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Category Archives: Interview

 AnnaLynne McCord Talks I Choose Campaign, Giving Women a Voice 

Reported by MTV Act.

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This world needs more female directors, so keep your eyes on AnnaLynne McCord. The actress and philanthropist just directed her first movie, a short film called “I Choose,” which contrasts consent and assault, autonomy and slavery.

The film can lead you to getting involved with her new I Choose campaign, which fights human trafficking around the world. (She refers to trafficking survivors she knows in Cambodia as her “girls” and her “heroes.”) AnnaLynne also recently wrote a tell-all for Cosmopolitan where she discussed childhood physical abuse and a sexual assault that happened to her when she was a teenager. The piece was about reclaiming your voice as well as rising above and stopping abuse. AnnaLynne talked about this and more to MTV Act, discussing topics like slut-shaming (women feeling bad for their sexual sides) and the ultimate importance of having control over your body: physically, mentally and emotionally.

ACT: You’ve been passionate about the cause of human trafficking for years and now you’ve created the I Choose Project. Can you tell us more about it and how to get involved to help fight trafficking?

ANNALYNNE: The “I Choose” film premiered online to launch the campaign. I’ve fought human trafficking for over six years now, specifically with my beautiful heroes in Cambodia. I felt like I could do more as a voice and as an activist in Hollywood. I’d been mulling over this, trying to figure out how I could lend a bigger voice, how something could come really personally from me that sheds light on who I am as an advocate as well as what I’m advocating for.

I did my tell-all with Cosmo, talking about my whole life. Something I’d always feared was that if anyone involved in anti-sex trafficking activism knew I liked sex, even though I’d suffered sexual assault in my life, they’d throw me from grace. I would no longer be able to speak on behalf of sex trafficking survivors. My girls educated me against this. They’d survived, they got through it. They could make sexy jokes. That freed me, to see these girls weren’t damaged, that they could think about having a love life with a man they fell in love with. They weren’t tainted because some other man took something from them.

With the article released, I felt like, “Okay, now I can be who I am.” Then this thought came to me of showing the parallel between a woman who chooses [to have sex] and one who doesn’t, because I’ve been both. I wanted to show that I understand these two women, the one’s love and happiness in the act, and the other’s agony and shame with what’s been done to her.

+ Watch I Choose

If people want to get involved, I’m building a house for the girls in Cambodia called the Lotus House. I created a page where I have organizations around the world that I endorse that I think are doing a wonderful job fighting trafficking. Cambodia might not resonate with everyone, and I understand that. To me, it does. If it doesn’t resonate for you but Atlanta, Georgia does, then let me show you an organization in Atlanta.

ACT: You’re also the writer, director, producer and actress for the film “I Choose.” What did you set out to show with this film and what do you want people to take away from it?

ANNALYNNE: I want them to take several things away from it. My heart is in the fight to end slavery across the board, but there’s also the message of slavery we’re all touched by. That’s the slavery of our minds. The slavery of cultural and societal belief systems. We can step back and say, “No, no, no. I choose. I choose every detail and decision in my life.” It requires breaking down the biases from other people and coming to an awareness of a voice in our minds.

Are we in fact free? That’s the metaphor challenge on this film. I think there should be more of a conversation about sex so it’s not so taboo. I feel like the more we push something down, the more it can manifest itself in different ways. What is suppressed will be expressed. There’s also sexual liberalism and female empowerment in the film. I wanted to put some rough stuff into the film — without being too PG-13 — to say that as long as you choose, it’s okay, provided that you’re safe.

ACT: What’s it like being a director? Do you think you might make more pro-social films like this?

ANNALYNNE: Directing was the most fun I’ve ever had on set. The experience was really beautiful because I think the real reason I wanted to be an actress is because I love stories. I noticed my own frustration as an actress from my lack of control as to where the story was going. I would love to direct more, absolutely.

ACT: We at MTV are very proud of you for your piece in Cosmopolitan, where you talk about child abuse, sexual assault and giving women a voice. In the piece you also say that everything you’ve been through has led you to your own revolution. What is your revolution, and what words of advice about getting help do you have for people who’ve suffered physical and/or sexual abuse?

ANNALYNNE: Thank you, MTV! You guys are awesome. I would say my revolution was coming back to myself. I came into this world, guns blazing. As a child I would get myself into trouble because I couldn’t shut my mouth; I had an opinion about everything. By age nine I was telling my mom I was never getting married because there was no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks (because we couldn’t say “hell”) I was ever going to have to listen to a man. I had the wiring of a young feminist. And through the years of abuse, that little voice diminished and it became a very quiet whisper I barely heard anymore. My revolution is that that voice is back, full-fledged. And I’m not using it simply for my own interests. I am looking out for me, which is part of that revolution, but I’m also speaking out for anyone suffering abuse who hasn’t found that voice again or doesn’t have that voice.

Just before I got on the phone with you, I was finishing up an email to a young woman who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of two family members while growing up. None of her family believed her when she told them what happened. It’s hard enough to even say what happened to me, let alone to not be validated. I was telling her about separating the beliefs systems. There’s an amazing three-step process from one of my favorite authors, don Miguel Ruiz, where he says something very crucial to the healing of your mind. I became my worst abuser because I perpetuated it into my adulthood. He says step one is: do not believe me. Step two: do not believe you. Step three: do not believe anybody else. And you’re like, “What are you supposed to believe?” What he’s saying is that the truth will always survive your skepticism. A lie needs me to believe it for it to be true. The lie I believed was that I was not good enough. Because I believed in that lie, it became truth for me. Reading that flipped my whole world upside down.

ACT: In your Cosmo piece you also say, “Most of all, I have my message for women and girls: You have a voice.” Lately we’ve been seeing more push for women’s rights with things like the #YesAllWomen campaign. How do you think we can keep this momentum going and see real change and equality?

ANNALYNNE: I’m going on a college tour this fall to talk to our little world changers, to have this conversation face-to-face. If you want me to come speak, your school can contact my rep Amber Bobin of the ESA Speakers Agency. I want to reach as many young people as possible. These are the young people on our planet who will keep this going. They’re the ones on social media, they’re the ones connecting around the world. Investing in young people will really keep the snowball effect going here. Then we get on-board with them and it’s just a circle effect.

[Editor's Note: If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, please contact RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE. With sexual stuff, everyone involved must consent 100% to what's going on. If you or someone you know is a minor being abused, please call 1-800-394-3366 for Child Welfare. If things are bad, please contact the police.]

Photo: (I Choose)

 Common STD Myths Busted, Once + For All. 

Reported by MTV Act.

safesexcondom
April is STD Awareness Month, which got us thinking about how many myths and misunderstandings there are about STDS. Like, how can and can’t you contract an STD? Or, how often should a person get tested?

Thankfully, Meredith Mishel from the medical nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation was here to answer our Q’s. She breaks down myths from reality so we can all be more empowered with knowledge on this super important topic.

ACT: Can you clear up for us how STDs can and can’t be spread?

MEREDITH: Almost all STDs that can be passed on through unprotected vaginal sex can also be passed on through unprotected oral and anal sex. This includes genital herpes, genital warts (caused by HPV), gonorrhea, hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV. The possibility of contracting an STD from oral sex is generally less risky as compared to vaginal and anal sex, although any unprotected sex with someone who has HIV or an STD carries some risk.

Unprotected anal sex is riskier than oral or vaginal sex. Male latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly–meaning EVERY time, and from start to finish–are highly effective in preventing the spread of HIV. They also reduce the risk of many other STDs. Condoms are also the only method that protects sexually active people from both STDs and pregnancy.

ACT: What are some myths you’ve heard about contracting STDs?

MEREDITH: The most common myth about STDs is that you would know if you had one – that you could see it or just tell by looking or that you would have symptoms.

The truth is that the only way to know if you or anyone else has an STD is to get tested. You can’t always tell by the way someone “looks.” Even more to the point: STDs, including HIV, often have NO symptoms. Zero. That’s right. So, many people who are infected don’t even know it! Want to know for sure? Then Get Yourself—and Your Partner—Tested (GYT). Knowledge is power! Know yourself. Know your status.

Another common myth is that only “some kinds of people” get STDs. It could never happen to ME.

In reality, STDs are VERY common. 1 in 2 young people having sex will get an STD by age 25, and most won’t know it. And it only takes one sexual experience to get one. STDs don’t discriminate. And they don’t define who you are.

Other common STD-related myths include: it will hurt; everyone will know; if I use birth control, I don’t need to worry about STDs; STD testing is for cheaters/players; if he pulls out, I won’t get an STD;if I get an STD, there is nothing I can do about it; if I needed to get tested, my doctor would test me; sex in a hot tub will prevent getting an STD; oral sex and anal sex are safe sex.

A great feature to refer out to here is our 10 most outrageous sex myths.

ACT: Here’s something that sometimes causes confusion: What’s the difference between an STD and an STI?

MEREDITH: STDs and STIs are the same thing – the only difference is the term. The D is for DISEASE and the I is for INFECTION. Some public health experts and organizations use disease and some use infection but they are the same thing – absolutely no difference.

ACT: How often and under what circumstances do doctors recommend a person get tested for STDs?

MEREDITH: If you are sexually active, it’s important to get tested for STDs once a year and/or every time you start a new relationship.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all people 13-64 should be tested at least once a year for HIV.

It’s important to remember that STDs are not like allergies; you can’t do a massive test for all the major ones out there. STD tests are specific to each infection. You and your health care provider will decide which STDs you should be tested for.

But most importantly, you need to speak up and ask to get tested. You can’t assume that you have been tested for STDs if you have had blood taken, given a urine sample, or (for women) had a pelvic exam or pap test. If you want to know, ASK to be tested.

Be honest and open with your health care provider about your sexual history. They are there to help you, not to judge you. The doc will help you make important decisions about test(s) you may need. Certain STDs are so common that your health care provider may suggest that you get tested regularly for them.

ACT: If a person wants to get tested, what is a great first step to take?

MEREDITH: Okay, so you’ve decided to get tested. Now what? The type of test—or tests—you need can vary depending on your age, sex, sexual history, and which STD you’re getting tested for. Remember, there is no single test that can screen for all STDs. To find a testing center near you check out GYTNOW.org.

Photo: (Getty)

 Wait, So What’s Going on With Birth Control & the Affordable Care Act? 

Reported by MTV Act.

birthcontrolimage
Birth control isn’t just about sex — access to it also helps women’s health overall and drastically improves the economy.

The Affordable Care Act is working to make birth control available to all women, but some companies are fighting this and it’s being taken to the Supreme Court. To better understand what’s going on with birth control, the ACA and SCOTUS, the Center for Reproductive Rights is doing a Twitter chat Monday at 2PM EST to answer your Q’s. Just make sure you use the hashtag #ReproChat to get involved.

Earlier this week I spoke with Julianna Gonen, theDirector of Government Relations, at the Center for Reproductive Rights, about how to get birth control under the ACA, how to end the stigma against it, and how access to birth control would actually save us billions of dollars.

ACT: Before the chat happens, can you give us the basics on what’s going on with birth control and the ACA? Can you clear up some common confusions and misinformation?

JULIANNA: Absolutely. The Affordable Care Act—which was signed into law by President Obama more than three years ago and later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court—did a whole host of things to improve the standard of health care in the U.S. Among those historic advances was a huge expansion of copay-free preventive health care services for women, including things like contraception, cancer screenings, HIV and STI testing, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, and prenatal and post-partum care and counseling.

But since the preventive services benefit under the ACA went into effect, more than 40 private, for-profit companies have filed lawsuits to try to deny their female employees access to those birth control benefits in their employee health plans, claiming that it somehow violates the company’s religious beliefs.

On March 25, U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments from two of those companies: Hobby Lobby, a national arts and crafts chain, and Conestoga Wood, a cabinet company based in Pennsylvania.

But for-profit companies are no more entitled to deny women insurance coverage for birth control than they are entitled to dictate how employees can spend their paychecks or what they can do on their days off.

Contraception is not your boss’s business—it’s your business. No employer should be able to impose their own personal religious beliefs on your health care decisions.

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ACT: How will the ACA help you in getting birth control?

JULIANNA: Nearly all women have used some form of birth control in their lives. In fact, 99% of all sexually active women in the U.S. use birth control at some point during their reproductive years.

So by having access to co-pay free contraception in their health plans, millions of women will be able to afford the birth control that is right for them. Women won’t have to choose between paying for contraception and other living expenses like rent, groceries, or child care.

To find out about your own benefits and coverage for contraception in your health insurance plan, call the member services number on the back of your health insurance card. If you don’t have health insurance, be sure get over to www.healthcare.gov before March 31st to see how you can get covered!

ACT: How can people stand up for their right to use birth control, especially with all the recent attacks against women’s reproductive rights?

JULIANNA: If you agree that contraception is your business and not your boss’s, you can stand with us in Washington on March 25 outside the U.S. Supreme Court! And if you can’t make it, you can add your name to a list of supporters that will be featured on a banner we will fly at the rally.

It’s incredibly important to tell your elected officials—from your governor and representatives at the state capital to your senators and representatives in Washington—that you think that any attempt to roll back the clock on our reproductive health and rights is unacceptable. For more information on what you can do right now, visit Draw the Line.

ACT: Can you explain why better access to birth control is so necessary for women, and how it’s tied in to women’s rights and overall health in general?

JULIANNA: Every woman—no matter where she lives or how much money she has — deserves a basic standard of reproductive health care.

Access to contraception when she needs it enhances a woman’s opportunities for education and employment, and further supports her ability to provide adequate care, nutrition, housing, and education for her family. She succeeds in the job market and gets more education.

She’s healthier, as are her children if she chooses to have them. She has more independence, dignity, greater equality, and participates more freely in society.

Contraception empowers women. It prevents millions of unintended pregnancies and saves billions in health care costs across the globe every year. Expanded access through the Affordable Care Act is a tremendous step forward that we can all rally around.

Photo: (Getty)

 Birth Control Sabotage Exists. And You Need To Know About It. 

Reported by MTV Act.

BrokenCondom

It’s estimated almost one in ten American women are affected by reproductive coercion, a form of abuse in which her partner tries to control her through her reproductive health. This includes not letting her use birth control, forcing her to get pregnant against her will and then not letting her make her own decisions about her pregnancy.

Birth control sabotage is a form of reproductive coercion where a partner tries to control their significant other’s use of birth control and try to force a pregnancy. It’s done as a form of power and control. And while reproductive coercion is a type of domestic abuse, it’s not one many people know about.

To bring more light to the issue, I spoke with expert Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

ACT: What are birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion? How common are they?

DR. MILLER: Reproductive coercion includes a range of controlling and abusive behaviors that includes pressuring a woman to get pregnant against her wishes, preventing her from using birth control, and controlling the outcomes of a pregnancy. While these behaviors often are associated with other forms of abuse in the relationship, such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, we have also found that some women report experiencing reproductive coercion, and have not experienced physical or sexual abuse by that partner.

This means that for some women, they may not immediately recognize that his removing condoms during sex, telling her not to use birth control, or saying things like “We’re going to have beautiful babies together,” may in fact be a way for him to keep her in his life forever.

Because we so often hear people talk about how girls ‘trapped’ a guy by getting pregnant, it is surprising to hear that this can work the other way as well. That male partners may sometimes coerce their partners to get pregnant, including refusing to use condoms, removing condoms during sex, preventing her from using birth control, and actively removing her patch or vaginal ring, or throwing away birth control pills. The entire range of behaviors is called “reproductive coercion.” “Birth control sabotage” is specifically active interference with contraception.

CondomsPacifier

ACT:  How common is it?

DR. MILLER: We estimate about 9% of women in the country are affected by reproductive coercion. In our studies, about a quarter of women report ever experiencing this. We also find that this is more common among the adolescents and younger women in our studies.

[Editor’s Note: these particular studies she mentions were done with women seeking care in family planning/women's health clinics. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has also said that one in four of its callers have experienced reproductive coercion.]

ACT: How does fit in with other types of abuse?

DR. MILLER: Reproductive coercion is another way in which male partners can attempt to have power and control in their relationship. By getting her pregnant, he may think he can keep her in his life and make sure she doesn’t go somewhere else, for example.

PregTest1

ACT: What are some stereotypes about birth control sabotage that need to be kicked to the curb?

DR. MILLER: Historically, we’ve heard about girls who ‘trick’ their boyfriends about being on birth control and get pregnant on purpose. While there is no doubt that such behaviors occur, we are trying to highlight that this phenomenon of birth control sabotage does occur and results in unplanned, unwanted pregnancies (which are bad for women’s health — we want pregnancies to be wanted, planned, and timed).

ACT: What are the warning signs of this going on? If you suspect your partner might be doing it, where can you get help?

DR. MILLER: Your partner saying things like “Hey, you’re going to have my baby” even if you don’t want to be pregnant; your partner getting angry at you when he finds out you’re using birth control.

Your local domestic violence and sexual assault services [can help you]. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE can connect you. Also, check out Know More Say More.

[Editor's Note: You can also live chat with a trained professional to get help. It's private, save and secure.]

ACT: How can you help a friend who might be going through this?

DR. MILLER: If you have a friend who is experiencing this, please help her understand that this is not her fault. You could say something like, “I was just reading about how some guys try to control their female partners by purposefully getting her pregnant. That feels so wrong and abusive to me.” Please also offer to your friend some information that could provide more counseling and support for her.

Assure her that she is not alone, tell her that you care about her and that she deserves to be treated with respect and that no one has a right to control her body.

Offer her the website information above.

ACT: How can people spread awareness and work against reproductive coercion and birth control sabotage?

DR. MILLER: Talk to your friends; help us to train healthcare providers to recognize this; integrate discussion of healthy relationships into teen pregnancy prevention programs so that we can raise awareness about this.

We also need to talk to the good men in our lives and to start to change the way in which men think about their female partners — not as objects to be controlled and possessed.

Photos: Getty

 Birth Control Sabotage Exists + You Need To Know About It 

Reported by MTV Act.

BrokenCondom

It’s estimated that  almost 1 in 10 American women are affected by reproductive coercion, a form of abuse in which her partner tries to control her through her reproductive health. This includes not letting her use birth control, forcing her to get pregnant against her will and/or not letting her make decisions about her own pregnancy.

Birth control sabotage is a form of reproductive coercion in which a partner tries to control his significant other’s use of birth control and try to force a pregnancy. It’s done as a form of power and control. And while reproductive coercion is a type of domestic abuse, it’s not one many people know about.

To bring more light to the issue, I spoke with expert Elizabeth Miller, MD, Ph.D., Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

ACT: What are birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion? How common are they?

DR. MILLER: Reproductive coercion includes a range of controlling and abusive behaviors that includes pressuring a woman to get pregnant against her wishes, preventing her from using birth control, and controlling the outcomes of a pregnancy. While these behaviors often are associated with other forms of abuse in the relationship, such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, we have also found that some women report experiencing reproductive coercion, and have not experienced physical or sexual abuse by that partner.

This means that for some women, they may not immediately recognize that his removing condoms during sex, telling her not to use birth control or saying things like “We’re going to have beautiful babies together,” may, in fact, be a way for him to keep her in his life forever.

Because we so often hear people talk about how girls ‘trapped’ a guy by getting pregnant, it is surprising to hear that this can work the other way as well. That male partners may sometimes coerce their partners to get pregnant, including refusing to use condoms, removing condoms during sex, preventing her from using birth control, and actively removing her patch or vaginal ring, or throwing away birth control pills. The entire range of behaviors is called “reproductive coercion.” “Birth control sabotage” is specifically the active interference with contraception.

CondomsPacifier

ACT:  How common is it?

DR. MILLER: We estimate about 9% of women in the country are affected by reproductive coercion. In our studies, about a quarter of women report ever experience this. We also find that this is more common among the adolescents and younger women in our studies.

[Editor’s Note: these particular studies she mentions were done with women seeking care in family planning/women's health clinics. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has also said that 1 in 4 of its callers have experienced reproductive coercion.]

ACT: How does fit in with other types of abuse?

DR. MILLER: Reproductive coercion is another way in which male partners can attempt to have power and control in their relationship. By getting her pregnant, he may think he can keep her in his life and make sure she doesn’t go somewhere else, for example.

PregTest1

ACT: What are some stereotypes about birth control sabotage that need to be kicked to the curb?

DR. MILLER: Historically, we’ve heard about girls who ‘trick’ their boyfriends about being on birth control and get pregnant on purpose. While there is no doubt that such behaviors occur, we are trying to highlight that this phenomenon of birth control sabotage does occur and results in unplanned, unwanted pregnancies (which are bad for women’s health; we want pregnancies to be wanted, planned and timed).

ACT: What are the warning signs of this going on? If you suspect your partner might be doing it, where can you get help?

DR. MILLER: Your partner [might say] things like “Hey, you’re going to have my baby,” even if you don’t want to be pregnant; your partner [may get] angry at you when he finds out you’re using birth control.

Your local domestic violence and sexual assault services [can help you]. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE can connect you. Also, check out Know More Say More.

[Editor's Note: You can also live chat with a trained professional to get help. It's private, save and secure.]

ACT: How can you help a friend who might be going through this?

DR. MILLER: If you have a friend who is experiencing this, please help her to understand that this is not her fault. You could say something like, “I was just reading about how some guys try to control their female partners by purposefully getting them pregnant. That feels so wrong and abusive to me.” Please also offer to your friend some information that could provide more counseling and support for her.

Assure her that she is not alone, tell her that you care about her and that she deserves to be treated with respect and that no one has a right to control her body. Offer her the website information above.

ACT: How can people spread awareness and work against reproductive coercion and birth control sabotage?

DR. MILLER: Talk to your friends; help us to train healthcare providers to recognize this; integrate discussion of healthy relationships into teen pregnancy prevention programs so that we can raise awareness about this.

We also need to talk to the good men in our lives and to start to change the way in which men think about their female partners — not as objects to be controlled and possessed.

Photos: Getty

 ‘Teen Mom 2′ Cast Talks Birth Control & Their Futures [Video] 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (MTV)

The girls of “Teen Mom 2” recently stopped by MTV Act’s office to discuss the importance of birth control, protection and safe sex, and their plans for the future.

When asked her opinion about why a young person might not be having safe sex, Chelsea said, “I feel like if you think it’s awkward talking to your partner about having safe sex or sex at all, you should not be having sex with that person.”

Kailyn continued, “It’s not even just pregnancy you should be worried about… STDs are huge.”

+ Watch Our Interview With The Teen Mom 2 Girls About Safe Sex And The Future.

“If you’re comfortable enough to have sex with that person, then you should be comfortable enough to talk about birth control,” Jenelle added.

“No matter how much you love that guy, it’s not worth risking, you know, your own well-being, risking a life of, you know, no education,” said Leah. “A child that isn’t in a stable environment that most children need…. It’s just not worth it.”

The reality is that many teens are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. 3 in 10 teen girls in the U.S. will get pregnant at least once before age 20. It doesn’t have to be this way!

The point is, guys and girls, you’ve got the power to educate yourself and take control of YOUR sex life! Read up, get the facts and learn more about preventing pregnancy, all the different forms of protection available these days (there is something for everyone!), and the importance of having a protection plan in place BEFORE your clothes come off!

And know that deciding if and when you are ready to have sex is a very personal and private decision —and only YOU are in charge of it. When am I ready is something only you can answer. It’s not when your partner (or whoever else) thinks you’re ready. And get this – almost 2 out of 3 teens who have had sex wish they’d waited.

It’s Your [Sex] Life has the deets on how different birth controls and forms of protection work, which are the most effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs, and tips for making talking about all of this…not so awkward…so you can keep yourself healthy and make sure you only become a parent if and when you’re ready and want to.

Photo: (MTV)

 ‘The Daily Show’ Co-Creator Lizz Winstead Talks Reproductive Rights [Interview] 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (Mindy Tucker)

Photo: Lizz Winstead, right with Sarah Silverman. (Mindy Tucker)

Lizz Winstead is a comedian, author, producer and co-creator of “The Daily Show.” If that’s not impressive enough, she’s also a major activist for women’s rights.

And after all the recent attacks on women’s reproductive rights, Lizz is working harder than ever. Recently she co-hosted the online telethon Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can Choose with comedian Sarah Silverman, which combined comedy with real facts. Despite the cultural shame and stigma that can surround birth control and abortion, here’s the reality: 99% of American women have used birth control, and according to Lizz,  one third will get an abortion. Late-term abortions are rare, and when they’re done, they’re done only in extreme cases, like if the pregnant woman will die without an abortion, or if there’s something so wrong with the fetus it’s not going to make it as a baby.

To talk more about the recent attacks on women’s rights, the realities of abortion as opposed to the myths, and how you can get involved in this cause (don’t forget to check out the Center for Reproductive Rights at the bottom!), Lizz gave MTV Act the lowdown.

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Photo: Lizz performing at a fundraiser for reproductive rights. (Mindy Tucker)

ACT: For those who might not know, can you explain in a few sentences what’s going on with women and reproductive rights in America?

LIZZ: Forty-nine out of fifty states have proposed or passed legislation that removes access to birth control, abortion care or both. Most of these things are happening at the local level. It’s pretty sneaky, because of all the political things going on, sometimes we’re not as good at paying attention to our local state representatives, city councils and school boards. Now the Right isn’t just targeting statewide bans, they are testing the waters on legislating abortion on a city level. Recently conservatives in Albuquerque were trying to ban abortions after 20 weeks and they put it to vote on an off-election time, but people were paying attention and it was defeated.

ACT: Why do you think there has recently been such a seemingly unprecedented campaign against abortion across the nation?

LIZZ: I think the reason it’s happening is because when women have a seat at the table and are powerful, they start making changes to dismantle the structure that’s been set in place by rich white guys all these years. The first thing you do to control women is affect their economic choices, and one of the biggest choices a woman can make economically is if and when she has kids. If women exercise their sexual freedom and get pregnant, if they’re forced into a pregnancy they can’t afford or they can’t see is good for them, that takes them farther away from having a seat at that table.

ACT: Your book from last year, “Lizz Free or Die,” has some very personal stories about your own experience with teen pregnancy and abortion, but you wrote in your Huffington Post column that you won’t “fall on a societal shame sword” because of it. Where do you think this shame about sexuality and abortion comes from for so many women, and what do you think we can do to combat the stigma and its effect on the discourse around women’s rights?

LIZZ: I think the shame goes back to some people really being invested in women living in an environment that men control. When women start saying they’re free and sexual beings, that changes the paradigm.

But when you talk about shame around abortion, it can also comes from how we talk about abortions. When saying, “I can’t economically have a child” or “I’m not emotionally ready to have a child” isn’t considered enough of a valid reason to keep abortion safe and legal, and you have to add on, only for “Rape and incest,” it tells society that there are “forgivable abortions” and “bad abortions.” Whatever reason a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy or use birth control, it should be a reason we all accept as a society because it’s her decision.

I think we combat the stigma by putting a face and a name to it. One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and if women can find a time and place to come forward and say, “I’m one of those women,” that makes change. Some people try to demonize abortion, but eventually it will be their sister, their mother, their daughter and themselves getting an abortion. By putting a face on it, we show that people have abortions and that abortions happen. As long as there has been sexual behavior, there has been abortion. As long as there has been sexual behavior and women have gotten pregnant, men have been involved.

Men often get let off the hook. It’s very bizarre. We demonize women who exert their sexual power: we call them sluts and whores. Just because they want to use birth control or have a sexual life, they have to be demonized. Women don’t get pregnant alone, but she’s the one who’s often targeted as bad. We don’t talk about the role men took in getting a woman pregnant, like if he used a condom. You always hear language like, “You should just keep your legs shut, then,” and not holding the men responsible at all for hooking up.

ACT: What are some stereotypes about abortion and the women who choose abortion that need to go away? Can you clear these stereotypes up for us?

LIZZ: There are a lot of stereotypes that are really damaging and incredibly offensive, especially when it comes to late-term abortion. There are stereotypes that women are waiting around, and they say, “Oh, I’m going to have an abortion” after 28 or 30 weeks. Late-term abortions are done because there’s something horribly wrong with the fetus or because the pregnant woman may die [if she doesn’t get an abortion]. There are all sorts of medical reasons and people don’t take these decisions lightly.

There’s misinformation that if you have an abortion, you’ll suffer from mental illness or you’ll get breast cancer. All these things have been disproved over and over again. Women go to crisis pregnancy centers, which are not regulated and do not provide healthcare, and they’re just a means where people on the extreme Right are counseling women with misinformation to scare them out of making the decision to terminate their pregnancy.

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Photo: “Girls” actress Jemima Kirke working the phones at a fundraiser.(Mindy Tucker)


ACT: Are you optimistic about America’s ability to make general progress on these issues, such as the Women’s Health Protection Act being proposed in Congress right now?

LIZZ: I’m really excited about the Women’s Health Protection Act. I think women are finally seeing the relentless assaults on abortion and birth control. The people doing these assaults don’t really care about healthcare. It seems about control. I think people are waking up when they see so many laws. It’s like a game of Whack-a-Mole at this point. Women are saying, “You know what, I had to terminate a pregnancy, and if I don’t step up and start talking about it, then my story is going to forever be defined by someone who does not take the interests of me or the interests of women into account.” This is the only healthcare that’s legislated, and that’s really bizarre. I feel really positive that legislators, women and activists are looking at this and saying, “How are we going to get people engaged?”

That’s what we’re going to try to do at Lady Parts Justice. We’re going to try to create a website that’s informative, engaging and uses humor and outrage to introduce to people in all fifty states to the kind of legislation that’s trying to be passed. Then we’ll be getting together our V to Shining V campaign, a big rally in all fifty state capitals next fall where we throw a party that celebrates women and gets women and men active, gets people to say, “We’re not going to sit back anymore. We’re done sitting on the sidelines. It’s a luxury to not pay attention.”

ACT: You recently hosted a telethon with Sarah Silverman that raised over $50,000 for advocacy groups in Texas. Have you considered professionally focusing more on political activism and less on comedy?

LIZZ: I feel like instead of making it an either/or thing, why not combine it? Comedy is a very effective tool to get people to pay attention. I’ve had more comics, and more actors, and more comedy writers coming to me and saying, “What can we do?” I’m going to harness all that energy and we’re going to use our craft to really raise awareness. If we can inform through humor while being entertaining and fact-based, I think we can inspire people in terms of wanting to help out as well.

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Photo: Lizz performing with fellow comedian and activist, Sarah Silverman.(Mindy Tucker)

ACT: How else can people get involved in the work for reproductive rights?

LIZZ: The best thing you can do is start off by looking at the laws being proposed where you live. Find out who the people are who are undermining what you think and get together with neighbors and friends who are like-minded. Get people registered to vote and get those people out of office. Bring awareness. I think now is the time where we really start looking at all the ways we can all come together and start hearing how we’ve all been affected and how we can be partners in helping each other.

 Melissa Joan Hart’s Heart Goes Out To All The Teen Moms [Video] 

Reported by MTV Remote Control.

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 Melissa Joan Hart and her handsome sons: Mason, Brady and Tucker.

Dealing with the daily struggles of adolescence is tough enough, but, as we’ve learned from MTV’s “Teen Mom” franchise, adding a child to the mix can turn life into a constant uphill battle. Melissa Joan Hart, a mother of three boys ages 1 to 7  and the eldest of eight kids, knows a thing or two about the full-time job of parenting, and says in this MTV.com interview clip that she would’ve had to halt her Hollywood dreams had she become a mom too soon.

“If I had been a teen mom, they probably wouldn’t have hired me as Sabrina,” Melissa surmises, explaining that teen pregnancy wasn’t a topic often covered on 90s TV. Nowadays, the issue gets much more exposure, but Melissa has always understood how difficult teen parenthood can be. “My mom was a teen mom, so it happens,” she shares. “But I think that it’s a really difficult thing to do.” We know a few young ladies who would wholeheartedly agree.

Watch the clip below, plus check out more from our sit-down with Melissa Joan Hart.

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Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

 Maci Bookout Is Thankful For Birth Control. And Here’s Why. 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (Getty)

Photo: (Getty)

Shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” show how difficult being a teen parent can be. The good news is that becoming a teen parent is 100% avoidable, and on Thanks, Birth Control Day, Maci Bookout knows why there’s a lot to be grateful for in the different kinds of protection we have available.

Not all teens are sexually active, and sex is a super personal issue. But if and when you are active, birth control is a total must. Maci talks about birth control myths that sooo need to be buried, and her advice on talking to your parents about sex and protection.

ACT: Today is Thanks, Birth Control Day. Why are you thankful for birth control?

MACI: I am thankful for birth control because I was able to go to school and only have [my son] Bentley to worry about it. It’s been tough with him . . . I can’t imagine doing it with two kids. I’m also thankful for birth control because it’s given me the freedom to focus all my time and attention on Bentley, since I’m a single mom.

I do sex education stuff all the time, speak at high schools and colleges about pregnancy prevention, and I think that it’s really given me a chance to speak on birth control and share the information I have on it. I think abstinence is great if that’s someone’s choice. If they can stick it out, that’s amazing. But, I do have a boyfriend and we’ve been in a relationship for over a year now and we are sexually active, so since we’re not married and not in a place to have children right now, it’s nice I can count on birth control.

ACT: Since it can be hard to remember to take the pill each day, do you have any tips on how to stay on top of that?

MACI: You know, the first birth control I got on after I had Bentley was the pill and I was the worst at remembering it. So I started taking the Depo shot, which you get every three months. That was helpful for me because I wasn’t good at taking the pill and I would just go in every three months.

After a while, I actually switched to the pill again. I set the alarm on my phone and I kept the birth control in my purse at all times, because I always have my purse with me. My birth control would be right there with me and I’d take it when the alarm went off.

ACT: Everyone dreads “the talk.” What advice do you have for young people who want to ask their parents about birth control?

MACI: If they feel comfortable talking to their parents, I think it’s a very scary conversation to have, but would they rather have a conversation telling their parents that they’re pregnant or their girlfriend is pregnant? That’s a much harder conversation to have than the birth control conversation. It’s much easier to take a pill every day or get the shot every few months than it is to raise a child when you’re not ready for it.

ACT: Luckily, you have supportive parents. What resources are available for those who might not have the same support system?

MACI: My number one tip is find your local health department. Make an appointment and go there. You can get birth control and condoms for free. No one will know and you don’t have to have your parents’ consent. You make an appointment and get it; it’s that easy.

If you don’t live right by a health department, I would say buy condoms until you have an opportunity to see a doctor and get a prescription. If you can make one appointment, you can get a prescription for up to a year. You go back to your checkup a year later and get more. If you want birth control that lasts longer, you can get the Mirena [IUD] that’s inserted in you. It lasts five years. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to change it until five years is up. If you might be married by then and want children, you can have it taken out. When five years is up, you can get another one put in. There are tons of options.

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Photo: Macy and her moms! (Instagram)

ACT: When Bentley become a teen, what do you want him to know about sex that you didn’t?

MACI: I want him to be aware that at those times, I will be his parent and his friend. He can talk to me about the questions he has and I want him to know that birth control is a primary thing he needs to be effectively using the right way if he’s sexually active. I want him to know all the options of what’s available and do the right thing for himself and the relationship he’s in.

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Photo: Bentley celerbates his 5th born day! (Instagram)

ACT: Teen pregnancy rates are down. What do you attribute that to?

MACI: I think there are a lot of things that are attributing to it. I hate to be biased, but teen pregnancy rates started dropping tremendously in 2009, after “16 and Pregnant” aired and “Teen Mom” has been on. I think a lot of it has to do with the show being on. Teen pregnancy always has been a huge issue in our country, but for the longest time it was an issue everyone hid from. If a girl got pregnant, she almost kind of disappeared. She left the school and moved on with her life and no one talked about it. I think our show has made people realize it’s an issue and we need to talk about it. We need to start thinking of what we’re going to do to fix it. It’s opening eyes and showing it’s okay to talk about it. These are conversations that need to be had with teens and their parents, teens and their peers. Schools are more open to talking about birth control.

ACT: What are some birth control myths you’ve heard? Can you clear them up for us?

MACI: Oh, Lord. I’ve heard that if you use two condoms, it works better than one. That’s not true at all. Two condoms would break easier. I’ve heard that if you are on your period, you can’t get pregnant. There’s a lot of negative talk about birth control, too, like it’s unhealthy and can hinder your ability to get pregnant later on. That’s also not true. I think ignorance and the lack of knowledge cause people to believe these things about birth control.

ACT: What are you up to these days? What can we see next from you?

MACI: Oh, man, I’ve got so many things going on. I’ve been hosting the after shows for “Teen Mom 2” and “Teen Mom 3.” As long as those continue, I’ll be hosting those on mtv.com. I’m in school still and I’ll be graduating next year, so that’s really exciting. Bentley just turned five, so he’s a little man now. He’ll be starting kindergarten next year, so I’ve got all kinds of things going on.

 ‘Teen Mom 3′ Exclusive: Katie And Alex Consider Stealing Briana’s Sis To Get Them Through The Tough Times [Video] 

Reported by MTV Remote Control.

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For those of you who have been paying attention, the Dejesus family of “Teen Mom 3” is a trio of badass chicks all raising a beautiful baby girl together. Having spoken with them ourselves, we can attest to the fact that their approach to supporting one another is an inspiring one, and it’s no wonder the other moms on the show look to them as a model of strength. In the exclusive MTV.com interview clip below, Katie and Alex explain what it is about the all-female brood that makes them so special.

“I need to channel my inner Dejesus when I’m getting stressed!” Katie says as the girls all laugh. When Briana notes that she sometimes wishes she had more of her mother’s personality, Alex makes a good point that Roxanne and Brittany are always behind Briana one hundred percent, which is the next best thing. “I wish I had that…family, just, behind me.” Katie says. ”I just want to steal Brittany sometimes,” Alex adds, to which Katie asks if Briana wouldn’t mind putting her sis on loan.

“You guys can have her!” Briana jokes while rolling her eyes. Um, can we have her, too?

Check out the clip to see Katie’s and Alex’s impressions of Brittany’s reactions to Devoin, learn about pregnancy prevention at MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life website and don’t miss an all-new “Teen Mom 3″ Monday at 10/9c.

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Photo: Colin Gray

 ‘Teen Mom 3′ Exclusive: Grandma Roxanne And Auntie Brittany Discuss Their Family’s Tight-Knit Bond 

Reported by MTV Remote Control.

DejesusFamInterview

There’s no disputing the fact after last night’s “Teen Mom 3episode: The Dejesus family doesn’t take s**t from anyone. We recently caught up with two of the unsung heroes of the show, Briana‘s mom, Roxy, and her sister, Brittany, and chatted with them about their family’s unique bond. Check out the interview, which serves as definitive proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Remote Control: What was being on “Teen Mom 3″ like for you guys?

Roxanne: It came at a time in our lives when we were devastated. If anything, it made us more aware and conscious of how we used to do things, how we should do things and how we should stick together. My whole thing going into it was if somebody can learn from my mistakes, that’s great. But it was an amazing experience.

Brittany:  I feel like it’s a therapy session. You’re motivated to tell the truth and be honest with yourself and whoever’s going to watch it, and because you might help somebody, you don’t hold anything back. I think it’s helped a lot of people.

RC: Do you hope your family’s story will help other families in similar situations?

Brittany: I hope other siblings or parents realize that just because their teen daughter is having a baby doesn’t mean that you can turn your back on them, because no matter what, they’re still your kid. It might not be as hard as you think it is. Don’t get me wrong — it’s still hard and we have our problems, but don’t judge them on their mistakes. Just be there for them.

Roxanne: One, always know that you can get through this no matter how hard it is. Two, never sit there and be humiliated by a guy just because he’s the father. Never, ever. Three, don’t let a guy bully you. Four, stand up and keep moving, because life goes on and you gotta get through it. That’s it.

Roxanne gives Briana advice on dealing with Devoin:

RC: When you see other parents who shut their kids out after they found out they’re pregnant, what do you think?

Roxanne: Eww! That is all I can say. How dare a mom turn their back on their kid when their kid most needs them? I hate the saying, “Well if you made your bed you lie in it.” No! That’s not how life goes! People make mistakes. I still do as an adult. And I know that my kids are going to, and it’s my job to be there to guide them through it.

I think, mostly, you just have to love your kids, because no one is perfect. My God, why is it so hard for parents to love their kids?

Brittany: Maybe they’re just doing what their parents did to them. Some people just grow up like that.

Roxanne: I don’t care. It’s no excuse. You gotta be there for your kid. My kids could be 30 years old and making mistakes, and I’m never going to turn my back on them, ever.

RC: You guys have really shown what support looks like. How does it make you feel, knowing that you’re a model of what a familial support system can be?

Roxanne: I had no idea if people would enjoy or like us. All I know is what we’re doing comes naturally to us. It’s not something I just learned the other day. I’ve always taught my kids that they better have each other’s backs, or they’d have to deal with the wrath of me.

Brittany: I didn’t think anyone would like me at all. A lot of people at school didn’t like me because they thought I was mean and rude, but that’s just my face! I mean, I see it now. People reach out to me through Twitter and tell me they support me, and I’m just like “wow.” To think that that many people care, it really boggled my mind.

RC: Roxanne, you’re a busy single mother yourself. What drives you to be so supportive of your daughters and Nova?

Roxanne: I appreciate my two daughters for who they are. And I’m not bragging, but I think my kids are so genuine and so down to earth, and they’re such cool kids! How could I not want to be better or do better? They’re my kids!

Roxanne comes to Briana’s defense:

RC: Brittany, do you ever feel frustrated having to shoulder some of the responsibility with Nova — especially since you made the decision to not become a teen mother?

Brittany: In reality, I’m the oldest, so I’ve always taken care of Briana. When my mom went back to work, we didn’t have anybody around, so I had to do everything. I don’t think I helped raise Briana, but my mom says I did. So it wasn’t hard for me to help Briana raise her kid. I mean, parents get frustrated all the time; I get frustrated too, but that’s just how it is.

Roxanne: Can I say something on behalf of that? Sorry, I think that what Brittany gets frustrated with is that she’s sacrificing and doing so much, and Devoin is doing absolutely nothing.

Brittany: I’d rather be the one getting frustrated but still taking care of my sister and Nova, than — not that she’d ever do this — Briana giving Nova over to Devoin and not knowing what the hell was going on or how she’s being taken care of.

RC: Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on anything knowing that you chose a different life for yourself?

Brittany: I still have regrets and I wonder, but I want to have a kid with a man that loves me and that’s gonna be there. And not a boy, a man. So I made my decision when I was 18-years-old, and I didn’t want to struggle — especially if we both had kids. All three of us would have been even more stressed out.

I’m just glad I have Nova. I love Nova like she’s my kid, but she’s not. My time will come, and I know that when it comes, it’ll be great.

RC: Has watching your sister deal with Devoin also made you rethink potential boyfriends?

Brittany: Yes! Even now, I’ve had days where I’m super sad and I’ll talk to my sister about it, but then I look at the way Devoin treats my sister and the things he does to her. And honestly, Devoin is like an angel compared to my ex-boyfriend. So when I look at that I’m like, if Briana’s hurting now — if that was me? — I’d probably be in trouble with the law because I don’t take crap from ANYONE anymore. And if a baby was involved? I would have kicked somebody’s ass, no lie.

RC: Roxanne, how have you managed to deal with such different situations with each of your daughters so well?

Roxanne: I don’t know how I did it. I did it out of love. I love and respect my kids. The three of us made this choice. We were devastated and crushed, but we decided to pull through. We still deal with the consequences of both their choices, but again, I can’t stress it enough, you just have to be there for your kids.

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 The ‘Teen Mom 3′ Cast Members Ponder Why They Were Chosen To Share Their Stories [Video] 

Reported by MTV Remote Control.

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While the difficult plight of teen mothers is fairly universal, each individual girl who gives birth at a young age, like KatieAlexBriana and Mackenzie of ”Teen Mom 3,” has a unique story to tell. No two cast members are exactly alike, even though their struggles often overlap, and there’s a reason these particular ladies were chosen to shed light on the harsh realities of unplanned parenthood. In the MTV.com-exclusive interview clip below, Katie, Alex and Briana discuss what it is about their personal journeys that make them serve as powerful examples.

“All of our stories are so different, but they’re so, like, the same in so many ways,” Briana says, before explaining how the juxtaposition of her and her sister — who chose to have an abortion when she got pregnant at the same time as Bri — shows a stark contrast between the results of both choices.

In Katie’s case, her quest for independence and harmony with Joey demonstrates the detrimental effects that having a child before you’re ready can have on a relationship. It’s also quite a tearjerker for her cast mates, Briana notes.

“I don’t want to make anybody cry!” Katie tells her friends apologetically, but nods in agreement that her story is a tough one to watch.

“Mine’s a whole ball of mess,” Alex exclaims, which, as we’ve seen during the last few episodes, is a pretty dead-on statement. However, she adds that all of the girls are just trying to do what’s best for their kids, which, ultimately, is what matters most.

Check out the video:

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Photo: Colin Gray