The Candie’s Foundation – Raising Awareness Through Fear and Shame

The Candie’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to help prevent teen pregnancy through event outreach, promotional ad campaigns featuring tweens’ favorite celebrities, and awarding other teen prevention agencies with miniscule grants. The organization has employed Fergie, Fall Out Boy, and Ciara to promote such catch phrases as “Not Really The Way You Pictured Your First Crib” and “Be Smart: You Are Too Young To Start”. In 2009, the organization even hired teen mom Bristol Palin to serve as a teen ambassador, joining other such ambassadors as Jenny McCarthy and Hayden Panettiere. However, a further examination of the organization shows that their messaging around teen pregnancy and their overall policies might have damaging effects on teen sexuality and teen pregnancy.

Part of the problem with the discourse surrounding teen pregnancy is the shaming and guilt-ridden messaging that enters the equation, especially for young women. The website features a number of dramatic PSAs showing young, hormonally charged teens getting it on. Suddenly, the bed turns into a crib or the hot convertible that no teenager would be driving morphs into stroller while an ominous voiceover warns viewers of the dangers of unplanned pregnancy. My favorite PSA is a tossup between the one featuring Bristol Palin and “The Situation” from Jersey Shore as they both try to say the word situation to reference penis, vagina, sex, pregnancy and the one featuring Jenny McCarthy interrupting a band of sexually active teens and thrusting a screaming baby in their face. The PSAs fall into the classic scare tactic genre; have sex and your life will invariably end.

One interesting thing I noticed is how much attention is directed toward women with regards to teen pregnancy. Little or no attention is directed toward the male partner’s role and responsibility. When Jenny McCarthy interrupted the teens with a baby, she handed the baby over to the young girl while the boy got out of Dodge and vacated the premises, enforcing negative stereotypes about absent fathers. The message is clear; though it takes two to tango clearly the woman is more responsible for “the situation”.

The Candie’s Foundation also only features white adolescents in their PSA videos. Even though the research shows that African American and Hispanic female teens are disproportionately impacted more by unplanned pregnancy than their white counterparts, the website does not feature any targeted campaigns aimed at those communities. Research has shown that messaging made for and directed at specific communities have a better success rate than messages that are vague and general.

Currently, the site is promoting their new buzz phrase “Pause Before You Play”; a campaign to encourage teens to think about consequences before engaging in sexual activity. While I agree that teens should take pause to consider the ramifications of sex before doing it, it seems as if the message lacks any substances to it. At no point does a discussion of condom usage and condom negotiation enter the equation or even a slight mention of sexual responsibility and healthy relationships. At no point does a conversation about birth control or emergency contraception occur in the PSAs. At no point does the Candie’s Foundation even elude to the fact that there are methods of protection teens can use to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Nor do their videos depict parents having difficult conversations about sex, birth control, or pregnancy with their children.  Instead, the Candie’s Foundation appears to rely on archaic ideology with regards to sex education. Scare tactics rarely if ever serve as a deterrent for behavior otherwise the dramatized pictures of cauliflower gonorrhea would have made everyone abstain from sex. With so much star power employed by this organization, I feel the Candie’s foundation is missing out on an important opportunity to engage adolescent youth and educate them.

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Hump Train – Episode 6: The Big Gay Episode

This week’s episode of Hump Train, aptly titled “The Big Gay Episode”, features University of Minnesota School of Public Health grad student, Emily Shor. In the Daily Hump segment, the trio discusses: Boystown’s exclusion of women, why couples fight in relationships, and changes to the California admission process. On the Low Down, they get into the CDC’s latest report about health disparities in the LGBTQ community. The show ends with The Quickie, featuring a brief discussion on Preferred Gender Pronouns.

Download or stream the episode by clicking HERE.

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Reno Improv Comedy show 3/8/12

Join Jessica Levity, Christopher Daniels, and the rest of The Utility Players THIS Thursday night for the best comedy show in Reno — 90 minutes of side-splitting laughter, guaranteed.

Next Show: 3/8/12, 7:30pm at Pioneer Underground, 100 S. Virginia St.
Tickets available at Pioneer Box Office or Online. Pre-sale price only $11.

The Utility Players Reno Improv Comedy

Make ya laugh 'til you cry.

The Utility Players. Make ya laugh til you cry.

Meet The Utility Players – voted “Best Comedy Troupe” in Reno [RN&R 2010] and named Reno’s Best Bet for Comedy [Reno Gazette Journal, Metromix, 2011]. We are also Reno’s silliest family, and we promise to keep you laughing all night. Our show features 90 minutes of hard-hitting improv comedy that will keep audiences entertained all night. See it once or see it a millions times, the humor is always fresh, and the improv is guaranteed to hit the spot.

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Episode 5: The Oscars, The Politics, and the Transvaginal Probe


Utah makes sex optional, Michael Moore goes on a fat (yes, we left out the ‘s’ on purpose), and Virginia boldly probes where no state has probed before. Also: Gary Oldman was robbed at the Oscars, and Chris opens Pandora’s box (or was it that Pandora opened Chris’ box?) FIND OUT ON THIS EPISODE OF HUMP TRAIN! 

This week on Hump Train, hosts Jessica Levity and Chris Daniels, along with special guest, comedian Ian Sorensen, explore this week’s relevant sexual health and pop culture topics. In their newest segment, The Daily Hump, the trio discusses: Utah’s new ban on sex ed, the Million Moms’ switch to focusing on Toys R’ Us for distributing Archie Comics with a gay wedding cover, and finally, Michael Moore’s move encouraging Michigan democrats to vote for Santorum.

On The Low Down segment, Chris relates the Transvaginal Probe controversy coming out of Virginia, requiring women who are seeking an abortion to see an unnecessary ultrasound prior to procedure.  The crew also responds to a listener’s email: “If I can’t afford sex toys, what are some at-home options I can use?”

Lastly, during The Quickie, sassy-gay reviewer, Oscar Ceezon (“Say-zon”), provides tips for delivering a stellar Oscar speech.


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Compassionate Care for LGBTQ Individuals: A Doctor’s Guide

I recently participated in a panel at the University of Nevada-Reno where I, along with a few lawyers and a Community Health Sciences Student, discussed the ways in medical professionals can be attentive and compassionate to the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer(LGBTQ) individuals. Research shows that marginalized populations experience elevated levels of stress, impacting their overall health. Similarly, fear of discrimination serves as a major deterrent for LGBTQ individuals to seek medical attention. However there are simple, easy, and effective ways in which doctors can improve the physical space of their office, alter their work policies to be more inclusive, and modify their forms and intake questions to create a safer space for LGBTQ individuals.

What does your office look like? Do you have pamphlets in the waiting area that directly address the needs of LGBTQ individuals (as well as other minority populations)? What sort of artwork or promotional posters do you have hanging on the wall? Are they all pictures of middle-aged, white, heterosexual couples? Diversify the appearance of your office or center to reflect the makeup of your clientele.

Does your office have a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity? Has your staff received any training around cultural competency? Has your staff ever received any training on discrimination and social justice? Many LGBTQ individuals rely on word-of-mouth from friends about friendly primary care physicians or research a doctor or practice online examining their policies in advance to see if any exist, before making a decision.

What language do your intake forms use? We are intuitively aware of the power that words yield in our society; this is certainly true with intake forms, which depending on phraseology used, can have far-reaching legal ramifications. As opposed to such heteronormative language as “single, married, divorce” perhaps change it to “current relationship status”. When it comes to children, instead of using mother/father, modify the language to read partner/partner. This is extremely important for same-sex parents who often have to deal with a multitude of legal issues around shared custody and equitable parenting rights.

Last but not least, expand the sexual binary of male/female and include transgender and intersex. This eliminates the awkwardness LGBTQ individuals sometimes face, having to explain their identity and/or relationship. Inclusive, gender-neutral language may seem a miniscule change but could be a significant impact on how your patient feels about the overall experience.

These are just some of the ways one can modify their office and staff to accommodate LGBTQ individuals and make the experience healthier for all. It is important to remember that these individuals coming into your office might be sick, severely depressed, and/or potentially scared and are looking to you for answers and solace. You are not treating an identity but rather a human being who embodies a multitude of identities and hats at any given point. Though we may have biases, it is important to not let these biases interfere with your ability to treat a patient. At the end of the day, we are all human.

A great resource for information regarding specific health issues facing the LGBTQ community make sure to check out the National Coalition for LGBT Health

Posted in Feminist stuff that's annoying but true, Gay Marriage, LGBTQ....LMNOPXYZ., Our Educated Opinion (not "advice"), Sex, Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment