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the publishing cabin

The Birds &The Bees November 2013 Layout, images and design: Ana Flecha Marco Edited by GAS and The Publishing Cabin Made in Flekke

Contents EDITOR’S NOTE Ana Flecha Marco











TEN THINGS Anonymous



HOW I WAS NEVER A VIRGIN Teresa Irigoyen López

The Birds &The Bees (Editor’s note)

The Birds and the Bees is the result of the joint effort of a bunch of enthusiastic people wanting to discuss and explore one of the very few things that all humans share, but that is still a taboo for many: sexuality.

WARNING (and I would never use this word in vain): there’s a lot of reading. And it might make you think. Ana Flecha Marco

Sexuality Week. Sexuality. Sex. Sex. Sex. No.

Sexuality does not equal sex. Neither is this year’s Sexuality Week about sex. It is about what goes before that, the human drive that might be seen as one of the founding pillars of our society. Even if it is not explicitly about the act, it is everywhere around us. We hear about in media; sexualization of objects, sexual violence, or objectification of human bodies. Naked bodies (mostly female) are replacing products to boost the sales, the song Blurred lines explores the grey zone between rape and sex in a rape-y way, and I would argue that a large part of sexism is due to our sexuality. If we forget about the negatives and focus on the positive aspects of sexuality and human attraction we are thrown into a new area. Love, and everything that comes with it. Who to love, for how long to love, why to love, when to love. Love, love, love. So, sexuality does not equal sex. Sexuality is a big word that contains a whole world of topics that are worth bringing up to discussion. That is why Gender and Sexuality EAC have chosen to dedicate this week solely to explore it. The exploration begins with this magazine. Maja Svanberg, on behalf of GAS

LGBTQIA Glossary (in Alphabetical Chaos)

LGBT, sometimes extended to LGBTQIA, stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual. Sometimes the Q stands for Questioning and the A for Ally. All these terms and a few more will be briefly explained here.

SEXUALITIES Heterosexual: someone who feels attracted to people of the opposite gender, also referred to as straight Homosexual: someone who experiences attraction towards people of the same gender Lesbian: a woman who experiences attraction towards other women, a homosexual woman Gay: a man who experiences attraction towards other men, a homosexual man Bisexual: someone who experiences attraction to people of both genders

LGBTQIA Glossary (in Alphabetical Chaos)

Asexual: someone who feels no sexual attraction towards any group of people Pansexual: someone who experiences sexual and romantic attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions Queer: queer has a wide range of meanings, It can be used as an umbrella term including everyone who belongs to a gender and/or sexual minority, but also to describe those who don’t want to put labels on themselves.

GENDER IDENTITIES Cisgender: someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth, when genitalia and gender identity matches. This is the norm and the majority identifies as cisgender. Transgender: someone who identifies as the opposite gender, not the one they were assigned at birth Intersex: a person with a set of sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit within the labels of female or male, for example born with both uterus and penis Binary gender: the idea that only two genders exist, that there is no in between Bigender: someone who changes between and identifies with both the traditional male and female gender roles Two-spirit: a Native American term for bigender

Ylva Kjellberg, on behalf of GAS

Genderqueer: a term used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary, who identify as neither male or female, or both at the same time Genderfluid: someone with a changing gender identity, not only between male and female but also as something in between

OTHER TERMS Questioning: someone who questions their sexuality Ally: a straight, cisgender person who supports queer people

Sexual Identities & Perspectives

This survey was carried out between the 20th and the 21st of October, and sent out to the entire Student Body at UWC Red Cross Nordic. 67 answers were received within the time limit (the survey ended at 10 AM Oct. 21st). The following results were obtained: WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING WOULD BEST DEFINE YOUR SEXUALITY? UNDECIDED 3% 5%






12 %



L 4%


Sexual Identities & Perspectives




Maja Svanberg


If you have any questions or would like to have any further information about the results, please contact Maja.

Feeting In & Standing Out

Mateo Dupleich Rozo

















A Combination of Minority Identities

While I was marching in Trondheim pride some weeks back, I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement for my first pride ever. As a Muslim African woman, this felt surreal. The people in the streets who stopped their routine to wave at us warmed my heart and stirred up a sense of emotion that was hard to grasp. Kenya’s first pride event happened in 2012 which was organized by the US-Embassy, it was small and an invite-only forum which was attended mostly by activists. “What makes this day stand out for us here in Kenya … is that more than anything else, it is about visibility”, stated MaqC Gitau, former general manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). Ironic though how it was nothing close to visibility. I am now working with a project called (In)visibility, an exchange project between Skeiv Ungdom (Queer Youth Norway) and GALCK, where the topic is intersectionality. What do we mean by intersectionality? There are many definitions to this term which have been debated over and over again, but to put it simple we understand it to mean someone who has double/multiple (minority) identities, for example a Muslim black immigrant lesbian woman. It has been said that a person with two or more intersecting identities experiences the distinctive forms of oppression associated with each of this person’s sub-

A Combination of Minority Identities

ordinate identities added together. The more multiple identities a person has, the more accumulative discrimination this person might face. But maybe it can lead to more possibilities and opportunities for this person as well? Being Muslim, African, lesbian, Arab & woman myself, I have found it is safer for me to live a double life (Muslim, straight/Muslim, lesbian), where my family don’t know anything about my sexuality, for fear of a lot of things. If it all was to be written down, a whole page would not be sufficient to cover all those fears. This is of course not the case for all. It is different for every individual in regards of family background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, disability, age, and so on. Some may not agree with me on this, and say otherwise. Scientists, researchers, scholars and activists will all have their own interpretations and views on intersectionality and discrimination, with many different interesting ways to explain to us how belonging to different intersections can lead to more or less discrimination in daily life. A lot of the work, research and debate going on this topic is, in my opinion, very good and may lead to development and better opportunities for different oppressed groups. But sometimes, people ‘keep score’ and talk about which minority groups are better or worse off than the other, and making such a ‘competition’ between minority groups is maybe not very fruitful for anyone. In one of our workshops that we held with our project group, we asked the participants in which way different minority groups might be more or less advantaged? One of the best answers that we got from it was “We should think about the reason we ask such a question. The answers we get might just point out the differences between groups even more without making any progress.”

Susan Lewis, Kenyan LGBT activist on exchange in Norway

Yourvs.Sexuality Their Sexual Integrity (or Where Does It All Go Wrong?)

During the last year, stories of rape and sexual abuse have gone viral across my Twitter, Facebook and irl discussions. There is the Maryville case where 13 and a 14 year old were drugged by a group of 17 year-olds and left outside in minus degrees after having being raped multiple times. A mother opens her door after hearing strange noises and finds her 14-year-old daughter ice cold, face down, and too intoxicated to ring the doorbell. The boys were prosecuted but set free. The 14 year old was referred to as a whore, a slut, and naive as the story went viral. The family had to move and their house was burnt down. This is a little like the Steubenville case, where an American football team’s party escalated, and a 17-year old girl was driven around the town so that pretty much the entire team could rape her, while uploading videos of this online and tweeting things like “I have no sympathy for whores”. Again, the focus has been on the unconscious girl’s actions in internet discussion, and she has been questioned again and again; “How could she not know that this was going to happen?” insinuating that if you go party with a bunch of football players, expect to be gang raped and humiliated publicly. The boys in the football team were never punished. Their coach said that the event was regrettable, because “it is not good

Your Sexuality vs. Their Sexual Integrity (or Where Does It All Go Wrong?)

for our team-spirit”. Two weeks ago, a little closer to home, five Swedish 16 year-olds were set free after trial because there was not enough evidence that the crying 15 year-old they had gang raped was actually not there by her free will. The new Norwegian Minister of Equality recently had to publicly withdraw an earlier statement that a girl who is raped is not entirely without guilt, because women need to consider which sorts of situations they put themselves in. I don’t even want to imagine how many other cases like this there are out there that never made it to my Facebook. Our juridical system is sending us a very clear message here: If you get raped, there is no point in pressing charges, and instead we should limit our own lives to avoid breaches of our sexual integrity. This is what is known as rape culture. Rape culture is a difficult term. Often many get insulted and protest loudly. “I don’t rape, so therefore there is no rape culture” is a common reply. Others think that by using this term you advocate a world where it is allowed to rape, where it is okay, natural, biological (as Doctor Phil recently said: “When that testosterone hits, nothing can stop a guy”). This is not really what I mean, not at all, actually. A rape culture is when many components together create a world where the constant threat of rape limits women’s lives and sexuality, and boys are left to fit into a narrow gender role. Rape culture is a culture where aspects or the entire blame of sexual assault is put on the victim (victim-blaming), where sexual assault is trivialized (“boys will be boys”), where women’s sexuality does not belong to themselves (slut-shaming) and where women’s bodies in general seem to exist to please men, and men that show humbleness, kindness and weakness are seen as unmanly. So where does it start, and where do we begin if we want to break the vicious circle? I think it is with how we raise men in society. I will never ever say (because I don’t believe it) that men are born rapists, that it is biological, and I have to disagree with Doctor Phil: Most men

Stina Pettersson

are perfectly able to use their brain and feel empathy despite their higher levels of testosterone. Still, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that the absolute majority of rapists are men (in the last statistic I saw it was 97%, but google it yourselves) and that it seems to be the largest common factor. There is no clear overrepresentation in social class or race. So why do men rape? Where does it all go wrong? I think it is Sex Education, the media, the porn industry, and normative masculinity that are all saying the same thing: Men are allowed to express their sexuality at the cost of women’s sexual integrity. But let’s focus on sexual education: Personally, I have had two years of sexual education, and countless lectures. Let me tell you something, it was a waste of time. In 7th grade, we were separated (we were told that this was because the girls would be too ashamed to ask questions if boys were present), and boys were taught how to masturbate, for some reason, and girls were taught about periods. For two years. And it was not empowering or anything, I remember a girl in our class who did not come to school for two days because she was so embarrassed after she had dropped a tampon in front of a boy. I think women’s sexuality is often forgotten in Sex Ed. (and in society) and the focus is on the menstrual cycle, STDs, birth control (we were for example told that birth control pills were better than condoms because then the boy would not be ‘distracted’, and we were not told that birth control pills increase the risk for high blood pressure and heart problems) and pregnancy. We were also told how to say no, and that it was completely fine if you did not want to have sex. The boys in our class were not. I am not saying that we should not be taught about all this, but for two years? I think Sex Ed. everywhere should be revolutionized. It should be equal (drop the sexism), it should be relevant, and there should be a clear focus on consent. With Sex Ed. we have a chance

Your Sexuality vs. Their Sexual Integrity (or Where Does It All Go Wrong?)

Stina Pettersson

to present something to work as a contrast to porn and patriarchy, and based on my personal experience I feel we are wasting our chance. UWC makes education a force to unite. I think that should include Sex Ed. and I was so disappointed last year when we were locked in a room and volunteers read real life examples stories about how boys really want sex and how girls feel fat when they have sex. And then there was the whole pregnancy, STD thing again. Sexist. Heteronormative. No focus on consent. So this year I really hope we do better, and I think we have to do better. Not just with Sex Ed, but as a society. We have to acknowledge that we live in a rape culture, and in a world where women’s bodies are and have, always, on all levels, been used to trade. We need to realize that the victim is never responsible. No matter how drunk s/he is. No matter how short his or her skirt is. It does not matter if they are flirtatious or promiscuous. They victim is never responsible. The rapist however, is always responsible. No matter how drunk we are, or how high our testosterone level is, we are always responsible for our actions, particularly when we are dealing with the integrity of others. And let’s face it, rapists are not some alien creatures completely unable to feel empathy. Most rapes happen in monogamous relationships. Rapists and sexual assaulters are boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, IB students, football players, husbands, wives, lonely old men and women, all part of a dangerous system that sees bodies as objects to be conquered. A system that you are most likely a part of, so be careful. Next time you walk home alone, or get too drunk or when you are simply out after dark in a badly lit park, make sure you don’t accidentally rape someone. Bring along some pepper spray to spray in your eyes when you feel you are close to rape. Maybe invest in a whistle so someone can come and pick you up and look after you. Use some keys to harm yourself when you feel “that testosterone hit”. I am saying this because I care about you.

Just a pathetic girl

There is so much passing through my mind when I think of the concept of sexuality. In one way sexuality is liberating, pleasuring and wonderful but at the same time... sad. Not a day passes without me thinking of sex and every day I am asking myself why I have to look at myself in the mirror and see an ugly face, why I have to go to TSK, why I have to vomit after meals and why the hell I have to wear contemptuously uncomfortable underwear. I can call myself a feminist and I truly wish I was... But I’m not. I contribute to this twisted view of women and I’m not alone in doing this, otherwise, the word feminism would not exist.

Celebrating Female Sexuality —The Painting of Georgia O’Keeffe

From The Lake (fragment), 1924. Oil on canvas.

The paintings of this farmers’ daughter that grew up among the cornfields of rural Wisconsin at the beginning of the 20th century are a celebration of female sexuality, of the beauty of the human form, of the miracle of life. Among the turbulence of female degradation that we see on the internet and advertising, and the horrors of female circumcision happening in European immigrant ghettoes on young girls and babies, the swirls and shapes of genitalia in the form of blooming flowers ready to explode and become pleasure and life are an oasis to the senses. That Georgia was able to paint them at all is a lesson in perseverance and enlightment that young females confused about who they are and what to do should look into. It never ceases to amaze me how the female drive for life and zest for living has found a way through the morals of religious zealotry and political repression that still is the norm in many parts of the world. The life of Georgia O’Keeffe develops along the trails of the Midwest, which she left to study art in Chicago with the idea of becoming an art teacher. She did this for many years while pursuing her private passion for painting. She roomed in humble hostels and girls’ dorms while living on a shoestring budget. Her schooling was done along the traditional lines of classical art while she was in awe

Celebrating Female Sexuality —The Painting of Georgia O’Keeffe

of the modernist development that were taking place in Europe like Dada and Cubism —a rupture to form, the challenge to accepted norms, the realm of the senses, the explosion of colours. In many ways, Georgia follows the classics in her love of the human shape, the search for new tones in colour, the attention to movement. But her charcoal drawings were astonishing for the time and because of course she was a woman drawing nudes that many thought obscene. In 1916 she went to New York to continue her studies and made a daring act: she approached a gallery to exhibit her work. She was lucky to do it in a gallery run by a well known and avant-garde photographer that later became her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, who found her work astonishing and gave her her first solo show. In 1929 she went to live in New Mexico back to her rural roots in an isolated ranch, but she chose the Southwestern state for the light, the blinding sun that illuminates most of her production, the searing colours of the desert that make her painting explode in caleidoscopic swirls. When I visited her house museum I was surprised at the simplicity and humility of the place: few objects, sparse furniture mostly local and in dark wood, but huge windows all around for the visuals of the landscape everywhere. She met Frida Kalho, another celebrant of female form. Georgia is considered the mother of Modernism in America. She made an early decision of escaping the role that had been assigned to her by her gender, her class, her upbringing. She also made the choice of not following accepted norms in art but to paint what she saw as she felt it.

MarĂ­a Teresa Julianello

In the process, she gave the world an artistic oeuvre full of beauty and passion and love for her humanity.

Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow c. 1923. Oil on canvas.

Good Vibrations

Aggie Taylor

“Hey, what did you do last night?” “Homework and had a wank, what about you?” Most of my male friends have always made it clear that they toss one off regally; I would often be present during conversations about awkward interruptions and the best porn sites, but whenever the question of wanking was redirected back at us gals it was met with shuffling feet and squeaks of denial. From a recent survey with 125 participants 82% said male masturbation was completely normal and the remaining 18% said it was ok. None of them said it was abnormal or not ok. In the same 125 participants, only 51% said female masturbation was normal, 38% said it was ok, 3% said it was not normal and a whole 8% said it was not ok. This means 14 people that thought male masturbation was either normal or ok thought the opposite for females. This survey also showed 97% of the female participants admitted to masturbating but 39% of them wouldn’t admit it if asked. The fact that so many girls wouldn’t admit to masturbating is undoubtedly linked to the fact that so many people think it is wrong, while thinking male masturbation is just a natural activity. There should be no double standards in the 21st century. Why does the idea of female masturbation make us uncomfortable? Are women not allowed to be horny? Why do women refuse to talk about masturbating even when they are just in female company? In this feminist era, shouldn’t there be one view on masturbation for both genders? Think about it.

For Democracy, for Equality, for Respect

When you think about Brazil, what comes to your mind? Beaches, bikinis, nature, Carnival and body freedom. We got the biggest gay pride parade in the world, women can do what they want, genders are fairly equal, we even got a woman as our president, right? Brazilian are very often associated with all these things, and we’re also said to be very liberal, I mean: think about those tiny bikinis! But guess what? This is not quite accurate. The beaches are awesome, nature is just mind-blowing and Carnival is fun if you like loud music and partying, but gender equality? (every 4 minutes a woman suffers domestic violence in Brazil) Nope. Body freedom? (“the most beautiful women in the world”, I’d the say the most objectified women in the world) Nope. And just because we’ve got the biggest gay pride parade in the world you probably believe we are ok with gays? Nope again. Though we’ve just legalized gay marriage, I have to tell you there is a long path to real acceptance. What else has to be done? It is actually not only related to how people think, or the way media in here portrays homosexuality, but also how the Brazilian Government has reacted so far to homophobia cases. In this article I want to share with you my opinion about how the Government has been waiting too long to do something about homophobia, and how people should stand up to my President’s face and say: “If society doesn’t accept who we are, it should at least respect!”

For Democracy, for Equality, for Respect

Let me tell you a story so that you can understand better. My State, São Paulo, thought it would be profitable to host a Gospel music festival every year. We invited the Head of the Commission on Human Rights and Minorities in our Congress to come and speak. He is a pastor, which is completely fine, but he uses religion to sustain a public homophobic attitude, sometimes even racist. Why is he the Head of the Commission on Human Rights and Minorities? Just the beauty of political coalitions in this country (and it drives me insane every time I think about it). He was delivering a speech in a public space when two girls started kissing. Were they protesting? Were they just expressing their love for each other as any other couple would do in a public place? It doesn’t matter, does it? The congressman’s reaction to this it was to ask the police to arrest them. “Take those two from here please, they have to be arrested”. The guards around took them under the stage and after beating one of the girls, they brought them to the police department. Through a statement , the Mayor said that “the City has acted on Article 208 of the Penal Code. The law provides imprisonment of one month to one year to citizens who publicly mock someone because of their belief or religion and preventing or disrupting the ceremony or practice of religious worship”. That night, I looked at the facebook group of my city to read about what the others thought. My city mates thought it was the right thing to do: beat them and take them away! Comments as “They were just trying to appear on TV”, “There were kids and gradmothers around!”, “God is not proud of this kind of people” and “It was a religious meeting, what were they doing there?” were the most common among others. How come in a country where religion should not have a say on anything we still have politicians that have the power to arrest people because of their sexuality? Second: How come people became so blind to how disrespecful and unethical the congressman was? Since when

Kelly Matias

Got pride? Respect Illustrations by Kelly Matias

For Democracy, for Equality, for Respect

is it ok to beat two girls because they kissed? If that was a heterosexual kiss, would the couple be arrested? I have a few things to say about both points. As I said, I was shocked. I was shocked because it doesn’t matter why they were kissing, they had the right to do so. The interpretation of the law that intented to justify such aggression was just not enough. I believe that a gay kiss is not a way to mock a religion. As the law, religions have so many interpretations, and someone who thinks that a gay can’t be a Christian says that based on their own interpretation. When it comes to gender or sexuality dicussion, we’re walking slowly in my country. We have a very patriarchal society, the macho culture is very present in here. A gay kiss on TV is a taboo (poor grandmothers, right?), but it is pretty normal to have girls just on swimsuits dancing on programs on Sunday evenings, because what else could a woman do on TV apart from shaking her ass and looking dumb? As a Brazilian citizen I would like to hear from my president, and presidents around the globe that we have equal rights because we’re humans. Not because I go to church on weekends. I would like to see discussions not based on a religious moral code, but based on human rights. I would like to live in a society where sexuality is not discussed as a disease, an option, or a lifestyle, but as a part of human nature. If this is asking too much, then: can’t we respect? And how do we do that? I think the first step is making noise, as the girls in my city chose to do. They hated being beaten up, they hated all the police bureaucracy but we got to see another face of my society, one that says: “if you’re not equal, if you don’t follow the rules: you must suffer”. This is not the first time that we see this reaction. That was the opinion of many during the protests that occured in July. Those ‘many’ were sitting on the couch watching the police force repress democratic demonstrations violently. But they deserved it, this is what ‘vandals’ deserve.

Kelly Matias

What happened to those girls reminds me of what I read in my history books about our dictatorships: no dicussions, no debate, there is only one right and it has to be respected so that all in society live in harmony. It also demonstrates that we’ve failed at something. Either we failed as citizens by electing a congressman who would arrest someone by interpretating the law in the way he wanted (he actually didn’t know about it until after the event), or on the way politics have been done in here. Panem et circenses, the politics of bread and circus: as long as you keep me entertained I won’t complain. But after all, isn’t politics us? And what is politics about? Discussing different ideas, new perspectives: changes. We come back to the starting point. I have the right to have an opinion, you have the right to have another one.We both should have our opinions protected, respected. We both should not be afraid of being beaten up; thrown away under a train or having an ear cut off because of being wrongly pointed as gay. If we don’t get more people to understand that ‘curing a gay’, or ‘beating a gay’ is not a way to ‘solve’ this inexistent problem we will soon have a modern inquisition, this time much more social and as dangerous as before. Do you want to avoid it? Respect. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. By the end of this article, the congressman cited above approved a new bill on the Commission on Human Rights. “The Commission on Human Rights and Minorities, headed by pastor Marco Feliciano (SP-PSC) approved on Wednesday a bill allowing religious organizations to expel from their temple people who ‘violate their values, doctrines, beliefs and liturgies’. (…) The goal is to prevent judicial decisions requiring the establishment of unions between homosexuals, and it allows the removal of protesters who protest in temples, as two girls who were arrested last month for kissing during a worship led by Feliciano”.

Ten Things

Being gay in a society where only 1% of the whole population accepts the rights of sexual minorities is sometimes more than just hard. Here are 10 things that heterosexuals perceive as being normal daily life situations, often not imagining how hard it would to be for homosexual to achieve at least one of these things in the list.

1. Having a chat with my brother about ‘hot’ people in the college, this time not lying to him about my fake crushes on girls. 2. Talking freely about my sexual life with friends. 3. Not having those nights when you go to bed thinking that you would save a great deal of misery and shame to your family and friends if you wouldn’t exist. 4. Being able to walk into the church without constantly reminding yourself that no one wants you there. 5. Going to sexual education lessons, learning about sexual intercourse between two same sex partners. 6. Having a crush on some guy, knowing that you have an equal amount of chance being with him as some heterosexual girl would. 7. Being able to have a normal conversation with my family without fearing that I might say something too much and reveal that I’m gay. 8. Being able to go to public showers with no one around you thinking that you are constantly staring at their genitals because you’re gay. 9. Being able to live in an environment where I don’t have to explain to anyone that I’m gay, just as heterosexuals don’t have to explain that they’re straight. 10. Being able to hold hands with my partner while walking down the street.

Pride & Prejudice (Ilustrated Food for Thought)

Understanding Asexuality

AVEN, the Asexual education and visibility network, has an asexual person defined as “a person who does not experience sexual attraction”. When learning to understand asexuality is important to acknowledge two main points: 1. A lack of sexual attraction does not necessarily mean that a person cannot experience other kinds of attraction. Some other kinds of attraction include romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction and sensual attraction. The best explanation of the difference between types of attraction I have ever seen is the small comic beside. 2. What sexual attraction is is very hard to define. Because sexual attraction to at least one gender is generally assumed to be innate in everyone, very few people feel like they need to find a definition for what it is, because it just “is”. This lack of understanding on their part leads to asexuals generally not realising they are asexual until quite late in adolescence or even in early adulthood. One of the most popular pieces of writing on asexuality is a metaphor that aims to help people understand what it is like to be asexual in our society

Understanding Asexuality

“It’s like this: you’re born into a world where, upon maturity, everyone gets a pet elephant which is invisible to everyone but themselves. Society is structured around the needs of people’s elephants. People talk about the elephants and their foibles incessantly. The mass media includes the elephants in every story ever as major plot points. Until you hit the age where you get your own elephant, you can’t see them, but you’re assured that you’ll get your own when you grow up and then you’ll understand everything. So you grow up, you reach the Age of Elephant Acquisition, and… no elephant. You infer that elephants exist —after all, people keep insisting they must, and people your age have started talking about their elephants and how wonderful and interesting they are, and also people with fairly unusual elephants are willing to do truly baffling things for the elephants’ sake. Probably, you think, the elephants exist, but you’re not sure, because you’ve never experienced anything that seems like an elephant of your own, and couldn’t it be possible that this is some sort of elaborate plot or mass delusion or something? But people keep insisting that the elephants are totally real, and everyone else your age has started talking about how their elephants are doing. And you’re seriously the only one who is confused by the elephants thing, so you maybe try to casually bring it up —maybe you sort of try to ask people how their elephants look in casual conversation, because it’s possible that you do have an elephant and you just haven’t noticed! Possibly they are in fact very small and hard to see, but they cause a lot of mischief! After all, sometimes funny rustling things happen around you, too, just like they do to

Julia Damphouse

people who do have elephants. So you try to ask around, in case it’s something that you can miss, or you’re not interpreting things right, and you look very hard for things that can be interpreted as being sort of vaguely elephantine. But when you do ask them, people give you funny looks and treat you as if you’re stupid for asking, because duh they know what an elephant looks like. Everyone has one! All you have to do is look, it’s not like they’re hard to see!”+ The lack of awareness and understanding of asexuality outside of the LGBTQ community is one of the biggest issues facing asexuals today. For more information on asexuality please visit or


How I Was Never a Virgin

Five years ago someone told me that Simone de Beauvoir had first lost her virginity to Sartre when she was 40 years old. Five years ago I had never really thought about virginity. I knew that it was “the state of never having had sexual intercourse�. That was it. So when I heard this, my only reaction was: wow. Wow. She must have been really good at keeping things. She had lived 40 years without losing it! Some years later, as I got older, I started thinking about my sexuality. I never really thought that I would become Simone de Beauvoir but I was still afraid of being as good as her at keeping things. I did not want to wait until I was 40. I actually wanted my virginity to disappear. It scared me. I did not want to have it, but I was afraid to lose it. Did losing my virginity mean that I would also lose my innocence? My honour? My purity? My worthiness? I was confused and afraid. It was then that it dawned on me how ridiculous my situation, and that of many, many, women, was. I should not be afraid of losing my virginity. In fact, I could not. I could not be afraid of losing it because I had never had it. I realized that the concept of virginity was completely made up. There is no medical

How I was Never a Virgin

Teresa Irigoyen

definition for virginity. Just because some elite religious male groups decided to start using this word some centuries ago does not mean that I am worth less once my hymen is ‘broken’. The concept is invented. It is made up to scare us. For many years, virginity has allowed men to fantasize about the idea of being able to own a woman. Moreover, it has made women not only scared of losing their ‘virginity’, but of never losing it. A woman, if a virgin and young, would be attractive, but if one is a virgin and old, it would only be considered disturbing. Virginity! What a fraud! It does not exist. We have been living under the fear of losing something that we never had. I cannot lose my virginity; I cannot deflower myself or take someone else’s virginity. I cannot lose my honour, my integrity, my purity or my worthiness. Stop this madness. Stop ‘protecting’ my hymen. Stop hymenoplasty. Stop honour killings. I cannot lose my virginity.

GAS+the publishing cabin 2013

The Birds & The Bees  

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