Article By: Pinky Hossain

There’s a sort of formula to it, a series of decisions you have to make. First, decide whether or not you want to give the kid a traditional name. Say you’re thinking of naming your baby girl either Alex or Khadija. You have two routes from here.

  1. Choose the less traditional, Western option because you want to cushion your child from the malice of the world – Alex is safer than Khadija. There are three other Alexes in her third grade class, and the other children won’t struggle with her name. Substitute teachers won’t trip over her what to call her, and when it’s time for her to find jobs, her resume won’t invoke any stereotypical image in her employer’s head. Keep in mind that you will have to worry about whether not Alex will lose her culture. Her aunties and uncles might not be able to pronounce her name because the short “a” doesn’t come easily to their tongues. She might begin to act like an “Alex,” an American. Maybe she’ll stop speaking her native language and she’ll hang exclusively with Jacobs and Madisons and Emmas because she’ll identify so strongly with her name. Or maybe she’ll fight Alex and struggle to remind every Jacob, Madison, and Emma that she is part of a beautiful culture. You’ll wonder where her loyalties lie. Will Alex struggle to prove to her heritage that she hasn’t assimilated or will her allegiance fall towards the dominant culture?
  2. Choose the more traditional, Islamic route and your girl might have to correct her name every time someone says it. It’s a soft k not a hard k, she’ll say for the umpteenth time that week. Eventually she’ll stop because she’ll get tired of telling everyone their pronunciation of her name is too harsh. She’ll figure that jobs won’t hire her in a country that fears anything too Muslim. Maybe she’ll wish that her name was Jacob or Madison or Emma. She’ll tire of Khadija and shorten it altogether for convenience. She’ll go by “Kay,” belittling her parents, her background, and the prophet’s (pbuh) first wife.

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Story By: Madeline Baker

I love a good podcast. Seriously, I listen to podcasts almost everyday when I’m getting ready in the morning, on my way to class, working out, or getting ready for bed. One of my favorite podcasts is This American Life. If you haven’t heard of it, you should really get into it. It’s hosted by Ira Glass and tells amazing stories each week about different people from different backgrounds. One Monday afternoon, I was listening to a particular episode that discussed identity: who we are, and how we define ourselves. A Pakistani-American woman, Mariya Karimjee, began talking about her identity as a female, and how, for a long time, she had never thought about her sexuality and how it related to her identity. At 15 years old, she asked her very conservative Muslim mother if it felt good to have sex. Her mother replied, “No, not for us.” That is when the woman revealed that at 7 years old, her mother had taken her to a local doctor in Karachi, Pakistan, who told her it was time to get rid of “a bug.” That same day, she went to a family friend’s house, lay down on a tarp that was set before her, and held her mother’s hand as the older woman performed a female circumcision. When I heard this story, I sat up on my bed in shock. This was a real thing? People did this to their daughters? How is this humane at all?

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The Birds and the Bees


Story by: Madeline Baker

We all remember the scene from Mean Girls when Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, sits uncomfortably in her high school gym as her sex ed teacher explains, “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant, and die.” We laugh at the absurdity of this claim and think “How could sex education be so erroneously preached?” Well, for many young Americans, the reality of a lack of quality sex education is far from a laughing matter. For decades, sex education has remained a controversial topic within school districts. Whether schools should even provide education on sexual health or leave it up to the discretion of the parents or guardians is widely debated. Uncertainty and misinformation still circulates around schools across the United States, begging the question: How can sex education be improved for young adults across the country?

I attended a very conservative, Catholic high school in South Texas. My high school’s policy was abstinence, and because the school was privately funded, sex education was completely out of the question. For the first couple years of high school, I was convinced that everyone around me followed this policy and went about their merry way not having sex. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, when a friend asked me to accompany her to the drugstore to buy condoms, that I realized this policy of abstinence-until-marriage was futile. Telling an auditorium full of teenagers with raging hormones not to have sex was like telling hungry 4-year-olds not to eat the candy laid out before them. The candy was there, and they were going to take it. Looking back, I realize how naive I was to think that out of the 350 students at my school, NO ONE was having sex. This obliviousness was also accompanied by a lack of knowledge concerning all things birth control. I had no idea how to use a condom, nor could I name more than two STDs. Everything I had learned about sex, which was hardly anything, had come from watching reruns of Degrassi (shoutout to my boy Drake).

My experience, however comical, is not unique. For many middle school and high school aged students in the United States, the policy of abstinence-until-marriage is the only sex education they will receive before graduating high school and entering a less sheltered, and often more sex positive reality. According to the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), over the past five years, Congress has spent over $1.5 billion on abstinence-until-marriage programs, yet no study in a professional peer reviewed journal has found these programs to be broadly effective. So what does that mean for those students receiving this type of sex education? They remain in the dark about preventative measures for unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

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Contraception: A Brief Handbook



Story By: Lily Patterson

Ah, yes. Contraception, our old friend.  Of the host of considerations taken by sexually active college students throughout the years, it’s remained one of the most frustrating, yet important pre-coitus precautions. With so many young, ambitious, libido-charged individuals all in one place, it’s imperative you and your partner strike a balance between enjoyment and protection. There are plenty of stressors awaiting you (sorry), but safe sex shouldn’t be one of them. More pointedly, I’d venture that an unexpected pregnancy at this stage in your life – whether it’s you or your partner – isn’t so ideal. Here’s where contraception comes in.

It often seems as though the pharmaceutical industry is deliberately attempting to flummox us with the myriad options out there. The flowery-synchronized- swimmer-commercial trope of “Which birth control is right for me?” is tired. But with a little digging, it’s a question with a unique answer for all of us, no matter our gender (Roger that: men included).

In short, I’m going to try and make the question of contraception a little easier. Here are a handful of the best options out there, as well as a few resources to aid you in your quest to avoid buns in the oven, minus the actual bread kind.

1) The Condom

4.0 stars

Pros: Old Faithful. There’s a reason they’ve been around so long (the 16 th century, in fact). They’re the package deal: birth control and effective protection against most STIs all in one. In fact, they’re the only method of protecting against STIs, aside from abstinence. Therefore, the condom is an excellent complement to all other forms of birth control. This stretchy little guy acts as barrier contraception, meaning there are no hormones at play here, just a wall. It’s also the easiest existing option for guys to get involved in contraception. Cabbage patch/running man/dance in some other form for equality!

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Strength in Numbers

Story By: Pinky Hossain

Sara likes numbers. She was always great with them. At seven-years-old, she could add big numbers like 38473298 and 9383. She could multiply by 12s way earlier than her nine-year-old counterparts and she could tell you that the remainder of 78143 ÷ 68 is 11 in a matter of seconds without even using pen and paper. Ask Sara to recite the quadratic formula for you. She’ll know it off the top of her head and, no, she doesn’t need the silly song to remember it by. Sometimes she counts in multiples of 6 until the number gets too big for her to keep track of. 6 is Sara’s favorite number because she loves the way it looks, loves the way it curves on the “C” part, loves the way it loops around on the bottom “o” part. Numbers are beautiful.

Sara feels like a number. She is 12, her birthday is on 3/16, she has 32 teeth, her ethnic composition is ½ Black and ½ Chinese. Nobody at school knows that though. At school she is simply the number 1 in most of her classes. Sara is the 1 Black person, the 1 minority, the 1 with the “bright future.” Numbers help Sara make sense of her day. At 8:00am she wakes up and her morning ritual begins with the mirror. She counts the 3 birthmarks under her bottom lip, marks her height as 4 feet and 11 inches on the edge of the bathroom door, and makes a mental note of the 91.3 on the scale.

After getting dressed, Sara eats exactly 250 calories worth of breakfast in the form of 10 grapes and 24 almonds. By 10:00am Sara is in U.S. History. She tries to pay attention to the Boston Tea Party, but her mind turns to numbers instead. She plugs random digits into the quadratic formula and works through it in her head. If x is 87, b is 98, a is 33, what is c? The same thing happens in her other classes that are more liberal artsy. At 11am and 12pm, she thinks about how she might try the new fries that the cafeteria is offering, but then decides against it because she’d go over her 1000 calorie budget. At 1pm, she eats ½ of a cookie (84 calories) and 24 carrot sticks (100 calories), which brings her to 434 calories.

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The almost-not-pregnant soft smile – essential for all women considering Plan B.
Image courtesy of

Story by Kendall Siewert

When Plan B first emerged on the market, it was a major step forward in female contraception. Plan B acknowledged the fact that mistakes in contraception happen, and allowed women the agency to protect themselves against possible pregnancy. But women quickly started to question the high price, and hidden information suggests that Plan B may not work as well as it should for some individuals.

Plan B markets itself as a morning after pill “available for any woman who needs it – with no age restriction.” Simply put, this isn’t true. A single pill costs $50, a prohibitive price for those who don’t have disposable income and a deterrent for those who do. It’s not easy to decipher where this high cost comes from either, apart from explanations of pure corporate greed. When Plan B first hit the market through a company called Teva Pharmaceuticals,a three-year agreement with the FDA granted them exclusive marketing rights. Basically, that meant that until recently, no company could produce a cheaper, generic version of the morning after pill.

Since generics are now available, the problem should be solved. But it isn’t. Most generic morning after pills retail for around $40, still an incredibly high price for a single pill and not much cheaper than the original Plan B. Why did the high cost still persist even after generics hit the market? What is it about Plan B that makes it so expensive, compared to certain generic monthly birth controls with you can find for under $10 at a Walgreens?

I turned to the The American Society for Emergency Contraception’s Nationwide survey conducted in 2014 about the cost of Plan B for some answers. The survey of Plan B pricing at pharmacies nationwide conclusively found “even the lowest retail prices for EC [Emergency Contraception] are beyond the reach of many women   . . . [so] all prices must be lowered to a more affordable level.”

The next part gets a little bit complicated because drugs like Plan B aren’t sold from the manufacturer to the pharmacy. Instead, “manufacturers sell products to wholesalers, who then sell products to pharmacies.” The price of the drug is increased every step of the way. The estimated wholesale prices for Plan B are $32.50 to wholesalers and bulk purchasers and $39.00 to pharmacies. However, if birth control providers have found a way to lower their production costs to allow affordable levels, they should be able to do the same for Plan B. After all, Plan B contains the exact same synthetic hormone levonorgestrel as birth control pills, just at a higher dose. Certain Planned Parenthoods across the country will offer Plan B at a reduced cost, but this policy isn’t uniform, and it’s still not nearly as inexpensive as some generic birth controls. You can pick up Plan B or a generic morning after pill at Planned Parenthood in Charlottesville. Call ahead to see if the pill can be discounted, as it can be as low as $30 in other Planned Parenthoods across the country. 

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