Women In Election History

1958 maidenfom I dreamed election ad photo by john rawlings Whether or not “you’re with her,” you have to recognize the historical step of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female presumptive presidential nominee for a major U.S. political party. However, she was not the first woman to run for president. Rachel Maddow covered the titillating news (and nervous giggling that ensued) when other women ran for president of the United States of America. Maddow’s coverage includes vintage news clips reporting on Maine Senetor Margaret Chase Smith’s run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964 and when Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman from New York State, ran for Democratic presidential nomination in 1972.

Thankfully, there were no advertisements, real or parody, featuring any of the candidates in their underthings. A sign of minimal respect, perhaps. But then, the Maidenform “I Dreamed I won the election” ad from 1958 must have brought many a chuckle & guffaw. (More on the classic vintage lingerie ad series here & here.)

Fun With Dick & Shame

When discussing political collectibles, there are the strange, and then there are the tacky. And in my opinion, little is tackier than Nixon.

You know, I say this with affection, as I am collector of Nixon items and oddities.

lick dickIt began with spying a “Liberated Lovelies for Nixon 1972” button. And it might have stopped there — if the anti-button for 72 hadn’t been right there as well… But who could pass that up?!

Nixon naughtiness is out there, and I must have it.

Since those first purchases, I’ve kept my eyes open for more Nixon items.

jellypin“Yes Nixon, No Jelly,” a tab from a candy company to promote their ‘Peanut Butter No Jelly’ candy bar during the campaign. It is interesting to note that the candy bar, like the President, is no longer… I imagine more folks miss the candy bar.

Yes, there was a matching McGovern one too, but I like mocking Nixon — & I have quite the Anti-Nixon collection to prove it! *neener neener*

There are a few reasons why Nixon is so easy to mock. One’s the man himself. The other is that Watergate changed the way we looked at our politicians and leaders. With this new awareness, or cynicism, Nixon spawned more ‘stuff’ than you can imagine.

Some of my personal favorites are the National Watergate Test booklet and the Watergate Coloring Book, where you can “color the facts” yourself.

national watergate test nixon watergate coloring book

Nixon-b-GumSpeaking of Sticky-Tricky-Dicky… How about these “Win With Dick” Bubble Gum Cigars?!

When looking for Nixon collectibles, I recommend this book by Eldon Almquist, who once ran the Nixon Collector’s Organization: The Political Collectibles of Richard M. Nixon.

Dare To Go Topless, Ladies, Legally

Americans are obsessed with breasts. Not just looking at them, judging them, but controlling and legislating them. Like the old “children should be seen and not heard,” there are rules about just how, when, and why breasts are exposed. In public and in private. Even if those breasts are doing the most natural thing in the world: feeding babies. According to the “seen but not heard” societal law, the sucking sounds of an infant clearly ought to be held against the child — except that mothers are blamed for everything, including the soft but necessary noises of a nursing infant.

But we all know it’s not the noises thing that bothers people so. It’s the sight of a nipple. Even the fear of seeing a nipple outrages folks. Sadly, we are not winning this fight for the right to bare our breasts. But Robyn and Michelle Lytle, a Chicago-based couple, are on a mission to fight it. In a not-so-subtle way. They are the women behind The TaTa Top Shop, which sells TaTa Tops: bikini tops in various flesh shades — complete with nipples.

free the nipple nude bikini top tata top shop

Now, before you think this is some sort of gag gift thing, like those t-shirts ; it’s not. “The TaTa Top was created in response to current censorship issues regarding women’s bodies.”

Always one to push boundaries and challenge authority, Michelle decided that The TaTa Top was the perfect way to stir things up and get people questioning the current law.

The TaTa Top is far more than nipples on a bikini top. As a brand we work to promote questioning the social norm and digging deeper when it comes to society’s expectations.

…From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to use a sense of humor to shed light on some serious issues while simultaneously raising funds for two areas we are extremely passionate about: breast cancer awareness and women’s rights. It’s great to create a product that makes people laugh, but it’s even better to be able to do something very serious with that success. For each TaTa Top sold, $5 goes directly towards supporting one of our partnered organizations, and this is what it’s all about!

But the couple isn’t above selling a few of these bikini tops for bachelorette parties. I doubt they would mind — or could control — selling them for bachelor parties either. (Because nothing is funnier than a man dressed like a woman, right?) At least the Lytle’s and their charities would get some money. Proving that nipples — at least faux nipples — are good for something.

For more on the TaTa Top, visit their website; follow on Twitter.

Memorial Day History: “Good Work, Sister”

This holiday weekend, in honor of Memorial Day, I’ve seen this poster circulating quite a bit…

good work sister vintage wwii women poster

But there are some things you should know. (Yes, feminists often don’t have the luxury of taking the holidays off.)

Info on this vintage WWII poster:

“Good work, sister.  We never figured you could do a man-size job!”

America’s women have met the test!

Artist:  Packer.  For Bressler Editorial Cartoons, Inc.

What a lovely backhanded compliment this whole poster is.

The whole gender dynamic is astounding…

…The language — use of “never” and “a man-size job” — is insulting.

…The man being shown as larger to impress upon us both the size of the job and the ‘little lady’ is a bit of visual overkill. (But, hell, shouldn’t that USDA prime cut of red-blooded American beefcake have been drafted?)

Fundamentally, it seems this poster was designed to assuage male discomfort at the notion of “Rosie the Riveter” women working outside the home rather than actually thank women for their work.

Facts:

During WWII, almost 400,000 women served in the US armed forcesincluding 6,500 Black women who faced even larger racism hurdles to do so. Those are pretty big tests too, poster.

However, despite any of their wishes, women could not serve in combat. Because “menstruation & bears!” or something.

But still, even without combat duty, many women — over 400 of them — lost their lives serving their country in the armed forces. In addition to the fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons we lost, we also lost mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. More were wounded. Women sacrificed mightily. And not just the danger of “those spreading hips that may come from long hours of sitting” too. They gave their lives and limbs, just as men did; only the women suffered more in secret. Just as they do today. Just as they always have during war: See This.

Whether women & girls worked in factories or shipyards, in the armed forces, in their yards planting victory gardens, in their homes — wherever they worked — they served this country. To the best of their ability — and as much as they were allowed.

This holiday, remember everyone who gave for this country.

March’s What I’ve Been Reading (& Writing) Report

As I mentioned, I’m downsizing; so lately, I’ve primarily been focused on listing in our Etsy shops. (1, 2, and, now, 3.) This has led to lots of posting at Things Your Grandmother Knew and Kitschy Kitschy Coo. (But don’t worry, the next stack of ephemera has plenty of “women’s issues stuff”, so then this blog will be busy. To everything, there is a season…)

lgbt antique rppcOne of the more rare items I am parting with is this antique real photo postcard featuring two female couples. I’m rather certain this is a legit “lesbian interest” photo, as it is called in the trade, and not some mere drag party of the past. However, without any living folks to tell the tale, it is hard to say definitively. There is a certain combination of affection and defiance as opposed to the hamming it up for the cameras which is usually found in ye olde crossdressing and drag parties and films of yore.

This reminds me of the fact that many sellers will call any photo of same-sex folks being affectionate as LGBTQ history. Rather than rant about that, I will simply direct you to where others have done a good job covering the issue: Brothers In Arms (NWS), naked Vintage Soldiers (NWS), and Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch. (It is perhaps no surprise that all of this talk involves men, not women, but then “everyone loves a lesbian.” …Well, almost everyone. Everyone does love Lincoln, however.)

Yes, I’m still Tumblr-ing and Scooping. (You might mostly be interested in what goes on at the women Tumblr tag and the Herstory & Dare To Be A Feminist topics.) But I have still managed to make a bit of time for reading…

What I’ve been reading:

the-minnesota-connectionMy friend Gracie compares the past and present of sex trafficking: 1978’s The Minnesota Connection Vs 2015’s Trafficked: The Exploitation Of Women & Girls In The Bakken & Beyond. (Oh, sure, North Dakota, sex trafficking gets coverage, including a 30 minute news documentary; but the environmental damage being done in the Bakken and the related train bombs notsomuch. The legislation is even worse.)

Speaking of politics… Oh, if only!

Yes, as a collector of vintage magazines, I am very aware that little has changed in beauty ads.

At ErosBlog, Bacchus discusses (NWS) this article at The New York Times. (See also my earlier article: Grandma Was A Swinger: Estate Sales & The Ephemera Of Women’s Lives.)

That’s it for now; time to make the donuts get back to work listing the collectibles.

I Think You’re Missing The Big Bottom Line In Those “Skinny” Subway Ads

Have you seen Subway’s latest ad ~ the one with the woman who reminds us to “Eat Fresh!” and stay healthy & slim so we can fit into our sexy Halloween costumes?

Jezebel did. And out came the requisite rant. (Have I mentioned I’m getting tired of that?) Of course others had their rants too.

But come on now, let’s face reality. Aren’t all the Halloween costumes for women sexy now? The fact that Subway knows they are shouldn’t really be a surprise. Because just who hasn’t noticed this? There’s a name for it: Slutoween. And, right or wrong, there’s a history behind it. (And, in fact, Hallowe’en began as a holiday for rowdy, bawdy adults, not children.) Whether or not you want to don such sexy apparel is up to you; but stop denying that they are popular. Guess what, $1.4 billion will be spent on adult Halloween costumes. The free-market has dictated that sexy does sell when it comes to Halloween costumes.

With so much money being spent on the costumes, is it any wonder Subway would latch onto our vain desire to look better in those costumes? If our cultural definition of “better looking” is thin (or at least “thinner”), it makes dollars and cents to pull that marketing string. And if you want to cry out in body image outrage (apparently not seeing the shirtless man in the Viking costume at the table, as well as the humor of the commercial itself), go ahead. I’ll cynically counter with the point that Subway also wants us to be alive next year ~ if only to be customers. Having a business that’s all about eating healthier really is a great business model; it really does cost more to acquire new customers than to retain existing customers, you know.

jared_subway_pants Anyway, I think the negative response to this Subway commercial is itself sexist.

Where were the complaints about men having to slim down so they didn’t have to wear those huge pants?

The collective “we” saw that as a healthy move. There was no out-cry then.

But a woman wants to be sexy? A woman who dares to admit she wants to be sexy?

Oh hell no! We simply can’t have any of that!

Meanwhile, Natalie Mitchell, the actress in the ad who models all the sexy costumes (complete with “Foxy Fullback”), is keeping mum until this latest, mainly feminist, frenzy passes. Keep an eye on her Tumblr page for comment.

natalie mitchell foxy fullback subway ad

Just How Innocent Are These “How To Attract Women” Websites?

The Men’s Right Movement (MRM) may have begun in support of women and feminism, but it’s gone to hell.

How to Get Along With Girls vintage adThere’s always been an element of “I want to be a playboy” in the world of modern Western men. From the somewhat harmless fantasies of bachelors who want to play with sex kittens in what they imagined “the good old days to be like”, to the sincere and earnest pleas of men who feel they are less desired than so-called traditional masculine males, they (and a number of women) have created decades of openly making money off the “how to get girls” marketplace. You can make an argument that this sort of thing gives women the upper hand. That even men in “the game” (often referred to as Game with a capital ‘G’) are at the mercy of women. Certainly, many Third Wave Feminists would agree. And, frankly, many of us struggle with where to draw the line between what is harmless and funny and what is perpetuating negative stereotypes and outright misogyny.

But now, too much of the behavior from the MRM removes any notion of this being a fun “game.” It has crossed that line and angrily morphed into a hardcore hatred of women. Even if it seems hidden behind benign men’s help sites.

Typified by phrases about “reclaiming their balls”, as if the fact that women are equals somehow feminizes men, and given the supposedly harmless name of “The Manosphere”, it has grown on the Internet, connecting like-minded males and converting others. Dagonet of The Quest For 50 explains:

The history of the Manosphere is nebulous.

…Like an echo, a shadow, a vague thought that has reverberated louder and louder with time. You can trace its DNA through the works of ancient poets and philosophers– great men throughout history who identified truths of human nature– through to the modern era. For millennia, these truths were regarded as common sense, and they were integrated functionally into the way society was organized, and the social standards of each population. But with the cultural revolution beginning in the 1960s and reaching a tipping point in the 1990s, a need arose for men to more explicitly teach each other these lost truths. The Manosphere might have begun with Tony’s Lay Guide, The Mystery Method, or other forums hidden in the dark crevices of the nascent internet of the 1990s (such as alt.seduction). It might have begun with The Futurist’s essay “The Misandry Bubble.” It might have begun with Roosh (f/k/a DC Bachelor), Matt Forney (f/k/a Ferdinand Bardamu), and Heartiste (f/k/a Roissy) coalescing around a shared worldview at the crossroads of sex, politics, and a restless sense of lost masculinity, awaiting a revolution.

As more voices began to join the swelling chorus of disenfranchised, horny, clueless men looking to reclaim their balls and dignity, the “Manosphere” as we currently know it was born.

Lest you believe this sounds harmless enough, Dagonet goes on to complain about how so many in the Manosphere have been “‘outed’ and had to delete their blogs in hopes of preserving their privacy and maybe keeping their job/relationship/reputation.” How innocent could these poor victims have been?

And Dagonet’s the guy who claims to be part of Red Pill Thinking yet he feels that the #YesAllWomen response to an all too typical tragedy is not part of reality but rather is an “absolute shitstorm of idiocy, misinformation, and narcissism.”

His collaboration with The Real Christian McQueen should relegate that site to “questionable” at best.

Then you’ve got guys like Jeff Allen, an “Executive Coach” with Real Social Dynamics Nation, a site the exists to sell a boatload of “how to be attractive to women” books, products, and seminars. Again, this might seem innocuous, maybe even helpful; but take a look at Allen’s Twitter account and you’ll be enlightened. These are some of his stellar tweets:

https://twitter.com/JeffreyLAllenIX/status/405912801706651649

https://twitter.com/JeffreyLAllenIX/status/397525867116519424

https://twitter.com/JeffreyLAllenIX/status/369307985798914048

https://twitter.com/JeffreyLAllenIX/status/357347770274811905

https://twitter.com/JeffreyLAllenIX/status/348926892340023296

All this, & we didn’t even get into the series of nauseating legislation proposals or anything.

Manosphere diminishing? You’ll get no tears from me.

(Some screen caps in case the tweets disappear.)

FireShot Screen Capture #357 - 'Twitter _ JeffreyLAllenIX_ If a woman vomits blood after ___' - twitter_com_JeffreyLAllenIX_status_369307985798914048

allen tweet about strippers and rape incest

FireShot Screen Capture #358 - 'Twitter _ JeffreyLAllenIX_ Girls date unemployed filthbeard ___' - twitter_com_JeffreyLAllenIX_status_397525867116519424

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.

Check Out Girls #YesAllWomen

I’ve written / ranted about this sort of thing before. If I let myself shop a lot, I could make a whole website devoted to this subject of inappropriate clothing that sexualizes children. That’s sad. And infuriating.

At the Mall Of America, in a shop called Rainbow, I spotted this tee-shirt for girls, sized 7 – 16, which features a bar-code graphic and says, “Check Me Out”. As if our girls need to be further scrutinized and evaluated as commodities. See Also: Remembering Retro Risque T-Shirt Iron-Ons.

check out girls tee

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.

Of Hard Hats In Hard Times

Normally, we see the pin-up version of women working in WWII. Like this image of dancers at London’s Windmill Theatre practicing their routine while wearing gas masks and hard-hats with their costumes. (January, 1940.) Or we find articles focusing more on the figures of women, in service or not.

hard hats and gas masks

But hard hats were more than de rigueur for cute images of women on the homefront during those war years. In fact, there were many promotional campaigns advising women on how to dress for their new world of physical labor and factory work. This one didn’t emphasize hard hats; but clearly the focus is safely, not being fashionable.

dressing right for safety women in wwii

Here’s another image from the Henry J. Kaiser Pictorial Collection showing female employes working at the Richmond Shipyard wearing their hardhats.

women in had hats working at richmond shiphard number two

Here’s another bit of history:

Mrs. Arlene Corbin (right), time checker in a Richmond, California shipyard brings two-and-a-half-year-old Arlene to a nursery school every morning before going home to sleep. Mrs. Corbin works on the midnight to 7:30 a.m. shift and relies upon the school to keep her daughter busy and happy during the day.

WWII_daycare_Richmond_CA

If you collect actual historical objects of women from WWII, check out this vintage wartime fiberglass safety hat.

vintage wwii hat owned by woman worker at Kaiser steele

The hardhat belonged to a female employee who worked for Kaiser Steel in Fontana, CA during 1942-45. It may be more difficult to appear beautiful in a hardhat (even Rosie the Riveter’s bandana is pretty rockin’), but hard hats were the realities in hard times like war. And hats like this are a part of women’s history that shouldn’t be shunned for the pretty pinup version.

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?

Why Jezebel Has The Wrong Approach To Feminism, Period.

Unfortunately, we Mary Tyler Moore city gals present a real conundrum for the writers Jezebel, since we are mostly living out uneventful and drama-free lives as non-raped women who buy birth control and have jobs and get abortions as we please. There aren’t enough actual stories in the metro area to warrant running a frivolous, highly trafficked blog that pulls in ad revenue from outraged feminists. And so, they manufacture them.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

Takes ovaries to take on the pandering pop culture phenom that is Jezebel; a round of applause is given by me.

See on thoughtcatalog.com

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

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.

Grassroots 1960s Push Reformed Women’s Health Care

Never-again-sign

The women’s health movement of the 1960s and 1970s transformed the doctor-patient relationship and yielded the novel concept that women can take control of their own health, says Laurie Edwards in this excerpt from “In the Kingdom of the Sick.”…

 

For women, this change started with the radical notion that they had a right to know about their own bodies, had a right to control their own health care and belonged in medical schools where they could fully participate in the very health care decisions that have such significance in their lives. The grassroots women’s health activism that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s was fostered by an equally diverse group of advocates, among them middle-class white women, middle- and working-class African Americans, lesbians and heterosexuals.

 

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

Remember that scene in Mad Men, where Betty’s doctor calls Don & talks to him about Betty as if she were the child? This is how we got away from that.

 

“Feminism challenged social practices in the doctor’s office and recast relationships between compliant patient and infallible physician as part of the larger process to keep women down.”

 

But we must also look at this history and see how we are moving backwards in America;  this is also a dire warning about where we are headed.

 

“The landmark court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973 by finding that preventing a woman’s right to end her pregnancy violated her due process, was a pivotal piece of legislation in terms of reproductive rights, women’s health and women’s ability to make decisions regarding their bodies. ”

See on womensenews.org

Image: Nicole Marie Edine on Flickr.

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.

Dance, Ballerina, Dance (Remembering Kathy Keeton; Gone To Soon & Forgotten Even Faster)

Have you heard about the big Bob Guccione auction that’s being held today?If you haven’t, get over there and look now! This post will be waiting for you when you get back.

Among the erotic offerings from the estate of Penthouse founder, there are Kathy Keeton items up for auction. Who was Kathy Keeton? For starters, Keeton was Guccione’s longtime girlfriend and eventual wife. But she ought to be remembered for far more than that.

Bob Guccione And Kathy Keeton

Remembering Keeton just for her relationship with Guccione would be like simply dismissing Keeton for her beauty. True, Keeton, was beautiful; a ballerina who ended up on the burlesque stage stripping and with small parts in British B-movies, she was beautiful in face and form. But along with those attributes she was damned smart.

vintage nude topless Kathy Keeton Framed Photographic Portrait

Mother Of A Stripper

keeton Spy Who Came in from the Cold 1965

Kathy Keeton was one of the first women in magazine advertising sales. Sure, she was working for Penthouse; and that might upset a few women (then and now) who find all sexuality degrading to women. But at that time, there were few women in magazine publishing — other than Ms, of course. Keeton would help shape the future of Penthouse, especially the US edition, by directing the publication’s marketing efforts; she would co-found, write, and work for OMNI; run Viva: The International Magazine For Women; found a newsletter called Longevity which would become an international magazine; author books; as well as play a fundamental role in strategizing the long-term plans for the company, General Media Communications Inc., which published the magazines. Through it all, Ms. Keeton was noted for her leadership and advancement of women in publishing, including Anna Wintour (Vogue) and Nancy LeWinter (of Mode).

kathy keeton vintage ad for viva

More than a magazine publisher, Keeton knew media in general and was among the first to see the potential of what we now call digital media. She was instrumental in Penthouse’s move to video and, later, the Internet. As early as 1992, Keeton was onto something that many publishers today are struggling to get:

She dreams of eventually putting her magazines on disks. “Niche magazines are the future,” Keeton says. On the high-tech side, she adds: “Knowledge is a key commodity now. Publishers are sitting on a gold mine of software.”

At the time of her death in 1997, 58 year-old Keeton was both president and chief operating officer of General Media Communications Inc. and vice chairman of the holding company that oversaw the publishing arm, General Media International. This was in addition to not only battling breast cancer but the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as well. (Keeton wouldn’t die from cancer, but rather from complications during intestinal obstruction surgery.)

Since Penthouse would beat Playboy in sales (and, subjectively, in other areas as well), it’s a shame that Guccione doesn’t have a bigger name than Heffner; but worse still is how so many have forgotten about Kathy Keeton. Even the official Guccione Collection website has little about her.

I hope to do more research & writing on Keeton; until then, here’s a quick list of her films: Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (Man in a Cocked Hat in the US, starring Peter Sellers, 1959), Expresso Bongo (1959), Too Hot to Handle (released in the United States as Playgirl After Dark, starring Jayne Mansfield, 1960), and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (starring Richard Burton, 1965).

Kathy Keeton's Ballet Notebook

Kathy Keeton's Ballet Ephemera

Kathy Keeton's Ballet Notebook Journal

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.

Feminist Porn Depicts Sexuality’s Unruly Side Too

As this type of porn gains visibility, it reflects a greater demand for explicit sexual representations among women, where sex isn’t always a “ribbon-tied box of happiness and joy,” say editors in this excerpt from “The Feminist Porn Book.”

 

…With the emergence of new technologies that allow more people than ever to both create and consume pornography, the moral panic-driven fears of porn are ratcheted up once again. Society’s dread of women who own their desire, and use it in ways that confound expectations of proper female sexuality, persists. As Gayle Rubin shows, “Modern Western societies appraise sex acts according to a hierarchical system of sexual value.” Rubin maps this system as one where “the charmed circle” is perpetually threatened by the “outer limits,” or those who fall out of the bounds of the acceptable.

 

On the bottom of this hierarchy are sexual acts and identities outside heterosexuality, marriage, monogamy and reproduction. She argues that this hierarchy exists so as to justify the privileging of normative and constricted sexualities and the denigration and punishment of the “sexual rabble.”

 

See on womensenews.org

Feminist-porn

Cranmer: Should Christians be feminists?

Last week the delightful Vicky Beeching tweeted something about receiving abuse for having the audacity to advocate a feminist theological stance. His Grace pitched in, asking: “Who are these infallible zealots declaring that one may not be both feminist and Christian? Do they have idea of the meaning of either term?” This brought further censure and derision upon his own head. Perhaps a little clarification is required…

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Reproductive rights isn’t just a women’s issue

Republican’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act is part of their assault on reproductive rights, according to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

 

Speaking at Planned Parenthood’s Organizing and Policy Summit this month, Warren said access to health care and family planning services was not just a women’s issue.

 

“Certainly it is a women’s issue, but it’s a family issue,” she explained. “It effects everyone in the family. We have healthier families because of the things we fight for here at Planned Parenthood.”

 

See on www.rawstory.com

In Lilli Vincenz’s papers, a trove of gay rights history

History is written by the victors, but also by the scrapbookers, the collectors, the keepers, the pack rats. By those who show up, at the beginnings of things and with the right technology. History sometimes comes in pieces. It needs to be reassembled. Pasted and coaxed. Sometimes the finished product still has holes.

 

In one corner of the climate-controlled manuscript division, on a series of otherwise empty shelves, sits Lilli Vincenz’s unprocessed collection. …

 

Twelve boxes. Cream-colored. Heavy. Inside: meticulous fragments of the gay rights movement of the latter half of the 20th century. Political pamphlets, sociological surveys, photographs and obituaries. Diaries of a young woman who was nervous about going into her first gay bar but whose Arlington living room later became the default place for gay women to feel at home.
See on www.washingtonpost.com