Monday, March 31, 2008

Reality versus Morality in Sex Education




So I'm finally reading Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, which I've been dreading. I'm such an Austen purist, I knew parts of it would really annoy the crap out of me (which is a whole different rant). But despite all the silly old fashioned sex scenes, the thing that has stuck out the most so far is just how completely innocent women back then were about sex. It seems the unlucky ones only found out by experience and no wonder they hated it!

Of course, then I feel like kicking myself because I've read Vera Brittain's autobiography about being a nurse in WWI, and SHE was in college and everything and STILL knew NOTHING about sex or even what a penis looked like or was called until she became a nurse. That seems so totally fucked up to me.

But then I think to my own experience of "sex education" and my story isn't much better: I asked my older sister about babies when I was 6 or so. She had heard from an older cousin all about it and told me a pretty good version of the truth, even including sperm & egg functionality, but not that terminology. Then I was molested for like 4 years until my older sister told the folks about what was going on (because I wasn't the only victim of the guy unfortunately)... And then the next time someone talked to me about sex was when I was 13 and had already started menstruating and my mom told me the more technical version of what my sister had told me so long ago - without, of course, mentioning anything more about either sex or female organs.

So, all in all, I'm thinking we're still not doing much better. What is it with parents that they are so afraid to give their kids valuable information about an act which is potentially life-threatening? I can't understand that. It was one of my unhappy reality checks about being back in the Midwest this summer when I was down at the Crossroads where Planned Parenthood was trying to collect signatures for proper sex ed from qualified professionals. (I wasn't collecting signatures, I just happened to be there). And these couples would listen to the petitioner, mumble something about them not wanting their kids to know about sex and then they'd walk off. I'm sure those parents aren't going to be informing their children about safe sex, and since they won't let others do it, no one does and that's just one reason why little 14 year olds are freaking mothers all the time these days.

Which all leads me back to Evil Slutopia and a quote from Elizabeth Pisani I read there two weeks ago:

A "governor who pays for sex should know to mold social policies on reality, not morality"
This was, of course, said in regard to the Spitzer scandal, but it got me dreaming. What would our country be like if laws were based on reality and not some moral BS? How would my every day life be different? I can think of some drastic improvements, for sure. What about you?

Related post:
You Want Me To Put That WHERE?

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Want Me To Put That WHERE?!

As a woman, I often get pissed off about the awful shit women have to go through because of our reproductive system and the stupid way it's constantly approached by science. But looking back in history still ALWAYS makes me feel better about how good we've got it today (which, still isn't that great, dammit).

When I read Poison, which takes place in the 1400s, I was completely grossed out by a scene in which the main character goes to the local 'witch' for a contraceptive:

I reached into her palm and chose the stone that was the smallest and pale purple. She put the rest of them in the bag, locked it back into the chest and with a great heave slid the heavy box under her bed. The purple stone she put into a kettle over the fire and made her fire blaze high under it. She put in some herbs, too. I am not sure of all of them but I could smell trincilla, and I recognized hyssop and the white hellebore flowers. The steam rose higher, and it began to boil.

Visita led me into a small room with no windows... "Lie down," said Visita, and I did. She took my underclothes from me and opened my legs and I was lying with my knees up as I did for Alvaro...

Visita was an agile old woman, gentle and her hands were clean, but it hurt me when she put the little stone up so high. She had a wand that she used, something made of bone that held the stone and pushed it farther than where her fingers could go, past that circle of flesh that closes a woman's womb. When she did this, there was a terrible clenching in my belly, and it did not go away, even after an hour or more. I felt cold all over.
God! It makes me cover my cunt and shudder! But almost as bad or worse than jamming a stone up your twat are the methods of contraception covered over at Cracked.com: History's 10 Most Terrifying Contraceptives. The list includes:
  • weasel testicles
  • crocodile shit
  • beaver testicles
  • mercury (WTF!!!!)
  • gold and/or silver
  • animal intestines
  • opium (at least that one sounds fun!)
  • lemons
  • blacksmith water
  • coca-cola
It's truly horrible. You should go check it out. But the reason why I bring this up is, in part, to point out that there still aren't a lot of good contraceptive options that won't affect your body in some way. Only instead of mercury and opium, we've got pharmaceuticals.

I'm still trying to find the best method of contraception for myself and the closest thing to what I'd like to use is a technique called conscious conception:
It sounds simple ~ by knowing when we are fertile, we can still express sexual love yet not conceive babies merely by not having seminal intercourse. Women are usually fertile for 1/3, 1/4 or 1/5th of the monthly cycle. During this phase of fertility, sexuality can be deepened by exploring many ways to ecstasy exclusive of intercourse. There is a courtship/honeymoon rhythm each month which cultivates desire and passion. Plus, the dilemma of an unwanted pregnancy needn't interfere with the on-going deepening of trust between lovers. (from ash-tree-publishing.com)
I know a lot of people will think that is stupid, and I think that's a natural response. We've come to rely on science & scientists to inform us about our own bodies instead of listening to our bodies and forming relationships with them. For instance: Did you know that when you are not ovulating your body literally creates a barrier to block sperm from entering your uterus?

Sure, it's all new-agey and crap, but when you learn exactly how your reproductive system works and how easy it is to be in tune with it and thus plan or avoid pregnancy, a LOT of stress associated with sex just disappears.

So that's where I stand, and here's a few books I read on the way to getting here:
A New View of a Woman's Body
Cunt: A Declaration of Independence
Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
Conscious Conception

And if you want to hear more about this subject from me, you can check out Sitting In The South, which is another one of my blogs. I've written a lot about female fertility & power and the like over there.

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Act Now to Save Affordable Birth Control
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Add some MMmm! to Your Morning


This post was brought to you by the letter M and MONDAY and is rated M for Mature.

_______________________________

I've recently come to terms with being a morning person (admitting it is the first step). I love my mornings and they are often the best part of my day: emotionally, physically and otherwise, so I like to spend as much time with my man as possible in the AM. But, sadly, we both work in the morning, so we don't usually have time for any hanky panky. But I've found that there's an easy way to get a little fun in, without cutting in to work prep time. It's a little thing called the reverse strip-tease.

I find the best way to start the ball rolling with this is to prance around naked after a shower and tell my man to follow me to the bedroom. Sit him down on the bed and shimmy about while you pick out your outfit and throw it piece-by-piece on to the floor. Because then you expose more bending down to pick it all up again as you start putting your clothes on. I find it's best to start with the bra & shirt and work my way down from there. Of course, there's always other ways to get dressed, but that's my personal favorite.

I love doing this because I get to start my day off feeling absolutely fabulous and desired. Let me tell you that goes a long way towards making the rest of the day seem glorious.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

8Hands Is Cute, But Harmless

While I was on vacation, I got an email from some website called 8Hands.com saying that they were ready with version 1 and I could go ahead and download it since I was signed up for it already. And while I don't recall signing up for it, I can completely believe I did for the same reason I instantly downloaded the trial version when I got to the website: their branding is so damned adorable! Who could resist this face?
For serious. That is just too cute. It seems their design team actually took into account that women are the top users of social networks. How's that you say? Oh, what does 8Hands do? That's easy!

8Hands is an aggregator for social networking sites that hypothetically "organize and optimize your different online profiles from one place, while receiving real time notifications of your events." 8Hands currently supports Facebook, Flickr, Wordpress, Feedburner, Twitter, Typepad, MySpace, LiveJournal, YouTube and Blogger. It will "soon" be supporting Bebo, Friendster, Xanga and Last.FM. But you'll notice I said that's what 8Hands hypothetically does, because my experience with it was quite different.


I downloaded the program and used it for 2 weeks before I completely gave up on it. The display window area for friends kept displaying JUST my Facebook friends - some people are actually NOT on my friends list any more even - and none others. That was a real pain in the ass because Facebook is one of my least favorite social networking sites and I didn't feel like looking at people I don't talk to any more. So that was strike one against it.

Strike two was the photo gallery display on the bottom portion of the display also only showed albums from Facebook - which are some of the oldest I've uploaded - and that just didn't make sense. Plus, even after I changed the photo display to show something else from MySpace, 8Hands just changed it back a few minutes later and so I gave up on that.

Strike three was the worst: ONLY MY TWITTER UPDATES WERE REPORTED! Nothing else from any other site I registered came through as an alert at any time that I used it. I mean, WTF? Don't claim you can keep tabs of everything if you can't! How hard is that? I kind of liked having little twitter updates pop-up on my desktop, but since that isn't what the software is supposed to do, I removed it and said good riddance.

8Hands wins top marks for being attractive, but it has no long term relationship possibilities.


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lezzies Are Feminists Too!

The Evil Slut Clique - who are the coolest chicks on the interwebs IMO - blogged yesterday about the "Lavender Menace" of lesbianism in relation to the feminist movement. I love reading their posts because it's like getting a hug for my mind... which is kind of how I feel in general about people who agree with me on important issues - or what I consider to be important anyway.

But the part about this post that really got me was from their disclaimer at the end. It helps me remember why I like being a woman and being around women. That's sometimes hard to remember when it seems like all bitches around me are just going crazy (unlike Jay-Z my 99 problems all too often are female-related)... but listening to my lezzie friend complain about her crazy exes makes me feel better, and this did to:

We're happy that today we've come so far from that time, yet also sad that we still seem to be so far from a time when all human beings - regardless of gender, race, religion, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc - will be treated equally... as human beings. I think the best way for that to happen is for everyone (e.g., lesbians, women of color, gay men, etc.) to have individual representation but ultimately work together to achieve equal human rights for all.

Which is why it's so important to remember that lesbian issues are feminist issues. Just like sex workers issues are feminist issues, even if the subject is 'controversial'. Not all feminists - or all women - are concerned with the same issues, but all women's issues are by definition, "feminist issues".

...

Feminism may always be somewhat divided, but we have to remember that what affects our sisters does affect us - as women. And to take it one step further, feminist issues and women's issues are in fact, "human issues" so they should be the concerns of all human beings, not just women.

I think it's important that we address individual issues, but that shouldn't cause us to view define ourselves based solely on what makes us different. We must be able to recognize that underneath the labels, we're all inhabitants of this same planet and all connected... and ultimately, all the same.
Read the entire post here.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Amnesia Moon Rising

I first fell in love with Jonathan Lethem when I read As She Climbed Across the Table a few years ago. It's about a scientist who discovers a sentient black hole and then loses his girlfriend to it. It was funny and sad and quirky and I think there's a special kind of power in making ridiculous situations feel real and serious.

Which is why I've been picking up everything by him I've found at Half Price Books including my current read: Amnesia Moon. This is a post-apocalyptic story of Chaos, who has no memory of his real name, his past life or what happened to change everything. People are strangely affected - sometimes controlled - by the dreams of others, and there are whole communities where all the people dream their leader's dreams with them to shape their thoughts accordingly.

Chaos leaves one of these places after being cast once too often as a dream villain, accompanied by a mutant girl of 13 with hair all over her. They drive across states finding different levels of technologies and societies as they go. Some places are powered purely by solar power while some places run on fossil fuels. One mountain town is covered entirely by what the inhabitants call "the green" which colors the air so much that it is almost all they see. One town forces it's citizens to move twice a week and share most belongings communally.

This is probably the coolest post-apocalyptic story I've read since Oryx and Crake, because it's original and surprising. Plus, I haven't read any science fiction that dealt with dreams and mental abilities this way - though it is similar to the Lathe of Heaven in ways. And for all you Lost fans, the characters all have the same fabulous lost-in-the-woods kind of behavior as the plane wreck survivors did in the first season.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tom Cruise & the Gayest Unicorn

Oh my gawd, hello! You mean you haven't heard of Unicorn Planet, yet? Well, here's the run down:

In the year 2117, an 8-year-old gay boy named Shannon found a magic lamp.
He was granted three wishes. The first, a fur jacket. The second, a flying car. And the third was a planet full of unicorns. This is the story of that planet...

Tom Cruise, Cadillac and Feathers are our 3 unicorn heroes who like to have fun. But sometimes they make trolls cry to save the forest. Here's the first episode to get you started. Watch more here. GoodBYEEEEEEE!



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Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Pi


What's Pi Day?

Eye-Popping Art

Sometimes I see things so awesome it's like they reach up and rip my eyelids off because I cannot look away. Here are a couple of things that do that for me:

Single Sheet Paper Art
Peter Callesen creates whimsical, impressive and sometimes disturbing images with paper. He cuts them directly from a sheet, which forms the landscape for his creation. Just look, it's freaking awesome:

Birds trying to escape their drawing (detail), 2005

Dead Angels, 2007
See more (including some installation pieces that look like real architecture!) at PeterCallesen.com

Firey Rube Goldberg Machine
Although I can't remember the name of this artist, I saw his/her videos back when I was still working at the Henry Art Gallery and was completely mesmerized. There's something about a whole lot of controlled fire and explosions happening over and over again that just can't be beat.
[via Gizmodo]



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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Smiley Face (Movie Review)



There's two kinds of stoners: smart ones and stupid ones. The stupid ones are just about anyone who smokes and then acts stupid afterwards - I know you know what I'm talking about; they're everywhere in the Midwest. The smart ones are like the crazy-smart engineers who toked from my alma mater - they get high and talk about quantum physics and shit. Smiley Face is the first stoner movie I've seen that was actually made for the smart variety... not that you'd know it from the trailer.

Jane - played by Anna Faris - seems like a complete twit, thanks to the pot cupcakes she unwittingly devours on top of being baked out of her mind. But it turns out that she's an ex-political science major with some serious business sense... once the smoke clears away a bit.

The basic plot is that Jane has to replace the pot cupcakes before her evil "skull f*ing" roommate comes home and finds out. Unfortunately, she ruins her first batch of pot butter (as seen in the trailer) and has to leave the apartment to forage for more. She manages to get lost along the way, crashes her fascist ex-professor's house and steals an original Marx manuscript, and eventually ends up at a carnival, hunted by all the people she's begged, borrowed and stolen from that day. But all she really wants is some orange juice and a bag of Doritos.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How To Get a Sexy Back

My boyfriend is all about kettlebells, through which he was introduced to the wall squat. The wall squat is as simple as it sounds: you do a squat facing a wall... and it's a kettlebell exercise, but you can do it without, obviously. He's been doing this exercise for a few months now, and I finally jumped on the band wagon a couple weeks ago. And I'm so happy I did.

You know that sexy back crease you get from a nice muscle-y back? Well, mine goes all the way up to my neck now, which is crazy awesome. Plus I have these weird, but incredible dimples in my shoulder blades when I flex my back. Anyway, you have to start doing this exercise. I have been doing 2-3 every other day or so and the results have been impressive. My back is sexier than it was when I was 19 and so proud of my back I was naked modeling for like, everyone. Too bad for you I don't do that any more.

How To Do a Wall Squat (without a kettlebell)
1. Stand with your feet apart and your toes close to the wall
2. Roll your shoulders back and point your hands towards the floor, one hand on top of the other
3. Keeping your face forward, stick out your butt as you lower yourself to the floor
4. Let your fingertips touch the floor, then slowly raise yourself to the standing position
5. Repeat

Here's a video of a wall squat with kettlebell:


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Review: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to see a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Off Center Theater Saturday night. I was expecting to love it, because I've watched the movie hundreds of times in the past 6 years or so and I've got all the songs memorized. Basically, I'm a gigantic Hedwig geek. I'm going to focus on how the show differed from the movie here since everyone has already reviewed the show all normal-like.

Big difference #1: HEDWIG WAS PRETTIER IN PERSON
When I saw H&tAI for the first time, I was in awe of how pretty Hedwig was, because - let's face it - she's the prettiest trannie I've seen besides the one OKCupid is always matching me with. But Justin Van Pelt makes an even prettier Hedwig than John Cameron Mitchell. That had the effect of re-invigorating my "holy crap, Hedwig is hawt" trail of thought like when I saw the film for the first time.


Compare for yourself: L - Mitchell, R - Van Pelt


Big difference #2: THE JOKES WERE FUNNIER
In the movie, most of the jokes are mostly throw away lines that a bitter, jaded & drunk Hedwig spits out between hysterics and singing. But for the show, the rest of the band, especially Yitzhak, interacted with the joke material, often with physical humor. That dramatically increased the humor of the overall piece, which I enjoyed. The movie version can be a bit of a downer.

A side benefit from this was that the band seemed more like actual characters instead of people standing in for actual characters - the movie focuses on Hedwig too much to really "see" anyone else.


Big difference #3: I CRIED LIKE A LITTLE BITCH
The biggest difference between watching the movie and seeing the show performed was the emotional impact. The movie often makes me sad, but it's never made me cry for almost an hour straight like the show did. There is something about seeing Hedwig in person, drinking vodka on stage and getting gradually more distraught as the evening goes on that just broke my f*ing heart. But in my defense, I was totally PMSing, which for me means that just about anything can make me cry. But, on the other hand, I know I wasn't the only one bawling my eyes out in that theater.

And now I leave you with my favorite Hedwig song:




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Monday, March 10, 2008

Carbon's Gonna Kill Us

I had planned on writing today about the performance of Hedwig I saw over the weekend, but then I read this article from the Washington Post and changed my mind. It's talking about climate change and how the world's water supply is going to be depleted given the change of a few degrees in overall world temperature.

"Our actions right now will have consequences for many, many generations. Not just for a hundred years, but thousands of years."

Normally, I try not to talk about the negative aspects of climate disruption and the state of the environment, except when pointing out the consequences of specific actions (like driving a car and eating meat). I do this for two reasons: 1) it's freaking depressing and 2) I want people to be motivated by passion and not panic. But today I'm going to talk about how depressing the state of the world is, because it's affecting my job.

Everyday I come to work with the overall goal in my mind being that we will avert climate disaster. Secondary goals usually include editing publications, writing copy and various other office-y stuff that never seems at all important after it's done. Anyway, you can imagine that being a workaholic type who obviously chose a stressful career on purpose that I have problems with not creating changes fast enough in the world.

Everyday I feel like I am up against all the ignorance in the world and how "self-preservation threatens us all" when it blots out the interconnectedness of everything. We're literally burning ourselves up as we burn nonrenewable resources for no good reason. It's just makes the working week that much more frustrating.

And I promise that's all I'm going to say about that.


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