You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘women’ tag.

At the end of 2015 I decided I was going to live life to its fullest potential and start really following my dreams, because up until then, I realized I’d spent a lot of my time pleasing people. My work was not what I considered my best because I was constantly compromising and conforming to meet what the client wanted. I had become all about ‘if they pay, they say’ and stopped arguing with them over ‘ugly’ products. Though don’t get me wrong, if they pay, they still say, I’m just more wary of which clients I take on – if they’re not ready to excel, or innovative, I’m not about that life.

But before I made that decision, it ate at me. I looked at some of my past work and remembered the high I got from being true to my inner spirit – the spirit that some times runs wild but appreciates nice looking things!

2016 was going to be about me, and doing things that I wanted to do, throwing caution to the wind! Or so I thought.

Herstory bts

January 2016 I decided to embark on a passion project. Before I could even get started, we suddenly had more work than expected – Q1 is usually very slow, with things only really picking up around April/May.

While I was counting our blessings, I was also wondering what would happen to my passion project, pushing it to the back of my mind, ‘we’re too busy’, I told myself.

And then a friend of mine said ‘you’re scared.’ I was going to protest, instead I walked away annoyed by the comment – do I look like I get scared?! But deep down, I knew she was right.

I had minor panic attacks worrying about whether it would work or not, I reached out to several friends and people I knew in the industry who I felt had more experience than me for advise. Some came back, most didn’t. I focused on that. If I couldn’t get the help from these people, how on earth did I expect to make this work, what would I do?

But I also had so many supportive people in my corner – people I didn’t even know where there, including some incredible women who I am beginning to believe God brought us together for a reason.

Yet there was still a lot of back and forth on my part. First I was scared it would be lame – I’m not about mediocre. That thought was spoken by someone in my inner circle – ‘you are not the type of person to allow mediocrity, why would it be now?’

Of course I could point to many a times I thought I was involved in mediocrity, though it wasn’t of my doing so, fair point.

I had a1001 excuses not to do it. After awhile I realized that my fear was not of just being mediocre but actually of doing a good job. It seems weird to have such a fear but there is just a much pressure with being good and maintaining or exceeding!

And on my mum’s birthday I decided to bite the bullet and just do it! It seemed fitting to do it on her birthday – she is an extraordinary woman to me, so good time to ‘jump’.

It was a great experience! Ok it was running late – another story. But when it was done, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t freaked out, only messed up my lines once. It was awesome.

I might not use it – despite me appreciating I don’t have to be fantastic all the time, it can be better so why not do better?

The important thing for me was to let go of the fear and listen to my truth, and follow that truth – good things await those who are true to themselves!

It may not be the dream exactly, but it’s a step closer, without doing this, I would have been so much further from all I imagine for my life. And that’s what’s the most important thing.

Coming soon…

after the show

I’ve always said that it’s not easy to be a woman in Zambia, maybe even Africa. It’s funny that just days after International Women’s Day the reality of being a woman hits home.

The fuel crisis hitting the country has meant long queues and the very clever setting up of the hashtag #petrolwatch on twitter to enable users to find petrol and alert others of where there is or isn’t fuel.

This morning, as we were trying to look for fuel, we randomly ended up at the airport – ok, not so random, my sister in law was travelling to South Africa where her mother is in a serious coma (more on the failings of our healthcare in my next blog), and right before we reached Engen at Chainama (were #patrolwatch confirmed there had been fuel at least 2 hours previously), my brother called and said, come to the airport, there is fuel here.

My brother held a place in the queue and when we arrived, we exchanged places. There was a car behind us, who then accused us of queue-barging, at which point, I explained that my brother was holding the spot for us and that really, it was not going to make a difference to them because it was switching one car out for another, not adding to the line.

At which point the woman in the passenger seat got out to complain to the fuel attendant, who kind of shrugged his shoulders. But the man in the drivers seat decided to bully his way in front of us to ensure he would get served before us. At which point, I was like ‘Dude, you’re still going to get served’ and then for some reason he started telling me to be mature. So I was like in which case, we should both be mature, I explained to you that my brother was holding this spot for us.

I don’t really know exactly what happened next but the fight escalated and my sister jumped out of the car to tell him off, the girl shouting at my sister as Mary is giving the example of being at the bank or Shoprite where someone says ‘I was holding this space for…’ or ‘I was already here…’ etc.   But they weren’t trying to hear it. I get out and told the guy to stop being an asshole, ok I did first ask him, ‘What kind of man are you?’ (Let me be clear, I don’t believe men should do things for me just because I’m a woman, but it was the gentlemanly thing to do because technically, we never did anything wrong)

At this point, the woman put her hand on me and said – ‘Don’t you know that he is a police officer, we’ll throw you in jail and you’ll spend the weekend there’.

Now I know my rights, and I hate abuse of power, corruption and all the other vices that plague our country, so I saw red and said ‘first of all, take your hands off me and don’t you dare threaten me’, so then she’s like ‘who were you insulting?’ ‘him!’, I yelled.

Mary tells him off for using his position of authority and cautioned him that he may be an officer of the law, but our father is a former Minister of Home Affairs, so does he really want to go down that road?  Her point being, don’t throw around these things, because it can end up being a who’s who, which is the exact behavior we need to stop in Zambia.

The owner then goes to the pump attendant and told him to serve the man in the Volvo.

The Volvo

I was already back in the car at this point as I realized there was no point because not one person came to try and diffuse the situation = except the pump attendant who told us there was enough fuel to serve everyone. He just didn’t understand that it wasn’t about the fuel at all.

After the guy got served he smirked at us and said sorry (with a huge smile) as he drove off. I gave him the middle finger (my anger knows no bounds sometimes)

When we got to the pump, I asked the attendant why he made the decision to serve the guy when he saw that we exchanged with a car already in the queue. He rolled his eyes and tried to ignore me. So I was like ‘hell no, I want an answer’, so he was like go ask my boss over there.

One thing I’ve noticed people in Zambia don’t do is complain to management. I don’t have a problem with this. If I don’t complain, you won’t know I felt wronged and you won’t do better next time. It’s exhausting because to be honest, most businesses here don’t understand the importance of customer care/service etc, so you say your piece and they basically look at you like you’re mad.

But anyway, we decided this was important to do. So when we asked the owner, Mr Nzila (if that’s his real name) he said, ‘I spoke to the woman to find out what was going on and I decided to let them get served first’. My response was, ‘But you didn’t hear our side, so how is that fair?’. He then went on to say that he didn’t need to hear our side because he decided that since we were the ones insulting, he decided to ‘punish us’. Punish us?!

We were being threatened to be thrown into jail, but we were punished because we raised our voices, got out of our car, and called the man (the officer of the law), who was sitting in his car an asshole… We were Punished.

What do you think would have happened if we were men?

That’s why Mary called it, the ‘conspiracy of men’. Not one man thought to hear us out, or to attempt to diffuse the situation, the filling station was full of men, instead they probably thought ‘How dare these women shout at a man, in public, and call him an asshole, who do they think they are? yes, they should be punished.’

Eventually the owner of the filling station apologized to Mary – I was back in the car at this point – after he initially refused to apologise – saying ‘it was his decision to make as a business owner’ (and fck his customers clearly – or at least the female ones). Mary had argued with him that surely if he felt it was so bad he should have ‘punished’ both of us and put both of us at the back of the queue – fair enough.

The reality is that I would have been quite happy to let them go first if he’d simply asked – I could understand their annoyance that we came in after they’d been waiting – about 20 minutes if that. But he and his ghetto chick decided they wanted to bully us, intimidate us and just wanted to be… assholes (yes I said it again).

There was some pent up frustration that came out, we always get shafted, whether you’re a woman, poor, or seem to have no power.

Just last night as I was lying in bed I was thinking about how helpful we are to people because we believe in them, or because we know it doesn’t cost us anything to help. But yet, I feel so few people here have our back. Whether it’s petty jealously, or envy, or whatever that I’ve never understood, it still frustrates and angers.

I believe working together, as a collective, is good for the industry but there are people who feel otherwise. But now I’m getting side-tracked.

My point was that despite having a female vice-president, despite having females in position of power, those of us on the street still get overlooked. I don’t know what else to do but tell my truth every time I see or am overlooked, or unseen as a woman. We all have to. Maybe then will people understand the daily injustices we face and want to get involved – I’ve always said, we need a heforshe campaign in Zambia – we can’t do it without men.  I wondered why we turned back to go to the airport when we were so close to Chainama were there were supposed to be fuel, Mary said it was God that made us go there, for us to get angry to remember that it’s only when you’re angry about injustice that you want to do something about it.  Food for thought

Now that I’ve calmed down, let me get back to work, and enjoy your Youth Day!

The last few months have been rather intense, both personally and professionally. Change is always a difficult thing to go through, but sometimes you just have to embrace it and hold on.

With less than a month to go before World AIDS Day, we’re full steam ahead to deliver one of our most integrated campaigns yet – if all goes according to plan. It’s also a new programming format for us, mixing reality style with documentary type story lines. I wish I could say it’s an obs-doc, but it’s not quite, not yet…

Coupled with this one hour special is a dedicated website, which we hope will be a one-stop destination for young people needing to find out all they need about testing and/or living with HIV.

I have to admit this format and indeed this website has been a goal of mine for awhile. When I first lost my brother in 2006, a change started in me, regarding the type of messages I thought we should be communicating to the audience, yes putting across the use the condom message was still important but it wasn’t enough (and I’m simplifying the messages we put across, it was more than just use a condom).

In 2009 when I lost my other brother, I knew it was time to change things up.

I still believe it’s important to put across the more positive, inclusive message of you can live a healthy, productive life with HIV, but I also think we can’t shy away from some of the more negative aspects of living with HIV. Like with any terminal illness there are good and bad days. And with the bad times, it affects everyone who loves you. Never before did the saying ‘if you’re not infected, you’re affected’ resonate with me than when I lost my brother. And even now, as I watch other relatives battling with the virus.

And so the process to tell the real stories of young people living with HIV began earlier this year. Do I think we’ve got it right? Well, I’ll let you guys be the judge of that, come December 1st.

I think there are so many stories to be told that what we’ve started is just the tip of the iceberg and it shouldn’t end here. Ultimately Me, Myself and HIV, should resonate with young people already living with the virus, but also give an opportunity for someone to walk in the shoes of one of these kids (they’re early 20s, hardly kids I suppose), for just one day. It’s not about pity, it’s not about differences, it’s much more about similarities, with that extra layer of HIV to complicate some things.

Look out for it – coming to a screen near you – on December 1st.

Another interesting day in the office that led to the topic of masturbation. It actually started by talking about women in their late 20s never experiencing an orgasm and how possible that was. Which led to the debate about how believable (or not, as the case might be) that some women don’t masturbate.

I personally am a big advocate for masturbation. I think that it teaches people to appreciate their bodies – you have to touch yourself, which some people find weird – and it’s also a great form of safe sex. It’s also something that you can do on your own or with a partner.

In many countries around the world it is still so taboo, but I think if we encouraged more young people to masturbate they might not feel the need to have sex, and can hold out until marriage, or whenever parents and/or society deem it to be the appropriate time or age to do so.

And if you’re sexually active it teaches you what you like and what you don’t like, and therefore have a more pleasurable sexual experience with your partner. Or at least that’s what people say, I haven’t actually figured out how this works.

But that last point actually took the conversation in the office in a different direction when someone suggested that they learnt what they liked and didn’t like from porn. Well, not literally. They used porn to educate themselves on what they should be doing sexually and then tried it on their partner, and those experiences taught them more about what turned them on and off.

Well I don’t know about that, but I guess people get ‘sex education’ from many different sources, so we need to be educating through those different sources. It’s nice to see that there are some porn films (programmes?) that use condoms, because those is another way of normalising using condoms – for the people who get their sex education from porn.

But I’d still encourage masturbation – you get comfortable with your body, it’s pretty safe (unless you’re sharing toys), and allows experimentation without actually having sex. It’s interesting that people are still uncomfortable talking about it though.

Twitter is interesting. I used to think it was a tool for narcissistic people, of course now that I’m on it, I’m not singing that tune anymore. While I’m still trying to learn the ins and out of it – what is the hashtagging about? – I have found it very interesting to learn stuff people I respect and admire tweet about.

One of those people is Reverend Run. I usually love his tweets as they’re inspiring and motivational. Something that I like to read when I get up in the morning and right before I got to bed. However, the other day he tweeted ‘Fellas:::If she’s amazing she won’t be easy, if she’s easy she won’t be amazing -Jamal Bryant’.

I see where he was going with it, (and I suppose I must clarify that it is someone else’s quote), on one hand he can be seen to be empowering women to be more virtuous. On the other hand he’s reinforcing women with low self esteem who do have sex easily to be kept down.

I’ve seen it too often, young girls who got caught up in a bad situation – be it some form of sexual abuse – or just not loving themselves enough to say no, or peer pressure or something else that made them make that one decision to have sex when they didn’t want to. On the first night too. It’s hard to come back from that.

It takes real strength to break that cycle of having sex with men who don’t deserve you, and to say that if you have sex that easy you’re not worth much is pretty irresponsible if you ask me.

Black girls especially have it really hard as it is, sexualised in the media, not many examples of black men loving black women and treating them right (thank God for President Obama), that it’s easy for us to suffer from lower self esteem, dysfunctional perceptions of our bodies and believing we’re nothing more than a show-piece or sex toy for our men. But it’s time we change that.

First of all we need to show young black girls that being beautiful doesn’t mean you need to be half naked (Beyonce please put some clothes on in your videos), and also celebrate our diversity. There is not one definition of black beauty. Once we can instil that love, pride and respect within them we can move onto sexuality.

Our bodies are our temples, or should be, but we have to be more clear about that message. If a woman who loves herself, has self-respect and high self-esteem generally wants to have sex with any number of men, should we persecute her? Why does that make her less amazing a person?

How can a person be defined by the number of times she opens her legs, or to the different number of men? She could be an amazing person who has had bad things happen to her in the past, or she could be an amazing person who just likes sex?

Makes me wonder how come there are enough male celebrities who claim to be sex addicts but no female celebrities – could this possibly be because they’d just be labeled sluts. It is a double standard. Should we not then be saying than man-whores are not amazing men (well generally they aren’t), we just need to hear it more often – and not be the scorned woman.

Though maybe I misinterpreted the quote and what he meant was that it takes work to get and keep an amazing woman! That she has standards that might be high, but that’s what it takes to be with such an amazing woman. I’d prefer it if that is the message, so I’m going with this version, so that I can still keep Rev Run as one of my inspired personalities to follow on twitter.

Of course it’s also spurned me to think that there might be something else I should be doing. Watch this space.

I actually mean the global south and north here. Over the last few months (for some reason I’ve been more mentally aware of my surrounds in this period) I’ve realised how different cultures can be and the impact this must have on young people split between them.

I was born in Zambia and spent my formative years split between London and Stockholm. I moved back to Zambia as a teenager and then relocated to London in my early twenties. So I’ve moved around a fair bit and I’ve always been grateful for this because it opened my mind. As a teenager, my sexual education was influenced by living in the liberal city of Stockholm, this actually made it easier for my sisters and I to launch the sexual educating magazine, Trendsetters, in Zambia.

But the respect and values I came with to the UK were from my Zambian culture. So sometimes I still recoil when I hear a child talking back to their parents (disrespectfully I mean). It also affects my perception of ‘appropriate attire’ – I was going to say covering your modesty, but hey who am I kidding, I used to love my mini-skirts! Though I was erm, ok not really 18, I may have had some suspect outfits at 16! Still, I find it disturbing to see some of the clothes people leave their houses in, during the day or even going to work in.

Though my point comes when I think about how some things are so much more acceptable here than they are for our cultures back home – or at least people make it seem like it is. One one hand young people are encouraged to embrace their sexuality and that it’s ok to sexually experiment. Hell, babies having babies are ok. When my other Zambian friends and I get together we do joke about how if this was Africa, such and such wouldn’t be happening – and brush it off.

The other day as I was recounting an incident where I thought a man was having a relationship with a very young girl because he was touching her, what my African upbringing would suggest inappropriately, turned out it was his daughter, I realised just how different these cultures are. Most of my western colleagues didn’t think there was anything wrong with a father putting his hand on his teenage daughter’s thigh while they were talking, whereas that would be a huge no no in Zambia.

All this got me thinking – how do teenagers, more specifically the African youth in the diaspora bridge these gaps? How do they manage to choose the good from their cultures back home – because let’s be honest, there are some parts of the African culture that really undervalue women and we don’t need that – with the good part of the western culture (back chat not included)?

My friend and I laugh at our different experiences of wearing shorts in front of our fathers – another no no after a certain age – hers was her aunt telling her off (though she pointed out that if her dad bought them in the first place, why shouldn’t she wear them), mine was my father actually telling me it was inappropriate – I always forgot though, I’m sure on some occasions he just walked out of the room (Lol). Then I think of a visit to my aunt’s house (here in the UK) and finding her son’s girlfriend sitting on his lap and kissing him in front of her – shock horror! And they shared a bedroom the whole weekend I was there. It sounds ridiculous when I write it – because I’m thinking of it from a Western perspective, but I’m not sure that even at my age I’m having my boyfriend sleep in my room at my parents house… maybe if we’re engaged it would be ok, maybe.

This is something we sometimes forget when we’re educating young people – how various cultures influence their lives. Be it because of where they go to school, where they live or even because of the TV programmes they watch. If you don’t speak to them with those cultural influences in mind, how can you expect the message to sink in? You may not agree with it, you may even want to mock it, but if you want to make a difference, try to understand where they’re coming from.

In the early days of HIV prevention messaging in Zambia, the US agencies came in pouring money into the ‘talk to your parents about sex’ message. Because they didn’t ask (or maybe they didn’t do the right research) it took them awhile to realise that the reason that message never worked was because in our culture, you don’t talk to your parents about sex, you talk to your aunt – as a girl, or your uncle, if you’re a boy.

People know this in commercial advertising, I have no idea why it’s taken so long in public health. Ok I know a lot of campaigns do do this now, but there are still a few that make me say hmmmm.

It’s been a long couple of weeks for me, both at work and in my personal life. We’re gearing up for the bi-annual (every 2 years?) International AIDS Conference in Vienna, and we have some pretty amazing stuff going on there, and trying to work across what we’re doing on the ground and online is a pretty hectic task. But I do love it, and I’m excited to see it all come together.
And seeing that I am a ‘happy-drunk’, I managed to volunteer to organise and host my sister’s friend’s Hen party. Though I did one for one of my closest friends a month or so ago, I have no idea what to do for this one. It doesn’t help that she and her friends are students, so budget-wise, that’s quite restricting – and I unfortunately can’t foot the bill! I have to sort it out pretty soon, seeing as it’s scheduled for this Friday – yikes!
On another note, I’m actually thinking about finally getting on the twitter bandwagon… still thinking about it of course. I’m half tempted, but then I think about whether I have the time to do it – I barely have time to blog these days! And then there is of course the fact that I have frequently declared that I’d never get on twitter because you’d have to be seriously narcissistic to be on it (unless you’re only following people, then you’re a potential stalker!), I do like to be a woman of my word. But then again, I am a woman, I do have the right to change my mind! Anyway, as it stands, I’m merely thinking about it. Right now I have to focus on overseeing our Vienna activities, writing my assignment (not to mention starting on my dissertation), and writing about two business plans, oh and organising the hen night! Do I really have time for Twitter?

Our office really can be a fun place to work, especially because so much of what we do revolves around sex. Sometimes I don’t even know how the conversations come up but I do worry about the poor emerging markets team hearing our rather graphic conversations – hmmm surely there’s an HR policy that goes against sexually inappropriate conversations? But of course it’s not inappropriate, it’s work related!

So the masturbation one came up … actually I have no idea how that one came up think it was from our fans on facebook discussing it. It was interesting to see the comments! People still believe that masturbation can make you blind because it’s some great sin from God. Hmmm ok.

Then it was that women don’t masturbate, only men do… hmmm ok. And then my personal favourite, normal people don’t masturbate.

I did like the woman who then said, but it was good for relaxation because you really shouldn’t have your body all tense. Interesting that no one said that it was a good method of safer sex!

Today was more fun, my colleague Julie Allen, has been asked to sit on a panel during the International AIDS Conference to discuss how you can make the female condom more appealing to men. Our response was, ‘surely you should make it more appealing to women first?’

We discussed who had ever tried using one – no one and who was willing to try one – to help give Julie some first hand research to use for her panel – no one. Finally someone admitted having tried it once. The downside, it sounded like shagging a plastic bag (heard that one before). The merits? Well, ‘as a guy, you don’t have to use a condom, what’s better than that?’

We decided to put it to the fb fans. Wow, shock, wow.

Mainly women responded – not that many but still – and pretty much all of them said that they didn’t think it was safe! Interesting.

So back to my point – how do you make it more appealing to women? Seriously have you seen it? Nothing is sexy about it. At least get the packaging to a sexy point like most male condoms. And can it not be easier to insert? Well maybe it is easy to use, but the instructional graphics on the pack seem quite complicated…
Anyway maybe the second generation female condoms (creatively titled FC2) are more sexy and less noisy (they claim this at least). Funnily enough, think i’ll stick to the male condoms for now.

One of the best things about Shuga was its soundtrack (along with the great messaging, acting, cinematography etc). The music was pumping and really profiled local talent. One of my favourite songs was from female rapper Stella Mwangi.
Here is the video to the song She Got It

This is a re-post from www.staying-alive.org but I really liked it so wanted to share:

When I told my friend Sam that I was a “vagina warrior,” he couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
“A vagina warrior?” He questioned, “What does that even mean?”
A fair enough response to such a statement… similar to mine when I first heard the term. “Vagina warrior” conjured up images of a jousting labia and an armored clitoris fighting other labias and clitorises for world vaginal domination… or something like that.
In reality, the term is far less comical and far more important.

Vagina Warrior: a vagina friendly person of any gender identification who embodies the spirit of equality and empowerment, and assists in the battle to end violence against women.

Sufficed to say, Sam was thrilled that despite his penis, he could join the Vagina Warrior team!

The term was coined by Eve Ensler, activist and author of the critically acclaimed Vagina Monologues. Ensler also created V-Day, her own “holiday” of sorts that corresponds with Valentine’s Day and raises awareness about violence against women and girls. On V-Day, Vagina Monologues is performed in thousands of locations worldwide.

But, as vday.org will tell you, “Performance is just the beginning. V-Day stages large-scale benefits and produces innovative gatherings, films and campaigns to educate and change social attitudes towards violence against women.”

The money raised is distributed to thousands of different organizations but every year the V-Day team choose one particular initiative to spotlight. This year, they’re hoping to empower women and girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They rage with a raw yet truthful statement, “STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE.”

Certainly this type of brutality and dehumanization isn’t a fun or popular topic, but it is an important and all too pressing one.

Violence against women (and women not feeling empowered in general) is arguably one of the largest contributors to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Sometimes it’s as complicated as rape and sometimes it’s as simple as a consenting young woman lacking the confidence to say, “put on a condom.”

And yet in these sad circumstances, there is reason to hope. If violence against women, inequality, injustice and dis-empowerment are central causes to HIV/AIDS then it would stand that peace, equality, justice and empowerment for women have the potential to be an arsenal in the battle against HIV and AIDS.

Turning the tide for women won’t be easy and, as strange as it sounds, it certainly isn’t something that women can accomplish by themselves. We need to call upon all the penis-clad warriors to rise with us. Yes we need to educate our daughters, sisters, mothers, friends but we also need to educate our sons, brothers and fathers. (And of course those who don’t associate with just one gender as well.)

But, as my teacher (and vagina warrior on her own accord) Mrs. Mary Morris likes to remind me, “it’s all about setting manageable goals.” So perhaps we can’t change attitudes over night but we certainly can have a starting point.

So I’m going to use V-Day as a launching pad and issue a challenge to anybody who is willing to take it up.

Define “vagina warrior” on your own terms, what it means to YOU and how you can implement these principles into your life. That can mean removing certain derogatory words for women from your vocabulary, mentoring young people or having a heart-to-heart with someone you love.

I’ve sought out some incredible young people to give you their definitions. Use them as a starting place, an inspiration, a jumping off point. And, if you feel compelled, share with us your response in the comments section below.

For Cassie Hoeprich, director of the Women’s Action Committee at the University of Washington and Co-Producer of her schools production of The Vagina Monologues, being a vagina warrior “is more than just advocating for women. It’s about becoming aware of how all aspects of society have created inequalities within gender, but also within race, class, ability, etc. Acknowledging intersectionality can help us understand the different experiences that different women have. Eve Ensler has done quite a bit in advocating for what she had come to see the female voice as, but now it’s time that we start realizing it is crucial to actually include every voice instead of speaking for one another. Being a vagina warrior is respecting the range of people that identify as women and seeking allyship through out the process.”

For Tomek Latak Fior, artist and musician, “I consider myself a vagina warrior because when I’m talking to a girl I treat her as if her life and what’s going on in her world is as important and valid as my own. Like, if she mentions her period or concern over getting pregnant – I know that it’s legit conversation (instead of acting like a douche like some of my friends do). I see girls as human beings, not some idea of what “girls” are supposed to be like. I find that people like being treated like people.”

For my handsome friend Sam being a vagina warrior, “means treating all women with the same respect that I would want shown to my mom. It also means calling people out when they’re not showing decency and respect. I know a lot of guys who think that as long as they’re not being an ass, all is good. But they need to remind their friends to behave as well. I’m a vagina warrior because I treat women like people… I also really dig vaginas.”

The lovely picture of vagina warriors was taken by Lalita Love, a vagina warrior herself.

This post is by Carina Kolodny

Carina Kolodny is a writer and expert coffee shop loiterer based out of NYC. When not writing (or loitering) she can usually be found traveling the world or jumping out of airplanes. She became interested in HIV education while working with the Red Cross in Fiji. This was an enriching though terrifying experience as she hates snakes almost as much as she hates grammar. She counts Fiji, Cuba and Tanzania as second homes and strongly believes in the power of self love and red lipstick.