“College Advice Megapost Situation” from Autostraddle

It’s almost time for back to school–here at Barnard new student orientation starts this weekend!–and the staff of the awesome website Autostraddle (“News, Entertainment, Opinion, Community and Girl-on-Girl Culture”) have created a fantastic round-up of  “all of the ultimate back to school advice for college bound queers” to start your semester off right, whether you’re returning to school for another year or just starting your college experience. Enjoy!

All of the Ultimate Back-To-School Advice for College-Bound Queers


Comics! and a friendly reminder to wear sunscreen


I found these comics here, and this one:


reminded me that although sunscreen doesn’t protect us from sexism it’s still important! As a brown-skinned person, I didn’t realize this until recently – although darker-skinned people are less susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer, those who do develop skin cancer have higher mortality rates than lighter-skinned people.

Here are some guidelines for applying sunscreen and sun safety in general, taken from the FDA:

Check product labels to make sure you get:

  • a “sun protection factor” (SPF) of 15 or more. SPF represents the degree to which a sunscreen can protect the skin from sunburn.
  • “broad spectrum” protection—sunscreen that protects against all types of skin damage caused by sunlight
  • water resistance—sunscreen that stays on your skin longer, even if it gets wet. Reapply water-resistant sunscreens as instructed on the label

Tips for applying sunscreen:

  • Apply the recommended amount evenly to all uncovered skin, especially your lips, nose, ears, neck, hands, and feet.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out in the sun.
  • If you don’t have much hair, apply sunscreen to the top of your head, or wear a hat.
  • Reapply at least every two hours.

Sex and Sexuality in the Russian Revolution


This might seem like an overly political post for the Well Woman blog, but I came across this while doing a history assignment and I found it fascinating. Sex and sexuality are not topics usually discussed in relation to the Russian revolution, but this podcast discusses the ways in which sexual liberty was an integral part of the revolution, initially. However, it shows the complicated relationship between government and sexuality and the numerous contradictions embedded in government policy.

For example, after the revolution, free abortion was made available to everyone by law (for public health reasons rather than for the sake of sexual liberation), but the doctors performing the operations often did not approve and treated patients brutally by withholding anesthetic and strapping down patients’ ankles.

Another example is of sexual assault law. (24:00)

According to the speaker, “rape was defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse obtained using either physical or psychological force. There were also laws against statutory rape, but they weren’t age based. It was based on whether a person had reached sexual maturity, which was a term, however, left undefined by the law, and which ended up meaning that doctors could decide what sexual maturity meant”

This gave final say to doctors, who were not invested in the rights and needs of survivors. For example,”when dealing with statutory rape, to assess sexual maturity, the doctors came up with their own standard…and the standard was virginity, which…they never applied to men…If a woman was sexually active, she was presumed to have consented, unless she was heavily injured. What that ended up meaning was that doctors had the ability to make the psychological coercion part of the law a dead letter”

This shows the inherent failure of sexual assault law, which, even with presumably good intentions, was mainly left up to the discretion of practicing doctors who did not believe in sexual freedom or women’s rights.The law also did not have a term for survivors of sexual assault, and simply called them “accusers”, which speaks to attitudes of the time towards sexual assault.

In general it seems that laws were either poorly enacted with no mechanism to check sexist, discriminatory practice, or were unable to alter strongly-held popular beliefs. In addition to gruesome abortion practice, failure to practically address psychological sexual coercion, and sexist, abusive virginity testing as a measure of consent, the government struggled with successful practice in numerous other ways including:

1) All divorce became legal by request from either party, and children could no-longer be considered illegitimate. Child support was required to be paid to children’s guardian regardless of the supporting parent’s gender or proof of paternity. However, the resources and will did not exist to ensure the law was enforced.

2) The government paid for scientists to research sex and sexuality, but the concept of sex for fun or women’s pleasure was not mentioned. Masturbation was demonized for “encouraging individualism”.

3) It became legal to change one’s gender on legal documents and request gender reassignment surgery, however popular culture still believed strongly in a strict gender binary and concepts of queerness and sexual fluidity were often hostile.

4) Russia became the second European country to repeal anti-sodomy laws and single-sex marriage was legalized, but it is unclear to what extent homosexuality was accepted culturally, and what the government did (if anything) to promote or protect gay rights.

These are just a few examples of the complicated, confusing history of sex and sexuality in revolutionary Russia, and there is much more to learn of Russian legal history during this short period before the repeal of many of these laws under Stalin. In reality there was a gap between theory and practice and even as laws were changed, practice lagged behind, without time to catch up. I think this sheds an interesting light on laws surrounding sex and sexuality in our own time, especially the gap between law and practice and the current arguments for and against sexual health services and rights. What role does government play in enacting these rights, and how can people ensure governments approach these issues with sexual health needs in mind? How are these laws successfully enforced and what is the mechanism for allowing necessary changes to failed policies? Sexual health policies are still complicated and controversial today, and in many ways, very different from the world of 1920’s Russia, but I think we can always learn from the events of history, even if just to learn from history’s failure.

18 Things You Should Know About Sleep, According to a Sleep Doctor

duck ww

It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep, especially around midterms season. According to this Buzzfeed article, stress often causes sleeplessness and difficulties falling asleep. Check out this article if you want to learn more about sleep and how to improve your sleep in specific circumstances.


Personally, I am adamant about getting enough sleep in college. I learned my lesson in high school, where I consumed concerning amounts of coffee per day to combat my exhaustion from sleep deprivation. I usually aim for 8-9 hours per night, and I have a routine that I follow. I go to bed at the same time every night, usually starting to get ready for bed way earlier so that I give myself time to fall asleep without feeling pressure to. I shower to relax, and I read something fun (not schoolwork!) for few minutes to distract my mind before turning in. As for waking up in the mornings, nothing motivates me more than a cup of coffee (my everlasting love)! Getting enough sleep improves numerous aspects of my life…having energy throughout the day, paying better attention in class, getting sick less often, being in a more positive mental state, and being more productive. Why not start some new healthy sleep habits today?

And of course, the Well-Woman office has TONS of resources about improving sleep and reducing stress if you want to stop by for more information. Don’t forget to take care of yourself in this rough time of the semester!

Love Rachel Katz

A YOGA PSA — yoga to the people open on 104th and b’way!

hello all–

for anyone interested in yoga (never tried, total expert, & everything in between), there’s some good news floating around the upper west side.

YOGA TO THE PEOPLE (a donation-based open level yoga studio) has opened a new location at 104th and Broadway! it’s on the second floor, above CityMD (you can’t miss it on the west side of broadway) and the space is huge and beautiful.

i’m challenging myself to go everyday before spring break, hopefully i can stay accountable. if you’ve been meaning to try a new workout routine, or revisit your old yoga practice, take a springtime walk down to 104 and check them out!

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 6.53.49 PM

note that their *suggested donation* is $10, but it’s really suggested and if they’re true to their mission, they really don’t want cost to be a deterrent to anyone interested in yoga. click the image above for all their info and remember that if yoga on campus is more your style, Well-Woman offers classes Thursdays and Sundays at 7.15p!

see you on the mat!

xx gabrielle.

Q: Discussion on Bi-/Pan- phobia and identity exclusion from “Queer spaces”

Originally posted on Q:


For this week’s meeting we are hoping to intentionally create a space for bi- and pan- identified people who do not normally feel comfortable coming to Q or stepping into “Queer Spaces.”  We want to invite you to share your experiences and feelings about being bi-/pan- and, if you feel comfortable, speaking about the ways in which the “Queer Community” has either excluded or included you based on this identity.

We encourage new faces and new experiences.

We hope you feel welcome.

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TRANS ADMISSION POLICY TOWN HALL 2: Event posting plus my response to the first

Originally posted on Q:


Hey Q-bies!

Even if you went to the first town hall, please please please consider coming out to the town hall this Monday 2/16/15.  Columbia Spectator covered the first town hall briefly (media coverage is not welcomed and quotes are not taken unless the speakers offer themselves up to be quoted by spec or outside media, don’t worry about getting quoted without your consent if you attend, that won’t happen) but the first town hall left me feeling displeased with the consensus reached for one question.

Expect three questions, two specifically about trans women on campus (the admission policy, if/how intentionally admitting trans women could/would change campus climate) and one about how to better support the trans students (transmasculine and men) that already exist on campus.  Be prepared to respond to or think about both types of question.

I was left dissatisfied with the responses given to the question about…

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