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Comprehensive Sex Ed is Crucial

Not only is John Oliver hilarious, he makes it very clear just how crucial comprehensive sex education is. As he points out, the states that have abstinence-only sex education are the places where teen pregnancy are highest. Teenagers have questions, and they need to be addressed so they can make informed, responsible choices. And no; girls who have sex are NOT like used pieces of gum, contrary to what many sex ed classes are teaching. Girls are people too. (It’s astounding that women themselves are teaching the ‘used gum’ thing.) And unlike algebra and many other school topics, sex education is one of the few subjects you’ll need for the rest of your life. Teens need to be getting the facts straight from trusted adults so they can go out and be respectful, responsible people in the world.

Something is Missing

One night, I decided to sit down, relax and watch a little Apple TV. So I cruised the gazillion channel options and landed on the History Channel. These were the TV show options I faced:

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Photo credit: Screen shot of History Channel options, Julia View

The above options, (Mankind, The Men Who Built America, Mississippi Men, Monument Guys, Mountain Men, No Man’s Land, Noreaster Men) were only a smattering of my choices. Don’t worry, there was also, Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy, Rivermen, The Woodsmen, The Great Satini Brothers and Axmen, among similar others,  to choose from. Who can tell me what’s missing from these TV show choices? Yes, you  in the back. Women. Yes, women are missing.

Out of the entire 84 TV show choices available to choose from, only one seemed to have anything to do with a woman: Bonnie & Clyde. That’s it. The rest were staggeringly lacking in a key ingredient to humankind: Women. Oh, and there was one small History Special about the sex lives of “our nation’s leaders” and how said sex lives changed America. So there were probably some sexual female bodies in that show, draped across men who did stuff. Great.

I’ve watched many other TV shows from the History Channel, ( including the entire series called Mankind: The Story of All of Us) and this trend of the near-nonexistence of women appears to be nothing new. Mankind: The Story of All of Us is intended to be a show about all of humankind. But, in the entire series, it is rare to see a female face or even hear the mention of a female figure in history.

According to the History Channel, women have done nothing of value to contribute to society and we have nothing to see. This is the message they are sending to the general public, whether it was their intention or not. I guess, after all, it is called his-story…

Let’s get some herstory up in here. Better yet, some heristory.

The Talented Rapper, Ana Tijoux

Speaking of hip-hop that raises women up, I give you, Ana Tijoux.

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Her music holds a place in my heart for several reasons. Her lyrics, her subjects, her beats and her unique voice. But also, I’m enamored with how I first came to know about her music. In 2010, I was living and studying in Chile and I was talking to a friend of mine about how it’s a bummer there is a shortage of women rappers out there. And he said,

“Oh you haven’t heard of Ana Tijoux yet have you?”

He also introduced me to her earlier stuff when she was a part of the great hip-hop crew, Makiza. But my favorite song of hers remains this one:

(You might even recognize this song from an episode of Breaking Bad where the track gained a lot of fame.)

Another reason I especially love her music is because of this engaging experience. When I taught in Rwanda, I introduced the students to Ana Tijoux’s song “1977” and they loved it. The French speakers especially caught onto the Spanish and it ignited a further interest in the language and an interest in women as rappers. When exams came around, I posted this picture of Ana Tijoux that says: ‘Ana Tijoux says, ‘Buena Suerte con el resto de sus exámenes!‘” Which means, “Good luck with the rest of your exams!

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And the students posted this paper next to it as though it were Facebook. Haha, so sweet.

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One of Tijoux’s latest songs, titled “Antipatriarca” has especially empowering lyrics:

“…Tu no me vas denigrar, tu no me vas obligar” (You’re not going to denigrate me, you’re not going to force me)

Tu no me vas a silenciar tu no me vas a callar (You’re not going to silence me, you’re not going to shut me up)

No sumisa ni obediente ( I’m neither submissive or obedient)
Mujer fuerte insurgente (insurgent, strong woman)
Independiente y valiente (independent and valiant)
Romper las cadenas de lo indiferente (break the chains of indifference)
No pasiva ni oprimida (Neither passive nor oppressed)
Mujer linda que das vida (beautiful woman who gives life)
Emancipada en autonomía (emancipated and independent)

And this song is just plain badass: