safe family planning procedures. Most importantly, the fight for reproductive justice will be best won with the activism of all members of society, which starts with each individual becoming involved in grassroots activism, from being initially aware of the problem and subsequently, advocating for the solution.
Websites & Journals:
Reproductive Justice, Not Just Rights." Dissent Magazine. N.p., Feb.-Mar. 2017. Web.
Yancey-Bragg, N'dea. "Why World Population Day Is Really about Women." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 13 June 2017. Web.
United Nations. (2015). Sustainable Development Flagship Report. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/publications/global-sustainable-development-report-2015-edition.html
UN Women annual report 2016. (2016). Retrieved from http://annualreport.unwomen.org/en/2016
Adler, N. J. (1997). Global Leadership: Women Leaders. International Human Resource and Cross Cultural Management, 171-196.
Index by the Fund for Peace -- Illustrations by Luke Shuman, & Interview by Benjamin Pauker, executive editor of Foreign Policy. (2014). Fragile States 2014 | Foreign Policy. Retrieved from http://foreignpolicy.com/fragile-states-2014/
Kahn, Kim Fridkin. 1996. The Political Consequences of Being a Woman: How Stereotypes Influence the Conduct and Consequences of Political Campaigns. New York: Columbia University.
Olsen, Erik. "Saving Lives With Family Planning." The New York Times. The New York Times, 3 Jan. 2017. Web.
Worrell, Marc. "Who Are We?" Women on Waves. N.p., n.d. Web.
Peter Mladenov, Moderator of UN Side Event: Using the 2030 Agenda to Tackle Sexual and Reproductive Coercion
Patricia Da Silva, IPPF
Dr. Felicity Day, Outright International
Hayley Gleeson, ACT!2030
Alanna Galati, Guttmacher Institute
Lina Rojas, International Rescue Committee
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