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OITNB Shows How Sex Education (or lack thereof) Has Failed Us

Author:

By Christiana Paradis

If you haven’t finished binge-watching OITNB then I don’t know what you’ve been up to the past month that was more important, but you should really get on that!

In the fourth episode of the second season, “A Whole Other Hole,” we see Taystee, as well as several other inmates, learn that the “pee hole” is not the same as the “vagina hole.” The episode goes on to show Taystee trying to find this mysterious third hole, that in her entire life, she never knew she had! It isn’t until Sophia, another inmate, finally explains to her where it is that she discovers it for the first time. Due to the lack of understanding of female anatomy Sophia (a transgender woman, portrayed by Laverne Cox) decides she is going to sit all of the women down with a diagram and explain to them the anatomy of the female vagina. OINTB pokes fun at the fact that women know very little about their vaginas and they push this further by using Sophia to explain it to the inmates. This is noticed by Taystee who makes a comment/implies “I never thought I’d learn more about my vagina from someone who used to be a man.” This show does not suggest this to make fun of transgender women; rather, it pokes fun at the overall fact that women know very little about their vaginas and the fact that most women have never really taken the time to sit and look at them.

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This episode might have been the funniest episode of the whole season. I could not stop laughing the hole way through. However, it wasn’t just the characters’ fantastic bantering that made it hilarious; it was the fact that the episode was so realistic. I could relate to the conversation that was taking place because I’ve had similar conversations with other women. Furthermore, I’ve watched men have similar conversations with other women, too.

You might be asking yourself how can a woman not know what her vagina looks like? Well the answer is simple, women are never, ever encouraged to actually look at it. It’s this void that we make cute name for so we can pretend it doesn’t actually exist. Our down there/private parts/peach/pooch/pee pee/va-jay-jay, etc. is something that we aren’t to talk about or look at. Furthermore, there is very little if ANY actual education provided to women AND men about the physiological structure of our vaginas.

Our sex education (or lack thereof) as well as health education has miserably failed us, and the fact that this failure is so ingrained in our culture that we can make it a part of television series is something we should not be proud of. Furthermore, while I was watching this show it made me wonder how many other women were watching the show learning about their third hole for the first time, ever! It is arguable we all learn something every now and then from a television series, but information about our basic anatomy and the parts of our bodies that belong to us, should not be one of them. So ladies, I’m calling you out, one by one, take the time—even if only for a minute—and learn to love and know ALL the parts of your body. You’ll find you’re quite remarkable and as always—simply beautiful.

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We Are More Than Just a Distraction

Author:

By Lily Scott

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The sun is getting hotter and the days are getting longer, summer is finally here! That means bare legs in the grass, floaty tops and warm sunshine on our tummies right? Nope, not quite if you’re still in school or college. Across the country, school administrators are trying their hardest to cover up any parts of the female body that are deemed ‘inappropriate’. In many schools, this includes: legs, shoulders, cleavage and midriff. Exactly the parts of the body that suit the summer weather.

Last week, I walked into the front gate of my school and was pulled aside by a male teacher. He told me that the bit of skin showing between my high-waisted jeans and baggy crop top was not acceptable and I must go home to change immediately. Walking home, my frustration grew at the dress code that humiliates and shames girls in school when they should be in a lesson, getting the same education as the male half of the school. At most schools, dress code violators are either sent home or made to change into any item of clothing thrown at them from the lost property cupboard. It’s embarrassing being targeted like this, leaving many girls with loss of self-esteem. Although there are rules for boys, they are not as frequently enforced and only state that t-shirts can’t reference drugs or anything sexual. It is unequal that boys can walk around freely showing their underwear beneath saggy jeans, yet the slightest glimpse of a bra strap and teachers practically faint with shock. Everyone is aware that most girls do in fact wear a bra underneath their clothing, so why are bras treated as such a mysterious taboo that must not be seen or mentioned? Bras have become the Voldemort of the clothing world.

The rules for women will never, ever be simple. We are expected to conform to both the media and school’s expectations and tread a very fine line of being pretty and appealing but not revealing. We are told that we must be pleasing to the eye but not too suggestive or sexy. These guidelines tell men that it is okay to slut shame and eventually leads to the idea that when a women is sexually assaulted, it is the clothes that she was wearing that are to blame. In other words, ‘she was asking for it’. Girls as young as 13 are being told to change when simply showing their legs in shorts, or bare shoulders in vest tops. These students are too young to be sexualised in any way and are taught from such an early age that their bodies tempt men and it is their responsibility to stop leering or harassment.

It is unlikely that school uniform policies will be relaxed as authorities are intent on their belief that they are doing what is best for the students. It is clear that what they are doing only benefits males as the distraction of female bodies are taken away, making it easier to concentrate on learning. However, we could argue that young men are very capable of exercising self-control and will not always go wild at the sight of a girl’s bare shoulders. If it is absolutely necessary to apply dress codes, it should be equal for boys and girls, so that the system doesn’t favour one gender over another. It should not be the concern of a female to change the way she looks or dresses so that a man won’t view her in a certain way. What needs to change is the attitudes that girls are simply sexual objects to be hassled or catcalled. We should be taught to be confident and proud of our bodies, not policing ourselves for the male gaze.

Yet more offensive ads…

Author:

By Kate Parsons

The media is constantly treating women’s bodies as objects. Here buyers equate buying a truck with having the power to “drive over” or control women’s bodies. These images suggest to women that their bodies are objects and worse, objects for others to use. Women and women’s bodies are not meant to be controlled or “driven over.”

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 More often than not, companies use women’s bodies to sell their product. In the case of this ad, the company makes the product into a body of a woman, thus taking objectification to a whole new level.

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Why Madonna is my Shero

Author:

By Yas Necati

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“Drinking beer and smoking weed in the parking lot of my high school was not my idea of being rebellious, because that’s what everybody did. And I never wanted to do what everybody did. I thought it was cooler to not shave my legs or under my arms. I mean, why did God give us hair there anyways? Why didn’t guys have to shave there? Why was it accepted in Europe but not in America? No one could answer my questions in a satisfactory manner, so I pushed the envelope even further… But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going… And I wondered if it was all worth it, but then I would pull myself together and look at a postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her moustache consoled me.”

Dear Madonna,

A couple years ago, when I was in school, I posted a picture of my hairy armpit on Facebook to prove that people would react and that sexism still existed. I posted this picture after reading the exact words of yours quoted above. I believed it was the right thing to do, but just like you “I wondered if it was all worth it.” Just like you, I found it “hard” and “lonely.” But then I thought, heck, if Madonna can do it, then so can I! Why should I be scared when one of the bravest women in the entire world was behind me?

But the truth is, Madonna, it’s sad that you’re considered brave for doing this. It’s upsetting that something as simple as showing the natural female body is actually “brave” in our society today. And if it’s a bold move for one of the most famous and influential women in the world to make, then how terrifying must it be for other women? Everyday women? Women who know that they don’t have tens of thousands of people behind them who will respect and support them no matter what?

In high school you were on you own, but you had Frida Kahlo. I was on my own, but I had you. And hopefully, if young women of the future ever feel alone, they’ll have you, me, and a whole feminist movement behind them.

Thank you for standing up for what’s right as a woman who’s never been afraid to defy the crowd. It’s increasingly difficult in a society with a narrow-minded, arrogant and oppressive media. Thank you for implying that women should have a choice when that media tries to box us into ideals and force us into silence and submission. Thank you for speaking up and out. You give hope and power to a future generation. And hopefully, in the future, thanks to our collective “brave” actions, hair in natural places might not actually be considered brave at all.

In solidarity,

A fan and a sister x

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