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Virginia school district ponders banning cross-gender dress | Reuters

Posted: February 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Virginia school district ponders banning cross-gender dress | Reuters

Showcasing how ignorance is a life-threatening, clear and present danger, a "Virginia school district is considering banning cross-gender dressing in a move proponents said aims to protect students from harassment," Matthew Ward reports. The ban is being considered "after teachers […] said some male students were dressing like girls, prompting complaints from other students."

Although wanting to protect youth from harm is noble, misguided bans on expression are functionally equivalent to censorship, and serve no protective purpose. Worse, ignorance of gender diversity "could actually make the students more susceptible to bullying," not less, according to the executive director of Equality Virginia, James Parrish. "They're calling it cross-dressing, but if [one wears] clothes that reflect their gender identity [then] that's appropriate gender dressing," he said.

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Update: A grass-roots petition to oppose the ban has been circulating on Tumblr. A vote is expected in March. Hopefully, the petition along with the threat of legal action from the ACLU of Virginia will be enough to deter this dangerous violation of student’s freedom of expression.


Equal Access to HIV Treatment Could Finally Slow the Black Epidemic – COLORLINES

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Equal Access to HIV Treatment Could Finally Slow the Black Epidemic – COLORLINES

A sad fact too few realize is we have the tools to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but not the political will. This month, results from a clinical trial known as "HPTN 052" were released and "confirmed what many public health experts have long believed: early HIV treatment not only benefits the person infected, but also reduces the likelihood that he or she will transmit the virus to sexual partners," Rod McCullom reports.

The reduction in transmission rates is an astonishing 96%, lighting a fire under health officials to fundamentally reevaluate approaches to treating the disease. Termed "treatment as prevention," the more aggressive stance on treatment and early testing "could help finally break the back of the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic," particularly among hard hit groups, such as the Black community, who "represent only 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 45 percent of new HIV infections."

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Study: Employment Ads Perpetuate Traditional Gender Roles | Duke Today

Posted: May 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Study: Employment Ads Perpetuate Traditional Gender Roles | Duke Today

Gendered language in job ads "may lead some women away from occupations they may otherwise have found interesting," thereby perpetuating employment discrimination, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

The clues come in the form of gendered words like competitive and dominant (male) versus compassionate and nurturing (female), the researchers report. Both men and women show a preference for job descriptions matching their gender, women more strongly so. But no one in the study was aware of the effect, the researchers discovered.

After examining more than 4,000 recent job ads, senior author Aaron Kay and his team wrote their own. "When we used more masculine wording, the traditionally female-dominated jobs became more appealing to men," Kay said. This unconscious behavior could explain gendered disparities in jobs like nursing. Moreover, genuine attempts at diversifying could be undermined if job ads have gendered wording.

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SaferProducts.gov U.S. Consumer Web Site Aims to Enhance Sex Toy Safety: Scientific American

Posted: May 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on SaferProducts.gov U.S. Consumer Web Site Aims to Enhance Sex Toy Safety: Scientific American

Sex toy safety is finally being taken seriously by the US government. Long have these "novelty" products been relegated, rather than regulated, using "buyer beware." However, from "March 11, disgruntled sex toy users at least gained access to an empowering new outlet: a searchable public database for all kinds of products at SaferProducts.gov," Regina Nuzzo wrote.

Due to stigma, products like vibrators have been treated differently than, say, blow dryers. In some states, sex toys are considered "obscene"; their sale illegal. But with manufacturers coming under pressure from safety advocates for the dangers of ingredients like phthalates, and with their increasing ubiquity, why shouldn't toys be just as safe? "We take it for granted that our hair dryers won't send us to the emergency room and our toothbrushes won't make us go numb," Nuzzo writes.

We just hope reviews of all toy sorts will be there. Remember, leather floggers are porous, too.

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Abortion Rate Increasing Among Poor Women, Even As It Decreases Among Most Other Groups

Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Abortion Rate Increasing Among Poor Women, Even As It Decreases Among Most Other Groups

As if we need more evidence of class warfare, a new study by the Guttmacher Institute found that despite a decrease in abortion rates from 2000 to 2008, abortion rates among poor women actually increased. Study author Rachel K. Jones notes reasons including contraception restrictions, which then result in unintended pregnancy, and the economic downturn as potential contributing factors. "Antiabortion restrictions and cuts to publicly funded family planning services disproportionately affect poor women, making it even more difficult for them to gain access to the contraceptive and abortion services they need," she said.

From the Guttmacher press release:

In addition, when confronted with an unintended pregnancy, women who might have felt equipped to support a child or another child in a more stable economic climate may have decided that they were unable to do so during a time of economic uncertainty.

Abortion: where class warfare and the culture war meet.

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Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Banning (Male) Circumcision: San Francisco Ballot Measure

Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Banning (Male) Circumcision: San Francisco Ballot Measure

Banning male circumcision is the goal of a group of San Francisco “intactivists,” lead by Lloyd Schofield, who have successfully placed a measure on the local ballot for November that would make it “unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” The ordinance contains an exception for religious ceremonies, which is interesting as it pits two frameworks of “rights” against one another. On the one hand, religious freedom, and on the other, basic human and youth rights.

The key, as noted by the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, is how one conceptualizes the argument: “Conceptualized as the child’s right to be free from harm, the First Amendment religious freedom arguments become less persuasive.” As they show, legal precedent is mirky, and some debate over whether the group’s motivations are a “hostility to religion” or a resentment that they were circumcised have arisen.

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U.S. State Department Response to UN Human Rights Council Working Group UPR Report « www.harlotsparlour.com

Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

The US State Dept. published a response to the UN's Universal Periodic Review in full support of Recommendation 86, which says "no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on…their status as a person in prostitution". The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group who worked with the UN’s US delegation praised the statement. "We are especially happy to note that the Obama administration is taking human rights abuses against sex workers seriously," RJ Thompson, Woodhull's Human Rights Program Director said.

But many US sex workers, who face discrimination and violence from US police forces, expressed skepticism. A sex worker rights advocate and blogger who writes under the name elrond said: "Will this mean sex workers can get tested for STDs in the US without fear of arrest? While cities like New Orleans who imprison sex workers for long sentences, I some how don't think so."

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New technique to help catch sexual offenders: Scientists detect condom lubricant on fingermarks for the first time

Posted: February 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , | Comments Off on New technique to help catch sexual offenders: Scientists detect condom lubricant on fingermarks for the first time

A new technique that's able to detect condom lubricants in fingerprints may offer law enforcement personnel and prosecutors new ways to establish the presence of a suspect in an alleged sexual assault. The technique, developed at Sheffield Hallam University, uses MALDI-MSI (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry imaging), a technology used to map fingerprint ridge patterns, and is able to detect lubricant in fingermarks that have been left for several weeks before analysis.

"Offenders are increasingly aware of forensic issues and it is common now for condoms to be used and removed from the scene of a sexual assault," Dr. Simona Francese said. "If condom lubricant can be detected in fingermarks it would improve the evidence for the prosecution by establishing the assailant's presence at the scene and, crucially, having had contact with a condom. This would enable forensic scientists to provide further support to the evidence in alleged cases of sexual assault."

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Ugandan gay rights activist murdered weeks after court victory | World News | The Guardian

Posted: January 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Ugandan gay rights activist murdered weeks after court victory | World News | The Guardian

David Kato, one of the earliest and most prominent gay rights activists in Uganda, was murdered in his home Wednesday. The killing comes shortly after Kato won a permanent injunction against the Rolling Stone tabloid from publishing names and pictures of Ugandans it claims are homosexual. Kato himself was pictured in an earlier run of the tabloid under the headline "Hang Them." When asked for comment, the tabloid's managing editor Giles Muhame said he had "no regrets" about the publication—or the murder.

It's worth forever remembering the intimate role American Christian fundamentalists have played in this murder, as "visits from several American preachers renowned for their homophobic views," reported Xan Rice, helped create a climate of fear and prejudice in the country.

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On Passports, Mother and Father Will Soon Be ‘Parent 1’ and ‘Parent 2’

Posted: January 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , | Comments Off on On Passports, Mother and Father Will Soon Be ‘Parent 1’ and ‘Parent 2’

The terms "mother" and "father" on US passport applications are being replaced with the gender-neutral terms "Parent 1" and "Parent 2". Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council said the change "allows many different types of families to be able to go and apply for a passport…without feeling like the government doesn't recognize their family." Naturally, anti-gay hate groups like the Family Research Council are outraged, saying the change "violates the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act."

The change also highlights a staggeringly underreported issue: the technological infrastructure our society uses to classify people. Changing terms on forms costs real dollars, but perhaps counterintuitively, a gender-neutral infrastructure is not just more humane, it's more cost-effective, too.

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