Guide to the Girl Germs Posters, 1996-1999
The Coalition for Positive Sexuality is a grassroots, not-for-profit, activist organization funded through grants and donations. CPS seeks to give teens information about sexual health and safe sex, and to facilitate dialogue in public schools about sex education. This collection consists of nine 18x24 posters produced by artist Jeanette May for the CPS Girl Germs campaign.
- Collection Number
- Girl Germs Posters
- Coalition for Positive Sexuality
- 2 Linear Feet, 9 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English and Spanish
The collection consists of nine 18x24 posters created and distributed as part of The Coalition for Positive Sexuality's Girl Germs campaign in the late 1990s. These posters were created by artist Jeanette May, who was also a founding member of the CPS.
The posters include a black-and-white image of teenage women along with texts offering information about sex and sexuality, as well as telephone numbers for additional resources. All posters are captioned in both English and Spanish. Subjects covered by the posters include abortion, condoms, water-based lubricant, sexuality (including homosexuality and bisexuality), sex education, and rape.
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Each poster's title and text is listed below. Digital copies of the images and text are available through artist Jeanette May's website, http://www.jeanettemay.com/GirlGerms/GirlGermsPage.html
Poster text: You know who you are. You are boyfriends, relatives, classmates, and strangers. You think you have the right to push us around. Think again. “Boys will be boys” is over. We’re told to protect ourselves. We’re warned not to go out at night alone. We’re advised to get out of abusive relationships. Well, we’re sick of trying to avoid you! You know who you are. We will walk down the street wearing a short skirt, or whatever we want, and it is not an invitation to you. And don’t flatter yourself–we do not consider your taunts a compliment. We can’t always tell the innocent flirt from the violent creep. You know who you are. Every guy is a potential threat as long as society tolerates “men behaving badly” . And if you’re a guy we actually like, that doesn’t mean you can control us. We are not property and you do not own us. It’s about power. Well, no more! We won’t stand for it. We are fearless. We are strong. We demand respect. You know who you are ... and you need to stop.
Poster text: Girls have the right to a future, with or without a baby. We need our families’ support to help us to be good parents. The baby’s dad should help out, too. We’re just like other girls–we want to finish high school, go to college, get a job. But it’s hard. Sometimes we’re told to go to a school for pregnant girls. That should be our choice. We should be allowed to stay in our regular school with friends and teachers we know. Schools should have daycare centers just like some businesses do. Some schools have special homebound programs so we don’t fall behind when we first give birth. People’s attitudes need to change, too. If people treat pregnant teens with respect, we will make better choices about pre-natal care, adoption, and abortion. If people accept the fact that teens have sex, we will get decent sex education, access to birth control, and be less likely to get pregnant accidentally. People have to stop treating pregnant teens and teen moms like sexual criminals.
Poster text: Does this shock you? It shouldn’t. Lesbian and bisexual girls kiss, have sex, and fall in love everyday, everywhere. It’s not a fad. Those heterosexual mating games like spin-the-bottle don’t work the same for everyone. We’ve got a different spin on sexuality! We don’t need boys to have fun. Lesbian and bisexual girls exist outside the stereotypes seen in movies and on TV. We might have short or long hair, wear dresses or pants, play sports or piano. You can’t pick out a lesbian just by looking, but we are here. We are sisters, daughters, activists, students, and people you admire. We demand respect and equality. We are proud to be who we are–lesbian and bisexual girls of all kinds, making herstory.
Poster text: Sex education should be more than biology and STD horror stories. Yeah, we need to learn about menstrual cycles and how you get pregnant, but girls need practical information, too. “Just say no” isn’t sex education. Lots of teens have sex. The more we know about sex, the better our choices. We need to know what kind of birth control is safest for teens. We need to know how latex can protect us from STDs and HIV. We need sex ed to include respect for gay, lesbian, bi, and straight sexualities. Teachers, parents, and doctors should talk to us openly about sex. We can teach ourselves by reading books and sharing info with our friends. We can even do some research on ourselves. Hey, guys do it. Why not girls? Exploring our bodies is fun and educational. Masturbation is safe sex–if can’t hurt you. Anyone can do it, and lots of girls do. Remember–the clit is it! Girls need to know how our bodies work and feel, so we can take care of ourselves.
Poster text: No one can punish us for liking sex! You think that girls who like sex are sluts? Get real! Everybody has sexual needs–girls too! We will choose to have sex or not to have sex. We’re talking about our bodies and our lives. We may decide to have sex with a guy, or a girl, or both, or with ourselves! Telling us to “wait until marriage” is way off–especially if we’re lesbian, gay, or bisexual. They may not call us “adulteress” anymore, but we’re still being treated like criminals. Politicians accuse single moms of “destroying the family.” Schools refuse to teach us about birth control & safe sex. Drugstores lock up the condoms. People make it harder for us to get an abortion. Hey! We demand the right to be able to take care of ourselves.
Poster text: The “right to choose” means women control our own bodies. We will decide to have a baby or not–even if we’re young, single, or poor! To really “choose” we need abortion services, health care, and child care! Many states have Parental Notification laws. They try to stop teens from having abortions by making us tell our parents first. What’s up with that? Teen sex is healthy and natural. We need birth control and safe sex information. We demand health care and child care for teen moms. Abortion must be safe, legal, and affordable for women of all ages. Fight to keep abortion legal! Not all women think abortion is cool for themselves, but all women have the right to make their own choice.
Poster text: Latex. The fashion accessory that goes with everything! Practice safe sex! Wear latex condoms, latex gloves, and plastic wrap. Do it right and latex will protect you from STDs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancy. Use a latex condom with lubricant for vaginal or anal intercourse. Water-based lube helps prevent condoms from breaking and helps prevent vaginal soreness. Plus lube feels really great! Use a non-lubricated latex condom for oral sex (blowjob). Use plastic wrap or dental dam if you’re going to be licking your partner’s clit, vulva, or butthole. Be sure to cover the entire lickable area. Wear latex gloves if you’re going to be putting your fingers in your partner’s vagina or butthole. And use lots of water-based lube! You can get all this stuff at the drugstore.
Poster text: The secret to great sex ... water-based lube! Have you heard about water-based lubricant? Lube makes nookie feel fantastic! And you can get “personal lubricant” at the drugstore. Lube is the secret to smooth sex. Lube is pure pleasure–it makes sex wet and slippery! You can use lube on your fingers when you’re touching someone else, or yourself. It works great on sex toys, too. Lube is especially cool for women the first time you have intercourse. Lube makes things go smoother, and it helps prevent vaginal soreness. Water-based lube also helps prevent condoms from breaking. Even if it’s a lubricated condom, add more lube to the outside for extra slide. Avoid oil-based lubes, like lotions and Vaseline, which break latex condoms.
Poster text: Millions of girls have the hots for other girls. We call ourselves lesbian, dyke, gay, bisexual, queer, or even straight. But labels aren’t important–we are! If you’re not sure if you’re interested in boys, girls, or both, that’s fine. Everyone has questions about their sexuality at some time or other, and exploring your sexuality can be an adventure. Have fun with it! If you like girls, fabulous! Falling for a girl is perfectly natural. Just remember that you have the right to love anyone. Be proud of who you are! It’s true that some people are going to freak if you “come out” . People who have a problem with us need to get over it! Tell your friends and family when you’re ready. Good friends will love you just the same.
The Coalition for Positive Sexuality (CPS) was formed in Chicago in 1992 as a grassroots volunteer organization. Its founding members were from local high schools and groups such as Queer Nation, Emergency Clinic Defense Coalition, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, and No More Nice Girls. CPS was formed as a response to a health crisis among Chicago teens; its first project was to write and distribute Just Say Yes, a booklet for teens on safe sex and sexuality. This booklet has since been distributed nationwide in both English and Spanish.
CPS's second major initiative was the Girl Germs campaign, a poster series aimed at young women and addressing the issues of safe sex, sexual health, sexuality, pregnancy, and birth control. This series was produced by artist Jeanette May, a founding member of CPS, between 1996 and 1999. As explained by the CPS website, “although the posters speak specifically to young women, the posters prompt a dialogue meant to be over-heard by the general population. These posters are distributed to social service agencies, health clinics, juice bars, coffee houses, and anyone else who wants them.”
Today, CPS is based in Washington, DC, with volunteer members living throughout the United States. Its website is www.positive.org.
- Coalition for Positive Sexuality
- Coalition for Positive Sexuality
- First sexual experiences
- Hygiene, Sexual
- May, Jeanette
- Reproductive rights
- Sexual intercourse
- Sex instruction
- Sex -- United States
- Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
- Teenagers -- Sexual behavior
- Youth -- Sexual behavior
[Identification of item], Girl Germs Posters, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
The Girl Germs Posters were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2010.
Processed by Meghan Lyon, May 2010
Encoded by Meghan Lyon, May 2010
Materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.
Accessions in this collection: 2010-0108.