This is a bit f…

This is a bit from an article entitled “Sexuality, Pleasure, & Safety: How to Know What You Really Really Want.” In it, the author reviews and excerpts a book of practical sexual education, ”What You Really Really Want.”  I think the book is a great blend of engaging, interactive tools (the kind that they are attempting to incorporate more into sex education in schools), and a broader scope of exploratative information.  In terms of sexual education, there are several lenses one needs to engage with, including the global, cultural, and media perspectives, all as relating back to the personal.

“Friedman also provides a concise summary of confusing media messages that limit women to a “teeny window of ‘correct’ sexuality” combined with artificial ideals, followed by a dive-in exercise on media representations of women:

Dive In: Think back to some adolescent media crushes—that song or album you listened to over and over, the magazine subscription you thought would change your life, the book you picked up again and again, the movie you imagined yourself starring in, the video game you played and played and played, the TV show you just couldn’t miss. What drew you to these particular experiences? What, if anything, did they say to you about sexuality? What lessons did you learn from them that you’ve since rejected, and what did you learn that you still adhere to today? If you could go back and tell your adolescent self something about your media choices, what would it be? Get out your journal, and write about it for five minutes.

“What You Really Really Want” gradually shifts from looking at external influences that can prevent women from developing their own sexual identity to exploring different identities and assumptions about sexuality. Following sections on gender and sexual orientation, readers encounter this exercise:

Dive In: Make a list of all the words you can think of that you’ve used yourself or heard someone else use to describe someone’s sexual orientation. Don’t hold back—list the slang and slur words right alongside the more formal terms. Next, cross out every word that you think no one should ever use about anyone. Then cross out every word that you personally would never use to describe someone else. Then, of the remaining words, cross out every one that you wouldn’t want anyone else to use when describing you. Lastly, cross out any word that’s left that you would never use to describe yourself.

Write all of the words that are left in a new list. How do they make you feel? Do they describe your sexual orientation? Are there facets of your orientation that words don’t exist for? If you feel like it, invent a word that helps fill in those gaps.

It may seem like a lot of self-analysis, but that’s exactly what’s needed. As The New York Times Magazine article points out, teens have a difficult time articulating their own desires, in part due to the abundance of manufactured sexual imagery that creates false and harmful standards for what we (or our partners) should look like naked and how we should act.”


Thanksgiving Mathematics

It’s imperative that I find the scientific ratio between miles run and pies consumed.  

Essentially, I need to know how many miles I must run in order to cancel out the seventeen pies I plan on consuming later today.

The Connection Between Climate Change and Reproductive Rights

I posted statistics in an earlier blog entry, highlighting the status of women in terms of property and percentage of wealth.  These cateogires were both connected and impacted by their surrounding regional and global environments, as the article discusses. 

A few days ago, another article on RH Reality Check was published, entitled “People, Population, and Climate Change: Opportunities for Advancing Climate Resilience and Reproductive Rights.”  The linkage between these subjects is often overlooked, and a world of good could come from both sides of the debate by incorporating a rights-based approach  into their schema.

The critical ideas from the article center around the time-sensitive subject of population, now at 7 billion.  As the population continues to grow, the areas in which birth rate surges are in developing countries.  The areas needing the most comprehensive access to contraception and sexual health education are those with limited are no access at all.  Despite controversy over climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserts that climage change is occurring now, and as a direct result of human activity.  While developing countries do not emit the highest levels of GHG emissions, a driving force of climate change, they are the most at risk for the impacts of climate change as their population swells.  Population and climate change doubly encumber natural resources, and both geographical factors and resource constraints drive developing countries’ vulnerability and difficulty with adaptation.  As the article explains, the relationship intensifies variables such as migration, household composition and urbanisation, and population density.  And as these developing countries move towards the global trends of development, their emissions will only increase.  The article details the need for a rights-based vision in addressing these interrelated challenges:

An integrated and rights-based approach is needed

A focus on population dynamics offers such potential to further international response to climate change that it is time population commanded the consideration necessary, and crucially, in ways that advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women with an unmet need for effective contraception are estimated to account for 82 percent of all unintended pregnancies in developing countries, contributing significantly to population growth. This means there are real opportunities to reduce population growth in these countries, simply by preventing unplanned pregnancies, and bringing closer the day when every child is a wanted child. What is required is the political will to enable all women and men to have the access to family planning that is often taken for granted in the developed world. While the importance of family planning for women and children’s health and women’s rights alone should be more than sufficient to generate the necessary investment to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, sadly this has not been the case. Climate change however, offers yet another reason why ensuring all women have access to family planning makes sense, and one that might just yield more of the attention it deserves.

The critical nature of the links between population dynamics and climate change mean that it’s not a case of whether this will become more widely recognised, but when. For precisely this reason, those of us who care about women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights need to be fully involved in the debate: so that programmes relating to population issues respect and protect these rights. A rights-based approach is essential to addressing the inter-related problems in the global South of high fertility rates, sustained poverty and vulnerability to climate change. With a central focus on choice, this approach would offer access to family planning services as part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. It would address the large unmet demand for reproductive health services and choices, but encompass far more. A rights-based approach includes addressing issues such as sexual violence and coercion, and other interventions that seek to promote behaviour change through changing the social norms underlying gendered power inequalities. There is also a focus on education strategies that encompass rights-based ethos within programmes to increase people’s understanding of rights and instill a sense of entitlement. Lastly, a rights-based framework establishes means for ensuring accountability and for redress of rights violations.


An international political drive is necessary to ensuring that family planning is accessible for all men, women, and children in developing nations. As so concisely said by the authors,

To succeed in promoting an integrated population and climate change agenda as a legitimate part of a global response to climate change, a language must be found that reflects and addresses the need to emphasise resource consumption in the North, at the same time as advocating increased access to sexual and reproductive health care services in the South.

If You Enjoy Income Equity, NY Might Not Be For You

...and I have no idea why.


According to an uplifting report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of New York ranks as #1 for largest income disparaty between the rich and the poor. 

Basically, if you’re moving here with the hopes of professional expansion, be prepared to either become fabulously wealthy and stomp on hundreds of little people, or to rot in piles of sewage and cardboard on Madison Ave. 

Seriously, it is a great city though.  I swear.

An Embarrassing Peak Into Online Dating

This blog does not primarily exist for updates into my personal life. However, two very funny things happened today, which I naturally felt must be blasted all over a virtual space.

I recently signed up for my first ever online dating website. I did so with timidity and trepidation. I feared everyone who messaged me had three limbs, terrible shoes, and lived with his mother, while simultaneously worrying that they were thinking the same thing about me (I did buy a really horrible pair of shoes last weekend). But as time went on, sane messages accrued, and my viral personhood turned optimistic. I began to think that maybe there really was something to this whole internet dating craze.

That was until I received two messages today from OkCupid.

The subject line of the first message is as follows:

“Rachel! JoblessForever is checking you out right now!”

And a few hours later, another message came that read:

“Rachel! GarbageBags is checking you out right now!”

Well OkCupid, it was nice while it lasted. Looks like it’s back to the old-fashioned way, i.e., meeting a guy who’s forever jobless with three limbs, bad shoes, and living with his mother at a bar! And only on the weekends after a vodka or two! I realize it’s a bit antiquated, but I just find that I prefer to do the dating scene with a touch of tasteful and classy panache.

A Business Based on Horribly Offensive T-Shirt Slogans

As this article by Jezebel discusses, a company named Jamrags, which centers its business around offensive slogans, recently released a t-shirt utilizing sexual harassment for comedy.  The shirt reads, “Calm down dear, let’s not turn this rape into murder!” 

The company features a slew of other disturbing slogans, such as “I beat cancer* *by cancer I mean my wife”, “Feminists are big, hairy dykes”, and “I like my Muslims like I like my coffee. I don’t like coffee,” just to highlight a few.

Of course, this is not the first company to offend with their apalling definition of humor.  Who could forget the Anna Rexia costume released just in time for this upcoming Halloween?

A Coffeehouse Worth Making the Trip For

Nestled between the boho-bicyclists on East 12th Street and an inconspicuous lime-green awning of a Furry Land Pet Supplies, you’ll find the bustling Ost Cafe. As any New Yorker knows, open a store whose cheif product is coffee, and you’ll need an edge to stay in business. Luckily, this place has struck a chord with the usually migratory tendencies of caffiene consumers, and for good reason. Ost Cafe, meaning “East Cafe” in German, seamlessly pairs its Eastern European flair with notable variations on the run-of-the-mill coffehouse menu.

Ost is immediately distinguished because of its appearance. Huge windows bracketed by humble egg-white frames line the entire shop. Thus, “daylight” and “spaciousness” are actually terms that may be applied here, something that few Manhattan businesses can boast. Make your way towards the oak countertops, and you’ll most likely be greeted by a friendly, handlebar-moustached barista. Don’t be deterred if men with muttonchops or women sporting gigantic Buddy Holly frames isn’t your scene: the clientele here represent a diverse sampling of urban life. The vibe is relaxed, perhaps in large part to the fact that this cafe offers a selection of wines from the former “Austro-Hungarian empire” region. If your historical geography is a little fuzzy, all you really need to know is that around sunset, fresh wine corks are popped and the lights are dimmed. In fact, after 7:00pm, all the laptop-toters are politely asked to de-plug. Yes, that’s right. Computers, ipads, and other glowing screens are banned at night. While that might have just sent some people running for the hills (or the safehaven of a familiar Starbucks), Ost Cafe becomes a hub of real, face-to-face interaction, and it is not uncommon to strike up conversations with people at the neighboring tables and couches.

The menu features all the basics to assuage your caffeine needs. But there are also pastries from local Eastern European bakeries, such as baklava, rugleach, and even a nice fruit-and-sugar crusted strudel if you’re feeling bold. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the menu (besides the wine) are the hearty meat and cheese platters. Basically, they’ve managed to take all of our embarrassing favorite foods like pepperoni sticks and plastic-wrapped cheese slices, and return them to their humble roots; something classy and delicious and not from Gristedes at 4am. The platters have impeccable layouts, bringing to mind fancy cocktail hors d’œuvres at socialite dinner parties, and of course, all the meats and cheeses hail fresh from Italy, Austria, and Hungary.

If you’re looking to up your coffeehouse ante, and combine it with a classy, relaxed cocktail hour, Ost Cafe is the perfect East VIllage hangout. And if you just want to grab a coffee to go, they can handle that, too.

Urban Rider

Willow's Urban Rider Collection

While the rest of the world hurried to watch “Glee,” I decided to spend my time productively: perusing’s runway collections for the past hour and a half.  One of the favorite collections I stumbled upon was designer Kit Willow’s “Urban Rider” collection.

The Willow label has existed just shy of a decade, yet the Australian designer has already created an impressive following.  Her collections always feature savory draperies and intricate appliques, often utilizing fine industrial materials such as metal and glasswork.  As with the playfully cerulean, three-tiered silk dress above, her clothes often offer an almost aqueous movement with them; she seamlessly combines elements of a Hellenistic, goddess-like drapery with tints of urban flamboyance.

The Rider Collection, appropriately, incorporates western rural themes.  Throughout the line are knee-high, worn-leather cowboy boots, equestrian satin harem pants with elegant seams, and tapered jackets with high-necklines.  Willow takes the rural western ranch and hurls it into the 21st century, with stunningly fitted and chic ensembles.  The collection ultimately blends soft romanticism with urban sophistication, and her fabrics’ statements create an effect that is simultaneously demure and mirthfully bold.