The Control on Birth Control

I was in San Francisco on a week-long vacation house-sitting for my uncle when one of the most horrific experiences of my life struck. As I sat in the comfortable wooden chair enjoying my coffee, I felt my bottom get cold as if it were wet. Confused, I checked the seat for water or some other spilled drink but there was nothing. When I got up, I could feel my pants were soaked—but by what? Suddenly I felt that familiar sinking feeling of menstruation that we women all love and didn’t understand why I should be bleeding so early in the month. I went to the bathroom and discovered that I had soaked my pants in blood, from the crotch to halfway down each pant leg. I was momentarily stunned by confusion and horror. I took them off and hopped into the shower where more blood just poured out of me. I sat down to avoid fainting and just watched helplessly as the blood streamed into the drain. As I sat there, I decided I had to visit a gynecologist right away. They told me I had PCOS and that the problem would be alleviated by a birth control pill.  

Now, I had never thought I’d be on the pill because I am a lesbian (what the heck for, right?). But in a turn of events, I found myself with a monthly subscription to oral contraceptives. Today, we are fighting a major battle over the necessity of birth control, headed by our ultra religious and largely uneducated male government. The premise is that pleasure promotes promiscuity, and the pill is only for women wanting to avoid the consequences of sex (those dark temptresses!). But what about my experience? It has nothing to do with sex or fear of pregnancy, it is about my health and the ability to have a regular period, to prevent cysts from forming in my ovaries that cause debilitating pain among other physical issues like excessive hair growth, most prominently on the face. What about women that rely on the pill to prevent cancers, hormonal imbalances, heavy menstruation, and severe acne? Is it right that their access to the pill be limited or cut just because a few religious men think it’s inappropriate for moral reasons? The answer is absolutely not. Women should have total access to birth control as it helps patients just as any other medication does.

Because of this reckless governmental mentality, even Planned Parenthood is on the chopping block due to their free birth control policy. What most people don’t realize is that PP’s services go beyond abortion and birth control—preventative care for diseases, illnesses, dangerous pregnancy, and safe sex education and resources comprise 70% of their services. So why is our government so hell-bent on closing PP’s doors when it’s doing exactly what they want? Allow me to explain: our GOP government is cutting funds on welfare, social services programs, and women’s health clinics because they want to save money and give unborn fetuses the right to live. But the people that use these services are mostly young parents, or parents-to-be, and can’t afford to provide for their children. So if the goal is to spend less money on welfare programs, then why eliminate the programs that prevent unwanted pregnancy? It makes absolutely no sense! The infant whose “right to life” has been protected will not be afforded those rights in early childhood or adolescence. It’s a serious issue that requires closer consideration of organizations like Planned Parenthood.

It is easy to see that birth control pills do nothing but good for the population. They prevent unwanted pregnancy and cancers of the reproductive system, as well as balance irregular menstruation, hormonal issues and pain, and greatly reduce the effects of PMS (which is always the reason given to invalidate women’s ability to be rational and reliable). This is not only a women’s issue, but a human issue. Planned Parenthood’s services are available to all genders, and as access to these services dwindle, we will see an increase of untreated cases of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and preventable reproductive cancers on a national scale. Try seeking treatment independently, but be prepared— all of this is now considered a preexisting condition. Conclusively, I urge you to do all you can to fight for birth control and women’s health facilities that change so many lives for the better. To find out how you can support your local and national Planned Parenthood, text GIVE to 22422.

The Nature of Masculinity

In between pauses of my episode of Kindred Spirits, I’m treated to commercials of men’s razors, glinting silver like a sword, and cool colors of navy, dark green, and black coating the background with blue shaving gel applied to the chiseled guy’s face. A woman strokes his jaw and is all over him in awe. What this tells me is that to be a man, you must avoid lighter colors like lavender or pink because it’s too feminine; you must shave with a razor that looks like a powerful weapon; you must attract all the ladies based on your looks alone. Masculinity has evolved from male strength, power, and avoidance of softness—but has it always been so? The answer is no. Comparing the most recently discovered Sapanawa tribe of Peru to the men of globalized societies, we see that masculinity is not always about dominance and bravado as we have come to expect in most civilizations of the world.

            Let us begin with masculinity in our culture today.  Since we can remember, boys play with action figures, Nerf guns, and wear darker colors like blues, grays, and black. They have to be tough and strong, playing sports to accentuate their greater physical stamina. As they get older, they must attract as many women as possible to be cool and respected among other men. They become the head of the family, where they make the most money and make all the big decisions. When conflicts arise on the international stage, they sign up for war to defend their nation and to demand respect through intimidation. They must be cool and rational, never allowing their emotions to interfere in anything because that is a weakness attributed to women--and heaven forbid they degrade themselves with femininity. They generally do not do housekeeping or prepare meals. Dressing, bathing, and keeping up with children are rarely if ever their responsibility because those things are seen as women’s duties. Basically, traditional expectations of masculinity call for power over others, a shunning of emotional sensitivity, and maintaining social superiority in every aspect.

            Now let’s take a look at the most recently discovered indigenous tribe, the Sapanawa of Peru and the male roles within their community. They are the most primitive people known today because they remained untouched by the modern world up until 2014. So we can learn a lot about what some ancient peoples lives were like by observing them and understanding their tribal structure. In the documentary “First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon” the mannerisms of the men, including its leader, are very expressive and feminine. They protect the tribe with simple spears, but that strength doesn’t make them superior to women. It is because of how much they care for their women and children that they will fight to protect them and it is not something they glorify. They hunt for food and when they return they help with whatever needs to be done; there is no distinction of what is man’s work and woman’s work. They are very tender and nurturing of the children and wives, showing deep sensitivity without shame.

            Clearly, the roles of men differ greatly, but it goes to show that what we see as the natural order of masculinity isn’t natural, but social constructs. Men don’t need to display bravado, superiority, dominance and a lack of sentimentality to be strong and respected. They can be gentle and participate in all areas of home life without losing respect or strength. Their society benefits greatly from their contributions and nurturing. Thus, what we see as masculinity is very questionable because if men in another society can act like that, then why can’t men in our society demonstrate the same? It’s not their nature, so it must be social conditioning, the way we raise boys to think of themselves and others. These ideas we have of gender roles is very harmful for everyone involved because boys are taught to be aggressive and women to be subservient. This also causes men to develop a deep sense of insecurity over their more gentle natures so that they must suppress those aspects of themselves to be socially accepted and it is very sad. We must consider how our ideas of masculinity work throughout a lifetime and consider what can be changed and improved upon for a healthier and happier lifestyle.

The Greatest Adventure

People constantly tell me that I am a big kid. This I will never mind, as it is the child in me that is the best part of me. The part of me that lived in a huge but reclusive world. Full of vibrant colors and endless adventure. That innocent part of me saw only grandeur in every place and everyone. Looking out with youthful eyes people's lives were seemingly full of laughter, love and mystery. Even when I was alone I was never really alone. My imaginary world was greater than the real one and I preferred it more. It included every fantasy world I'd had ever read, seen on TV or movies and even my favorite video games. There, I was the heroine, the explorer and the martyr. Even out and about in public the iridescent bubble that surrounded me kept me out of touch with reality, protected from the foes of the actual real life. With my innocence unpolluted my heart beat strong and richly red.

The time came in my adolescence for me to pop my colorful cocoon and let the world rush into me like the wind. And as to be expected the world was harsh and unforgiving. With it came all the things that we all face in life. My heart at times weakened and became dull but it was never beaten. From so much pretending to be the hero and explorer, I learned to take on real life as the greatest adventure ever. Dealing with the ups and downs is particularly hard but what is even harder is to keep the flame of innocence shining in my spirit. I came to terms with reality and understood that no matter what life will inevitably include loss, heartbreak and disappointment at times. I realized that life, even with tragedy is beautiful as it is the very tragedies that make the wonderful things in the world shine so much brighter. 

The real world is vibrant and full of life, laughter and love. I keep only those I love and admire as close to me as possible, as they provide inspiration and support. And I take on the outside world like a journey through Hyrule. It will take a long time to reach my goal but along the way I will meet many different people, learn new things, and gain the tools that I need to tackle life. And when the battles of life come to the front I will fight them with everything I've got, taking my wins and losses with new lessons. I am now and forever the heroine of my world. 

To be or not to be . . . ?

Do you believe black people in poverty stay in poverty because of their environment or is it self-inflicted?

I feel so strongly about this topic. This question was presented to me in Cleveland Ohio by my brother Shaquille Anderson and Tosha (I do not know her last name). In response, I stated that it is those people in poverty’s fault. Have I no heart? I do but it does not pity, but that is beside the point. The reason why I believe it is self-inflicted is because people of all races have come from the poorest and darkest places of this Earth and have birthed the most groundbreaking things, invented new ways of thinking, constructed corporations that have shaped the Universe despite their environment. I was befuddled that when it came to blacks, we blamed our environment and our circumstance playing the victim yet again.

One point my brother and Tosha made was, “If you don’t see success or a positive person, how would you know what success is or how to achieve?” Now at that point, we were at a restaurant (Tony Blays, Food Networks Super Star Chef’s establishment) and I damn near raised my voice. I was astonished to hear this; despite black heritage, what if our ancestors thought in this way?

“Well, all I see is whips, chains, and my masta’s rage let me just lay down and die. Where and when did this way of thinking infect our minds? I responded, “So you are doubting our minds, you are saying we do not have the mental capacity to think of a brighter future to think of a positive way out besides, drugs, robberies, and killings. Monkey see, Monkey do huh, we only do what we see.” *Silence* I then stated, “So I should just give up now huh, there is no hope for our race. Most blacks are in poverty, generations of poverty so we will never get out of it. We should all just stop trying right!? Well, I won’t because I still believe in our minds; I still believe we have the intellect and the desire and fight to succeed despite our environment.

As I sat there disgusted I thought, is this the way the world thinks? Am I crazy to think that we are still capable? Are they right? Then I thought, "I do not care, black minds are as powerful as ever, we just have to be proud enough to stand as an individual, withstand the jokes and ridicule that we receive from our own race for being different and fulfill the purpose that God placed us on this beautiful earth for. We have to go back to what brought us this far as blacks; education.

“Want to Keep Something From A N****, Write A Book.” Right?

-With LOVE