Femtech: The Evolution of Sexual Health for Women

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WITH THANKS TO. Contributors:

Illustrations & Photography:

Phase 4 Shades of Noir Team

Katayoun Jalili Jay Lee

Dr. Lexx Brown-James Dr. Jenny Douglas Amisha Acharya Ruvimbo Maria Kuuzabuwe Veronica Huggins Sinini Chikwiri

INFO: W: shadesofnoir.org.uk E: info@shadesofnoir.org.uk Tw: @shadesofnoir Fb: shadesofnoir OUR SUPPORTER:

Cover image by Olivia Ema




A Note From The Lead


Key Questions


Peer Review


Key Data

Dr. Lexx Brown-James and ?

24 .

Expanding The Conversation


Further Resources Key terms, Further Reading, Digital Resources

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Content Disclaimer. Please note that some of the words in the Key Terms section of this ToR are considered highly offensive to People of Colour but we have included them to support difficult discussions around the subject of Race in higher education.


Technology is “the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment.” (Random House, 2017) It is the internet, computers, machines, robots and software. Technology has transformed human life; making daily tasks more efficient and less physically demanding, as well as global communication becoming faster and easier, for example. This Terms of Reference aims to explore how technology is changing the way in which self-identifying women specifically, navigate and are educated in matters of their intimate relationships and sexuality. Especially, given the current rise of the femtech market. “Femtech” being a term coined by Ida Tin who is CEO of Clue (2013), a forward thinking company that believes “connected mobile technology is the future of female health.” It is imperative that intersectional feminism is well-articulated throughout this document, due to the cis-male dominance of the tech industry. In Europe alone, women make up only 30% of approximately 7 million people working in the information and communication sector (European Commision, 2013). Women make up 49.5% (World Bank, 2016) of the world’s population. One of the world’s largest international sex surveys, conducted by Clue and The Kinsey Institute (2017) finds that: • 30% of all respondents use dating apps. • 40% of all respondents have used an app to track sex. • Their Chinese respondents were the most likely to use apps to learn about sex. • Amanda Gesselman, Researcher at The Kinsey Institute quotes that “cultural norms of masculinity make it difficult to speak to friends about these issues. This finding shows that men are looking for other ways to learn about sexual intimacy.” • Respondents who identified as a sexual or gender minority were more likely to have used an app to find a partner. • Visit helloclue.com or kinseyinstitute.org for more research and data. We need to explore what these findings mean for women in the face of patriarchy and misogynoir. Both on a societal level, and for the women who leave the tech sector due to being “underrepresented in managerial and decision-making positions” (European Commission, 2013). The language and imagery we use to talk about matters of sex/sexual health in society, circulated through technology and the media, are crucial on the subject of mental health and physical well-being. Femtech is revolutionising this sector, ensuring that knowledge and resources are accessible to all women.




The idea for this ToR was conceived from personal experience, I had been using an app called Clue to track my menstrual cycle and it opened up my world as a woman. As a woman who continuously seeks to uncover more of my inner self, to truly understand me so that I may live a life that serves me in the best way possible. Physically, emotionally and psychologically; the trinity of well-being. Much of my writing in this book unpacks what I mean by this, and so I won’t spoil it. Technology has been a key element of my self-discovery and a magnificent tool for the empowerment of women across the world. Be it through access to knowledge and resource, through social media as a platform for speaking our truths, or facilitating supportive networks of like-minded women. I wanted to share this knowledge that has empowered me, in a way that would have a long-lasting impact. This ToR is a lifelong journey. As women, as humans we never stop evolving and neither does the technology we use to aid our daily lives. How great is it to be in a time where technology is being created for and by women, dedicated to improving our existence holistically? This ToR needs to be read and utilised by women and men alike. Parents raising their daughters and sons. Teachers educating and influencing their students, partners in intimate relationships, friends and family. Though the title specifies women; women do not exist in a vacuum and so for the sake of harmony, it must be understood by all. Salute! Charisse



1. What does it mean to be a sexually active woman in the digital age, and how does it differ to before the rise of the internet and technology? 2. How can we improve the ways in which we use language to talk about sex and sexual health? Colloquialisms, slang, using the correct definitions and pronouns... 3. What is the importance of having a diverse and nuanced approach to sex education, as a opposed to a sweeping “one-size-fits-all” approach? 4. How does this “one-size-fits-all” approach to sex education become toxic in teenage and adult life? 5. What does it mean to be sexually liberated, and why does the term matter? 6. What are the ways in which societal norms silence and shame self-identifying women for owning their sexuality? 7. What is femtech, how is the market growing and where is the demand coming from? 8. How is technology changing the way that we navigate our intimate relationships and sexuality? 9. How is technology being used to diversify the sexual health industry? What are the pros and cons? 10. How can we make sure trans-women are included in conversations about women’s sexual health?



Shades of Noir has been pleased to invite Dr. Lexx Brown-James and Dr. Jenny Douglas to peer review this Terms of Reference. Dr. Lexx is a certified sexuality education marriage and family therapist. She is CEO of The Institute for Sexuality & Intimacy, LLC in St. Louis, MO where she does workshops, therapy and curriculum development. When not at the office she spends time teaching upcoming therapist, social workers, doctors and sexologists. In her free time she volunteers as a board member for the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health and does live broadcasts for O.School. She can be followed @lexxsexdoc on social media and reached at www.lexxsexdoc.com for further information. Dr. Jenny Douglas is a senior lecturer in health promotion in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at the Open University. She has a PhD in Women’s Studies. Her research is both varied and wide ranging spanning 30 years on issues of race, health and ethnicity. The key theme unifying her research and activism is intersectionality – exploring how ‘race’, class and gender affect particular aspects of African - Caribbean women’s health. She is an honorary member of the Faculty of Public Health and a Research Affiliate of the Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Jenny Douglas established and chairs the Black Women’s Health and Wellbeing Research Network.


A NOTE FROM DR. LEXX BROWN-JAMES. Reproductive Justice is Racial Justice: Working toward Racial and Reproductive Liberation In August of 2016 I got married. My partner, hereby known as Lover, is Ghanian; so, we wore traditional Ghanian garb, made in the country and brought back by his mother from her last visit home. Now, as a Black woman from the Southern United States, this was amazing. I do not get to wear traditional African anything, let alone authentic Ghanaian fabric and dress from the homeland of my Lover. I adored my wedding outfit as we both tried on our pieces. I looked at my lover and asked him: “Do I look like I would fit in on a visit?,” which, was me asking ‘Do I look like one of you?’. And he smiled broadly and said “No.” I was so hurt. He then proceeded to explain to me that my features, the way my eyes are shaped, the definition of my nose, along with my skin color do not lend themselves to a traditional Ghanaian person. That I would never look like I belonged in their culture. And that’s when it dawned on me. I am truly a mix of the rape of my ancestors. I am a pure result of oppression. My features have been passed down for generations, as my mother, grandmother and myself are often told how much we resemble one another. And, it was never more present than in that moment, staring my lover in the face and wanting not to be affected by the history of oppression in my country. And that got me to thinking. The oppression in my country is not just due to race, it’s based on sex too. Me, being a Black woman, means my experiences of oppression are always interlinked and that I will always be susceptible to at least both racism and sexism. And these present themselves together in so many ways. As a Black woman sexuality educator and a licensed therapist, I have felt and continuously see the effects of racism on Black women’s and girls’ sexuality. Black women are continually coerced into various forms of birth control, taken advantage of sexually because Black bodies are fetishized, and unsupported in reproductive healthcare needs. So much so, that the disparity of healthcare that women of color receive when compared to white women has market research support. The effects of racism seep into our reproductive justice. Reproductive justice is “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities” (SisterSong.com). This theory is consistently impacted by race and racism for women of color in the United States and arguably across the world. White Supremacy is a worldwide issue and effects the sexuality of women around the globe.


The acceptance that White/European standards are better, more attractive, smarter, healthier and worth more maintains an epidemic that affects Black and Brown women. Therefore, there is no reproductive justice without dismantling racism. The racism of reproductive rights present for women of color powerfully effects the lives and families in which they operate. Not having access to comprehensive sexuality education, resources to manage the ability to get pregnant or not, safe environments to raise children, and access to resources for healthcare violate the basic reproductive rights of women of color. Violation of these rights, puts women of color at risk for harm; and therefore, also poses harm for their families. This level of harm is all based on some made up, socially constructed idea that because a person is of color, they are less than. This way of thinking effects generations and perpetuates transgenerational trauma that is felt for decades. Unfortunately, racist notions and ideologies are passed down not only from woman of color to woman of color, but also from medical doctor to medical doctor, social worker to social worker, judge to judge and cop to cop. All these systems affect reproductive justice, and each is tinged with its own racist history and practices. With systems of oppression consistently influencing our reproductive rights, it has been through technology that many have found advocacy, relief and support in working towards reproductive liberation. Access to organizations like SisterSong, for example, help people learn about advocacy, rights, and work to help free ourselves of the reproductive oppression we experience. When we consider the multiple layers of oppression, which here I only spoke about racism, there is also classicism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and more, effecting reproductive rights, it is easy to understand the significance of having access to community, education, and resources, even if they are ‘just on the internet’. Creating community, reaching out to one another and becoming informed, allow us to be better allies and advocates. By becoming advocates, allies and accomplices we weaken the white supremacy stronghold that keep us oppressed. This weakening in how we get to reproductive freedom where all people have the right and ability “to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities” (SisterSong.com). Dr. Lexx Brown-James, LMFT, CSE. References: Sistersong. (2017). Reproductive Justice. Retrieved from sistersong.net BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 13

A NOTE FROM DR. JENNY DOUGLAS. This ToR is both timely and extremely relevant in today’s society. Positive sexual health is essential for the health and wellbeing of all women and particularly for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Women who are more likely to experience adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes than their peers. In addition black women experience negative stereotypes and assumptions in relation to sexual health and sexual choices. This ToR exposes and challenges discourses around ‘race’, sex and health. The World Health Organisation states that: ‘Sexual and reproductive health and well-being are essential if people are to have responsible, safe, and satisfying sexual lives. Sexual health requires a positive approach to human sexuality and an understanding of the complex factors that shape human sexual behaviour.’ WHO, 2006:1. However, recent research (Wayal et al, 2017) suggests that ethnic and racial inequalities in sexual health persist and that further research which explores sexual health utilising an intersectional lens is needed to understand better the factors which contribute to these inequalities. The first stage is to enable a dialogue and debate amongst black women and this ToR starts this process. Reviewing the ToR ‘De-mystifying the Vagina :First Steps’ by Charisse Chikwiri, takes me back to the development of the book ‘Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS)’ which came out of the Boston Women’s Health Collective. It is argued that OBOS, challenged medical hegemony and started an international women’s health movement, although it did not initially acknowledge or recognise difference in relation to women – women of colour, working class women, women with disabilities, sexuality or sexual identity. However, the current website is a valuable resource for information on women’s health. OBOS encouraged the establishment of Women’s health groups where women took control of their bodies and their health. Women of this generation will remember the use of mirrors to examine and explore their vaginas. Despite the focus on raising awareness of women’s bodies and women’s sexual health by Our Bodies Ourselves and its dissemination throughout the USA and Europe, menstruation still remained a taboo subject. ‘Tracking your period as a holistic selfcaring practice’ by Charisse Chikwiri acknowledges this and discusses the value of using technology to track menstruation. Sophie Laws completed her PhD research in the 1980s on menstruation and her book –Issues of Blood, the Politics of Menstruation was published in 1990 (Laws,1990). Laws explores the social, cultural and political factors which served to make menstruation a taboo issue that women had to keep secret from men in society apart from their close partners. Again this is a taboo that needs to be challenged. There are other issues associated with menstruation and black women. There has been a cultural issue around hygiene where some black women may use antibacterial cleansers for vaginal douching which can be detrimental to health and wellbeing. 14 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

Again more discussion is needed amongst black women about menstruation to raise awareness of anaemia and aspects of sexual health. The two letters from mother to daughter and daughter to mother highlight the Importance for mothers and daughters to see sexual health from each other’s perspectives and the importance of intergenerational communication. While, technology is useful for providing easily accessible and culturally relevant information on the body and sexual health. There is a need for reliable and accurate information. ‘Health Disparity Women of Colour’ by Veronica Huggins is a useful overview of health disparities in relation to women of colour in the U.S. Although there are many similarities between black women in the U.S. and the U.K., in relation to shared history, culture and socioeconomic position, there are differences in relation to geography, experiences of migration and systems of health care. Health data on black women in the UK and Europe is urgently needed. The Black women’s Health Imperative in the US provides excellent information and a resource like this is much needed in the UK. Similarly, the Black Women’s Health Study is a cohort study that has been undertaken with Black women in the US. However such a study is needed in UK to research and document factors that are influencing the health of black women and the inequalities in health that exist. I have been instrumental, with a group of women at the Open University, in establishing a Black Women’s health & wellbeing Research Network. We held a national conference in 2011 and published some of the papers from this in a special section in the journal Critical Public Health in March 2013. This is a valuable and interesting Terms of Reference and certainly an area where much more discussion, dialogue and accessible information is required, particularly up to date data on sexual health. Sexual health is a vital part of health, wellbeing, sexual wellbeing and sexual enjoyment. People should be able to enjoy it without fear of violence or discrimination as it is important for everyone.


References Our Bodies Ourselves website: www. Ourbodiesourselves.org Davis, K. (2007) The Making of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”: How Feminism Travels Across Borders. Duke Univesity Press. Douglas J and Watson N (2013) editorial: Resistance, resilience and renewal: the health and wellbeing of black women in the Atlantic Diaspora – developing an intersectional approach. Critical Public Health, 23:1, 1-5. Douglas J (forthcoming November 2017)’The struggle to find a voice on Black women’s health: from the personal to the political’ in D. Gabriel and S. Tate (eds) Inside the Ivory Tower: Narratives of Women of Colour Surviving and Thriving in British Academia. London: Trentham Books. Douglas J (forthcoming ) ‘The Politics of Black women’s health in the UK – intersections of ‘race’, class and gender in policy, practice and research’ in Nikol Alexander-Floyd and Julia Jordan-Zachery (eds) Black Women in Politics: Demanding Citizenship, Challenging Power, and Seeking Justice. New York: SUNY Press Laws, S. (1990) Issues of Blood: The Politics of Menstruation, MacMillan Press. Wayal, S et al (2017) Ethnic variations in sexual behaviours and sexual health markers: findings from the third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3). The Lancet. Public health, ISSN: 2468-2667, Vol: 2, Issue: 10, Page: e458-e472 WHO (2006) Defining sexual health: report of a technical consultation on sexual health, 28-31 January 2002. Geneva: World Health Organization.




National healthy life expectancy at birth. CCGs aim to ensure a fair distribution of health care resources for their residents. Therefore to assess the CCGs commissioning performance, certain trusted markers are needed to monitor whether commissioned services meet the needs of the population. For this purpose, HLE at birth can be used as one such indicator both to assess need and to judge the impact of health care services on local health improvement at local level over time. The above shows the cross comparison between LE and HLE for males and females in England. These national figures provide a benchmark for other NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to compare themselves with. Office of National Statistics, 2011 Census analysis: Healthy Life Expectancy at Birth and at Age 65- Clinical Commissioning Groups 2010-12 (accessed 24th October 2017) https:// www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/lifeexpectancies/ articles/healthylifeexpectancyatbirthandatage65clinicalcommissioninggroups/2014-03-21 18 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

The Use of the Internet. From January through June 2009, 51% of adults aged 18-64 had used the Internet to look up health information during the past 12 months. Over 3% of adults aged 18-64 had used an online chat group to learn about health topics in the past 12 months. Among adults aged 18-64, women were more likely than men to look up health information on the Internet (58.0% versus 43.4%) and were also more likely to use online chat groups to learn about health topics (4.1% versus 2.5%). Cohen, R. A, and Stussman, B. Health Information Technology Use Among Men and Women Aged 18-64: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-June 2009, National Centre for Health Statistics (accessed 24th October 2017) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/healthinfo2009/healthinfo2009.htm BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 19

Inequalities in Health. The distribution of health is determined by a wide variety of individual, community, and national factors. There is a growing body of evidence documenting inequalities in both the distribution of health (i.e. health outcomes) and access to health care both internationally and in the UK. Access to health care is a supply side issue indicating the level of service which the health care system offers the individual. HealthKnowledge , Equality, Equity and Policy: Inequalities in health and in access to health care, including their causes (accessed 24th October 2017) www.healthknowledge.org.uk/public-health-textbook/medical-sociologypolicy-economics/4c-equality-equity-policy/inequalities-distribution


Women’s Healthcare. The market map below includes startups focused specifically on women’s healthcare. It excludes healthcare companies that have significant client bases among both men and women, and excludes companies offering non-healthcare services to women. All companies in the market map are private and have received equity funding since 2014. The startups in this market map have raised over $1.1B in total. (accessed 24th October 2017) https://www.cbinsights.com/research/femtech-market-map/


DRAFT Digital Healthcare. Insights from our international survey can help healthcare organizations plan their next moves in the journey toward full digitization. (accessed 24th October 2017) https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcaresystems-and-services/our-insights/healthcares-digital-future



Illustrated by Katayoun Jalili



I won’t even lie to you guys, up until the age of about 18, telling when my next period would be was kind of a spidey-senses thing.

ourselves of the pressure to be a prude when approaching the subject. There are many factors that I take into consideration now when I think “period” — instead of just “ugh great, that time of the month again” or “well, I guess this means I’m not pregnant.”

At the time I couldn’t give you dates or numbers, but I could tell you “it’s about to come” and “it’s about to finish.” To be honest that was pretty accurate, you can definitely feel and see the signs in your body once they’re no longer new to you.

Tracking my menstrual cycle has become a holistic activity and part of how I practice self-care. Something I am equally as concerned about both within and outside of the four days that my uterus sheds its lining (the bleeding).

Nonetheless, this intuitive method doesn’t allow you to prepare for and take the right care of yourself in each stage of your menstrual cycle. Even more so when you’re sexually active, or using hormonal contraceptives. It is also trickier to recognise any changes, variations and even abnormalities in your body.

If you ask me when my next period is today: I can give you an estimated date. I can tell you that my period normally lasts for 4 days and, my flow goes from light/medium on the first day, to medium/heavy on the next two, to light/spotting on the fourth day.

(If talk of periods makes you feel uncomfortable, you may not want to read this, but also you need to grow up).

Having your period can be so inconvenient, for many women it is not just an inconvenience it can be extremely painful, take a toll on one’s emotional well being or their ability to carry out essential daily tasks. However, liberation has taken over restrictions place in many areas of my experience. It starts with being able to talk openly about it and ridding

I can tell you that in the days leading up to my period, I gain weight, and find myself looking and feeling quite bloated (the food I choose to eat affects how significant these changes are and they may also be in part psychological because I am generally the only person that notices them). I also crave sugary carbs (a catch-22), bread, cake, pastries, biscuits - all that bad stuff. I tend to feel less confident in my appearance


and less “sexy” during this time, however my libido usually increases (another catch 22?). So I try to make time for extra pampering and TLC (try is the keyword here, sadly we don’t really get extra hours in the day or time off for being on your period, kmt). I am always extremely exhausted and fatigued particularly on the second and third days of my period, the loss of blood is especially problematic for me because I lack iron (anaemia). To counter this, I try to make sure I eat enough nutritious food throughout the day (everyday), especially foods rich in iron. However, taking an extra iron supplement on each day the of the period helps when I don’t have the time. Because lack of time is an issue I tend to have, meal prepping prior to my period also helps to make sure I eat well. It also means that I don’t have to get up to cook a full meal when I’m feeling exhausted. This is me, Charisse, this is my body. I am in control and am equipped with the tools needed to manage my cycle. Knowing yourself goes further than what you like and don’t like; it is also how your body functions, what you need, when and how you need it, for example. I have been able to monitor these things through using an app called Clue. “Clue is a female health app that uses science and data to help you discover the unique patterns in your [menstrual] cycle.” I love the use of the word “discover” in this context. There is nothing I hate more than one-size-fits all approaches to the human experience, because we are all so different and this must always be at the core of understanding how we as humans function. Unfortunately for many of us women, we are taught about ourselves, our bodies and our sexuality in this one-size-fits26 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

all manner and so, the understanding of self really is a discovery that happens sometimes too late in life. Which really sucks. How can you be expected to live an enjoyable life to its full extent, if something as essential as knowledge of self isn’t easily accessible? When you don’t know what works for everyone else, actually might not be the best thing for you. When you may suffer in silence because you think your discomfort is normal. When you may struggle in silence because women are taught to be discreet about their periods, (and many other intimate experiences). The issue I have always had with the way science (in this case Biology) is taught from a young age is that it is often taught without context and it is partially detached from reality. Sex-ed (from my experience) is taught without nuance, without consideration of well-being, mental health, social issues and DIVERSITY. The Fader recently published a great story on this topic: Will Sex-Ed Ever Get Any Better? It is often taught out of obligation as opposed to care. This is why I believe it is so important that these conversations are normalised at home, and in social situations. That our parents and guardians openly and extensively talk us through these things, because they can address us as individuals and with concern for our wellbeing.

HEALTH DISPARITY WOMEN OF COLOR. WORDS BY VERONICA HUGGINS. “Unintended self-harm” What the health is going on in our society today? Many ignore signs of distress or a doctor’s visit to prevent a deduction in our weekly pay. We have normalised our aches and pains instead of seeking medical consult, but self-neglect equates to personal insult. Could it be that we have been taught to hope and pray for the best? Or is it that we are afraid of the costly diagnostic test. What the health is going on in our society today? Are we willing to ignore the stats and believe that we are okay? Or is it necessary for us to spread the facts on health disparities to the youth of today. We must raise health awareness and do our best to inform. Or we will lose a generation to unintended self-harm. By Drs. Veronica Huggins and Phoneshia Wells What the Health? Major health disparities among Women of Color Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A woman is like a tea bag - you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Although Women of Color are resilient in many respects, they continue to face health care challenges (Kasier Family). A person’s health status can be reflective in their physical and mental abilities. Women often ignore signs relating to their health until situations are nearly debilitating or fatal. There are innumerable health disparities among Women of Color, this article will highlight the impact of Cervical Cancer, HIV and AIDS, and the lack of prenatal care

among Women of Color. According to the NY Times, the rate at which cervical cancer affects Women of Color is parallel to rates in undeveloped countries. African American women are more likely to die from cervical cancer than Caucasian women. Likewise, cervical cancer is affecting Hispanic women at alarming numbers. In the community of Rio Grande Valley (located near the border of Mexico), Hispanic women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer and half of the population are uninsured as opposed to women across the U.S (Houston Chronicle). Research states that many women of color are not as proactive regarding preventative care. In some cases, cervical cancer can be treatable with preventative measures such as annual pap smears, regular check-ups and the HPV vaccine (The Hill). Health care disparities among women of color are positively correlated with a lack of access to health care and insurance. Many Women of Color lack health insurance coverage or they are underinsured. Many neglect to go their annual physician’s visits or do not take part in preventative care measures because they cannot afford it. Since the beginning of the AIDS widespread, women have been affected. Statistics now reveal alarming findings. According to Kasier, a surveillance report obtained by the CDC in 2004, found that minorities had significantly higher incidence rates of aids diagnoses. Black women had the highest rate of 50.1, Hispanic 12.4, American Indians and Alaska Natives 7.0 and Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander women had the fewest at 1.8.


In 2006, Karina Danvers shared her plight with The Foundation for AIDS Research. She was infected with AIDS as a teenager by her husband. She was asked many years ago how she could be affected by AIDS and appear so healthy. Danvers reported she did not have a response at that time. However, years later she responded with: “Because I’m not poor, because I have not only a good high school education but a graduate degree. Because I have good private medical insurance. Because I’m middle class. And although I’m a minority—I’m a Latina—I’m bilingual, not monolingual.” Another disparity among women of color is late prenatal care or in some instances no prenatal care at all. According to The Hill, in the U.S. black infant’s mortality rates doubles the rate of white infants. Undoubtedly socioeconomics plays a part with health disparities. For an example, In Washington, D.C. Ward 8 is considered the poorest neighborhood with a majority-African American population. Ward 8 has an infant mortality rate 10 times higher then Ward 3 where most inhabitants are Caucasians. According to Kasier Family Foundation, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana led the rates with the lowest birthweight for African Americans with a 15 % rate or higher. The aforementioned statistics are difficult to accept and it is imperative that society help bridge the gap to increase access to health care. There are many ways to minimize the disparities among Women of Color. Education and awareness are vital! Public health initiatives should strive to create methods such as host formative sessions in communities, build partnership as well as document successful impact for those who will carry the torch. Interpreters should be available at informational sessions to guarantee that the attendees are able to understand and benefit from the information. Informational poverty will certainly exacerbate the disparities among 28 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

Women of Color so it is our responsibility to develop strategies to implement change. Health disparities should be a topic of the past, in contrary it is a disheartened reality. Education is paramount in reducing rates of cervical cancer, cases of HIV and AIDS, and improving prenatal care among Women of Color. We cannot reverse the irreversible, but we can educate on access to healthcare and the significance of preventative care. References D. G. 2017, March 8. For women of color, the ‘ healthcare gap’ is real and deadly [Web log post]. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/ healthcare/322874-for-women-of-colorthe-healthcare-gap-is-real-and-deadly HIV’s Alarming Impact on Women of Color. 2006, January 23. Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://www.amfar.org/ articles/on-the-hill/older/hiv%E2%80%99salarming-impact-on-women-of-color Hixenbaugh, M. 2016, November 25. Houston doctors determined to reduce cervical cancer deaths in Rio Grande Valley. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://www. houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/ houston/article/Houston-doctors-take-mobileclinic-to-Rio-Grande-10636122.php Hoffman, J. (2017, January 23). Wider Racial Gap Found in Cervical Cancer Deaths. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/health/ cervical-cancer-united-states-death-toll.html James, C. V., Salganicoff, A., Thomas, M., Ranjwi, U., Lillie-Blanton, M., Kaiser Family Foundation, H. J., & Wyn, R. (n.d.). Putting Women’s Health Care Disparities On The Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level (pp. 1-104, Rep. No. 7886). doi:https://kaiserfamilyfoundation. files.wordpress.com/2013/01/7886.pdf


Illustrated by Katayoun Jalili

Birds do it, Bees do it, Even unprotected teens do it. In an African household sex is that dirty thing bad girls do then get pregnant and drop out of school. Conversations surrounding sex are solely about pregnancy and avoiding boys at all cost. We fast forward intimate moments in PG 12- 15 rated movies, cover our eyes, let the silence pass and resume like nothing happened. I remember when my childhood friend fell pregnant my Dad gave me the longest

lecture about how boys are bad and how if you have sex your life is over. I also remember my younger cousin (a boy) getting his first girlfriend and my Dad gleaming with pride when he found out. I asked both my parents whether either one of my friend’s parents had taught her about sex and contraception. My mum responded, “contraception is free in this country, and you can find out any information you want.” But how do you know to find something you do not know you need? Where do you begin to look? Who do you trust? Preaching abstinence is NOT sex education!


Dear African parents, your children are fucking and you are leaving them vulnerable in a world that glamorises the porn industry and encourages harmful sexual practices. I recently read an article about glitter capsules being a new trend. Apparently, some women are buying glitter capsules, inserting them in their vaginas to make their discharge look magical and pretty for their partners. It’s madness! It’s a big bad world out there and you shying away and ignoring these things puts us at risk. Do you know how common it is for young people to elect not to use any sort of contraception and rely on, ‘The pull-out method.” Use your imagination as to what that might be if you don’t already know. You all need to take some time to rethink how you approach conversations about sex. Sex and shame shouldn’t ever be in the same conversation. It’s time for you to start unlearning the things you were taught and to have honest and open conversations with your children. Teach your daughter that sex is not something that is done to her. Teach her that she is an equal, that she has sex and she is not sexed. She is an active participant and that her value does not diminish because she has chosen to have sex with her partner. Teach your son that sex is not just for him, teach him to value women and to see them as equal participants in sex. Teach him that a woman’s value is not reduced after he has ploughed into her and if he sees a woman he has touched as dirty afterwards then he ought to take a look at his hands. 30 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

Teach us all about safe sex and about healthy relationships. Encourage us to get tested regularly, use condoms and to choose right partners. In approaching sex in the way that you currently do, you re-inforce ideas of sex being shameful and you tell us that the opposite sex can only ever exist in our lives in a romantic capacity. You neglect to nurture healthy attitudes towards our bodies, sex and relationships. I make no apologies for being so candid. Your children need you to tell them the truth about sex and relationships. If you teach them the right way, they won’t be misinformed. It’s time for you to do better! With love, A daughter. ruariam.com


Illustrated by Katayoun Jalili

The vagina is a phenomenal and complex organ, worth having an entire museum dedicated to it. As is being worked on by Florence Schechter, who says to the Independent “I’m really interested in exploring not just how an ovary works but also the more ambiguous parts of the subject. It will explore things like sexuality and gender identity and controversial subjects like contraception and abortion and masturbation and consent.” In “natural” circumstances the human population is entirely born through the vagina. According to the world bank,

women make up 49.5% of the world’s population and so almost half of the people on earth may have a vagina, yet it is often so misunderstood. According to a survey by gynaecological cancer charity ‘The Eve Appeal’, only a third of women in the UK can correctly label the female anatomy. For most women, the road to truly understanding the vagina is riddled with either generational myths, societal stigmas or shame. Understanding the anatomy of our genitalia as women, and how this contributes to the way in which we perceive ourselves, how we maintain health and how we apply BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 31

ourselves to intimate relations. For example, should one choose to be sexually active how does one get the most out of sex or be able to speak confidently for themselves in uncomfortable situations, if they don’t know how their sexual organs should work? So where do we begin in de-mystifying this phenomenon? First of all, the vagina is only one part of the female genitalia and not the whole thing. When we speak of the vagina, we’re referring to the internal canal-like passage to the uterus or womb. The vagina is where menstrual blood leaves the body and where the penis enters during sexual intercourse. This is separate from the urethra (the tube that urine or wee passes through), and separate from the external parts of a woman’s genitalia, of which are known as the vulva. What many call “flaps” are actually the “labia minora” (inner flaps) and the “labia majora” (outer flaps). To drive the point home, the clitoris is not the vagina. The clitoral hood is not the vagina. Basically, only the internal, muscular organ is the vagina. Designed for women to have and enjoy sex, have periods and have babies, if they should choose to do so. Developing a clear and detailed understanding of the female genitalia, was empowering for me because once I had it, I could no longer be shamed into believing there was something “wrong” with me when I knew there wasn’t. It significantly reduced the amount of pressure I felt to look and behave in a certain manner - whether that was in regards to feeling disgusted by my pubic hair or being embarrassed by my periods. It has contributed greatly with my self-confidence, and of course this self-belief has improved my performance in all areas of life. I’m quite shameless nowadays and see them as normal/essential bodily functions, that I will happily and freely talk openly about. 32 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

Women are weighed down by so many factors that men don’t have to consider when waking up in the morning or when it’s “that time of the month”. So what do they use all that extra energy, time and lack of pressure for? What could we women do, if we were to rid ourselves of the pseudolimitations that society assigns to our bodies? The way in which female genitalia is perceived, approached and referred to is affected by several social factors such as patriarchy, misogyny, religion and the mass media. Heavy weights that tell us how our vaginas should look, smell and – in fact let’s start there! How is the vulva (since the vagina is internal) “supposed” to look and smell? Appearance wise, no vulva is the same. Just like we all have different body shapes, eye colours and nose widths – there is diversity in genitalia. Smell Despite what the media tries to sell in the form of femfresh and scented intimate washes, vagina’s are not supposed to smell like vanilla and roses. Vagina’s are supposed to smell like vaginas, their natural scent much like every clean individual’s personal scent. It will vary from person to person. Generally as long as you maintain good health and hygiene, you will be fine. Unless you notice a particularly pungent or worrying odour, in that case you should visit your local GP as you may have an infection. Hygiene The vagina cleans itself and rids itself of what it doesn’t need, by way of discharge. You do not need to be putting anything in there to clean it, this a fast track route to vaginal irritation. For the vulva (the external area around the vagina), it is advisable to stick to mild and non-perfumed soaps “as [harsher perfumed soaps] can affect the

menopause, certain surgeries, weight gain, weight lifting, chronic coughing and pushing due to constipation” says Anna Druet. Muscles expand and contract, and exercises such as pelvic floor exercise can tighten the muscle, “pelvic floor exercise is the primary way to keep your pelvic floor strong and healthy.” Here is where I will end my “first steps towards de-mystifying the vagina.”

healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation.” Discharge According to the NHS, “it’s normal to produce clear or white secretions (discharge) from your vagina. This mucus is produced naturally from the neck of the womb, known as the cervix.” This is your body’s way of maintaining a healthy balance in the vagina and Pubic hair Whether you’re shaving, waxing or using removal creams - at some point we suffer from ingrown hairs, cuts and skin irritation. If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself “why am I even doing this anyway?” “Cultural standards of beauty influence people’s personal choices on appearance – including pubic hair. In some countries, less and less hair has become a “norm” (1). But these trends don’t always have your health (or physical comfort) in mind” says Clue writer Claire McWeeney. “Body shame, cleanliness and perceptions of sexiness are common reasons people cite for pubic hair grooming” often with little recognition or awareness of the fact that pubic hair has a purpose. It can act as a protective barrier, preventing unwanted bacteria from easily getting into the vagina. As well as, protecting the skin on vulva from friction can sometimes damage the skin.

Further Reading: McWeeney, C,(online), Vulvas: Shapes, sizes and misconceptions, https://medium.com/clued-in/vulvas-shapessizes-and-misconceptions-92149ccf1f20 (accessed on 6/10/17) NHS (onlive), Keeping your vagina clean and healthy, http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/ vagina-health/Pages/keep-vagina-clean.aspx (accessed on 6/10/17) McWeeney, C,(online) Pubic hair: A fuzzy topic, http://blog.helloclue.com/ post/148791208716/pubic-hair-a-fuzzy-topic (accessed on 6/10/17) McWeeney, C,(online), Pelvic floor 101: Tips & myths of vaginal “tightness” http://blog.helloclue.com/post/143531159046/ pelvic-floor-101-tips-myths-of-vaginal (accessed on 6/10/17)

“Tightness” The vagina is muscle that is capable of stretching wide enough for a baby to be birthed through it, and then return to its original width. The amount of sex a woman has (who as an adult is entitled to decide what she wants to do with her vagina) does not equate to how “tight” or “loose” her vagina will be. “The pelvic floor is usually strong when we are young, and weakens as we age. It can also be strained by vaginal childbirth, BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 33

Illustrated by Katayoun Jalili



‘He smelt different, didn’t he? he smelt different to me.’ ‘I haven’t read Another Country yet but I will start. Your comment on this makes me think of this white guy I’m speaking to, we write to each other often. I feel as though I have a lot more to offer him than he has to offer me and he has admitted this to me and said it to me himself, yet he has ways of helping me that perhaps he doesn’t know or see yet but I do. But I wouldn’t say I would use him to validate my suffering, yet I can’t help but think that to become close to a reflection of myself and/or a black mixed identifying male or female would we validate our suffering to one another this way or would we be liberating one another?..i think about this a lot actually. Which is probs why I acted out and got all weird which is what I’ve been reflecting on my actions these past weeks. Because I see the union of two queer identities that reflect each other in ways that are so succinct ie: me and you, as the ultimate political statement, the ultimate freedom and the ultimate love. And how urgent it is right now in the times we live in for these unions to happen and to be seen, but as you said the world has always been in a state of urgency. So I’m just not sure anymore..’

‘Did you really think I was festishing you? I don’t fetishise you though..I’ve had black girlfriends, white girlfriends, Asian girlfriends…’ ‘You need to stop taking things so personally and seriously, I don’t take anything seriously, not anymore.’ ‘You’re like...the best of both worlds’ ‘You know I don’t like white girls’ ‘Mixed race girls are an acquired taste.’



Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, tumblr etc and dating sites such as Tinder and Plenty of Fish, have changed the dating world completely. The thrill of knowing you might get rejected face to face at a bar, or a club or just anywhere in the outside world is simply gone, and now confined to a tiny chat box. No more does one have to build up the courage to walk up to whomever catching their eye, no more must one do the walk of failure back to their boys after rejection, it’s now simply just a message. “Hey” or “Hi”, or whatever opening line you usually work with; you simply send the message or a funny meme and then do 36 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

whatever it is you do as you wait for a reply. I was very late in jumping into the whole world of social media and dating apps, I think I only really joined the wave last year. I never had BBM or twitter like most people my age had growing up, so when it came to talking to women I always had to be more proactive in the face to face approach. As a heterosexual man, understanding women is extremely hard. Any man who says they understand them is in my opinion a liar, as I grow older and date more and spend more time around women the confusion doesn’t seem to dissipate. I believe this is where technology is at its most helpful.



Through personal Twitter and Instagram pages and personal bios on dating sites, you can almost peer into a woman’s life and get a little bit of an understanding about the type of person they are, or at least the type of person they would like the world to see. This instantly gives you something to talk about and you can already get an idea on whether or not you’re compatible with this person: whether you like the same music, movies, food; you know, the basics. It also kind of gives you a little hint on whether you should shoot your shot or not in the first place. Although it’s not as thrilling as walking up to whomever you’re interested in at a bar, and trying out your whatever cringe pick up line your drunk self can come up, it’s still quite thrilling wondering if she’s going to reply or if the conversation will be awkwardly cut short. Technology gives those who maybe find it awkward or don’t have the confidence to be that guy who walks up to women and shoot their shot, a chance that would’ve have been harder for them to get before. Also, if we’re just being honest, as long as the pictures you choose to put up online show you at your best, it’s just a lot more convenient. You don’t always have to have a trim, since you have one in your profile pictures already, you don’t have to pay transport money, as you need wifi not an oyster card, you don’t have to awkwardly walk back to your friends after rejection, if you delete the chat they’ll never know; it’s just a lot easier, or rather a lot less time consuming.

I think the main issue that technology has brought to the dating game however, is that online, some guys seem to have no problem talking to women, but face to face they have no idea what to do. Once the move has been made from twitter DMs to iMessage to Saturday night at All Bar One, something gets lost in translation somewhere and that cool guy facade Amaka fell for is nowhere to be seen. I think some of us often forget about the whole meeting up in person part of dating, since the world wide web is such a big part of the culture now. Liking her pictures on Instagram and telling her she has a pretty smile are two completely different things, and some have trouble realising that. That’s probably why Tinder dates are usually so terrible, well for me and my friends anyway. Luckily for me, I didn’t really use social media before and grew up around a lot of women, so I don’t have that much trouble talking to women, but a lot of men do, simply because face to face they think it should go as smoothly as it does online. When you can’t analyse every message she sends you with your boys over your phone in Nando’s, things can get awkward pretty quickly. Technology has introduced a lot of new things into the world of dating, whether it has made it easier or harder, depends on the type of person you are. On social media you could be as smooth as Jodeci, a young casanova, but in person be extremely stale and uninteresting or vice versa. I think the way to succeed in dating is to find balance between the two. Be yourself, be brave and try not to be too shy from the get go.



What is there to shy away from, it’s life? I was about 18, first year of uni when I asked myself this question. I had moved from Reading (South-East England), to London — the capital city. The quirks, awkward stages and harsh realities of my coming of age were coming to the “light at the end of the tunnel” phase. My eureka moment. It was all starting to make sense now, I found the jigsaw pieces my parents had withheld in order to protect me. As a young girl, I was robbed of some other pieces by “silly boys” who made me question myself and naive girls who never failed to point out my “otherness.” Being an African woman (Zimbabwean) of Christian upbringing, traditional culture enabled many of the sexuality pieces of the puzzle to be attached to shame. It was almost taboo, to try and take hold of them for yourself. Be it for your own inquisition, your own understanding or an exploration of pleasure.

I do to stimulate myself, what makes me happy, what makes me feel low, what kind of situations do I find most draining and what methods can I use to take care of myself. Once I answer all of these questions, I then ask myself why? And continue to discover my layers and my complexities for myself and by myself. Through this I find the freedom to self-define. This started with reading other women shamelessly talking about their experiences on social media. Having conversations that I had never had before and actively unlearning many of the unhealthy ideas I had internalised - realising that I was feeling freer than ever. Something I realised, many of my elders are unfortunately yet to do. Articulating this to them then, probably would have been met with a sharp “you’re getting too big for your boots!” As respect for elders is considered highly important.

Around this time I was beginning to unapologetically reclaim those pieces of selfesteem I had lost, and using them to build a picture of confidence. I was learning about intersectional feminism, meeting women who were stomping down on patriarchy. I was curious; always listening, reading, attending and never shying away from the nitty gritty.

But I’m 20 now, and things are starting to change. I can have these adult conversations with my parents and my aunts for example. I was recently speaking to my mum about how discouraging young girls from having sex by using the church’s’ teachings of “no sex before marriage” is not adequate sexual education. Neither is using the fear of pregnancy or of being left after a man has “had his way with you.”

I was beginning to know myself, I mean really understand myself physically, psychologically and emotionally. What moves me, what stimulates me, what can

Instead of empowering young women and girls, especially those who are sexually active, it leaves them in very vulnerable and worrying positions. It’s like being


thrown into a game, when you don’t know the rules - those with experience are in a position to take advantage of your naivety. Unfortunately, many of them do just that. Whether you find yourself in heterosexual or queer relationships, all people alike can be emotionally manipulative. It helps to be properly equipped, rather than walking into these things blindly and then finding yourself with a broken heart, emotional wounds that take time to heal or a bruised self-esteem. Case B: Not knowing that your vagina isn’t supposed to smell like roses and feeling pressured to make that happen, because the media pushes products like femfresh leads to using harsh soaps that then cause thrush. If nobody has ever spoken to you about thrush before, you may not recognise the symptoms and believe you’ve got a serious disease or an STI. Perhaps you’re too embarrassed to talk about it, so you delay treatment that could take just one day because you don’t know that thrush is a common yeast infection in women, and it’s not something you get because “you’re dirty.” Enough of us women have been through all of these difficult experiences, so have many generations of women, it doesn’t make sense for so many of us to still be blindly struggling with them or to be ashamed of them. Each one teach one, this is a simple but effective solution to all of the issues caused by lack of awareness or knowledge. What is there to shy away from when we all go through it? Many of these things are a part of life.




what it all meant. It was only years later that I realised and got to understand the diagnosis.

My dearest daughter, I am writing this letter to you to give you advice and guidance on a topic that is difficult for me to discuss with you, your sexual health. As an African woman, growing up in Zimbabwe, there were so many things that I wanted to know about my sexual health and things I was inquisitive about, pertaining to my own body. For some reason, it was one of the subjects that I couldn’t talk about nor did I have any source I could use to find out information. A lot of work was done to promote safe sex due to the HIV/ AIDS epidemic, so that I knew. Nevertheless, I found myself oblivious to anything else and never knowing any warning signs to watch out for or knowing what to expect. All I knew was that it was a taboo subject and the advice I got from family was about my menstruation and to abstain from sex till marriage. It was all no, no, no, but I never got the reasons why not. Once I got married, I was given advice on using contraception. As close as I am to my mum, this was one area that we could not converse. Personally for me, I felt like it must be inappropriate to talk about the subject because of how it was always made to be hush hush. Sometimes, I would just stumble onto information, and in the end I had to learn about my sexual health myself. Even the health professionals were evasive and it felt like all their focus was on doing their job but they didn’t need to explain anything to me or tell me about what to expect with my own health. I remember as a young woman in Zimbabwe, I had heavy menstrual periods and abdominal pain and I had been diagnosed with endometriosis but I did not have much understanding about

Now fast forward to us emigrating to the United Kingdom, it was such a culture shock to realise the vast wealth of information that was at my disposal. The health professionals would give me all the necessary information and guidance that I needed. To top it off, I also had the access to google to search for anything I didn’t feel comfortable to ask the GP. So, I know that now as a young woman, you probably might have a lot of questions. As you have access to the internet, you will be able to search online and also read things on the social media. However, as a nurse working in a Specialist Gynaecology unit, I just wanted to give you some advice based on the experience that I have attained and the things I had observed. As a young woman, they might be issues that you feel that you cannot ask me or talk to me about but I can assure you that you are not alone. Through my line of work, I have met some young women making hard decisions on their own, sometimes with their boyfriends. Both of whom are young and mostly ill informed. Even when the parents ask us, the health professionals, for more information or clarity about their daughter’s condition; we are not at liberty to discuss anything without the patient’s consent due to confidentiality laws. I always pray not to be in that position of ignorance, where I am there for you but I am not fully there because I do not know what you are actually going through. Hence, I wouldn’t know what to say, how to advice you or how to fully support you.


Therefore, I am going to give you a few vital details that I feel you can use to empower you to make the right decisions and to also illustrate the important issues that you should not ignore. Firstly, I know that you young women are internet savvy but I would say be wary of the stuff that you read because not every article is from a reliable source and neither are some articles accurate. Sometimes, women refuse to try certain treatment recommendations due to what they have read on someone else’s experience. I highly recommend that you use the National Health Service (NHS) websites as guidance to finding out about your health and any symptoms you might have. With everything, there is always risks and benefits and people’s reactions are different. What will work for you, might not work for another woman, and vice versa. Do not be frightened to try the different treatment methods because of someone else’s opinion or experience. Personally, as a Christian I would strongly advise you to abstain from any sexual intercourse until you are married. However, in the world we live in, it is difficult for me to be your bodyguard and to scrutinise all your moves. My only prayer, is for your protection and guidance and like we have spoken before and I will reiterate; do not lose who you are and do not conform to someone else’s ideals about how you should live your life. As an adult, you can easily access contraceptives without my knowledge or input but I would say to you, be aware of them. As much as they all have their advantages and disadvantages, some can cause life threatening conditions. For example, there are some women who have developed blood clots because of taking the oral contraceptive pill. Additionally, sexual intercourse can cause you to contract Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Statistics show that STIs are more prevalent in young people because they have multiple sexual partners without using protection. Some of the STIs are silent in terms of symptoms, so 42 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

women can go for years without knowing that they have any infection. For example, one of the STIs, chlamydia will show later on in life and it can affect fertility, it can cause pelvic pain, offensive vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding with sex. So, some of the choices that woman make when they are young, can affect their sexual health when they least expect it and moreover they will have an impact on starting a family. Therefore, it is important for you to be safe now as a young woman and to make better choices. Do not act ignorant and act without a care in the world, as if you are immune. In a few years, you will be offered an appointment for cervical screening, which is the smear test taken from your cervix to check for any abnormalities and it also checks for any pre-cancerous cells. This screening is very important for your sexual health, so you should not ignore it. When it comes to health matters, there is always a vast of evidence-based research that demonstrates the significance of screening or testing for various conditions. As a result, do not take it for granted and ignore getting screened. Sexual health is very private and it involves examination of your genital organs or by means of looking through them. This experience can be daunting and sometimes the thought of having the vaginal examination is enough to put off young women from accessing medical care for their symptoms. Please, do not dwell on this, but just put all your energy and focus on receiving help and getting treatment. Always ask to go with someone for support, if not me then choose someone you feel comfortable with. Above all, prevention is better than cure. Research supports that notion as well, because the chances of getting cured are higher when conditions are diagnosed early. Henceforth, do not take your health for granted, trust your gut instinct and do not ignore persistent symptoms. It is not normal to bleed in between your periods, to bleed after intercourse, to have a smelly

yellowish or greenish vaginal discharge, unexplained bloatedness and abdominal pain. Women do not have to suffer with heavy menstrual periods because they are a lot of treatment methods that can be used. Heavy menstruation can be as a result of various factors like fibroids and endometriosis. They can be debilitating enough to affect people’s day to day routines and their social life. Additionally, they can cause other conditions like Anaemia, which can affect one’s daily activities with fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and general weakness. Know your own body, that way you will be to ascertain any abnormalities. Every so often, as women we check for any abnormal lumps and bumps. You do so by just slowly run your fingers over your neck on both sides, especially under your ears all the way down onto your collar bone; under your armpits; over your breasts; over your groin. Sometimes, if you are unwell with a cold or flu, you might feel a lump on your neck but that will soon disappear. It’s the ones that are persistent and also increase in size, that you should get checked by your GP. On another note, I just want you to deeply understand that there is nothing that you can do, nor is there any decision that you can make, that will ever diminish my responsibility and love for you as your mother. As a nurse, I have encountered young girls who have gone through some challenging circumstances on their own and have found themselves making tough decisions on their own. For example, if one gets pregnant and doesn’t know what to do with that predicament. The impact of that situation is worsened by the fact that she has no one to approach for support, or she feels scared to tell her parents, or feels ashamed to hurt their feelings, or she feels she has let her family or religion down. Sometimes, young women then make ill-informed decisions without thinking things through rationally, and moreover they can decide

to put their boyfriend as their next of kin because they do not want their family to know what is happening. Now and then, you meet such cases and it is sad because you just feel like, here are 2 young people and the one who is being classified as the next of kin, doesn’t seem to understand what it means, the gravity of the responsibility and would they even know what to say if ever they were called in an emergency. All I am trying to illustrate is that there is nothing that you can do that will stop me from giving you all my love, my support, my guidance, my shoulder to lean, my hug to comfort you and prayers to sustain you. Even if you then have a committed relationship and you decide to add your boyfriend as your next of kin, I will be there to support you both and help in any way possible for the benefit of you and your health. As I conclude my letter, I would want you to know that I am here for you when you need me. You should never find anything too difficult to talk to me about it. Whatever it may be, I am here for you to help you make the easy and the hard decisions, to give you guidance, to face any situation with you and weather any storm with you. Should you ever feel, you don’t want to talk to me about something, I know you are level-headed enough to seek appropriate guidance elsewhere . Knowledge is power. Use the information and guidance at your disposal correctly and for your benefit. Written with love and care, Mum.



I am a product of rape culture. Even though many of us are evolving on our understanding of consent, we’re still the products of rape culture. What is Affirmative consent? Pressured into sharing your Snapchat, Instagram or even your number? How does Affirmative consent work in terms of Tech? I have on countless occasions been pressured, 44 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

harassed and physically chased, yes I was chased down the street. Pressured, harassed and coerced into providing any sort of access to contact me by cis men. Affirmative consent is not just about getting permission, but about making sure encounters are based on mutual desire and enthusiasm. So with affirmative consent, or “yes means yes,” we imply that WOC have the power to be their own agency when it comes to sex and consent? While this is a wonderful ideal to strive towards, it ignores the reality that womxn

say “yes” sometimes out of fear, and sometimes as a result of coercion and just to be left alone. Especially, in terms of exchanging contacts or adding people on Instagram or other social media outlets.

sex education to teach our young generation about healthy sex, relationships and how these function in relation to tech, by using tech correctly and appropriately and knowing how to consciously navigate the Web 2.0.

While every no means no, not every yes means yes.

If we can stop seeing and learning about sex from the dominant patriarchal perspective, we can encourage and respect mutual consensual pleasure.

Unfortunately, within this societal framework, we have yet to come across a model of consent that works without fault under the patriarchy and the gender roles constructed. Solving the issues of consent is a long way off. However, we must continue to talk about consent. It needs to be part of our sex education programs. It needs to be something that we learn and understand from a young age, especially consent in relation to disabilities. I only started to learn about consent, unfortunately after already being sexually active and not realising, that on numerous occasions, the lines between consensual sexual activity and non-consentual were blurred to my understanding, which was completely warped from what I ‘thought’ I had to interact and/or react.

Sex and consent education should not just be about STIs and unwanted pregnancies; (which also needs updating) but it should also discuss love and pleasure and relationships and interactions. It needs to teach us about a variety of relationships and equip us with the tools and confidence to talk about sex and what we want, feel comfortable and safe to do. In doing so, we may finally bring up a generation that truly understands consent. References Mogilevsky, M. 2015, online, Need Proof of Rape Culture? Here Are 5 Ridiculous Things Some Men Say When Accused of Rape Accessed: 6th October 2018 https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/ ridiculous-responses-to-rape-accusations/

Now reflecting on this, I release that there were many occasions that they were not consensual. And so in order to counteract the downright dangerous lessons porn is teaching our young people, porn that used to be harder to access is now in 2017, easily accessible by those who have access to the internet, or a mobile phone device. Most young people within this society have these things or know of people that can access such content from the Web 2.0, we need to start talking about sex and (un)learning gender stereotypes.

Brunwin, R. 2015, online, ‘The Problem With How We’ve Defined Consent’ Accessed: 6th October 2018 http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/11/ the-problem-with-consent/

It’s of urgency that we need comprehensive BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 45



Both of these pieces celebrate women and how the digital age has started to renounce how we see the nudes - as an act of female/self empowerment and giving no power to ‘revenge nudes’.

Aisha (meaning ‘one who is alive in Arabic)


I drew this few years ago when the boy I was talking to wasn’t texting me back (it’s so hilarious to me now that I was so affected by this boy not writing back to me loool). It was created with a range of emotions like frustration, sadness, disappointment and a hint of ‘over it’.

This was drawn to go with a poem my friend wrote. It shows her deep hatred for the bias that the TV and acting industry possess for the lighter skinned women. Her poem was titled ‘2 DIRTY 4 DISNEY’.


Titled Encompasses death and rebirth. Though the person in the drawing’s eye’s are not closed yet you could say they are still alive and ‘sprouting’ .

Trust your gut. I’ve always been told to ‘never ignore your gut’ and so this is how I visualise the saying.



Vox Pop: How has technology improved your knowledge of sexual health? To kick start the conversation, I asked 10 women one question “How has technology improved your knowledge of sexual health, and bettered your intimate relationships?” The respondents will remain anonymous and only can only be identified by their initials and ages. “Technology has made it easier to find the answers to questions that might be uncomfortable to ask a parent or someone you know. For example, what’s normal during a period when you first get it? Obviously, the internet can be misleading but sometimes it’s given answers to things even people around me haven’t known, with explanations as to what the body does etc. Also, stuff like having YouTubers, blogs and twitter threads has allowed people to share knowledge based on experiences. I’ve learnt new information this way and better understood things I had been led to believe. It’s helped me in not having to feel uncomfortable about talking about my health and relationships because most things people will have in common but stigmas make them feel like they can’t talk, and those platforms have helped open conversations.” - BM, 16. “Coming from an Islamic and Sudanese background these topics are often viewed as taboo and not really spoken about. That being said technology, especially the internet gave me a chance to learn about 50 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

these topics in depth and help understand my body more. Things such as period tracking apps have also helped me a lot. These apps have not only given me a chance to be better prepared for my periods but also given me a quick and easy way to keep track of them as well.” - SK, 18. “It’s improved it for me personally as the internet is where I’ve learnt a lot about modern day feminism. Which preaches the importance of sexual interaction being about pleasure for both parties. Where as my culture more so puts importance on guys getting what they want from a female. For example in hip hop and dancehall music etc. Social media has also opened my eyes to things like gender fluidity. Like all men don’t have to act a certain way to be perceived masculine etc. In that way, it just made me more aware that my relationships can be anything that brings me comfort. There’s no blueprint for happiness essentially. Lastly, technology in the form of apps has taught me more about the balance of my body e.g. if I’m at a certain stage of my cycle, my mood and body are going to react differently and that’s ok.” DL, 20. “The period tracking apps we now have are really good and help to explain stages of our cycle. I guess twitter too you can read wild sex stories and become curious to try new things. Also if you have symptoms you can’t identify, there are web doctors that can save you from having to wait days to get a GP

appointment! Finding treatments you can access at home for sexual health/oral health etc.” - NP, 20. “Now that people have access to the internet if you don’t know or you’re scared to talk to your parents or scared to talk to your friends - a lot of people won’t go on the NHS website. They’ll go on social media, they’ll go on twitter or facebook to search and say “well here’s someone else’s experience” and try to learn from that. I know I always want to know things and I’d rather ask someone, but I wouldn’t say it has really improved. Maybe within the LGBTQ community, a lot of people will raise awareness about HIV, AIDS and using protection. I think social media has played its role, but it can put people’s expectations up or down. They might feel like they have to look a certain way to have sex, or you might have to do this and if you’re not doing this right then… It’s a good but weird question, social media can be good and bad. People go out there looking for information and you won’t always get the right answer because social media is very opinionated. If you can’t relate to someone’s story, you’ll go searching for something else.” - AB, 23.

a lot out there and some doing more harm than good I think. Having said that, one does come across useful tips or curiosities every so often that I suppose one can use to improve/ explore different avenues. I think it depends on how open minded the individual would have been in the first place to be able to actually benefit from what you can easily access now thanks to good old technology.” - PM, 37. “I’d say technology has helped in being exposed to so many honest and open threads/ blogs on people’s experiences. People are way more open and honest online” - MM, 24. “Technology has enabled me to be more aware of my sexual health as well as make me feel liberated in my intimate relationships. Technology enables us to break the stigma of judgement when it regards women seeking more control over their sexual health and their sexual activities . I have downloaded an application called “eve” which enables me to track my menstruation as well as to understand my hormone levels and moods. It has been a fantastic help to understanding my sexual health and being in tune with what my body requires. We have all the information at our fingertips. This is information that parents may be wary to tell their female children or that schools neglect to delve into.” - RC, 20.

Image 3 “Watching porn has made me more experimental. Not the mass produced porn but the amateur kind. Connecting with women who are comfortable with themselves and their bodies has helped me to spend more time finding what I enjoy.” - RK, 23. “Not sure if it’s really helped, maybe just given a wider source of “possible” info as there is BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 51



KEY TERMS. Active Citizen

A citizen who takes an active role in the community, such as crime prevention and the local community.

African American

An American of African and especially of black African descent

Anti Blackness

Showing discrimination against Black people


The processing of adapting to or falling in line with the culture of a nation.

Assisted Voluntary Return

Administrative, logistical, financial and reintegration support to rejected asylum seekers, victims of trafficking in human beings, stranded migrants, qualified nationals and other migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host country who volunteer to return to their countries of origin.

Asylum seeker

A person who leaves their home country as a refugee and seeks asylum in another.


Belonging to or denoting any human group having dark-coloured skin, especially of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry

Black British

British people of Black and African origins or heritage, including those of African-Caribbean (sometimes called "Afro-Caribbean") background, and may include people with mixed ancestry


a line separating two countries, administrative divisions, or other areas

Border management The control and security of the border, effectively controlling who legally comes in and out and prevent any illegal immigrants or substances coming in. Boycott

To voluntarily abstain or protest something.


A term used to describe the United Kingdom's exit from Europe.



Capacity building

Building capacity of governments and civil society by increasing their knowledge and enhancing their skills.

Circular migration

The repetitive movement of a migrant worker back and forth between home and host areas. BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 53


Being a citizen of a particular country.


(Afrikaans: Kleurlinge) are a multiracial ethnic group in South Africa, who have ancestry from African (Khoisan and Bantu), European, and sometimes also Asian (Austronesian and South Asian) ethnic groups.


Offensive term for black people.


Groups of people who live in the same area, or that have particular characteristics and attributes in common.


Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. A contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.

Country of origin

Refers to the country where one is born.


The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

Critical Race Theory A theoretical framework in the social sciences focused upon the application of critical theory, a critical examination of society and culture, to the intersection of race, law, and power. CRT proposes that white supremacy and racial power are maintained over time, and that the law may play a role in this process and investigated the possibility of transforming the relationship between law and racial power. Democracy

A system of government where leaders and representatives are selected by the people; rule of the majority.


Factors and statistical data of a population.


The exile of an individual from a country.


The movement or spread of people from their homeland.


force (someone) to leave their home, typically because of war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Dual Citizenship

When a person is regarded as a national of more than one state.


When an individual leave’s their own country to permanently reside in another.


A state in which all individuals or social groups are treated fairly, equally and no less favourably; be it by virtue of their race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. Equality stands for inclusion and is against discrimination.

Equal Opportunities An individual's right to be treated fairly without discrimination, no matter what their sex, race or age is. 54 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.


The fact or state of belonging to a social group that as common national or cultural tradition.


An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship. In common usage, the term often refers to professionals or skilled workers sent abroad by their employers, who can be companies, governments, or non-governmental organisations.

Facilitated migration Where migration is encouraged and made easier, through methods such as streamlined visa processing. Forced migration

A term that usually refers to refugees and civilians whom have been displaced by some kind of disaster.


The state of being unrestricted and able to move easily.

Freedom of association

The right to band together to form groups, whether they be societies or clubs, for a common cause without interference from the government.

Freedom of expression

The right to express to one’s opinion without restraint.

Freedom of movement

An individual's right to travel within a state or outside of a state, and still return to it.


Behaviour of an offensive nature, aggressively pressuring or intimidating someone.


Something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition. Additionally something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth.

Human rights

A right which is believed to belong to every person.


The characteristics determining who or what a person is.

Identity crisis

A period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society


The permanent movement of a person or people from one country to another.

Internally Displaced Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to Person (IDP) leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border. International The minimum standard of treatment which states must uphold minimum standards when dealing with foreign nationals and their belongings. BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 55


Is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. The concept first came from legal scholar KimberlĂŠ Crenshaw in 1989 and is largely used in critical theories, especially Feminist theory, when discussing systematic oppression. When possible, credit KimberlĂŠ Crenshaw for coining the term "intersectionality" and bringing the concept to wider attention.

Irregular migration

Movement that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries. There is no clear or universally accepted definition of irregular migration.


Prejudice against Islam or the Muslim population.

Labour migration

Where an individual migrates to another country for employment purposes.


A group of people seeking to influence legislators on a particular issue


The movement of a person or people to a new area or country.


The nation an individual belongs to.


The process in which a non-national in a country can acquire nationality of that country.


To walk or find one's way on, in, or across

New Humanism or Neohumanism

Where terms applied to a theory of literary criticism, together with its consequences for culture and political thought, developed around 1900 by the American scholar Irving Babbitt, and the scholar and journalist Paul Elmer More.

Non white

Denoting or relating to a person whose origin is not predominantly European.

Normative theory

Hypotheses or other statements about what is right and wrong, desirable or undesirable, just or unjust in society. The majority of sociologists consider it illegitimate to move from explanation to evaluation


To relegate to the fringes, out of the mainstream; make seem unimportant: to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power.


Is a political philosophy stating that power should be vested in individuals almost exclusively based on ability and talent.


The feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles and or adverse conditions.


Orderly migration

Migration that adheres to the rules of the state which the individual as exited and the state in which they’re migrating to.


a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory.


Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression.


People of Colour.

Political Blackness

Political blackness is the idea that all non-white people can define themselves under one term: black.

Political migrants

People unable to return home due to well founded fears of being persecuted and unlikely to receive protection from government.

Political party

A group that hold power in government; they come together to create policies and programs in which they hope to promote for the good of their supporters.


All the inhabitants of a particular place or area.


Hatred towards someone based on their identity. Example: An oppressed person of colour can be prejudice against privileged races but cannot be racist.

Pressure group

A group sharing the same interest or cause, that tries to influence the policies of the public.


A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

Pull Factors

Factors that attract people to a location.

Push Factors

Factors that drive people away from a location.

Push-pull factors

Factors that cause people to migrate, either through attraction or by pushing them away.


Refers to groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to be socially significant, meaning that people treat other people differently because of them.


Is not biological. It is a social construct. There is no gene or cluster of genes common to all blacks or all whites. Were race “real” in the genetic sense, racial classifications for individuals would remain constant across boundaries.



The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race/s.

Receiving country

Country of destination or a third country. In the case of return or repatriation, also the country of origin. Country that has accepted to receive a certain number of refugees and migrants on a yearly basis by presidential, ministerial or parliamentary decision.


Monies earned or acquired by non-nationals that are transferred back to their country of origin.


The personal right of a refugee, prisoner of war or a civil detainee to return to his or her country of nationality under specific conditions laid down in various international instruments (Geneva Conventions, 1949 and Protocols, 1977, the Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Annexed to the Fourth Hague Convention, 1907, human rights instruments as well as customary international law).


An individual who had been forced to leave their country in fear for safety, because of events such as war,or natural disaster.

Social Construct

A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.

Social Justice

Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

Stateless person

A person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law" (Art. 1, UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 1954). As such, a stateless person lacks those rights attributable to national diplomatic protection of a State, no inherent right of sojourn in the State of residence and no right of return in case he or she travels.

Statutory rights

An individual's legal rights, set by the government, put in place to protect citizens.

Travel Ban

An executive order, where a state prohibits an individual or certain individuals from entering or leaving the country.


An official document that allows an individual to enter, leave or stay in a country for a period of time.


Relating to or denoting the people who emigrated from the Caribbean to Britain on the British ship the Empire Windrush in 1948.



Belonging to or denoting a human group having light-coloured skin (chiefly used of peoples of European extraction).


Seated in the history of the ideology of ‘race,' ‘whiteness' as the foundation of racial categories and racism.

White Supremacy

White supremacy is an ideology centered upon the promotion of the belief, that white people are superior. It is argued by critical race theorist that all white people have a level of white supremacy values because of the media, education and politics have embedded whiteness as superior in society.

White Washing

A term used to describe white actors or actress playing non-fictional and historical non-white character roles. Therefore writing and disconnecting historical events and achievements to the non-white community.


Prejudice of people from other countries.


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FURTHER READING. Books: Bailey, J., Mann, S., Wayal, S., Abraham, C., & Murray, E. 2015. Digital media interventions for sexual health promotion—opportunities and challenges. BMJ, 350, h1099. Bhui, K., Stansfeld, S., Hull, S., Priebe, S., Mole, F., & Feder, G. 2003. Ethnic variations in pathways to and use of specialist mental health services in the UK. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 182(2), 105-116. Brown, C. 2013. The black female body in American literature and art: Performing identity. Routledge. Clarke, A. E., & Olesen, V. 2013. Revisioning women, health and healing: Feminist, cultural and technoscience perspectives. Routledge. Cohoon, J. M., & Aspray, W. 2006. Women and information technology: Research on underrepresentation (Vol. 1). The MIT Press. Collins, P. H. 2002. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge. Craig, M. L. 2002. Ain’t I a beauty queen?: Black women, beauty, and the politics of race. Oxford University Press, USA. Edge, D., & MacKian, S. C. 2010. Ethnicity and mental health encounters in primary care: help-seeking and help-giving for perinatal depression among Black Caribbean women in the UK. Ethnicity & Health, 15(1), 93-111. Evans, S. Y., Bell, K., & Burton, N. K. 2017, Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability. SUNY Press. European Commission. 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/women-ict http://femtechnet.org/docc/collaborations-in-feminism-technology-sept-dec-2015/ Accesses 6th October 2017 Farage M. 2006, Maibach H. Lifetime changes in the vulva and vagina. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics. 1;273(4):195–202. Few, A. L., Stephens, D. P., & Rouse‐Arnett, M. 2003, Sister‐to‐sister talk: Transcending boundaries and challenges in qualitative research with Black women. Family Relations, 52(3), 205-215. 62 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

Fink, B., Grammer, K., & Matts, P. J. 2006, Visible skin color distribution plays a role in the perception of age, attractiveness, and health in female faces. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27(6), 433-442. Fox, S. 2011, The social life of health information, 2011. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Pro Frankenberg, R. 1993,. White women, race matters: The social construction of whiteness. University of Minnesota Press. Gaspar, D. B., & Hine, D. C. (Eds.). 1996. More than chattel: Black women and slavery in the Americas. Indiana University Press. Gattiker, U. E. (Ed.). 1994, Women and technology (Vol. 4). Walter de Gruyter. Giddings, P. J. 1996, When and where I enter: The impact of Black women on race and sex in America. Harris-Perry, M. V. 2011, Sister citizen: Shame, stereotypes, and Black women in America. Yale University Press. Henderson, C. (Ed.). 2010, Imagining the black female body: Reconciling image in print and visual culture. Springer. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St Rose, A. 2010, Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. American Association of University Women. 1111 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington. Holloway, I. W., Dunlap, S., Del Pino, H. E., Hermanstyne, K., Pulsipher, C., & Landovitz, R. J. 2014. Online social networking, sexual risk and protective behaviors: considerations for clinicians and researchers. Current addiction reports, 1(3), 220-228. Hooks, B. 1992, The oppositional gaze: Black female spectators. na. Jones, A. (Ed.). 2003, The feminism and visual culture reader. Psychology Press. Karlsen, S., & Nazroo, J. Y. 2002, Relation between racial discrimination, social class, and health among ethnic minority groups. American journal of public health, 92(4), 624-631. BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 63

Krieger, N. 2000, Discrimination and health. Social epidemiology, 1, 36-75. Nazroo, J. Y. 2003, The structuring of ethnic inequalities in health: economic position, racial discrimination, and racism. American journal of public health, 93(2), 277-284. Nelson, C. A. 2010, Representing the Black female subject in western art. Routledge. McClintock, A. 2013, Imperial leather: Race, gender, and sexuality in the colonial contest. Routledge. Mitter, S., & Rowbotham, S. (Eds.). 1997, Women encounter technology: Changing patterns of employment in the third world (Vol. 1). Psychology Press. Mirza, H,.S, ed.1994 Black British feminism: A reader. Psychology Press Ponzanesi, S. 2005, Beyond the black Venus: Colonial sexual politics and contemporary visual practices (pp. 165-89). Na. Smith, S. L. 1995, Sick and tired of being sick and tired: Black women’s health activism in America, 1890-1950. University of Pennsylvania Press. Stephens, D. P., & Phillips, L. 2005, Integrating Black feminist thought into conceptual frameworks of African American adolescent women’s sexual scripting processes. Sexualities, Evolution & Gender, 7(1), 37-55. Terry, J., & Calvert, M. (Eds.). 1997, Processed lives: Gender and technology in everyday life. Psychology Press. Thistlethwaite, S. B. 2009, Sex, race, and God: Christian feminism in black and white. Wipf and Stock Publishers. Warren, W. 1999, Black women scientists in the United States. Indiana University Press.

Articles, Essays & Journals: Bowleg, L. 2012, The problem with the phrase women and minorities: intersectionality—an important theoretical framework for public health. American journal of public health, 102(7), 1267-1273. http://rcgd.isr.umich.edu/seminars/Winter2014/Winter14_articles/Lisa_Bowleg_Article_1.pdf Accessed 10th October 2017 BLACK FLY First Edition. 2017 http://www.blackflyzine.tumblr.com/ Accesses 6th October 2017 Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Vocabulary Definitions www.itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2013/01/a-comprehensivelist-of-lgbtq-term-definitions/#sthash.4L4S1rE7.dpbs Accessed 6th October 2017 64 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

Edwards, A. 2017. An Interview with the Woman Who Coined “Femtech” - Ida Tin http://juntohealth.org/blog/an-interview-with-the-woman-who-coined-femtech-ida-tin Accessed 10th October 2017 Reynolds, E. 2017. No pink, no flowers, just science: Clue’s Ida Tin on the period-tracking app https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/jan/24/periods-no-pinkno-flowers-just-science-clue-ida-tin-fertility-tracking Accessed 10th October 2017 Lim, M. S., Hocking, J. S., Hellard, M. E., & Aitken, C. K. 2008, SMS STI: a review of the uses of mobile phone text messaging in sexual health. International journal of STD & AIDS, 19(5), 287-290. Luxton, E, Online. Where are the women in tech? 3 charts that reveal the gender gap https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/04/where-are-the-women-in-computing/ Accessed 6th October 2017 Magistretti, B. 2017. The rise of femtech: women, technology, and Trump https://venturebeat.com/2017/02/05/the-rise-of-femtech-women-technology-and-trump/ Accesses 6th October 2017 Morgan Stanley, 2017. Women Employees Boost the Bottom Line for Tech Firms https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/gender-diversity-tech-companies Accessed 10th October 2017 Mugo, T. 2016, Online, Why are we ignoring the sexual health of women who have sex with women? Accesses 6th October 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/nov/09/why-arewe-ignoring-the-sexual-health-of-women-who-have-sex-with-women Nguyen, J. 2016, Technology Is Reinventing Humanity, TEDxSydney https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxuWIXdYYyQ Accesses 6th October 2017 Patton, T. O. 2006. Hey girl, am I more than my hair?: African American women and their struggles with beauty, body image, and hair. NWSA journal, 18(2), 24-51. Rahier, J. M., & Hintzen, P. 2014. Problematizing Blackness: Self Ethnographies by Black Immigrants to the United States. Routledge. Richman, A. R., Webb, M. C., Brinkley, J., & Martin, R. J. 2014. Sexual behaviour and interest in using a sexual health mobile app to help improve and manage college students’ sexual health. Sex Education, 14(3), 310-322. Sanday, P. R. 1981. Female power and male dominance: On the origins of sexual inequality. Cambridge University Press. BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS. // 65

Spitz, J. 2016, Here’s Why Gender Diversity in Tech Matters (in Less Than 3 Minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H3kUd5MjGI Accesses 6th October 2017 Stacey, J. 2013. Star gazing: Hollywood cinema and female spectatorship. Routledge. Stokes, M. 2001. The color of sex: Whiteness, heterosexuality, and the fictions of white supremacy. Duke University Press.


DIGITAL RESOURCES. Websites: Everyday Feminism www.everydayfeminism.com/tag/sex Everyday Feminism is an educational platform for personal and social liberation. Our mission is to help people dismantle everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization through applied intersectional feminism and to create a world where self-determination and loving communities are social norms through compassionate activism. Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor www.onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com/uk/sexual-health-women LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor is a doctor-led initiative providing safe and reliable remote online healthcare to anyone in the UK. Our patient-centred model of healthcare allows patients to tailor care around their schedule, and increases healthcare access for harder-to-reach patient groups. As the first ever online healthcare organisation to register with the government regulator of healthcare – the Care Quality Commission – we pride ourselves on our pioneer status and work constantly to expand the boundaries of personalised healthcare. FPA - The Sexual Health Charity www.fpa.org.uk We’re the sexual health charity FPA. Our vision is a society where everyone can make positive choices about their own sexual health and wellbeing. Our mission is to champion people’s right to sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing through advocacy, campaigning, education and information. Easy Health www.easyhealth.org.uk/listing/sexual-health-for-women-(leaflets) Easyhealth was made so that people know where to find ‘accessible’ health information . ‘Accessible’ information is information that uses easy words with pictures. There are over 500 leaflets on Easyhealth, made by many different organisations. You can print off nearly all the leaflets straight away.


Center for Young Women’s Health www.youngwomenshealth.org/sexual-health-index The Center for Young Women’s Health (CYWH) is a partnership between the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine and the Division of Gynecology, at Boston Children’s Hospital. The Center is an educational entity that is committed to providing teen girls and young women with carefully researched health information, educational programs, and conferences. The mission of our website is to help teen girls, their parents, educators, and health care providers improve their understanding of normal health and development, as well as of specific diseases and conditions. We want to empower teen girls and young women around the world to take an active role in their own health care.

Podcasts: Smart Girl Club www.soundcloud.com/shalia-stockstill/sets/smart-girls-club-radio Explores female friendship, navigates interactions with men, and even dabbles in witchcraft. In a few precious hours, Frasqueri has already served relationship advice, magical healing techniques, and learnings from difficult chapters in her own life — which are worth a listen for any creative femme in need of inspiration or solace. Sexual Health Network www.sexualhealthnetwork.org.uk/tag/podcast A Network for academics and practitioners engaged in sexual health research Prismatic www.soundcloud.com/prismaticseries “Prismatic” is a podcast hosted by New Yorkers Josh Gwynn, Will Johnson, and Tsige Tafesse (of POC art collective BUFU). Black Girl in Om www.blackgirlinom.com/podcast/ “Black Girl in Om” started as an online collective and only recently grew into a podcast. The show extends the group’s core mission of cultivating a community for black women in the worlds of yoga, natural beauty, and overall wellness Gettin Grown www.soundcloud.com/gettingrown Keia and Jade are two happy and hard working Black Women trying to learn how to adult. Listen to this weekly podcast for segments like Kitchen TableTalk, Petty Peeves and Lessons in Black Women Self Care, as they share their insights while trying to figure out life as 30-somethings. 68 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

Food Heaven Show www.soundcloud.com/food-heaven-podcast Registered Dietitians and BFFs Wendy and Jess discuss healthy cooking and other wellness topics related to food and nutrition “Another Round” www.buzzfeed.com/anotherround Buzzfeed has a show for Black women? Yup! Editors Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton’s weekly podcast will have you feeling like they’re your favorite political-but-sometimes-ratchet girlfriends (in your head). Therapy for Black Girls www.soundcloud.com/therapyforblackgirls A weekly podcast with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford about all things mental health and personal development. Well, Blactually… www.soundcloud.com/well-blactually/sex-ep (from a cis-hetero perspective): New month, new episode! Gena and Natalie talk all things sex but make it intellectual (insert ANTM gif here). Starting with Insecure, we chat about what sex looks like in the mainstream for black women touching on condom-gate, female satisfaction and how Lawrence and Tasha deserve an EGOT for the finale sex scene of season 1. We also look at sexual health, colorism and class, societal taboos and whether sexual education started from the Birds and Bees talk or not for us.


YouTube Channels: Shan BOODY youtube.com/shannontboodram The official YouTube channel of author, photographer and TV host Shannon Teresa Boodram. This channel is primarily a resource for those of us who grew up texting til dawn. It’s practical, factual, and sometimes dreadful information on what it means to be falling in love and being sexual in today’s easy-access culture. I also may discuss curlyhaired awesomeness, career or other wonderful things I am passionate about. Subscribe and we can rub it out - I mean talk it out...some more. Sex, love and relationship channel Shameless Maya youtube.com/Shamelessmaya “What would happen if I shamelessly promoted myself for 365 days?” My channel started out as a social media experiment and now it’s a lifestyle. I hope my journey from shame to shameless inspires you and others to not be ashamed of who you are and to share and celebrate that shamelessly. Here on my channel, you’ll find videos on lifestyle, inspiration, fun transformations, techie vids for aspiring geeks, beauty, fashion, and so much more. Healthchanneltv / cherishyourhealthtv www.youtube.com/cherishyourhealthtv Discover how interesting health can be by watching our video’s on healthchannel! We make complex medical information easy to understand with 2D and 3D animations checked by medical specialists. In less than 3 minutes per video you learn about your cholesterol or about don’t & do’s when you have a cold sores or how the orgasm works for example! FC2 The Female Condom www.youtube.com/user/FC2Training Female Health Company manufactures the FC2 Female Condom and provides sexual and reproductive health training worldwide. FC2 provides dual protection against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and Zika. FDA- and WHO approved. Sexplanations www.youtube.com/user/sexplanations Sexplanations is sexedutainment for the universe hosted by Dr. Lindsey Doe, directed and edited by Matthew Gaydos, and produced by Hank Green. The show is designed around the 4 minutes model of YouTube EDU to share incredible knowledge while inspiring the audience to stay curious. The most viewed episode is Vagina Toys, followed Pelvic Exam, Anal Sex, Masturbation, and Consent. The channel has covered over 220 topics and has reached over 190 nations. It’s in it’s third year and continuing shame-free, comprehensive efforts to educate on everything sex. 70 // BELONGING: NAVIGATING ARTIFICIAL BORDERS.

FemmeHead www.youtube.com/channel/UCRxM7IbVgPEOPvi_2qBd3mw Hi! I’m Victoria. My videos are a little bit of everything, menstruation magic, minimalism, veganism, travel and zero waste. Enjoy! Fertility Friend www.youtube.com/FertilityCharting FertilityFriend.com harnesses the connecting and computing power of the internet to promote and refine reproductive health awareness and social support for women trying to conceive. FertilityFriend.com’s mission is: • To achieve technological excellence in chart interpretation and analysis; to make fertility charting easy and accessible. • To empower women to take control of their own reproductive health and advocate for themselves in healthcare settings. • To reduce stigma and shame attached to reproductive function and infertility. • To provide a platform for sharing experiences, support and education.

Twitter Users to Follow: @Clue @DeunIvory @TheSlumFlower @imixj @SoSowemimo ‫‏‬ @sex_positivefam @sexualhealthj @SisterSong_WOC @FeralAttractFM @projectFem4All @SHLIatMSM @wocshn @LatinoSexuality @WoodhullSFA @Lexxsexdoc @ZelaikaC @blacksexgeek


Key Organisations: Taking Charge of Your Fertility www.tcoyf.com Are you unhappy with your current method of birth control? Or are you demoralized by your quest to have a baby? Do you also experience confusing signs and symptoms at various times in your cycle, but are frustrated by a lack of simple explanations? This invaluable resource will help you find the answer to your questions while giving you amazing insights into your own body. TCOFY has helped literally hundreds of thousands of women achieve pregnancy, avoid pregnancy naturally, or simply gain better control of their health and lives. This book thoroughly explains the empowering Fertility Awareness Method. Women of Color Sexual Health Network www.wocshn.org The Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN) is a group of women, both domestic and international, with a focus on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women of color. The mission of this working group is to empower and include more women of color in the field of sexuality, sexology, and sexual health. Sexuality educators, therapist, counselors, and doctors must have more representation of women of color to bring diversity to this field, which is underrepresented by people of color. This working group began at the 41st Annual ASSECT Conference by 18 women of color attendees from various backgrounds but similar passions. WOCSHN is inclusive of all people who identify as women of color. Black Girl In Om www.blackgirlinom.com Black Girl In Om promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color. We encourage self-care, self-love, and self-empowerment for communities of color. We affirm the consistent, preventative actions that cultivate a clear mind, a strong body, prosperous spirit, and inspiration in our environments. We learn and share wellness practices with one another, and through this work cultivate richer understandings of what it means to be healthy and beautiful from the inside out. Kinsey Institute www.Kinseyinstitute.org The Kinsey Institute is powered by curiosity and inspired by humanity. Our mission: To foster and promote a greater understanding of human sexuality and relationships through impactful research, outreach, education, and historical preservation Our vision: To be the premier research institute on human sexuality and relationships


Hello Clue www.Helloclue.com At Clue, we’re making a dent in the history of menstrual health. We’ve started by building a cycle tracking app that’s confident, empowering and scientific. Our app is empathetic, positive and not filled with butterflies or euphemisms. Doula www.doula.org.uk Doula UK is the leading organisation for doulas in the UK, with a network of member doulas nearing 700 in number. Doula UK was founded in 2001 as a not-for-profit organisation. The Womb Room www.thewombroom.co.uk We aim to increase reproductive health awareness for women and girls, supporting you throughout your reproductive health journey by providing up to date information, comprehensive education and connecting you with the best ways to manage your health to suit your lifestyle. Femtechnet www.femtechnet.org On this website you will find many resources for learning more about feminism, cyberfeminism, and feminist theories of technology, including videos with major scholars and subject matter experts, reading lists and bibliographies, projects to do with classmates or undertake on your own as a do­-it­-yourselfer, and syllabi from past and present FemTechNet classes. Black Women’s Health Imperative www.bwhi.org Since 1983, we have been the only national organization dedicated solely to improving the health and wellness of our nation’s 21 million Black women and girls – physically, emotionally and financially National Institute for Health and Care Excellence www.nice.org.uk National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, improving health and social care through evidence-based guidance


Afrosexology www.afrosexology.com/contactus/ Afrosexology was birthed out of our desire to experience a more sex-positive Black community. One that encourages self agency & promotes love in regards to our bodies, relationships, and sexualities. One that liberates us from the sexual shame & policing that we’ve inherited from generations of sexual & body oppression. One that follows in the tradition of Black sexual politics by seeking to rediscover & reclaim our sexuality. Woodhull Freedom Foundation www.woodhullfoundation.org/ Established in February, 2003, The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted to education and public advocacy in support of the principle that consensual sexual expression is a fundamental human right. The Foundation offices are located in Washington, DC, and we work in partnership with activists, advocacy organizations and coalitions across the United States fighting the political, social and economic forces driving and expanding sexual repression. Lantin@ Sexuality latinosexuality.com/ This website is devoted to providing sex positive and accurate sexual health information for Latin@s. Here negative and harmful stereotypes about our community, culture, and sexuality are challenged. This is a space for all gender and sexual identities and expressions.

Contacts, Services & Support Groups: AIDA MANDULEY, MSW aidamanduley.com/ Aida Manduley is an award-winning activist and presenter known for big earrings and building bridges. Trained as a sexuality educator, social worker, and nonprofit management professional, they’re* working to make the word a more equitable place through education, therapy, and community organizing. Their perspective is one that centers intersectionality and maximizing kindness while retaining both a sense of humor and a sense of justice. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Aida has presented across North America and livetweeted more events than should be allowed. They also have a big thing for color-coded spreadsheets. Dr Lexx Brown-James www.lexxsexdoc.com/ As the owner of The Institute for Sexuality & Intimacy, LLC I wanted this practice for those who want and need support around topics of sexuality, but have no place to turn. As a sex therapist and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist I enjoy working from a systemic and emotional focused position.


Zelaika S. Hepworth Clarke www.zelaika.com/ Zelaika S. Hepworth Clarke, PhD, MSW, LSW, MEd is a sexosopher, sexual epistemologist, cultural and clinical sexologist, sexecologist, African-centered social worker, decolonizing autoethnographer, ancestor honoring, revolutionary, scholar. Zelaika received a Bachelor’s degree in Sexuality, Culture and Oppression at New York University. Ruby Johnson www.sextherapistruby.com/ [..] I have a speciality providing care to people of color. More specifically, African American Families, Couples, and Individual. The experience historically, politically, socially, and racially requires models of treatment that are outside models of treatment for non-people of color. The assumption of experience is not given and the welcoming of your story and our collaborative relationships yields the best outcomes for you. Visiting an STI clinic www.nhs.uk/Livewell/STIs/Pages/VisitinganSTIclinic.aspx You can make an appointment to go to an STI clinic, or sometimes there’s a dropin clinic, which means you can just turn up without the need for an appointment. Female health www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Toolslibrary.aspx?Tag=Female+health Interactive tools, smartphone apps and podcasts Sex Therapy / Psychosexual Counselling in London www.harleytherapy.co.uk/sex-therapy-and-counselling-london.htm Are you having problems with sex? If so, then the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. From issues surrounding performance or intimacy problems, to anxieties based on previously traumatic experiences or even changes in your desires caused by pregnancy, stress, depression or addictions, there are many common reasons that you could be experiencing sexual dysfunction, and there are also many different solutions. Sexual health www.nhs.uk/livewell/sexualhealthtopics/pages/sexual-health-hub.aspx Everything you need to know about sexual health, including contraception, STIs and good sex.


We salute you!

Femtech: The Evolution of Sexual Health for Women © Shades Of Noir 2017

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