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After taking a hiatus of sorts from blogging/writing/using my brain in general since the semester ended, I’m finally taking time to reflect on my junior year of college, right before which I created this blog.

Overall, I think my junior year of undergrad was quite possibly my most rewarding of my years in college thus far. I had numerous incredibly interesting classes such as Minority Groups, Sexuality and Society, Constructing Health, Classical Social Theory, and Communication Studies Research Methods. Not only was my time in the classroom interesting and worth-while, but so was my time outside of the classroom. As I’ve discussed on my other forms of social media, I had the privilege of interning at Rowan’s Healthy Campus Initiatives, an organization on campus that focuses on mental health, body image, drug/alcohol education, sexual violence prevention, sexual health education, and stress management. In the fall, I focuses primarily on sexual health education, and though I did co-facilitate some events regarding healthy relationships in the spring, a lot of my time as a HCI intern was dedicated to sexual violence prevention.

In April, HCI hosted Take Back the Night, an open-mic and solidarity event for survivors of sexual assault and sexual violence. The event itself was truly incredible, mostly because many individuals chose to speak about their own experiences regarding the topic. I think the fact that so many Rowan students came to the event to show their support was awe-inspiring.

Prior to Take Back the Night, I organized what we named “Supporting Survivors,” or “Survivor Love Letters,” in which I asked students around campus to write positive messages/inspirational quotes on notecards for sexual violence survivors. These notecards were hung on the windows of the Wellness Center (HCI’s home) for the entire university and passersby to see. Seeing my work cover huge spans of windows and seeing individuals stop to read the notes truly was so rewarding.

My junior year was not only filled with incredible internship experiences, but also consisted of instances in which I began figuring out what I want to do with my future after graduating in May 2018. Though I don’t know exactly where I want to go or what I want to study, I know that I want to continue my education and go to graduate school. Hopefully I will, one day, be able to be a professor at a university, or work on-campus in outreach programs, and do similar work to what I’ve done over the last year.

Though it is only June, I am excited to see what my senior year will bring.

(Yes, I’m actually thinking about school. I am a huge nerd and I accept it.)

 

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A pre-Inauguration Day occurence


Posted By on Jan 19, 2017

Today (January 19, 2017, Inauguration Day Eve), I was leaving Rowan’s campus around 11 AM, ready to move on with my day after a long first week of classes. As I was putting my backpack in the passenger seat of my car, someone pushed passed me, muttering “Proud Democrat? Yeah right, what a fucking joke.” This person was referencing one of the few bumper stickers on my car.

To quickly clarify: Yes, I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “Proud Democrat” because I am one. Yes, I have a bumper sticker that says “Stop Bigotry” because that’s what I’d like to see in the world. Yes, I have a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker because I supported her throughout the election and still continue to support her and other members of the Democratic Party. I keep these stickers on my car because I like them there.

The stranger continued with “Go Trump!” I was taken aback, mostly because I did not know this person whatsoever, but also because this (presumably fellow student) was a young adult woman. She continued walking, but still looked back at me. All I said back was “That was unnecessary,” because, well, it really was unnecessary. She said, “No, it’s not, I’m expressing my opinion.” She continued to make her way out of the parking garage.

First, I want to state that there is a vast difference between expressing one’s opinion and verbally harassing a stranger. This type of situation was and would be unnecessary (and overall kind of rude) regardless of when it occurred, where it occurred, and the types of political views and opinions of the people involved. Second of all, what would have this person done if I just didn’t so happen to be arriving at my car as she was departing hers? Would she have rolled her eyes, cursed under her breath and moved on? Did verbally harassing me (a STRANGER) benefit her in any way?

(Side note: No, I was not “asking for it” by having these bumper stickers on my car. An individual typically isn’t ever “asking for it” when it comes to any type of harassment.)

What I truly do not understand about those who support the man who (unfortunately) is becoming our next president is that they continue to relentlessly defend him, typically in unprompted situations – when, in reality, he hasn’t benefitted them specifically or for the country in general. Because of these bumper stickers, I’ve gotten flipped off, given a thumbs-down, tailgated, laughed at, and now harassed. Because of bumper stickers. BUMPER STICKERS.

I’m not sure where to go from here or what the future after tomorrow will bring. I do know, at least, that I am gratified to be able to identify the absurdity of ignorant occurrences such as this one.

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fluid

Last Sunday, Showtime premiered the second episode of the seventh season of Shameless. This show in particular is quite possibly one of my favorite shows on television currently, mostly because of the main characters realistically diverse personalities and the show’s ability to always keep a steady flow of chaos. Last Sunday’s episode, however, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The show regarded bisexuality/sexual fluidity in such a manner that correlated these sexualities/sexual identities with infidelity in romantic relationships, which ultimately perpetuates stereotypes and stigmas surrounding them.

First – here’s some background: Ian Gallagher is the third Gallagher child, who identifies as a gay man, and after quite a long on-again-off-again relationship with Mickey Milkovich, who’s now in jail, Ian meets a firefighter named Caleb toward the end of season six. Caleb is a genuine person who cares about Ian and provides great representation for someone who is living with HIV. I was so excited about this character and this couple. Then – Caleb mentions that he’s meeting up with an old high school friend, a woman named Denise. Ian secretly follows Caleb to the meeting, not trusting him when he says that Denise is just a friend. Ian sees them kissing and draws the conclusion that Caleb is cheating on him.

Ultimately, yes – Caleb is a cheater. He lied to Ian, telling him that Denise was just a friend, when, in fact, Caleb and Denise have and currently still sleep together frequently. Caleb notes that he does this because he is sexually fluid, which means he doesn’t identify with a label for his sexuality. Ian gets frustrated and aggressively asks: “Since when have you been such a bisexual?”

shameless

I have many issues with this plotline and character development. First of all – there is not a correlation between identifying as sexually fluid and cheating on one’s monogamous romantic partner. Caleb kept his fling with Denise a secret and never discussed his relationship with her to Ian. If Ian and Caleb were in a polyamorous relationship (much like Kevin and Veronica and Svetlana on the show), this most likely would not be an issue. Second – sexual identities are not an excuse for infidelity. Caleb used his sexual fluidity as to why he was sleeping with Denise. That’s not how it works, Shameless writers. Third – I was terribly uncomfortable with Ian’s “bisexual” statement. Ian is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. He should not be making transphobic comments like he did in the first episode (saying he hoped Denise had male genitalia) and making demeaning remarks about another sexuality. If Caleb is bisexual or sexually fluid, this is totally fine, and Ian should attempt to understand his partner. Caleb should have discussed his perspective with Ian before overstepping boundaries (aka cheating).

I understand that these are merely television characters and that they aren’t perfect (hence the television show title, Shameless), and I understand that this is only one episode and both Ian and Caleb could learn their lessons and change their perspectives by the end of the next episode. Caleb could just be a bad person who cheats on their significant others. Ian could just be ignorant. I understand all of this. Regardless, this episode provided a terrible representation of bisexuality and sexual fluidity. I am ashamed of the way this was portrayed in Shameless, especially since it tapped into many stereotypes and stigmas surrounding less discussed sexual identities. The ways in which these sexual identities were depicted totally misconstrued the reality of the ways in which people who identify as such actually exist.

I hope, for the sake of representation, that in the future this misrepresentation will no longer exist. And as for Shameless, I guess I’ll have to wait and see what next week’s episode entails.

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contraception

This semester, I’m an intern at Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives and throughout the course of the semester, I can focus on whatever topic I’d like, as long as it is related to health and wellness. I decided to focus on sexual health education. Later this month, I will be having my first event, which will be an information table in Rowan’s student center. I plan on providing information about how to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STIs and HIV. My intention behind this information table is to provide students with accurate information about the different types of birth control, because there are other methods besides just the pill and condom, and to help them decide which method meets their personal needs.

Here is a stream of my thoughts regarding this topic:

Under this umbrella of “whichever method meets their personal needs” is the fact that not all people who have sex and want to prevent pregnancy and STIs/HIV are heterosexual. I really wanted to make sure that the information I was providing was inclusive for all sexualities and identities. The more I looked into contraception and sex education, all of the yielded results were seemingly very much hetero-centric. I realize that same-sex couples are not usually capable of getting pregnant, but even this notion also erases the identities of transgender people who are sexually active. Regardless of how an individual identifies and regardless of how that correlates with what’s below their belt, teens and young adults, especially LGBTQ+ teen and young adults need to be included in and educated about sexual health education.

I guess the problem I seem to be facing here is that it is quite difficult to provide inclusive sex education because the resources that exist for this information completely disregard LGTBQ+ identities. There should not be an undertone of heterosexuality when discussing sexual health. I think all sexual health education should include all identities, because, facing the facts, an individual can get pregnant, contract a STI or HIV, transmit a STI or HIV, regardless of their identity, sexual orientation, or who they’re having sex with.

Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, or not Google searching the correct phrases, but I’ve noticed a lack of information regarding the LGBTQ+ community and sexual health education. I hope as time goes on that sex ed is overall more inclusive and people of all identities realize that making safe and healthy decisions is incredibly important.

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Obligatory first post


Posted By on Aug 15, 2016

Hello and welcome to my blog! This is my obligatory first post. Hi. Hello. Thanks for stopping by.

First – a little about me. My name is Bri and I’m twenty years old and a student at Rowan University. I live in South Jersey and can usually be found reading (young adult fiction and feminism essays and communication studies research), doing my eyebrows, or looking at pictures of cute dogs. (Please don’t think this is all I do, I obviously go to school and also work a part time job.) I started blogging when I was in eighth grade and have always had a passion for reading and writing. I just recently broke my nearly two-year blogging hiatus with this blog.

Second – I made this blog as a place for me to write about things I care about and am interested in. This can include but not be limited to: young adult novels, current events, feminism, in-depth critical analyses of everyday occurrences that many people don’t think twice about, makeup, media literacy, social issues, and topics I learn about /discuss in my classes.

I truly appreciate anyone who takes the time to read what I publish on this blog. Thank you for your time!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @briozalasblog

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