Body Ownership

Carmen Cordis is a rad CHATpdx Sexpert, Activist and Leader in Portland, OR. 

I’ve recently encountered a lot of people, whether they identify inside, outside, or on the fringe of the alphabet soup community (LGBTQQAAPIT-S and any I missed, in no particular order), who have given me an ultimatum, namely that I must make some kind of physical or surgical alteration (of other people’s choosing) to my body or appearance in order to “earn” their acceptance, approval, respect, charity, or support.

I am taking a stand against our culture of non-binary-gender-phobia, body-shaming, photographic alteration, unrealistic body image fixation, cissexism, transphobia, and discrimination based on gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, or bodily appearance.

Carmen Graphic

I am a living, breathing, feeling human being with a heart, a brain, a plethora of dreams, a past, a future, and a story.

I am not someone else’s narrow vision of a quickly-labeled “other” identity that ceases to exist outside of those narrowly imposed boundaries.

I was born with human dignity.  My gender is my own; it does not belong to anyone else.  It cannot be ripped away from me and reshaped by someone else, because no one else owns it.

Likewise, My body is my own. No one the right to make serious, irreversible, potentially harmful or deadly decisions regarding MY BODY but me – and those I designate as my agents in the event that I desire assistance.

Because of the culture of fear, my body has been made into my worst enemy for as long as I can remember.  I also tend to avoid conflict and prefer mediation or compromise in order to diffuse conflict.

Unfortunately, at times I have lost the control of my own body because someone other than myself decided to own my body or change it to suit their desires.

Willingly, or unwillingly, I surrendered my body to someone else, sometimes to avoid external conflict, and found myself waiting for the hell to be over when I began to drown in the internal conflict I created by capitulating.

Carmen Own Post

Too many times, I have tried to destroy my body, in order to satisfy the demands of a fear-hatred culture, and to escape from the hell of conflict by giving up and throwing in the towel, saying, “Okay.  You win.  Are you happy now?”

I no longer wish to propitiate those people who would delight in my destruction.

I deserve to be happy, and one step toward my happiness is to own my own body.

Please consider my words the next time you notice someone (perhaps yourself, even) making serious entitlement claims to someone else’s body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Please consider my words the next time you notice someone else making serious entitlement claims to your own body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Do not surrender to anyone who would delight in the destruction or invalidation of your essential self, the self of your definition and determination, the self of your life experience.

No one is infallible, but maybe by educating each other we can make a better world, one step at a time.

Carmen Dignity Post

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Male Birth Control that may also kill HIV?



Male Birth Control that can also kill HIV?

More often than not, the responsibility of preventing pregnancy falls on female-bodied individuals – birth control pills, the patch, IUDs, insertive condoms, etc. But what about guys who want to take responsibility too? Or women for whom a lot of the standard options don’t work?

Enter a new option: for years, researchers in India have been looking at a technique called RISUGTM (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance). Basically, a doctor injects a gel into the vas deferens, which are the tubes that the sperm flows through on the way to ejaculation. The gel hardens as it coats the walls of the tubes, and tears apart the sperm as they pass by so that they can’t cause pregnancy. It’s a non-surgical procedure that can last for twenty or more years, and is easily reversible by injecting a solution that dissolves the gel. Within a few months of reversal, fertility should return to normal.

But it doesn’t stop there – now researchers are talking about ways to make the gel also prevent transmission of HIV. There are different

Penis Anatomy

Penis Anatomy

ideas about how it would work – like inactivating HIV in sperm or having the gel release drugs that would kill the HIV downstream (because some components of semen don’t pass through the vas deferens – they come from the seminal vesicles, prostate and bulbourethral glands).

Of course, it’s still in trials so we won’t be seeing it on the market any time soon, but if it works this could be huge! Not only would it be another option for preventing pregnancy, but it would also provide a new way for serodiscordant couples to prevent transmission of HIV to the negative partner.

What do you think? Would you try it? Would you trust your partner if they said they’d had it done?




The desexualization of bullying – A deeper look at bullying’s sexual undertones

Posted on February 16, 2012

by: Kris Gowen, originally posted on Kris Gowens Blog


Kids Bullying

You Can Stop Bullying

I was going to try to come up with a fancier more accessible title, but I can’t right now. But I sure better by May! I’ve been invited to speak at an bullying awareness event in Austin Texas this May. While I jumped at this opportunity to share my work (and support my friend who is organizing the event), I quickly realized that I am no bullying expert. But, for better or for worse, not being a total expert on a topic as not stopped me before…

I am an expert on adolescent sexuality and sexual development. I also have a pretty good handle on youth and technology and how that impacts their development (hence, this blog). So, how to use my strengths in the context of this upcoming event? Tie all of these issues together — sexuality, technology, and bullying. I have found my comfort zone!

What’s odd is that while so much of bullying has a sexual undertone or is blatantly about sex or sexuality or at least gender, most bullying curricula, anti-bullying campaigns, etc., do not acknowledge this important association. Bullying is seen as harassment, teasing, isolation, and assault. But under no circumstances should one put the word “sexual” in front of any of those terms and call it bullying.

Why this separation? Why not discuss sexual harassment while discussing bullying? Where is the conversation about sexual respect and self-worth in curricula that addresses the need to be nice to others? Are (anti) bullying experts afraid to talk about sex? Does it complicate things too much? Does it narrow their message?

Whatever the reason, I think it’s important to accept the fact that a lot of bullying has to do with sexuality. An obvious example is about name-calling due to sexual orientation and/or gender expression (and the “Think Before You Speak” campaign does a good job of calling this out). But what about sexting under pressure? Spreading rumors? Calling someone a ho or slut? These are unfortunately very common ways to bullying another, but where’s the conversation about the sexual components?

I hope to be able to speak more eloquently about this topic in the future. For now, I will continue to explore this rift and see if I can’t begin to bridge the gap between my interests and the important work done to decrease bullying among youth.


It’s your turn, what do you think we should do to change this? How has society removed Sexuality from bullying? Is this a bad thing? Comment and share your thoughts and then share this blog with someone you know.

Bully Victim Bystander

Stand Up Against Bullying


What the Planned Parenthood Stings don’t show

In Portland we’ve seen a little of the anti-abortion activism that goes on in this country, but only a small amount. I remember driving by the empty space on Martin Luther King Boulevard where a Planned Parenthood was going to be put in and seeing a small group of people protesting with their picket signs. And from time to time I would also see them on Fremont and 15th, near an already opened Planned Parenthood. This was already scary enough to me, to see people simply protesting against an organization that I really like.

The recent sting operations against Planned Parenthood definitely scare me more, and this is the second time something like this has happened to them.

Just this January, an anti-abortion group called Live Action had 12 men acting as pimps go into Planned Parenthoods in 6 different states and ask about receiving medical care, birth control and abortions for their prostitutes, giving ages as young as fourteen. The experiences the men had were recorded. Two videos have been released since, though analysis shows they were doctored before being released. One Planned Parenthood Manager in one video was fired for her upsetting behavior and comments that were recorded, while the other woman recorded is said to have accurately represented Planned Parenthood’s values. Live Action is trying to “expose” Planned Parenthood for breaking state and federal laws and for covering up abuse against young girls that the organization says they protect. They are ultimately trying to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding.

To read a full article on the situation, go here. You can also read about Live Action, the doctoring of the tapes, and Planned Parenthood’s reaction on their website here.

This extreme scenario of trying to access services for underage prostitutes is a perfect way to get Planned Parenthood in trouble – one wrong word in a situation like this and you are the bad guy. It’s also perfect because it would be making them out to be abusing a group of people they want to protect, young women being coerced into prostitution. This is harassment against individual workers, however, not a productive way to fight Planned Parenthood’s values. Instead of gaining social momentum and using people as power behind their movement, they are using shallow tactics to try to disrupt or end Planned Parenthood. Also, since the videos were edited, then who knows how the exchange even happened? It’s clear that what occurred in these videos do not represent what Planned Parenthood truly stands for. As for the manager that got fired, it is quite unfortunate she acted the way she did (though again, it would be useful to see the unedited footage), and her firing is an appropriate response. Planned Parenthood reacted quickly and how their supporters would want them to, showing they are still protecting their own values.

This is a different approach to undermining and trying to exterminate Planned Parenthood, one that is scarier than protesters. What else are these groups willing to do to end this organization? And what does it mean to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood? It means taking away a huge resource for women, for men, for young people, for us. I use Planned Parenthood’s services, as do many of my friends. I knew the name Planned Parenthood before I ever knew what birth control was. Threatening a leader organization in reproductive rights is expected, but it doesn’t mean it’s not scary. Planned Parenthood stands for so much to so many people; this is a threat to more than the workers that were recorded and the specific locations that were targeted. This is a threat to the entire movement of reproductive rights, healthy sexuality, and access to cheap, safe and affordable reproductive healthcare.

To me this was a reminder that I need to protect Planned Parenthood and organizations like it when I can. As established as Planned Parenthood may seem, there are those who still fight against them. I don’t want to fight against the fighters, but I want to protect what they are attacking.

What does Planned Parenthood mean to you? What would it mean if these sting operations were ever powerful enough to affect their funding? What can you do to protect things like Planned Parenthood? Remember to vote if you can, and take action through volunteering and talking with your peers.


Angela Carkner




have you ever wanted to be a superhero

busting heads and

breaking hearts, so

dashing people make you into art

and with fanfare install you

in City Hall


to guard the streetsSuper Heros

from filth and scum and

when times are good

they turn on you and

when times are bad

they turn to you and



you go back to




what would your power be?

would you fly or

dive or



run the city and

save the world


would you

use your x-ray vision

to look up women’s skirts

would you use your awesome power

to hook up and to flirt

would you come from outer space

to study the human race

and to pack us off

to see the things

we can’t yet make

to take over


would you inspire all the

good little

boys and girls

would you infiltrate society

and change us for the better

if you knew it’s what we need


could you hold us

in your arms

lift us out of harm

when the world is

going to hell

and we’re far too close to tell

but we’re falling in a well

with no end in sight

we’re too tired to fight

but there’s no other way

to make bad guys pay

so we need you to stay

and save us today

will you be the one we need

to take our hand and lead




there’s no call for speed


I’m just planting the seed