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OPEN 2010 is out!

April 23, 2010

Click on the cover to read the new edition! : )

Sex Survey is now closed

February 15, 2010

Thanks to all who took the Open Magazine Annual Sex Survey!  We had record turnout this year with over 1,400 respondents! The winner of the 25$ gift certificate was ID number 154. Please email RiceOpen {at } gmail.com from your Rice email account with the remaining 2 numbers to claim your prize!

Thanks again and stay tuned for the results in the spring issue!

2010 Student Sex Survey is live

January 25, 2010

The 2010 Student Sex Survey is now live!

Thanks to all who took the survey with the promo code for a dozen roses! If your number started with 888152, please email RiceOpen (at) gmail.com with the last two digits to claim your dozen roses for Valentine’s Day!

For everyone else who’s taken the survey, please check back Feb 15th to see if you won the 25$ gift certificate!

Each year, Open surveys Rice students to get a real picture of sex and sexuality on campus.

Statistics from the survey will be published in the upcoming spring edition of the magazine.

Take it before February 14th for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PM8C63F

Sex Robot hits the market

January 12, 2010

TrueCompanion homepage

Yesterday, TrueCompanion released what it is marketing as “Roxxxy, the world’s first female sex robot” (with the promise of an eventual male counterpart to follow). Roxxxy is a full-body, 120-lb female bot dressed in lingerie that can purportedly carry a conversation, feel touch, and even have a simulated orgasm. Specifics are scant at the moment, as the TrueCompanion website seems to be over bandwidth limits today (imagine that). I imagine there was a lot of interesting engineering that went into making her “anatomically correct”- I’d really love to see some specs. 

The robot is intended as both a sexual and a conversation partner, with various personalities that can be swapped, modified, and even “shared with your friends over the internet” (!). The manufacturers are quoted as saying that the concept originated with a plan to create a robot that could store the personality of a friend lost in the 9/11 attacks- apparently they got side-tracked along the way. The default personalities range from “Wild Wendy” to “Mature Martha” and  “Frigid Farrah”, and will adopt your personal likes and dislikes (sports, music, etc.). 

I find this aspect both fascinating and disturbing. Evidently this is a step up from the classic blow-up doll, which can’t tell you that she loves holding your hand, or , say, become an S&M goddess on command. While I’m not passing judgement on people who choose a synthetic companion out of necessity or preference, I wonder how compelling the illusion is (physical aspects aside), and what this will evolve towards: will we start to see a whole demographic of men whose expectations of women are skewed by intimate interaction with a female whose personality is entirely moldable and exchangeable at their whim? How will the robotic romantic experience affect relationships with real people? When does virtual reality become better than real life, and what does that mean for us as a society? 

Also, I’m expecting reports of a host of hilarious ‘technical difficulties’ if these things becomes widespread… haha ; )

FINAL WRITING DEADLINE THIS TUESDAY, JAN. 12th!!

January 10, 2010

Happy New Year from the Open staff!

We are getting ready to put Open 2010 together, which means the submissions window is rapidly closing for written pieces.

We are looking for pieces by and for the Rice community and friends thereof- you do not have to be a Rice student to submit!

Email all articles, perspectives, opinions, short stories, poetry, and anything else to RiceOpen@gmail.com by TUESDAY, JANUARY 12th! Check out the link above for full details on submissions guidelines.  

There will be a chance for you to make some revisions after this deadline, but we must receive drafts of all pieces by this date for inclusion in this year’s edition : )

Hope to hear from you soon!

-The Open Staff

Birth Control and the Insurance Conundrum

January 4, 2010

A physical  with my  pediatrician has been an annual ritual, a pit stop on the rounds of get-this-done-while-you’re-home-from-college before I head back to Rice from winter vacation.  And yes, I still go to the pediatrician I went to when I was a wee little thing, so I wait in the waiting room, next to a box of sample diapers, the game with the colored blocks, 5 year olds and mothers who look only a couple years older than me. But at least this is probably the last time I will be here: I am getting booted off my family’s insurance plan once I graduate, and I am finally too old to keep seeing a pediatrician. This means that these past few years have put me in something of a a nebulous limbo with regards to my ownership of  both the price of my health (fortunately, I haven’t yet had to put up with co-pays and deductibles) and the confidentiality of my health records. This second item brings me to the prickly subject, as acknowledged by my doctor, of privacy rules.

In 1996, the  US Department of Health and Human Services created the  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as HIPAA.  The main purpose of this policy was to give  individuals the right to their health information and the right to control who has access to it.  Thus, the idea of doctor- patient trust and patient confidentiality gained the legitimacy of law. But what about the age group between 18-22: college aged adults who are still under their parent’s plan? How can you protect the privacy of these individuals’ information while they still share insurance? The HIPAA covers this with respect to providers ( i.e.,  my doctor) but not my insurer:

If I do not object, can my health care provider share or discuss my health information with my family, friends, or others involved in my care or payment for my care? Yes. As long as you do not object, your health care provider is allowed to share or discuss your health information with your family, friends, or others involved in your care or payment for your care. Your provider may ask your permission, may tell you he or she plans to discuss the information and give you an opportunity to object, or may decide, using his or her professional judgment, that you do not object.

My doctor didn’t have any clear cut answer other than to help manuever me through the process of getting birth control without  (fingers crossed) letting my parents know. This process included signing new forms of disclosure that only listed myself and the agreement that should my parents ask, I was getting this prescription because I was having irregular periods.  Admittedly, it’s strange that the doctor should have to essentially lie to the parents, but just because I decided not to disclose my medical records through the doctor’s office didn’t mean that my insurance wasn’t going to let my parents know when I filled the prescription. And then, well– then I would have some explaining to do.

It is true that I could avoid this little ruse  and simply buy contraception on my own from Planned Parenthood, but that would run me between $20 to $30 a month, which means $240- $360 a year! Versus: free.  I imagine many other college aged women, when faced with this steep price or privacy issue, might forgo birth control all together– and that is just women who are already comfortable enough with their sexuality to get to this step. With this high barrier to entry, it’s no wonder that many women go without this safety net. 

Don’t get me wrong, condoms are fantastic and should be used at least as a bare minimum of protection, but do you really want to have to worry, what if it breaks? what if…? In a telling conclusion to my trip to the doctor, a nurse who was administering a shot asked me about my post-college plans. After telling her I wanted to get another degree, she told me that she wished she had gotten her Masters, but now doesnt have the time to anymore.  I asked her why she didn’t: turns out, she took a year off after college, planning on going for the degree after the break…and during the break, she had a child. Unplanned. No more Masters degree. Obviously, this nurse is a smart cookie (she is a nurse after all).  She told me that after her first child, she went on birth control. 

My point is that HIPAA should provide a provision to let individuals specify access rights not only through the provider but through the insurer as well. Also,  we should work to make birth control more affordable, considering it is a long-term-use item– and less stigmatized.  If society has the tools to enable individuals to be in control of their life plans, they shouldnt be subject to taboo, a scarlet letter with which all sorts of assumptions and prejudices are bundled, but rather embraced as the gifts of modern achievement that they are.

HIV/AIDS removed from US travel ban

December 5, 2009

Last Friday, President Obama promised a major step forward for human rights, announcing plans to remove a travel ban on persons with HIV/AIDS by January. HIV/AIDS has been included on a list of excludable conditions since 1987, preventing foreigners with HIV/AIDS from residing in or traveling to the United States. Most diseases on the list are added and removed by the Public Health Service, but this changed in 1987 when Jesse Helms moved to add HIV to this list, effectively making HIV/AIDS presence on the list a responsibility of congress. As early as 1990 the Public Health Service recommended removing HIV/AIDS from the list, but no action was taken at that time. During the Clinton administration legislation was introduced to remove it, which failed after a large public outcry. This most recent legislation, finally successful, is set to be enacted in January.

The recommendation for removal in 1990 was meant to recognize that HIV/AIDS is not contagious through casual contact, like most diseases considered to be excludable conditions. In addition to misrepresenting the nature of the disease, inappropriately including HIV/AIDS on the list can have broad social consequences. Preventing people with HIV/AIDS from traveling to or residing in the United States reinforces confusion about how the disease spreads and increases the stigma surrounding the disease. Worst of all, such a ban discourages testing and increases the risk of the disease spreading. Hopefully, through this measure and others like it awareness, understanding and honesty can prevent the continued spread of HIV/AIDS.

A full list of excludable diseases from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/diseases.htm

Background on the conflict from AIDS.org: http://www.aids.org/atn/a-128-03.html

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