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Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 - 7 comments

Real friends don’t give friends abortions

Ohhhhhh….I said the A word. Abortion. Someone has to say it. This post is not really about abortions, but about the impact our silence on the issues of sex is having on the young women of the world.

I should know. I am a young woman. I also work for an international women’s rights organization that talks about the issues of sex daily. And I am not talking just about the act of sex…but all the other baggage that comes with it. Contraception, sexually transmitted infections, maternal health, reproductive rights….ALL of it.

A few months ago I had the amazing opportunity to be part of a young women’s training in the Caribbean on the issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS and violence against women. That was the fancy theme for it but in reality, it was a day of young women sharing the reality of being a young woman in the Caribbean today. It blew my mind.

  • Transactional sex was common – sex for school / uni fees/nice clothes…(Oh, in the women’s movement we like to name things a lot. What I am trying to say is sex for a better life.
  • Sugar Daddies  – da man that puts you up in the nice apartment in Kingston Town but you better be there 24 hours a day so he can pop on in when he feels like it
  • Multiple partners  – it’s accepted that when you get married, the likelihood is your husband will have extra marital affairs
  • Teenage pregnancy was very common. You just have to know the right people to take care if it and if not, friends will undertake an abortion procedure for you
  • VAW is culturally acceptable as the breadwinner, usually the man of course, can do what he likes. If  a  woman wants to leave a violent relationship, she is usually victimized as a ‘good man is hard to find these days’
  • It’s better to be in relationship, even if it’s a bad one, than be alone….( this litle sentiment is always the hardest to hear)

I also learnt many new things. Had a blinkie lately? A blinkie is when a man ejaculates in your eye. This is not some new kinky sexual act. It is ‘because you can’t get pregnant or HIV this way’ along with the added benefit of ‘ you keep your virginity.’ Anal sex is also on the rise, because you guessed it….. you are still a virgin if you have anal sex.

Where are young women, and young men for that matter, learning these things ? Why do they accept these  so called truths?  Because we have let them…because we have taught them these things through our ignorance , silence and lack of willingness to talk openly about important issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Young women have to learn the importance of loving themselves. Of realising they are fabulous. So do young men. They have to learn  this from a very early age, and one way that may just help is if they grow up in an environment both at home , school , church ,  community where people are talking openly about sex and their bodies.

Condoms are not the answer to STIs, unplanned pregnancies and the spread of HIV. Respect for yourself and those around you are though. It will take a long time to change the world, and the state it is in but if we start educating young people and providing young women with opportunities for economic independence, we can make a difference.

I don’t want my future daughter navigating her way through a world of blinkies, do-it-yourself-abortion procedures or trading her body for some nice shoes. She is worth so much more. All of the young women of the world are.

The views expressed in this blog-post are solely those of the author.

Comments (7)

Tweets that mention Real friends don’t give friends abortions – Conversations for a Better World -- Topsy.com
Wednesday 16th September, 2009, 11:05am

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ida Jeng. Ida Jeng said: Thanks to one of our bloggers, I now know what a "blinkie' is. http://bit.ly/10JBzS [...]

Solana
Wednesday 16th September, 2009, 11:54am

My goodness, it's listening to these stories you realize how much needs to be done to educate young people about physical and emotional safety. Too many parents, teachers, and health professionals remain willfully blind to the realities so many young women deal with on their own. I'm glad this is not the 'typical' experience everywhere in the world, but I'm sure there are also places where it's much worse.

rumbleth
Sunday 20th September, 2009, 10:13pm

Pardon the reference, my eyes have been opened up as a result of your post. Thank-you for providing unedited and unscripted comments from the forum you attended in the Caribbean. What a positive, and up stream perspective you have shared re: loving yourself, self-esteem building, education, and economic independence and so on. If we all thought of the individuals we served as a daughters and sons I wonder if our approach would be more impassioned?

Marlene
Thursday 1st October, 2009, 10:38pm

What a sad state of affairs. There needs to be a spiritual conversion. God has told us how to live in the Bible and those that do not will never be at peace. Abstinence until marriage is the only way to go, and then to stay faithful to your spouse. This is best for the woman, the man, the children, the country and the world.
Unfortunately, too many want instant gratification, because they do not know God, who loves us more than any human ever will.
Blessings to you all!

Barbara Ayebare
Friday 16th October, 2009, 8:48am

Reading this mail,makes me feel sad but still awakens me up to something to my society.These days the youth have taken sex to another level,could it be because of poverty,lack of hope,love for materialism what could be the cause?.But they say its never too late to change,and the change begins with us as individuals.Thank you Sarah sharing with us your experiences,its shows us what is happening to our generation and gives us the courage to stand and fight such vices.Thank you

helena okiring
Monday 26th October, 2009, 9:22am

FINALLY! We are getting angry. Angry enough to start talking about issuaes of sexuality. And i think the battle rages in silence,and the only way to win is by talking about these things.
Its also beautiful to know that we may not live long enough to see the results of the struggle,but we will rest assured that our children-and their children will be free to share their queries,comments,views and opinions on sexuality without being exorcised,thrust to the fringes of society or alienated. this is the true meaning of democracy for me.When we are free to ask the hardest questions,then we are truely free!!! Very informative post!!

Chris Harding
Saturday 24th July, 2010, 3:00pm

Hello,

Originally, I had created a response to Sarah and posted my comment approximately one week ago. I then found some additional data and "appended" my original post. Recently, I discovered some more information about transmission of HIV. Therefore, I decided to create one response with all the information combined. Hopefully, the other posts are deleted, I don't offend the Editor or Sarah, and I don't lose my wonderful account since I have created so many posts!

When I first read Sarah's article, I was concerned with the "Blinky" comment because the eye is often a mode of transmission for viruses. Although, I would prefer a "worse-case" scenario and had theorized a "Blinky" could cause HIV infection, I wanted accurate, evidence-based information. In the future, for safety, I will go with my theory, which is based off two degrees: BS Chemical Engineering and BS Biological Sciences, and perform a preliminary search to verify such theory. If I don't initially discover an answer, I will create a task to search for data, evidence, to verify or deny my theory.

In addition, a "theory" may spark a conversation from peers regarding feasibility. In turn, the conversation may lead to an accurate answer based off scientific evidence. In this case, I discovered the evidence on my own-please see below. As you can tell, I feel a bit guilty that I didn't mention the possibility of HIV infection, even though I had thought of it, in my initial post.

A little joking can be good!

Isn't it interesting how people have difficulty discussing sexual activity. Obviously, there are some places where a discussion probably should not occur, but I believe children, teenagers, and adults should have honest discussions with each other. Also, parents should know the "current" terminology being used by teenagers.

"A Blinky"

A "Blinky" can be a mode of HIV transmission!

From your excellent article:

"I also learnt many new things. Had a blinkie lately? A blinkie is when a man ejaculates in your eye. This is not some new kinky sexual act. It is ‘because you can’t get pregnant or HIV this way’ along with the added benefit of ‘ you keep your virginity."

From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: (2)

"In addition to common eye injuries, health care workers, laboratory staff, janitorial workers, animal handlers, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases via ocular exposure. Infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of direct exposure (e.g., blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing or suctioning) or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects. The infections may result in relatively minor conjunctivitis or reddening/soreness of the eye or in a life threatening disease such as HIV, B virus, or possibly even avian influenza."(2)

The Condom, who is responsible, and why should it be discussed?

Often, the male doesn't want to use a "condom", but females may dislike it as well. In truth, most males are probably concerned about the "lack of" sensitivity, which can interfere with intercourse, and cause an appearance of impotence. Also, women have a tendency to react negatively to "soft erections" as well. Many women will assume their attraction caused the effect, which is wrong. Both of these situations can lead to no condom use between partners. By the way, the later is common in all societies.

If you don't mind, I would like to tell all women the following: A man will not be engaging if he is not attracted to you!

The Parents

As we know, many teens are afraid to speak with their parents about sex. Why? Because most parents believe their daughters are "Miss Perfect", while considering their sons as "studs". Of course, "Studs" from other families are chasing after their "Miss Perfect".

In these cases, the father will rarely speak to his son about a soft erection! "Are you kidding me? I have never had a soft erection; the condom was too small!" Anyhow, there is nothing wrong with this type of joking, and father's should be able to have these discussions. Mothers should be able to joke as well. After all, the ability to "joke" during a marital argument, which is usually over difficult to discuss topics, is a wonderful ability that reduces tension (4). Often, joking is so easy, but why can't the topics of HIV and other Sexually transmitted disease, "STD"s, be discussed? Because our society associates STDs with promiscuous activity, "slut", and "well he's a male slut! :)".

Although abstinence is considered the best policy by some, others argue that premarital sex enhances marital relationships since each partner is "experienced" and satisfied with previous "experimentation". From my experience, I believe it's likely that most adolescents will experiment with sex, and, as your article suggests, be a wordsmith with respect to sexual definitions. As long as each takes care of their body, and are not afraid to speak with a father, mother, doctor, nurse, or friend during times of need, most adolescents will probably navigate their sexual curiosity safely.

Rut-roe (3), What happened?⇐ I dare you to click! (5)

Although it can be funny and we should "joke" since that facilitates a discussion, it is, as your posts suggests, serious as well; here are some statistics on adolescent sex, unintended pregnancies, and sexually transmitted disease in the United States:

• In the United States, adolescent sexual activity accounts for the highest age-specific proportion of unintended pregnancies, with higher rates among African Americans and Latinas than among white women;

• Almost half of the estimated 18.9 million STIs reported in the United States during the year of 2000 affected adolescents and young adults;

• Rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia among African Americans and Latino youths are 2 to 7 times higher than whites;

• The United States ranks highest among developed countries for sexual health risks;

• Children who had sex at an earlier age had a negative attitude towards condoms than "women" who were older;

• History of nonconsensual sexual experiences was independently associated with poorer sexual health outcomes;

• According to the article, both early and late initiators are more likely to experience problems with sexual functioning than those who initiate sexual activity at a normative age.(1)

§1. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Injury Center Connection. Interactive, Online Course Designed to Help Educators Understand Teen Dating Violence Prevention. CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control [online].2010. vol.3(1), pp.1. Available from: CDC National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Injury Center Connection: Volume 3, Spring 2010.

§2. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.CDC[online]. 2010. Available from: NIOSH: Eye Safety.

§3. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sexually Transmitted Diseases.CDC[online]. 2010. Available from: CDC, STD(s).

§4. Gottman, John, Ph.D,; Silver, Nan. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert. Three Rivers Press, New York. 2000. pp. 288. Available from: The Gottman Institute, Relationships and Parenting Products: Couples. Google Books: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Volume 1999, Part 2. ISBN-13: 9780609805794.

§5. Collegehumor.YouTube.Reindeer STD.CollegeHumor.com[online].Time: 2:30. Available from: YouTube: collegehumor.

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Guest Editor

Sarah Davies

Communications, World YWCA

About

27, originally from Chile but spent most of my life in NZ. Now work in Geneva, Switzerland for an international women's rights organisation.

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