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 Talking With Lindy West About ‘I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault’ 

Reported by MTV Act.

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Lindy West is known as a leader in the feminist blogging community. She’s a staff writer for Jezebel, an has contributed to MSNBC, Slate, GQ, and many others. At 32 years old, she is about to become a step mother to two girls, ages 10 and 12. It is this new chapter in her life that inspired her to create the Tumblr, I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault.

“For most of my career I’ve focused on humor and pop culture–even when I’ve covered serious issues like body image and rape culture I’ve always couched it in humor as a defense mechanism,” said Lindy, when I spoke to her over email “So there’s something really vulnerable and exciting about I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault (IBYINYF), because it’s 100% sincere and earnest. Not that jokes aren’t allowed on the site, no one’s required to be anything. I feel like this is a cliched way to put it, but it’s very raw.

Check out my Q + A with Lindy below!

ACT: For young people, the term “rape culture” can actually seem pretty vague. Can you give our readers a few examples of the systemic impact of rape culture?

Lindy: Well, in the context of IBYINYF, rape culture manifests in things like mothers asking their sexually abused children, “You enjoyed the attention, didn’t you?” and sexual assault victims being told they “shouldn’t have made a scene” by speaking out, as though ASSAULTING SOMEONE doesn’t constitute “making a scene.” To me, rape culture is the expectation, accepted as fact, that rape is just a natural, inescapable part of life–that it’s not something perpetrators can help, and therefore it’s the victim’s responsibility to avoid it. To tell a victim that “don’t get raped” is our only viable rape prevention tool is to tell them that their assault was a personal failure. They didn’t not-get-raped well enough. Well, what were they wearing?

Meanwhile, women are awarded to men as literal prizes at the end of every movie and every video game; in film, only 30% of speaking characters are women and a third of those are partially naked; there are studies that show that sexual objectification causes our brains to see women as a lesser form of human; aggressive male entitlement is coded as “heroic” while male victims are coded as feminine and weak. Those are cultural phenomena, not natural ones. People choose to enact them. Yet, somehow, we couldn’t possibly change the culture and start teaching young people that women are full human beings and their bodies are not public property? Bullsh*t.

+ Watch A Short Video About IBYINYF From The BBC

ACT: Can you tell us about your new website, I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault. What inspired you to create this site, in this specific format? What has been the response so far?

LINDY: For me personally, it grew out of conversations that have started coming up with my stepdaughters over the past couple of years, where they’re running into these really heinous problems for the first time–slut-shaming, victim-blaming, peer pressure–and not having a vocabulary to talk about it. And that’s with ME as a parent–shouty, feminist, loudmouthed me. So I think about some of their friends at school who don’t have adults in their lives who can (or who want to) contextualize these issues in a compassionate, supportive way. It’s so easy for those kids, if they’re victimized, to internalize the idea that they shouldn’t have “made a scene,” and that the next time their boundaries are breached they should just go along with it. And it breaks my heart. So I wanted to do something for those kids in particular.

ACT: IBYINYF seems to focus on letting young women know that they are not alone in their experiences of assault. In a society where 1 in 4 women is assaulted in college, what is something young women can do to feel empowered, as opposed to becoming an eventual statistic?

LINDY: I think the simplest, least risky, and most readily accessible (thanks to the internet) thing anyone can do is find a community. At IBYINYF you don’t have to speak to anyone face to face, you don’t have to leave your room, you don’t even have to identify yourself–you can present your story to the entire world, and be met with a mountain of solidarity and support from people who’ve lived through similar traumas, without anyone ever knowing who you are. This is anecdotal, but personally, since I’ve started spending time in supportive, positive, safe online spaces where boundaries are revered and defended, I can feel it changing my brain and the way I move through the world. I trust myself more. I don’t waste my time responding to bad-faith arguments. I call out oppressive behavior without equivocation. So, hopefully, once people find online spaces where they feel comfortable telling their stories, they can move on to real-life spaces, and reporting incidents to police, and speaking out on behalf of other victims. Community-building is one of the most powerful tools we have.

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Photo: Lindy West

ACT: Do you think that the fact that 1 in 4 women is assaulted in college has an impact on women joining traditionally male-dominated fields, such as STEM, later in life? Do you think rape culture prevents women from “leaning in”?

LINDY: Sure, these things are all interconnected. The fetishization of male aggression and female submission is as relevant to office politics as it is to rape culture. Men are “assertive,” women are “bitchy.” On an even more basic level–and I’m starting to deal with this with my kids–we teach women that their main job, their top priority, is to be decorative. To pour all of their time and money and emotional energy into this one metric of value. It’s not a coincidence that boys aren’t told to do this–that boys, instead, are encouraged to be doctors and scientists and entrepreneurs. It’s not a coincidence that our political, business, and STEM landscapes are drastically skewed toward men.

ACT: It feels like we are talking about issues of misogyny, assault, and rape culture more than ever (especially post #YesAllWomen). If this is the case, how can young women go from just talking about it with their female friends, to actually demanding that changes be made – not just at a higher level – but more directly, with their male peers (teenage boys), and male fathers, bosses, teachers, clergy, etc?

LINDY: A huge part of this fight is just reminding ourselves of things we already know. There are so many voices saying, “You’re wrong about this,” “This is your fault,” “You’re imagining things.” Even if you intellectually know what’s right and wrong, it’s really easy to let that get through. And it takes constant repetition and reinforcement to remind yourself that this stuff is real, it’s wrong, you’re not imagining it, and it needs to change.

I think sticking to those convictions, calling out oppressive behavior and thinking when you see it, and enacting genuine consequences if people violate your ethics and boundaries (i.e. if you don’t respect women, you’re not my friend) needs to become the rule rather than the exception. But also, not everyone has the luxury of being vocal and demanding. And there’s no shame in being silent, compliant, invisible, or whatever you need to do to survive until you can take control of your life and leave.

ACT: Do you have a good example of a way to respond to someone who has just told a sexist/rape joke?

LINDY: I find that just a calm, simple interrogation is really effective. “I don’t get it.” “What’s the joke?” “No, but what’s the funny part of the joke?” “What’s the joke about?” And make them say, out right, that their “joke” is at the expense of rape victims, or women, or whatever marginalized group they think makes a good punchline. If you feel like it. At this point–unless it’s a well-meaning friend who just made a mistake–I mostly roll my eyes and avoid them forever.

If you or someone you know is feeling scared or unsafe, please visit RAINN.

 What 8 Iconic Movies Taught Us About Safe Sex [GIFS] 

Reported by MTV Act.

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By Melissa Unger

April is STD Testing Awareness Month. Though the topic of STDs might still seem scary, movies have never shied away from exposing the sometimes embarrassing but super important truths when it comes to sex. Here’s a list of 8 movies that taught us a thing or to about, well, doing it.

+ “Saved!”

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Remember that crazy comedy where Mandy Moore as Hilary Faye and Macaulay Culkin as Roland attended a Christian high school? Their friend Mary (Jenna Malone) tries to cure Hilary Faye’s boyfriend of being gay by sleeping with him. After losing her virginity and ending up pregnant, Mary finds herself ostracized and demonized by her former friends including the self-righteous Hilary Faye who turns on her.

The Lesson: The world is not black and white (or right and wrong) and despite what Hilary Faye says, it’s impossible to change someone’s sexuality by having sex with them. However, you can change their STD status (and they can change yours), which is why it’s important to get tested before and after having sex.

+ ” Juno”

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Ellen Page’s break out role as Juno was heart-warming and full of hard truths. For example, what do you do after turning 16 and realizing the dude, aka Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), you love and had sex with has gotten you pregnant? In true Juno fashion, she decides to make an offbeat and unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

The Lesson: The choice between having a baby or having an abortion is a lot harder to make than the decision to skip causal sex, no matter how boss Paulie Bleeker is. It’s important to really feel ready when you do the deed.

+ “Superbad”

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Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and the character McLoven have one last hurrah before realizing that their co-dependent high school days are over. The trio embark on a booze-soaked party in which they hope to drown their sexual fear and score with their high school crushes.

The Lesson: Alcohol, teenagers and sex lead to awkward, and often unsafe results. Protecting yourself means coming to the party prepared, and not letting anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

+ “The To Do List”

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Brandy is an overachieving but socially awkward teenager who graduates as the valedictorian and is in love with college student, Rusty. After Rusty rejects her, Brandy assumes it’s because she is sexually inexperienced. Seeking to change that, she draws up a list of sexual acts that she believes will help her achieve her goal of getting Rusty and heading off to college experienced.

The Lesson: Sex or any sexual act is too important to be put on a “to do list.” Unless of course you mean using protection, which should always be on your “to do list.”

+ “Fast Time at Ridgemont High”

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Probably the most iconic teen sex comedy off all times, “Fast Time at Ridgemont High” stars a then unknown Sean Penn. The film follows several teens as they take on yet another year of high school, enjoy malls, sex and rock n’ roll. The majority of the film focuses on Stacy Hamilton, who through the guidance of her friend, loses her virginity and explores the world of boys and eventually an unplanned pregnancy and abortion.

The Lesson: In the immortal words of Stacy Hamilton anyone can have sex, but what she wants is a relationship, especially with uber nerd Mark “Rat” Ratner. It’s important to find a partner you can openly discuss safety with.

+ “Easy A”

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Emma Stone shook up Hollywood, in this modern day tale of love, sex and the high school rumor mill. Emma plays a high school student using the high school’s gossips to spread rumors about her fake sex escapade. This is the movie that re-images the iconic tale of the “Scarlet Letter.”

The Lesson: Gossip, rumors and reputation means nothing when it comes to losing one’s virginity. Plus, despite what you may think, chlamydia doesn’t care if you have a clean-cut reputation. Anyone can contract an STD. In fact, 50% of people will contract an STD before age 25.

+ “Clueless”

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Alicia Silverstone, plays Cher, the apple of everyone’s eye at the ultra-rich Beverly Hills High School. She learns amongst all the shopping, school and socializing, sex is not what everyone says it is in this modern day tale of Jane Austen’s “Emma. ”

The Lesson: It never hurts to educate yourself about the basics, because no one wants to be clueless when it comes to safety.

+ “American Pie”

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In this raunchy comedy, four teenage boys explore sex, yes even doing it with a pie. The foursome also make a pact to lose their virginity by prom night.

The Lesson: Here’s the deal: you can plan your losing virginity. You can be prepared by making a protection plan with your partner, getting tested before and after, and using birth control.

Photos: (Getty/YouTube)

 

 Some Lessons Learned This Season On Teen Mom 2 [Interview] 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (MTV)

Photo: (MTV)

While we’re only a few episodes in to Season 5 of Teen Mom 2, we’ve already learned a lot about what the mom’s have been up to, and they new experiences they’ve been having. We decided to get them all together and ask them about what they’ve learned, and what they plan on telling their kids about the show.

Janelle opens the interview with a real dose of honesty. “On this season of the show, I’ve learned that keeping a distance from my mom means we get along a lot better.” She continues, “And spending time with Jace [Janelle's son] is the most important thing right now.

Kailyn seconds Janelle’s sentiment about spending time with her kids, “I just want to take all the little things and appreciate them for what they are.”

When asked about how they will talk to their kids about the show, Leah shares her plan: “One thing I know I will probably do is take out each episode, each season and let them watch and see and feel see what their mom went through to help them understand that it’s not all fun and games.”

You can check out the full interview below.

+ Watch “Teen Mom 2: Lessons Learned On Season 5.”

For more information about safe sex and teen pregnancy, head to It’s Your Sex Life.

 True Life Premieres New Eye-Opening Episode, ‘Secrets, Lies & Sex.’ 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (MTV)

Photo: (MTV)

On tonight’s powerful episode of “True Life,” we meet Coke and Tarrodd, two men who live double lives in the gay and straight communities. At the start of the show, their sexual preferences are a secret to most — including the women in their lives — but over time, both open up and share their internal and external struggles with the world.

First, we meet 23-year-old Coke, whose girlfriend Tam is pregnant with their first child. But Coke is keeping a secret from Tam: He secretly works as a male escort, often for men who are also on the down low. Coke considers himself bisexual, but is afraid that coming out will tear his family apart.

Next, we meet Tarrodd, who is engaged to a woman named Jamie, but in a relationship with a man named Marvin. Jamie is in the dark about Tarrodd’s double life, but Marvin knows of Jamie, and hopes Tarrodd will someday leave her for him. Although his friends think that coming out would boost his confidence and set a positive example for other young people, Tarrodd is worried that it would cause irreparable damage to his current relationships and neighborhood reputation.

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Photo: Coke and Tarrodd in the club. (MTV)

Throughout the episode, we witness many painfully honest, deeply revealing, and at times controversial interactions between Coke, Tarrodd, and their loved ones. For the first time, Coke tells his mother about his sexuality and being molested by a male family member as a child. According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 10% of sexual assault victims in the U.S. are male. Male sexual assault survivors are often hesitant to seek help for fear of how they will be perceived by others, so while Coke’s hesitance to tell his mother is unfortunate, it is not uncommon.

Adult survivors of sexual assault often struggle with identity, intimacy, and sexuality, and Coke links his sexual abuse to his sexual orientation and sense of confusion. However, it’s important to note that there is no definitive information about the relationship between sexual abuse and sexual orientation. Coke wishes his mother had stepped in, but she makes an extremely valid point — she couldn’t help what she didn’t know. If you or someone you know has been abused, tell somebody or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

While both men’s conversations with their mothers end in open arms, their significant others simply cannot forgive many years of dishonesty. Tarrodd loses Marvin and Jamie, and Tam yells a slew of derogatory terms at Coke before leaving him for good. Although she is rightfully surprised, it is extremely important to remain calm and sensitive when responding to a loved one’s coming out.

Coke and Tarrodd may have controversial points of view, but the emotions they feel while learning to accept themselves and yearning to be accepted by others are universal. If you’re feeling confused about your sexuality, you’re not alone. Sexual identity, like all identity, often takes time to develop, and we all discover ourselves in different ways, at different paces. Coming out is an ongoing process that first requires accepting oneself, then speaking and living openly. Although those who come out often feel a huge weight lifted off their shoulders, it’s not a race or a requirement. When, where, and how you come out — and who you choose to come out to — are totally up to you. Gay, straight, or anywhere in between, always be safe and honest with anyone you “discover” yourself with, if yaknowwhatimean!

Straight people can come out too! As straight supporters! If a friend or family member opens up to you about their sexuality, offer a safe place and non-judgmental ear as they sift through their feelings and experiences. Be honored that they have trusted you with the truth and be reassuring that everything is going to be OK.

Both Coke and Tarrodd are happy they came out. “We get really scared about what others think of us when we’re put into a little box,” Tarrodd told the advocate.com, “And I just want people to know that it’s OK to be themselves. And if someone doesn’t want to accept you for who you are, then they shouldn’t be in your life.”

“It’s like I’m not trapped anymore,” Coke explained to the advocate.com in the same interview. “I have someone to talk to. It’s brought about a very positive change.”

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Photo: Coke speaks up. (MTV)

If you or someone you know is struggling with their sexuality and prefers an anonymous ear, the following hotlines offer 24/7 help and resources:

The Trevor Project Helpline , 1-866-488-7386

The National Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth Hotline, 1-800-246-7743

National Sexual Assault Helpline, 1-800-656-4673

 The ABCs of Birth Control 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (Getty)

Photo: (Getty)

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month and today is clearly the last day of the month, so to celebrate or uh, more like help out, we’ve compiled an ABCs of Birth Control. It’s kinda like the ABCs of STDs we did before, but this time we’re focusing on preventing unintended and unwanted pregnancies with eye-opening facts. All from A to Z. Your minds will be blown.

Few things for ya to keep in mind:

+ The choice is yours. Deciding if and when you are ready to have sex is a big decision to make. And one that only YOU can make. So whether you’ve decided you are ready, are not ready or you have had sex but want to hold off in your next relationship, it’s YOUR decision to make. Taking control of your sex life means waiting until you are ready.

+ There are many different birth control options. If you do decide that you are ready, there are a lot of protection methods to choose from. Different forms of birth control work for different people so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about what works best for you and your body. And don’t give up on your birth control. If one method doesn’t work so well – be sure to try another.

+ Condoms FTW. On this list – other than not having sex at all (abstinence), the only form of birth control that prevents pregnancy AND STDs is the condom (male and female). So if you’re sexually active, remember that only condoms prevent STIs. So in addition to any other form of birth control you are using, use a condom each and every time because that keeps you safe in more ways than one.

OK, without further ado, here’s our ABCs of Birth Control.

A Abstinence. Abstinence means no sex at all, and this is the only fool proof way to make sure you can’t get pregnant or an STD. And waiting to have sex is totally ok. More than half of teens in high school have never had sex. Only you can decide if and when you are ready. But if you do decide to have sex…let’s move on to the rest of the ABCs…

B Birth control pill. The pill is one of the most well-known forms of birth control, and one of the most effective. Make sure you take it daily, and at the same time every day. Skipping days or mixing up times lessens its effectiveness. Used perfectly, the pill is almost 100% effective.

C Cervical cap. The cervical cap sorta looks like a little hat. How do you use it? A woman puts spermicide on it and places it into her vagina. In terms of effectiveness, the cervical cap is kind of in the middle when it comes to birth control options. If 100 couples use it perfectly, nine women will still get pregnant.

D Diaphragm. Like the cervical cap, a woman puts spermicide on the diaphragm and places it in her vagina, covering the cervix. It is more effective than the cervical cap — if 100 couples use a diaphragm perfectly, six will end up pregnant.

E Emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraceptive, or EC, is around if your initial form of birth control failed or if you had unprotected sex. You need to take it within five days of having sex (within three days or sooner is better), and it will help prevent pregnancy. If you’re already pregnant by the time you take it, it won’t do anything.

F Female condom. What’s cool about female condoms (and their more famous counterparts, male condoms) is that they also protect against STDs. If couples use female condoms perfectly, five couples out of 100 will get pregnant.

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Photo: (Getty)

G Get Reminders. Okay, so with a lot of different birth controls, you have to remember to take or update them. That means take the pill daily, get the shot every three months, etc. If you miss, you’re more likely to get pregnant. But if you sign up for Get Reminders, you can get helpful texts or emails to make sure you don’t miss anything.

H Hormones. Some forms of birth control, like the pill, have hormones in them. Others, like the copper IUD or condoms, don’t. Some people are just fine with the hormones (in fact, they can give other health benefits, like less painful periods). However, some people don’t tolerate these hormones well, and may want to stick with non-hormonal birth controls.

I IUD. An IUD is a little T-shaped object that’s placed into the uterus by a doctor and is almost 100% effective. The copper (non-hormonal) IUD lasts for twelve years and the progestin (hormonal) IUD lasts for five years.

J Junel. We call it “The Pill” as if there’s only one, but the truth is there are a number of different versions of the birth control pill. Junel is one of the numerous versions of the pill that’s available out there. Keep in mind if you take one form of the pill and don’t like it, another form might still be right up your alley.

K Kinds of birth control. There are many different kinds of birth control, as you can see on this list. It’s good to research what’s available so you can find what’s best for you. Just because one kind works for your BFF doesn’t mean it’s going to be right for you, and vice versa. Sometimes a person might have to try a few different kinds of birth control before they find their perfect match. Talk to your doctor about what works best for you and your body.

L Lies. We’ve all heard all the myths about birth control. Ever heard of the idea that two condoms work better than one? Nope, they don’t. Heard that a woman can’t get pregnant on her period? Sorry, it’s still possible. Be informed and get the facts.

M Male condom. Or just plain condom. Condoms are the ONLY method that protect against BOTH pregnancy and STDs. You don’t need a prescription, either. If used consistently and correctly (you put it on right, you use it each and every time, etc), two couples out of 100 will get pregnant on condom use. If not used perfectly, that number drops big time.

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Photo: (Getty)

N Non-hormonal. If you have trouble with hormonal birth controls, try talking to your doctor about non-hormonal ones. Options include condoms and the copper IUD. Also keep in mind the effectiveness of each form of birth control when you decide.

O Odds of getting pregnant. Every form of birth control has a different level of effectiveness. Nothing but abstinence is 100%, but forms like the IUD are almost 100% effective. When picking a birth control, you want something effective that also works well with your body and your lifestyle. Also remember that it’s super important to follow the directions with your birth control, and that only condoms, female condoms and abstinence also protect against STDs.

P Patch. And no, not a pirate’s patch! Ladies, slap this baby on your body (like on your upper arm or abdomen) and it works for three weeks, getting replaced once a week. After that, you get a week off and then you need to put on another one. If you use it perfectly, like never missing a replacement, it works almost 100% of the time.

Q Questions. It’s normal to have lots of questions about sex, and lots of questions about birth control. Don’t be shy! It’s good to talk with a doctor you trust to learn more about your options and what options are best for you. You can also check out It’s Your Sex Life to get the facts.

RRing. No, not the kind you put on your finger. This pliable ring is put inside a woman’s vagina for three weeks, then she gets a week off before putting another one in. Used perfectly, this is another form of birth control that’s almost 100% effective. Used less-than-perfectly, eight out of 100 women will get pregnant.

S Shot. The Shot, a.k.a. Depo-Provera, requires a woman to take a shot every three months. A big bonus is the fact it lasts longer than some other forms of birth control (though it won’t protect you from STDs). But you need to make sure you’re back in time for your next shot. If you always get the shot on time, it’s almost 100% effective.

T Tubes tied. A permanent way a woman can prevent pregnancy is to get her tubes tied. This means, that through a surgical procedure, a woman’s fallopian tubes are clamped and blocked, or severed and sealed. This isn’t for women who want temporary birth control, women who want kids in the future or women who aren’t sure whether or not they’d like to have kids. You can’t say it’s impossible to untie tubes, but doctors also can’t guarantee it by any means.

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Photo: (Getty)

U Unprotected sex. Unprotected sex is the number one way to get pregnant and an STD. While it’s possible to get pregnant on any form of birth control other than abstinence, your chances skyrocket if you’re not using any protection. Teens who are having sex without any form of protection are 90% likely to get pregnant within a year.

V Vasectomy. Like a woman tying her tubes, a vasectomy is a permanent way to prevent pregnancy, only this time it’s for men. A man choosing a vasectomy has his tubes (medically known as vasa deferentia) tied so sperm can’t get out. This is not a form of birth control for any man who might want kids in the future.

W Withdrawal. Withdrawal is when a guy pulls his penis out before coming. With perfect use, four out of 100 women will get pregnant. However, perfect use with withdrawal is difficult, so on average 27 out of 100 women get pregnant using this form. While it is a form of preventing pregnancy, it’s not one that’s recommended.

X Title X. This family planning program began in 1970 and its goal is to offer services having to do with family planning and birth control. These days more than five million people get help with their birth control through Title X.

Y Young people. Young people often have to face unplanned pregnancies — did you know that in America, three out of ten teenage girls will be pregnant before they turn twenty? This number can be brought down through better access to birth control, better use of birth control, and better education on how birth control works like reading this story!

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Photo: (Getty)

Z Zovia. Zovia is another version of the birth control pill, the oral contraceptive you take daily. It’s also a nice little way to finish off our alphabet. From A to Z, what’s the best kind of birth control for you if and when you’re sexually active?

All facts are from It’s Your Sex Life, Planned Parenthood. the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services or WebMD.

 [Interview] Awkward.’s Molly Tarlov + Jillian Rose Reed on Self-Esteem 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (MTV)

Photo: (MTV)

Ok so what is the big secret Jenna doesn’t want Matty to know? In tonight’s “Awkward.” episode, Jenna gets invited to read one of her essays at an open mic and Matty isn’t invited – continuing a streak of ups and downs in their relationship this season.

Their lack of communication led to some super sticky situations and put stress on their relationship. Having the self-confidence to speak up for yourself — about what you are AND aren’t ready for and comfortable with — is essential to a healthy relationship. In collaboration with It’s (Your) Sex Life, “Awkward.” ladies Molly Tarlov and Jillian Rose Reed chat about why speaking your mind doesn’t have to be awkward.

We asked Molly Tarlov why people relate to her character, Sadie. Sadie is pretty much the most terrifying cheerleader you’ve ever met. When she isn’t putting her squad members in neck braces, she’s putting them on diets. Sadie comes across very domineering and secure with herself, but Molly reveals that for all her talk (and F*** bombs!) girl is hurtin’. “She deals with a lot of insecurity…she’s completely dependent on what other people think of her,” Molly says. Speaking your mind and being honest is important for any relationship, but self-worth and self-confidence is the most important.

+ Watch Relating to Sadie

Talking to your partner about waiting until you’re ready to have sex is soooo important! Talking about it doesn’t have to be awkward. Not talking about it until you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable is awkward. If you’re not ready— for whatever reason — – no biggie. There are tons of people out there who have decided they just aren’t ready yet. It’s completely up to you. It’s YOUR sex life and you have the right to decide for yourself and have those decisions respected. Jillian agrees, “In high school, everyone thinks that everyone else is having sex. The truth of the matter is that only about half of the teenagers in high school are having sex…it’s ok if you want to wait — no one is going to judge you.” And if your boyfriend or partner judges you for wanting to wait? “They shouldn’t be your boyfriend,” says Molly. And even if you’ve had sex before, you can change your mind at any time and decide you want to wait. You get to choose each and every time.

+ Watch It’s Okay to Wait

If and when you do decide you are ready to have sex, talking to your partner about a protection plan — for pregnancy and STIs — doesn’t have to be awkward. Having the self-confidence to talk openly and honestly about this stuff is essential. It can be tough; everyone needs an extra boost of confidence once in a while. #Twerking to Beyonce’s latest is a scientifically proven method of doing so. Head on over to IYSL for more relationship tips by taking action below.

 [Interview] Molly Tarlov + Jillian Rose Reed of ‘Awkward.’ Talk Self-Esteem 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (MTV)

Photo: (MTV)

OK, so what is the big secret Jenna doesn’t want Matty to know? In tonight’s “Awkward.” episode, Jenna gets invited to read one of her essays at an open mic and Matty isn’t invited – continuing a streak of ups and downs in their relationship this season.

Their lack of communication led to some super-sticky situations and put stress on their relationship. Having the self-confidence to speak up for yourself — about what you are AND aren’t ready for and comfortable with — is essential to a healthy relationship. In collaboration with It’s (Your) Sex Life, “Awkward.” ladies Molly Tarlov and Jillian Rose Reed chat about why speaking your mind doesn’t have to be awkward.

We asked Molly Tarlov why people relate to her character, Sadie. Sadie is pretty much the most terrifying cheerleader you’ve ever met. When she isn’t putting her squad members in neck braces, she’s putting them on diets. Sadie comes across as very domineering and secure with herself, but Molly reveals that for all her talk (and F-bombs!), girl is hurtin’. “She deals with a lot of insecurity. … She’s completely dependent on what other people think of her,” Molly says. Speaking your mind and being honest is important for any relationship, but self-worth and self-confidence is the most important.

+ Watch Relating to Sadie

Talking to your partner about waiting until you’re ready to have sex is soooo important! Talking about it doesn’t have to be awkward. Not talking about it until you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable is awkward. If you’re not ready — for whatever reason — no biggie. There are tons of people out there who have decided they just aren’t ready yet. It’s completely up to you. It’s YOUR sex life, and you have the right to decide for yourself and have those decisions respected. Jillian agrees, “In high school, everyone thinks that everyone else is having sex. The truth of the matter is that only about half of the teenagers in high school are having sex. … It’s OK if you want to wait — no one is going to judge you.” And if your boyfriend or partner judges you for wanting to wait? “They shouldn’t be your boyfriend,” says Molly. And even if you’ve had sex before, you can change your mind at any time and decide you want to wait. You get to choose every time.

+ Watch It’s OK to Wait

If and when you do decide you are ready to have sex, talking to your partner about a protection plan — for pregnancy and STIs — doesn’t have to be awkward. Having the self-confidence to talk openly and honestly about this stuff is essential. It can be tough: Everyone needs an extra boost of confidence once in a while. #Twerking to Beyonce’s latest is a scientifically proven method of getting it. Head on over to IYSL for more relationship tips by taking action below.

 Eve Ensler on Love, Relationships + Ending Violence Against Women 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (MTV)

Photo: (MTV)

If you’re a fan of girl power and positivity, chances are Eve Ensler’s work is on your digital bookshelf. The feminist powerhouse is responsible for getting the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway to rise up and protest violence against women for 1 Billion Rising, and for theater kids around the world to belt out The Vagina Monologues.

We had a chance to chat with Eve Ensler as part of MTV’s Pioneer Series. Eve stopped by to talk about her new book, In the Body of the World, an intimate memoir about her life and her recently won battle with uterine cancer.

The book is the most personal work she’s ever written, and details her journey to reclaim and get back in touch with her body. She reflected on her time spent in the Congo, how inspired she was by the women there (who have survived years of civil war and violence) and her own story of survival while undergoing cancer treatment. After kicking cancer’s butt, she re-emerged with a new appreciation for life and a wisdom for how the earth and body are connected. She urged people to appreciate the love in their lives beyond their significant others. Friends and family can give you the “big love” that sweeps you off your feet.

When asked what her one wish for the world is, not surprisingly she said to end violence against women. Having visited almost 70 countries, Eve said that the sad thing everyone had in common was the oppression of women. Eve wants women around the world to be empowered to walk, talk and wear whatever they choose, and not be harassed. She stressed that this is NOT a just women’s issue though. It’s up to men to rise up and come forward in support of the women in their lives. Men have as much, or more, of a role to play in ending violence against women.

Of course, at the heart of all of this is building healthy relationships — with yourself and others. To Eve, sex education should go beyond putting the condom on a banana and delve into how we want to be touched and treated.  We need to make sure men and women clearly understand what rape is, and know that no ALWAYS means no.   And beyond that, we should talk more about the positives of sex — creating a better understanding of the meaning of consensual sex, what feels good and the importance of making sure that both people are having a positive experience.

Be sure to check out Eve’s new book, In the Body of the World. For more info on sexual health head over to IYSL.

 Students Call Out Colleges on Title IX Rights + Rally Support Online 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (Thomas Patterson for The New York Times)

Photo: (Thomas Patterson for The New York Times)

Title IX of the Education Amendments prohibited sex-based discrimination in schools, but it also guarantees students “essential and extensive rights to freedom from sexual violence necessary for equal access to education.” Do you know your IX rights?

Know Your IX is a new campaign spearheaded by a group of sexual assault activists located all over the country. You might not know their names, but you’ve probably heard their stories. Alexandra Brodsky helped bring a Title IX complaint against Yale, while Dana Bolger helped found It Happens Here, a blog recounting sexual assaults on Amherst’s campus. Their experiences might be different, but one thing Brodsky, Bolger, Annie Clark, Courtney Kiehl, Kate Orazem, Andrea Pino, Ali Safran and Lauren Buxbaum have in common, is that they’re determined to educate students about their Title IX rights. They formed an underground network of sorts, sharing their stories with each other, and now want to make sure all students across the country know what rights are afforded them.

They recently launched their campaign on crowd funding platform Indiegogo, in hopes of raising $10,000 by May 27th. The campaign came about because, as the site notes, “many colleges today are failing to fulfill their legal and ethical obligations.” They’re hoping to educate every college student in the country about his or her rights under Title IX before the start of the fall 2013 term. They believe that, “armed with information, survivors will be able to advocate for themselves during their schools’ grievance proceedings, and, if Title IX guarantees are not respected, to file a complaint against their colleges with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.”

You can donate any amount big or small to the campaign, although some amounts come with “perks” like a magnet or bumper sticker. Even if you can’t afford to donate right now, you can still spread the word to make sure students are aware of their rights under Title IX.

The end of April marks the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but we will continue to shine a light on the efforts of those who are speaking out on behalf of survivors. For more information on how you can help sexual assault survivors, take action below.

If you or someone you know need someone to talk to, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is free, confidential and available 24/7 at 1.800.656.HOPE. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone over the phone, you can log on to the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.

 [VIDEO] Awkward.’s Sadie + Tamara Dish On Relationships 

Reported by MTV Act.

AwkwardInterviewPress-Post

Oh man. Some serious drama goes down when Jenna’s dad finds her birth control in the guest bathroom. Totally understandable that her dad is feeling protective, and is worried that Jenna and Matty haven’t really talked through things enough. Being super secure with your relationship means being able to talk about anything — including having a protection plan.

This week, “Awkward.” stars Molly Tarlov and Jillian Rose Reed weigh in on healthy relationships and protection as part of IYSL and Awkward.’s collaboration. Check out what they had to say!

+ Why is making a protection plan so key?

The real deal is that many teens are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Three in ten teen girls in the US will get pregnant at least once before age 20. Every single time you have sex there is a chance of pregnancy. It doesn’t matter what position, environment, or time of the month it is — pregnancy can happen. If you do decide to have sex, making a plan to protect yourself from STD’s and pregnancy before you’re in the situation is the way to go. Luckily, there are a TON of protection options to choose from. There’s the pill, the patch, and condoms — just to name a few. The great thing about condoms is that they’re the ONLY method that prevent BOTH pregnancy AND STD’s. All of this is def a team effort — you and your partner should both be on the same page and take care of each other and your health. Jillian agrees, “We want to take all the steps necessary…we need to be confident in our relationship with our boyfriends or girlfriends.”

+ Watch “Awkward.” Discuss A Protection Plan.

 + What if I Want to Wait 

Seriously, no biggie. This is a huge decision, and is YOURS to make — “When am I ready?” is a question that only you can answer.  It doesn’t have to be the school’s or even your friends’ business. It’s between you and your partner, and if they have a problem with it? Might be time to ditch them. Jillian’s character, Tamara, doesn’t let peer pressure get to her. She knows exactly what she wants, and is totally down to wait for the right time and the right person to have sex. “The truth of the matter is that only about half of teenagers in high school are having sex.” Jillian reveals.

+Watch  “Awkward.” Talk About Why It’s OK To Wait.

+ What Can Fans Learn from Tamara’s experiences? 

Ugh, who can forget Tamara’s awful ex? Ricky cheated, lied, and Tamara kept taking him back, leaving many “Awkward.” fans yelling at their TV. Jillian urges her fans to not let anyone walk all over them. “I would definitely tell my fans to be stronger than that and not to go back to a guy that keeps breaking your heart,” Jillian says.

+ Watch Jillian discuss what you can learn from Tamara’s experiences.

Don’t miss tonight’s episode of “Awkward.” at 10/9c, and be sure to check out more exclusive clips and relationship tips on IYSL.

 [Video] Awkward.’s Jillian Rose Reed + Molly Tarlov on Why Waiting is OK 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (MTV)

Photo: (MTV)

Sure babe.” Eeeeek the words NO GIRL ever wants to hear. After Jenna’s pregnancy scare last week and subsequent drama with Matty, we are on the edge of our seats to see how everything gets (hopefully) resolved tonight!

All the dramz could have definitely been avoided if Jenna and Matty had been more careful about using protection.  If Jenna had shared where she was at and what she was thinking and feeling with her cutie bf, he would have been able to provide some much needed support. Talking about the “what ifs” can be…well…awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. And if you’re really feeling that tongue-tied and anxious around your significant other, maybe all the other stuff needs to be put on pause. There’s nothing wrong with waiting. Taking control of your sex life (at any time) is your decision to make — and needs to be respected. Just ask Molly Tarlov and Jillian Reed from “Awkward.” IYSL and “Awkward.” have teamed up for April’s National STD Awareness month, and we’ll be posting interviews each week.

This week, Molly and Jillian reveal why waiting is ok. We asked them if their characters, Sadie and Tamara, would have the confidence to say they wanted to wait. It’s no surprise that opinionated Sadie would lay down the rules and not care what anyone else thought.  “My character wouldn’t have any qualms about telling someone that she wanted to wait because she does have that certain pocket of confidence that would stand up for herself in that kind of way.” Molly says. Tamara, our favorite romantic, would of course hold off until everything was perfect. “I think Tamara has it set in her mind about wanting the moment to be special and right for her…she doesn’t feel pressure to have sex…” Jillian reveals.

+ Watch Awkward. on Waiting

We also asked the Awkward. ladies if they had any advice for teens who want to wait to have sex. They said first off —  it’s easy to feel pressure to go faster and do more than you’re comfortable with.  But don’t believe the hype. Not everyone is having sex! Less than half of teens in high school have had sex. It’s always important to be honest with yourself (as well as your partner) and to trust your instincts. If you’re not feelin’ it, you’re not feelin’ it. Period. Your partner should listen to you and respect your decisions. Jillian agrees, ““If your significant other isn’t ok with waiting and doesn’t make you feel comfortable then maybe that’s not the right person to be with.”

+ Watch Awkward.’s Advice for You

Bottom line — you’re worth waiting for. And only you know when you are ready.. And if you do decide you are ready to have sex, make a plan to protect yourself from STDs and pregnancy BEFORE you’re in the situation.

For more tips about how to get the convo started check out IYSL. And don’t miss our interviews with Awkward.’s Molly Tarlov and Jillian Reed each week!

 [Interview] Sexual Assault Isn’t Funny, So Why Are So Many Joking About It? 

Reported by MTV Act.

Photo: (Getty)

Photo: (Getty)

It might seem obvious, but sexual assault is no laughing matter — so why are so many people taking it so lightly? Earlier this month, Rick Ross learned the hard way that rapping about rape or sexual assault is unacceptable, to say the least. The MC apologized on Twitter, saying that he doesn’t “condone rape.”

We’ve all been in those situations where someone uses the term rape to refer to something other than the crime itself. Because this month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we wanted to get to the heart of the issue and find out why it’s never appropriate to take sexual assault lightly. We hopped on the phone with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) spokesperson Katherine Hull to talk to her about what to do when someone jokes about sexual assault in front of you and why it’s not joke material.

MTV ACT: It seems like an obvious thing, not to joke about sexual assault, but Rick Ross isn’t the only celebrity who has made that mistake. Why is that?  

KATHERINE HULL: Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a number of different celebrities using terms or descriptions about rape or sexual assault to refer to something other than just the crime. And it’s really damaging to survivors who have actually gone through this. I know some celebrities, for example, have compared their experiences with paparazzi to the actual act of sexual violence. Those terms should only be used to describe those crimes of sexual violence. There’s sexual abuse, incest, rape, and sexual assault. These are very serious crimes; the FBI ranks rape as the second most violent crime following only murder, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.

I don’t feel comfortable speculating why these people use these terms. Americans’ viewpoints of these crimes have changed over the past couple of years. Even if we look at hyper-violent news stories over the couple of years (Steubenville, Akin’s comments, the suicides in Canada and LA recently), it’s important for teens and young people to know that this is not something to be joked about.

MTV ACT: Some people will say that a joke is a joke. Why is it important that people not joke about rape or sexual assault?

HULL: The problem with joking about sexual violence and rape is that it’s just not funny. It’s a very serious crime; joking about it can not only be damaging to those who have impacted by sexual assault, but also by those who love them. This is not a rare crime. Just to give some perspective, this is a crime that affects another American every two minutes. Nearly half of these survivors are under the age of 18. So chances are extremely likely that the person you’re talking to has either been personally affected or someone that they know has been impacted.

The second reason why it’s not important to joke about this is that this is an issue in which we can to create an environment in which this is taken seriously and in which survivors do feel comfortable coming forward and disclosing their experience to loved ones and reporting it to the police. And by joking about it, it kind of sets the tone that this won’t be taken seriously. We know that the first person a survivor discloses to can impact his/her decision to go forward and report the crime to the police. So if they feel as though someone is not supportive or doesn’t understand it, it can prohibit them from going forward and getting the help that they need.  It has real-life consequences for people who have been impacted by this crime.

MTV ACT: If you hear a friend joke about sexual assault, how do you address it? 

HULL: I came up with just a couple of them:

+ Leading by example. Don’t joke about rape or sexual assault or use those terms to talk about anything other than the actual crime.

+ Stand up for what is right. If you do hear a friend making a joke or talking about this in a way that makes you uncomfortable, say something and make your voice heard. Let that person know that it makes you feel uncomfortable and it’s not something that you agree with.

+ Help make it uncool. You’re just making it a social norm that we just don’t use terms like that. Sometimes we hear people use a phrase like, “Dude, we’re just not saying that anymore.” We’ve seen that approach used in other derogatory words that people use in our culture.

+ Bring it home. Another thing that could work depending on the relationship with the person is bringing the issue home for the person. Sadly, most people know somebody who was affected by this crime, whether they know it or not, statistically speaking. You know referencing individuals they know who have been sexually assaulted or by saying something that’s been in the news, like what came out of Steubenville. Just saying, this really isn’t funny; this is happening to people on our campus or happening to our friends and it’s all over the news. It’s not a laughing matter.

MTV ACT: For our readers who don’t know about sexual assault and how prevalent it is, where can they turn for information?

HULL: RAINN.org is probably the number one source for information and resources and statistics on this issue. More than just the survivors come to us: loved ones, information seekers, students writing their college papers, policy makers, the media…we see a really diverse audience coming to RAINN. We can help them understand the crime, learn more about it and really reflect the crime more accurately.

If you or someone you know need someone to talk to, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 at 1.800.656.HOPE. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone over the phone, you can log on to the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.