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arvan's picture

Male cleansers for hire - The dangerous practice of 'widow cleansing' is starting to come out into the open

From Angela Robson at  The New Internationalist:

Healthy conversation: a group of men discuss the taboo of widow  cleansing and (left)former cleanser Esban Ochanga.

Healthy conversation: a group of men discuss the taboo of widow cleansing and (left)former cleanser Esban Ochanga. Photo: Frederic Courbet

 

The men sitting in the shade of a large thorn tree on the outskirts of Kano-Angola village, 10 miles inland from the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya’s Nyanza province, are in buoyant spirits today. There is bravado, there are lewd jokes, but there are also long periods of silence.

One man in particular commands attention. As soon as he begins to talk, the rest of the group listen deferentially. Esban Ochanga is tall and slender with a far-away look in his eyes. He has called the men together to talk about the practice of widow cleansing, whereby Luo women, after the death of their spouse, are pressurized into having unprotected sex; ostensibly to allow their husband’s spirit to roam free in the afterlife. It is a tradition rarely spoken about in public. ‘I knew my brother had died and they told me it was AIDS, but I thought a Luo could not die because of that virus,’ says Ochanga. ‘So I cleansed his widow and I contracted HIV. That is what killed my first wife.’

arvan's picture

Forbidden fruit: Why shouldn't disabled people have sex or become parents?

From The New Internationalist (issue 233)

Illustration by NANCY WILLIS


Anne Finger examines one of the deepest and most damaging prejudices.

Before she became a paraplegic, Los Angeles resident DeVonna Cervantes liked to dye her pubic hair 'fun colours' - turquoise, purple, jet black. After DeVonna became disabled, a beautician friend of hers came to the rehabilitation unit and, as a Christmas present, dyed DeVonna's pubic hair a hot pink.

But there's no such thing as 'private parts' in a rehab hospital. Soon the staff, who'd seen her dye job when they were catheterizing her, sent the staff psychiatrist around to see her. Cervantes says that he told her: 'I know it is very hard to accept that you have lost your sexuality but you don't need to draw attention to it this way.' Cervantes spent the remainder of the 50-minute session arguing with him, and, in perhaps the only true medical miracle I've ever heard of, convinced him that he was wrong - that this was normal behaviour for her.

arvan's picture

Pro Choice and Disabled - A Contradiction?

This fine reflection was originally posted at Disability Cool:

I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember. Even as a young girl at the age of ten, I did not believe in the stereotypes that other young girls did. In college, I told a guy off for calling me a "chick". "I am not a chick or a girl - I am a woman", I told him strongly. I had not even met another feminist at the point in my life, but feminism seemed to come naturally to me.

I have been disabled for as long as I can remember. My disability is genetic. It started to show itself when I was five years old and got progressively worse as I grew older. I was correctly diagnosed when I was 39 years old, so you can imagine what kind of medical procedures I had been put through all of my life.

Choice versus eugenics

So how do these two worlds connect and help to make sense of the title of this article. In my work with the women's community, I am well known for my pro-choice stance. I have gone to pro-choice rallies, spoke at a pro-choice forum about my own experience of having an abortion and even been on a CBC morning news show (a national TV network). I believe in a woman's right to choose if she wants to have an abortion or does not want to have an abortion. It does go both ways. And don't kid yourself, lot of women with disabilities have abortions just like lots of non-disabled women have abortions. Abortions should be covered by the medical health program wherever the woman lives and must be safe and legal. I believe in nothing less than this.

arvan's picture

Will designer brains divide humanity?

From: Humanity+, comes this conversation considering the impact that body and brain improvement will have on class division.

New Scientist reports on “a recent Neuroscience in Context meeting in Berlin, Germany, where anthropologists, technologists, neurologists, archaeologists and philosophers met to consider the implications of this next stage of human brain development.”

It won’t be long before “clip-on” computer aids become available for everybody, says Andy Clark, a pro-enhancement philosopher at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. These could be anything from memory aids to the ability to “search” for information stored in your brain. “We’ll get a flowering of brain augmentations, some seeping through from the disabled community…

arvan's picture

Tennis Player Sarah Gronert Enveloped By Gender Controversy

Sarah Gronert, a 22-year-old pro from Germany, finds herself under scrutiny from her opponents and their coaches, who believe that a unique gender issue from birth should make her ineligible for the woman's tour.

Three years ago, those issues almost caused Gronert, ranked No. 619 in the world, to abandon her career. Though she has since returned to competitive tennis, the dialogue that continues to surround her relates not to her ability, but to her biology.

Gronert was born with male and female genitalia. After undergoing surgery, she's now medically certified as a woman. That's not good enough for some, though.

"There is no girl who can hit serves like that, not even Venus Williams," said Schlomo Tzoref, the coach of Julia Glushko, who Gronert recently beat on her way to winning the Raanana tournament in Israel in early March. "When I heard her story, I was in shock. I don't know if it's fair that she can compete or not. She does have an advantage, but if this is what the WTA have decided, they probably know best. If she begins to play continuously, within six months she will be within the Top 50."
the gay love coach's picture

Gay, Single, & Loving It!

Introduction

We live in a society that places high value and expectation on being in a coupled relationship and singles are often stigmatized for their single-status. Gay men, in particular, are often labeled as being unable to develop and maintain long-lasting intimate relationships, adding yet another layer to this stigma. This can lead to feelings of low self-worth and inferiority, a sense that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t have a boyfriend, an excessive focus and preoccupation with your discontent with being single, and sometimes a compulsive drive to find a relationship just to satisfy that nagging need (which can be a dangerous and sabotaging maneuver if one’s dating practices are conducted out of desperation rather than conscious intention).

For those who have not chosen singlehood as a lifestyle and do long to be in a relationship, this can be a painfully difficult experience. Special occasions, holidays, weddings, times of loneliness, and just witnessing other couples can be very triggering events for singles that serve to magnify their restlessness and unfulfillment with being solo. What these types of single gay men need most is a reassurance and recognition that this phase of life can be one of the most enjoyable and transformational times of their lives if they choose it to be. This article will validate the positive values of being single and will offer some suggestions for making the most of your single life.

arvan's picture

SexGenderBody: Home-field Advantage

I recently cross-posted over at my favorite political blog, The Motley Moose.  In the comments, a discussion developed with one or two people lamenting their perception that the topics of sex, gender, body were being 'walled away' here in a separate space, distinct from 'mainstream' conversations.  The concern was that by 'segregating' or distinguishing SGB as separate conversations, a separate space, a separate people, then stereotypes would be strengthened and both the sgb communities and the non-sgb communities would suffer a loss of relatedness.  The commenters did not see any difference between personal identity politics and larger, group identity politics - both are part of the same human experience.

I agree with their concerns completely.  It is their assessment of this site that I wish to clarify.

sexgenderbody.com is not a walled community for people to either isolate within or be in any way segregated.  That model is a traditional example of how a community is formed and supported in creating an identity.  This site aims to promote the community of our shared humanity.  Everyone on this planet has a self-definition of their own sex, gender, body.  There is no sub-set, no partition, no 'minority' culture.  We are all human and we all are individual & unique.

book of blue's picture

A sort of homecoming

Essex ferry across Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont, May 2009. Photo by Eric Francis.

I began the life I am living in 1983, when I left a summer job that August at age 19. I got in my car in Silver Bay, NY on Lake George, ready for the long drive to Buffalo. Without knowing quite how, I had resolved to take over student politics and publishing. This was perhaps a bit ambitious given that it’s the largest public university in New York State, but I felt a calling. That was at the beginning of my junior year, a very good year when I lived in Goodyear Hall.

My girlfriend that summer was Mary Liz Austin, who was also an ‘emp’ at Silver Bay Association, an old Christian conference center. As I got in my car to drive off, she said, “I hope you find God soon.”

lovemagician's picture

Better Latent Than Never

(Image courtesy of The Silhouette)

The Heart of Polyamory

By Millie Jackson


I am sure that there are more polyamorists than we can ever know.  Considering the risk of persecution for openly living this love-style of consensual multi-partner relating, most poly people are not lining up to be counted.  Consequently, polyamorists have been called the last sexual minority still in the closet, but how in the minority are we really?

Aside from innumerable closeted polyamorists, there is a good possibility that some people who are unfaithful within monogamous relationships are naturally polyamorous and are struggling with the commitment issues and sexual boundaries of monogamy.  How about serial monogamists who inevitably become interested in someone else and end the established relationship to pursue a new one?  What about some bisexuals who go back and forth between male and female lovers as they try to balance an attraction to men and women while maintaining a monogamous existence?

Clarisse Thorn's picture

One split in the BDSM subculture: the desire for transgression vs. the dislike of stigma

(Image courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society)

I'm behind on everything, and every time I manage to take a day where I swear I'll catch up, I get sidetracked by some other huge thing. But this Thursday I'll be presenting at a conference hosted by Chicago's very own LGBT community center, Center on Halsted: "The 2009 Alternative Sexualities Conference: Cultural Competence and Clinical Issues". I, and some other people in the community, will be speaking about the role of communities in the BDSM experience. I can't possibly get sidetracked from that, and I'm pretty excited about it!

Now I've said before, and I say as often as I can, that BDSM communities are filled with many different voices -- plus, there are many BDSM communities out there, not just one. I hope no one ever takes me as "speaking for BDSM" or accurately describing every possible BDSM community out there. But there are some elements common in the BDSM subculture, and some very general splits that I often find myself noticing within it. (I do welcome other voices, ideas, additions, or disagreements with what I'm about to say! Feel free to leave comments! Especially disagreements -- I relish getting different perspectives on the BDSM scene and questioning my own assumptions. Absolutely relish it. Delicious.)

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