A different gender bias

If you Google ‘men raped by men,’ you will find that it’s not a particularly useful search. The top results report women raped by men, most of which describe events that are only distinctive because multiple men perpetrated each rape. After scrolling down, the next most frequent results represent a blend of assault definitions and survivor resources that encourage education and communication about male rape. In the first few pages of results, only two report a news story involving an identified man (or boy) whose assailants are being pursued.

Male rape is not a well-publicized topic. Only through our class have we been forced to acknowledge this issue. It is a representation of the kind of violence that women either avoid thinking about or don’t understand and most men want to ignore completely. For years the law and the press ignored the rape of men. Accusations went unpursued, victims were discredited, and rapists were free to continue their lives with no fear of retribution.  The silence surrounding male rape prevented prosecution, but more importantly, it prevented victims from healing.

That silence could perhaps be attributed to the lack of occurrence in certain places. Although male rape likely occurs everywhere, it is in the areas in which its frequency is reportedly more prevalent where people have started to speak out against the violence (INCASA). It is also likely that the silence continues because of the fear of association with homosexuality. According to Tjaden and Thoennes, approximately 3% of American men have been raped in their lifetime. In comparison to the 17.6% of women, the number of men affected by rape is relatively smaller (Tjaden 7). However, ‘relatively smaller’ still equals approximately 2.78 million people so logically, there’s no reason for prevalence to be an excuse used to rationalize the lack of resources for male victims.

Walker, Archer and Davies report that, “the help and support for male victims of rape is more than 20 years behind that of female victims” (Walker 495). Although their study was focused on white British survivors, their findings support the hypothesis that there exists a gender bias in how society reacts and supports victims of sexual assault. Many of their participants claimed they were motivated to respond to the research proposal because they wanted to promote “informed publicity about male rape.” Many struggled to communicate with professionals who were not prepared to react to male victims in the same manner as they responded to females (Walker 500). Men have to worry more about being believed, because as one of last summer’s ASKMEN articles shows, many people don’t believe women can rape men. As a consequence, some men are left feeling emasculated. They are expected to be able to defend themselves and may develop self-blame as a result.

The authors of the British study found that the majority (90%) of the victims had faced some form of violence during the assault (Walker 497). Whether their current sexual orientation was gay, straight, bisexual or asexual at the time of the survey, none of the men involved wanted this to happen to them. They were left psychologically and often physically damaged in equal need of support and reassurance as their female counterparts.



Tjaden, Patricia and Nancy Thoennes. National Institute of Justice. Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. January 2006. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/210346.pdf

Walker, Jayne, John Archer and Michelle Davies. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Effects of Rape on Men: A Descriptive Analysis. 2005

INCASA. Resources For Survivors. When Men Are Raped. 2011 http://www.incasa.org/advocacy/survivor-resources/when-men-are-raped/

Walsh, Wendy. ASKMEN.com. Men Raped By Women. Can A Man Be Raped? http://www.askmen.com/dating/love_tip_3800/3838_men-raped-by-women.html

okay, we get it…

In an overview of a combined research study performed by Connell, Lorber, Martin and Risman, the authors of “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel, Integrative Approach to Party Rape,” propose a series of changes that should be taken to prevent sexual violence in the party scene (Armstrong et al. 481). While the proposed changes could be considered logical with respect to the data provided, the specific circumstances that arose at this “large midwestern university” should not automatically be applied to all schools and probably aren’t the most likely to encourage change. The authors suggest a more integrated approach to campus housing, they encourage more balanced policing of places where students can engage in under age drinking, and the promotion of more socially acceptable non-alcoholic activities (Armstrong et al. 489). Education, of both men and women, is a critical aspect of sexual violence prevention and should begin prior to the arrival of freshmen. As we have learned, often it is the sexual script in which “men… pursue sex and women… play the role of gatekeeper,” (Armstrong et al. 488) that promotes the sort of ignorant view that leads to women blaming themselves or believing there will be stigma associated with coming forward. The truth is that education is not the only approach to this problem that needs an update. When you read between the lines, the authors have a pretty negative opinion about the effect that fraternities currently have on sexual assault.

Here at Emory, we are already a step ahead. We have relatively integrated freshmen dorms. We take alcohol awareness classes and are given sexual assault information before arriving for orientation. Every year they update the data they want incoming freshmen to know because we have the resources to combat and react to these kinds of incidents. The fraternities, while certainly not monitored 100% of the time, are policed very heavily during the most party heavy time of the year and monitored consistently throughout the year, especially in comparison to my freshmen dorm. There are plenty of non-alcoholic events offered and often, people do actually show up to them. Yet, despite all of these significant differences, Emory still has it’s own problems.

In recent news, Emory has had a significant rise in reported incidences of sexual assault and rape (Skibell). These issues obviously have to be addressed. However, it is my belief that the proposed steps lack the specificity to be directly targeted toward the Emory environment. Those proposals are inherently blaming the Greek system. While starting in the Greek system is a fully acceptable way to promote change, targeting this portion of Emory is not going to stop the violence. As noted in the Wheel article, two of seven reported incidents occurred in fraternity housing. I would say ‘only two’, but that would make it seem as though I’m trying to transfer the blame.

Our Greek community includes many campus leaders who participate in sports, community service and student government. Yes, there have been two reported incidents in which Greek men have been accused of sexual assault. And yes, there are more to come, because women are starting to feel more comfortable coming forward. But the more accusations that are reported, the more we are going to see that these incidents are happening all over campus.

The problem as I see it, is in the process of education. Encouraging young women not to drink until they have no self control is a great idea. Keeping in mind that young men are probably drinking as much, if not more, than their female counterparts, encouraging men not to take advantage of women is also a great idea. The problem is, there’s no question. The definition of consensual is simply not promoted in any form between our peers.

According to Emory policy:

“Consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity, and consent is given by clear actions or words. It is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance alone (Campus Life).”

When a friend of mine told me he was being accused of rape, I asked, “did she say she wanted to have sex with you?” His response, “Nah, but she was going with it…” He’s a really nice guy and I would never think him capable of putting a girl through that, but it’s a pretty common story. Plenty of girl’s go out with the full intention of making out on a dance floor and then it just goes too far. It’s not okay and I’m not proposing they are at fault because someone took advantage of them.

In all honesty though, I didn’t really expect him to say yes. After this class, I just know that’s the only way he could have protected himself. In speaking with my peers, I have found the predominant response to the idea of direct consent is disdain. Frequently guys will laugh at the idea of asking and girls will admit no one’s ever asked them.

I believe this one point could change a lot. There might still be sexual violence, but I think changing the approach to consent could transform the dangers of the party scene.


Armstrong, Elizabeth A., Laura Hamilton and Brian Sweeney. Sex Matters: The Sexuality and Society Reader “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel Integrative Approach to Party Rape” 2006

Skibell, Arianna. The Emory Wheel. “Seven Rapes Reported Since August” November 5, 2012

Campus Life. Emory Healthcare Policies and Procedures. Policy 8.2 Sexual Misconduct. August 16, 2012

HIV/AIDS prevention programs

Given the huge impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout the world, programs that emphasize education and prevention have been critical since the initial identification of the virus and its routes of transmission.

In the previous weeks, we have focused on articles discussing the significant populations and target groups that much of the funding and manpower of public health groups has been attributed to. We have also learned how skewed many of these programs are toward altering specific behaviors. Statistical data on the distributions of infected individuals, the rates and geographical patterns of transmission and the lack of available preventative measures have all contributed heavily to determining where resources are sent and how they are used.

HIV prevention programs can have a global impact on changing risk behaviors, if they are instigated intensely with sufficient funding and cultural competency (Holgrave 134). Based on CDC studies, there are specific measures that can be placed into affect in order to maximize the efficiency of HIV prevention programs economically and socially. As of 2006, the CDC estimated that over 350,000 infections had been prevented since prevention programs had gone into affect, averting over $125 billion in medical costs (Fenton 3).

Although studies primarily focused on the United States, the results can be applied globally. Research has shown that the best prevention programs have emphasized and achieved changes in behavior by encouraging entire community participation to share responsibility for prevention efforts. They have focused on the specific needs of the community in which they are instigated, offering resources for all individuals at risk but focusing outreach activities on primary needs. Successful preventative measures must be conveyed in manner that is culturally accessible, understandable and linguistically specific. The audience of each planned initiative should be outlined in advance and both the objectives and mechanisms for attaining them should be presented openly. In addition to these components, successful initiatives must also have sufficient resources. Prevention programs must have sufficient financial backing, as well as human and material resources, to follow through with interventions in the community.  In addition, programs must be designed to create success. At risk individuals must feel inspired to implement risk-reducing behaviors and have those changes be physically and emotionally attainable. They must be taught the skills necessary to change (Holgrave 4).

After 3 decades of HIV prevention programs in the United States the CDC is still developing prevention programs. Although the transmission of HIV in the U.S. has decreased significantly, there are over a million individuals living with HIV. Prevention has expanded to include promotion of testing centers along with educational programs for individuals living with HIV. Previous partner notification initiatives and multi-STI screening opportunities have become highly available. In addition, free condom distribution and needle exchange programs have been implemented through out the country (Fenton 5).

Although the United States is financially more inclined to promote these prevention programs in an attempt to avoid the eventual costs of healthcare, these kinds of initiatives could be instigated elsewhere with great success. The key points are to recognize the importance of cultural intricacies and the promotion of attainable behavioral changes.


Fenton, Kevin, et al. HIV Prevention in the United States. At a critical crossroads. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention

Holtgrave, David R., Noreen L. QuallsJames W. CurranRonald O. ValdiserriMary E. Guinan, and William C. Parra. An overview of the effectiveness and efficiency of HIV prevention programs. Public Health Report 1995


No one should be invisible

Over the past 25 years, the acquisition of HIV/AIDS knowledge has been extraordinary. The research and development of drug therapies has been extremely successful and that success has only been distilled by the financial obligations surrounding the pharmaceutical industry. Despite all of this progress, the most important aspect of epidemic control – prevention – has been difficult to promote.

Originally, the disease arose in an isolated population. In the United States, a sub-group of the general public were the predominant victims. As a result, the disease gained an irrevocable association with homosexuality and injection drug use. The treatment of these individuals was targeted and preventative measures focused on promoting a decrease in sexual partners, increasing advocacy for protected sex, and a somewhat conflicted campaign for clean needles.

As HIV has become recognized as a disease of the people, through it’s spread across the United States and its global affects, categorizing the victims has become a lot more difficult. In any epidemic, the public will always find a scapegoat. In the case of HIV, the blame has been passed around and depending on the region of the world, it may have settled on prostitutes, injection drug users, men who secretly engage in sex with other men, or poor men who are exposed to the disease through deviant behavior while traveling for work. These are some pretty specific groups. In contrast to the early days, people aren’t empathizing with the victims. They never really blamed rich white homosexuals in America and they’re not blaming them now in most of the world.

They’re also not blaming women.

Despite the fact that 50% of HIV infected individuals are female (Mukherjee 380), women are usually portrayed as victims of the men who transmit the infection to them. While authors such as Joia Mukherjee, Diane Richardson and Jenny Higgins all make great arguments about the victimization of certain groups and they provide copious research data to emphasize their points, I think they fall into the same trap as everyone else. By promoting the victimization of specific groups, they all continue to propagate the blame applied to other groups.

Everyone with HIV/AIDS is a victim.

That’s it. There’s no other way to explain this. The “terrible” husband who comes home from migratory work and transmits HIV to his wife is just as much a victim of the virus as his wife. He didn’t have extramarital sex with the intention of becoming infected with HIV. Whether or not he should be condemned for having extramarital sex in the first place is not a healthcare provider’s place to say.

So I propose we design a HIV/AIDS prevention plan that incorporates everyone’s good ideas while negating their judgments of who can and cannot be helped. In a study of the effectiveness and efficiency of HIV prevention programs by the CDC, the investigators found that behaviorally based prevention programs are most effective when they are supplied with sufficient resources, operate at a high level of intensity and display cultural competency. As such, I believe that continuing education and support of women’s rights and their personal advocacy is necessary. I think increasing the education of men about their susceptibility is also necessary. Giving every individual a chance to avoid infection requires cultural understanding. In collaboration with government officials, healthcare providers should advocate the promotion of laws that allow individuals – men and women – access to education and the right to choose what risky activities they engage in.

Murkherjee, Joia. Sex Matters: The Sexuality and Society Reader.  Ed. by Mindy Stombler, Dawn Baunach, Elisabeth Burgess, Denise Donnelly, Wendy Simonds, Elroi Windsor. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. 379-385

HOLTGRAVE, David R., PhD, NOREEN L. QUALLS, DrPH, MSPH, JAMES W. CURRAN, MD, MPH, RONALD 0. VALDISERRI, MD, MPH, MARY E. GUINAN, MD, PhD, WILLIAM C. PARRA, MS. An Overview of the Effectiveness and Efficiency of HIV Prevention Programs. Public Health Reports 1995

Higgins, Jenny A., PhD, MPH, Susie Hoffman, DrPH, and Shari L. Dworkin, PhD, MS. American Journal of Public Health. March 2010, Vol 100, No.3. 435-445

Richardson, Diane. Rethinking Sexuality. London: Sage Publications, 2000. 127-138.

losing ground

With laws and political divisions becoming increasingly extreme, the role of contraceptive use in sexual encounters is precarious. School education programs and public health policy groups work to encourage contraceptive use in all sexual encounters. Alarmingly these people aren’t just fighting an uphill battle against ignorance, but also have to deal with special interest groups that are not only discouraging safer sex education programs, but also fighting for the instigation of pro-life policies – policies that could succeed in the eventual elimination of certain contraceptive options.

There have been recent debates in the news regarding the future of abortion in some states. Often this issue comes up in coordination with election years and this year seems no different. We have seen debates on this hot topic arise cyclically and fade after one side or the other achieves some small victory that usually leaves the issue seemingly unchanged.  As Wendy Simonds points out in her piece (Simonds p 427), this debate is a “rhetorical battle” consisting of word manipulation and moral mud slinging. In what seems to be an increasingly extreme battle of the pro-life vs. pro-choice contingencies, choosing sides has suddenly become an even more reflective issue. The fight for the right to abort could have huge consequences in states like Mississippi where a new abortion bill is on the floor. The phrasing of this bill that would outlaw abortion could also be a slippery downhill slide to the elimination of other birth control methods including the birth control pill and intrauterine devices (IUDs). By defining the beginning of life as the moment sperm meets egg, this law would basically instigate the right of every potential fetus to be born, outlawing the methods that prevent implantation in the uterus (Papas). Other states, including Oklahoma and Virginia have passed some forms of this type of law and additionally have instigated the use of invasive transvaginal ultrasounds in women who seek out an abortion (Favate)

As we are all very aware, there are two sides to this issue and two predominant parties in our government. As the issue grows, the battles are becoming bigger and the effects of success by the pro-life, anti-abortion side of this argument have actually become noticeable. Before it was always the wording of some little document that some people buzzed over, but the general public ignored. Now the public, or at least half of it, should finally be paying attention. In my opinion we have arrived to a point of regression and women are the ones whose rights are being taken away.

The motivation behind these changes is not just the simple moral code of our leaders. They are the consequence of the fight to maintain, or in some places regain, the hetero-normative lifestyle. This country is predominantly lead by straight, married, well educated men who have devoted their lives in part to maintaining their squeaky clean exterior. These men are trying to maintain the expected life of a successful American man. What will happen to them however, if the number of non-married couples who are expecting a child increases? What will happen to them if more people decide to join the sexually liberated?



Simonds, Wendy. “From Contraception to Abortion: A Moral Continuum”

Pappas, Stephanie. “Mississippi’s ‘Personhood’ Law Could Outlaw Birth Control” Live Science. November 7, 2011 http://www.livescience.com/16917-mississippi-personhood-birth-control.html

Favate, Sam. “Virginia House Passes Bills Restricting Abortion” The Wall Street Journal. February 16, 2012 http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/02/16/virginia-house-passes-bills-restricting-abortion/

The economics of a college campus

Economic theory has been recognized and applied to our behavior since Darwin first discovered the works of Thomas Malthus. In order for there to be evolution, there must be a limited supply of resources and consequently some competition for those resources. In every species, a mate is a resource. Our biological fitness relies on our ability to find a mate and pass on our genes. The current sex situation in our society is a result of the influence of two things on this innate behavior. First of all, many people have figured out that sex can be enjoyable (thus we want it despite having no current aspirations for reproduction) and second, as a general rule humans have developed into a dual gender courtship species, thereby requiring displays of affection, charms, and expressions of interest from both men and women.

A change occurred in the 1960s and 1970s in American society that has liberated women from the stigma of sex before marriage. It’s certainly not gone, but with the increasing education of women, the delay of marriage in favor of furthering careers, and the general acceptance that marriage is simply not the road for everyone, women are increasingly likely to engage in pre-marital sex and to be comfortable with it. This on it’s own can be a very good thing. As Windsor and Burgess advocate, having a sex-positive outlook is much healthier because it makes knowledge and education accessible and leads to healthier, happier people. 

The problem however, is that women in our age group (18-23) are not happier. This freedom they have been granted has not promoted sex-positivity and openness. It has lead instead to the economizing of sexual acts,discouraging some individuals and decreasing the frequency of healthy sexual relationships.

In 2011, sociologists Regnerus and Uecker, of University of Texas and University of North Carolina respectively, published a book about the way young Americans engage in relationships and decide how they will progress. After a decade of study they reported that women who have had multiple sex partners are ten times more likely to experience elevated symptoms of depression. These results occurred after the onset of sexual behavior. Proof of a causal relationship was not proven but a definite correlation was seen. Some men and many women reported feeling disrespected after engaging in casual sex.

The researchers also found that “men are typically in control of when dating begins, but women are in control of when sex begins—and it often begins earlier than they want.” This is a slightly different argument than Kathleen Bogle’s (Hooking Up) who portrayed the struggle of developing relationships in a hook up culture, yet it follows the same logic. Television, movies, and our parents (or fathers) frequently reinforce the stereotypes. Men want sex and women either give it to them or they don’t. The problem comes from the different points at which women find it appropriate to allow sexual activity. Regnerus and Uecker went on to report that “women are increasingly competing with each other for the affections of increasingly rare high-quality men who are willing to commit.” In a world where sex is easier to acquire, more men are less enticed by the idea of committing to just one mate. Women don’t necessarily see the difference so they end up moving faster sexually than they would otherwise choose in a non-competitive environment for fear of losing the man to someone who moves faster than them.

College is probably the best time and place to see how these changes effect women. In the past, there were always far more men on campuses than women and consequently, men had to work harder to secure a date. Now that most colleges enroll an equal or greater proportion of women than men, the opportunities abound for men looking to find a new partner. As evident in Bogle’s book, women “hook up” with men often believing that it will lead to something more. This pretty much jumps the starting point that Uecker and Regnerus assume comes first. The point where a man initiates a date doesn’t have to arise on the timeline at all, let alone first. Women are basically doing this to ourselves. We hear it constantly. We even spout advice to our friends that we then ignore ourselves. Hook ups could have potential. There’s always the exception, right?

Sure there’s a double standard, but basically we as a group are creating it. By not voicing what we want and giving in, we make it less and less about men competing for sex, and more about women competing for relationships.

Evolution is all about promotion of the most fit behaviors. The number of men accustomed to not having to work for sex will likely increase until something changes in women’s behavior. It’s simple economics, “when women compete for men, men win: the price of sex goes down.”


Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species. John Murray Publishing. 1859

Bogle, Kathleen. “Hooking Up: Men, Women, and the Sexual Double Standard.” NYU Press. 2008

Windsor, Elroi and Elisabeth Burgess. “Sex Matters: Future Visions for a Sex-Positive Society.” Allyn and Bacon. 2003

Premarital Sex in America. How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think About Marrying. Mark Regnerus, Jeremy Uecker. Oxford University Press, 2011

A Man’s World. “The sexual economics of college campuses empower men at the expense of women.” World Magazine. Marvin Olasky. May 20, 2011 http://www.worldmag.com/2011/05/a_man_s_world

Why is it so much harder for black men?

When I asked my roommate if she knew what being on the down low was, she asked me if I meant at Emory or in the real world. “At Emory, it’s just like keeping something secret or discreet but… [the down low] is really about being gay,” she told me. After telling her about Boykin’s description of the original meaning behind the phrase1, she explained that in the HIV positive community, it’s pretty obvious no one thinks the phrase is used to describe a cheater. Having never heard the phrase outside of the ‘Emory’ connotation, I honestly wouldn’t have guessed either meaning.

I have never been actively involved in activism to de-stigmatize anything, but until college I had never really been exposed to the stigma associated with drug use or homosexuality. Perhaps because of the acceptance offered in my community or simply a lack of exposure to the levels faced in other communities, I had a hard time believing that such problems were so prevalent.

In the book Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, Johnson interviewed men about their experiences over time with or without committed partners. The interviews tended to include details about monogamy, family reactions, how men met their partners and how others had treated them because of their sexuality. Although the interviews occurred in the South and the men involved had all settled there, many interviews included details about partners living or being from somewhere out west (many in California) or the men meeting partners in other places. They didn’t all experience the same problems. Some had a much less difficult time of finding acceptance than others, however, they all experienced some major form of social discrimination or family pressure2.

The South is often depicted as more religious and conservative than most of the United States. In fact, this is definitely the case. Even within the last decade, interviews and research have shown that homosexuality is still a serious battle to face. In Charleston, the fight for same sex marriage hasn’t even reached a point where it’s worth advocating, because more basic issues have yet to be addressed3. Right now gay and lesbian advocates are currently working with police and school districts to promote work place equality and enact hate-crime laws. Promoting these small steps of improvement across South Carolina is their first goal.

There is such a large population of gay men in Atlanta that I have luckily gotten to become acquainted with a few of them and now feel more knowledgeable about and driven to actively support the rights of all LGBTQ people. While across Georgia things might be different, I haven’t seen much animosity toward gay men in Atlanta. I must admit however, that I don’t know many black gay men. It is only through our readings, as well as the stories of friends and peers, that I have been exposed (and only slightly) to the often completely unsupportive opinions of the black community toward non-heterosexuals.

This lack of support is one of many examples of how African American males face more challenges and are given less support in the United States compared to other racial groups. According to a former chair of the Twenty-First Century Foundation, Reverend Alfonso Wyatt, black men and boys face unequal opportunities in “education, housing, health, structural employment, and disproportion in the criminal justice/foster care systems4.” I think a lot of the stigmatism surrounding black homosexuality can be tied to these deficits. A lack of education produces more ignorance in the community regarding HIV, an increased amount of time spent incarcerated increases the risk of having unprotected sex or even being raped, and less access to health care increases the risk of unknowingly transmitting diseases.

In a region of the country that is still so very far from acceptance, these disadvantages compound on black males to make their sexuality a big, must hide, secret. This creates a stigmatism that makes getting tested for HIV at a minimum difficult and embarrassing, but more often simply impossible. It creates the viewpoint that a black man always needs a ‘front’2 demonizing the men that won’t “come out” and say they’re gay.

South Africa just became the first country to nationally recognize a symbol, a six-colored flag, for the LGBTQI community5. Yet even in this country that already allows same sex marriage, the group that designed this flag is still working to spread the word to fight homophobia and promote equality.


[1] Boykin, K. (2010) 10 Things You Should Know About the DL. Stombler, Mindy (Ed), Sex Matters: The Sexuality and Society Reader. (pp. 336-337) Boston: Ally & Bacon

[2] Johnson, E. P. (2008) Sweet Magnolias: Love and Relationships. Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South. (pp. 430-472) Chapel Hill: UNC Press

[3] Parker, Adam. (Aug 1, 2011) Being gay in Charleston: Socially, legally and religiously, attitudes are changing, but homosexuality is still very much in the minority. The Post and Courier. Charleston, SC. Oct 7, 2012 http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20110801/PC1602/308019952

[4] Badawy, Manuela. (2012) Soros urges philanthropists to invest in African American males. Reuters. New York http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/01/us-foundations-soros-idUSBRE89018R20121001

[5] Nathan, Melanie. (2012) South Africa first to recognize gay flag as an official national symbol. LGBTQNation. http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/10/south-africa-first-to-recognize-gay-flag-as-an-official-national-symbol/

Falling out side the norms

So we have arrived to a time when being gay or lesbian, while certainly not 100% approved, has become at the very least, recognized. The existence of same sex attraction has at least been acknowledged as real.

Now we face the next step of accepting the alternatives. Gay, lesbian, or straight are not the only options. Many people who consider themselves accepting of varying sexualities say we know this, yet often we don’t really have a complete understanding of the meaning of these alternate labels.

This weeks readings introduced me to the concept of asexuality. While I had heard the term before, I really had no idea what it encompassed before now. It’s sort of a broad term and I will admit to still being relatively ignorant of all that it could be applied to, but the strongest point that struck me was the idea that some people simply aren’t attracted to anyone.
We put children in a bubble excluding them from exposure to sexual references and experiences for years, but we eventually expect them all to find their sexuality. Some people mature faster than others, but it’s an unspoken expectation that eventually they will have their first crush and at some point, (hopefully) slowly explore the sexual desires they experience. I think it was common when I was in high school to joke about being asexual when you felt awkward or ugly, but I never thought there was a state of being that lacked the desire to be intimate. And obviously that’s not everyone, but I think it’s important to spread the knowledge of this possibility. There are not many asexual people in the public eye to reference but if we had a model to promote (perhaps singer/song writer Emily Autumn), maybe we wouldn’t be pushing (by expectation) young people into the sexualities in which they will some day chose to identify.

We were also learned more about bisexuality this week. There were a few things I thought were interesting that I had never thought of before. I had no idea that bisexual people were thought of so differently even within the gay/lesbian population. As Ellen Ruthstrom of the Bisexual Resource Center in Boston stated, “We’re [bisexual people] told all the time by the gay community, ‘Come out and be gay,’ as if we’re not out.” That’s interesting to me because that is exactly what I thought when a friend told me in high school that she was bisexual. I thought she was keeping her boyfriend around to hide her attraction to women from her parents. I realize my ignorance now, but it has to be frustrating for individuals who get that kind of response even from people they expect to support them.
It’s become much more accepted to be bisexual in recent years in the entertainment industry. Artists like Lady Gaga, Fergie, and Billy Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) have lead the way by coming out as “bi.”
Unfortunately, it’s still not considered a positive by most of the community. When former governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey’s wife came on the Oprah Winfrey show and told the world her husband was bisexual, he publicly proclaimed that he was not, and that he was a “proud GAY AMERICAN.”
The backlash of his divorce and resignation from office could have influenced his desire to argue against anything his ex-wife was reporting, but he was accused at the time of having ‘biphobia.’

There is still plenty of work to do to promote acceptance of gay and lesbian individuals, but I think it’s important to recognize that even as individual differences become more accepted, promoting universal tolerance should be our goal. The LGBTQ community and everyone who identifies outside of it should be given the same respect and acceptance.

Black voter turnout increased for 2008 election

Although there was not a mass exodus of black people to the voting booths when Obama was on the ballot in 2008, there was an increase in minority voter turnout that hasn’t been seen in years. I think there would be an equally significant rise in voter interest if the issues of same-sex marriage or gay-couple’s rights were introduced for public vote. It’s not the same as the reaction that occurred in San Francisco, but I don’t think that’s a valid reason to not advocate the promotion of more rights.

for voter statistics: