sex

The Pill

Birth Control Pill Container --- Image by Beathan
The oral contraceptive known as “The Pill” is one of the most influential drugs in the history of the United States.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the birth control pill in 1960, giving heterosexually active women control over preventing unwanted pregnancies.  Its appearance marked a turning point in the social and economic lives of women who could now claim sexual equality and ...
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Male Gaze

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About her digital painting, "He's Looking at Me," Simone Dunye, a high school student in Oakland, California says: “Sex and gender equality is something I think is primarily hampered by masculinity and the way men who have power view women in society. The male gaze is a large part of that, and this piece is a critique. Sexuality and gender are very much tied together when this aspect of sexism ...
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Black Feminism(s)

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One could argue black feminism began in the nineteenth century with Sojourner Truth’s declarative question, “Ain’t I a Woman” since her words are an inaugural instance of intersectionality, the notion that race and class status are inseparable from the struggle for gender equality. But there were many black feminists in the 19th century like Anna Julia Cooper, Frances Harper, Harriet Tubman, Id...
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Slut

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The term used for an individual who is considered promiscuous or morally unclean is usually applied to women. The absence of a comparable term for me highlights a sexist double standard that diminishes women’s sexual agency. Slut originates from Old English, and it means a “messy, dirty, or untidy” woman or girl. In contemporary culture, the slur reinforces the social characterization of th...
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Taking Health Into Their Own Hands

Boston Women's Health Collective
In 1969, a group of women who were disillusioned with the paternalism of the medical establishment came together as the Boston Women's Health Collective. They pooled their knowledge in small working groups and produced a series of pamphlets which became Women and Their Bodies in 1971 and then Our Bodies, Ourselves, published in 1973, to inform women about a variety of health-related topics includi...
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Feminist Manifestos

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The manifesto has been an important genre for feminist writers because the form enables women’s voices to be heard at their most provocative, independent, irreverent, and demanding. Feminist manifestos are often short and pointed declarations of identity and politics that use radical rhetoric to upend the status quo of gender and sex. Whether they take the form of letters, brochures, pamphlets, or...
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Consciousness Raising

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In the context of 1970s feminism, consciousness-raising (CR) refers to the practice of discussing the varied and everyday effects of sexism, racism, and classism in groups of similarly identified individuals. The practice was a key political strategy for second wave feminists, as well as an opportunity for personal transformation. The goal was to uncover the ways patriarchy distorted all levels of...
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ACT UP

The posters in the University of Rochester AIDS Education Collection are presented here for research purposes only, and may be protected by copyright either according to US law or according to the laws applicable in their countries of origin. Any further reproduction of the materials may require copyright or other rights clearance and is the sole responsibility of the user.
ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) founded in New York City in 1987, is a direct action organization working to end the AIDS crisis. At its height there were 140 ACT UP chapters internationally. Through a democratic structure rooted in Affinity Groups, Working Groups and regular Monday night meetings, often of hundreds of people,  ACT UP achieved transformative breakthroughs for people with ...
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Intersectionality

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Discrimination and oppression are not singular systems. Instead, multiple factors simultaneously interact to produce systems of injustice and inequality. Race, gender expression, class position, sexuality, religion, nationality, age, and ability are some of the factors that interact and produce intersectional, simultaneous, and complex structures, manifestations, and processes of discrimination ag...
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Fire Island

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The beach resort communities of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines play a central part in US gay social and political life. Cherry Grove is the first lesbian and gay resort community. Located on the Atlantic ocean, 70 miles from New York City, they were first claimed as gay territory as far back as the first half of the twentieth century: the 1930s saw the arrival of lesbian and gay the...
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Lesbian Lit

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Lesbian Literature includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that feature same sex women’s love, relationships, and themes. While there is a history of lesbian literature before the 20th century—most notably Sappho of Lesbos—most of the literature offered only subtle lesbian themes. The first explicit lesbian novel published in English, The Well of Loneliness (1928) by Radclyffe Hall was deemed obs...
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Rights4Girls

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Rights4Girls is a human rights organization focused on gender-based violence against vulnerable young women and girls in the U.S. We advocate for the dignity and personhood of young women and girls - so that every girl may possess the right to be safe and live a life free of violence and exploitation. Based in Washington, D.C., Rights4Girls works to make the lives of U.S. young women and girls...
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Roe v. Wade

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1970 was the dawn of a decade of radical and swift change for women in the U.S., none more profound than the right to control whether and when to become a mother. That year, a Texas woman named Norma McCorvey—a poor former carny with addiction problems and two previous pregnancies (one daughter forcibly taken from her by her mother, the other placed for adoption)—found herself pregnant a third tim...
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Compulsory Heterosexuality

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Compulsory heterosexuality is a term popularized by poet Adrienne Rich in her 1980 essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” Compulsory heterosexuality is a system of oppression that denies people’s sexual self-determination by presenting heterosexuality as the sole model of acceptable sexual and romantic relationship. Like other forms of social control, compulsory heterosexuality...
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Protesting Miss America

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In 1968, four hundred women gathered at Atlantic City’s Miss America Pageant to protest what they called “ludicrous beauty standards” perpetuated by American culture. In front of television cameras ready to film the pageant as a major media event, Miss America Protesters seized the opportunity to criticize the “Madonna-Whore” messaging symbolized by the beauty pageant. In “No More Miss Amer...
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Sex and the Body

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  As an integral component of the notion of the “the personal is political,” many feminists highlighted the importance of women’s sexuality as part of a broader political transformation. While scholars and activists like Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin emphasized understanding sexuality as a critical component of women’s oppression, drawing attention to issues like sexual assault and...
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Women’s Lib (Feminism 101)

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Feminism, the feminist movement, the women’s liberation movement, or women’s lib are movements designed to transform models of power that facilitate the social, political, and economic sexist exploitation and oppression of women. Feminism is not only about women being equal to men. It is also interested in challenging the prevalence of rape and domestic violence—think Bill Cosby, Emma Sulko...
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