Tag Archives: slider

Can’t Find Love? Take This Test To Find Out Why

Call me a sucker. But, I love taking online tests that tell me all about myself. So, I couldn’t resist the Love Assessment Indicator I recently found on YourTango.com.

I know I have some bad patterns when it comes to relationships. So, why not take the armchair approach to therapy and fill out a 2-minute survey to bring some clarity and peace of mind.  Well – the good news is the Love Assessment told me I wasn’t the basket case when it comes to love – as I’ve always feared.  It showed me what I was doing wrong as well as what I was doing right.

I received a score of 62 out of 100. A professional love and relationship coach scores your test through some sort of calculation. The assessment  told me “You’re motivated to create true love and haven’t yet found your ideal relationship.”  You know that’s right!

Then when I lost my test results and had to take the test again. But, I only scored a 52 out of 100. What happened?

The bad news is that I had to give my email address so I’ll probably be getting emails from this love coach forever, But,  it was worth it. Simple. Easy. Got my results without any hassle.

And, ladies, when it’s all said and done, we all know a key step to getting love is attracting the gentlemen.

Every lady can do that.

You just have to remember how beautiful and wonderful you are… And shake it!


ASK AN OBGYN: Will My Irregular Periods Prevent Me From Getting Pregnant?

Dear SuzyKnew, 

I am a 27 year old woman and I’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time now, but it’s all in vain. I can miss my periods for  six months or more.  Please, do you have any advice?  

Thank you,



Dear Stellah,

I’m so glad you wrote.  You sound concerned about what’s going on with your body.   The best way (and the only way) to know what’s going on in there is to see a doctor or nurse-practitioner for a physical exam.  Make an appointment today to be seen as soon as possible.

If you are not under the care of someone, there are several places you can go that offer low cost exams.   Planned Parenthood has been my go-to for many years.  Here is their website- http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/  to locate a clinic near you.   International Planned Parenthood Federation supports clinics around the world.  This website has an interactive map of clinics that offer women’s heath services-  http://www.ippf.org/our-work.  Health department clinics provide women’s health exams in the US and in countries around the world.  Community health Centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers in the US also offer high quality services on a sliding fee scale.

Here is what to expect when you see the doctor of nurse:

She will ask you many detailed questions about your health history, menstrual cycle, as well as past and current sexual and reproductive history.  She will also ask you about all medications you are taking (prescribed by a doctor, bought at a pharmacy and herbals) and any treatments and surgeries you have had.

She will also ask about your family history.  Before your visit, speak to your female relatives (mother, sisters, aunts) and ask if they have had any problems missing periods or if they have ever seen a doctor with the same symptoms you are experiencing.

She will give you a physical exam in order to detect anything out of the ordinary.   She will give you a breast and pelvic exam.  In the pelvic exam, she will take a small sample of your cervical tissue to test for cervical cancer.  She will feel the position of your uterus and check the size and position of your ovaries.   She may conduct additional tests to look at your general health and nutritional status.   She will also offer you an HIV test, and give vaccinations to protect you from many diseases.

After your visit:

This is very important, my dear.   Make sure you return to the doctor’s office for the results of your tests.  If you are scared, bring a friend or sister with you for support and to have someone write down what the doctor says while you are talking.  The doctor’s office can be overwhelming and a lot of important stuff is happening at a fast pace.  I always bring someone with me if I can.  Another way to remember everything is to bring a notebook and pen.  You can ask the doctor or nurse to write down information in your book so you can remember or share with others.

Finally, If you are worried about the cost of all this, tell your doctor or nurse.   I have directed you to clinics that offer discounted rates.   They will work with you so that cost is not a barrier to care.

Take good care.

S. Brockman, RN, MPh.


ASK AN OBGYN is not meant to be a substitute for your doctor or health care provider. Contact your provider with any health issues you may have.

Are You A Fabuluous, Independent Woman Of Color And Still Single?

Natalie Clarice - Rollingoutcom

Often we ladies of color do everything to make ourselves perfect so we can find a man.  A lot of white women can get by with just blond hair and blue eyes. There are men who will go after them even when they don’t have anything more to offer.

Many of us feel we have to do more to get a man.

We strive to look and be fabulous. So, it’s hard to understand why we can’t attract and keep “Mr Right,” after we have built successful professional lives – often against all odds.  To us, we’ve done everything “right.”

Enter Black relationship strategist Natalie Clarice of Find Me My Man on Oxygen TV.  This sassy, urban matchmaker helps us black women – and other ladies – figure out what we’re doing wrong in the dating world. While it may seem like we have it all and are making the right moves, saying the right things. Natalie points out how we have to chip off some of our armor to get a man.  While the standards and walls we’ve built  have helped us climb the corporate ladder and build careers often in hostile environments with a lot of unfairness, it can become a barrier to finding love.

Not all the women on the show who can’t find dates are “fabulous.” Some of them have some serious quirks. But, most are making bank. Rarely do we see such a nice quantity of women of color doing so well financially in non-music/entertainment professions.

Find Me My Man has us datin’ around the world and across the color line. It shows us we do have options when it comes to love and with Ms. Clarice’s guidance how we can learn how to take advantage of them. It’s nice to have a dating reality show dedicated to helping us find our man so we can take being fabulous to a new level.

Find Me My Man airs on Tuesdays in the USA at 9/8c pm on Oxygen TV.

Want to find out more about Natalie’s services: click here: http://natalieclarice.net

Filipina_Gal: The World Is So Unsafe for Women

SuzyKnew! asked: ‘How do you make a fuss when you’re touched on a bus?’ Recently, I’ve had some upsetting sexual harassment encounters in public places, like a guy grabbing my arm in the middle of the street (a forceful shove from a friend saved any other parts of my body from being groped) and crotch-grabbing in a club.

I am embarrassed to say that I froze up and did nothing. My humiliation stems not primarily from the fact that a man thought he had a right to my body or that I was completely incapable of action – but that this is not the reaction I anticipated for myself.  As an educated, headstrong, independent woman with some martial arts knowledge, I always imagined an appropriately violent reaction whenever actual touching occurred to me. Since then, I have tried to understand why I was the one targeted the most and my subsequent response, in spite of walking around with two other friends. Was it because I am a diminutive five-foot tall Asian woman that they perceived me as more vulnerable? That they were males of a different race? That I wore provocative clothing? That it was hot? Or was it simple because I am a woman?

I grew up thinking that catcalls and jeers were a way of life. In the Philippines, no matter what corner you end up in, men will engage in this type of behavior as long as you are a woman. Rural villages have men loitering outside store stalls, ready to whistle and greet as you pass by. However, it was mostly in cities that I realized how the oppressive density of people also prompted more anonymous sexual harassment. The Metro Manila railway and subway system have ‘Ladies Only’ compartments, due to the overwhelming complaints from inappropriate sexual touching. Though I never experienced actual touching given that I grew up in a relatively sheltered street life because my family owns a car, I was increasingly desensitized to the social implications of this type of behavior.

Thrust into city life after four years in an all women’s college, I was unprepared to be once more viewed as an ‘object’ for men to comment on. Taught to simply ignore these unwanted advances, my female friends and I strove to enjoy our daily lives but now we were more wary about what we wore and where we went. My heart rebelled against this – why should I give them power over me by changing my lifestyle? It was propagating the power dynamic, but it’s difficult to combat this when you could potentially be raped or physically abused from an unknown man’s reaction. It doesn’t help either that such behavior is exhibited around little girls and boys. They’re being taught how to make the next generation of public gropers and sexual harassers.

A forum on sexual harassment online discusses “Holly Kearl’s book entitled, Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women. Defined by Kearl in the first chapter as “unwanted attention” in public places, street harassment includes and is not limited to “physically harmless leers, whistles, honks, kissing noises, and nonsexually explicit evaluative comments,” but also extends to “more insulting and threatening behavior like vulgar gestures, sexually charged comments, flashing, and stalking, to illegal actions like public masturbation, sexual touching, assault, and rape.” Many (if not most) women experience it; very few men know about it.

The second chapter explains the context in which street harassment occurs. If a young girl, perhaps wearing a short skirt, walks alone on a street at night and is sexually assaulted, she would most likely be blamed for the assault, right? Wrong, Kearl tells us; her clothing and time she chose to walk outside is not her fault that she was sexually assaulted. As someone who lived in a small town in Morocco for half a year, I can attest that I wore conservative clothes yet still experienced men whistling and throwing rocks at me in the light of the day. Therefore, Kearl explains, street harassment is a power dynamic that shows which gender wields more power and control in a given society.

Yet street harassment is not just a gendered issue; it is multi-layered with race, socioeconomic status, gender expression, and disability, as Kearl writes in the third chapter. It is “a global problem,” as the title of the fourth chapter states. It not only happens in cities, it is more likely to happen wherever women are alone and/or traveling in public by taxi, public transportation, and on foot.

….Women view street harassment differently and therefore they deal with street harassment differently. Kearl notes in the sixth chapter that some women choose to ignore it; others choose to directly address the harasser. A missing link in solving the street harassment issue, as explained in the seventh chapter, is to include male allies by educating and engaging them that street harassment is not okay. Equally important in combating this problem is empowering women and raising public awareness, which Kearl gives specific ideas and suggestions as to how to do this in the eighth and ninth chapters respectively. Finally, in the tenth chapter, Kearl notes that we must make street harassment an issue. If we shrug it to the side and ignore it, we are making a statement that street harassment is okay.”

But, NO. It’s not okay that a man can think they have power over a woman’s body. It’s not okay that while walking with a female friend at night, we felt so uncomfortable that we said ‘the world is so unsafe for women.’

How can we make combat street harassment in our own communities?

ASK AN OBGYN: Can I Get Pregnant (or AIDS) If My Man Pulls Out Beforehand?

Dear SuzyKnew,

My boyfriend and I are ready to have sex. I ask him to use a condom but he refuses. He says he wants me for the long haul and would risk getting me pregnant. I explain to him that I’m not ready to get pregnant and that I’d rather be married and in a committed, loving relationship first then have children. I grab the condom in his drawer and he stops me stating that his dick is too big for the condom. I explain again that I can’t do it without a condom. I ask if he’s willing to “pull out” but I’m nervous that I put it out there. I’m also a little suspicious because he’s so anti-condom! What are the risks of getting pregnant or getting an STD if a guy pulls out before ejaculating? 


Dear SuzyKnew Reader,

 You know your values and have set your goals.  I admire you for that.  So let me give you some facts to help you determine if using withdrawal as a birth control method is acceptable for you:

 Preventing Pregnancy:  Correct use of the withdrawal method requires that couples do not have sex or use a back-up method, such as condoms, on the days that the woman is fertile.  When used correctly (no unprotected sex on fertile days), four out of one hundred women will become pregnant- that’s a 4% chance.  Not so bad, right, but here’s the kicker…..the more typical couple using withdrawal as a birth control method has a 27% chance of pregnancy. 

Here is why. Withdrawal is not recommended for men who cannot sense consistently when ejaculation is about to occur or for those guys that ejaculate prematurely. This takes a lot of discipline, practice, and resolve.  Not typical characteristics for men in the heat of the moment.

Correct use also depends on the woman.   You need to know on which days you are fertile.  It may take several months of carefully tracking your periods on a calendar before you can accurately predict your fertile days.  Many women have wacky cycles that are hard to predict.

And perhaps most important, the withdrawal method requires full cooperation and communication between the sexual partners. This takes time to develop.

So please ask yourself these questions:

1)     Are your cycles consistent enough to predict your fertile and non-fertile days? 

2)     Does your partner have the self-control to withdrawal before ejaculating? 

3)     And finally, are you comfortable with the odds?  A 27% chance of pregnancy is something that most women are not willing to risk.

Getting HIV or another STI:

OK, this one is easy.  Withdrawal provides NO protection against ANY sexually transmitted infections.  Zero. Zip. Nada.

Final Thoughts:

From your recount of the conversation between you and this guy, I am concerned that he did not listen to you and your concerns.  You ask an excellent question- Why is he so anti-condom?  Yeah, I was wondering the same thing.  Your radar was up and I would counsel you to listen to your instincts and do not have unprotected sex with him until all your questions are answered.

Take good care.

S Brockman, a registered nurse with extensive experience working on reproductive health issues around the world, answers your women’s health questions. ASK AN OBGYN is not meant to replace consulting your ob/gyn or primary care provider.  Ask Ms. Brockman your question at Info@suzyknew.com.


ASK AN OBGYN is not meant to be a substitute for your doctor or health care provider. Contact your provider with any health issues you may have.

My Love; My Self-Esteem

Is our ability to love and be loved linked to our self-esteem? Is it true we can’t have a really emotionally satisfying romantic relationship unless we are happy with who we are?

This is what today’s relationship columns tell us. Even SuzyKnew did a piece on how our relationship with our mother affects our ability to find true love later in life.

But, who doesn’t have a friend who was constantly depressed and then got happy once she got a man? How many of us have seen women turn their lives around once they found a supportive partner who gave them the attention and compliments they craved?

We need to put some perspective around the advice we get from these columns. I mean don’t these columns also tell us that we should surround ourselves with positive people in order to stay positive? So, why not surround ourselves with some good-looking men who pay us compliments – and the bill?!

I’m just sayin’…

But, low self-esteem can hold us back from love.  Relationship experts on YourTango offer these indications that low self-esteem is keeping you back from the true love you deserve.

Do they have it right?

  • You end up with men who are not able to give you what you really want; they’ll be unavailable in some way, whether not completely done with an ex, they’re married to their work, they are emotionally damaged in some way, or they live too far away.
  • It can be challenging to simply receive love and acceptance from a man, without being in “produce mode” – I call it the “Me plus what I give or do equals good enough to earn love” syndrome.
  • The fear of being rejected can bring out the absolute worst behaviors – which often lead to being rejected; controlling men or circumstances, being unable to be vulnerable and open with them, rejecting them first, or, as I call it, the “You can’t fire me – I quit” syndrome.


Filipina_Gal: How A Pair Of Jeans And Heels Can Get You Many Dates Around The World


Ever since I’d decided to remorselessly launch myself into the dating world, I’ve looked back on my experiences and tried to understand how each encounter/relationship turned out the way it did in the context I was in. As a Filipina living abroad in Ethiopia, France, Indonesia, and the United States, obviously some pieces of random clothing from my (dating) life in different countries will find its way in the ‘baggage’ that I carry along. I decided to organize my luggage to help me in my future encounters and chances for dating success.


For the wandering soul in search of reasonably priced, good quality clothing to find your own dating style and mate, come right over!


Here are a few clothing tips for consideration:


  1. Skinny jeans: No matter who you are or where you come from in the world, skinny jeans are always a good staple to have. You can wear them to almost any occasion. Whether paired with flats and a blouse worn to a serious talk by the new head of the organization or snazzed up with heels and a sexy top for a date, they never fail you. Skinny jeans can be considered part of our anchor: they are like the good table manners your mother taught you when you were young, or the education you worked so hard to get. When it comes to dating, they are the values that you do not want to compromise, such as placing your career above all else or finding ‘The One’ your only goal. You may grow too big or small for your skinny jeans and need a new pair, but whatever happens, one pair is always a welcome sight when that bag is flipped open.


  1. Heels: Never forget to pack a pair of killer heels. It doesn’t matter what type, as long as you have them – wedges, platforms, stilettos, or even short high heels. It’s important to have something that makes you feel sexy and confident, something that oozes that extra ‘oomph’ and draws glances. Heels can be part of your dating repertoire, right along with flirting glances and smiles reserved for an attractive member of the opposite sex. For international flirting, it’s good to have a pair of nude, black, brown or dark blue heels – basic ones that you can pair with a variety of clothing and adapt to the occasion. For example, flirting in the States may mean smiling widely and conversing freely, while flirting in the Philippines may mean being open to seemingly intrusive questions like, ‘do you have a boyfriend?’ Heels take you places you never thought you’d be able to go to, but only if you have the courage to put them on.


  1. Black lingerie: That clichéd movie claiming black lingerie means you want to have sex? Whether you believe it or not, having a pair of lacy black underwear is extremely seductive long before you even end up in the bedroom. It doesn’t matter if you’re having sex tonight, the next year, or on your wedding night – it’s all about the subconscious desire to do so and the knowledge that you are attractive inside out and you’re not afraid to flaunt it. Just like heels, black lingerie lets loose an inner, bolder side that manifests itself in something as small as the brush of a hand on a man’s arm or looking him in the eye and asking, ‘Would you like to go back to my place?’


Your wardrobe, like your relationships, is made up of choices. You can push the limits a little bit each time, but always with the knowledge that you’re comfortable with how far you go. You keep clothing and dating habits that gave you success in the past hoping they will carry you to a successful future. These staples are good to have, but every now and then, it doesn’t hurt to buy an outrageous pair of green heels or make out with that random stranger who keeps winking at you from the bar. You never know where that openness might take you, just like it did me.

My Religion Kept Me From Giving Up My Virginity At 21. Now At 40, I Can’t Find Love: ASK JANICE

Dear Janice, I grew up in a conservative religious family. When I was 21 years old I fell in love with a guy whom I adored. He pressured me to have sex. But, I explained I was religious and a virgin and I wanted to wait until I got married. But, he didn’t want to marry me. He wanted sex so he left me and found another girl. I was devastated. I never found a guy I loved as much, and at 30 I gave up my virginity to a guy I met who seemed okay. I wasn’t in love with him but at the time it didn’t seem like I was going to find someone I loved. The guy I gave up my virginity to ended up being abusive. I left him. But, all my boyfriends afterwards were wrong for me. Most were abusive.

Now I’m almost 40 and can’t find love. I keep thinking all my problems with relationships and men started when I refused to give up my virginity back when I was 21.

What do you think? Any advice?


Janice responds:   The truth is this: until we find that forever love, we will never love anyone as much as we love our first love.  And even if you’d given up your virginity to your first love at 21, chances are he would have left you anyway.  In fact, losing him might have been even more traumatic if you’d slept with him.

Still, I understand why you regret not sleeping with that first guy.  He’ll always seem like the one who got away, won’t he?  But remember, if you had slept with him, I’d probably be saying the same thing only it would look something like this: I understand why you regret sleeping with that first guy.  See the difference?  The absence of the word “not”.

You see, your horrible taste in men has nothing to do with you not sleeping with Jerk #1.  (He left you because you were 17 and didn’t want to give up your virginity.  That makes him a jerk by even the most generous of standards.)  Jerk #1 was just as wrong for you as the subsequent jerks you’ve encountered, including the jerk you gave it up to at age 30.  And while Jerk #1’s abuse wasn’t physical, it most certainly was emotional.

Maybe you’re choosing the wrong men because you keep trying to replace Jerk #1.  That most of your boyfriends after him were abusive is very telling.  The first thing you need to do is disabuse yourself (disabuse – see what I did there?) of the notion that Jerk #1 was a great guy.  He simply wasn’t.   So stop trying to replace him!

The next thing you need to do is some serious self-examination.  You may even need professional help for this one.  Yeah, I’m talking therapy.  For some reason, your sense of self-worth is so low, you think you deserve this horrible treatment.  In fact, you seem to be drawn to guys who will treat you badly.  And guess what?  Because that’s what you think you deserve, that’s what you’re getting!

What happened in your past to cause you to think so little of yourself?  I ask this out of love.  Because you are a queen, deserving of nothing less than royal treatment!  That you would ever accept anything less tells me that you simply don’t realize your own value.  Someone in your past has made you believe that you are unworthy.  I want you to figure out who did this to you, and why.

Once you’ve discovered the source of your low self-esteem, you need to work really hard at undoing it.  I mean, really, really hard.  Again, you might need professional help for this.  Otherwise, you will keep falling for the same guy (an updated version of Jerk #1) for the rest of your life.  And you deserve so much better.

You, my love, deserve to be treated like the queen you are.  You can start treating yourself like one by letting go of your regrets about Jerk #1.  Personally, I think you dodged a real bullet there.  You were 21 and a virgin.  He left you because he’s a jerk who couldn’t keep it in his pants, not because you did anything wrong.

So stop beating yourself up over the past.   Focus on your future by doing the work it will take to make sure you only enter into relationships with men who are worthy of you.  If it means getting a good therapist, then please do so.  You will only experience the real and true love you crave when you really and truly love yourself.

That last line bears repeating for all my sisters out there.  You will only experience the real and true love you crave when you really and truly love yourself.

In the meantime, next time you find yourself drawn to a man who is even remotely like Jerk #1, run for the hills!

Should You Make A Fuss When You’re Touched On A Bus? Or, What Do You Claim When You’re Rubbed On A Plane?

Touched and Rubbed

Last year, many women were forced to reflect on hidden feelings about unwanted public touching after the rape and murder of a 23-yr old student on a bus in India caused worldwide outrage.

Most women have been “touched” by an unknown man in a public place, and unless the man was aggressive or violent, they said nothing.  Women endure humiliating public touching, often not knowing what to say or do.

How and why can men freely touch women they have never met with impunity? I was forced to think about this issue and how it lingers in society while traveling yesterday to Kuala Lumpur via Frankfurt.

Sitting comfortably by the window, I got an “uh oh” feeling when an odd man sat down in the aisle seat.  But, how many times have I gotten this feeling and was wrong about the man? And, how many times was I right? I took comfort in the seat separating us, but that became a moot point when at 1 am the lights went out for the 9-hour, trans-Atlantic flight, and the man decided to stretch out across the middle seat. “Well, at least his feet are towards me and not his head, ” I said to myself. Well, that changed, too, when he turned around with his head next to my lap.

I tried to relax, watch movies, think about how to pay off my credit card debt, etc, when the man changed the position of his arms and “just happened” to run his hand across my thigh. I screamed. A few people looked up and thought I was having a nightmare or was frightened by a movie I was watching. No one paid any real attention to what was happening. In fact, moments before a flight attendant had walked by and smiled at the “sleeping man” scrunched up close to me, failing to see the  look of horror and terror on my face.

The man remained quiet after I screamed, which having experienced the problem before, clued me in to his lack of innocence.  An innocent man – or one with a better M.O. – would apologize profusely, explaining he meant no harm.  This man said nothing. But, he sat up retaking his place, making me sit wide awake thinking, “Did he mean to touch me or was it a mistake? Maybe he didn’t say anything because he was embarrassed or because it’s late at night…”

When the man’s foot reached way across the middle seat to my seating area and began playing footsie with my foot I started beating the man and crying out “You better stop that! I’m not putting up with this! You’ve got to go!!” I lept up with my (large) behind turning on the overhead personal light and made the man get out of his seat. No one said anything. No one came to ask me what the problem was.

And, I was the one who left. Not the offending man. I found a flight attendant to tell her to change my seat. Looking for the attendant, I was worried she might not believe me. The man remained sitting in his seat with soft puppy eyes looking at me and the world, as if to say, “Is there something wrong? I was just sleeping in my seat. I don’t know why this woman is making such a fuss.”

Dressed conservatively in a shalwar kameez top in preparation for my work in Malaysia, I thought the German Luftansa attendant would think, “Ah! these conservative, Muslim women are always getting upset if a man so much as bumps into her!” And if the attendant did notice my cross dangling from my top, she would have surmised I was an American Puritan, unable to handle men. How many male friends do I have who have been falsely accused by women for doing something inappropriate? But, I knew I had the 2012 New Delhi Gang Rape on my side. Public awareness about men raping and groping on buses, trains and planes is at an all-time high. I found the first female attendant I could and she put me in a new seat immediately, apologizing for the problem and asking where the offending man was.

Of course, nothing happened to the man. How could it? What proof was there, and the look on his face would have everyone thinking he was a saint.

I remember my first memory of feeling uncomfortable on a plane by a man sitting next me and telling my mother. She replied in a way that made me think it was “all in my head” but had my brother switch seats with me so I wasn’t close so him. The man continued to stare, and I continued to be uncomfortable. The dilemma remained: Is this man ogling me or is it “all in my head?”

Since the first airplane incident I have encountered men on Paris metros with skills in touching women I thought were worthy of Olympic medals. They rode buses and subway trains gently placing a finger between a woman’s thighs, right on her mounds or between her labia, remaining motionless. When it happened to me it took me a good 10 minutes to realize it was a man’s finger and not the edge of a woman’s purse or bag that was touching me. I didn’t realize it was a man until there were no more women around me and it seemed like this quiet, gentle-looking man was always nearby, looking like he was paying absolutely no attention to me.  I thought “Wow. How does a man like that acquire such a skill? How long did it take him to be able to do this without women realizing what he was doing? Does he continue to ride around all his life virtually unnoticed? Do some women like it – the calm, undemanding, anonymous and motionless touch – saying nothing? And are there women who acquiesce? Or, does the man eventually up his game, becoming increasingly aggressive, then violent and eventually start raping women when he can’t get enough women to acquiesce or his fantasy doesn’t always go the way he wants?

Then there was the time in the Medina of Tunis. I was with up late with friends enjoying mint tea from high above in an old city building thousands of years old rented by a few friends. It was too late for me return home, so I agreed to stay over.  Couples paired off to separate rooms leaving me and one of the men to share the large arab living room that looked out over the Medina. I didn’t think much of it. He had his side of the large room filled with soft cushions and low couches, and I had my side. But, late in the night when I was enjoying what I thought was a cat stroking up against me – enjoying the feline touch, wondering how the cat knew how to be so gentle and accommodating  – I woke to up to see the man sitting only in his underwear touching me.

Maybe a more sophisticated woman would have known how to calmly explain she wasn’t interested in pairing off, like the other couples had. Or a more confident woman would have relaxed and enjoyed the gentle touches explaining she wanted nothing more, like my friend told me the next morning is what she had done because she already had a boyfriend and only wanted to enjoy another man’s attention and touches. But, I wasn’t one of those women. So, after turning the situation over in my head for a few seconds, I realized the man hadn’t spoken to me (as far as I could remember) the entire night and therefore was not really interested in me but just thought I was an “easy foreign, Christian woman” or thought he could take advantage of the situation. Plus, he was next to me half naked. And, I did the only thing I knew how to do: Let out a blood curdling scream.

And the rest is history. The man was upset. Denied everything. A woman friend told me I was  acting ridiculous. The man wasn’t going to do anything to me. Another female friend apologized. I left. My virtue intact. But, always thinking back on the entire situation and the gentle caresses in the middle of the Arab night.

So, how do you make a fuss when you’re touched on a bus?



Mother’s Day Is Over. But, How Do You Make Sure You Don’t Celebrate It Next Year?

Last Sunday, there were many happy people – especially mothers – celebrating Mother’s Day.

Now that’s it over, how do you make sure you aren’t on the receiving end of a “Happy Mother’s Day!” greeting next year? How do you remain kid-free? We don’t all want kids. Or, if we do, we don’t necessarily want them right now.

Assuming you’ve got a good contraception game plan (see Contraceptives for more), it ‘s good to know you can skip down to your corner drug store and get yourself some Emergency Contraception – that’s EC for short also called “the morning after pill” – if the condom busts or whatever…

Yep. No need to shell out money for a doctor’s visit, let alone taking off from work for a  prescription you might not even be able to get in time. The new US law requiring pharmacists to sell Emergency Contraception without a prescription to girls 15 and older went into effect last April.  Just make sure you take your Next Choice One Dose, Plan B, Ella, or whatever brand you chose within 72 hours of the deed. Five EC brands are available in the US. Other countries may have a larger or smaller choice of brands.

Ella – approved for use up to 5 days after unprotected sex –  is the most effective of the EC pills but may be a little more expensive. And, ladies, EC is not an abortion. EC prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. Until the egg is attached to the womb, you are not pregnant.  You can also have an IUD inserted if you can get an appointment in time and shell out the dough ($400 – $1,000), if you don’t have insurance.

On a more sobering note, getting an abortion is getting tougher in the US.  Months after Roe vs Wade marked its 40th anniversary, more states are putting in restrictive laws. But, one in 3 women in the US will have an abortion in her lifetime.  And, women of color are more likely to have an abortion than white women. But, we’re very unlikely to tell our stories.  A piece in Ebony exposes the problem eloquently.

Statistics show making abortion illegal or legal has no effect on the total number of abortions performed in the world.  But, legalizing abortion dramatically reduces the likelihood a woman will die or have serious medical complications from an abortion.  About half of all pregnancies that occur in a year are unwanted, and nearly half of these women chose to terminate their pregnancy.  Around the world, 42 million women choose to terminate their pregnancy each year with close to half of those (20 million) being illegal.

Wishing you another kid-free Mother’s Day – if that’s your choice!