Evelyn Nesbit’s Strange Big Smile

Evelyn Nesbit aka Evelyn Thaw, who we discussed in conjunction with of sex scandals and reports of roofies in 1910, is making the news rounds again. This time it is at The Daily Mail, with lots of photos; but she was also at the BBC at the end of 2014.

All that may just provide some cultural context to Nesbit’s sweet song of freedom from men, sang a decade or more after her divorces.

Job Sprawl May Be Ending — And For The Same Reasons The Partisan Politics Are Spreading

Home may be where your heart is, but a neighborhood is where you live. And it may be even more than that. It turns you, where you reside, the resulting lifestyle of your community, is further impacting the partisan divide in this country.

The United States Census Bureau stats indicate that US cities have been growing faster than the suburbs for the past few years. Something Leigh Gallagher writes about at great length in her book, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving. In that book, Shyam Kannan, a former real estate consult who is now managing director of planning at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said, “We are moving from location, location, location in terms of the most important factor to access, access, access.” And that access clearly involves the ideals expressed in New Urbanism, a the planning movement which advocates creating communities based on traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD).

New Urbanism communities feature homes within easy walking-distance of public spaces surrounded by shops and offices which meet both community consumer and employment needs accessed by various transportation routes, including not only streets for cars, but public transit, pedestrian walkways, and bicycle paths. It’s today’s “green” living. Or simple vintage living, if you prefer.

I grew up in a place like this: Greendale, Wisconsin. And it was swell. Nearly idyllic, actually. As a result, I’ve long complained about McMansions, urban sprawl, and — perhaps most egregious — the placement of huge garages in the front of houses, relegating folks to their backyards, away from front porches and lawns — and away from their neighbors. Neighbors are, like the Sesame Street song said, the people in your neighborhood.

Knowing those people made communities safer. And, as a kid who could run up and down the block with the neighborhood kids, including playing games like kick the can at dusk (and even later!), it was a blast.

I could dissolve into nostalgia here…

But suffice it to say, I am a huge fan of such communities and New Urbanism.

Whether or not they all know it, many other Americans are in love, or falling in love, with New Urbanism too because they are not only moving away from the suburbs and into the cities, but into similar communities. In fact, as job sprawl and suburban crawl are slowing, companies are moving back to the cities too. It is one part downsizing response, but also following the best workers and going where they are. And what the companies are leaving behind are these huge corporate “white elephant” commercial spaces — which are slowly being turned into new-urbanist community spaces.

But, while workers are moving into the cities and such community spaces, the wealthy CEOs and company owners are not. They remain — and want to remain — in their far-removed suburban hide-outs, sequestered from the masses, hiding behind the giant multiple-car garages that at once announce their multiple-car wealth as well as shield their homes and selves from their neighbors.

This split is more than economical. Pew Research shows that this split is along partisan political lines as well.

PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-01

As Lisa Wade, PhD, states, this goes along way to explain the huge “Red & Blue” partisan divide in our culture:

I’m still surprised by the strength of these correlations. If the preferences hold true in real life, it means that there is significant partisan residential segregation. That would translate into fewer friendships between people on different sides of the political spectrum, fewer conversations that help them see the others’ point of view, and more cross-group animosity.

In fact, that’s exactly what we see: a strongly partisan population that doesn’t talk to each other very much.

 

Patriarchal Dads On Dating – Disgusting

Straight out of the creepy files, dads are viewing their daughters as their own property — property which can be defended like some backward “stand your ground” law. The following exhibits were all found at Etsy.

10 Rules For Dating My Daughter includes references to threats of violence & legal prosecution. “Get the 411 Before You Need 911.”

10 Rules For Dating My Daughter

Naturally, this whole “Dads Against Daughters Dating” or “D.A.D.D.” thing appeals to the gun-toting crowd. “Shoot the first one and the word will spread” is another variation.

Dads Against Daughters Dating guns

This version makes it clear that only the pretty daughters will be “protected”.

Guns Don't Kill People Dads With Pretty Daughters Kill People

Oh, and be sure to dress your daughter up with the warning — in a shoulder-baring tee.

Rules For Dating My Daughter Off Shoulder Slouchy

Likely these protective fathers have spent too much time at these “dating sites” and assume all boys are as bad as they were.

I’m also insulted for our sons. Not all of them are predators, worthy of violent disposal at the mere idea of offending some twisted notion of “protective paternity.” Nor are boys completely free of hurt from girls either.

Let’s Talk About Sex — With & For Youth With Disabilities & Special Needs

As a parent, I’ve long been upset with the sad state of sex education in this country. As a parent of a (now adult) child with special needs, I’m even more upset. Children and even adults with special needs, especially those with disabilities which are not physical or so easily seen, receive even less sex ed than their mainstream counterparts. And this lack of knowledge apparently extends to the professionals and staff which work with those who have disabilities.

This has been made quite clear to me over the past few years in staff meetings for my daughter — especially when I have broached the subject of getting my now 25 year old daughter a vibrator or other sex toy. I don’t find it odd or irresponsible to teach young adults, especially young women how to please themselves; like former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, I believe a lot of good can come from masturbation (pun kind of intended?). Or at least a lot of bad, including bad relationships, can be avoided if a person knows how to thrill and please themselves. But while I have often been reminded by the professionals in my daughter’s life that “those with disabilities have the right to fail”, few, if any, have any comprehension that part of a full life is the right to a sexual life — and a pleasing one at that.

This was why I was so astonished and delighted to find this series of videos produced by KIDS, a charity which works with disabled children, young people and their families. While broken-up into three parts, the videos are from The Love Programme – Relationships and Sexuality, a Young Person’s Perspective, a film mad by and for young adults with disabilities. These young adults discuss good and bad relationships, personal space, forms of birth control (including which ones prevent sexually transmitted infections and diseases — and which do not), how to buy and use a condom — and part three even has a section for parents, with links to resources, and an amazing glossary (which even includes the word “consent”!).

Watch and be amazed.

[Be prepared to turn up the volume after the intro song (Let’s Talk About Sex, of course); the voices are a bit quiet.]

But, of course, the KIDS organization is in the UK.

Meanwhile, we in the US still fight over whether or not there should even be any sex education for “regular kids”. Never mind that if there’s one expectation in the “family values” culture, it is to produce a family. So shouldn’t one know just how that happens?

For the sane among us, we also know that there’s more to sex than pregnancy. There are health matters to contend with, such as STIs and STDs. And there are relationship issues as well. Which is why I so applaud the KIDS videos. The icing on top is the frank and accepting matter of sexual orientations as well.

Recommended Reading

Sex education: young people with learning disabilities are being left out:

“Learning about sex and relationships equips young people not only with the skills to say yes, but to say no, too,” [Gill] Leno says. “Understanding emotions, boundaries and how to stay safe are vital for people with learning disabilities. A good, well-rounded awareness of sex and relationships is important as it helps to protect against abuse and exploitation as well as providing a solid framework for appropriate behaviour, both sexually and socially.”

Sex Education for Physically, Emotionally, and Mentally Challenged Youth:

Myth 1: People with disabilities are not sexual. All people—including young people—are sexual beings, regardless of whether or not they live with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. And, all people need affection, love and intimacy, acceptance, and companionship.

…Start talking with your children about sexuality while they are very young. Do not wait until they reach puberty (or later) for these conversations!

Additional resources on Sex & Disability at the Sexual Health & Disability Alliance (SHADA).

FireShot Screen Capture #397 - 'The Love Programme - Relationships and Sexuality, a Young Person's Perspective Part 1_mov - YouTube' - www_youtube_com_watch_v=4ASCysU1wto&feature=plcp

How Much Adultery Is Too Much Adultery In China?

chinese communist partyWell, that all depends on who you are.

China Daily reports that “adultery” is now banned for communist party members. That might seem a bit shocking, in one direction or another, depending on your view point of China and/or politics. You may have thought that was already the case or you may have thought that as in the US’s republican party and religious community, the anti-adultery stance was just a common sense approach for politicians — that marital infidelity is proof of “disloyalty” which would include a broken or weak commitment to country. Or, heck, maybe you never thought about it all. However, now you know: Though adultery is not illegal in China, it is now forbidden under CPC rules. And just in case you were wondering, there are a few distinctions regarding this new policy too.

Firstly, it seems the terms “adultery” doesn’t mean a simple extramarital affair; it means having a mistress — or more than three mistresses, to be precise. So cheating in general is A-OK; having one, two, or even three mistresses is A-OK; but four or more (presumably at the same time) is trouble. You might think this magic number of three has something to do with another typical assertion here in the USA, namely the fear that politicians would be sharing government secrets with lovers via pillow-talk; the more partners, the more pillows, the more talk. Hence, the greater the mathematical danger of loose lips sinking our nation’s warships. But the Chinese Communist Party is far more worried about another kind of math. The BBC explains:

In the public’s eyes, mistresses have become the ultimate symbol of corruption. The common assumption is no official would able to buy his mistress a car or a home without pilfering from public funds.

Secondly, sexism remains alive and well in this Chinese version of the Red Menace; for there is no mention of female party members. I suppose the term “mistress” might include the lesbian variety of paramours; but there is no mention of male lovers kept by women (or by men, for that matter).

The third issue worthy of noting in this new CPC rule is that there was no list of punishment(s) for those who break the rule.

In any case, Communist Party members must now at least appear to adhere to a higher moral standard than the general public.

I guess all things are not equal in this land of Communism. What. A. Surprise.

Sex Toy Bans in the Twenty-first Century: What Would Cleopatra Think?

Head in HandsSometimes, when looking at the current state of affairs, I find myself asking, “What decade is this again?” If you sometimes feel like our society is moon-walking backwards in time, you’re not alone.

Take, for instance, the fact that it’s illegal to buy and sell sex toys in some American cities! Sandy Springs, Georgia is in the center of a recent HuffingtonPost.com article that highlights the ludicrous city ordinance that deems “‘any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs’ obscene material, and prohibits their sale, unless ‘a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement purpose’ exists.”

Talk about the dark ages!

This ordinance has forced one resident, Melissa Davenport, to go through the insulting process of getting a sex toy prescription from her doctor. You see, Mrs. Davenport has multiple sclerosis, which impacts her ability to have enjoyable sex. She needs the help of sex toys to make sex with her husband pleasurable. “The ordinance,” she said, “basically says the government can stick its nose in your bedroom… It’s appalling. I just think it’s ludicrous.”

And it is.

Civil rights buffs might be reminded of Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, the landmark 2003 Supreme Court decision, which declared it unconstitutional for the government to have any say in what goes on in the privacy of one’s bedroom. In this case, it was a couple of men enjoying consensual sex.

And yes, this ruling does seem to apply to Mrs. Davenport’s case. It certainly did in 2008 when a federal appeals court struck down a similar ban on sex toys in Texas. According to NBCNews.com, the opinion of the court was that “the case is not about public sex. It is not about controlling commerce in sex. It is about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the state is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct. This is an insufficient justification after Lawrence.”

Phil Harvey, president of Adameve.com, one of the plaintiffs in the case, spoke of the company’s plans to expand sales in Texas to include home parties. Previously, the company had been hesitant to pursue this because of the Texas law.

At the time of the ruling, there were two other states with sex toy bans on the books—Alabama and Mississippi. Since then, Mississippi’s ban has been lifted, but Alabama’s inexplicably remains.

There’s reason to be optimistic, though. And maybe Melissa Davenport of Sandy Springs will soon be able to see light at the end of the tunnel. It sure seems like a no-brainer, both constitutionally and rationally.

The fact is, sex toys have been around just about as long as human beings have been having sex. According to Alternet.org, archeologists have excavated numerous wood and stone dildos dating back to the Paleolithic era. It’s even believed that Cleopatra might have invented the first vibrator—a hollowed out gourd filled with angry bees!

If it seems completely asinine that there would be bans on sex toys in the twenty-first century… Well, just imagine what Cleopatra would think!

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50 Years *sigh*

Today, June 21st, is my birthday; I turn 50. I feel pretty much the same way I did when I wrote this two years ago, “A lifetime of so little progress is just too much.”; only more so. *sigh*

I was born on June 21, 1964; I joined this world, as Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney left it. My mother’s screams may have been dulled by the twilight sleep of that time’s hospital deliveries, but I passed through the same veil, entered the ether echoing with the agony, pain, and fear of those men, their families and friends, and all who possess any shred of humanity… And I have lived in a country filled with those sounds and the stink of racism ever since.

On Thursday, Rachel Maddow drove this one of the points home — like a dagger in my heart.

Michael Schwerner James Chaney Andrew Goodman

In honor of the three American Heroes who gave their lives that Freedom Summer, which most decidedly lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — which was struck down by the Supreme Court last summer, spawning lots of laws to suppress voting, the show went to James Chaney’s grave to show if times have really changed beneath the PC surface. It was disturbing, to say the least. Watch it. Do it as a birthday gift to me.

Recently, my sister mentioned, “What’s wrong with voter ID?” and, out of respect for not ruining some rare extended family time, I just sighed and said, “This conversation won’t end without an argument, so let’s not discuss this…” Maybe she will read this.

Signs Of The Times: Now

So I’m at the Mall Of America last weekend and, as dirty, rotten smoker, I have to find the properly designated areas to do my nasty business in. (I want to rant about the whole unfairness of how those addicted to a legal substance are treated, but someone else has already done that; see Smokers are the new lepers.) After following all the arrows in the transportation area, I arrive at the spot. But hello, what’s this? Yup, right above all the “designated smoking area” signs there are even larger “no loitering” signs. WTF? I’m pretty sure the very definition of loitering is smoking a cig in the designated area. Is this to keep non-smokers out? Another way to punish and fine smokers? It’s a pretty fresh hell.

PS Sorry the photo’s a bit blurry — but I took a quick pic as I wanted to hurry the hell on out of there before I was snagged for loitering!

no smoking loitering signs

More #YesAllWomen Backlash & Myth-Information (It’s Math, Really)

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, then you may not have noticed how in love I am with the #YesAllWomen phenomenon. Personally, it became very difficult for me to maintain such conversations when Maya Angelou passed, but despite that, and the hashtag’s bump off the top trends at Twitter, I manage to maintain conversations. (My goal, and yours, should be to talk about the realities of women’s lives daily to ensure the conversations continue. The hatred and misogyny, the misinformation and bad defensive attitudes, they all continue so the conversations must.

Today’s example comes from the Washington Post: One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married.

Oh, sure, they went and changed that horrible title & subtitle…

yesallwomen backlash

But that’s not much better, is it?

The general point of view in the article itself is one of victim shaming. Along with that, there’s the whole shaming of single women, especially single mothers (see history of this here). — and the assertion that “single women who date more” are the problem is rife with problems. Simple, obvious problems.

Yes, it may be safer for women (& their children) if they remain with one man — but that’s because the majority of gender-based violence is committed by someone the woman knows. Ditto child abuse. So, even as the percentage of abusive men remains the same, the more men a woman knows, the greater the number of bad men she knows and so grows the likelihood that she will be attacked, raped, abused, etc.  Yup, that’s how math works.

So what W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson proclaim is that women, the victims and potential victims, once, must again, be the ones taught to control rape culture & misogyny. That way, if it happens to them, they are to blame. We give permission to men because the women didn’t protect themselves enough.

Why can’t the men be the ones educated and blamed?

One of the fundamental points of #YesAllWomen is that our culture has it all backwards. The burden should not be on women to take actions to prevent themselves from what men do, but that men need to cut this shit out. And we all need to stop justifying bad & violent behaviors.

Prison Rape Isn’t Entertaining

The Kinsey Institute reminds us that while Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) may be entertaining, it downplays a major issue that occurs not only in female correctional facilities, but in male correctional facilities as well: sexual coercion.

Although research studies vary, rates of sexual victimization in prison may be as high as 41% of prison inmates.

This is why there’s the Prison Rape Elimination Act (Sexual Violence in Correctional Facilities). However, 11 years later, governors won’t comply with the Federal standards meant to prevent sexual assault in prisons; you can sign this petition to move them to do the right thing.

OITNB

An African Princess Who Stood Unafraid Among Nazis

African Princess Who Stood Unafraid Among Nazis



Between 1939 and 1946, Fatima Massaquoi penned one of the earliest known autobiographies by an African woman. But few outside of Liberian circles were aware of it until this week, when Palgrave McMillian published The Autobiography of an African Princess, edited by two historians and the author’s daughter. The book…


Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:


See on www.theroot.com

Context Is Credibility

stockade

I’ve written before about the importance of context; and ranted too about “stolen” images used, uncredited etc., at Tumblr and other sites. I’ve tweeted and posted at Facebook about my hatred of such things. Others have taken a far more direct and pointed-tongued approach (NWS) regarding the issue. But Sarah Werner‘s It’s History, Not A Viral Feed is the most direct and well-articulated article — complete with excellent resources.

— A. History (@AhistoricalPics) January 24, 2014

 

Surviving The Night Of A Thousand Vaginas

I was thrilled to see that Martha Plimpton wore her scarlet letter when she was on Craig Ferguson last week (23 January, 2014).

Not only did Plimpton talk about her organization, A Is For, but she spoke about the recent fundraiser too. The event was called A Night of a Thousand Vaginas — no, not this Night Of A Thousand Vaginas. Though it’s pretty clear that too many Americans are as afraid of vaginas as the parody suggests; or at least, as Plimpton said, uncomfortable with the word.

see it to believe it night of a thousand vaginasAnyway, the A Is For Night of a Thousand Vaginas event was to raise funds for the Whole Women’s Health Fund, Lilith Fund, Fund Texas Women, and TEA Fund. It had a great line-up of comedians & others and quickly sold out. Early reports estimated they raised $20,000. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that others came & demonstrated at the event, saying, “Sadly this was done in the name of ‘comedy.'” Normally I wouldn’t give these folks any attention or press, but it’s always educational to see what the other side is up to — and some of the comments are fascinating. Apparently we are to watch for a conversation also recorded that night between the evangelical Chaplain Bill and Sarah “the Blasphemer” Silverman, because Chaplain Bill sent that video to “a wonderful Christian based media organization” who may or may not opt to share it. I would like to see that myself — unedited, of course.

Since many of us couldn’t get tickets or even get to L.A., I was hoping there would be some video of the event; but no such luck. (We can keep an eye on A Is For’s video channel, just in case something shows up.) Meanwhile, you can still support the work of A Is For by donating and/or buying merch.

Image via.

Politicians: Erect & Standing Up, But Not For Women

Maybe you don’t want to call it a “war on women”. Maybe you find the word “war” to be over-the-top, despite the facts regarding bombings, shootings, rape, and other violent attacks against women, including the places where they seek access to medical care. Perhaps you just don’t think that violence is enough to be called a “war”. But what about when you factor in the legislative bombs aimed directly at women here in the USA?

Legislating against women’s rights is at the center of politics. In the past three years, state legislatures in the US have enacted a record-setting 205 restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. That exceeds the total number of such restrictions enacted during the entire previous decade — and that last decade was no small potatoes either. Between 2001 and 2010, states passed 189 abortion restrictions. (Data from a Guttmacher Institute report.)

women's rights restrictions in states

Legislating against women’s rights is so popular right now, that one candidate for congress in Virginia, Richard Black, thinks that marital rape should be legal again, like it was in 1965, and that military rape is “as predictable as human nature”. That says a lot about his nature. And a lot more about a society in which someone espousing such beliefs can run for office.

wives-rights-sex-1965a

Maybe 1965 isn’t so far back that we need a stone tablet to mark the date, but we sure are moving backwards.

And all this while, from 2006 to 2011, Medicaid was paying $175 million for 473,620 claims for penis pumps — you know, so men can have sex. Sex that maybe their spouses didn’t want to have. Sex that maybe resulted in unwanted pregnancies, because, you know, birth control isn’t always an option. It’s a limited option with many private insurance companies and with Medicare. And it’s even less likely that your insurance or Medicare will cover an abortion. But let’s just be glad that men not only have the right to those erections but the access to medical help to force those erections too.  Isn’t it nice to know that men are all about standing up for themselves?

Is Wearing Vintage Fashions Feminist? (Or, Sign Of The Times 1948)

1948 new look fashion complaints

At my vintage living blog, Things Your Grandmother Knew, I’ve written about the tendency to romanticize the past, but I recently read two blog posts discussing vintage fashion in terms of “the vintage girl being the new feminist” and thought it was time to discuss the subject from a more feminist angle…

At Style High Club, Lena Weber writes:

I don’t quite know how it happened or when but far too many women around me seem to want to look like a porn actress these days. Or why else would they wax off their pubes, slather themselves in Fakebake and state Page Three Girl in their career goals? There is something about the passivity of this particular idea of femininity – there to be stared at, cum onto – that I find deeply infuriating. It’s just sad that we’re all meant to look like little plastic sex dolls – fake eyelashes, fake hair, fake tan, fake boobs.

To my relief (no really, it is!) there is a great big social group of women out there who don’t buy into this image – the vintage girls. Although the vintage scene is splintered into smaller subfractions of particular decades, musical styles, dances and activities, the one thing all these vintage-loving women have in common is their embrace of an altogether different femininity, one that’s individual, one that harks back to a time when glamour was exotic and empowering.

At Retro Chick, Gemma Seager responds with something I was eager to point out:

It’s easy to say that this isn’t new, 1950s Pin Ups weren’t exactly sold on their educational qualifications, and the idea of a woman whose goal was to marry a rich man and live happily ever after is hardly a new concept either. That’s why we had the “bra burning” feminists of the 60s and 70s. They stood up for the rights of women to be whatever they wanted to be.

But then Seager heads right down Weber’s path:

In the last 2 decades the internet has seen a progressive pornification of culture till it seems that women now feel that they can’t assert their own sexual independence, that they have no choice but to buy into this porn star, brainless ideal of female beauty and passive sexuality. They are modern day Stepford Wives, emotionally passive and sexually compliant. Brainwashed by television, magazines and the internet into thinking they can’t make emotional demands and that sexual liberation means always wanting to have sex.

Maybe it’s because I am (I’m pretty sure) at least a decade older than these women, or maybe it’s because I am a history nut who gets obsessed with research, but I’m thinking that these two women (and the majority of those who have commented at their sites) are missing something quite important from all of this. And that something is context.

If we look at “today” and compare it to the past, yes, women’s fashions seem to be much more skimpy. [Until, at least, you notice how a New Look wiggle dress is as fitted as any spandex dress — and realize that beneath that vintage wiggle dress or pencil skirt there’s a whole lot of foundation garments making sure the female figure is as hourglass, smooth, and popping (eye-popping and fabric-testing), and as it can be. More on that later.]

no panty lines pencil skirt

Every generation has declared the next one will be the ruin of fashion, morals, and even civilization. In fact, every decade and fashion trend has resulted in criticism — often for the wearer too. Hemlines went up and dared to show ankles — so women could dare to ride bikes! That may seem antiquated to us now, so let’s look at the styles and decades that most vintage fashionistas wear, such as New Look and Mod.

When New Look fashions hit the market, they were not applauded. In Popularizing Haute Couture: Acceptance and Resistance to the New Look in the Post-1945 United States (Americanist: Warsaw Journal for the Study of the United States; October 2007, Vol. 24, p143), Sylwia Kuzma writes:

The New Look promoted a vision of femininity, epitomized in a full-bosom-and-curvaceously-hipped hourglass figure, dressed in lace, fur, and diamonds. Despite the patronage of large New York and San Francisco department stores, it’s reception by the American public was far from unanimous fascination and acceptance.

Some found the look too decadent to be seemly. Some were incensed that Dior’s New Look would require them to be padded. Others found the below-the-knee hemlines frumpy. (Images from a 1948 magazine via.)

1948 new look fashion complaints

1948 new look fashion complaints-2

A decade later, when the first babydoll nighties and dresses hit the scene, many found them obscene.

The point is, with every hemline, waistline, and neckline movement tongues go a-waggin’.

Today, Bettie Page is held up as a prime example of a cheeky risque pinup to be emulated and adored. She is such an icon for vintage fashion lovers, that many stores, designers, brands, websites, and events use the name Bettie to garner attention. But she’s The Notorious Bettie Page for a reason — her pinup photos were the subject of censorship and she herself was a target of a US Senate pornography investigation. The adoration of Bettie Page as “cute” and “classy” raises the ire of many, including sex workers — many of whom already feel shunned by feminism. To many, this co-opting of Page for “good girls” is a theft they won’t stand for.

Which brings us to the matter of vintage glamour being “exotic and empowering”…

Those are the very words many use to describe their sex work and to defend a sex positive or even “pornified” culture. In many ways, today’s sex workers and pornified pop culture icons control their bodies far more than the women of decades ago. The 1950’s woman put on an exaggerated-hourglass Dior dress to lure in Mr. Right for marriage. Once she “caught” her man, she put on a golden wiggle dress to serve cocktails to her husband’s boss; a pretty little prop in her husband’s life. When The Little Woman needed to be medicated in order to endure her life, her doctor talked to her husband-daddy, so he could make the decisions for her — as if she were a child. Does that seem glamorous, exotic, or empowering?

Wearing vintage fashions may be moving the hemlines, waistlines, and necklines back in time, but does that move women forward towards equality?

Yes, fashion sends messages about who we are — at least at that moment. But, ultimately, what defines a person is their actions. And if we start labeling and denigrating people for what they are wearing, then we are on a very slippery slope . This is especially true for women because of that whole “what she’s wearing is asking for rape” thing. Not to mention that whole “what does a feminist look like” argument that no body wins.

Our bodies belong to ourselves. We’ll dress them ourselves, to please ourselves, and we’ll be the kind of person we wish to be.

Casual Sex Feminists?

Seeing that this article, Mediocre Sex – The Price Women Pay For Freedom? by Jennifer Kabbany, was published at right-wing college site The Collage Fix, I should have resisted and not given it a click — but, as a wise woman once taught me, you do have to listen to differing opinions. And, hey, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought.

But I was wrong.

It was bad from the start:

The infamous college campus hook-up culture celebrated by feminists suggests female students love casual, no-strings-attached sex, and enjoy one-night stands without guilt, shame or regret.

Oh yeah – then why aren’t they having orgasms when they do?

Feminism as a movement doesn’t celebrate hook-up culture; it just says that if it is allowed for men, if it is considered a right of passage or otherwise bears no lack of respect for men who do it, then it ought to be the same for women.

The article refers to studies and stories included in an article at the Times, which state that women are twice as likely to reach orgasm in serious relationships as they are in hookups and that casual sex does not bring the physical pleasure for women that men experience. Kabbany wrote:

The Times’ report interviewed several people who had all sorts of ideas as to what’s going wrong in the bedroom, such as that young men don’t care about pleasing a women they see casually, and the twosome doesn’t know each other well enough to know how to get each other off. Predictably, it goes on to quote sources who say sex without orgasms is fine for women seeking to scratch that carnal itch – that “mediocre sex” is the price women pay for freedom.

But the truth is women engaged in casual sex don’t reach orgasm because – on some level – they know they’re selling themselves short. They’re giving away their ace in the hole, pardon the pun, to some guy who barely knows their name and is likely too drunk to remember it in the morning. They’re offering themselves to a man who has committed nothing to them, cares nothing for them.

This isn’t about “inequality” in the bedroom, as the Times suggests. It’s about women with low self-esteem, who set the bar low for themselves, who search for affection and affirmation in the wrong way.

These studies prove that even if campus feminists are fooling themselves, their not really fooling themselves. Their subconscious knows the truth. Sex Ed 101 tells us that females climax on emotional/mental levels while men climax to physical/visual ones.

I obviously don’t agree with Kabbany. But she also missed some of the key points in that Time‘s article by Natalie Kitroeff:

By contrast, roughly three quarters of women in the survey said they had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship.

“We attribute that to practice with a partner, which yields better success at orgasm, and we also think the guys care more in a relationship,” Dr. England said.

Indeed, young men surveyed in Dr. England’s study often admitted that they are less focused on sexually pleasing a woman they are seeing casually than one they are dating.

Duvan Giraldo, 26, a software technician in Elmhurst, Queens, said that satisfying a partner “is always my mission,” but added, “I’m not going to try as hard as when I’m with someone I really care about.” And with women he’s just met, he said, it can be awkward to talk about specific needs in the bedroom.

“You’re practically just strangers at that point,” he said.

The lack of guidance is common, Dr. England said. “Women are not feeling very free in these casual contexts to say what they want and need,” she said. Part of the problem, she added, is that women still may be stigmatized for having casual sex.

Dr. Garcia said, “We’ve been sold this bill of goods that we’re in an era where people can be sexually free and participate equally in the hookup culture. The fact is that not everyone’s having a good time.”

What women need to achieve orgasm can be very different from what they find in casual sex. Roughly one-quarter of women reliably experience orgasm through intercourse alone, according to a review of 32 studies conducted by Elisabeth Lloyd, a professor of the history and philosophy of science at Indiana University, in her 2005 book “The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution.” Another third of women rarely or never have orgasms from intercourse.

This highlights several key points. One, it’s pretty clear that people like Kabbany are illustrating Dr. England’s point about stigmatizing women, and, two, men who don’t care are often men who don’t care. But almost everyone is forgetting that women’s orgasms are more complicated to learn to achieve period.

Unlike the simple male organ (upright & locked in position in front, rendering it uber visible, its secrets easy to decode), female genitalia is more elusive (not only virtually hidden but offering more options). It takes more time for females to learn how to manipulate, arouse, and reach orgasm. (Note: It takes about the same amount of time for men and women to reach orgasm; it just takes more time for women to learn how to do this. Which is why I am so in sync with what U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was addressing.) Given the physical and cultural complexities, how many college-age women know both how to please themselves and how to communicate that to another? Shit, how many women even know how to do this in their 30s.

vintage sex hook upFeminism is all about a woman’s right to embrace her sexuality. That includes masturbation, hook-up sex, sex in relationships — any safe, sane, and consensual sexual act a woman wants. And without shame or regret. But feminism does not “celebrate” hook-ups, as if they were mandatory. Not for anyone, man or woman. And feminism certainly doesn’t expect women to suffer mediocre sex because that’s what men want.

As Shanté Cosme writes in Why Sorority Girl Rebecca Martinson Writing About Double Blowjobs is Terrible for Ladies and Completely Our Fault, one should not confuse embracing one’s own sexuality with trying to please others — and in this case, we are talking about women trying to increase their value by trying to please men. Trying to please men in any capacity is not feminism.

On This Day In History, We Ought To Be Reminded

On this date, November 6th, in 1967 a baby girl was born; just 21 years later, on July 18, 1989, she would be murdered.

The woman was Rebecca Schaeffer, an actress most famous for her role as Pam Dawber’s sister Patti Russell in the CBS sitcom My Sister Sam. For some of you youngsters, this might be before your time. (Perhaps all you know of Schaeffer is that she was the inspiration for the 2002 Jake Gyllenhaal film Moonlight Mile; the film is said to be loosely inspired by writer/director Brad Silberling, who was dating Rebecca Schaeffer at the time of her death.) But I remember distinctly being a young 24 year old woman and being shaken by the news of her death. Her age being so close — even younger than my own — pierced my youthful resistance to mortality; but what was worse was the way Schaeffer died.

Schaeffer was murdered by a stalker, a man who considered himself a fan — until God instructed him otherwise. This man-fan named Robert Bardo had adored Schaeffer’s youthful innocence, but disliked her new work as an actress when a small roll in Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills put her in bed with a male character. “If she was a whore, God was going to appoint me to punish her,” Bardo said. His mission now was to “stop Schaeffer from forsaking her innocent childlike image for that of an adult fornicating screen whore.” Or at least that’s the story he would later tell after he stalked Schaeffer at her home, was rebuffed, and retaliated by shooting her to death.

Whatever motivated Schaeffer’s murderer, the fact is that her murder finally motivated the public to care about stalking. As is unfortunately the case in our celebrity-obsessed culture, it took the death of a celebrity like Schaeffer to generate awareness and concern. Such concern over Schaeffer’s death would even lead to protective legislation.

An Innocent Life, a Heartbreaking Death

schaeffer people mag july 31, 1989

The majority of stalking, of course, occurs in the regular (non-celeb) world — and in the context of domestic violence or other situations involving everyday people the victims know. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) most recent fact sheet (August, 2012), the majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, with 66% of female victims and 41% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner. When it comes to femicide:

* 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by their intimate partner.

* 67% had been physically abused by their intimate partner

* 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder

* 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused.

* 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers

Now all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government recognize stalking as a crime; however well, or not well, police and other officials may respond, strides have been made.

Yet there is another huge unresolved issue that is brought to light with the murder of Rebecca Schaeffer: Rebecca was murdered with an illegally purchased handgun, but gun control has only gotten worse here in the USA — and by that I mean less gun control.

Since Rebecca Schaeffer’s death in 1989, her mother, Danna Schaeffer, has remained consistent in her concern, saying, “I’m angry at the system that allows things like this to happen, that allows a deranged person to get his hands on a deadly weapon.” Since then, Danna Schaeffer has lobbied and fought for sane gun control. In 1991, she went door-to-door at the Capitol lobbying for a ban on assault weapons and an end to the old gun show loophole on criminal background checks. She co-founded Oregonians Against Gun Violence (OAGV). And she continues to speak out today. But despite her actions and the actions of many, politicians still refuse to take necessary action to protect innocent Americans. What more we need? Why wasn’t Sandy Hook enough? Why has public demand for gun control waned? Do we need a celebrity massacre to make us give a damn?

Today, on the anniversary of Rebecca Schaeffer’s birth, let’s not only remember her, but do something. Contact your legislators and let them know that you demand stricter gun control laws. Now Is The Time.

Women’s Yellow Pages

Women’s Yellow Pages of Greater Milwaukee, 1995-1996. (Please refrain from jokes about “fingers doing the walking” among the women of Milwaukee. Thank you.)

milwaukee womens yellow pages

Today, Yellow Pages & phone books in general seem so quaint…. And women themselves today? Not exactly “quaint”, but certainly undervalued. So I was amazed to find out that such Women’s Yellow Pages still exist in some areas.

Related: My article at Collectors Quest regarding the history of telephone books.

What Are Women Earning? (And How Are Men Shrinking?)

If you’re following my Dare To Be A Feminist topic at Scoop.It (or have just been paying attention to the news), you probably noticed all the discussion about the Pew Research Report that states that women are earning more than their husbands in 40% of American families with children:

A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.

These “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers.1

The income gap between the two groups is quite large. The median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, well above the national median of $57,100 for all families with children, and nearly four times the $23,000 median for families led by a single mother.2

If you, like many other people, just skimmed that headline, here’s what you need to really know about this discovery:

Compared with all mothers with children under age 18, married mothers who out-earn their husbands are slightly older, disproportionally white and college educated. Single mothers, by contrast, are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree.

The growth of both groups of mothers is tied to women’s increasing presence in the workplace. Women make up almost of half (47%) of the U.S. labor force today, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.3

(There’s also discussion of the dreaded single mothers; so I urge you to read the entire Pew findings.)

One should also note that this is not simply a matter of “feminism having won, so just let it all go away.” For the findings also reveal that “total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner.” Thanks, pink collar ghetto, unequal pay, and continuing notions of gender inequality in the workplace. Not to mention all the BS traditional notions of motherhood.

Never mind the facts, however; let’s just get to the million dollar subtext question Liza Donnelly put forth regarding the 37% — the married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands: Can Husbands Handle Being Outearned By Their Wives?

The answer is, quite clearly, “No.”

Exhibit A: Lou Dobbs and his all-male panel of guests. Here, the comments range from Doug Schoen’s “a catastrophic issue” that “could undermine our social order” to Erick Erickson’s statement that this is the real “war on women.”

Yea-gads.

If you want to dismiss all this as the ramblings of irrelevant talking asshats on Fox (for which I will gently remind you that their rhetoric is often too dangerous to be dismissed), you’ll need to also know about this other study, called In Sickness and In Wealth, from Washington University in St Louis’ Olin Business School.

This research found that “men are more likely to experience problems with erectile dysfunction and other forms of mental and physical anguish as a result of his female counterpart being the primary breadwinner”.

Olin Business School professor Lamar Pierce and Michael S. Dahl of Aalborg University in Denmark write: ‘Male sexual desire and behavior is tied to cultural and social factors such as patriarchy and money, potentially causing men to suffer reduced sexual desire or dysfunction when perceiving their traditional role of provider to be usurped.

‘In fact, the medical literature has shown that anger and frustration can lead to serious sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED), a problem also linked to unemployment and decreasing household income.’

Additionally, Pierce told NBC News: ‘There is a powerful social norm for many men that it’s important to make more than their wives and, essentially, when that social norm is violated, what this does is make them feel emasculated.’

And men do not usually suffer alone, as research found that the female breadwinner also has problems with insomnia and anxiety.

Men in such a relationship have also been found to be more likely to cheat in an effort to regain their bedroom mojo.

Seriously?!

Seriously.

It seems we have not come a long way, baby, in terms of marital duties, especially not in terms of how men think. Shudder. Bigger shudder. Because this all sounds like a lot more permission slips are about to be handed out.

Of course, not all men are this primitive. But for some reason, primitive still prevails in the politics (and libidos) of our lives.

guys love it

No Subsidy For Cupid, Stupid (Lessons In Pay Equity & The Value Of Teachers, From 1948)

I found this article, Subsidy For Cupid: Request for Salary Differential for Married Teachers Is Unsound, in the December 10, 1948, edition of The Wisconsin State Journal.

The first line reads, “The board of education has been asked to establish a permanent salary differential of $600 annually for instructors who are married.” This had me thinking that the proposed salary adjustment would remove $600 a year for married teachers; you know, because married women are therefore little women who do not really need a salary anyway. But then we get to the second line. “The request comes from the recently-organized Madison Schoolmasters club, whose members are married teachers in the city’s school system.” Surely this club would not be suggesting they cut their own salaries?!

Read on:

This type of a salary differential is based upon a poorly-thought-out idea, upon a misconception of the purposes of a salary structure, and is suggested without foresight.

Teachers’ salaries, like all others, should be based upon value received. All teachers should be paid decently, and The State Journal has pushed hard for a minimum teachers salary law that will attract qualified men and women to the profession.

[Hear that, Scott Walker, et al.?]

But in any good system, workers’ salaries are set with an eye on the value of the individual worker. The scales are based on training and background, efficiency, ability to cooperate, and perhaps seniority.

Unmarried teachers should not be penalized because they happen to prefer to remain unmarried.

[The picture becomes a bit clearer now…]

Taxpayers should not be asked to grant special subsidies to teachers who prefer to get married, any more than they should be asked to subsidize teachers who choose to buy automobiles or houses or trips to Europe.

[I am astounded at the suggestion that at any time in our history a teacher could afford a trip to Europe on their own salary!]

By all means, school salaries should be substantial enough to allow a teacher to get married if he wishes.

A-ha! So here it is! We are primarily speaking of male teachers! You know men, they have to take care of the little woman, the kids, the bills, the dog… No woman has to do that.]

But he shouldn’t get a bonus for walking to the altar, or for accumulating other personal obligations. Those matters are up to the individual.

***

There is good reason for teachers — particularly those who are married — to oppose the plan.

During a depression, boards of education must cut expenses, If that married-teacher salary differential were on the books, the inclination of money-conscious school board members would be to hire instructors whose personal status didn’t require payment of that extra $600. That would man less job-security for the very people who would need it most.

While the ending line nearly eradicates my hopes of some sort of gender equality, the lines before it certainly are felt in the pink ghetto and by women at every level during the rough economic times. When talking heads speak of how women are faring better, their 77 cents to a man’s dollar means a twisted sort of job-security.

Infuriated & Embarrassed To Be From This State (Abortion Laws In North Dakota)

After calling Gov. Dalrymple, I called my state legislators too. And then I sent this letter via email to all as well in response to all the insanity occurring in North Dakota right now:

Stop these anti-abortion bills. Stop them now.

To wit:

HR 1456, HB 1305, SB 2303, SB 2305, SB 2368

And stop this sort of illegal anti-constitutional actions going forward.

Women’s rights to abortions services, clinics, birth control, and other health services are constitutional rights. If you were a woman and didn’t personally want any of these services, you just wouldn’t partake of them. It’s the same way with religion; walk right past the clinics as you would any church, synagogue, mosque, etc. If you worry about the unborn, trust your faith and leave that to God. You are not to judge. And legally you do not have the right to infringe upon the rights of others.

We women see through your blatant desire to not only remove choice but control women’s bodies and lives. You were not put into office to do this. You have better things to do, better ways to spend your time — our time and money — than on fundamentalist objectives which punish women and their families and indeed takes lives. Lives of actual people here, living, and voting as your constituents. Do your jobs and leave women’s bodies to women.

For more information, see here and here. You can track anti-constitutional anti-choice legislation in North Dakota here; and start here to track in your own state.

Old Maids

In Reflections: The Life, Writings and History of Geneva Mae Thomas Bridgford (2012), compiled by her daughter, Bonnie Bridgford Good, there’s the story of 18 year old Geneva and her friend going to the big city to attend Miss Brown’s Training School in Milwaukee. The year was 1928, and the two young ladies stayed at the Methodist Boarding School House on 11th and State — under watchful eyes.

The spinster owners of the boarding school took their responsibility of chaperoning the young women quite seriously. The older women at work (ranging in age from 25 to 40) also felt a need to mother them, and warn them of the dangers in the city. As a vent to her frustration, Mother wrote the following poem:

Old Maids

Tell me not in mournful numbers
Of the habits of old maids.
Well I know their every weakness
How their beauty wanes and fades.
They are old, they are ugly
And their hearts though staunch may fail;
For they shake and they quiver at the coming of a male.
They surround me, jeopardize me
These old maids of whom I write.
At my home and at my office
They boss me with all their might.
I’m rebelling, I won’t stand it!
And I’m very sure of this,
If I can prevent it
My name won’t always start with Miss

Sexism In Collecting Vintage Valentines

Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I wrote about why many collect old Valentines at CQ; but wanted to share this one from my own collection.

As a feminist, I obviously take issue with a woman professing “I’d like to be your little homebody.” And there she sits, knitting socks, with the ever-present female-as-feline domesticated cat.

Since these little vintage Valentine’s Day cards were, then as now, passed out in schools all over the USA, it’s only natural that you’ll find some cards not only signed by boys but presented to boys. Still, the fact that Edgar signed this gender stereotype card to Ralph makes me take pause…

This literally is how gender stereotypes have been passed along — and it’s just another example of the rote mechanical nature of boys getting the task of forced Valentines sending over with.

More of my vintage Valentines here and here.

The Cost Of Rape

Below is an image purported to be an actual statement showing the monetary cost of treatment a rape victim receives at a hospital in the United States. While the estimate, or average, financial cost for surviving rape victims vary, especially if the crime is far more violent, the shocking truth is that rape costs victims — all rape victims, be they straight or gay, in urban settings or on reservations, etc. — financially as well as physically and emotionally. This bill doesn’t even show the lost income from missing work, the cost of a new door lock, counseling, etc. This is one reason why the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), imperfect as they may be, are so important.

A Reminder About Our Rights: We May Have Won, But…

While we sane folks may be celebrating the re-election of President Obama and the slew of other positive election results, we can’t forget that the battle continues. These insane control-freaks still exist, many still have power. And many nutballs weren’t up for election and remain in office. This is especially true of what Rachel Maddow correctly calls the “creepy rape and abortion caucus”. They, and their misogynist myth-information still exists. We must continue to fight to keep our rights — and in many cases, where rights and access was stripped from us, to get them back.

Image via Nerve.