Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

It might be unorthodox to begin a book with the words “writing is hard,” but then again Amy Poehler is not your average writer, and Yes Please is far from your average book. The star of Parks and Recreation makes no secret of the fact she wrote her memoir in a sleep-deprived state, penning snippets on subways and planes. She freely admits that Yes Please is a “spontaneous overflow in the middle of chaos,” which ordinarily might lower readers’ expectations, but Poehler isn’t fooling anyone. The former Saturday Night Live cast member infuses her writing with an unabashed candour that is not only refreshing to read, but wholly absorbing. Poehler lifts the veil on the I-don’t-know-how-she-does-it mysticism surrounding working mothers, and writes truthfully of fitting 12-hour shoots around mothering two children under 7.

This brazen frankness is not limited to her personal life; Poehler narrates her passage to fame — or rather, her decade-long struggle funded by amateur comedy gigs – with a fondness that makes you wish you’d seen Poehler and her anarchic troupe — Upright Citizens Brigade — in action. Here, Poehler debunks another myth: that of the accidental celebrity. “I like hard work and I don’t like pretending things are perfect,” writes Poehler. And the sum of this hard work, grit and tenacity that is so redolent in Poehler’s account of her pre-SNL years is exactly why Poehler graces our screens as the bonkers-yet-brilliant Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation. Scenes from her childhood are woven into hilarious behind-the-scenes glimpses of the SNL writers’ room and poignant vignettes of her friendship with Tina Fey.

This is not a rose-hued fable of celebrity life. This is the reality of life as a sitcom star in the male-dominated world of comedy. This is not an argument for having it all, but instead a formula for how to try to have it all; and the tale of someone who knows first-hand that you can’t.


What They Expect When You’re Expecting

So when I first found out I was pregnant, or rather when I first decided to stay pregnant, I went through what I would call the normal stages. The ‘Jesus Christ!’ stage, the ‘WHAT DO WE DO?!?!’ stage, and the ‘Okay, really, what do we do?’ stage. Foolishly, I was under the impression that the ‘we’ here in question, was my boyfriend and I. As it turned out, there was a third parent that I was leaving out and being pregnant means you’re required to listen to the opinion of every other woman who has ever had a baby, seen a baby, or heard of babies.

To clarify, in this little rant, I am mostly talking about other women, a group that I’m not used to criticising much. There seems to be an embarrassing element to ‘baby stuff’ for men, and they are far less likely to comment on it, lest they trap themselves in some sort of lady bits conversation or accidentally unleash the wrath of a hormonal preggo, enraged by his audacity to presume to know more about the beauty of baby-forming. Far too many women, however, don’t have the same social graces, and have no qualms about telling you exactly what kind of mother you need to be, how you’re doing pregnancy wrong, how your ideas on parenting are wrong and how you’re generally a fat failure who should be lynched for drinking a cup of coffee. It doesn’t matter how rude they sound: I’m young and this is my first baby, so they’re right and I’m an idiot

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I could never be described as the maternal type. I’m also clumsy, untidy and generally not very good at anything. I’ve come to regard these characteristics as fun little quirks that only mildly bother those around me. I can’t change these traits in the slightest, and to do so would be to change myself entirely. The thing is, you’re not allowed to be clumsy or scatter-brained when you’re going to be a mother, and you’re certainly supposed to enjoy the company of children. My plea that I could just love my child and continue silently hating everyone else’s doesn’t seem to fly.

To a lot of women I’m going to be a bad mother because I can’t keep up with all of these suppose to-s. These supposed to-s put a tremendous amount of pressure on women, for example on issues such as breast-feeding (which is often out of the mother’s control) and attachment parenting. Am I the only one who thinks that there’s something deeply wrong with women telling other women how they’re supposed to be? Would we let men away with it?

I suppose when you break it down, it’s about identity. There is a certain loss of identity that comes along with pregnancy. It’s a stressful time. My body doesn’t look like my body, my hormones mean I have no control over my own emotions and strangers suddenly think its okay to touch my stomach in the street. This experience, one that has always been regarded as the ultimate female experience, has almost taken away my womanhood altogether and left me as a temporary incubator. ‘I am vessel, hear me roar!’ hardly has the same ring to it and honestly, I could really live without other women telling me that I’m not living up to their expectations and trying to change me even further. If I can’t be Carol Brady, can I at least gestate in peace without feeling like there’s some sort of mould that I should be trying to squeeze myself into like an ill-fitting maternity bra? Can’t I do what women have been doing since the dawn of time and figure out this whole matriarch thing without taking on everyone else’s conflicting views and losing all command on the situation? Or is it a ‘no birth control, no control at all‘ sort of situation?

I guess what I’m saying, ladies, is that as long as we’re the ones that have to fire humans out of our genitals, can we accept that there are different types of mothers? I mean, there has to be because there are different types of women. Not every woman who hasn’t won an award for their organic baby food recipes is endangering their baby. I would like to propose a little wiggle room, so that all women have the right to experience motherhood whether they are the ‘type’ or not. Just give us a little room to breathe: we’ll call it a social episiotomy.

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The rising epidemic of homelessness in women

Homelessness in the UK is an increasing contagion.  It is something that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore as the demand for homeless shelters rise.  According to the homeless charity St Mungo’s, one in ten people have been homeless at some point in their lives.  Perhaps surprisingly, 20% of these people are women. What must be stressed is that sleeping rough is not the only instance of homelessness, since by definition, the word ‘homeless’ refers to a person without a home.  Therefore, a homeless man or woman could, in fact, be “sofa surfing”, or in temporary accommodation, but these places are certainly no place they can call home.

It is perhaps because women are less likely to be seen on the streets than men that they are falling through the net of homeless services.  However, this does not mean that they are any less susceptible to homelessness than their male counterparts.   Frighteningly, St Mungo’s have reported that women are far more reluctant to enter homeless services than men, which is an issue I feel must be addressed.  The crux of the issue appears to be that many of these women have experienced domestic abuse, which may incite a fear of entering a mixed hostel where such maltreatment could recur.  It cannot be ignored that many homeless shelters are designed for men, since there are a higher percentage of homeless males in the UK.  As a consequence of this, members of staff seem to be less trained in dealing with issues which are often more prevalent in women, such as self harm and eating disorders.  Although many homeless services are now beginning to address this by introducing women-only spaces in hostels, it is an issue that certainly needs more attention if we are to tackle homelessness.

One of the most infuriating issues for me is that many people perceive homelessness as a ‘choice’.  I struggle to understand how people still believe this amidst the current housing crisis that is beleaguering Britain.  This crisis is the result of housing benefit caps and increasing rent prices, and it is absolutely not a choice.  There are no alternatives for those who cannot afford to recompense the surging demands of our government.  Although Local Authorities have an obligation to give temporary accommodation to those without a home, many people are rejected for not exploring all opportunities of support, such as hostels, or because they are not deemed a priority.  Why should this be the case when there are thousands of landlords who have spare rooms to rent across Britain? Russell Brand has recently brought this to light in his recent campaign, which calls for more affordable housing in the UK.

Brand’s support of tenants of the New Era Estate in Hoxton, London garnered considerable support after US investment company Westbrook Partners planned to evict and double the rents of dozens of residents. Thankfully, the tireless efforts of campaigners were not in vain, and a reversal of fortunes was brought about, resulting in New Era being sold to Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation, an affordable housing group which has promised to keep rents at current levels for the next year. Such reversals of fate, however, are not commonplace and similar corporate developments and subsequent evictions often pass beneath public radar. Only last week, Manchester City Council announced their decision to cut a daunting £3.4 million worth of grants from its voluntary sector, which includes homeless shelters and housing advice services.  This is audacious, given that the voluntary sector is one that needs our help the most.  To add insult to injury, many councils are also inaugurating anti-homeless devices such as benches that are divided by arm rests, and anti-homeless spikes to their streets, in an attempt to reduce the number of rough sleepers.   As well as being incredibly inhumane, this scheme is preposterous because it does not tackle the root of the issue, it simply prolongs it.  Eventually, this quandary will become harder to ignore, as unemployment and extortionate rent charges seem unlikely to subside any time soon.

So what can we do? Firstly, we need to face up to this issue before it is too late, since it is an issue that many people choose to disregard, either out of fear or ignorance.  Petitions such as this one are particularly useful, since they require little exertion and are an effective way of bringing issues into the public domain.  We can also facilitate the system that already exists by donating to homeless charities such as Shelter and Barnardo’s.  It is likely that there are many homeless shelters providing an excellent service in your local area, so why not contact them to see how you can get involved?  Soup kitchens and Rucksack Projects are particularly important at this time of year, given that Christmas is fast approaching, so your help would be greatly appreciated.  Most importantly, we merely need to recognise and acknowledge the homeless.  So, if you pass a homeless person in the street, whether male or female, please do not pretend that you haven’t seen them, even if you have no money or food to give, simply smiling or saying hello lets a homeless person know that they are a valued member of society. For these are people who deserve to be helped.


Life Outside the Closet

Maya Angelou once said that “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” and I must admit that, when I first heard this, I couldn’t help but apply it to my own experiences. Growing up as a gay teenager, at times it felt like I would never be able to express what was going on in my mind. Though in some ways I am lucky to have been born in an era when homosexuality isn’t illegal, and attitudes seem to be changing for the better, it’s the way some gay people regard themselves that is the real problem.

At fifteen, I started to realise that I was ‘different’. Though it sounds cliché, I really can’t think of any other way to put it. While other girls in my class were getting excited at the thought of Alex Pettyfer in Stormbreaker, I didn’t understand the hype. It wasn’t that I was overtly attracted to other girls; I just wasn’t interested in boys. When the majority of people experience a certain thing and you don’t, it can feel scary. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought that perhaps I just wasn’t built properly, that maybe I was just a person who wasn’t meant to feel things other girls did.

It wasn’t until I had my first real crush on a girl that everything started to make sense. I rejected the idea that I was gay immediately. One of my overriding memories of being a teenager is whispering to myself as I fell asleep ‘I’m not gay’ over and over again. Just saying the words terrified me. I prayed to not be gay even though I’m not religious. I was desperate to return to a time when I believed wholeheartedly that I was straight. But of course, things are never that simple.

In order to ‘soften the blow’ to myself (and to my mum who would be the first family member I’d tell) I decided that I was probably just bisexual, and maybe there was a chance for me to live a ‘normal’ life after all. You know, with a husband and children and a nice house in the country, because that’s what normal meant to me. You don’t watch Disney princesses marry their princes without wanting it for yourself when you’re a little girl, at least on some level.

This is in no way undermining bisexuality. It’s a legitimate preference. But that’s a discussion for another article. I think people, society as a whole, are more accepting of bisexuality because it’s in the middle of the ‘spectrum’. It means that whilst you can be attracted to someone of the same gender, you’re also able to be happy in a heterosexual relationship which, of course, is the norm. Apparently.

It’s hard for me not to be cynical, though my experience was really made difficult mostly by my own feelings towards the matter. I didn’t really face any bullying, except from a girl who called me ugly which obviously bears no correlation to sexuality. One day, however, she called me a dyke. I didn’t even know what the word meant, but something about the viciousness with which she said it told me that being one was not a good thing. The dyke incident happened even before I realised I was gay, so you can imagine my confusion. Did I act a certain way to make her say that? Was it my clothes? My hair? Still now, at the age of 21, I’m very conscious of not appearing overtly gay, whatever that might mean. People should be able to wear whatever they like, style their hair however they want to. But, if I think I look too much like a stereotype then I won’t be able to sit in public comfortably, without feeling like people are judging me. Perhaps a message for high school bullies would be to think about the long term consequences your words might have.

There is absolutely a stigma against members of the LGBT community and we face this negativity even before we’re sure of our sexuality. For progress to happen, it has to start with young people. Generations have to start being taught to treat everybody as equal. We can’t keep living our lives based on old-fashioned views. That being said, on the whole, my family and friends have all taken my coming out very positively. I have been absolutely shocked by some reactions, because it’s easy to remember comments made by people when they aren’t aware of who they’re talking to. I have been overwhelmed by the support offered from people I haven’t spoken to in years. There’s no doubt in my mind that I am very, very lucky.

I know people whose families wouldn’t talk to them or acknowledge their partners after they came out. If people realised how awful it is to keep a secret inside of you for years then I think they’d be a little more understanding. I’m fortunate to be in a position where nothing has changed in my life because I came out, but the fact we live in a world where people are killed, or bullied to the point of suicide because of their sexuality makes me both sad and angry.

Sometimes I ask myself whether I’d be happier if I’d stayed ‘in the closet’, but I can honestly say that it’s a lonely place so I’m glad I made the decision to tell people. I hope that, in years to come, people won’t have to come out as anything. I’ve been asked in the past “when did you decide to be gay?”, and would always answer with “when did you decide to be straight?”. That usually shut them right up. It is ridiculous that in 2014 we should still have to reveal this information about ourselves. No straight person I know has ever had to announce their straightness.

If children of age 12 are taught that it’s OK to be whatever you want to be, to fall in love with whoever you want you’re meant to fall in love with, then maybe they wouldn’t kill themselves. It’s very easy to hate yourself when you live in a society which promotes a lifestyle you don’t fit into, but if we all loved one another, then the world would be a far happier place.

‘Hollaback!’ The Video That Made Cat-Calling A Racial Issue

The catcall video that went viral of a young woman walking the streets of New York City for ten hours in a pair of black jeans and black crew neck T-shirt has had its fair share of debates. Hollaback! — a group with the focus to end street harassment — wanted to produce an impact after offering a glimpse of what it’s like for a woman to walk the streets alone. They certainly achieved their goal and received a great deal of praise not only for their bravery in shedding light on this controversial topic, but for dealing with the backlash that comes with it .

I watched this video over and over and over again. As a New Yorker, street harassment is something I’ve learned to deal with over the years. However, this video drew attention to the concept of the “catcall”, and, as a result, highlighted the simple fact that we — the women — should not be forced to put up with this. Many of my male counterparts felt differently; some agree that it is an issue; that we need to learn to respect women and treat them as equals; while others are offended by the nerve of Hollaback! for posting such uninformative material.

I figured that the latter were men who catcall on women, themselves, and can’t help but be offended because they feel aren’t doing anything wrong. And how would they know if they are? Society has suggested they have every right to do so because most women are too afraid to respond or would rather not deal with taking a stand against this behaviour. Secondly, most people (not just men) believe that it isn’t harassment until it’s physical.

“But … but it’s a compliment!” one male friend said.“ A beautiful woman should always expect to be catcalled in the streets. That’s just the way it is.”

He’s right: that is just the way it is. My rebuttal, of course, highlighted how disrespectful and unnecessary it is because of this thing called self-control and if you want to approach a beautiful woman there are places called bars and/or online dating sites.

One argument against the video’s validity is the apparent lack of white men engaging in catcalling; that it demonises black and Latino men. Charles C.W. Cooke’s feature for the National Review gives an overview of almost every aspect of criticism following the video’s debut. He discusses how many writers pulled the race card, among them Aura Bogado, a writer on racial justice for The Nation. Cooke cites her saying that this ”makes it appear as if men of color are the perpetrators of all that is bad on this planet, which can only be balanced with the exigent need to therefore save white women above all else.” Others, like well-known feminist writer and professor, Roxane Gay tweeted “the racial politics to this video are f*****d up”, adding,“Like, she didn’t walk through any white neighborhoods?” The real offense here is that Aura Bogado, among others, are suggesting that minority men don’t know any better and Cooke goes on to say that,

“To contend that the minorities depicted in the video are mere victims of circumstance and that they have been forced by their conditions into badgering innocent women on the street is to contend that those minorities lack agency, intelligence, sensitivity, and the capacity to reason — that they are child-like figures who act on their base instincts and who need excusing and explaining by their betters” [The National Review].

Furthermore, these statements imply that if the woman in the video only walked through affluent neighborhoods where white men are likely to be found, she may have not encountered such harassment. Coming from a low-income neighborhood dominated by blacks and Latinos, these situations when a woman walks alone in the streets are an everyday occurance. However, focusing solely on the issue of race detracts from the real issue at hand. Does this mean that she wasn’t actually harassed because most of the attention came from minorities and not white men? Does harassment begin at a racial level now? I suppose Hollaback! will have to redo this video and have a black transgender walking the streets of the Upper East Side alone and only then will we have actual credibility to raise our voice and seek to end street harassment.

These arguments across the political platform only enforce ignorance and one shouldn’t see color when a person is being harassed. The woman who volunteered to do the video, Shoshana B. Roberts shouldn’t be less credible because she is a white woman. Michael Luciano from the Daily Banter quotes that many critics and Left politicos “simply couldn’t let the video stand as a testament to the bullshit that women go through.”

Now is the time to get past the notion that catcalling is a norm and doesn’t offend and make others uncomfortable. Perhaps we need a new definition of harassment to remind others that it happens the moment a person feels uncomfortable in a situation involving another’s aggressive and/or disturbing behavior.

We need to talk about sexism at UK universities

The London School of Economics, a leading UK university, launched an inquiry yesterday after its Men’s Rugby Club distributed a misogynist and homophobic freshers’ fair leaflet describing women as “slags”, “trollops” and “mingers”. The leaflet, distributed at the university’s freshers’ fair on Friday, encouraged prospective members to “pull a sloppy bird” on a night out, and referred to female “hockey, netball and rugby birds” as “beast-like women who play sport so they can come out with us on Wednesdays”. It was only when an image of the leaflet began spreading on Twitter that the university was prompted to launch its investigation.

Though it pains me to write this, I am by no means shocked, or even surprised by this behaviour. I, too, attended a top ten UK university, and spent four years growing increasingly irritated by the endemic sexism and rape culture that was widely accepted as an integral part of campus “banter”. On the few occasions I attended varsity rugby matches, the crowd would chant about the university’s bounty of “tits, fanny and rugby”. Yet, I was even more horrified by a term that was bandied around freely by scores of sportsmen to describe their nightclub ritual: “sharking”. This term referred principally to the practice of hunting “fresh meat” — preferably drunk female freshers – for sex. This behaviour is nothing short of predatory and reminiscent of Neanderthal hunter-gathers. This is not a case of casual gratuitous sex, but instead suggests women are prey; mere meat to satisfy the hungry jaws of primeval man. Furthermore, this predator versus prey dynamic hints at an attitude that sex is an act of violence against women akin to killing an animal for food, where ultimately men consume women.

A recent NUS survey showed that more than one third of female students (37 per cent) had experienced unwanted sexual advances at UK universities, and two thirds of students said they have seen fellow students endure unwelcome sexual comments. NUS President Toni Pearce, in response to these statistics, has urged UK universities to deal with ‘lad culture’, stating “these stats show that harassment is rife on campus, but we still keep hearing from universities that there is no fear, no intimidation, no problem — well this new research says otherwise.”

Sexism at UK universities is not just a cluster of isolated incidents, but a real and present issue that students face nationwide. We go to university to learn, to better ourselves, to progress, but we do not expect to be harassed, objectified and subjected to misogyny. It is disturbing that the future leaders of our country, future forces for change and future decision makers not only espouse misogyny and the objectification of women, but actively participate in it. If we view universities as microcosms of society, it is patently clear that sexism is a huge problem in UK society; a problem that requires urgent attention.

Some colleges at the University of Cambridge are hosting sexual consent workshops for freshers in their first term, and reports suggest that Oxford University has plans to do the same. I believe workshops and classes of this kind would make a considerable difference in the struggle against discrimination on campuses. On a larger scale, such workshops should be included in the curriculum for high school and sixth form sex education. Other than literacy and numeracy, I cannot think of a more fundamental and vital education than teaching the concept of consent and respect in schools. This is no longer a case of “banter”, but of human rights.

The price of fame? Violation and humiliation of a sexual nature

What price fame when personal privacy is violated? This is the question at the forefront of the collective imagination after images of Jennifer Lawrence posing naked were stolen from her phone and published online on image sharing forum 4chan. More than 100 celebrities are said to have been targeted, including Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, Kate Upton, Kate Bosworth, as the hacker threatens to post more images for the world to see.

Why has this happened? As Audrey Hepburn once said, “if I blow my nose, it gets written all over the world.” The thirst for the details of celebrities’ innermost private lives is as insatiable as ever, but this is no longer limited to paparazzi stalking one’s every move. This is the digital age, and with it comes new ways for privacy to be breached and lives to be ruined.

These women have been targeted because they are famous, because they have worked hard and their success has thrust them into the public eye. Does this mean they are asking for it? That the public has a claim on the intimate details of their lives? No it does not. This encroachment of one’s human right to privacy is a violation. These were images taken by consenting adults who trusted one another, and in the case of actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead, by a husband and wife: “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.”

The ways in which we choose to share our bodies is exactly that: OUR CHOICE. That these private moments have been turned public for entertainment is extremely disquieting and paints a bleak picture of humanity.

Today, Ricky Gervais tweetedMAIN-Ricky-Gervais-and-Jennifer-Lawrence a warning against storing nude images of yourselves. This victim-blaming thread of discussion has reared its ugly head several times today, and it strikes me as utterly hypocritical. In a world where Snapchat and smartphones exist, sexting has gone from prevalent to de rigeur. Are celebrities now expected to abstain from such pastimes for fear of being hacked?

This “don’t take naked pics” argument is no longer a valid statement in this day and age, and as Lena Dunham brilliantly points out, it is on a par with the ‘she was wearing a short skirt’ rape justification. There is no justification.

What is deeply worrying is that this is just one of many incidents which set about to humiliate women for being sexual. Revenge porn is now a very real and worrying threat for anyone who chooses to share their body in this way. Young women have committed suicide after being victims of revenge porn, but how much more must we endure before something is done to protect people?

As Dawn O’Porter reminds us, this is precisely why we need feminism. It is our choice how we express ourselves sexually, we own the right to privacy, and by viewing these images we endorse criminal contraventions of these rights.

Watch a preview of “Girls” Season 4

Gone are the days of terrible job interviews, awkward sex and bad decisions, “Girls” will soon be gracing our TV screens with its eagerly-anticipated fourth season. So, what’s in store? Well, last Friday at her Southbank Centre appearance in London, Lena let slip that she’d been watching “Call The Midwife” in order to research a graphic birth scene. Is Jessa going to take on motherhood? Or will Hannah and Adam take their relationship to the next level? Maybe Marnie will bear Desi’s secret love child?

In this behind-the-scenes preview, Lena states: “This season of “Girls” is….the girls making smarter choices and realising that life is still hard.” So how will they cope?

Check out the preview below to see what’s in store for Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna!

US reproductive rights: employers can now deny you birth control benefit

In early July of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers can deny birth control to their employees. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby set off a new level to this issue that’s been debated on since the recession of 2008. The Scholars Strategy Network highlight the struggles regarding women and birth control where the Guttmacher Institute tallied about “36 million women in need of contraceptive care in 2008” and that number has increased as more and more women discontinue contraceptive use simply because they cannot afford this. However, according to Planned Parenthood, these two companies were granted a religious exemption to The Affordable Care Act [ACA] that covers birth control without co-pay after a 5-4 ruling. For those of you who are not aware, The Affordable Care Act is a federal healthcare reform bill passed by Congress and President Obama in 2010, where private health insurance plans will offer birth control [among other preventative services] without co-pays or deductibles. Now, it seems as if many others are following suit and at least “82 for–profit employers are challenging the ACA’s birth control mandate so that they, too, can deny the benefit to their employees.”

Birth control in the U.S. has become a controversial issue that somehow has given employers the opportunity to take a standpoint on whether it’s morally right or wrong to provide such coverage. This ruling is rather laughable to me as I’ve witnessed and read of women being laid off or not getting hired due to pregnancy or maternity leave. I wonder if these employers are considering the alternative side to this issue. I currently work for a non-profit organization but it’s only a matter of time before this matter hits home. Americans are treating birth control as if it’s a revolutionary idea when in fact it’s part of basic health care, and these mind numbing debates only set off more ignorance amongst the population.

Pulling the morality card on this issue only makes me think of the women in my culture who become pregnant and choose to keep the baby more often than women from other backgrounds. “Spanish girls get pregnant just by one looking at them,” said one male colleague of mine in the midst of a heated debate regarding women and birth control. His chuckle was followed by another slurp of Lo Mein and a satisfied sigh to his arrogant rhetoric. While scarfing down my General Tso chicken, I filtered out the many things I could’ve said when the idea dawned on me. Gulping my frustration down with water, I cleared my throat and said, “It’s not that Spanish women become pregnant more easily than others. Spanish women are less likely to have an abortion given our religious background, i.e. the Catholic Church.” His eyes almost sparkled to this perspective. “That makes total sense! I never thought of it that way!” Nodding his head in agreement he pulled at his Smartphone. Perhaps he was eager to share his newfound knowledge.

I often get into these topics with the opposite sex and I cannot always recall why exactly. I suppose it’s because I can ultimately acknowledge how men and women don’t (and probably won’t ever) see eye to eye in areas that are primarily grey in the midst of countless divergent views. Yet it seems as if the lack of coverage and education about birth control in America leads people, like my co-worker, to make and believe such insensitive and foolish statements. Though, reflecting on his whole rendition of women and birth control, however short sighted, he brought up a good point. Statistically speaking, minorities in the US are most likely to bear children before the age of 20.

I’ve considered the many single mothers in my family and countless young women I’ve come across who have struggled through abortions, broken condoms, failing contraceptives and the most popular, withdrawal method (that almost never works.) These inconsistencies in birth control mainly happened throughout my college years and, unlike my many female counterparts, thankfully I didn’t deal with any consequences. I suppose being an innocent bystander was lesson enough for me to become extremely careful. But coming from a Dominican-American family, I’ve learned that a large number of Hispanic women, more often than not, do become pregnant and keep the baby before graduating college. I’ve gathered that this is perhaps due to religion, moral beliefs and overall cultural background.

It seems like most employers are dealing with the same moral issue and I feel for them. Granting coverage for a basic need that affects us all is unimaginable to some and shame on the women who dare to ask for it. How could they sleep at night?

I am being deliberately facetious but you get the gist.

Limiting the resources for vital reproductive health care is what’s inconceivable and this sort of negligence only feeds into further ignorance. Learning that the United Kingdom grants free birth control for all astonished me and even with the ACA [thank God for small favors] we must wait “until [our] coverage has been verified, co-pays will continue to be collected, so [we] will not have to be billed later.” However, this is only if your employer will grant you such coverage and if they don’t, the number of working to middle class women putting off visits with health care providers for birth control will only increase and the misinformation about this will continue to float.

Ladies, let’s break the statistics and remind them that this reform benefits us all as Americans and ensure “birth control be available at no cost to every woman, no matter where she works.”


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