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Trigger Warning

The writing, imagery, and other forms of expression below may contain explicit descriptions of rape, sexual assault, relationship abuse and other forms of personal violation.

Dear Reader,

It is my belief that we are currently experiencing a defining moment in history. Eight days ago, on October 6th, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn into the United States Supreme Court where he will preside over cases whose outcomes affect millions of Americans. With a majority conservative panel, many fear that the Supreme Court will now set precedents that strictly limit the rights of women, individuals of the LGBTQ+ community and other already marginalized groups. The landmark case Roe v. Wade and the reproductive rights granted to women in America as a result have been put in the national spotlight in the past months as many fear they will soon be overturned.

For the first time in MVMENT’s history, we decided to pinpoint a focus for our issue: Roe v. Wade, and more broadly, the state of reproductive rights. While not every piece in this Issue is related to this theme, understanding the systems currently in place is vital to changing the status quo and to reforming a larger culture of marginalization, not only behind closed doors and in the dark corners of college parties, but also out in the open, all around us. Our goal has always been to improve with every issue, aiming to find a way to tackle issues of gender and sexuality not only through a variety of perspectives, but also using many different mediums. Issue 6 is another step towards finding that balance, with more current events and investigative journalism pieces than any previous issue. We believe that emphasizing specific themes in this issue developed more depth and cohesion than we have had before.

In many ways, it seems inappropriate for me to write anything more personal about Kavanaugh’s confirmation that to say that I am disgusted. As one MVMENT staffer frankly put it: “you’re a straight, cis-gendered dude; your freedoms are safe.” She is right. I am not worried that my right to marry, start a family or buy contraception will be taken. I am not worried that I will be too young, too underprepared, yet left with no option but to have a child I cannot take care of. I am not afraid because I am a straight, cis man living in a system built by straight, cis men who find it easier to cast aside the shouts of millions than confront the broken system we have created.

During Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, three women came forth with accusations of sexual misconduct, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate judiciary committee. Her emotional account of being sexually assaulted at a highschool house party stands testament to the strength it requires to speak up. It shows us the power of our voices to ignite discussion, unify millions and empower victims to know that they are not alone. When you read the pieces in this issue, remember that these are highschool and college students. The girl who cried in her car before getting her abortion may be your classmate. The teen who woke up to find her friend’s older brother assaulting her might live down your street. To those who dismiss statistics, pay attention here. Pay attention to the narratives of these students whose voices you may already know.

The work we do is more important now than ever. For those who read Issue 6, post on social media, share these pieces with your classmates, your friends, your sports teams and your families, because it is time to confront these issues and drive change. To those who can vote, Midterm elections are November 6th. Please go out and make your voice heard by casting your vote—it really does matter. Finally, for those who are interested in getting involved with us, we are currently looking for passionate and accountable students as we continue to expand as an organization. We have 10 different groups, ranging from writing to illustrations to coding to PR/marking/outreach and many more in between. For those who are interested in getting involved with us in any capacity, or curious to learn more about our operation, the board positions, submission process, and more, please email gwilliams@mvmentmag.com.

I’ll conclude with a message I wrote and sent to the entire MVMENT Board minutes after learning Kavanaugh had been confirmed by the Senate:

Like many of you, I am sad but not shocked by the Kavanaugh confirmation. For those of us who watched Dr. Ford’s incredible testimony, her strength and tenacity will remain an inspiration to the work we do and survivors across the country. I am writing this immediately after finding out, and frankly I can’t quantify all of the thoughts going through my mind. The work we do now is more important than ever, because even if Dr. Ford’s testimony and the two other brave women who came forward weren’t successful in changing the vote, they told the truth and impacted millions of us across the country. In today’s world, I believe the conversations we have, the people we empower and the work we do is incredibly important in changing the dialogue about these issues. For many of you, the emotions you’re feeling are much more poignant and powerful because you directly are affected by this man’s appointment to the Supreme Court. We are here for you. We stand together. But we push forward, continue to broadcast voices that have been silenced for too long and demand the change we need to see.

Read. Engage. Discuss. The culture we live in can only survive in silence.

Yours truly,

Vinayak Kurup
Editor In Chief



by Sarah Libby

My Abortion is My Right

lit. art

I will never forget what it felt like
Looking down at the test
And seeing a plus sign.
my heart dropping into the
stomach that had been upset for weeks

My body knew before my mind let it
and my heart knew even though I didn’t believe it
and even though my mother held me
and told me it wasn’t my fault
that I did everything right
that shit just happens sometimes
I felt like a failure.
I felt like a whore.
I felt hopeless.

But I picked myself the fuck up
stopped feeling sorry
for just a few hours
I marched into planned parenthood
Took a deep breath and told them what I wanted.

No, I’m not here alone.
No, I’m not being pressured.
Yes, I want to do this.

It was not an easy decision, but it was a simple one.

But what if it wasn’t?

What if I didn’t have a mother who believed in me?
What if she didn’t support what I wanted to do,
What if she didn’t let me?
What if I didn’t have the money?
What if I couldn’t get there?
What if there wasn’t anywhere left to get to?

Would I turn to the hanger?
To the wall?
To the gun?
Would I have compromised my life
and the quality of the future one?

I just don’t know.

I can’t describe how lucky I feel
that I had the experience that I did
and to those who will look down on me now,
just - please - listen to this:

One in THREE American women get an abortion
in their lifetime.
The pill is NINETY-ONE percent effective
accounting for human error.
And unsafe abortions account for up to THIRTEEN percent
of annual maternal deaths worldwide.

You claim to want to protect our well being—
okay, then:
protect our access to birth control
to accurate and unbiased sexual health consultation
to safe abortions.

My abortion is my right
I will not lose it
Without a fight.

The Story of Norma McCorvey

investigative other

by Grace Carroll

“I wasn’t the right person to become Jane Roe. I was just the person who became Jane Roe, of Roe v. Wade. And my life story, warts and all, was a little piece of history.”
- Norma McCorvey, 1994

In 1969, Norma McCorvey was 22 years old, unemployed, and pregnant for the third time. All she wanted was an abortion. Instead, she became the poster child for what would become one of the most viciously partisan issues in recent American history. While the controversy surrounding Jane Roe would reshape the country’s political and social landscape around the issue of abortion, McCorvey’s own story has dissolved into obscurity.

McCorvey was born in 1949 and grew up in Houston, Texas. Her childhood was characterized by violence—her mother was an abusive alcoholic, her uncle repeatedly raped her, and her first husband, whom she married to escape her family, was similarly sexually and physically abusive. She left him shortly after becoming pregnant at 16.

Even so, her life remained consistently traumatic. Her mother illicitly forced McCorvey to give up custody of her first child and kicked a teenage McCorvey out of her home. McCorvey became pregnant again at 17 and gave her second child up for adoption. Upon becoming pregnant for a third time, at only 21 years old, she had already endured an immense amount of physical and emotional trauma. It was at this point in her life—desperate and unemployed—that she began to seek out an abortion.

She found Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington. Or rather, they found her. Coffee and Weddington were recent law school graduates who needed a pregnant woman to be the face for a Supreme Court case that would challenge the country’s abortion laws on a national scale. Coffee and Weddington met up with a five-month pregnant McCorvey at a pizza parlor in Dallas and convinced her to sign an affidavit she hadn’t fully read. Just like that, Norma McCorvey became Jane Roe.

The lawyers hadn’t fully explained to her that by becoming Jane Roe, McCorvey was effectively forfeiting any ability to terminate her pregnancy. Coffee and Weddington had needed a plaintiff; all McCorvey had wanted was an abortion. Roe v. Wade took three years to reach the supreme court. McCorvey had her third child and gave him up for adoption. She never attended a single court proceeding.

McCorvey felt disenfranchised and abandoned by the movement that had promised to protect her. When her identity was made public a decade after the case, she once again found herself at the center of abortion rights struggle. She worked at clinics, participated in rallies and became a national figurehead for the pro-choice movement. McCorvey found herself sharing a platform with Gloria Allred and Jane Fonda. She received death threats, intense harassment, and had the windows of her home shot out.

In McCorvey’s mid-30s, the idealized myth of Jane Roe as a pro-choice crusader became more convoluted. In 1995, Revered Phillips Benham moved next door to the abortion clinic where McCorvey worked. McCorvey and Benham became close friends. He soon baptized her as a born-again Christian, and the woman behind the most landmark pro-abortion decision soon became a fervent advocate for the pro-life movement. She publicly denounced her own case, at one point even unsuccessfully petitioning the Supreme Court to hold a re-trial and reverse the ruling. She would vehemently support the anti-abortion movement for the rest of her life.

Despite the political optics of McCorvey’s dramatic stance reversal, her conversion to Christianity emerged as a result of her painful and disappointing personal life; she still felt cheated by Coffee and Weddington, ignored and patronized within pro-choice circles. Reverend Benham was one of the first people who had ever paid attention to Norma McCorvey, not just Jane Roe.

McCorvey’s life serves as a poignant allegory for the evolution of abortion rights that America has witnessed over the past fifty years. Jane Roe was not a faceless, anonymous woman: she was a scared, traumatized, 21 year old girl. She wasn’t looking to spend the rest of her life embroiled in a political battle; she just wanted some basic agency over her own body. When we politicize abortion, it’s women who suffer. It’s women who die.

In the 50 or so years since the passing of Roe v. Wade, doctors have performed over 50 million safe, legal abortions in America. Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation now threatens this. Norma McCorvey’s life was irrevocably upended because she did not have access to the medical procedure that she wanted. If America really wants to protect its women, especially women like McCorvey—who lack access to education and are systematically trapped in an unforgiving cycle of poverty—we need to take abortion out of politics and give agency back to women.

Illustration by Xay Johnson

Infrequently Asked Questions


There are a lot of things that no one tells you about getting an abortion. There are a lot of things they do tell you—by “they” I mean Planned Parenthood—for teenage girls, the most accessible way to get an abortion. By “they,” however, I also mean Wikipedia, the New York Times, pro choice websites, sex-ed classes, and even your mother. When you are seventeen and you see two blue lines all the things they don’t tell you seem to outweigh all the things they do.

They will tell you not to worry, and that having an unintended pregnancy is very common. They will tell you that you have plenty of options, and that one in four American women will have an abortion before the age of 45. They will tell you the nearest clinic to your zip-code is the Carol Whitehill Moses Center, on 4th Street in Northeast, and that its hours on Wednesday are 8:00 am to 6:30 pm. They will tell you that there are two types of abortion—medication and in-clinic—and that both have 90%+ success rates, but that in-clinic is slightly more effective: it works 99% of the time, regardless of how far along you are. They will tell you that in-clinic abortion takes about ten minutes, and that you may have some bleeding or cramping, or, if you’d rather opt for the medication it can be taken in the comfort of your own home and will essentially induce a miscarriage, but that it may be more painful than in-clinic.

What they will not tell you is what to say to the woman who sees you coming out of a Starbucks bathroom with mascara running down your face and a pregnancy test hidden in your sleeve. Why you shouldn’t keep that positive pregnancy test, and hide it in your nightstand, and pull it out periodically to remind yourself of just how foolish you are. They won’t tell you how to explain to your boss why you keep throwing up, why you have to clock out early, or why you’ll be late to work on Wednesday.

And no pamphlet, no brochure, no FAQ will tell you what the worst part of the whole ordeal is. I’ll let you in on a secret. The worst part isn’t the half-hearted protesters outside the clinic, who look like they’ve been sitting out there every day for years, reminding you that you’re killing a child. It isn’t the exhausted woman behind the front desk who stares through you like she’s seen you come in a million times. It isn’t sitting in the waiting room trying not to look at any of the other women either because they represent everything you don’t have—friends, sisters, husbands, boyfriends holding their hand—or because you’re afraid that you’ll look at them, world-wearied and alone, and see yourself. The worst part isn’t when the tech comes out and calls your name, or when she takes you into the tiny gray room and instructs you to have a seat, or when she reaches out to hold your hand because she thinks you need comforting. It isn’t when she tells you that you have plenty of options besides termination, that there are resources to help teen mothers, that it’s perfectly acceptable and healthy to have hesitations about aborting a fetus. Or that if you do have hesitations, you can even come back another time with someone to support you through the process if you change your mind. Nor is it when you rip your hand away and inform her that you have no misgivings or qualms and that you would just like to please get started, or when she asks if you’d like sedation and you say no because it’s an extra $155 on top of the $425 for the abortion and the $60 for being Rh-negative, and you’re trying not to let a lapse in judgement with a boy named Josh deplete your new-laptop fund too much.

The worst part isn’t even staring up at the water stains on the ceiling, trying and failing not to feel anything below your eyes because your heart feels like it’s going too slow but your lungs feel like they’re going too fast and your mouth is dry but your hands are sweating. The worst part isn’t that there’s blood on your legs and an invisible hand is squeezing your soul out from your abdomen, and a lady who doesn’t know you is sucking a baby out of your uterus.

No, the worst part is before all that even happens, before you even think about any of that. The worst part is sitting in your car a block away from the clinic, sobbing uncontrollably because you’ve just driven through an hour of morning rush hour holding onto the steering wheel so tightly that there are nail marks in the leather and your knuckles are still white. Now all you want to do is sit in that traffic for another hour to get back home, because you don’t think you can go through with the abortion. And the only reason you don’t is because it took you so long to parallel park that you want it to be worth it. When an elderly woman taps on your window, you roll down the window and she asks you if you are alright, if you need help. You cannot answer her, because violent sobs are wracking your body and your throat is constricting around your voice. She reaches in, pats you on the arm, and offers to go buy you a bottle of water. You shake your head, and assure her in gasping breaths that you are fine. She gives your arm a little squeeze, then smiles and tells you not to cry, because you are so beautiful and crying will give you premature forehead wrinkles. A girl like you, she tells you, has no reason for frown lines. She chuckles a little, at least not until you have children. Everything goes out the window when you have children. She winks conspiratorially, gives a little wave, then turns to go. You roll the window back up and sit in your silence for only a few seconds before you break down again, weeping and howling until you cannot anymore. Then you make eye contact with yourself in the rear-view mirror, tell yourself the worst part is over, and march yourself into that miserable clinic to kill your child.

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

My Body, My Right


by Brooke Ripley

This is my body. For anyone to ever tell me otherwise, for anyone to take this right from me, they would have to tear it from me. I am not your incubator. I am a woman.

Roe v. Wade

investigative other

by Mary Provencal-Fogarty

In 1969, Texas law stated that abortion was illegal unless delivering the baby would threaten the mother’s life. A young woman named Norma McCorvey had just become pregnant for the third time. She decided she wanted to abort the baby and was immediately introduced to her state’s severely restrictive abortion laws. McCorvey took a friend’s advice to lie and say the pregnancy was a result of rape (which didn’t work), and to seek an illegal abortion from a recently shut-down clinic. Eventually, she was referred to Texas lawyers Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, who had long been searching for someone like McCorvey. While McCorvey was assisted through the pregnancy, eventually delivering the baby and giving it up for adoption, Coffee and Weddington sued the Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade. What followed were several trials, which ended in victory as the panel of three state judges agreeing that Texas’ abortion laws were unconstitutional. However, the state quicky appealed, causing the case to land in the Supreme Court. This launched the landmark 1971 Roe v. Wade case that has since become extremely well-known, relevant and controversial.

Coffee, Weddington and the then-anonymous “Roe” went into court facing several obstacles. Perhaps the most glaring of these was that the three women opposed a team of three men: Wade, his lawyers, Jay Floyd and Robert Flowers, and an all-male panel of Supreme Court Justices. This dynamic is palpable, particularly thanks to what has often been called “the worst joke in legal history,” in which Floyd opened his argument by saying, “It’s an old joke, but when a man argues against two beautiful ladies like this, they are going to have the last word.” The joke was purportedly met with agonizing silence and the litigation continued.

Though nearly 50 years have passed since the case, today’s arguments about abortion have maintained a surprisingly similar form as pro-life advocates argue for the right to life of the unborn, while pro-choice supporters fight for the woman’s right to bodily autonomy. By far the most significant legal precedent to Roe v. Wade was another Supreme Court case a few years earlier known as Griswold v. Connecticut, in which a Connecticut law that prohibited contraceptive medication and practices was deemed unconstitutional. The decision was made on the grounds that the Fourteenth Amendment, in its protection of privacy and due process, grants citizens the right to “marital privacy” (later extended to individuals in another case, Eisenstadt v. Baird). This is loosely defined as a sphere of privacy protecting an individual’s decision whether or not to have children and how to raise them. In the Supreme Court’s words, an argument which is often cited to support abortion access: “If the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Though Coffee and Weddington drew arguments based on many precedents and amendments of the Constitution, the most principal by far was that women seeking an abortion had a right to do so without government hindrance because of the right to privacy and choice guaranteed by both the Ninth and Fourteenth amendment.

The opposition argued on two main points. First, they argued that Roe’s pregnancy had concluded and thus she had lost the ground to sue. Second, they argued that the government had the legal responsibility to protect fetal life. Floyd argued in particular that the woman’s “choice” occurs prior to conception, and that once she is pregnant that choice is removed and the fetus’ right to life outweighs her right to privacy. Of course this required the asking of a challenging and seemingly perpetual question: when does life begin? Weddington replied that because prenatal life was never alluded to in the constitution her interpretation was that legally the term “person” applied to someone at the time of birth, not at the time of conception. However the question was an obstacle for both sides with Weddington conceding in an oral argument that perhaps life begins when the fetus is able to live outside of the womb.

After considering these arguments on January 22, 1973, the Justices ruled in a 7-2 vote that the Texas abortion laws were indeed unconstitutional. Addressing the tough question of when life began, the court decided that because the answer was different across religious, medical and philosophical communities, picking one school of thought and basing laws off of it was unacceptable. However, just as Weddington had done, the final ruling also acknowledged the point of fetal viability and thus deemed that abortions were constitutional and legal (for any reason the mother sees fit) up until 24-28 weeks into the pregnancy.

Since this monumental case, the right to obtain an abortion has been fiercely resisted and condemned by individuals, institutions and campaigns – several with the goal of severely limiting the scope of Roe v. Wade or overturning it all together. In another Supreme Court case that followed, Gonzales v. Carhart, the court decided that the government could intrude on a woman’s physician-recommended abortion service as a means to protect her from the psychological consequences of abortion (based on admittedly unreliable data). Several politicians and religious organizations have committed to “being a voice for the voiceless” and working to decrease the period of time within the pregnancy in which the abortion is legal.

Today, Roe v. Wade is again in the spotlight as President Donald Trump, who is an unflinching pro-lifer, has appointed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace resigned Justice Kennedy. Kavanaugh is a squarely conservative jurist, and many expect that his addition to the court will threaten the future of Roe v. Wade. Though it has never faded from cultural relevance, Roe v. Wade, for the first time since its resolution, is in the position to fundamentally change the nation’s conversation on civil rights and whom they belong to.

Under My Skin


by Claire Noland



by Chrissy Cohen



by Kathryn Phillips

Listen to Me


by Clara-Jeanne Reed



by Tess Lyons

The Price of Being a Girl

lit. art

by April Mihalovich

Illustration by Brooke Ripley

“if you were a candy
you’d be a lollipop
cause it’s a stickーjust like you!
get it?”
jeered a 5th-grade classmate.
i strutted around the house in my high heeled shoes
and counted down the days
until my head would reach
the top of my mirror
and my mom would stop
telling me to wash off my makeup.

“i think she looks fine”
i heard
my mom whispering in the kitchen
i always wondered why people kept telling me to eat.
i eat plenty.
but i counted down the days
until i would go to prom
and twirl in a pink chiffon dress
and maybe i would be
a cheerleader
like my grandmother.

“watch what you eat so you don’t get fat like your mother!”
my grandmother’s last words to me.
i was eleven
and i spent my nights
carefully considering
every part of my body
and trying to find which one of them
made him​ not choose ​me.
and i waited for the day
that i finally wouldn’t use
the hair extensions
my grandmother said i needed.

“oh my GOD. you have, like, the perfect body! you’re not even allowed to complain.”
i kept my head down in the locker room,
peeled the layers off
and replaced them just as quickly.
i waited for the day
that i would be able to look
at a photo of myself
or wear a bathing suit
without crossing my arms in front of me.

“come on, don’t you trust me?”
the words jumped out from my phone
and crawled up my spine.
and i wondered if this boy only liked
me because of what he thought I’d show him.
i changed out of my lacy bra and into
an old soccer t-shirt.
i fell asleep and
i began to count the days until
someone would want to
spend time with me without
expecting something in return.

“just go out with him. you don’t even have to like him”
i am constantly asked
why i don’t date anyone.
i am seventeen
and all anyone wants to know about me
is how much i’ve done,
and how far i’m willing to go. so
i wait for the day
when i am worth more
than what my body can do
for others.

i am a girl.
i was born owing the world something.
every reassurance about my appearance
is a double-edged sword.
my insecurity is used
to turn my body into a currency,
and validation
is seen as a favor
that needs something in return.

Birth Control and the Third World


by Ava Harrington

Picture the average affordable birth control advocate. Perhaps she is in her late 20s and pursuing a serious career. She’s looking to be sexually active and prevent pregnancy, and she wants to empower her fellow women to be able do the same. All women deserve access to affordable contraceptives.

But we can’t forget to include third-world women who need access to birth control just as badly as economically privileged women in the contraceptive conversation. Solving this problem presents challenges unique to poverty-stricken areas. However, it’s these same third-world countries, which are often less healthy, less progressive and less environmentally friendly than their first-world counterparts, that feel the most profound benefits from accessible birth control. Contraceptives lessen environmental impact by limiting population growth, solving major public health issues spanning from sex to pregnancy to the next generation and helping women escape oppression by providing autonomy, education and a career.

Birth control and the environment may seem unrelated-- yet the two issues are intertwined in a tangled web of cause and effect. Demystifying this duo begins by understanding rapid global population growth. Admittedly, the growth rates of Western Europe, Japan and the United States are all pushing zero, but the population growth of poorer areas such as sub-Saharan Africa continues to explode at a rate beyond three percent annually, faster than the rate of the entire world up until the 1960s. According to the World Bank, global food production will need to skyrocket by 70 percent to meet the crushing needs of a nine-billion strong human population that will emerge in the next thirty to sixty years.

Ecologically destructive agriculture methods like monoculture and pesticide use that have a greater crop yield will likely become more common to feed a booming population. Unfortunately, these methods come with the side effects of soil erosion that results in destructive mudslides, toxically contaminated water and destructive nutrient depletion. If population growth can be slowed by family planning and contraceptive methods, the third-world countries that rely so heavily on agriculture will face less destruction and environmental chaos in the coming years. If every woman who desired contraceptives had access to them, gas emission would decrease by a whopping 30 percent by 2100. ​ The areas where birth control is most lacking are also the ones that will be most impacted by climate change.

These statistics beg the question whether it is at all possible for birth control to slow the population growth as much as is required. The evidence points to yes. Many countries that were once indifferent or even hostile towards birth control began supporting and encouraging family planning in the mid-twentieth century. The population growth rate slowed for the first time in history in 1970. But there is still much work to be done and many more benefits to birth control beyond abstract population graphs.

In third-world countries, where health is at a worldwide low, birth control has a number of positive effects that span from intercourse to motherhood. The most obvious example of health benefits when discussing safe sex is STDs, particularly HIV/AIDS, which is fatal within five to ten years. The best and most affordable way to prevent HIV and other STDs is through use of and education about male condoms, which also prevents subsequent generations from being born with these diseases and controls the spread. Contraceptives do more for health than prevent STDs, however. 80 million unplanned pregnancies occur each year, and 54 million of those end in abortion. In 2008, 21.6 million of those abortions were classified as unsafe. The best way to reduce unsafe abortion is through accessible and affordable birth control.

Finally, contraceptives reduce infant mortality and maternal death. Pregnancies that fall too close together (such as having children year after year) cause some of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. There is also evidence to suggest that women who have more than four children are more likely to die in pregnancy than their counterparts. Children with mothers who died in childbirth are also more likely to die themselves or face poor health throughout life. Finally, having fewer children directly correlates to affluence. More wealth means better health, even beyond problems caused by sex and pregnancy. Clearly, contraceptives have a major health impact on not only mothers but on many generations to come. There is one more benefit, however, that is not as closely tied to science or population health. Yet it is one of the most important and pressing concerns of the twenty-first century.

Birth control has a direct and important link to female empowerment. Most obviously, women birth control allows for autonomy in family planning. Control over pregnancy means women have the freedom to determine if they have children and how many. Female equality goes beyond deliberate family planning, however. Women with fewer children are able to dedicate more time to education, a necessary step to equality… This is especially important in a world where women consistently lag behind men in literacy and length of education. Education can improve women’s financial status, resulting in even fewer children and increase in health. This positive cycle can be jump-started by contraceptives. Additionally, access to contraceptives means that women can put off having children until they’ve been able to establish a career for themselves, again improving equality and the economy. Finally, contraceptives allow women to be sexually liberated. Without risk of pregnancy, women are able to be more sexually active, reducing sexual stigma and allowing women to be more equal to men. All of these benefits beg the question: are third-world women using birth control?

Somewhat. Around 65-75 percent of sexually active Latin American women use contraceptives, 50-60 percent in Asia, and far below 50 percent in most African countries. More would make sense, but it isn’t always simple. Many women in sub-Saharan Africa cite a lack of education about contraceptives as a determining factor. According to surveys across 52 countries over ten years, other women list health concerns, infrequent sex and personal or societal opposition as the main reason for not using a form of birth control despite not wanting pregnancy.

How do we go about resolving these issues? Education is the best method in addressing the many misconceptions and cultural collisions that drive down birth control use. Many women especially need to understand that their risk of pregnancy is high even while breastfeeding or during any period of their menstrual cycle. Women also need access to various long and short term methods, not just a single method that may not work with their lifestyle. IUDs are successful but often come with religious dissent, oral contraceptives can cause uncomfortable side effects and no methods prevent STDs except condoms. Understanding these methods and how they work with lifestyle will help women feel more comfortable in using them.

Birth control has a broad range of positive impacts with few drawbacks. The environment, public health and female empowerment are all issues facing the twenty-first century, issues in which birth control can play a bigger role than previously understood. The benefits are apparent and direct. There is little to no health or economic risk of contraceptives, especially with such a broad range of options. We must work to reduce the stigma of birth control and improve education around family planning. When discussing birth control, we cannot forget the women who have the least access and need it the most. Every woman deserves access to affordable and accessible birth control, whether she is a first-world or third-world woman looking to make a better life for herself and for future generations.

Tell Me

survivor lit. art

Was it my ill-fitting hand-me-down Victoria’s Secret Pink pajama pants
dotted with small pink dogs
and my baggy white polyester t-shirt with coffee stains on the front
that left you visualizing what was underneath?

Tell me,
were these the provocative garments tempting you?
Sweatpant-Clad Seductress.
Or was it the drool on my right cheek?
Slumbering Siren.
Or the hair matted to my forehead from sweat?
A true Femme Fatale.
Perhaps, it was my lifeless limbs, or lack of consciousness that invited your hands to rove over my body and just assume my consent.

Tell me,
When I woke up, were you startled?
Were you expecting me not to notice?
I was not a toy at your disposal, nor was I incapable of language or opposition.
Did you think because it was dark and quiet and no one could see
(Maggie couldn’t see)
that it was okay, that you’d become invisible, that what you were doing would be less real?

Was it more or less fun
when, groggy from sleep, I asked you what you were doing?
Is this a dream? A nightmare?

Were you confused when I said no?
Maybe I should’ve spelled it out, simplified it for you.
When I said stop, did I stutter?
If you had given me a moment,
I could’ve written it on my forehead in red Sharpie, all caps:
Would that have been clearer? Legible?
What about when I told you to get off me?
Did the stiffness in my limbs,
the resistance in the fibrous tissues of my body
somehow translate as “yes,”
the few traces of green in my drowsy eyes a signal in your mind: go.
No. Stop. No.

How could you not understand these words?
I know English is the only language you speak. You failed out of Spanish your freshman year.

So please tell me,
How did it feel to kiss the lips of a corpse?
Someone cold and unfeeling. Someone who did not reciprocate.
Really, I would like to know.

Did it give you satisfaction to see the glint of hot tears on my cheeks as they left ugly red tracks?
Was that me being a tease?
Did you like the way I looked at you after?
With disgust, with loathing.
With fear.
That is, if I could look at you at all.
I stopped hanging out with Maggie so I would no longer have to.

Tell me
that you know you’re a klepto.
You stole something from me.
How does it feel to take something from someone that you can never return,
never replace?
Something that cannot be pardoned, forgiven or forgotten.
Please, tell me.
How was the power trip?
Did you feel like a man for those five minutes?
What was the comedown like when you realized you were still just a boy?
Did you get the shakes?
Did your muscles ache?
Did sleep evade you the way it did me for months after?
Tell me,
How does it feel to be black, burnt and empty on the inside?
If one is rotting from the core, can he tell?

I’ve seen the flies that follow you around, the vultures that circle.
You, a walking shell, a husk of a person.

Tell me,
How’s Maggie, your sister?
How’s my childhood best friend?
Tell her.

Tell her, I say hi.

Illustration by Brooke Ripley


lit. art

by Sophie Ulin

Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

I did not choose to be a woman. No one said, what anatomy do you choose, what do you want. And yet, here I am, with a body that can be used against me—no, that will be used against me. That has been used against me. “Typically against women.” It is in the definition, we are the unequal party, the ones who will be looked at and told to try harder. Not because they want us to push ourselves, but because we need to work twice as hard to compare. They will tell us that emotion makes us weak, but not having any emotion makes us cold. They will tell us that having sex makes us a slut but that preserving our virginity makes us a prude. They will tell us that we are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough—because apparently the way that my features fit on my face is an indication of how well I will perform on a test, or work at a job, or function in my everyday life. Because apparently the blondeness of my hair means that I am not intelligent enough, that I am not good enough. We are not men, and therefore we do not matter.



by Alisha Simmons

Press play and scroll down to read.

“Jessica” by Sarah Libby

“Whistle” is a piece set in the perspective of a woman being catcalled on the street. With the song beginning with a whistle, the listener is placed directly into the shoes of the woman. The song reflects the woman’s inner monologue during the interaction; it’s a song about everything she wishes she says, but doesn’t.


You don’t know me
You only see me
You don’t even ask me
You just keep talking, talking

And, I don’t
Feel safe in my own bones
I don’t
Wanna walk home

I am not a toy
You can poke and prod and annoy
I am not on display
For you to enjoy
I am not a whistle away
You can’t whistle today

You don’t own me
This is my body
I’m not your property
I’m not a trick for your party

And, I don’t
Feel safe in my own bones
You’re why I don’t
Ever walk alone

I am not a toy
You can poke and prod and annoy
I am not on display
For you to enjoy
I am not a whistle away
You can’t whistle today

What Does Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Mean for Abortion in America?

current events

by Maggie Wainwright

On Saturday, October 6, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the slimmest margin since 1881. His hearings were embroiled in ideological debate and multiple charges of sexual misconduct. His confirmation creates a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which President Trump and Republican leaders have made an issue of priority. No matter your thoughts on Kavanaugh’s political ideology or accusations of sexual misconduct, you have questions about what his confirmation means for the future of this country. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions being asked right now regarding the future of reproductive rights.

What are Brett Kavanaugh’s views on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed access to abortion?

“As a general proposition,” Kavanaugh said at his hearing this week, “I understand the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.” Kavanaugh refused to respond outright to questions of whether he would make a judgement on Roe v. Wade, only saying he understood “the importance that people attach to the Roe v. Wade decision.”

Despite his apparent reassurances regarding Roe, Kavanaugh has been open to overruling precedent in the past where abortion rights are concerned. In a speech last year to the American Enterprise Institute, Kavanaugh stated that the Supreme Court’s decision in the 1997 case Washington v. Glucksberg conflicts with Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (a 1992 ruling that upheld Roe v. Wade, but added that states may regulate abortions up until the point that it becomes an undue burden on someone seeking an abortion.) He added that he believes Glucksberg was correctly decided. In the case of Garza v. Hargan, Kavanaugh strongly objected to the D.C. Circuit’s decision to allow a 17-year-old immigrant to have an abortion, arguing that putting the girl in detention did not represent an undue burden on her ability to get an abortion.

In the end, it seems likely that Kavanaugh would vote to overturn the ruling, especially given that President Trump promised to nominate only anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court and that he has flaunted Kavanaugh’s name in front of his conservative followers.

Does the Supreme Court have the votes to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Assuming that Kavanaugh is a vote to overturn abortion rights on a federal level, will the Supreme Court be able to overturn Roe v. Wade? It depends on the decision of Justice John Roberts, a key swing vote in the court.

As deputy solicitor general in 1990, John Roberts wrote that Roe was “wrongly decided and should be overruled.” However, NYU law professor Melissa Murray writes, “As Chief Justice, Roberts has evinced particular concerns about overruling settled precedents…[and] as Chief Justice, he has been especially concerned about preserving the Court’s legitimacy and public stature.” His vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act is often pointed to as an example of his political integrity.

Irin Carmon for the Washington Post writes that too much has been made of this particular vote, however. “Close observers of abortion law have no doubt that the movement to ban abortion can count on the chief.”

Roberts’ efforts to roll back the Voting Rights Act and public-sector unions are instances of his willingness to set politics above precedence.

If the Supreme Court does vote on Roe, it’s probable that they will be able to count on Justice Roberts to give them a 5-4 majority.

How exactly will abortion rights be restricted?

There are a few options for restricting abortion access across the country that the Supreme Court can take. It can either outright overturn Roe v. Wade or implicitly weaken precedent for abortions by passing a ban on abortion after a fetal “heartbeat,” for example. Reva Seigel, a constitutional law professor at Yale, has hypothesized that overturning Roe would mobilize Democrats in the midterms, given how overwhelmingly popular Roe v. Wade has become. According to Pew Research center, 69 percent of Americans say that Roe should not be overturned, and that number is at an all-time high.

Overturning other, less well-known legal precedents could effectively eliminate access across swaths of the country or restrict access after six weeks. Weakening the standard of review for determining if a regulation is an “undue burden” on a person’s ability to get an abortion could allow for a variety of state bans. There are already 13 abortion cases before federal circuit courts this year, any of which could mean the “effective or explicit end of Roe,” writes Dylan Matthews for Vox.

What does it mean for the country if Roe v. Wade is overturned explicitly?

Access to abortion will be entirely governed by the state laws that currently exist. Some states have strong explicit protections in place, whereas others (Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Dakota) have a trigger ban, and about half of the states don’t have any explicit policy regarding abortion rights on principle. However, abortion access is already heavily restricted across much of the country through laws that require biased counselling sessions, mandatory delays or parent permissions for minors. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 29 states currently have enough restrictions in place to be considered hostile to abortion rights.

What does it mean for my state specifically?

Axios has a great interactive map showing you what protections exist in your state. These laws come from state legislation, which means should Roe be overturned, abortion laws will be largely dependent on whether state-level lawmakers tend towards pro-life or pro-choice policies.

There Is Danger Here

lit. art

by Abbey Mahon

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

There is danger here,
hidden by beer stains and polo shirts,
disguised by careless words and ruthless actions.

Look closer.

There is horror here,
introduced by anecdotes of assault,
born from reluctant touch.

Remember her story.

There is evil here,
fed by the protection of men,
preserved by the silence of women.

Listen to the rumors.

There is injustice here,
unfazed by the stories of women screaming in pain,
ignored despite the torture of emotional violence,
propagated when blood sheds, when tears fall and
when fear is stronger than the truth.

There is danger here.