Archive | August, 2012

Shiny happy ticos holding hands

17 Aug

For the second time, Costa Rica was ranked the happiest country in the world in 2012. Even when using different measuring methodologies, it ranks first in a list of 148 countries, as NYTimes columnist Nicholas Kristoff explains, for “achieving contentment and longevity in an environmentally sustainable way.” He also mentions the country’s most proud characteristic, one that anyone with a Costa Rican (“tico”) friend will know: it abolished its army in 1949.

To tell you more about the joys of being a Costa Rican, meet Elena Tellez Blanco. She is one of 112 “surrogate mothers” or “aunties” who care for children in 42 State shelters, and who must work 24 hours for 11 days straight taking care of 10 to 12 children in the custody of the State. Elena and her happy friends claimed that this extraordinary schedule (which must be approved by law) was discriminatory and based in gender roles and their devaluation by society. The Constitutional Court didn’t agree and ruled this schedule was not in violation of the rights to equality and non-discrimination, labour rights, and personal integrity. The court stated that the schedule was in response to the principle of the best interest of the child and that, since these women were doing the job of a mother and a mother has no limited schedule, this justified their suffering. For this brilliant legal reasoning, in 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights admitted this case against the oh joyous country.

Our next happy camper is Gretel Artavia Murillo. In September 2012, Costa Rica will also face a hearing in front of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in what will be the first case of reproductive rights the Court will ever hear.  In 2000, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was banned by the Costa Rican Constitutional Court on the grounds that it violates the right to life of the unborn (i.e.those fertilized eggs that are discarded in the process). Even after the Commission ruled this was in violation of the right to privacy and family life, the right to found a family, and the right to equality and non-discrimination, Costa Rica failed to follow the Commision’s recommendations and regulate IVF, having huge debates mostly led by the country’s Catholic Church.

You are probably thinking that all these happy women are the result of Costa Rica having a female president. Surely she must look out for her gals! Think again… As Feministing reported  in 2010–when Laura Chinchilla became the first female President–women’s rights and LGBTI activists were not exactly expecting that Chinchilla, recently declared an honorary member of the “Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate”, would make the upcoming four years a gender-related feast.

But of course we don’t owe all this bliss only to puritan politicians. As demonstrated by the cases before the Inter-American System, Costa Rica’s own Constitutional Court has also contributed to the fight for women’s rights and eradication of gender discrimination.}

Now, let’s move on to the source of every countries joy: its youth. A very liberal Minister of Education managed to come up with the country’s first decent sexual education plan (which was of course massacred by Catholic and other conservative elements) but more than 2,500 happy individuals filed complaints in front of the Constitutional Court to dispute it, claiming it was too liberal and violated parent’s rights to educate their children according to their religious beliefs.

Could it be that the Court learned its lesson after the IVF situation and decided to uphold sexual and reproductive rights? Think again! It actually ruled that happy parents would be able to excuse their happy children from sexual education classes according to their beliefs.

Costa Rica registered 13,500 teenage pregnancies in 2011, or around 18.4% of all pregnancies that year. Of course, having to quit school and end their own childhood should not prevent these girls from achieving contentment. I could also introduce you to Karina Bolaños, the recently dismissed Vice-Minister of Youth who was blackmailed by someone who revealed a private video she made for her lover in her underwear… she’s probably ecstatic right now. Or Marcelo Castro, a well known gay journalist who is one of the thousands of LGBTI persons who can’t contain their joy for being represented in international events by Justo Orozco, the new president of the Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, a man who describes sexual minorities as sinful and an aberration.

Like the friends described above, there are many more Costa Ricans delighted at the lack of respect for equality and non-discrimination of half the population of this human rights haven and overjoyed about the lack of women’s reproductive rights, sexual education and respect for diversity in the country.

The fact is that I am so happy to be Costa Rican… I am almost in tears… no wait, those are real tears.  Am I laughing on the inside

Olympic games and sexual repression in Brazil

13 Aug
Watching the Olympics and reading the comments about it in the online newspapers, Facebook and Twitter can be a weirdly revealing experience.
After a Brazilian victory in any sport (specially after a tough match), it has grown increasingly common for people to tell the loser to “suck it” (“chupa” in portuguese) in an angry, punishing tone. Although there is nothing new about it (people have told losers to “suck it” for a long time), it was something you would not say it in front of everybody here. Now it actually became quite trendy in this BRIC of a country.
I wonder why. Are people more open to talk about their sexual desires in front of everybody? Definitely, yes. Is it easier to spread ignorance nowadays? Another resounding yes. But this does not prevent me to question: do people really hate to suck it so much that they want to impose this punishment on the losing Olympians? NO!
Truth is, many people like to suck. (And yes, we are talking about penises here. It’s never about lollipops and you know it.) The simple fact is that most people actually like (or loooove) to be involved in the penis sucking practice.
So, why are the Brazilians growing so fond on telling the losers to suck their penises? Pure and unconscious (or conscious) prejudice. That’s because, even if most people practice oral sex, the ones who actually suck penises are women and gay men. So, when Brazilians tell the losers to “suck it”, they are just telling them to go to an inferior human position: become a woman or a gay man. Meanwhile, their alpha male status is confirmed. “Yeah, I’m the man” is the subliminal message behind “chupa”.
Ironically, based on Brazil’s performance at this year’s Olympics, we should be sucking more penises than any other country. But then, we ARE known for our sexual drive, aren’t we?
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