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[personal profile] barrelofrain


It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the mmmmonday tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: for local announcements; for questions and feedback on the way VP is run; the Vulvapedia for basic questions; and don't forget about our sibling community over on Dreamwidth!


One of our SSMs writes, "I teach in a high school where an overwhelming amount of students (92-98%, depending on the exact school and school year) rely on free breakfast and free or reduced lunch for a significant portion of their meal intake (literally 1-2 meals per day for 5 days per week). Particularly with the recent SNAP benefit cuts in the US, they are understandably concerned about what will happen over the semester break.

Which got me thinking -- how many other school-going people depend on their schools for various services -- whether it's food or something like campus health services (I know my university's clinic was closed between semesters when I went... a decade or more ago)? How widespread an issue is this? And what are your concerns and/or plans if something happens between times?"

So, VP, what do you think? If you're a student, do you need a backup plan during winter break? Or maybe you have more access to things (your family doctor, your mom's cooking) in your hometown, if you're going home over the break. (If you're no longer a student, feel free to chime in with your previous experiences!)


Also, don't forget that VP is looking for new SSM candidates -- and the deadline to apply has been extended to December 15.
barrelofrain: (VP)
[personal profile] barrelofrain


Today is World AIDS Day. Because of this, we're bringing you our featured post (usually MMMMonday!) a day early.

Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the mmmmonday tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [profile] vp_bulletins for local announcements; [community profile] contact_vp for questions and feedback on the way VP is run; the Vulvapedia for basic questions; and don't forget about our sibling community over on Dreamwidth! Plus check out our post about VP seeking new volunteer SSMS

Mathew Rodriguez is the Editorial Project Manger at TheBody.com, the web's most complete HIV/AIDS resource. He is also a queer gender nonconforming Latin@ who engages in AIDS and queer activism. He is also a freelance journalist and lives in Queens. Please follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mathewrodriguez. If you want to learn more about HIV, please visit www.thebody.com.

New York City Superstars can see Mathew speak with ACT-UP NY in Times Square today at 2pm!


Who Can Get to Zero?


The theme of World AIDS Day this year, which has been the theme two years in a row and will be through 2015, is "Getting to Zero: Zero New Infections, Zero AIDS-Related Deaths and Zero Stigma." For many people who are living with HIV, it may feel like that slogan was concocted in a room without their input -- for millions of people worldwide, they will never be able to "get to zero." They will always have HIV.

For those who are not aware, HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which is a virus that causes one's immune system to falter and makes fighting common diseases that our body comes in contact with much more difficult. AIDS is a diagnosis that someone living with HIV gets when their "T-cell count" (T-cells are the cells that fight disease!) goes below 200 t-cells in a certain amount of blood. In order to get HIV, there has to be two things present: a transmitting fluid and a port of entry. The bodily fluids you most have to worry about are blood, semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluids and breastmilk. A port of entry is something like your veins, your mouth, your vagina or your rectum.

HIV is just a virus. It has no brains, no agenda. However, there are people that are much more likely to be infected with HIV than other people. Some of those communities include: people living in poverty, people of color, young people, queer people, people who are receptive sexual partners, people with mental health issues, transgender people and people who use drugs. What do all these communities have in common? These are all communities that one might call groups that are on society's margins, or "oppressed groups." There's a reason that, though gay men make up only about 2% of the population, they are about 63% of yearly infections. There's a reason that HIV is the fourth leading cause of death among black women in their 20s and 30s. And there's a reason that almost 28% of transgender women are HIV positive -- and the lion's share of them are Black or Latino.

To understand why HIV thrives in those communities, it is pivotal to understand how oppression occurs and how HIV thrives in these spaces. The people in power in a society -- people who often don't belong to any of the groups listed above -- have the privilege of making and implementing policies that are often meant to serve and better the lives of people who look just like them. In fact, some might ultimately define "privilege" as the ability to think about the world and only see people like one's self in it. When these marginalized groups, for many different reasons, don't have the same access to a variety of services that can help prevent HIV transmission, one is considered at "higher risk."

HIV is a biological phenomenon that transmits in places of social neglect. If you have less access to health education, if you have less access to quality health care, if you are told that you do not matter, if your health education growing up did not cater to the way or with whom you have sex, if your mental health is not being cared for, if your body is considered "other" than the norm, you will often move in spaces that have higher rates of HIV infection. Many people in power like to point to people in this population and say, "Well, if you didn't do *this,* then you wouldn't get HIV!" The "this" in the previous statement can be any kind of behavior that people point to -- have sex without a condom, use drugs, etc. However, the reality is much more vast and complex. While having sex or injecting drugs can be the method through which you are infected with HIV, the factors that put you in potential situations to contract HIV are many and varied.

Many people living with HIV come from these marginalized groups, though many do not. However, contracting HIV often creates a situation in which one becomes marginalized. Living in one of these marginalized groups often means the narrative around your life is simplified -- you become only your community. People's complexities become simple. People with HIV are often only seen as their HIV. When someone living with HIV is met with negative attitudes or behaviors because of their status, that is often called "stigma." The word "stigma" has a very long history, and one of its original meanings is a mark or a wound that brings disgrace. Christ's wounds are often called "stigmata," which is the plural of stigma.

While that is a visible meaning of stigma, the kind of stigma experienced by people with HIV is very different. Social stigma, a kind of exclusion, is a very different kind of wound. While it does mean that people living with HIV are excluded and denigrated by those who are HIV negative, it also means that there is a wound that the HIV-negative person carries. They carry with them the inability to love someone else who is living with an illness. Because it is social stigma, there is also a social wound at play. Stigma is an unhealed open wound that ravages many communities -- especially those communities listed above.

In a recent sit-down with Melissa Harris-Perry, an MSNBC news anchor, celebrated author and philosopher bell hooks said that "Shame produces trauma and trauma produces paralysis." While scientific breakthroughs in HIV treatment and care continue at a rapid rate, societal attitudes toward HIV have not changed much since the advent of HIV in the early 80s. Lack of knowledge and fear keep us in a perpetual cycle of stigma, which unfortunately only serves to traumatize those communities in which HIV thrives. That trauma expressed itself in the ability for those living with the virus to speak openly about their status and it stops open, frank conversations about sex and sexual health from happening, as well. And those on the margins have to live on the consequences. Make no mistake, stigma and shame are something that those on the margins have inherited, and something which our communities must continuously combat.

Imagine, if you will, living with HIV. Family members may be afraid to touch or interact with you. Your pool of sexual partners might dwindle due to ignorance and fear. When you do engage in sex with someone, you might hear language that might deem you "unclean" -- a term once used to describe lepers. In many states, there are laws in place that actively prosecute and demonize those living with HIV -- this is called "HIV criminalization." For instance, in many states, not informing a police officer that you are HIV positive when getting arrested can automatically inflate your jail sentence by a decade. Spitting at someone can be a punishable offense (though saliva does not transmit HIV!) and having a bad breakup with an HIV-negative ex in a jealous rage could lead to prosecution, even if they were completely aware of your status and the virus was not transmitted. In the case of Cicely Bolden, a 28 year-old black woman living in Texas, it led to her death at the hands of her intimate partner after she mustered up the courage to disclose to him. "She killed me, so I killed her," Larry Dunn, her partner, said coldly.

The order of "Getting to Zero" that World AIDS Day tasks each of us with is a tall one -- and a little bit misguided, as stated above. However, there are ways for those of who do not knowingly interact with HIV-positive people daily to do our part. It is important to have open and honest conversations about HIV with people we love and with people with whom we engage in sex. If someone chooses to disclose their status to you -- which is a huge task that really means that you are trusted and loved by that person -- you can respond with compassion. And, most importantly, you can fight oppression in all its forms. While many people are familiar with the maxim that "all oppression is connected," few understand how much HIV is connected to all other forms of oppression. While it may seem hard for you to join the fight against HIV, each one of us wields the best weapon of all -- love. Love can heal wounds -- stigma -- and love can help to fight ignorance. While society often tries to tell us there is no space in the collective conscience for those on the margins, the easiest way to fight that is to open a space in your heart and deem them worthy of your time and attention.

Superstars, did you think of people with HIV as an oppressed group? How has HIV affected your life, or the life of your family and friends?
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
This week's round-up includes: changes in China's family planning policies; the benefits and drawbacks of the birth control pill; speaking about miscarriage; unpacking cultural distrust of women; setting the "first Thanksgiving" record straight; "mom" as a label and identity; Skyla v. Mirena IUDs; and nude bodies in various poses.



It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag. Two weeks ago we had Hanifa Harris on street harassment; one week ago there was a discussion on sexual health and the military.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vp for questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.




The VP maintainer team is made up of dedicated volunteers who are also teachers, students, parents, volunteers in their communities, health care workers, small business owners, child care providers, and more. Some of the responsibilities of being a VP maintainer are reading VP often and keeping up with the maintainer community, engaging with members in the community, CVP, and email, helping to maintain safer space for our members, and pitching in on projects like the MMMMMonday posts and LRU. In the past we organized the Everyday Bodies Project, and there are always exciting new ideas popping up for future endeavors!

Since the VP team is looking for new volunteers, we were wondering what you think the ideal SSM would be like! You can nominate a specific person here, but what personality traits, qualities, or special skills would you ideally want?"
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
  • for the week ending November 1st, the links round-up covers maternal deaths and race; a new birth control app; a brief history of the sports bra; hunger, food policing, and "those people;" unpacking some ideas about sex and gender; and trans, intersex, and non-binary characters in science fiction and fantasy.
  • the week ending the 8th of November includes division of labor at work; body image and age; questions for people researching trans identity; birth control and controlling women; and make up in professional sports.
  • and this week we have reacting to Internet trolls, the Muppets and sexual orientation, and why the abortion pill didn't change everything.






It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag. Two weeks ago we had Hanifa Harris on street harassment; one week ago there was a discussion on sexual health and the military.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vp for questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.


The International Transgender Day of Remembrance is coming up on November 20th.

From transgenderdor.org: "The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence."

We want to use this post to hold space for those we have lost, to murder or to suicide. We hold in our hearts all those who face the threat or have been the victims of such violence - especially trans women of color, who are most at risk.


If you'd like to find a TDoR event in your area, check out this website:

http://www.transgenderdor.org/ (TW: this link goes to the events section of the site, but other portions of the site may be extremely triggering - proceed with care.)

For more info, check out GLAAD's page on the day:
TDoR @ GLAAD
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
This week's round-up includes: sleep as a feminist issue; 7 LGBT issues that matter more than marriage; domestic violence, physical fitness, and blogging; voter ID laws in Texas; and bullying with words.



It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vpfor questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.


Last week (October 20 - 26th), was Asexuality Awareness week. This is an event organized by the asexual community, intended to increase visibility and understanding of asexuality.

What is Asexuality?
An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. It's an orientation, not a lifestyle choice like celibacy, and asexual people are not anti-sexuality for everyone - they just don't desire it themselves. A person can be asexual and still choose to be in a romantic relationship. For more basic information about asexuality, check out this link.

Like sexuality in general, asexuality exists on a spectrum. This link really breaks it down, so you should definitely check it out.

Superstars, we know some of you identify as asexual. What's one basic thing (or more!) you'd like people to come away from Asexuality Awareness Week understanding better? We'd also love to hear from you if you'd like to talk about your orientation and experiences in any way that you'd like to.
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
This week's round-up includes: insurance companies and robotic hysterectomy, the disbelieving of women, on labeling women "crazy," and "Dear Prudence" and victim blaming.



It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vpfor questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.


For many people, it's the time of year for Halloween costume planning. What you might not be aware of is that some Halloween costumes that a lot of folks take for granted as acceptable are actually pretty problematic, appropriative, and/or insulting. Before you head out to your Halloween festivities this year, we invite you to check out these links that will help you avoid choosing a costume that may be hurtful to others.


(This image is from the 2011 "We are a Culture, Not a Costume poster campaign. This one features an image of an Asian woman holding a picture of a woman in a geisha costume, and the text reads "This is not who I am, and this is not okay.")

First, a piece from a Native American woman on how using her identity as a costume feels to her: My identity is not a costume for you to wear

Next, here are a couple of links illustrating the scope of racist Halloween costumes available for sale...clearly, this is not a major concern for many costume manufacturers and retailers, so it's up to the consumer to change things!

Halloween costume shopping: a sampling of the racism for sale

And more over here!


(These are a few of the 2012 series of "We are a Culture, Not A Costume" campaign posters, featuring people of various races next to photos of folks dressed in stereotyped versions of their race or culture for Halloween. The text on each reads "You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life.")

For many people, at least some of these types of costumes have never really been questioned or examined as problematic. Also, there is obviously a lot of mainstream acceptance for many of these kinds of costumes. If you're feeling uncertain and would like some specific pointers as to how to avoid a costume that may be hurtful, you may want to check out this article. It's pretty basic, but it does address some popular broad Halloween costume concepts to avoid. Some probably very incomplete, but simple, guidelines: don't use blackface, aim for representing a specific person rather than a broad representation of an entire race or culture, don't dress as any kind of hate group member, and don't fetishize a culture with a "sexy _____" costume.

And if you need a costume idea, you might want to check out Take Back Halloween.

Do you have questions or experiences to share? You are invited to do so in the comments! It's fine if you don't fully understand and want to know more, but please remember to check your privilege as you discuss this issue, and be respectful. Thanks, superstars! And happy Halloween. :)
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
This week's links round-up discusses gender bias in the media, predatory marketing to people when they are the most insecure, and an awesome collection of photos of queer women & gender-benders throughout history.



It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vpfor questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month in the United States. Along with that comes a sea of pink products that supposedly support the fight against breast cancer...but did you know that just because something bears a pink ribbon, it isn't necessarily doing the good it implies it's going to do?

When a company uses breast cancer "awareness" to promote and sell products or services, that's called "pinkwashing". There is no regulation on use of the pink ribbon to promote products or services. Sometimes, the product you're buying does in fact associate with a small donation towards research - though many argue a direct donation makes more sense and does far more good, without the marketing. Often, the pink is just there to suggest to consumers that it'll be helpful, because of some nebulous idea that raising awareness will help, or the idea that such products offer consumers a way to express support for and solidarity with breast cancer patients and survivors. But there's a lot of money driving those campaigns, and the companies often profit far more than the people they are purportedly trying to help. Sometimes, the products sold "in support" of breast cancer cures actually contain chemicals associated with an increased risk for breast cancer! Here's a couple of example of misleading "pink" marketing from watchdog group Think Before You Pink:

"In 2010, Dansko shoe company sold pink ribbon clogs. Consumers likely thought that a portion of their purchase of pink ribbon clogs went to a breast cancer program. However, purchase of the pink ribbon clogs was not connected to Dansko’s donation—none of the portion of the sales went toward their already set donation of $25,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. No matter whether or not you bought the clogs, their donation was the same."

[Also in 2010,] Reebok marketed a line of pink ribbon emblazoned footwear and apparel at prices ranging from$50 to $100. Though it heavily promoted the fact that some of their pink ribbon product sales would be donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, they set a limit of $750,000, regardless of how many items were sold, and there was no mechanism in place to alert consumers once the maximum donation had been met."





So before you buy a pink teddy bear or pair of shoes that claims to support a cure, please check out Think Before You Pink's list of critical questions to ask before making a pink purchase, and be aware of cause marketing in general. And let's talk in comments - is this is a phenomenon you've noticed, and what are the worst offenders you've seen? Are there organizations you do trust when it comes to raising funds for breast cancer?
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
This week's linkspam discusses taking mental health seriously, The 'Golden Girls' as feminist role models, a new way of explaining chronic pain, our most recent MMMMonday post on going to the doctor while fat, and resources for people without access to WIC during the USA's government shutdown.



It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vpfor questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.




Last week, the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplace opened to people in the United States. This is a significant moment for U.S. health care, so we thought we'd focus on the ACA today! First, because we know you love a poll, here's one for our U.S. contingent:

Poll #14324 VPers and the ACA
Open to: Access List, detailed results viewable to: Access List, participants: 2

If you're in the U.S., how will the Affordable Care Act affect you?

I'll save money!
0 (0.0%)

I'll be getting a better insurance plan
0 (0.0%)

I haven't been able to find out yet
2 (100.0%)

I didn't know about the ACA
0 (0.0%)

I will have more access to health care
0 (0.0%)

Other - you are welcome to discuss in comments!
0 (0.0%)



As you probably know, the implementation of the ACA has caused a government shutdown that affects a lot of federal agencies. Here are some resources if you need help - or have some to give - during this time.

WIC and the shutdown
Resources for locked-out or laid-off workers
Info on what the shutdown means for some disability services



If you haven't checked out your health care options under the ACA, visit healthcare.gov for more information.


If you're in the U.S., how will the ACA help you? If you're not in the U.S., does your country have some form of socialized health care? If so, what do you like or dislike about it? If not, do you wish it did? Also, please feel free to share any shutdown resources that you think people may find helpful, in the comments. Thanks, superstars!
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
I'm very sorry for being late this week, and missing last week altogether - I had a conference and then I moved house & started a new job...

In the week ending the 20th of September, we have a links round-up that includes marriage, consent, and rape culture; how to be an ally; "pranking" women with kisses; post-partum bodies; reproductive health and insurance; transmisogyny in women's sexuality-oriented spaces; and our most recent MMMMonday post on contraceptive choices.

The following week, we bring you 10 things not to say to a lesbian; Girls and consent; and a body image photo project.

Meanwhile, a week and a half ago the MMMMonday post was a poll about healthcare providers' focus on weight (please do feel free to participate over on LJ, still!), which brings us to...



It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vp for questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.




Today's post is from Karalyn Shimmyo. Karalyn is a social worker and organizer who lives with her partner, Ali, and their feline progeny in Brooklyn.

[Please keep our sizism policy in mind when commenting on today's post!]

Magic Pills and Miracle Surgeries: Visiting the Doctor While Fat )

After reading some of your responses to the MMMMonday poll on weight discrimination in healthcare, I’m very interested to hear your stories and observations. Let’s talk about it in comments!
kaberett: (maintainer)
[personal profile] kaberett
First up, the links round-up, including: anger, HIV vaccine science, and suicide and weight stigma.



It's MMMMonday! Each Monday, we bring you special, maintainer-curated content intended to enrich your VP experience. Please note that you can find past MMMMonday posts using the "featured-posts" tag.

Also, a quick reminder about the other places you can find VP: [community profile] contact_vpfor questions and feedback on the way VP is run, and the Vulvapedia for basic questions.


Condoms? The Pill? Something else? This MMMMonday, we're wondering what you superstars who are trying to prevent pregnancy use as your primary safer sex method. Weigh in using the poll below, and feel free to comment to tell us why you've chosen this method, what you don't like about it, or if you use a secondary method, too.

This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 15

What is your primary method of pregnancy prevention?

hormonal birth control (pill, patch, ring, shot, or implant)
5 (33.3%)

penile ("male") condom
1 (6.7%)

vaginal ("female") condom
0 (0.0%)

IUD (Paraguard, Mirena)
1 (6.7%)

Fertility Awareness Method ("rhythm method", temperature/cervical mucous charting)
0 (0.0%)

withdrawal
0 (0.0%)

surgical sterilisation (vasectomy, Essure, "tubes tied")
1 (6.7%)

not having PIV sex (abstinence, I only have sex with someone/s with similar anatomy to mine)
5 (33.3%)

N/A (I'm not actively trying to prevent pregnancy)
0 (0.0%)

N/A (my partner/s or I are infertile)
1 (6.7%)

N/A (other - tell us in comments!)
1 (6.7%)



[also at VP@LJ]