Archive for January, 2010

i hate the finger-pointing title of this article, but it is otherwise hilarious.

5. Problem: Your Vagina Tastes Bad
Solution: Vagina Mints

If your partner is reluctant to give you oral sex, it’s not because of pervasive cultural belief that cunnilingus is complicated to the point of being impossible and that vaginas are inherently icky (thus the need to uncomplicate them and un-ickify them with, oh, say, labiaplasty) it’s because your vagina tastes bad. Enter the Linger Internal Vaginal Flavoring, or Altoids for your vagina. Linger assumes you already feel bad about your nether regions, stating on its Web site that the mint-flavored pill “decreases self-consciousness” and tosses out the unattributed statistic that 72 percent of women feel self conscious about their taste and odor. Dubious marketing practices aside, the Linger mint isn’t just a harmless, if asinine, oddity.  Mother Jones magazine did some digging into the origins of Linger and discovered that the vagina mint is no different from a regular mint. In other words, it’s made out of sugar. And putting sugar-based mint directly into your vagina is a recipe for a mint-flavored yeast infection.

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another post about rape–a really great, analytical post by a prolific blogger on wordpress. thanks to jlu for sharing!

The way men and women interact on a daily basis is the way they interact when rape occurs. The social dynamics we see at play between men and women are the same social dynamics that cause men to feel rape is okay, and women to feel they have no right to object. And if you accept those social interactions as normal and appropriate in your day to day life, there is absolutely no reason you should be shocked that rape occurs without screaming, without fighting, without bruising, without provocation, and without prosecution. Behavior exists on a continuum. Rape doesn’t inhabit its own little corner of the world, where everything is suddenly all different now. The behavior you accept today is the behavior that becomes rape tomorrow. And you very well might accept it then, too.

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The following excerpt is from Eyes of the Heart, by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-elected president of Haiti, now in exile in South Africa.

Around the world what is called the informal sector makes up a $16 trillion-a-year economy. Of this women are responsible for $11 trillion. In Haiti, where official unemployment is about 70%, the informal sector is in fact much larger than the formal sector. And the economic strength of this sector in Haiti is a surprise to most economists. It has a total combined asset and property value estimated at $4.71 billion, or more than 72% of the total assets and property of the 123 largest private enterprises in Haiti. It is a complex network of economic activities that extends into every Haitian village and percolates through the urban slums, touching the lives of the rural and urban poor majority. Any economic plan for Haiti must begin here.

Any economic plan for Haiti must also begin with women. In Haiti we say that women are the poto mitan, or “center pole” of the household. During the past 20 years we can say that women have also been the poto mitan of the struggle. We are not surprised then when we see that over 70% of our Foundation are women. As at St. Jean Bosco, the majority of those who attended were women. In the struggle women are always well represented at the bases, if not in positions of power.

Women have unique skills for leadership with cooperation. When we created the cooperative at the Foundation we took some inspiration from the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. We decided to lend money to people in groups of five, with each member being responsible for the others. The women understood and adapted to the system quickly. Many of the men balked. It was not easy to find four others with whom they could form a group, and when it came time to make a loan they did not want to sign for the others.

Studies around the world have shown that when household budgets are in the hands of women, they are more likely to be spent for primary needs (food, education, and health care). I predict that when the budgets of nations are in the hands of women we will see the same result. While I was president, women held major cabinet posts for the first time in Haiti. We had fifteen women ministers in three governments, including a Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Finance, Education, Information and Labor. It made a difference.

Women, children and the poor must be the subjects, not the objects of history. They must sit at the decision-making tables and fill the halls of power. They must occupy the radio and airwaves, talking to and calling to account their elected leaders. Their participation will democratize democracy, bringing the word back to its full meaning: Demos meaning people, Cratei meaning to govern.

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in light of the recent earthquake and aftershock in Haiti, i want to make a post that is perhaps not directly relevant to our mission on this blog, but is nonetheless terribly important.

during humanitarian crises such as this, marginalized groups in society suffer the most. now i have absolutely no claim to an exhaustive history of women in Haiti, and women’s rights in Haiti. however, i tend towards the belief that women everywhere are marginalized, more often than not, and Haiti is not likely to pose an exception to this tendency. i do hesitate to say this, since there is a lot of terrible, misleading media coverage on this earthquake that make awful assumptions, and i do not want to contribute to that mess.

the point of this post is to urge that we keep informed, and keep an eye out on how this earthquake has affected marginalized groups, in particular, women in Haiti. and if any of us an afford to, it would be great to donate. partners in health is an org that i have heard a lot of good things about, especially from individuals who are critical of the patterns of colonial exploitation that america & europe has inflicted upon Haiti. this makes me trust them. click here to donate to this reliable org. you can also donate supplies/volunteer by going to this page. if youre really into it, you can even work for them!

other more-reliable-than-the-UN-and-wyclef-jean-orgs:

1. Doctors Without Borders (Medicines Sans Frontiers)

2. Haiti Action

3. Grassroots International

4. Oxfam

feel free to explore other links on the above sites, and share your experiences. Stand with Haiti.

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Everyone seems to be talking about Crystal Renn these days. The New York Times claims she’s “The Triumph of the Size 12s.” Jezebel says she’s not. And commenters think that having Crystal Renn in 8 page photoshoots is encouraging obesity. So here’s my take.

Photographers and Designers told Crystal Renn she was too fat, now they tell her she’s too skinny. I don’t understand why we feel the need to regulate Crystal Renn’s weight. If they’re looking for a different look, why not find a different person? People are constantly surprised that Crystal Renn doesn’t look fat, but why are we so surprised? According to the measurements I’ve found on the internet it would appear Renn’s BMI puts her in the “normal range” not “overweight” and no not “obese” and no not “morbidly obese,” and we already know BMI is kinda bullshit. So what’s with this freak-out-she’s-encouraging-obesity bullshit?

This to me speaks a lot to the way we think about fat. We tend to think in extremely polarized terms. A person is either fat and thus lazy, ugly, gross, insert-negative-adjective-here, or they are not fat, and thus not those things. This to me is pretty apparent in how clothes are organized. I’m an in-betweenie of sorts on the fat spectrum of clothing sizes. I can range anywhere from a 12 to a 16, depending on the make and cut and what part of my body we are fitting. What’s interesting of course is that the 12s are sold in “normal stores” and the 16s are sold in “plus size stores.”  The clothes that are sold in a size 12 are still flattering, they’re “in,” but the second you get into the 16s you go to ponchos and moo-moos and weird drape-y things in horrible giant prints. I don’t really understand why designers seem to give up the second you get above a 14. Folks just need an inch here or there, and excuse me for being so blunt by why the hell is 14 the size in between “normal clothes” and “plus size clothes” when that is the size the average American woman wears? 14 should be the size we design all clothes around and should be the samples runway models wear–not supposed “plus size models.”

Another thing I’m sort of disturbed by is this whole sexualization and fetishization over the white skin of some “plus sized” models like in Renn’s 8 page spread in Glamour, “You’d Look Even Better Naked” or in the recent “plus size issue” of V magazine. I don’t claim to know why plus size models always have to have white skin and lose their clothes for their photoshoots, but it’s making me wonder. Jezebel tries to put a finger on it in their “So, Why Are Plus-Size Models So Often Naked, Anyway?

…This is as good a time as any to address the fact that a large number of plus-size shoots feature nudity. Of course, so do many fashion shoots with straight-size models: but because as a culture we associate larger women’s bodies with different meanings than smaller women’s bodies, photographing a plus-size model naked can have very different connotations. Eroticizing a plus-size model is a pretty easy, and in some ways predictable, choice. Do the images rely on the old trope of the voluptuous woman as sexually salacious? Is it just that the stylist couldn’t (or couldn’t be bothered) to pull clothes in the right sizes?

Personally, I’m guessing there are probably many reasons for this focus on naked white plus size models. One is that I don’t think there are enough awesome clothes made and sold for women of a certain size for which the models can model which I’ve already addressed. And secondly, I think when we add the fact that these women are larger than most models, I think photographers don’t know what to do. We’ve already polarized folks into fat and not fat, good and not good. So inorder to demonstrate that “hey she’s not all those bad things we associate with fat”, they rely more heavily on her female-ness, and her white-ness. Instead of showing actual diverse images of beauty, we just amp up old ideas of about Snow White being the fairest lady of them all who spends her life waiting for strange men in the woods.

If you’re looking for actual diversity in fashion, check out the fatshionista community which describes itself as ” a diverse fat-positive, anti-racist, disabled-friendly, multi-gendered, queer-flavored, politically-engaged community, open to everyone” They’re pretty rad and frankly more useful than any fashion mag I’ve ever seen since it’s real clothes worn by real folks.

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HOUSTON — A suburban Dallas school district has suspended a 4-year-old from his prekindergarten class because he wears his hair too long and does not want his parents to cut it.

The boy, Taylor Pugh, says he likes his hair long and curly. But on Monday night, the school board in Mesquite voted unanimously to enforce its ban on Beatles haircuts, much less anything approaching coiffures of bands like Led Zeppelin. School officials say the district’s dress code serves to limit distractions in the classroom.

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I just wanted to share this cause it’s cool:


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oh noes!!! WEIGHT GAIN?!?! what could be worse than WEIGHT GAIN?!

“This is a general health concern,” she said. “Getting married or moving in with a partner and having a baby are events that trigger even further weight gain.

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Classic victim-blaming

Did you get raped? It must have been your fault!

Petition to get the above columnist to take back this stupid shit and amend it.

Article explaining how Amy Dickinson is quite the dickinson.

upset, but not surprised. thanks to jaxie, friend and new visitor to our blog, for sharing.

question: what does it mean for a woman, rather than a man, to write this victim-blaming column?

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Hey folks. So I posted this link on the facebook a while ago after I saw it on Feministing:

I think it provides a great overview about trans and genderqueer identities (it’s not perfect). Our language doesn’t provide much room for gender flexibility, as you might have noticed. It’s a little awkward, if not, impossible for some people to speak of a person without assigning them a binary gender. As I’ve been working on my thesis, which is essentially about that awkward space–created most obviously by intersex people (people whose sexual make-up puts them outside the sexual binary), I’ve been feeling more and more uncomfortable with gendered pronouns. Especially applied to me. But I also cringe when I find myself categorizing other people who haven’t specified their pronouns to me (which almost never happens anyway). I’m trying to make a conscious effort to stop putting people in boxes and asking more questions like, “what pronouns do you use?” When I was living in New Orleans, my friends had a whole bunch of discussion and reading groups they participated in, and when we went around the room everyone would say their name, why they were there, and the pronouns they preferred. Stuff like that makes me so happy. I know some people feel awkward about it, but, in my personal experience, I have been delighted when people ask me my pronouns (I’m a fan of ze, hir, and hirs, by the way). HOWEVER, the point of this post was to point out a simple thing everyone can do that I think would make the world a better place. So here’s my thoughts:

When you are talking about someone whose gender identity or pronouns have changed throughout their life, please don’t say “okay, so they were BORN a woman… and now they’re a man”. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my thesis is that human sexual development occurs, in fact, on a spectrum. When babies are born a doctor decides what sex, of the two options, that baby belongs to. If the baby is one of the estimated 4% who are born intersex, often parents put them through “corrective” surgery or put them on hormones. Sharon Preves wrote,

“It is my argument that medical treatments to create genitally unambiguous children are not performed entirely or even predominantly for the sake of preventing stigmatization and trauma to the child. Rather, these elaborate, expensive, and risky procedures are performed to maintain social order for the institutions and adults that surround the child.”

In this way, the treatment of intersex children relies on the insecurity and fear of the “adults that surround the child” who cannot tolerate a human being outside the gender binary in their lives. (aside: I think that statement could start an entirely new and fascinating discussion about competitive child-rearing in our society and how consumerist childhoods form) However, it is important to recognize that although intersex people are representative of a small section that the binary cannot accept, everyone is part of the gender and sex spectrum. After all, not all people designated to the “male” category at birth without question have the same “penis”, and not all people designated to “female” have the same “clitoris”. There is a wide range of sizes, shapes, and hormonal drives. So. People aren’t born “male” or “female”–doctors assign these labels, and parents uphold the gender law in the household. I, and I think many trans and genderqueer people, feel that a decision was made for me, out of my control. But human beings made the decision.

“If nature really offers us more than two sexes, then it follows that our current notions of masculinity and femininity are cultural conceits”

Saying someone is “born” one way or another implies that nature made the decision. And the fact is that nature says nothing more than that there are as many sexes as there are people.

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