Act MTV Act Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Reasons Why This ‘Virgin Territory’ Character Enjoyed Her First Time Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:00:55 +0000

By Amy Kramer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

On this week episode of ‘Virgin Territory,’ Anna and Alex went all the way. Not while the cameras were rolling on her 20th birthday – because Alex thought it would be disrespectful to her family if they watched it on TV – but in the weeks soon after. Anna said it hurt (more than the Brazilian wax?) but she also said the whole thing was amazing. Here are 5 reasons that probably contributed to it being such a positive experience for her:

  1. Anna’s not the only one who says waiting for someone they love makes a difference. In a recent survey from MTV and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, less than half (46%) of young adults who have had sex said their first time was “a mostly good experience.” But among those whose first time was with someone they were in a serious relationships with, 2 out of 3 said it was good.
  1. That Anna was 20 years old, and knew herself better than she would have as a young teenager, probably also contributed to the fact that her first time was enjoyable and that she felt so good about it afterwards. According to the survey, those who start having sex before age 18 are far more likely to say their first time wasn’t a good experience.
  1. She and Alex talked about it being her first time. Those in the survey who say they discussed that issue with their first partner are also much more likely to report that their first time was good. Those who didn’t have that conversation with their first partner are much more likely to say it wasn’t.
  1. They had great communication in general, not just about it being her first time. Those who say they felt like they had good communication overall with their first partner were also more likely to say their first experience was a good one.
  1. She felt ready. Those who say their first time was something they were pressured into hardly ever say their first time was positive.


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Trayvon Martin’s Mom Writes Open Letter To Michael Brown’s Family Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:18:59 +0000
"Justice For Trayvon" Rallies Held Across The Country
While the world is still watching Ferguson, Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton expressed her love to Michael Brown’s family in an open letter in TIME.

Sybrina opened by saying, “I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t. What I can do for you is what has been done for me: pray for you then share my continuing journey as you begin yours.”

She spoke about the realities of gun violence: “I will support you and your efforts to seek justice for your Michael and the countless other Michaels & Trayvons of our country. The 20 Sandy Hook children. Jordan Davis. Oscar Grant. Kendrick Johnson. Sean Bell. Hadya Pendleton. The Aurora shooting victims. The list is too numerous to adequately mention them all. According to The Children’s Defense Fund, gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-19.”

However, she also pressed the point about them going forward together. “But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain. The galvanizations of our communities must be continued beyond the tragedies. While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us.”

Carrying Trayvon’s spirit forward is exactly what Sybrina did after the passing of her son. In his honor, she launched the Trayvon Martin Foundation.

She then went on to give some insight on what the future will most likely look like for the family. “We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light. I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…”

If you want to join in helping spread Sybrina’s message, make sure and take action below!

Photo: (Getty)

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How Banana Fiber Is Empowering Women (It’s True!) Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:00:14 +0000

It’s 2014, but you know what’s still taboo to talk about? Your period. That’s true all over the world, in some places more than others. In fact, globally many women miss maybe 30-50 days of work or school a year because pads are so taboo or so off-limits they can’t afford them.

All this led Elizabeth Scharpf to found Sustainable Health Enterprises (a.k.a SHE, which is perfect). Part of what they do is make pads out of banana fiber so girls and women can still go to school and work. Super cool and innovative! SHE’s Director of Strategic Partnerships & Marketing, Connie Lewin, told MTV Act all about what game changing stuff they have going on.

ACT: How did a graduate student’s interest in humanitarian work lead to the SHE28 initiative?

CONNIE: As a Harvard graduate student, Elizabeth was working for the World Bank in Mozambique when she visited a local business and asked about absenteeism among women in the work place. The answer shocked her.

According to one business owner, 20% of her employees were missing work regularly, up to 30 days a year, because of menstruation. The reason: pads cost more than a day’s wages.

Elizabeth made a hundred phone calls to everyone from friends in graduate school hailing from Bangladesh to Ghana and from the UNFPA, PATH and BRAC. Elizabeth discovered deeper issues behind the problem, including:

Cultural stigma surrounding menstruation, a lack of adequate, affordable menstrual products, the use of dried mud, bark, rags or mattress padding, little to no menstrual health and hygiene education, a lack of safe and clean gender-specific toilet facilities, limited access to clean, accessible water for washing.

This taboo has social and economic costs too, or what we call the “five year blood cost.” For millions of girls and women in low and middle-income countries around the world, five years is what they stand to lose from school and work over a lifetime.

Here’s the math for Rwanda: 2.8 million menstruating females X 18% missed school because of no low-cost pads X $215 lost income per female per year = $115,000,000 potential loss in GDP per year.

The result: girls can miss school. Women can miss work. Communities lose out.

Girls and women’s rights to health is denied, and most importantly, so is their dignity. Outraged, Scharpf decided to do something about it and launched SHE and its first initiative, SHE28, in 2008.

The SHE28 campaign is different than existing efforts to address this overlooked issue. With our SHE28 initiative, we are actively debunking the myth that donated pads is a long-term solution to this problem.

ACT: Why do you think women in some countries feel shame about their periods? Do you think this shame exists everywhere but on different levels?

CONNIE: Shame associated with menstruation is largely associated with a lack of access to accurate and timely health and hygiene education. Out of the 500 girls and women we surveyed in 2008, many of them reported that they did not know anything about menstruation until their first period began.

That’s why we started off with health education. We designed a menstrual health and hygiene curriculum that is now being considered for the national health curriculum in Rwanda.

At SHE, we believe that good health is one of the most valuable assets you can have. When girls and women know more about their health and bodies, they are more empowered to ask for the product, services, and attention they need to stay healthy.

The pervasiveness of this taboo is truly global; it just exists at different levels.

ACT: How does the SHE28 initiative work?

CONNIE: AT SHE, we believe in investment over charity: That’s why our first initiative, SHE 28, gets right to the heart of our mission.

Here’s how it works:

Banana farmers in Rwanda throw away tons of fiber every year. We provide them with equipment and training, so that they can process it and sell it to us.

We take it to our pad factory in Rwanda, where our 12 entrepreneurial staff cut it, card it, wash it, fluff it and solar dry it.

Now the banana fiber is ready to be made into menstrual pads. Our pads, which we also refer to as the LaunchPad, contain none of the chemicals found in standard commercial pads.

Our LaunchPads are then sold at an affordable price-point to schools and given to girls who need them.

We don’t just deliver affordable pads: we are breaking the silence with our education and advocacy programs.

We started off with educating 500 girls and women about menstrual health and hygiene and have reached thousands more of girls and women, plus men and boys, with our education programs.

ACT: How can readers get involved? Can they also make pads, or do you just need donations?

CONNIE: The idea that a girl would miss school because she has her period is complete nonsense.

If that’s not ok with you either, think about joining our #smallthings campaign. You can become a SHE Champion and lend your voice by sharing our SHE28 video, posting #smallthings facts, and sharing your own #smallthingselfie. Let the world know that investing in a small thing like a menstrual pad can make big changes for girls. Don’t be late, PERIOD.

ACT: What has been the response so far?

CONNIE: The response has been resounding that the taboos associated with menstruation need to go. In 2010, SHE, along with 10 other leading organizations, kicked off our advocacy campaign, “Breaking the Silence on Menstruation,” by marching across the capital and engaging in a public discussion with girls, women and men about how to break down these barriers to girls’ education. As a result, the Rwandan government placed a new line item in the national budget for a $35,000 procurement of menstrual pads for the poorest girls in Rwanda.

We are also committed to instigating the national Rwandan government to include essential health and hygiene content in the national curriculum so that it can reach all schools and clinics.

We’ve already witnessed things changing for the better—girls’ bathrooms are being built and hygiene supplies are been added to schools.

With our unique model, we are pioneering a new way to tackle overlooked issues that can also be replicated globally in any community.

ACT: What is next for SHE?

CONNIE: We’re training teachers about menstrual hygiene so they can deliver health education to their students in the classroom, we’re bringing on Rwandan and global leaders to instigate along with us to waive value-added taxes on pads, and we’re on our way to mass manufacturing our pads in Rwanda at our production facility in Rwanda!

It’s go time for SHE!

Photo: (Elizabeth Scharpf)

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13-Year-Old Little Leaguer Lands On Sports Illustrated! Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:46:43 +0000

13-year-old baseball rockstar Mo’ne Davis has her eyes on sports domination. Besides her 70 mph fastball and the fact she’s owning every sports conversation these days, she has another great accomplishment: she has landed her face on the cover of Sports Illustrated!

As the first little leaguer to make the cover, this is a big ole deal! The cover shows the fierce athlete throwing the ball with the giant title of “MO’NE” in big, bold letters.

In the pages of Sports Illustrated she opens up, stating, “To be honest, I never thought I’d be famous for baseball. I want to play basketball, and I could also do both basketball and baseball — but I really want to play basketball.”

In a preview to the piece, Sports Illustrated editor Chris Stone said, “Last week, this week, maybe next week, she’s owned the sports conversation…It’s the easiest type of story to identify as a cover story.”

And Albert Chen, writer for the piece, wrote, “She’s a lot of things to a lot of different people, all of them good things: a totem for inner-city baseball, a role model for your 10-year-old niece, a role model for your 10-year-old nephew.”

Gurlllll, keep going in the direction you are going! You are on to big things, and this Sports Illustrated cover is just the start, because you’re showing the world what it really means to throw like a girl.

Photo: (Getty)

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Article Tells Women to Be Flattered By Street Harassment + 3 Other Things to Know About Today Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:30 +0000 + Article Tells Women to be Flattered By Street Harassment anti-street-harassment-march-dc-by-Mark-5911

The New York Post published a piece called “Hey, ladies—catcalls are flattering! Deal with it!” Yes, it is 2014, and yes, that is an article telling women that we should feel validated when strangers shout things about our bodies. Gawker was one of many places to take issue with the article, and responded sarcastically, “Being a woman means three things—pleasing men, having babies, and wearing cute clothes that please men so someone will enable my body to make those babies. If I can do all three and still get that sacred compliment from a man on the job building a house that I can live in with my babies, the kind of compliment that makes my ‘sashay a little saucier,’ then mission accomplished.”

+ Transgender Student Allowed Back in School

13-year-old Rachel Pepe was allegedly informed by her school that she couldn’t come back as a student because she’s transgender. But then the superintendent of the district stepped in, saying Rachel could attend after all, and that teachers would receive LGBTQ sensitivity training.  “Every child is different and their education and social and emotional well being is my priority,” the superintendent said.

+ Not Always a Difficult Decision

Annual March For Life Winds Through Washington DC

One third of women get an abortion, and an opinion piece in the Washington Post argues we need to stop referring to abortion as a “difficult decision,” because it isn’t for every woman. “[W]hen the pro-choice community frames abortion as a difficult decision, it implies that women need help deciding, which opens the door to paternalistic and demeaning ‘informed consent’ laws,” it argues. “It also stigmatizes abortion and the women who need it…A 2012 study published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health found that the vast majority of women seeking an abortion — 87 percent — had high confidence in their decisions. This level of conviction contrasts with the notion that millions of women vacillate over whether to have an abortion.”

+ Ebola Outbreak Continues

Liberia Battles Spreading Ebola Epidemic

The Ebola outbreak continues to grow, with more than 1,200 deaths being reported. CBS News wrote, “The World Health Organization is scaling up its international response, saying extraordinary measures are needed to contain the virus.”

Photo: (, Feministing, Getty)

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Meet Toast, the Fashion Pooch Who’s Saving Dogs Tue, 19 Aug 2014 18:41:05 +0000 toast

Toast is the most stylish dog you’ll ever meet, and she’s also one of the most philanthropic! The little Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a puppy mill rescue, and she and her pet parents are using her fun fashion as a way to spread awareness on puppy mills and help rescue dogs.

Katie Sturino, who is Toast’s rescuer and owner, spoke about how Toast’s style and merriment can be a way to help with a serious issue like animal cruelty. She also spoke about the realities of puppy mills, the importance of adopting, and how we all need to be ready for commitment if we decide to get a dog. Dogs need loving, forever homes, so let’s make sure we’re able to provide them!

ACT: How did Toast become a fashion icon?

KATIE: Toast is very well connected in the fashion industry and because she’s so cute and beautiful, designers always want to dress her. People like Dannijo and Sarah Chloe started to put her in their pieces. She’s fashionable, she walks red carpets.

ACT: Can you tell us about how she was saved?

KATIE: She came from a puppy mill in North Carolina, an outdoor puppy mill. When they got to her in January, half the dogs at the puppy mill were frozen to death. These wonderful groups organized transports for the dogs who were able to be rescued and took them to shelters around the country. Toast was taken to a shelter in Brooklyn and I worked closely with the shelter director to get her out of there.


ACT: How is Toast helping spread awareness about puppy mills?

KATIE: We do something called Finnformation Thursdays where every Thursday we post a photo with her best friend, Finn, from Friends of Finn [a committee with the Humane Society of the United States], who is a chiweenie. We give people facts about what happens in puppy mills and statistics. She also made a tote bag where proceeds were sent to Friends of Finn. Then she’s making a T-shirt were some proceeds are being sent to Friends of Finn. Basically, she’s drawing attention to Friends of Finn.

99.9% of pet stores or online shops get their dogs from these breeding mills. What people don’t know is that this isn’t a dog in a field having babies. They’re in cramped chicken coop cages. They have absolutely no healthcare. They never get handled. They never go outside. They’re bred every time there’s an opportunity to breed them. They have litter after litter, and this often causes their body to age quickly and their health is very poor. The reason Toast has no teeth is because she was in such bad condition that her teeth actually rotted at a young age. By the time we got her, we had to take all her teeth out, which is why her tongue sticks out all the time. It’s very cute, but has a bad backstory. And Muppet, her sister from another rescue, has probably seven teeth left and they’re probably going to have to go this year because they’re bad.

ACT: What are you doing with Friends of Finn and how can people join you in the fight against puppy mills?

KATIE: You can choose not to get a dog from a pet store or a breeder online. If your family wants to get a dog, the first place you should go is a shelter. If there’s a specific breed you want, you can rescue that breed at any age. You can donate to Friends of Finn and help spread the word.

Any of the funds raised by Friends of Finn go directly to rescues. They have their own small chapter, so it goes directly there, it doesn’t get spread out to the whole Humane Society.

ACT: If someone is ready to adopt a pet, what do you recommend they do?

KATIE: I recommend that you go to Petfinder. Petfinder allows you to search any type of breed, any size, any age. You can find the pet you’re looking to adopt, whatever specifics you’re looking for. Also, be aware that this is a long-term commitment. The pet will be with you for a number of years, so you need to know how the pet will fit into your life. You don’t want to end up in a situation where in two years you’re moving out of a college dorm and now your dog can’t come with you and it ends up in a shelter. You have to know you’re ready. In the U.S., we put down more than two million dogs and cats a year in shelters. So there’s obviously a need for people to adopt. So if you are going to get a dog, please take one of these dogs.

Photo: (Katie Sturino)

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When I Say Tech, You Say Girls!: The TechGirls Visit tumblr, Leave Everyone Inspired Tue, 19 Aug 2014 17:23:09 +0000 Read more »]]>

Last week I was honored to moderate a panel at tumblr for the TechGirls. Sponsored by the State Department, the TechGirls are a group of 24 teenage women from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Yemen. They are tech stars in their home countries, as well as accomplished athletes, musicians, and even ping pong champions. Needless to say, I was totally psyched to meet them, as well as the five women on the panel at tumblr who would be speaking on what it’s like to be a woman in the tech world in the United States.

The tumblr panel included Corrine Hoener, a product engineer; Sarah Henochowicz, a business intelligence manager; Betsy Cannon, a data scientiest; Renee Perron, a project mananger; and Janice Chang, an engineer. This group of diverse women allowed the TechGirls to see just some of the many career opportunities available to them, while showcasing different, but equally important perspectives on everything from finding a mentor, to managing a work-life balance.

The TechGirls were super enthusiastic about asking the panelists a wide range of questions. They wanted to know about the next steps in their careers, the hardest parts of the job, and what their future tech-related aspirations are. While the panelists answers were all great, it was when the microphone was turned on the TechGirls themselves that the event became truly inspirational.


I asked the girls what their tech-related dreams are, and two responses stood out. One girl told the room that she hoped other people in her community would learn the benefits of tech, and how it can change their lives. Another girl said that what she really wanted was to use tech to unite and educate women, so that they would be empowered the way the women on the panel were empowered.

After the panel, we all took a tour of the very cool tumblr offices. At one point, when we were in a room full of engineers, I heard one of the girls say to a friend, “wow, there are so many men here!” And her friend replied, “Yeah, that’s why we need to get jobs here!” – So true!

The stop at tumblr was just part of a massive program where the girls meet with industry leaders from AT&T, Bank of America, Bully Pulpit Initiative, Corporation for Community and National Service,, Facebook, Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project, Girls Who Code, Google, National Building Museum, Tech Change, Yahoo!, and Verizon. The goal is to connect them with organizations and companies they might like to work for some day, while inspiring them to keep up the good (and often challenging) work when they head back home.

One of the best parts of the whole day I spent with the TechGirls was when I asked them about a cheer I had heard about. They immediately burst into an uproarious, “when I say tech, you say girls! Tech! Girls!” Which left everyone, especially the panelists, smiling from ear to ear.

Photos: (TechGirls/tumblr)

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Jaywalking Referee Makes Safety Fun (Really) Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:51:22 +0000

It’s hard out there for a jaywalking referee. Never heard of one? It’s a concept created by Jaehyuk Choi and Mario Garza, and the referee only has one goal in mind: making sure people know how dangerous jaywalking can be. But he’ll do it in a lighthearted way so they don’t feel he’s preaching at them.

According to TakePart, Jaehyuk and Mario “wanted to do something funny that people would like, but at the same time we wanted to create awareness about this issue.” So they reportedly hired an actor – Roberto Sanabria – to play the part.

+ Watch Jaywalking Referee

Sanabria is hilarious as the arm-waving, whistle-blowing referee. Clad in a typical referee’s uniform, he gets laughs as he raises awareness about the dangers of jaywalking.

Some walkers get carded – “Red card for a red light” – but some get thanked for doing what they’re supposed to. For those who cross “only on green,” Sanabria shouts his thanks. As he says, he’s out here to make sure you stay safe.

The video might be good fun, but jaywalking is no joking matter. According to reports, 286 people died from jaywalking in NYC alone last year. That’s something that Garza, Choi, and their energetic referee are hoping to bring to an end.

Photo: (YouTube)

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Laverne Cox Opens Up About Suicide Attempt, Bullying + Gender Freedom Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:27:05 +0000

If you could have one wish, what would it be? For Laverne Cox, it would be for America to have “real gender freedom.” When she sat down with ABC’s Byron Pitts, many important topics were covered in an honest and informative manner.

Explaining her gender freedom answer, Laverne said she wished for a world “where we…create spaces of gender self-determination, where we don’t police people’s genders or we don’t tell people that they’re not supposed to act a certain way.” Not only is Laverne one of the stand-out stars of “Orange Is the New Black,” but she has evolved into one of the year’s biggest activists.

As a transgender woman, she has utilized her big platform to bring attention to a topic that previously was not discussed in the mainstream on a regular basis. Along with talking about gender freedom, Laverne and Byron also talked about bullying and even suicide.

Laverne told Byron, “I was bullied and I internalized a lot of shame about who I was as a child. Bullied because I didn’t act the way someone assigned male at birth was supposed to act. The suicide attempt happened when I was in sixth grade and I was having all these feelings about other boys. And I didn’t want to live.”

But Laverne is living proof that it gets better.

“So many trans folks have said that they see themselves reflected in this character,” she said about her “Orange Is the New Black” role. “Having your story told validates your experience. It’s like, ‘I’m not alone anymore, and maybe I’ll be OK.”

And they will be okay. “I’m really, really happy that I survived,” she said.

Photo: (Getty)

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Iggy Azalea Will Join with MTV to Fight HIV/AIDS + 3 Other Things to Know About Today Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:05 +0000 + Iggy Azalea Will Join with MTV to Fight HIV/AIDS "The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show" Airs Live At NBC's "Today" Show

We can hardly wait for the Video Music Awards this weekend, but didja know about the 2014 “MTV Video Music Awards” concert to benefit Lifebeat? It’s going to be happenin’ this Friday and Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith will storm the stage to help Lifebeat, a nonprofit that’s all about HIV/AIDS prevention. The Best Video with a Social Message category def isn’t the only part of the VMAs that’s pro-social and meant to help out others!

+ Protect Birds

+ Watch Help Birds Avoid a Deadly Collision

Kate Flannery of “The Office” has teamed up with The National Audubon Society and Toyota (and some birds) to make a PSA about how to better protect our feathered friends. It may be a serious subject, but they handle it in a hilar way and you might learn some useful things about bird safety. Check it out!

+ Justin Bieber Nominates Prez Obama

President Obama declined to dump ice on his head for the Ice Bucket Challenge (he said he’d donate instead). But now Justin Bieber has taken the Challenge and nominated the prez, who had already been nominated by Ethel Kennedy. After so many nominations, do you have to take part?

+ Military Families and Hunger

Last Trip Home: Family Mourns Soldier Killed In Friendly Fire Incident In Afghanistan

One seventh of Americans struggle with hunger, and that number goes up when we’re talking about military families. Feeding America reports that one out of four military families needs food aid, like help from food banks, in order to fill their stomachs. While it’s easy to praise servicemen and -women, it seems harder for Americans to take better care of its soldiers.

Photo: (Getty)

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