Get Real! How Long Does it Take to Become a Virgin Again?

Heather Corinna

Virginity is an intellectual concept, idea, belief, and perhaps most accurately, a word for identity some people use, usually to identify when they or others have not had certain sexual experiences

reynolds1990 asks:

I know that it takes a woman up to 7 years after having intercourse to become a virgin again. Is that true? Is it also the same for a girl between the ages of 12 and 15? If they are both true, could you please explain to me how that happens? If you could get back to me as soon as possible that would be fully appreciated.

Heather Corinna replies:

We talk about this a lot here at Scarleteen: virginity isn’t physical or anything that can be universally proven or disproven with body parts.

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It’s an intellectual concept, an idea, a belief, and perhaps most accurately, a word for identity some people use, usually to identify when they or others have not had certain sexual experiences. What those experiences are vary, because not everyone has or uses the same definition of this word. All people also don’t share the same experiences or definitions of sex, or certain physical activities which are sometimes sex, but aren’t other times, in large part because any activity which can be sex can also be rape or other kinds of abuse. Too, a definition of virginity or partnered sex based in something physical, being done to or with the body without accounting for everyone’s motives and feelings could not only be sex or rape, it could also be describing things that can be part of in sexual healthcare, bathing, grooming, itching (literally, not figuratively), childbirth, various kinds of injuries, curiosity, or masturbation.

For a very long time, there was a fairly global belief that virginity was physical, and something only applied to women’s bodies and women’s social status. The belief was that virginity was effectively about the hymen — or corona, a very thin, flexible membrane that is usually just inside the vaginal opening at birth — not being fully intact or visible, and that what happened when virginity was “lost” or “taken” was that the hymen was broken. What that belief overlooked, in large part because people didn’t know better, was that that tissue not only is not some kind of seal, it’s supposed to degrade over time — both wearing away and back, winding up with its edges surrounding the vaginal opening in some way — and will usually tend to do that with or without any kind of sex at all. (If in doubt, consider how many young women you probably know who have not had any kind of sex, but have their periods, which couldn’t flow out if the vaginal opening was sealed shut.) It also overlooked that when intercourse was and is something the person with said hymen desired, felt ready for and gave consent to, and when they had a partner who was attentive, hymens don’t tend to “get broken” at all, but instead, just wear away a little more sometimes with genital sex.

In some areas and some places people still believe the things above that we know now are not true, or don’t believe them, but choose to behave as if they still are true. But they’re not, and acting as if they are won’t make it so.

I suspect what you’re asking is if the hymen can grow back once it has worn away, in whole or in part. It can’t. As I explained, it’s supposed to wear away, and once it has, in whatever way it has at whatever pace it has, it’s not going to magically grow back. You might also be asking if there’s a certain time period where if someone doesn’t have given kind of sex if it physically might feel like their first time again, per feeling very tight or painful. Maybe, but maybe not: not everyone’s first times are painful or uncomfortable, especially when sex is wanted and something people are ready for. If after going a while without a certain kind of sex, it feels painful, that’s most likely about someone doing things in such a way that make them painful or unpleasant — like being scared, not using lubricant as needed, or rushing into intercourse — rather than because of any physical changes to their bodies.

While I suspect that may answer your question all by itself, I’d like to talk a bit more about this, and address a couple other recent questions we’ve had on this subject.

Anonymous asks:

Can I become a virgin again? I already had sex. It wasn’t terrible, I wasn’t forced into anything it was okay I guess. But my boyfriend and I broke up a while back and it wasn’t as perfect as we all want the first time to be. I want a do-over. Can I get one without pretending to be something I’m not or lying about having sex before?

Yes, you can! In fact, you can get as many do-overs as you want without pretending or lying.

I’ll be forthright about my personal feelings about virginity as a term: I don’t like it. That isn’t to say I have any issue with, or am not supportive of, people deciding to give whatever weight they do to their experiences and ideals. I also am completely supportive of anyone deciding, before, during or after, that any given sexual experience (or lack thereof), activity or scenario has a particular value to them. My issue is with the term itself, which has long been intensely sexist and associated with an awful lot of misogyny, sexual violence and other violence against women and other forms of oppression. In a word, I know too much, and what I know sucks.

While I think we can reclaim some words, potentially shifting them from an oppressive negative into a powerful positive, I’m not sure how with this one. The history around this term is just so awful, and our culture is still so sexist and uses the term for some ways of oppressing people, not to mention that it’s so vague a term it’s all but meaningless in some ways. As well, what I notice is that people who use it usually subscribe to some of the ideas or ideals affixed to the history of the term, like suggesting sex is about taking something away from someone, rather than making something new, like presenting women’s bodies as property in some way, like affixing a social status to people based on their sexual experiences or lack of them, so I’d not call that reclaiming. I would suggest folks at least consider choosing to describe what you would with that word with different words, more positive words of phrases, language that is more clear and less mired in bad stuff.

That’s my own opinion. Your own, whatever it is, is no less important or valuable. If it’s a term you want to use, and which you feel works for you, then you get to use it. But for the sake of trying to use language that isn’t steeped in big yuck, and with the aim of giving more meaning and clarity to things you want to be meaningful and clear, I want to propose some alternatives.

For instance, instead of saying “I’m a virgin,” or “I’m not a virgin,” or “I wish I could be a virgin again,” how about:
“I haven’t participated in [whatever kind of] sex yet.”
“I haven’t had vaginal intercourse before.”
“I haven’t had sex with someone I love before.”
“I haven’t engaged in sex I felt satisfied with yet.”
“I haven’t experienced sex that felt like sex to me yet.”
“I was sexually assaulted or abused: I haven’t yet had consensual sex.”
“I’ve changed a lot since I did sex in the past, so I feel like I’m starting over with it.”
“I haven’t been part of sex with a partner of [whatever gender] yet.”
“I haven’t had sex when I identified as [whatever gender, orientation or other identity] yet.
“I haven’t been part of sex yet that I’ve actually enjoyed.”
“I did have sex already, but it just wasn’t what I wanted it. I want to have sex that’s the way I envision it at its best.”
“I haven’t experienced sex in this kind of relationship before.”
“I haven’t been involved in sex since I knew what I wanted or felt able to ask for it.”
“I haven’t had sex since I really felt ready for it.”
“I have had sex before, but I wasn’t happy with it, and I feel like I’d like to restart my sex life fresh, and aim to do that.”
“I didn’t realize what sex was before and that’s what I was doing, so I feel like now that I do is when I’m really having my first times.”
Or, what you said yourself: “I already had sex. It wasn’t terrible, I wasn’t forced into anything it was okay I guess. But my boyfriend and I broke up a while back and it wasn’t as perfect as we all want the first time to be. I want a do-over.”

All of those things are okay things to say, and they are things that people talking honestly and openly about sex and their sexual history do and may say. If you think you’d be the first person in the world saying them, you’d be wrong. It also may not be the first time any sexual partner you may have heard something like that, either, and you may even run into a partner who also feels one of those ways themselves.

That said, for someone who does want to use the word virginity and not an alternative, because virginity is not physical or factual, and because its definitions are myriad, arbitrary and often personal, I don’t see any reason why any given person isn’t entitled to their own definition, too.

That’s the precedent that’s long been set, after all: whole cultures have created their definitions for their own purposes or agendas, including definitions that were knowingly false, and a whole lot of people have too, often people who weren’t even identifying themselves, but prescribing identities, statuses or values to others. So, I figure you get to decide what it means just as arbitrarily as anyone else, especially since since no matter how you use it, there is still not going to be any unilateral definition where everyone you say it to will know what you mean or won’t just assume you define it however they do.

I do think it’s important to be honest with sexual partners and to avoid any words or language that are dishonest or knowingly give false impressions. Saying or implying you haven’t had a kind of physical contact that you have can, for example, incline someone to choose to take potential health risks they wouldn’t choose to take otherwise, or to ditch safety measures they’d otherwise insist on. That’s not cool. Plus, we’re all generally most likely to have satisfying sex we feel good about when we are who we are, and represent ourselves honestly, including our life experiences. Do make sure that whatever words or phrases you choose to use, they’re honest and express what is true.

I want to talk about that perfect you think everyone wants the first time to be. Not only is everyone’s idea of perfect different, in reality, that “perfect” you have in mind probably doesn’t exist or, at the very least, is more likely to be a reality much further down the road than with a first time. You’re talking about an ideal, possibly even a fantasy. There’s nothing wrong with having those, but when we do, we have to acknowledge that’s what they are, and while our realities can sometimes resemble them, or wind up meeting the needs we have in them without being just like them, they’re still not realities, but ideals or fantasies. In reality, the first time people have any kind of sex is often a lot like the first time we do anything new: it’s really far from perfect because we haven’t had any practice at it yet and are just trying it for the first time.

I’d say that sex is one of those places and things in life where our imperfections get shown up a lot more than perfection does, and that isn’t a bad thing, but one of the best things about it. Sex can be a place where everyone can be human — sticky, sweaty, fleshy, awkward, clumsy, murky, newbie, dizzy, silly, super-quirky-human — and thus, necessarily imperfect, and enjoy and celebrate themselves; be accepted and accepting. It’s a place where we or anyone else should never have to be perfect or feel like we have to, which can be an awfully nice break from the situations in life in which we’re given a lot less freedom and latitude to be imperfect.

Ashley_Nicole asks:

I think I’m physically ready to have sex. But on the emotional side I’m fractioned…1/4 of me says no and the other 3/4’s says yes. I don’t want to have ANY regrets, what do I do?

There is also nothing we can do, in sex or any part of life, to assure we won’t have any regrets. Ever. If there was, and I knew about it, I promise I’d tell you. I just explained to someone else a couple of weeks ago that there is no perfect sexual choice, just like there’s no perfect any choice. All there ever is is the best choice we can make for yourselves with the information, insight and skills we have at a given time.

However, there are some things we can do to best avoid regret, and some things we can do to manage feelings of regret when and if we have them and use them to help us out.

One of the big things you’ve already identified is paying attention to your own feelings and instincts. That 25% of you that says it’s not right yet? Listen to that part. Give it weight and value, acknowledging it to be as deeply important as it is (which is deeply important). When sex really is right, the first time or the 501st, your heart and your head will tend to be in alignment. As much of yourself as can say go to something will be cheering for the same team. While our intuition and feelings aren’t all we need to make our own best choices, paying attention to them and not acting against them is crucial.

What else? Information. Do you feel like you’re pretty filled in on what to expect — for as much as we can be — with sex and what people tend to need to be really ready for all of it? Feel like you know what you need to to both make your choice and manage your choice? If not, you can look at something like this, or this, or this, or this to get some more information to inform your choices.

Since there’s more than just you involved in partnered sex, you can talk about your feelings and thoughts about this with the other person involved. That’s not required, and some people don’t or don’t always. But when we’re feeling uncertain, it’s a good call to talk it out with our potential partner. If this does have an emotional aspect for you — and really, all sex does for everyone to some degree, even the most casual of casual sex — then you probably want to talk about this together. Filling them in on what you think and feel, seeing how they react to what you say, and then finding out how they feel can give you information you wouldn’t otherwise have to help you (and them) make your own best choices.

Do you feel like you — and whoever the other person potentially involved is — have the skills you need to manage sex well at this time? Are you in a place in your life where sex will add the good stuff, rather than adding anxiety, stress, heartbreak or drama? Try and be as honest with yourself as you can about what you really feel able to handle right now, and if you think now’s not the right time and space to handle all that we may have to with sex, emotionally and practically — opt out until you feel more capable, and invest some time and energy in cultivating the skills you think you may need to build up more, like good communication and negotiation skills or assertiveness.

One other thing to know is just like with any other sound choice and agreement (in this case, you and someone else agreeing to have whatever kinds of sex you are in the ways you’re agreeing to have them), you should always feel you can opt out. That’s not anything exceptional: for sex to be healthy and consensual, everyone always should be able to opt out at any time, even if and when you’ve agreed and then you’re about to do whatever it is and find you suddenly feel like it just isn’t right. Having that be a constant given is a really important part of consent, which you can read up on here.

Once people have started going through puberty, most people are pretty much physically “ready” for sex per their bodies being able to function sexually. But since there are so many kinds of sex and many don’t require any one way of the body functioning, I’d say that “physical readiness” is the least important part of this that there is. If sex was only about our bodies, that’d be the only thing we’d need to consider, but it’s so not.

I hope you can see from the questions above yours and my answers to them that obviously some folks do experience regret or wish they’d made choices differently. Now, some of what’s in that probably isn’t just about how people made their choices, but about the many people conceptualize sex, sexuality and sexual experiences. Some of those conceptualizations are problematic for various reasons. For instance, when we hear from people who regret their first sexual choices, so much of the time it’s because they’re thinking they only get that one first time with sex, when in fact, we get first-times all the time, whether that’s because we have a new partner or just because we’re trying or experiencing something in a different way than we did in the past. The truth is, our sexual choices are always important, not just once. Hopefully that doesn’t make you feel more stressed out, because that’s not what I intend: I just want to make clear that we are always making these choices and they are always important, so if any one time we feel like we got it wrong, we always have more chances to get it right. As well, we always need to recognize that getting something just perfecty-perfect right the first time out is as unrealistic with sex as it is with anything else. We get better at this, all of us — having kinds of sex and making sexual choices — with practice over time.

So, what if you find that even when you do all of what I’m suggesting here — trusting your heart and your head both, having lots of information that you use in your decision-making, talking with partners honestly — you make a choice you regret in some way? Well, first of all, if you do all that, you probably won’t. Most people who voice feeling regret with these choices didn’t do those things.

But in the case you did, then you’d cut yourself a break, acknowledge you did all you could do to make your best choice, and remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes or only learns certain things through error. None of us come into this life knowing all these is to know, or done with our learning at birth: we all learn as we go, and probably don’t ever know all we could know, so we’re bound to make mistakes or missteps now and then. If you ask me, if we are kind to and thoughtful with ourselves and others, if we do our best to be as self-aware as we can, and we make sure we’re never leaping into things we know we or others don’t want or just can’t handle, then whatever mistakes we make, they’re just not going to be that bad. We’ll live, seriously, and something we think is the most horrendous mistake at a given time in life tends to soften over time, and we’ll often realize was even of value to us because of what we learned through it.

I want to leave all of you a few more links to look at, with my best wishes, and my hope that all of you, whatever your choices in the past, present or future, feel empowered to seek out what you want and think of yourself and your sex life in ways that make you feel good about yourselves.

Culture & Conversation Human Rights

Let’s Stop Conflating Self-Care and Actual Care

Katie Klabusich

It's time for a shift in the use of “self-care” that creates space for actual care apart from the extra kindnesses and important, small indulgences that may be part of our self-care rituals, depending on our ability to access such activities.

As a chronically ill, chronically poor person, I have feelings about when, why, and how the phrase “self-care” is invoked. When International Self-Care Day came to my attention, I realized that while I laud the effort to prevent some of the 16 million people the World Health Organization reports die prematurely every year from noncommunicable diseases, the American notion of self-care—ironically—needs some work.

I propose a shift in the use of “self-care” that creates space for actual care apart from the extra kindnesses and important, small indulgences that may be part of our self-care rituals, depending on our ability to access such activities. How we think about what constitutes vital versus optional care affects whether/when we do those things we should for our health and well-being. Some of what we have come to designate as self-care—getting sufficient sleep, treating chronic illness, allowing ourselves needed sick days—shouldn’t be seen as optional; our culture should prioritize these things rather than praising us when we scrape by without them.

International Self-Care Day began in China, and it has spread over the past few years to include other countries and an effort seeking official recognition at the United Nations of July 24 (get it? 7/24: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) as an important advocacy day. The online academic journal SelfCare calls its namesake “a very broad concept” that by definition varies from person to person.

“Self-care means different things to different people: to the person with a headache it might mean a buying a tablet, but to the person with a chronic illness it can mean every element of self-management that takes place outside the doctor’s office,” according to SelfCare. “[I]n the broadest sense of the term, self-care is a philosophy that transcends national boundaries and the healthcare systems which they contain.”

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In short, self-care was never intended to be the health version of duct tape—a way to patch ourselves up when we’re in pieces from the outrageous demands of our work-centric society. It’s supposed to be part of our preventive care plan alongside working out, eating right, getting enough sleep, and/or other activities that are important for our personalized needs.

The notion of self-care has gotten a recent visibility boost as those of us who work in human rights and/or are activists encourage each other publicly to recharge. Most of the people I know who remind themselves and those in our movements to take time off do so to combat the productivity anxiety embedded in our work. We’re underpaid and overworked, but still feel guilty taking a break or, worse, spending money on ourselves when it could go to something movement- or bill-related.

The guilt is intensified by our capitalist system having infected the self-care philosophy, much as it seems to have infected everything else. Our bootstrap, do-it-yourself culture demands we work to the point of exhaustion—some of us because it’s the only way to almost make ends meet and others because putting work/career first is expected and applauded. Our previous president called it “uniquely American” that someone at his Omaha, Nebraska, event promoting “reform” of (aka cuts to) Social Security worked three jobs.

“Uniquely American, isn’t it?” he said. “I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)”

The audience was applauding working hours that are disastrous for health and well-being, laughing at sleep as though our bodies don’t require it to function properly. Bush actually nailed it: Throughout our country, we hold Who Worked the Most Hours This Week competitions and attempt to one-up the people at the coffee shop, bar, gym, or book club with what we accomplished. We have reached a point where we consider getting more than five or six hours of sleep a night to be “self-care” even though it should simply be part of regular care.

Most of us know intuitively that, in general, we don’t take good enough care of ourselves on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t something that just happened; it’s a function of our work culture. Don’t let the statistic that we work on average 34.4 hours per week fool you—that includes people working part time by choice or necessity, which distorts the reality for those of us who work full time. (Full time is defined by the Internal Revenue Service as 30 or more hours per week.) Gallup’s annual Work and Education Survey conducted in 2014 found that 39 percent of us work 50 or more hours per week. Only 8 percent of us on average work less than 40 hours per week. Millennials are projected to enjoy a lifetime of multiple jobs or a full-time job with one or more side hustles via the “gig economy.”

Despite worker productivity skyrocketing during the past 40 years, we don’t work fewer hours or make more money once cost of living is factored in. As Gillian White outlined at the Atlantic last year, despite politicians and “job creators” blaming financial crises for wage stagnation, it’s more about priorities:

Though productivity (defined as the output of goods and services per hours worked) grew by about 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, compensation for workers grew at a much slower rate of only 9 percent during the same time period, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

It’s no wonder we don’t sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been sounding the alarm for some time. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend people between 18 and 60 years old get seven or more hours sleep each night “to promote optimal health and well-being.” The CDC website has an entire section under the heading “Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem,” outlining statistics and negative outcomes from our inability to find time to tend to this most basic need.

We also don’t get to the doctor when we should for preventive care. Roughly half of us, according to the CDC, never visit a primary care or family physician for an annual check-up. We go in when we are sick, but not to have screenings and discuss a basic wellness plan. And rarely do those of us who do go tell our doctors about all of our symptoms.

I recently had my first really wonderful check-up with a new primary care physician who made a point of asking about all the “little things” leading her to encourage me to consider further diagnosis for fibromyalgia. I started crying in her office, relieved that someone had finally listened and at the idea that my headaches, difficulty sleeping, recovering from illness, exhaustion, and pain might have an actual source.

Considering our deeply-ingrained priority problems, it’s no wonder that when I post on social media that I’ve taken a sick day—a concept I’ve struggled with after 20 years of working multiple jobs, often more than 80 hours a week trying to make ends meet—people applaud me for “doing self-care.” Calling my sick day “self-care” tells me that the commenter sees my post-traumatic stress disorder or depression as something I could work through if I so chose, amplifying the stigma I’m pushing back on by owning that a mental illness is an appropriate reason to take off work. And it’s not the commenter’s fault; the notion that working constantly is a virtue is so pervasive, it affects all of us.

Things in addition to sick days and sleep that I’ve had to learn are not engaging in self-care: going to the doctor, eating, taking my meds, going to therapy, turning off my computer after a 12-hour day, drinking enough water, writing, and traveling for work. Because it’s so important, I’m going to say it separately: Preventive health care—Pap smears, check-ups, cancer screenings, follow-ups—is not self-care. We do extras and nice things for ourselves to prevent burnout, not as bandaids to put ourselves back together when we break down. You can’t bandaid over skipping doctors appointments, not sleeping, and working your body until it’s a breath away from collapsing. If you’re already at that point, you need straight-up care.

Plenty of activities are self-care! My absolutely not comprehensive personal list includes: brunch with friends, adult coloring (especially the swear word books and glitter pens), soy wax with essential oils, painting my toenails, reading a book that’s not for review, a glass of wine with dinner, ice cream, spending time outside, last-minute dinner with my boyfriend, the puzzle app on my iPad, Netflix, participating in Caturday, and alone time.

My someday self-care wish list includes things like vacation, concerts, the theater, regular massages, visiting my nieces, decent wine, the occasional dinner out, and so very, very many books. A lot of what constitutes self-care is rather expensive (think weekly pedicures, spa days, and hobbies with gear and/or outfit requirements)—which leads to the privilege of getting to call any part of one’s routine self-care in the first place.

It would serve us well to consciously add an intersectional view to our enthusiasm for self-care when encouraging others to engage in activities that may be out of reach financially, may disregard disability, or may not be right for them for a variety of other reasons, including compounded oppression and violence, which affects women of color differently.

Over the past year I’ve noticed a spike in articles on how much of the emotional labor burden women carry—at the Toast, the Atlantic, Slate, the Guardian, and the Huffington Post. This category of labor disproportionately affects women of color. As Minaa B described at the Huffington Post last month:

I hear the term self-care a lot and often it is defined as practicing yoga, journaling, speaking positive affirmations and meditation. I agree that those are successful and inspiring forms of self-care, but what we often don’t hear people talking about is self-care at the intersection of race and trauma, social justice and most importantly, the unawareness of repressed emotional issues that make us victims of our past.

The often-quoted Audre Lorde wrote in A Burst of Light: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

While her words ring true for me, they are certainly more weighted and applicable for those who don’t share my white and cisgender privilege. As covered at Ravishly, the Feminist Wire, Blavity, the Root, and the Crunk Feminist Collective recently, self-care for Black women will always have different expressions and roots than for white women.

But as we continue to talk about self-care, we need to be clear about the difference between self-care and actual care and work to bring the necessities of life within reach for everyone. Actual care should not have to be optional. It should be a priority in our culture so that it can be a priority in all our lives.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Republican National Convention Edition

Ally Boguhn

The Trump family's RNC claims about crime and the presidential candidate's record on gender equality have kept fact-checkers busy.

Republicans came together in Cleveland this week to nominate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC), generating days of cringe-inducing falsehoods and misleading statements on crime, the nominee’s positions on gender equality, and LGBTQ people.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech Blasted for Making False Claims on Crime

Trump accepted the Republican nomination in a Thursday night speech at the RNC that drew harsh criticism for many of its misleading and outright false talking points.

Numerous fact-checkers took Trump to task, calling out many of his claims for being “wrong,” and “inflated or misleading.”

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 Among the most hotly contested of Trump’s claims was the assertion that crime has exploded across the country.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump claimed, according to his prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of his address. “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.”

Crime rates overall have been steadily declining for years.

“In 2015, there was an uptick in homicides in 36 of the 50 largest cities compared to the previous years. The rate did, indeed, increase nearly 17 percent, and it was the worst annual change since 1990. The homicide rate was up 54.3 percent in Washington, and 58.5 percent in Baltimore,” explained Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “But in the first months of 2016, homicide trends were about evenly split in the major cities. Out of 63 agencies reporting to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 32 cities saw a decrease in homicides in first quarter 2016 and 31 saw an increase.”

Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website that 2016 statistics aren’t sufficient in declaring crime rate trends. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” Grawert said. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.” 

When Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was confronted with the common Republican falsehoods on crime during a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he claimed that the FBI’s statistics were not to be trusted given that the organization recently advised against charges in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

“According to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper told Manafort. “How can Republicans make the argument that it’s somehow more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?”

“People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods,” said Manafort, going on to claim that “the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what they did with Hillary Clinton.”

There was at least one notable figure who wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s fearmongering: former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. “Great Trump Speech,” tweeted Duke on Thursday evening. “Couldn’t have said it better!”

Ben Carson Claims Transgender People Are Proof of “How Absurd We Have Become”

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson criticized the existence of transgender people while speaking at the Florida delegation breakfast on Tuesday in Cleveland.  

“You know, we look at this whole transgender thing, I’ve got to tell you: For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa?”

“Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. Look, I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re a racist,’” Carson said. “This is how absurd we have become.”

When confronted with his comments during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Carson doubled down on his claims.“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” said Carson. “And just because you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think I’m the other one,’ that doesn’t change it. Just, a leopard can’t change its spots.”

“It’s not as if they woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to be a male or I’m going to be a female,’” Couric countered, pointing out that transgender people do not suddenly choose to change their gender identities on a whim.

Carson made several similar comments last year while on the campaign trail.

In December, Carson criticized the suggested that allowing transgender people into the military amounted to using the armed services “as a laboratory for social experimentation.”

Carson once suggested that allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity amounted to granting them “extra rights.”

Ivanka Trump Claims Her Father Supports Equal Pay, Access to Child Care

Ivanka Trump, the nominee’s daughter, made a pitch during her speech Thursday night at the RNC for why women voters should support her father.

“There have always been men of all background and ethnicities on my father’s job sites. And long before it was commonplace, you also saw women,” Ivanka Trump said. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” 

“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she continued before pivoting to address the gender wage gap. 

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career.”

However, Trump’s stated positions on the gender wage gap, pregnancy and mothers in the workplace, and child care don’t quite add up to the picture the Trumps tried to paint at the RNC.

In 2004, Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” for employers. When a lawyer asked for a break during a deposition in 2011 to pump breast milk, Trump reportedly called her “disgusting.”

According to a June analysis conducted by the Boston Globe, the Trump campaign found that men who worked on Trump’s campaign “made nearly $6,100, or about 35 percent more [than women during the April payroll]. The disparity is slightly greater than the gender pay gap nationally.”

A former organizer for Trump also filed a discrimination complaint in January, alleging that she was paid less than her male counterparts.

When Trump was questioned about equal pay during a campaign stop last October, he did not outline his support for policies to address the issue. Instead, Trump suggested that, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Though he had previously stated that men and women who do the same job should be paid the same during an August 2015 interview on MSNBC, he also cautioned that determining whether people were doing the same jobs was “tricky.”

Trump has been all but completely silent on child care so far on the campaign trail. In contrast, Clinton released an agenda in May to address the soaring costs of child care in the United States.

Ivanka’s claims were not the only attempt that night by Trump’s inner circle to explain why women voters should turn to the Republican ticket. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Manafort said that women would vote for the Republican nominee because they “can’t afford their lives anymore.”

“Many women in this country feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” claimed Manafort. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They’re going to hear the message. And as they hear the message, that’s how we are going to appeal to them.”

What Else We’re Reading

Vox’s Dara Lind explained how “Trump’s RNC speech turned his white supporters’ fear into a weapon.”

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for vice president, Indiana Republicans have faced “an intense, chaotic, awkward week of brazen lobbying at the breakfast buffet, in the hallways and on the elevators” at the convention as they grapple with who will run to replace the state’s governor, according to the New York Times.

“This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival,” wrote Rebecca Traister on Trump and the RNC for New York Magazine. “They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white, patriarchal power.”

Though Trump spent much of the primary season denouncing big money in politics, while at the RNC, he courted billionaires in hopes of having them donate to supporting super PACs.

Michael Kranish reported for the Washington Post that of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC, it is estimated that only 18 were Black.

Cosmopolitan highlighted nine of the most sexist things that could be found at the convention.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked, “Where are these contributions that have been made” by people of color to civilization?