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Are the 2012 London Olympics Discriminating Against Men?

By Tasman Anderson, 17, Australia

ImageIt’s nice to see women playing such a big part in the 2012 London Olympics.

As Julia Hunter pointed out in her earlier post, “If You’re a Female Olympian, You Better Look Like One,” women were first introduced to the Olympic Games in 1900. In that first year, only 22 of the 997 athletes were female and these women were restricted to playing a limited number of sports that were deemed as “feminine–style sports.” Examples include croquet and golf. Since then, more and more females have become involved in athletics and this change is reflected in women’s participation at the Olympics this year.

Today at the Olympics, in the most popular sports such as diving and swimming, there are an equal number of men and women competitors, as well as an equal number of events for both sexes. In diving, for example, there are 68 men and 68 women competing for a medal in four different categories. Similarly, swimming has an equal number of men and women competing, with both sexes having opportunities to win medals in 16 different events.

I think the most amazing and powerful thing about the London Olympics is the fact that women are not only partaking in masculine-style sports such as BMX cycling, weightlifting , and wrestling, but planning to dominate them by taking home as many gold medals as they can.

With women competing in every sport, it may be fair to say that the Olympics is not only an amazing event, but also a supporter of women. With the introduction of women into traditionally “male” sports, you’d think that the same would apply to traditionally “female” sports; however, this is not the case. Is it possible that the Olympics may have actually marginalised men?

Even though there a quite a few events that have more male than female competitors such as boxing and shooting, there are no sports in the 2012 London Olympics that are strictly for men. However, there are currently two sports that not only have zero male competitors but even go so far as to classify themselves as a “female-only sport”– synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.

At one point in time, synchronized swimming was a male–dominated sport but when people started noticing that in general, women performed better and excelled more than men because of their physique, the men’s categories were eventually dropped. Similarly, rhythmic gymnastics was first designed as a form of exercise where women could express themselves through movement. When rhythmic gymnastics was adopted into the Olympics in 1984, the female stigma did not disappear and the sport became the second female–only sporting event.

Is it really fair to demand more rights for women when men are now being marginalised? I know a lot of you are probably thinking that it IS fair because of all the times we women have been treated as second best to men. However, purposefully choosing to exclude men from a sport or category not only reinforces gender differences, but also fights fire with fire.

I think it’s about time we make things 100% equal and allow men to participate in the two Olympic sports that have been dominated by women for so long.

So what do you ladies think? Should men have a chance to participate in synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics, or should we have sports that are strictly for women after so many years of male–dominated ones?  Leave a comment down below!

This Year, Resolve to Keep your Resolutions

By Carolyn Schweitzer

The beginning of a new year is always exciting. It brings the promise of change and growth and provides a perfect opportunity to set new goals for yourself. New Year’s resolutions are a way for us to reflect on our selves, our lives, and our past experiences, and determine new ways to fulfill our future aspirations. They can help us to transform our lives for the better, but when we don’t live up to our expectations, our unfulfilled resolutions can also leave us feeling discouraged.

Whether you’re struggling to stick to your resolutions or you’ve already thrown in the towel, don’t despair! There are definitely ways to set New Year’s resolutions that will enable you to reach your dreams by following a few easy steps.

1. Reflect on your goals. What are your dreams, your aspirations? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years from now? Don’t hold back, allow yourself to set big goals, even if they seem impossible.

2. Make a new year’s journal. Write about your life in 2011. What were your favorite memories? What were you most proud of? Who/what helped you to reach your goals and what held you back?

3. Set a small goal for yourself. What is the next level of your ultimate dream? Choose something possible, but not probable. Your resolution should be a challenge, after all—

confronting a challenge is how you’ll grow! There is no way, however, to accomplish everything you want in a year!

4. Lastly, reflect on how your dreams will affect you, your loved ones, and the causes you care about. This is what will keep you motivated when the going gets tough.

See, keeping a New Year’s resolution is definitely possible and can be a great step in achieving your dreams while building self-confidence! Always keep your ultimate goal in mind and encourage yourself along the way. Write an encouraging sticky note on your desktop or on your mirror. Surround yourself with people, pictures, and quotations that inspire you! Happy resolving!

Alternative Spring Break

By Lauren Castner

While many college students are returning from spring break this week, most high school students haven’t had their spring vacation yet.  You might still be looking forward to your week away from school.  Instead of lounging around the house and catching up on your daytime TV shows or sleeping in until noon every day, consider doing something for others!  Alternative spring breaks are a popular way to give back to the community and to attempt to alleviate some of the burdens that other people carry.

Habitat for Humanity is a great resource if you’re looking to get involved in a service trip over your spring break.  You don’t have to go far; chances are they have a chapter close to where you live!  Habitat’s mission is to eliminate poverty housing around the globe by providing affordable housing for families who are willing to put in the labor to help build their home.  Families work alongside volunteers to construct simple, but respectable, housing.  The mortgage payments on Habitat Houses go towards providing housing for other families in need.  To date, the program has helped to build and finance more than 400,000 homes globally.

The program recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.  In all, it has contributed more than $15.5 million towards eliminating poverty housing.  Many students, aged 16 and older, from all around the U.S. turn out in record numbers to participate in Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge.  This program allows young women and men the opportunity to spend a week eliminating substandard housing in a community and build safe and reliable housing for families in the area.  There are sites to choose from in each of the fifty states, as well as international placements.  Not only do students get to work on housing projects, they also form bonds and friendships that far outlast the length of their trip.  More than 166,000 students have participated in the Collegiate Challenge to date.

Although you must be 16 to actively work on a building site with Habitat for Humanity, there are plenty of other ways you can get involved with this program.  Act! Speak! Build! Week is a way for younger students to become involved with Habitat for Humanity by raising awareness for the program.  World Habitat Day is the first Monday in October, and it’s never too early to start planning awareness activities or fundraisers now.  Spring break doesn’t have to be the only time of year that you give back!

I have done three consecutive alternative spring breaks through my school, Boston College.  I’m a member of the Appalachia Volunteers program and we work directly with Habitat for Humanity and Volunteers for Communities to place our 600 volunteers in placements around the Appalachia region.  I’ve really benefited from the program, not only because I have made long-lasting and meaningful friendships with the students I’ve worked with and the communities we’ve visited, but because it also forces me to recognize the problems with poverty in our country.

Have you ever worked on a Habitat Site?  Done an alternative Spring Break before and want to share?  Tell us about your experiences in the comments section!

Celebrate the Women in YOUR life throughout the Month of March (and throughout the year, of course!)

Post by Editorial Assistant Michelle Golden

March is HERstory month (also known as Women’s History Month) and what better way to commemorate us girls by having a whole day dedicated to women all over the world! Each year, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Many informational events occur on this day (and throughout the entire month of March as well!) to remember the women who fought for our rights and who have made our life easier.  Women all over the world have done some really cool and amazing things that they should all be recognized for!

Girls, can you believe that this is the 100th anniversary of IWD and the existence of international women’s conferences? For a hundred years now organizations around the world select different themes for events and conferences which connect women of different color, race, religion, occupation, and education and reflect local and global gender issues. International Women’s Day is truly meant to inspire, empower, and unite women throughout the world and celebrate all of their achievements. It is known throughout history that women haven’t had it easy and their political, social, and economic efforts were, in the past, underappreciated (and, in many countries, still are!). Even in the U.S. this holds true too. Did you know that until as late as 1981 all Supreme Court justices were male? This changed when Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor. But still, there have been only four female Supreme Court justices in the entire history of the U.S.  Don’t you still think that more women should be appointed to government positions? 

So which female role model do you look up to? What fabulous and inspiring thing did you accomplish this year that you’re really proud of? Pat yourself on the back, girls, and let’s continue to make a difference in our own communities and in OUR world. As with Valentine’s Day, the goal is not to just show our love for women on this one day.  Let’s make EVERY day a women’s appreciation day!  Show your support for the women all over the world working to ensure an equal and intelligent future for young girls. 

If you’re in the Boston area some events planned for International Women’s Day include a breakfast at Simmons College focused on unequal treatment of incarcerated women. For more information go to: http://simmons.edu/overview/about/news/press/1005.php

For other educational and motivational Women’s History Month events such as the Luna Film festival, see also:

http://www.simmons.edu/blogs/300thefenway/2011/03/simmons-celebrates-womens-history-month.php?psrc=hmpg

There will be an all-day event hosted by the Women’s Information Network and Boston Women’s Network: http://internationalwomensday.org/boston. Buy your tickets now for only $35. The event will be located at 39 Dalton Street in Boston. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and Teen Voices encourages all teen girls to attend!

Interested in attending the 5th Annual Latina International Women’s Day Conference at the Massachusetts State House?  This event will take place on Friday March 11th, 2011  from 9-2pm. Please click here for more details: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/03/03/international-women%E2%80%99s-day/

In all, there are 1,480 events in 176 countries planned!  To search for IWD events in your country or state, go to: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/events.asp

Remembering Nine-Year-Old Christina Taylor Green

By Sarah Binning

In the wake of the Tucson, Arizona shooting, we face a sea of questions. What happened? Why did this happen? Will Representative Gabrielle Giffords recover? What prompted the 22-year-old suspect to kill innocent people?

As doctors and police uncover the answers to these questions, we remember the victims. Six lives were taken on Saturday, January 8, at Representative Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” public event. Fourteen more people are wounded.

We learn about their lives and their families. It’s especially difficult to learn about nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was born on September 11, 2001. Her father, John Green, said she was proud to share her day with a national tragedy.  In an interview with Today Show’s Meredith Vieira, Green said, “She began her life with a tragedy on 9/11 and her life was ended with a tragedy here in Arizona, but it was nine good years in the middle, so the tragedies were the bookends. The bulk of her life was wonderful and we loved every minute of it.”

The third grader’s interest in politics was just budding. She was recently elected to her school’s student council, which sparked the idea for Christina’s neighbor to bring Christina to meet Representative Giffords. No one had any idea of the tragedy that would shadow the event.

Christina Green loved dance and baseball. She told her father, “Dad, I want to be the first woman major league baseball player.” Christina sounds like an empowered and spirited young lady. She would have fit right in here at Teen Voices. I’m sorry I will never have the opportunity to meet her.

We need to make the world a safer place for young girls like Christina. She deserved to grow up safely, to learn about politics, and, just maybe, to play major league baseball.