Actually, I like my term better.

THIS JUST IN. Ladies can get sexually frustrated, too.

Guys, while I have been completely out of touch with the world (I hope that this weekend I have an opportunity to write about some of the “educational theory” I am learning about, because dear god it is lulz), I am delighted to see that science has been marching on.

But “pink balls”? Really?

I much prefer the term “blue boxed.”

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07/09/2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

On Passivity and Gender

So, I’ll be the first to admit that I have some pretty major body image issues. It’s really hard for me to talk about size and weight in the media because I hate my own body so much and am constantly embroiled in a vicious struggle to lose weight, tone my muscles more, and generally look “better.” (I know that I’m messed up in the head about this. I get it, I really do. I look in the mirror and suck in just right so that my ribcage angles in a bit so that I don’t look so wide from side to side and I think “God, if they offered a surgery procedure to tuck my ribs in, I would get it! I look so much prettier when I suck in my ribs!” You guys, that’s kinda fucked up.) So when I say that it’s hard for me to talk about bodies, I’m not shitting around.

I, like much of culture, frame my obsession with my physique around health. Within reason, this is valid–I don’t like getting winded when I have to suddenly run a block to catch the trolley; I want riding my bike to be pleasurable, not painful; I want to be able to have pretzel-like and marathon-length sex sessions without a post-coital ER visit; I like lifting heavy objects and changing the tires on my car; etc. Being healthy is good! I have yet to meet someone who will disagree with me that having a healthy lifestyle is good. Hell, my determination to be healthy is one of the leading reasons I don’t smoke cigarettes regularly anymore, so that’s a good thing.

Where do we draw the line between healthy in the real way, and healthy in my “oh god you guys there is a tiny bit of muffin top above my belt!” way?

My crush on Amanda Hess of The Sexist continues as she covers wedding weight loss and how, shockingly enough, you guys–it’s not about health!

First off, I really want to see the Groom Weight Loss Challenge. Cause, dirty little secret, I think dudes with guts look WAY SILLIER than chicks with guts. For all that I am obsessive about my own weight and need to be skinny, I think girls with curves can be so gorgeous–I mean, we have boobs and hips and all those nice aerodynamic curves to help even things out. I know way too many dudes who are like a floppy version of the “tits on a stick” porn star idea–they are all gangly skinny limbs and then, like, BLAM. A watermelon. Oh fragile judgmental culture of ours, I don’t want THAT in my wedding pictures any more than I want myself looking like that!

But we’re all pretty chill with dudes looking like that. (Oh hey, health obsession, I’m actually not. I’m a shallow asshole, you guys! I admit it! I consciously try not to be, but I am! I objectify dudes all the time. I’m a bike-by-ogler. The danger is real! Just when you thought it was safe to go outside, there goes some chick, undressing you with her eyes as she bikes by! And let me say, nice tattoos. And the superhero undies? Damn, boy. Unf.) Wow that was a tangent.

Anyways, our culture lets dudes look like that. I mean, we totally celebrate the super fine and extremely foxy of the dudes, I’m not saying that unreasonable dude-spectations do not exist or anything, but it’s by and large okay for a dude to have some paunch or not be perfectly groomed or not conform to an exacting standard.

Cause, like, he’s so QUIRKY and ECCENTRIC. We’re going totally gaga for so-and-so’s rebel-without-a-cause attitude and devil-may-care style! Or something like that. Whatever those headlines are.

Because dudes are busy doing OTHER THINGS. BETTER THINGS than worrying about their appearance. I mean, dudes that are well-dressed and well-groomed and svelte and whatnot are often, in fact, maligned as being too feminine, too fussy, too high-maintenance, etc. Because there are BETTER ways for them to spend their time than worrying about how they look.

Us ladyfolk, on the other hand, get to spend our time on being PRETTY. Which is why it is so amazingly unacceptable for us to carry any extra poundage, to not be dressed just so, to not have our full arsenal of makeup and hair products deployed at every minute of every day. What else would we be doing?

I was at Target the other day looking for a muffin tin. Instead of finding what I was looking for, I found these:

Om nom nom.

Okay, seriously people? There’s a “girl cookie pan” and a “boy cookie pan.” And just look at what you can bake for your pretty little girl! Crowns, flowers, butterflies, castles, a kiss, and purses. What do boys get? Rocket ships, a jet, a sports pennant, a trophy, a shirt with a medal, and a sports car.

The female items are all PASSIVE. Other than the purse, which I suppose you take your husband’s credit card in and out of, you don’t interact with that stuff. It’s just that–STUFF. Pretty things. Flowers! Butterflies! Lips! Castles! Crowns!

So, like, the chances that the little dude you bake the rocket ship cookies for is going to grow up to be an astronaut are ridiculously small. The chances that your little girl is gonna grow up to be a princess? Yeah, NONE. If the little dude holds onto that dream of becoming an astronaut, he might just fulfill it. Or at the very least, he might study astrophysics and engineering and still have a rewarding, exciting life. What do you study to become a princess? What do you major in at college? What extracurriculars do you pursue? (Please, no jokes about sororities.) You don’t. You sit and wait and hope to attract a prince.

We are socialized from the very beginning to be PASSIVE–to sit still, to be delicate, to be proper.

The only time we’re allowed to be ACTIVE, to engage with anything and to do more than just sit and look pretty, is for the sake of being skinny. We’re allowed to exercise. We’re allowed to dedicate all of our activity to improving the quality of our passivity.

Despite the fact that I can sit back and KNOW all this, I am still only eating a half granola bar, a small cup of yogurt, and a banana today, because I’m meeting up with friends later and I expect I’ll probably have some beers and snacks and I want to keep under my daily calorie goal. Because it’s healthy.

That’s some powerful fuckin’ social programming, that is.

06/11/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

There is so much stuff on the internet!

It’s been quite a week. There was a holiday (I spent it mostly in bed), there was a busy day at work, and then there was a day where the network was down basically all day. Now we’re here. To say that I’ve missed a lot in my Google reader would be a huge understatement. To say that there’s a lot that I want to blog about, but really don’t have the time or energy right now would also be a huge understatement. So here’s some stuff that I think merits looking at:

It was Secretary’s Day. (no, I don’t give a fuck about being PC. “Administrative professionals,” my ass!) SocImages has a great write-up on why this is basically bullshit. Pro-tip: you know what us secretaries like better than flowers once a year and being told how very special and important and valuable we are? A living wage. Yeah. Hallmark cards don’t make up for that, guys.

BikeSnob (one of my newest internet crushes) talks about sharing the road and the Cyclist Essentialist Conundrum: in short, check it out! There’s a bunch of us out there that ride bikes as our primary method of transportation (or even just as a hobby sometimes). We also do lots of other things. Some of these things might include owning a car. Let’s stop essentializing cyclists. Just because you have a 4,000 lb 800hp Death Ramming Machine doesn’t mean you’re always right. Just because we are riding bikes which means we are sexy (or maybe just an obnoxious hipster) doesn’t mean we’re always right. But dang guys, your cars are really big and hurt a lot, so could you like dial back the rage for just a second?

I totally missed Equal Pay Day, which is funny, because I was mostly worrying about how I’m ever going to continue supporting myself and paying my bills. Man, if we could close the pay gap, I’d be able to cover the difference between my annual grad school tuition and my scholarship.

Dating is still totally weird. Although reading this brief sampling from a pick-up artist message board totally clarifies for me what the crap has been going on in the past when I’ve tried to NOT date. Pro-tip: when I tell you to fuck off and die in a fire, I’m not playing hard to get.

Don’t get me wrong, I do a killer When Harry Met Sally-style fake orgasm (I really, really like sushi), but I’ve only ever faked when the spark was going out of the relationship and I was just not interested in working at it anymore. I guess this just goes to show that I am not a caring girlfriend. Thanks, science! I always knew I was a jerk, but it’s nice to have your backing.

Speaking of sex, MY VAGINA IS TIGHT ENOUGH ALREADY, GODDAMMIT. I mean, if I could get my hair elastics to do Kegels so that I wouldn’t have to keep buying new elastics cause the old ones are all stretched out, you guys, I would so do it. I hate it when my elastics get all stretched out. But my vagina… she is not a hair scrunchy. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: these products are WEIRD.

Anyways, it’s the end of the semester, so I’ve been working my ass off on school work. I’ve written a doozy of a lesson plan (I think) for Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which includes one of my favorite accidental feminist heroines, Lady Brett Ashley. We’ll see if I write about that or not. I’m writing a research proposal on utilizing creative writing in high school classrooms, and I may or may not talk about that. I might talk about biking. I might talk about sex.

You know what is so exciting about reading my blog, you guys? YOU NEVER KNOW. I might just post a recipe for brownies. Excitement and living on the edge, that is what I like to provide to you.

04/22/2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Go Ahead And Rage!

I had a couple things in mind that I wanted to post about today, but I’ve been being really busy at work instead (crazy, right?). So instead of writing anything super exciting, I’m going to post up some links that I think are totally worth taking a look at:

  • The BARCC blog today has a great entry on rape. In summary: no one is ever asking for it, and there’s never any valid excuse. I’ve been a huge fan of BARCC for a long time, and the blog that they just recently launched has been pretty much non-stop awesome. (If you too are a fan of BARCC, consider sponsoring me in the 2010 Walk for Change!)
  • The Sexist has been compiling a list of songs that celebrate sexual violence. Unsurprisingly, that isn’t hard. Today, however, Nada Surf was added with an anti-rape song. As a long-time listener to Nada Surf (The Weight Is A Gift carried me through early college), I was pretty thrilled at this one. Check it out!
  • Pervocracy, one of my newest blog-crushes, does a special feature on a fear-mongering Cosmo article on rape. For real, people, can we get over the idea that women can somehow avoid being raped by following special steps? Not getting raped is not the same as solving for x. Believe it or not, the quadratic equation doesn’t work here. So please stop fostering fear and victim-blaming. Bonus: Holly is hilarious and brilliant, unlike anyone ever at Cosmo.
  • And although this is unrelated to today’s theme of rape, Sociological Images recently had a rather creepy article about the reception of an accidental pregnancy by men and women aged 18-29. Men are WAY MORE okay with a surprise bun in the oven than the ladies. Buddy that up with Jezebel‘s article on male issues with condom use (awww, poor widdle penis is too shy to use condoms that fit right!) and honestly, I’m about to ready to swear off sex. Way to make a stereotypical feminist of me, statistics. I hope you’re happy now.

Anyways, let’s end the day with another anti-rape song from The Sexist’s great collection:

03/10/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Happy birthday, Nessie!

Well, I’m a little early, but I’d like to wish Nessie a happy birthday. Her official birthday is actually March 17th, 2006, but in light of this amazing article about contraception on The Sexist, I just have to make her birthday post a little early.

Nessie is my birth control, so named because like the Loch Ness monster, she lurks in the deep dark places. I have a Mirena IUD (intra-uterine device), which remains in my uterus for 5 years while steadily releasing eensy weensy amounts of the hormone levonorgestrel (it’s okay–I can’t pronounce it either!). It works on multiple levels to help prevent pregnancy and is incredibly effective.

I’ve been on and off of some form of hormonal birth control since I was 15. When I first stopped taking the pill at 18, largely because I could not afford to keep paying for it each month, I discovered exactly how much the hormones had been gravely fucking with me. I was an emotional, neurotic mess with bad skin and some extra pounds that I couldn’t shake no matter how unhealthy I let my eating habits get. I had no sex drive and I was uncomfortable with and disgusted by my own body, despite my burgeoning feminist tendencies.

I am convinced that the birth control pill is one of the biggest shackles we as women are burdened with. There is a huge lack of education surrounding birth control that leads to a lot of misinformation or simple ignorance. People refer to “the pill” as if it is something monolithic when it’s not. There’s dozens of different kinds of pills, from tri-cyclens (that give a different dose of hormones each week) to monophasic (a steady dose over the entire active pill cycle) to low-dose pills to a variety of hormone blends, and of course there’s an army of generics of all of those. Plus there’s an arsenal of non-pill options, such as the patch, the shot, the ring, and my personal choice, the IUD (which comes in two flavors–the Mirena, with a low dose of hormones, and the ParaGard, which is hormone-free).

Putting hormones into our bodies fucks us up. We’re people, not science experiments. Every version of every one of those contraception options that I listed will muck up your body chemistry in some way, and very rarely is it for the better (some women get slightly bigger boobs and/or clearer skin while on HBC, but I don’t think the trade off is worth it. Your mileage may vary, though). Fucking with our bodies leads to all kinds of unpleasantness. It’s a way of giving up our independence (and I will admit that my IUD does include a very low dose of hormones, so I’m guilty as well; the ParaGard would not have been a healthy choice for me, however) and letting someone else–drug companies, among others–control us. Think about it–that PMS? That’s not your PMS. That PMS is brought to you by Pfizer. Kinda creepy, when you think about it (especially considering how much shit you’ll then take for having PMS in the first place when it’s all “DUDE, I am riding a fucking hormone tsunami because of this bitty little pill that I take because you don’t like to wear a condom cause it like cramps your baller style or whatever the fuck it is!” Man, not cool).

I hear from women all the time about all these issues they’re having–their bodies are behaving weirdly, their emotions are out of control, they’ve lost their sex drive, they’re depressed, etc. The majority of the time, we can trace the problem back to their HBC. I’ll give them a quick little tutorial on all the different kinds of birth control and suggest which option might be better (even just switching off the generic of your pill can have a huge impact, believe it or not). Everyone’s body responds to hormones differently, but here’s the hitch–no one tells us about this shit. No one warns us that just because our BFF is on Yaz and it is fucking the shit for her and she’s having orgasms that make the Fourth of July look boring, we might get on Yaz and discover ourselves 20 lbs heavier and without any sex drive to speak of. On principle, I hate treating my body like a hormone cocktail shaker (unless, of course, I’m about to be lapped up by James Bond. Then we can talk). However, I understand the draw of traditional HBC for many women. I just wish we had more education on the veritable cornucopia of anti-baby drugs out there. This is America, land of plenty. You are not married to your birth control, and even if you are, shit girl, get a divorce if that crap isn’t loving you!

When I get the opportunity, I encourage women to experiment with not being on birth control at all. I got my IUD, which admittedly has a low dose of hormones, after a year and a half of being completely off hormonal birth control. I spent a month or two doing thorough research of my options and looking at the decision from all angles before deciding on the Mirena (depending on how sharing I’m feeling, on Nessie’s birthday I may post in depth about the research I did and my motivations for my choice, as well as more about my experience as an IUD user). Most women get big round eyes and go, “But then we’d have to use condoms!”

Awwww HELL NO I do not ever want to hear that kind of horrified response to condoms!

I love dudes who wear condoms. The quickest way to dry my out like the Sahara is try to avoid using a rubber when things are getting hot and heavy. In order to make sure that any excuse a dude can possibly try to pull is utterly null and void, I actually keep a condom in my purse, a practice that I wish more ladies would get into. There’s no real reason for a guy not having a condom, but sometimes they just don’t. And we’re the ones who are stuck with the babybakin’ ovens snug inside our pelvises, so really, it couldn’t hurt to carry a condom just in case. That doesn’t make you a slut–that makes you responsible. And responsible is sexy.

However, on the topic of condoms, it’s really astounding to me how rarely they are used. One of the comments on the above linked article remarks, “You can turn on the tv, and find a Trojan condom ad usually everyday of the week. I’m sure if you took a poll of men, about 100 percent of the male respondents would know what a condom is.” This is true. You can see a lot of ads for Trojans. They feature things like CGI pigs in clubwear.

That doesn’t tell viewers jack shit about how to use a condom. And that’s what’s important–the basic concept of the condom is self explanatory, and yet I can assure you, as someone who spent a summer as a peer health educator for Planned Parenthood (complete with wooden penis and day-glo magenta demo condoms) that in reality, very few people know how to use a condom. There’s the whole issue of putting it on right side out, for starters. There’s the matter of remembering to pinch the tip. There’s that whole rolling thing. Seriously guys, it’s boggling. I’ve saddled up a wooden faux-peen over and over for demos and this summer I had my first experience of applying a condom to a real live dude–holy shit! It’s way different and super scary! No joke, I was afraid I was gonna break him. Not the condom. Him. Talk about performance anxiety!

So I have a lot of sympathy for people who don’t even have a passing familiarity with the theory of condom use, let alone any sort of in-depth knowledge. Dudes and gals, it’s okay–there is not a goddamn thing instinctive about using a condom, and they are that weird color, you’re making a dude’s otherwise pretty sexy instrument look like it’s about to go SCUBA diving to boot. I understand. It’s uncomfortable stuff, especially with a new partner.

But in all the world, there ain’t nothin’ like a condom when it comes to being safe. My IUD is, granted, a more reliable form of birth control, but babies, believe it or not, are not necessarily the biggest, baddest things in the world. There’s STDs and that shit is SCARY. That can fuck you up. That can kill you.

And that’s what I advocate that ladies experiment with taking some time off from hormonal birth control–because no matter what, you should be using condoms basically all the time anyways. Of course, when we get into committed relationships with set sexual understandings, it can be fun and romantic (and, let’s face it, sexy) to throw condoms to the wind. After, of course, both partners getting tested for STDs. However, being on birth control is NOT ENOUGH to keep you safe for one night stands, casual dating, etc.

Unless you know for absolute certain (and, for the record, just because someone is a virgin doesn’t mean they are disease-free!), always use a condom. If nothing else, that just makes it that much better when you finally hit the point in your relationship that you aren’t using them anymore. And it makes your life that much better, because you don’t have any nasty surprises.

The article on The Sexist is great–funny, far less wordy than I am, and interesting. However, a lighthearted enjoyable read can lead to some heavy stuff. Birth control is heavy stuff, and it isn’t given nearly the attention it deserves in our world.

Educate yourself. Educate your friends, no matter their gender. This is really important.

03/04/2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 9 comments.

More On The Designer Vagina

The designer vagina: it continues to baffle me.

I mean, I know dudes get anxious about the size of their disco stick and apparently hairiness is a growing concern amongst the more “discerning” menfolk, but I am truly boggled by the ways “desirability” is being defined for the female naughty bits. They must be as smooth as a well-polished linoleum floor, be just the right shade of pink, be tighter than a parking space in the North End, be naturally wetter than monsoon season, smell like a florist while tasting like Cinnabon, and be like a Hungry Hungry Hippo for dick. OM NOM NOM.

This blog just got SORDID. Gents, don't you just wanna slip it into that?

So, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that there’s an actual laundry list of problems and solutions. Over at Alternet, they’ve put together a list of the 6 Weirdest Things Women Do To Their Vaginas, along with the explanation “why.” I put why in quote marks because honestly, none of it makes a damn bit of sense to me.

I guess what particularly confounds me is that there’s all this hype about how DIRTY and SMELLY and FUNNY TASTING and PROBABLY EVEN EVIL vaginas are, and yet dudes still hunt them like trophy animals on the Serengeti. They will spend all night discussing their terror of vaginas, and yet they seek to “score” as many vagina trophies as possible. (Granted, I am speaking in some pretty serious hyperbole here, but you catch my meaning.) I don’t understand why it is that something so AWFUL can be such a focal point of our culture–female sexuality is basically the foundation of, well, practically everything–and such an integral part of how men define their masculinity, achieve happiness, etc.

It makes me laugh, I suppose, but it’s definitely in the “horrormirth” category. There’s really nothing funny about people doing these awful things to their vaginas in order to be appealing, and there’s nothing funny about the shame and criticism being thrown around. Sometimes, though, I just have to laugh at the ridiculousness of the entire situation.

Ultimately, this is one of those things that I just don’t know how to fight back against. I can speak up and write blog posts–cause, you know, this blog is totally changing the world–and write papers for school, but what am I accomplishing? I don’t know. I don’t know how to combat this kind of institutionalized ridiculousness.

I didn’t mean to end this on a downer. Hopefully I’ll find something cute and happy to end the week with later today!

02/26/2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Well, I guess that’s ONE way to prevent STDs…

But you know what works even better than circumcision at preventing STDs?

Wearing a goddamn condom.

I know, I know… I’m so old fashioned, with my ideas about wearing condoms until you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship and all members have been tested for STDs. But what can I say? I just don’t trust the disease-preventing powers of foreskin removal, never mind the baby-preventing powers.

Then again, perhaps we should suggest this to Feminists for Life–since they are not only against abortion, but against birth control as well, perhaps they will be interested in this wonderful new method of safe sex.

03/30/2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.