1. ruthdesouza:

    FUCK POSITIVE WOMEN poster, made by Allyson Mitchell and Jessica Whitbread of the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW).

    Allyson Mitchell:

    “When Jessica and I first met to think about this project, we considered the kinds of representations of positive women that were are very familiar, with HIV-positive women as mothers, as victims, as not from or living here in this place.

    We talked about the sentiment of sex negativity that is put upon positive women and decided that we wanted something different. We wanted our poster to ask:

    Why aren’t women allowed to be subjects of their sexuality rather than objects?
    Why aren’t HIV-positive women allowed to talk about sex as freely as gay men?
    Why can’t we express an urgent, horny, powerful, and open message about positive women and sexuality?

    When I look around and see the narrow options of chastity, Pussycat Dollery or Toddlers in Tiaras kinds of sexuality for women and girls, it seems like we have nothing to lose. We might as well try for some new kinds of iconography.

    So the message of FUCK POSITIVE WOMEN is a directive – a confident and supportive message meant to relocate positive sexual energy around the bodies of HIV-positive women. When I say women, I am of course including trans and gender queer women: ALL self-identified women.

    FUCK POSITIVE WOMEN can also be read as a declarative for its double meaning about how HIV-positive women are fucked when it comes to awareness, visibility, options, policy, and support on the large part. Making this kind of a rude point hopefully contributes to some of the ways that HIV-positive women can get un-fucked by healthcare, government policies, and awareness campaigns.

    This messaging is part of a community. HIV-positive women were involved with the messaging for this poster. The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) – an international network of positive women – was presented this slogan and they said, “yes, do it; we give you our permission.”

    Jessica and I also worked together on thinking through the design of the poster. It was intentional to make the poster an image of a cross stitch – firmly planting the aesthetic within domestic, feminized, working class, grammy craft. John Greyson encouraged us to reveal the process of the craft so that you see the unfinished plastic canvas and the yarn… maintaining the implications of needles and penetration.

    In a conversation I had with Jessica around the nervousness expressed by some about the message of our poster and the concern that people may think it was made by haters she said: “If neo-nazis start making their hate literature using plastic cross stitch, then the world may have half a chance to be a better place.”

    So FUCK POSITIVE WOMEN. As the International Community of Women living with HIV say, “This is the kind of messaging we wanted to have. Messaging that makes a debate, makes a conversation, elicits a response that isn’t apathetic or complacent.”

    Watch the video of Allyson Mitchell’s presentation here.”

     
  2. One of the best (and most honest and humble) responses to STI-ism that I’ve seen in a long time.

     
  3. Keith Haring

    Keith Haring

     
  4. culturequeer:

    Click the link or photo above for interactive media

     
  5. callmebrandy:

    If you click the link, you’ll be brought to some responses to my post discussing the stigma associated with STIs. Now, I’m really not one to get into awkward “tumblr arguments” if you will, so I’m not about to reblog and respond, etc. However, I would like to clarify a few things:

    1. I’ll admit that it’s not the most well written or most articulate post that has ever existed.

    2. I realize that I wasn’t super specific and should have said something like “many STIs are similar to a cold or flu (or other treatable and/or curable illnesses)” instead of over-generalizing.

    3. I stand by my statement that expressing how “unwanted” STIs are is hurtful and unkind and definitely shames folks who do have STIs. I’m not saying we should all run around shouting about how much we’d like to get an STI because obviously that’s just silly, but I am saying we should be conscious of the language we are using when discussing things that have the potential to be triggering. Hell, we should always be conscious of our language, regardless of what we’re discussing.

    4. The stigma associated with STIs doesn’t just need to be addressed for “public health”, but also for one’s own personal health, emotional health, mental health, etc., etc. It needs to be addressed and challenged because people continue to be shamed and guilted, and that is not okay and needs to stop.

    5. Of course STIs are not necessarily an inevitable part of having sex. Some people go their whole lives without getting an STI. True statement, folks.

    6. I wouldn’t necessarily say that my post is a bad post, but I do agree that critical responses are lovely and necessary (although I have really yet to see a particularly well thought out critical response).

    7. Oh, and near the bottom someone tries to point out that some STIs are not treatable. I am fairly positive that this is not true. There are some STIs that are incurable, but I don’t think (and hey, maybe I’m incorrect) that there are any STIs that are untreatable.

    8. Finally, I still don’t think that if someone has an STI that that should be the deciding factor for having or not having sex with them. I also think boundaries are incredibly important and need to be respected and I’m simply stating that if the existence of an STI is what causes you to not have sex with someone, then perhaps you should educate yourself on safer sex practices and STIs because I think it’s kind of a dick move to be all like “Oh I think you’re so great and lovely and sexy… oh, shit, you have an STI? Gross, I’m not going to have sex with you now”, because believe me, that type of ignorant shit happens and I don’t think it should.

    I feel tired and frustrated and wish people would put a little more critical thought into life.

    [EDIT]!: I ABSOLUTELY DO think that medical issues (of any kind) should be taken seriously. It is not my intention to downplay or trivialize individuals’ experiences with STIs, but rather to articulate my thoughts, which are that people tend to be really, really negative about STIs and people with STIs because this is what society and our current form of sex education teaches us to do.

    [Trigger Warning: Clicking through the link will lead you to people being super negative and hurtful and saying really shitty things about how STIs are “repulsive”]

     
  6. callmebrandy:

    This is a submission I received from a good friend of mine regarding the blogging I’ve done about STIs and the stigma associated with them, as well as the responses I’ve received. I really appreciate this person’s willingness to share and hope that my readers enjoy it as well.

    "Hi Brandy. Reading your blog recently, I noticed you got a not-so–positive response to your post regarding STIs. I realize the response was probably written by an intelligent, feminist individual (who else would read your blog?), so I will give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume they have good intentions.

    I will ignore their claims that we don’t live in a sex-negative society (ha!), and address only their main point, which is “ if you make responsible choices with your body (ie: using protection, talking to partners about their history before sex, frequent tests for STIs) you won’t have to deal with this stigma in the first place.”

    Well, for someone who agrees we shouldn’t shame a person with an STI, that point sure contained a whole lot of shame. In fact, if you read between the lines, the point is “if you didn’t have an STI, you wouldn’t have to be so ashamed!” That is an extremely unprogressive viewpoint. It’s days like this I want to throw up my hands, sigh, and give up. Instead, let me tell you a family secret:

    My mother has had genital herpes since 1982. That’s 6 years before she met my father, and 8 years before I was born.  She’s been living with herpes for 29 years, but I doubt that the physical sores and flair ups have caused her even a fraction of the pain that the social stigma has.  I doubt it was the herpes sores that made her keep her two children in the dark about it until two months ago, when we were 20 and 18 years old.

    So, tell me my mother deserves to be ashamed, I dare you. Tell me why she deserves to be embarrassed, not meeting the pharmacist’s eye at the counter while she picks up her Valtrex prescription. Yes, it’s true that if she’d been more careful she wouldn’t have gotten an STI. But making a single mistake at the age of 19 shouldn’t mean you suffer a lifetime of stigma. Herpes medications have made progress in the last 29 years, and she told me her outbreaks are rare now. It’s just too bad sexual education hasn’t come as far as that.”

     
  7. callmebrandy:

    post of mine discussing the stigma associated with STIs has quite recently received a lot of attention, thanks to tangledupinlace. Most of the attention has been positive, with folks really digging and supporting the message. Of course, however, there are going to be a few people who disagree and I just wanted to open up some dialogue about one response in particular:

    “I can’t really agree with this. Obviously, joking about any illness/disability is NOT okay, and I am not here to say otherwise. I just want to address my concern on the writer’s attitude of STIs not being a big deal.

    It’s true that sex-education is not nearly what it needs to be (in terms of sex for pleasure, and a realistic approach to premarital sex), an STI is not the worst outcome of sex (that varies depending on your priorities, really) and no, we shouldn’t shame people for making a mistake and getting an STI, but that’s exactly it: an STI is a mistake. Infection is right there in the name. It is something unwanted. The writer of this article repeatedly likens STIs to common colds and non-sex related diseases, but HIV and herpes are permanent, not cleared up by a little Robitussin. And in what the author sex negative society, you would think we wouldn’t have such ready access to condoms and dental dams. -_- My point is, if you make responsible choices with your body (ie: using protection, talking to partners about their history before sex, frequent tests for STIs) you won’t have to deal with this stigma in the first place.”

    I could say so many things about this response, but I’m exhausted and don’t know if I have the fiery articulation in me right now. What I will say though is that the fact that some privileged folks in this world have ready access to different forms of contraception does not mean that we aren’t still living in a sex negative society. Furthermore, my point was, and still is that even when we do make “responsible” choices (which holds a different meaning for every individual), we still may have to face the stigma associated with STIs because shit happens. Also, I firmly believe that it is mindsets like the one laced through the response above that really perpetuate the notion that STIs are ‘bad’. People living with STIs wouldn’t have to deal with the stigma if we lived in a more sex positive society. As long as you are blaming individuals with STIs for being so ‘careless’ and ‘irresponsible’, your feeding into the fucked up notion that STIs are horrible, dirty things that inevitably taint a person.

    My deepest and most sincere apologies for legitimately failing at responding to the above response in a more eloquent and articulate way, maybe you all could give me a hand?

     
  8. 15:42 11th Apr 2011

    Notes: 433

    Reblogged from thefistofartemis

    After all, if sex-negativity is the idea that sex is bad (generally, unless it’s redeemed by heterosexual, monogamous relationships/marriage, usually with the possibility/intention of having children), then a lot of people jump to the conclusion that sex-positivity is the idea that sex is good. But sex is neither good or bad - it’s all in how each person experiences any particular sexual practice or event. The meaning of sex resides in the individuals, rather than in the act itself.
    — 

    Sex-Positivity and Asexuality: Bringing Them Together | Charlie Glickman (via sexisnottheenemy)

    Something to keep in mind while we talk about sex positivity in relation to ending the stigmatization of STIs/folks affected by STIs.

     
  9. image: Download

    At the end of July we went to Toronto for the Canadian Universities Queer Services Conference. Toronto was lovely and the conference was problematic as hell, but still enjoyable.
On our way to one of the workshops, we spotted this giant billboard/sign that advertises the website that we provided the link to in our previous post. Brandy awkwardly pointed at the sign for the photo because they’re awkward, and Shantelle just did her thing and looks great (le sigh).
The sign reads: “HIVstigma.com - If you were rejected everytime you disclosed, would you?”; powerful words. It’s something that we really need to think about and just another reason why it’s so important to challenge STI-ism. In order to move towards a sex-positive society, we need to be working towards creating honest, open, and compassionate dialogue around sex. We need to really work on the sex education that is available to children, youth, young adults, and adults from Kindergarten to university, really. Without constant discussion about safer sex, we will continue to live in a sex-negative society where people who are affected by STIs will continue to face discrimination, hatred, and shame.
Together, we can put an end to the stigmatization of folks living with STIs! Let’s start now.

    At the end of July we went to Toronto for the Canadian Universities Queer Services Conference. Toronto was lovely and the conference was problematic as hell, but still enjoyable.

    On our way to one of the workshops, we spotted this giant billboard/sign that advertises the website that we provided the link to in our previous post. Brandy awkwardly pointed at the sign for the photo because they’re awkward, and Shantelle just did her thing and looks great (le sigh).

    The sign reads: “HIVstigma.com - If you were rejected everytime you disclosed, would you?”; powerful words. It’s something that we really need to think about and just another reason why it’s so important to challenge STI-ism. In order to move towards a sex-positive society, we need to be working towards creating honest, open, and compassionate dialogue around sex. We need to really work on the sex education that is available to children, youth, young adults, and adults from Kindergarten to university, really. Without constant discussion about safer sex, we will continue to live in a sex-negative society where people who are affected by STIs will continue to face discrimination, hatred, and shame.

    Together, we can put an end to the stigmatization of folks living with STIs! Let’s start now.

     
  10. While this site mainly focuses on HIV stigma and it’s affect on gay/queer men, we would argue that it is a very educational and useful resource for folks looking for ways to combat the stigma associated with HIV, regardless of the sexuality of the individuals experiencing “HIV-related shame, fear, prejudice, discrimination and guilt.”

    The site creators offer up information on what HIV stigma is and looks like to them, how they feel stigma can be stopped, information pertaining to law and disclosure, community support, and much more.

    Brandy argues that the site could certainly use a little expanding and work, but we both agree that it’s a really lovely place to start.

    Mad respect,

    Brandy and Shantelle