Stories of sex work are rarely ever told by the people actually doing the work. And the sex work narrative typically portrays those involved in the industry as victims, martyrs or worse — immoral harlots bent on unraveling the very fabric of society. That’s why the Red Umbrella Project (RedUP) aims to give sex workers a voice: their own. Keep reading »
By now you’ve probably heard of the prestigious New York City high school that protested what they perceive as a discriminatory dress code by instituting a “Slutty Wednesday”—a day in which students came to school in outfits that deliberately violated the code. According to news reports, the school’s dress code is pretty basic. It requires that shorts, dresses and skirts should extend below students’ fingertips, with their arms straight at their sides and that shoulders, undergarments, midriffs and lower backs should not be exposed. Students argued that such a code affects female students more than males and that it is being arbitrarily enforced, singling out students whose bodies are “more curvy.”
“In addition to the violation of female students’ rights,” Jessica Valenti writes in The Nation, “the thinking behind the code sends a dangerous message to young women – that they are responsible for the way in which society objectifies and sexualizes them.”
The protest is similar to the thinking behind movements like Slutwalk — movements that, in the words of founder Heather Jarvis, emphasize the right for “anyone to wear what you want and be who you are without the threat of violence.”
Whereas I agree that it’s not a women’s responsibility to mitigate the male gaze, and I certainly respect that a woman’s sexuality is her own to be expressed as she chooses, the sticky fact is that many spaces we encounter have a dress code, written or unwritten. To the extent that school prepares students for the “real world,” shouldn’t students be expected to come to school properly dressed? Keep reading »
I had an abortion when I was 21. It was my senior year of college. I was living in NYC, working nights as an exotic dancer while interning during the day at a grassroots nonprofit for disadvantaged girls. I was cheating on my long distance boyfriend, we were having unprotected sex and I got pregnant. I was lying to everyone about everything. I was a total shit show: three perfect words to describe Cat Marnell, the xoJane editor who caught flack last week for a post she wrote about using Plan B as her primary form of birth control.
When I think back to the young woman I was then, I want to shake her. I want to shame her. I am angry at a woman who should’ve known better- who did know better, I find myself thinking even now — but who chose, instead, to know nothing. I was stupid and reckless and selfish, self absorbed and intent on my ways. The abortion wasn’t the worst of it, only a symptom of a greater sorrow. Simply put, I needed help.
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How would you feel if you knew your young child’s art teacher used to be a prostitute? This is the question at the heart of a news story making waves this week in New York City. Melissa Petro, a “well-liked” elementary school art teacher in the Bronx for the past three years, was recently reassigned to administrative duty after the school system caught wind of her history as a prostitute. Petro was never arrested and has no criminal record. So, how did the school find out about her past? Oh, because she blogged about it for the Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago.
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