Radio Silence

I’ve been going through some personal stuff, so I haven’t been very focused on this blog. I’ll return and get back to posting regularly as soon as I get my personal life under control. For a feminist, I sure do let boys toy with my emotions and make a mess of my world. 😉

Anyways, here’s all I’ve got:

I was recently debating what sandals to buy for the coming summer months, and when considering a pair from Urban Outfitters, was informed by a friend that the owner of UO gives regular contributions to Rick Santorum and other unpleasant, right wing, anti-choice, anti-gay, pretty creepy type folks, and even lists Urban Outfitters as on the donor list. I’ve always had a lot of gripes with a number of UO’s products and marketing (rant for another time), but this is beyond that. This is the kind of thing I boycott over. I’ve been Googling, but I’ve only been coming up with articles on this topic from 03-06. While I doubt that Hayne has stopped giving money to Santorum & Co, I’d love to find some more recent articles to give my information a little more oomph when I disseminate it to friends. Or, if I’m wrong, I’d like to know that too.

Anyways, I wound up buying my sandals at a local business in Harvard Square, so the story has a happy ending.

Is there anywhere else I should be boycotting?

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04/27/2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

On Bromances in the Movies…

There’s a guest post up at Feministing on the Apatow/Rogen crowd and their new, “kindler, gentler masculinity” that still manages to be flagrantly misogynistic. I think it’s a fabulous article.

To be honest, I have been so disgusted by the trailers for the majority of these movies that I haven’t even bothered with seeing them (I’m not interested in paying the cost of a movie ticket only to leave the theater feeling dirty), so I am going to defer to the wisdom of others. I think Rachel’s analysis, particularly where she so concisely brings up the pornification of sex and how this ties into the films, is brilliant and very well done. It’s a great read, so go check it out.

04/16/2009. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Protesting the “Marital Rape” Law in Afghanistan

There’s a new law being reviewed in Afghanistan, one that would deny women the right to refuse their husbands for sex. On April 15th, a brave group of 200-300 (articles vary in the number they quote) women staged a protest march against the law. They were met by approximately 1,000 counter-protesters, who threw rocks, spit at them, and screamed insults. The counter-protesting crowd attempted to overrun the march, but the women pressed onward, and police did their best to keep the protesters and counter-protesters separate, including female police officers joining arms to form a human chain.

Let’s just sit for a moment and reflect on that.

First off, how amazingly bad ass are those protesting women? And the police officers who used their bodies to shield them? I admit, I got a little choked up. That’s fucking inspirational right there. That’s the kind of courage and strength that I don’t even have a context for. I have never had to face that kind of adversity in my life, and I don’t know if I could have responded with the same strength. I absolutely admire all of those women.

However, I am deeply distressed that such a protest was necessary in the first place. In some ways, it isn’t surprising. We had legal marital rape in the United States until 93–that really isn’t that long ago. There’s still a subtle belief that women provide their husbands with sex as part of the marital contract in exchange for his support and sheltering. I have heard many jokes about how marriage is just glorified prostitution, and there is, I think, a grain of belief in those jokes. As much as I want to believe that it should be a universal knee-jerk reaction that “no, it is WRONG to deny women the right to refuse sex!” that just isn’t the case. There were even women amongst the counter-protesters (once again proving that “womanhood” is not monolithic; we do not all think the same, feel the same, or act the same. There is no universal female experience, and we do not have a hive mind).

Something else I want to cover is the idea that this is about Islam–it is not. Just as Christianity is not about denying women their rights, neither is Islam. There are members of the faith who will use the faith as an excuse to try to lend validity to their agenda, but this is NOT about Islam. I am horrified by the anti-Islam sentiment I have seen cropping up because of this.

Check out some articles on the goings-on: Times Online UK, CBC.

04/16/2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Tax Day!

I did my taxes back in February. I admit, I’m kind of an over-achiever like that. Also, I’m broke and need my dollars just as soon as I can get them. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking that the assorted tax day promotions going on are great.

And here’s my personal favorite:

Via Feministing, we hear about the great deal being offered by Babeland:

In stores and online, you can get 10% off all purchases, and if you one of the first 100 customers online, or in person in New York or Seattle you could get a vibrator free!

My crush on Babeland continues. 🙂

04/15/2009. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Happy Friday!

I think it’s important to end the week on a positive note. I woke up early and went to the gym this morning, where I layed some serious smackdown on the treadmill, which always gets me pumped for the day. Add to that the delicious bananas I picked up at my local co-op and have been enjoying for breakfast lately, and I’m in a great goddamn mood. So here’s some stuff to make you smile, in case you don’t have a tasty soy mocha on your desk:

Today’s Questionable Content strip! I’ve been a fan of QC for years, and Faye is one of my favorite characters. This story arc that they’re launching into looks like it’s going to be freaking hilarious and fantastic, and just really follows up so nicely on the heels of my post about feminist sex shops. Also, you better believe that next time I visit Northampton I’ll be making a trip to Oh My!, the shop this strip is based on–somehow I never managed to get out there while I was a 5-Colleges student. Crazy, right?

This amazing section from the Rachel Maddow show. It’s a known and noted fact that I have a raging crush on Maddow–how can you not?–but this segment had me literally LOLing in the office this morning.

-Feminist men! They’re out there, and some of them are compiling lists of feminist icons. This particular list was great, including people I hadn’t heard of or wouldn’t have thought of, which makes it refreshing and interesting.

-Chick rock bands! It’s the music that drives me through my early morning workouts, my sunny afternoon drives, and really just my life in general. While we’re all familiar with the classics like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, and Le Tigre (be still my heart), I want to pimp out a couple of my other favorite bands that are chick bands or chick-fronted and just generally kick ass: the Dollyrots, the Blow, Lemuria, Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, Yelle, and the Distillers. There’s tons of other amazing–and very feminist–women in music out there. This is just a quick selection to get you launched into Friday with some rocking out.

Tonight, I’m off to play lazer tag for charity! May your weekend be thrilling and rewarding as well. And if you have a moment and a couple dollars, think about contributing to the NYAAF fundraiser. The goodness from that will spread into the rest of your weekend, guaranteed.

04/10/2009. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Smart Shaggin’

I’m a big fan of Planned Parenthood, and here’s yet more reasons to know ’em and love ’em.

My local chapter, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, is hosting a Cocktails & Cupcakes event in Worcester, including sexual health trivia, prizes, and, best of all, highly nommable cupcakes! What a bad ass event, am I right? Unfortunately, it’s 5:30 on a work night, so there’s no way I’ll be getting out to Worcester in time for that, but I think it’s a great way to raise awareness.

The event is being hosted by PPLM as part of the April “Get Yourself Tested” campaign, looking to raise awareness about STDs. 1 in 4 teenage girls in the US has an STD, and 1 in 2 (!!) Americans will contract an by age 25. Hot damn. Fortunately, PPLM is offering $30 walk-in, clothes-on STD testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV throughout April.

While you’re at it, you can also pick up a pack of emergency contraception–it’s always smart to have EC around, whether for yourself, or to provide a friend in need. You never know when the condom will break. You can purchase EC over the counter at any pharmacy, or at Planned Parenthood while you’re in getting tested.

04/09/2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Recycling just got even sexier.

As the title says, as if recycling weren’t already sexy enough, it has gotten even sexier!

Via Feministing, we learn about the Sex Toy Recycling Program:

Finally, there’s an environmentally friendly way to dispose of used or broken vibrators, dildos, plugs, or any other sex toy you may have. Our Sex Toy Recycling program offers you a way to recycle sex toys that you no longer want or use.

Simply drop your clean used toy(s) in the mail, when we receive it in our warehouse we will have it cleaned and disassembled. The rubber, silicone, hard plastics, metal, e-waste and motors will be sent to recycling facilities that process the materials for reuse. Did you leave the batteries in? Don’t worry, we dispose of them responsibly..

Now, when you get rid of that old, broken or unused sex toy, you will be helping our environment. You can feel good that you have done one more thing to cut consumer waste, reduce landfills and help eliminate the toxic chemicals that seep into our soil and ground water.

Not only do we make recycling your sex toys simple, we also offer a reward as an incentive. For every package of toys you send in to be recycled, you will receive a $10 gift card to use at one of our affiliate partners as well free shipping when applicable on your next order. So the more you recycle, the more you can play. Going green has never been this much fun!

Let’s face it, this is pretty awesome–what a great idea!

04/09/2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Sex Trade Fallacy

As a young feminist, I’ve been struggling with the sex industry for a while, and avoiding taking stances on things that I don’t feel I have a concrete enough opinion or enough information to really make an informed decision on. For example, my jury is still out on porn. Up until this evening, my jury was on the fence on prostitution–I had a gut instinct that I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t argue WHY, exactly, I didn’t like it, and I couldn’t put my finger on why legalization and legislation didn’t satisfy me.

I’m currently reading Sexual Politics, by Kate Millett. I am so in love. I’ve been flying through it as fast as I can on my commute to and from work, and any moment in between (I do most of my reading on the T). Originally published in 1969, the contents are still remarkably relevant to contemporary issues. That says something to Millett’s writing, but also something unfortunate about how much progress (or lack thereof) has been made these 40 years.

So we come to the topic of prostitution. One of the leading arguments that has been leveled against me when I enter into “the prostitution talk” with some confident, red-blooded American boy is that prostitution isn’t degrading–it’s liberating to women, because they get to take control of their sexuality (I have great first dinner conversations, let me tell you). At this point, they usually bring out the argument of having a friend of a friend or something who is a stripper and will vouch for this.

A) Experience is not monolithic. Just because Cherry Pie or whoever thinks stripping is, like, totally bitchin’ doesn’t mean that everyone in the sex trade has the same experience. (In a contrary vein, however, often marginalized groups WILL identify a degree of pride with their identity, in order to keep themselves from being completely destroyed. Just look at marginalized ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Hookers can do that too, you know.)

B) Forgive me, but I’m going to call your friend potentially misguided. She has most likely just bought into the sex trade fallacy.

Basically, prostitution is generally not sexually satisfying for the women performing the act. (For further evidence just look to Taylor’s Syndrome, “a painful chronic congestion in the pelvic area” due to a long duration of sexual arousal without release (Millett 117), aka “blue balls,” if you will, and it’s common amongst female prostitutes.) Thus, it’s hard to argue that it’s sexually liberating, as they are not gaining anything sexually out of the transaction–it is falsely liberating in that it removes the pretenses out of male/female interactions when the male is seeking purely sex. There is no subterfuge or games or whatever. In a society where a woman is ascribed value as a sex object, to actually BECOME that which she has always been (simply between the lines, rather than directly) and have it be her surface designation rather than unspoken can SEEM liberating, as she has removed the falsehoods from the surface. However, she is still ultimately in a role of sexual object and, if you will, receptacle. Furthermore, so long as we are measuring a woman’s value on her physical appearance, so too will she then measure her worth in how “successful” she is as a prostitute, thus winding up trapped in the cycle. Therefore, in order to become a prostitute, a woman needs to internalize the idea that her only worth to offer is her body and that her value is in her appearance (notions that are constantly reinforced in our culture already, she need only take them to the next level). By finding the experience liberating, one might argue that a woman is actually falling for the patriarchal concept, hook, line, and sinker, and subscribing to the newsletter.

I am reminded of that line of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex that so resonated with me: “One is not born but becomes a woman.”

The next argument that inevitably gets thrown at me is that men have greater sexual needs and desires compared to women, so prostitution is natural, as men must have their needs fulfilled somehow (why can’t men satisfy their own needs?). In short, this simply isn’t true.

In long, “all of the best scientific evidence today unmistakably tends toward the conclusion that the female possess, biologically and inherently, a far greater capacity for sexuality than the male, both as to frequency of coitus, and as to frequency of orgasm in coition.” (Millett 116) Basically, ladies have it good. As Masters and Johnson (cited in Millett) observed in a study, women are capable of multiple orgasms in rapid succession, each being comparable to getting a hard on, using it, and then going limp again were she a dude–all that can be done several times in a minute or two. Man, vaginas are COOL.

Anyways, gals are capable of doing it more and liking it more–so why isn’t there a huge demand for platoons of male prostitutes to service us ladies? Simply, because prostitution is a transaction, involving purchasing and temporarily owning, a person’s body, something that women do not have the authority to do. Furthermore, in our cultural consciousness, men are expected and encouraged to be promiscuous, whereas women are expected and encouraged to be as frigid as possible (let me once again plug He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut) and through the incredibly pervasive attitude of sexual shaming, this is internalized and indoctrinated at a young age. That kind of mental programming can lay a serious smackdown on a girl’s biology, and anything it doesn’t successfully smother can be knocked down with fear and guilt (Victorian women, anyone?).  So our culture pretty much decimates female sexuality, or perverts into someone’s fetish, and then props up the idea that men need more sex and therefore prostitutes are necessary.

I’m not sure how coherent this was–I wrote this frantically by hand earlier tonight in a mild haze because the caffeine from my diet pepsi hadn’t kicked in yet–but hopefully it is readable, and will inspire some thoughts and/or discussion.

04/09/2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

In praise of feminist sex shops.

If there is one thing that I think MOST people can agree on, it’s that orgasms are awesome. Yay for orgasms! However, in our wonderfully open-minded culture where the virgin/whore dichotomy rages on, fetishization of youth is rampant, there’s constant perpetuation of the purity myth, and sexual education is downright wrong, it’s hard to visualize healthy sexualities just blossoming left and right. This is one case in which shit, it turns out, is not a good fertilizer.

So I would like to take a moment to praise feminist sex shops. When one thinks “sex shop,” generally the idea is porn store–sketchy, dirty, dimly lit, lots of business men in overcoats trying not to be seen with whatever smut they are buying. Whenever I think of porn shops, I think of that scene in Amelie where Nino is tagging prices on these giant, ridiculous dildos and there’s all the fetishwear in the background and the awful thumping porno groove soundtrack. It’s not to say that fetishwear is bad (I’d be a shitty feminist if I couldn’t respect that Your Kink Is OK), but that your typical sex shop is all about making sex itself into a fetish. It’s dirty and weird, and requires these vinyl garments. Also, check out them huge-ass fake penises–boys, if you weren’t already insecure about how much heat you’re packing, now is the time to start.

And then there’s the woman-friendly shops–a completely different world. My personal favorite is Babeland, which I visit every time I’m in NYC (I like the LES location, though they also have one in SoHo and others around the country. I’m still rooting for one in Boston!). The store is well-lit with vibrant colors, huge windows in the front, and shameless slogans across the windows. They have a mind-boggling assortment of vibrators, all out on central tables so you can hold them against your palm and give them a try. They have a condom bar that looks like a candy shop–shelves of jars full of all kinds of condoms, with commentary provided! Lubes, massage oils, anything you could need for your kink, and shelves of books (with my bookworminess, how could I not love it?). The staff are fan-fucking-tastic. I bought my first vibrator from them years ago and I swear it was a life-changing experience. Their open attitudes and no-shame approach make clientele instantly comfortable, and they are fountains of knowledge on safe sex practices and good health. The sexual health educator in me is suffused with a warm fuzzy glow everytime I listen to them. Anyone can enter the store and be shown a supportive environment to explore their sexuality.

I think of women having access to sex shops as being almost on par with access to birth control as far as sexual liberation goes. While birth control gives a woman the freedom to do what she wants with her body as far as it interacts with other people, sex shops give a woman the freedom to do what she wants with her body with, well, herself. It is important for a woman to be able to own her sexuality–to know what she likes, how her body responds, how to achieve orgasm, and also what doesn’t work for her. It’s hard to do that with someone else. Learning on your own, and developing that kind of relationship with your own sexuality, is in my mind a huge part of being liberated. Basically, it’s hard to keep subscribing to the idea that your body is dirty and shameful and your sexuality is bad when you have concrete knowledge to the contrary.

Plus, baby Jesus never said no vibrators until marriage, so if you’re waiting, a visit to your local sex shop can solve all those pesky libido problems that are so prevalent amongst, well, humanity. 😉 Also, orgasms are great stress relief and make you happy person. Who doesn’t want to be happy?

Over at the fabulous VaginaPagina, they’ve compiled a small list of woman-friendly sex shops. Check it out!

And now, because it’s never a bad time to rock out, here’s a song from French artist Yelle, who wrote a love song to her vibrator:

Confession: this entry technically isn’t what I added the “magic vaginas” tag for, but let’s face it–it’s a great tag! I really just wanted to use it again so that it would become a little bigger over in the tag cloud. 😀

04/06/2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Oh, for personal grooming habits to be personal!

Seriously, boys, nothing makes me want to cement granny panties over my naughty bits like this kind of advertising:

Is it a Katy Perry music video? Is it a throwback to the 1950s? Is it the newest weapon from Satan, sent to encourage women to kill themselves? Is it all of the above?

Kill it with fire, please.

04/03/2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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