8 Lies We Need to Stop Spreading About Teen Pregnancy



Cristina DeJesus was 16 when she first saw a plus sign on her pregnancy test stick. Like most new mothers-to-be, she rushed to the hospital anytime she experienced unusual vaginal bleeding. Once in a nurse’s care, however, her experiences changed drastically. Instead of concern and support, DeJesus was told that she’d be better off if she had a miscarriage.

The shame DeJesus faced for being a pregnant, baby-faced teen, while harrowing, is far from unique in the U.S., the country with the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the developed world.

In fact, the predominant message sent to young mothers and pregnant teens in the media, by politicians and from teachers at schools is that they are promiscuous, tarnished goods who are bringing “problem children” into the world.

It’s this kind of rationale that is forcing students “suspected” of being pregnant to take pregnancy tests,barring teen mothers from displaying their pregnant bellies in school yearbooks and allowing a New York City Human Resource Administration campaign that suggests teen moms are somehow “to blame” with slogans like “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” and “Honestly, Mom … chances are he won’t stay with you. What will happen to me?”

These stigmatizing anti-teen pregnancy messages, so often tinged with racism, classism and sexism, end up placing a greater burden on a group of people who need the most support. That’s why#NoTeenShame, a movement led by seven young mothers, aims to improve strategic messaging campaigns and shift conversations around young parenting to a non-stigmatizing and non-shaming approach, while also highlighting the importance of comprehensive sex education.

While the controversial Candie’s Foundation’s star-studded anti-teen pregnancy campaign claims that young women are “supposed to be changing the world … not changing diapers,” the #NoTeenShame women, along with the many teen moms who battle the unnecessary stigma and discrimination that come with young parenthood, say they are changing the world because they are changing diapers, not in spite of them.

Here are just a few of the lies we need to stop telling about teen pregnancy and young motherhood in the U.S.

1. Teen pregnancy and birthrates are increasing.

Nearly 6% of teenage women in the U.S. aged 15 to 19 years old become pregnant each year. While this may seem high to some, in fact it’s a record low. Citing the most recent statistics on teenage pregnancy available, a 2014 Guttmacher Institute report shows that in 2010, close to 615,000 teen pregnancies occurred, marking a 51% decline since 1990.

This decline in teenage pregnancy crosses racial and ethnic groups, with both black and white teen pregnancy rates declining by 56% and Latina teens experiencing a 51% decrease of their own.

This significant drop in teenage pregnancy, however, hasn’t halted the mainstream media from inaccurately claiming that teen birth rates are on the rise, especially in communities of color. In May, for example, Bill O’Reilly responded to Beyoncé’s appearance on the cover of TIME‘s “Most Influential” list by suggesting the singer’s presentation and lyrics are contributing to the growing rate of teen pregnancy in the African-American community.

2. Teen pregnancy and childbearing is an “urban” problem.

Despite the stereotype that teen pregnancy is primarily an “urban problem,” statistics show that the teen birth rate is nearly one-third higher in the United States’ rural areas, not metropolitan city centers.

In fact, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s 2013 study, teens in rural counties face the highest rate of pregnancy and the slowest decline in teenage pregnancy. Between 1990 and 2010, for instance, teen pregnancies in urban areas declined by 49%, while rural counties saw a decline of just 32%.

Furthermore, while the Guttmacher Institute reports that today’s U.S. teens are predominantly less sexually active and using more contraception, the opposite is true for teens in rural areas, who are having more sex while often not using birth control. Though the study doesn’t explain this phenomenon, researchers speculate that a lack of opportunities and access to contraception in rural areas contribute to a high pregnancy rate.

3. Young love is never “real” love.

Teen romance is often devalued as nothing more than “puppy love,” with some adults even questioningteenagers’ abilities to know what love is.

When Natasha Vianna, a young mom and #NoTeenShame advocate, would talk to her parents about her love for her then-boyfriend and the father of her child, her parents would reduce her feelings to hormones or rebellion. Eight years later, at 26, Vianna still talks about her high school boyfriend as one of the most caring people in her life at the time, someone who was genuinely there for her.

DeJesus, who was 16 when she got pregnant, also knew that the love in her teenage relationship was genuine. “Yes, I was young,” DeJesus, who at 24 remains with her children’s father, told PolicyMic. “But you know when you love somebody and when that person loves you too. [Age] doesn’t matter.”

Dr. Nancy Kalish, a psychology professor who studies lost loves and lost love reunions, agrees: “First love, young love, is indeed real love.”

While Vianna and DeJesus speak from experience, Kalish is able to support the validity of teen love through scholarship — more specifically, a recent study of 1,600 people, where 25% of participants said they would reunite with their first love if given the opportunity.

4. Young women don’t know what they want.

It’s a mistake to assume that pregnancy is always something that teenagers want to avoid, or that all teen pregnancies are unplanned. In fact, a 1998 report by the Guttmacher Institute looking at teenagers’ pregnancy intentions and decisions in California reported that 32% of teens had intended to become pregnant, while 25% had not cared and 43% had not intended to become pregnant.

DeJesus would fit into the 25%.

“It wasn’t planned,” DeJesus told PolicyMic. “But we weren’t using birth control, so we knew there was a possibility that I would become pregnant.”

While fewer than half of the teen women in the Guttmacher Institute study had not intended to become pregnant, theirs is the predominant story we see in mainstream media. From films and scripted TV shows like Juno and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which both depict consenting teenagers who have unplanned pregnancies after engaging in unprotected sex, to Precious, which portrays a teen mother who was impregnated after her father raped her, popular media seem to only be concerned with sharing teen pregnancy stories that perpetuate the idea that young parenthood is never planned.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these representations — unplanned teen pregnancies do happen — but Vianna does think the propagation of the same teenage pregnancy portrayals furthers the idea that teens don’t know what they want and thus must be reminded to reject any notion of teen pregnancy.

“Teen pregnancy and teen parenthood is a feminist issue,” Vianna told PolicyMic. “We are repeatedly telling young women to say ‘no.’ If you keep telling them to say ‘no,’ do they have the power to say ‘yes?’ Who determines?”

5. Teen moms don’t enjoy motherhood.

ust about every episode of the MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant has a scene where the new mom is “reminded” that her pregnancy or baby has “robbed” her of her social life and ends with her talking into a web cam, expressing her regret for not waiting to have a child.

Putting aside the fact that these types of reality shows are often staged, these depictions ignore facts in the name of dramatic entertainment. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen moms are more likely than older moms to have postpartum depression.

With messages of loss and regret often regurgitated in the media, anti-teen pregnancy campaigns and even unconsciously among friends and family of a teen parent, it’s not difficult to decipher why young moms experience depression.

“How can I enjoy a punishment?” Vianna, who experienced postpartum depression the first year of motherhood, told PolicyMic. “It’s not meant to be enjoyed.”

But Vianna believes that if teen mothers weren’t bombarded with messages that shame them, their entry into motherhood would look much different.

“If young mothers had the support and resources to think about what makes teen motherhood so hard, they’d realize it’s not being a mother; it’s society. Life was hard because the people around me were rooting for me to fail,” Vianna said.

6. Only white teen moms can have a happy ending.

From advertisements to characters on hit shows and in films, the only teen mothers who seem to get their happy ending in the media are young white moms.

Amy Juergens, for example, the main protagonist of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, escapes a loveless relationship with her baby’s father and is able to move across the country to New York to attend Hudson University. In Juno, Ellen Page’s character Juno MacGuff has supportive parents, easily finds an adoptive parent and gets her guy in the end to top it all off. Meanwhile, Quinn Fabray of Glee is getting the “best of both worlds,” as she gives up her baby without incident, successfully pursues her high school love and ends up at an Ivy League school.

In contrast, Precious ends with Claireece Precious Jones’ plans to complete a GED test and the news that she’s HIV-positive. Details about The OC‘s Theresa Diaz’s pregnancy and teen motherhood are incomplete, leaving viewers guessing if she in fact doesn’t know who the father of her baby is, or, the more popular assumption, that Ryan is her child’s father, but she lies to him about it. A similar portrayal of a struggling, single young mom of color with boyfriend troubles is found in Chenille Reynolds in Save the Last Dance.

The contrasts are clear: Juno, Quinn and Amy are all white women and all seem to easily navigate the teen pregnancy experience. Meanwhile, minority mothers like Precious, Theresa and Chenille are left stranded and struggling, with little hope for a future in sight.

7. Teen pregnancy is young women’s fault.

From STIs to unplanned pregnancies, young women already disproportionately suffer the consequences of unprotected sex, and anti-teen pregnancy campaigns and programs only continue to tilt the scale against them.

Though we all know it takes two to tango, a Legal Momentum report titled “Sex, Lies and Stereotypes” shows that anti-teen pregnancy programs, specifically abstinence-only measures, teach young men that women are the gatekeepers of male sexual aggression. This places the onus completely on women to face the unintended consequences of unprotected sex, as reflected in anti-teen pregnancy campaigns, which are overwhelmingly directed exclusively to teen girls.

If the goal is to help prevent unintended teen pregnancies, however, it’s crucial to add teen boys and young men, who have as much control over unintended pregnancies as do young women, into the conversation. Even more important, surveys show that young men want to be armed with the information they need to prevent unintended pregnancies.

8. Teen moms are tarnished goods.

Once a teen woman in the U.S. becomes pregnant, she is often seen as sullied, no longer able to contribute productively to society.

While statistics show that teen moms are less likely to finish high school than other teens, it’s also true that when a pregnant teen or a teen parent has support at home and in school, their chances of finishing school increases. Further, most teenage pregnancies occur at 18 and 19, when parents have already graduated from high school.

But schools, clinics, government offices and greater society are generally not very supportive of teen mothers.

“Everyone is really good at being really terrible to teen moms,” Gloria Malone, a #NoTeenShame activist who got pregnant at 15, told PolicyMic. “Someone once told me that I’m stealing their tax dollars because I couldn’t keep my legs closed.”

The truth is that teen mothers are just like many other new mothers. Parenting is novel and challenging, but they too want their children to lead great lives.

“We are contributing members of society,” Malone, 24, said. “Maya Angelou was a teen mom. The MVP of the NBA is a child of a teen mom. LeBron James was a teen dad. Our president is the son of a teen mom. The idea that we are tarnished goods is simply not true.”


Underrepresentation of Minority Heroines



Originally published in Latinitas: http://laslatinitas.com/teens/underrepresentation-of-minority-heroines

It is no big revelation that women of color seldom see themselves in powerful positions in the media, oftentimes making them feel homely and irrelevant. But according to some experts, the lack of representation of minorities in cartoons could also be causing a similar effect for young girls of color.

Today’s Youth in Media

Maria O. Alvarez, the Hispanic media consultant at Common Sense Media,  a non-profit organization that studies the effects that media and technology have on young users, believes the lack of colored girls in youth media leads to low self-esteem among minorities.

“We do know that all these messages have a direct impact in all their behaviors and how they see the world,” said Alvarez. “You feel that you’re in a lower level in society when you see that people like you, your skin color, are not in powerful positions.”

Her thoughts are supported by a 2011 study by Nicole Martins and Kristen Harrison, which found that minorities tend to feel worse about themselves after watching youth media.

The study found that unlike white male characters, who are often presented as highly educated and powerful, which tends to lift white boys’ self-esteems, girl characters are often simplistic, sexualized beings, while characters of color tend to be more violent.

But this particular study, like many, lacks to demonstrate how youth media represent young girls of color.

According to Hugh Klein, who has been studying the underrepresentation of out groups in animated cartoons for the past 20 years, it is difficult to break down the representations of girls of color in animated cartoons because there are too few of them to analyze.

In Klein’s ongoing study, which examined more than 4,000 cartoon characters, he found that only 3.6 percent of the characters were African American, 1.8 percent were Latinos and 1.0 percent were Asian.  Out of the 27 Latino characters in Klein’s research, only one-third, or 9, of them were Latina.

“In the process of leaving people out of the media, you communicate a message to viewers just as much as if you were portraying them in a positive or negative way,” said Klein. “They’re so few in number probably because they’re unvalued in our culture,” said Klein.

According to his research, because animated cartoons are likely to be among the earliest media types to which young people are exposed to and because they are exposed to these messages on a daily basis, animated cartoons end up being “one of the earliest and most influential sources of negative messages.”

Minority Heroines

Some have argued, though, that with minority heroines like Doc McStuffins, Dora the Explorer and Kai-Lan, non-white children are now unburdened by stereotypes and underrepresentation.

But just as mainstream films or music videos feature the token colored gal, Doc McStuffins, Dora the Explorer and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan are some of the only programs on TV with leading girl cartoons of color.

The halfhearted gesture to include a single leading Black, Latina and Asian cartoon character, according to Alvarez, sends the message that although several little white girls can be pop stars (Olivia from “Olivia”), mechanics (Widget from “Wow Wow Wubbzy”) and mathematicians (Milli from “Team Umizoomi”), there’s only room for one visionary girl of color.

“It’s not just cartoons. It’s all over. And it has an impact on how we see ourselves and how proactive we are,” said Alvarez. “We all have great value to share with the society; we can all be in powerful positions. It’s hard to believe that when the media doesn’t show you like that. But if together, parents and community, can share those messages with kids, that’s going to help.”

Alvarez believes that young girls need role models outside of the media.

“There’s a huge gap in reality and what they see in the media. We need to help them see that what they see in the media is not reality.”

Here are a few tips for young girls from Alvarez and Common Sense Media to help with self-image:

  1. Limit media consumption: Limit the amount of media you expose yourself to every day. Set limits. The earlier you start, the better.
  2. Become a media critic: Pay attention to ads, magazine covers, billboards—and talk to your parents about how these messages make you feel and ask them about their own reactions.
  3. Look for role models that look like you: Ask your parents or older relatives about professionals and community leaders who look like you do.
  4. Find everyday role models: Role models don’t need to be famous. They can be teachers, neighbors or family members. You just need a positive influence to look up to.
  5. Understand your value: Even if you’re not seeing people who look like you in the media, understand that race doesn’t define value. Compliment yourself and your peers on all of your/their wonderful talents, like your/their creativity or thoughtfulness.

Latinas Leading the Fight Against Human Trafficking



Originally published in Latinitas: http://laslatinitas.com/uncategorized/latinas-leading-the-fight-against-human-trafficking

While Blockbuster films and news media portray human trafficking as a problem that takes place across our oceans, many Latinas are working to shatter that myth and inform Americans that this criminal act exists near their schools and on their playgrounds.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 300 thousand children – of various ages, genders, classes, races and ethnicities – are trafficked for sex in the United States every year. This figure doesn’t reflect those trafficked for labor or the number of adults also being trafficked within the U.S.

Recognizing this exploitation, Latinas – young and old – are taking a stand against this modern form of slavery.  They are joining forces with other people and organizations to spread awareness, instill programs and laws that prevent trafficking and console victims of sex slavery.

In Washington D.C., Dr. Carolina De Los Rios is serving as the Director of Client Services for the Polaris Project, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization.

She supervises case managers, social workers and fellows who work directly with victims of human trafficking. Her team provides survivors with counseling, emergency housing and more specialized assistance all intended to help and to rebuild their lives.

“Seeing survivors after you have helped them in an emergency situation is so rewarding,” De Los Rios said. “You’ve seen one of the worst moments of their lives, and then you see them after you and the team worked so hard – smiling, getting their GED, going to college. You see them thriving with their life, and then I know it makes sense what I’m doing.”

Del Los Rios, a Colombian, believes that being a Latina has given her a unique lens in her fight against trafficking.

“Being Latina makes me more aware about the challenges that you experience as a Latina, and it makes me more sensitive to the different challenges that women and girls experience,” Del Los Rios said.

She also said that although all young people are vulnerable to being recruited, Latinas who just immigrated to the U.S., who don’t speak the language and who don’t know how the system works here, may be in an even more vulnerable position.

Public interest attorney Norma Ramos understands that vulnerability firsthand.

The now executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) was once a child in New York’s foster care system.

“I always felt a strong sensitivity about human beings who are being commercially and sexually exploited,” said Ramos. “I felt that that could have so easily been me – I still feel that way.”

At CATW, the world’s first organization to fight human trafficking internationally, Ramos raises awareness about human trafficking and promotes the Nordic model – laws that penalize the demand for commercial sex and decriminalize victims of the commercial sex industry – as an approach to combat human trafficking.

“When a country passes the Nordic model, I’m very happy,” said Ramos. “Norway passed the Nordic model, then Iceland followed. These were ‘break out the champagne’ moments for me.”

Ramos, who is Puerto Rican, also hopes to encourage young people and Latinas to take a stand against injustice.

“The world has too little political courage; it’s the No. 1 disappointment for me when I see people not risk something in order to change and end a social injustice.”

A few hundred miles east of Ramos is a young Latina in Connecticut whose political courage would make Ramos very proud.

Ana Alarcon is a high school senior and anti-human trafficking advocate.

The 17-year-old Colombian recently traveled to Washington D.C. for the National Youth Summit on Abolition, where she was a panelist alongside human trafficking experts like Wesleyan University professor Lois A. Brown, founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation Kenneth Morris Jr., and U.S. Ambassador in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking Luis CdeBaca.

As a young Latina, Alarcon’s voice and perspective was very unique at the event.

“It feels very empowering as a young person and as a female and as a Latina. There are generally a lot of men in this field,” Alarcon said. “I feel like I could give a voice to different groups, I feel honored, and I feel like I could give other people a sense of ‘you can do this, too.’”

The young Latina hopes to continue her advocacy beyond high school. She was recently accepted into Fordham University, where she will be studying international relations.

“Human trafficking is just a link to so many world issues – poverty, drugs, abuse – it’s all interconnected. If I can stop one thing, it will be a chain reaction to cause peace somewhere else,” Alarcon said.

Like Ramos, Alarcon also wants girls her age to be courageous.

“If you want to do anything, you could absolutely do it. Just because you’re a girl, a minority or you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t do something important or be someone important,” Alarcon said.

If interested in connecting with anti-human trafficking services near you or to obtain free training materials to help you with your advocacy, visit: http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/the-nhtrc/overview.

Drawbacks of the Curvy Latina Stereotype

Originally published in Latinitas magazine: http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/news/leader-in-feminism-hosts-rally-on-campus-1.2781516#tabs_article_comments_tab1

With the growing body positivity movement, the “women come in all shapes and sizes” mantra has been voiced both in everyday conversations and in the mainstream media. But with just a glance at Hollywood’s leading ladies, it’s clear that the catchphrase doesn’t apply to Latinas.

The sensual curves of Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek have created a curvy, sexy stereotype of Latinas, leaving many who don’t measure up, and even those who do, dissatisfied with their bodies.

“It’s a Latino mystique,” said body image author, teacher and speaker Rosie Molinary. “It has become the storyline for Latinas and creates an incredible pressure whether or not [they] are close to fitting it”.

The voluptuous Latina stereotype has become an ideal among Latina youth. And like all beauty standards, this curvy ideal keeps Latinas paying for products and services that are marketed to help them reach the unattainable ideal.

“The whole point of standards is to keep us as consumers. The more that we feel a level of unrest with our appearance, the more effort we would put into an ideal; and the more effort we put into fitting an ideal, the more we consume,” said Molinary, whose book “Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing up Latina” highlights Latina body image in America.

Many people believe that because the curvy ideal celebrates thighs that touch, it must be healthier than the more common white, thin ideal. But according to co-founder of Beauty Redefined, a non-profit that aims to redefine ideas of beauty and health, Lindsay Kite, the curvy ideal affects Latinas just as much as the thin ideal affects their white peers.

“The curvy ideal values thinness just the same, but Latinas have to meet those other ideals too: big behinds and big breasts,” said Kite. “That contributes to eating disorders just as much as the thin ideal does.”

The results of a survey by Self Magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill show that three out of four American women have disordered eating behaviors.

Latinas have historically been left out of eating disorder research, leaving researchers with the assumption that Latinas and other minorities were less likely to suffer from disordered eating. But recent studies have found that Latinas have eating disorders and body image concerns at rates similar to those of white women.

And according to Kite, women who are closest to the curvy ideal are at the same risk of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction as those Latinas who seem to be the farthest from the ideal.

“Girls and women who are often closest to those ideals are the people who feel the farthest away. They’re the most critical of themselves … because they are valued primarily for their appearance,” said Kite.

That’s why Kite believes it’s important for young girls to surround themselves with positive, less critical people.

She suggests that girls make friends with people who aren’t critical of themselves and other girls’ or women’s bodies and who aren’t preoccupied with their looks.

But not all Latinas are interested in the curvy ideal.

Dana Heymann, 16, has no desire to look like Jennifer Lopez. But the young, slim, fair-skinned, light-eyed Argentine is miffed over the stereotype that tells her she’s not really Latina because she’s not so bootylicious.

“I am full Latina, but I don’t fit the stereotype of curvy or anything, and I don’t really like that stereotype that every Spanish girl has to be curvy because, no, that’s not true,” said Heymann. “It sometimes just slips my mind, and I’m like ‘wait I am Spanish.’ I sometimes think it’s because of the way I look. I’m not tan, I don’t have curly hair, I don’t have the big butt or big boobs.”

Heymann, unfortunately, is not the only young girl questioning the validity of her ethnicity because of the limited representations of Latinas in the media.

When researching for her book, Molinary spoke with a host of Latinas who all felt restricted by the fact that there was just one working Latina for a handful of Latino countries. They hoped for a wide scope of working Latinas who could illustrate to both Latinos and non-Latinos the range of Latina beauty.

Molinary believes that putting Latinos in decision-making positions could help remove the curvy stereotype.

“There’s a significant amount of diversification that needs to take place in Hollywood. On the screen is great, but I would argue that it’s even more important behind the scenes. There needs to be someone to say ‘this is not OK,’” said Monlinary.

Molinary’s call for diversity is important because she believes that young girls must understand that bodies of all shapes, sizes and colors are beautiful.

Here are three strategies Kite believes will help young girls on their path to fighting unreal beauty ideals:

1. Surround yourself with positive people: Our friends and peers can have a big influence on how we feel about our bodies, so try to spend time with people who aren’t critical of themselves or other girls’ and women’s bodies. At the same time, do your best to stop saying negative things about your body out loud. When a friend or family member makes a negative comment about her body, remind her that she’s beautiful. Set a goal with her to recognize when you’re saying negative things, and stop yourself by replacing it with a compliment for yourself or someone else.

2. Go on a media fast: Choose a day, a week, a month or longer to steer clear of as much media as you can. That way, you can see how your life is different without all of those messages and images; and when you return to viewing and reading popular media, you will be more sensitive to the messages that hurt you and those that are unrealistic. Tuning out of media will help girls better recognize what real bodies look like all around them and the wide variety of bodies that are considered attractive and desirable in their own lives.

3. Be critical of the media, not yourselves or others: We need to feel an obligation to put media under closer inspection for the influence it has in our lives. Next time you are flipping through a magazine or watching a movie, train yourself to ask important questions about what you see. If you don’t like the answers you find, remember you can turn away from the messages that hurt you. Ask yourself:

  • Do you feel better or worse about yourself when viewing or hearing this media? Do you believe the females in your life would feel better or worse about themselves after viewing or hearing this media?
  • Who is advertising in these pages or on this screen? (Look for ads and commercials, and you’ll see who is paying the bills for your favorite media messages)
  • Who owns the TV show, movie, magazine, video game or website you are viewing? (Research the company and its owners and you’ll find out who the powerful decision-makers are behind the scenes of your media of choice)
  • Is the media you read and view promoting real health or impossible ideals meant to make you spend money and time? Who are those messages promoting impossible ideals usually speaking to?
  • How are women and girls presented here? Are they valued for their talents and personality? Do they look like the females in your life? Which body types are presented as beautiful or desirable?

Multimedia: An Eye for Gaming

Knightly News

Multimedia project originally published on Knightly News at: http://knightlynews.cos.ucf.edu/?p=12187

Munawar Bijani, a senior computer science major at UCF, talks about the challenges he faces as a blind student, businessman and audio game creator in this 3-minute multimedia project.”

My Tasks: I shot all of the video and took all of the photos. I edited the audio, which was recorded by Stephany Nagy, and I combined, edited, sequenced and paced the audio, photos and video to create the final project via Final Cut Pro. 

Multimedia: Student Body Squeeze

Knightly News

Multimedia project originally published on Knightly News at: http://knightlynews.cos.ucf.edu/?p=10815

With a student population of more than 60,000, the University of Central Florida is beginning to get a bit crammed. The overcrowding has forced diners at the Student Union to either guard their tables hours in advance, or take their trays to any bench or floor available elsewhere. Some students have even given up studying at the library because of computer and outlet shortages. Instead, they’re hitting the books on the upper-level floors of the Student Union—a place where discomfort can buy them silence and a power source. However, with upcoming renovations to the library and All Knight Study II expected to open this month, it seems that UCF has recognized the problem and is attempting to resolve it.

My Tasks: I took the majority of the photos in this project (a few were taken by Wes Goldberg). I edited, cropped and resized all of the photos that needed work via Photoshop. I helped Goldberg edit the audio that he had recorded via Audacity.We both worked together to sequence and pace the project on Soundslides. 

Photos: Amendment 8 Protest Rally

Central Florida Future

Gallery originally published in the Central Florida Future at: http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/multimedia/pictures-amendment-6-protest-1.2786545

The president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) atUCF, Nicole Elinoff, and the president of UCF’s chapter of Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX), Alexa Nelen, joined forces in front of the Student Union Monday to protest Florida’s Amendment 6. After a swift sound cannon, both presidents, along with some group members, informed students of the contentious measure, while asking them to take the Vote No on Amendment 6 pledge. If passed, the measure would ban state tax money from being used for abortions or for health insurance coverage of abortions, except in rare circumstances like rape and incest.

Leader in feminism hosts rally on campus

Central Florida Future

Originally published in the Central Florida Future: http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/news/leader-in-feminism-hosts-rally-on-campus-1.2781516#tabs_article_comments_tab1

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem made a stop at UCF’s Pegasus Ballroom Friday to lead a discussion on women, politics and the importance of voting in the upcoming election.

The rally, which was sponsored by UCF’s women’s studies program and the National Organization for Women at UCF, brought more than 200 students, faculty and local women’s rights organizations together.

Steinem opened her discussion by encouraging everyone to forget about party labels and to examine the issues that are at stake. For Steinem, that includes equal pay for women.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man in an equal position. Though pay equity has been discussed by both presidential candidates, Steinem said she believes both candidates have not realized that “equal pay for female human beings of the United States will be the single greatest, most powerful economic stimulus this country could possibly experience.”

“Just equal pay for comparable work would put $200 billion more into the economy every year,” Steinem said. “We are not going to take that money and put it into a bank account in the Bahamas. We are not going to send it to Switzerland. No, we are much more likely to spend it in a way that creates jobs.”

Steinem also emphasized the importance of another women’s issue: reproductive rights. Though the case for abortion has created an even greater division between partisan lines, with liberals generally for it and many conservatives against it, Steinem believes reproductive freedom defies political ideologies. She said reproductive freedom is just as important for people who do not wish to have an abortion as it is for those who do.

“It means what it says [and] it says the power of the government stops at our skin,” Steinem said.

The issue of reproductive freedom is particularly important to many Florida voters because of a contentious amendment on this year’s ballot: Amendment 6. The measure would ban state tax money from being used for abortions or for health insurance coverage of abortion, except in rare circumstances like rape and incest.

To president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, Jenna Tosh, who also spoke at Friday’s event, the amendment would put women’s health in jeopardy.

“If Amendment 6 passes, it could mean that a pregnant woman who needs access to cancer treatment would be denied health to end her pregnancy even if it’s what her doctor recommends. If Amendment 6 passes, it would leave a woman and her family struggling to figure out how to pay for medical care, even in the case of a severe fetal abnormality. Denying a family help in these cases is unconscionable,” Tosh said.

UCF’s women’s studies director, Maria Santana, said issues like reproductive rights and pay equity make this election crucial for women. However, she fears that young women who lack interest in politics may not exercise their right to vote, risking the gains that Steinem and her contemporaries fought for.

“Today, as young and perhaps single women, they don’t feel the necessity or the urgency, but we see it as an urgency because we understand the political path of change and the political path has ramifications,” Santana said. “It’s important for them to understand what’s happening today, right now, because it will be history.”

Santana remembers the agency created by second-wave feminists like Steinem. She admires that they did not just organize to complain about gender disparities, but that it moved them to action, something she hopes today’s generation picks up.

Steinem’s discussion imbued a similar sense of agency in junior finance and marketing double major Lauren Mulvihill.

“I’ve never been so empowered by hearing someone speak. I’ve never wanted to act out and go out and do something to perpetuate these feelings before,” Mulvihill said.

For senior political science major Paul Thurston, the conversation helped him recognize something about himself.

“As somebody who is obviously a man, I never really classified myself as a feminist, even though I believe in a lot of the same stuff. It’s good to see that maybe I have been this whole time, but I just didn’t know it,” Thurston said.

Steinem has been traveling around the country and the world advocating for women’s rights since the late 1960s. Her visit to UCF was the first of six stops she’s making in Florida this week. She’ll take a trip to St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale and Miami to continue her talk on women’s rights issues as related to the 2012 election.