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.
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.
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.)
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.
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?
The prototype contains removable sensors that monitor heart and skin activity to provide an indication of mood levels.
The aim was to find out if wearable technology could help prevent stress-related over-eating.
Mood data was provided to the wearer via a smartphone app in order to highlight when “emotional eating” was likely to occur.
A team from Microsoft’s visualisation and interaction research group embedded an electrocardiogram and electro-dermal activities sensors as well as a gyroscope and accelerometer in the bra.
In their paper, the researchers say using a bra “was ideal because it allowed us to collect EKG [electrocardiogram] near the heart”.
As if women don’t hear enough messages about our moods, behaviors, and weight; we now must hear directly from our clothing. And not just when they tighten around us.
Once you spend the time necessary for the equipment to learn all about you and your emotional eating habits, find correlations between your heart and skin activity, and you take the time to participate in the food & mood logging, the premise is rather simple. The sensors, custom boards called GRASP for Genitic Remote Access Sensing Platform (That name was by design?!), will then transmit the mood data to a mobile phone application using Bluetooth — then the messages from the “EmoTree” will begin to “suggest interventions” — i.e. nag the crap out of you.
One such intervention is to remind you to relax by taking some deep breaths — instructing you to tap on the little bird on the screen with every slow breath you take. Sounds a lot like it’s going to turn into Angry Birds, right? I can only imagine how stressed me would like to tap the hell out of some bird willing to tweet, however politely and privately, that Fatty-McFat-Face-me had better concentrate on her breathing & stay away from the fridge.
There are also plans for the bra & app combo to offer other “distracting interventions”, whatever those are. What could be more distracting than your cell phone telling you to calm the hell down and not to eat? …Maybe it will play a humorous video clip or something nice. Or maybe it will be something more shaming. Like maybe it will it communicate with your friends and suggest they provide a personal intervention: “Jackie, your fat friend Deanna is stressed and heading for the ice cream again! Wouldn’t it be nice if you called her and listened to her bitch about her mother for awhile?”
What obviously springs to mind with this whole thing is the butt-load, err, bra-load of potential uses and abuses. What about hacks? Will there be bras to assess and monitor our other moods? Like one to tell us about our sexual arousal — with an app to alert our partners, of course. Perhaps it will even be like those hook-up apps, telling any stranger who signs up (or hacks into the program) that a randy dame is nearby. “Your honor, she was asking for it — she was wearing that bra app!” Whatever info is collected, maybe the NSA will need that data dump too.
The researchers don’t want us to think this whole idea is sexist. They noted that “efforts to create a similar piece of underwear for men worked less well, largely because the sensors were located too far away from the heart.” Well, jeeze, scientists, don’t fat men have those man-boobs? They surely could benefit from a bro, no? And don’t men wear something else everyday — something above the waist, like, I don’t know, a shirt?
Naw, that wouldn’t make any sense; we must focus on how women look because that’s what they are here for. And notice, there’s no mention or suggestion regarding anorexia or other health disorders. Fat — women’s fat — is the health issue to focus on.
The good news here is that this mood-bra isn’t ready for market just yet; users in the study found the device “tedious” as the GRASP boards had to be recharged every 3-4 hours.
Then again, that’s about how long some of us can bear to wear our bras.
As for me, if I’m going to invest in any new tech bras, it might be the bra that can detect cancer. Let’s see if that one actually makes it to market.
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. ”
I have not been doing a lot of “link round-up” posts since I’ve been curating at Scoop.it, but sometimes I will still find a thing or two which will spawn so many quick thoughts that it seems best to fire all the rounds in one quick-draw post. That’s certainly the case today as one vintage image and one blog post have me quickly shooting from the hip.
“I Knew,” Said The Sioux, “That Squaws Would Go For His Scalp”
I don’t know that I actually have to beat all the dead horses in this vintage ad, do I? With so much horribleness going on, it’s hard to imagine that Jeris would survive; but the company — and it’s hair tonic — is still around today. I do hope they die a little on the inside whenever this ad is resurrected.
While we are on the subject of hair…
Lip Mag has a piece on hair: crowning glory: hair, sex and gender. My profound dislike for the absence of capitals in headlines aside, the post is rather provocative and worthy of a good read. However, it is a bit incomplete. I don’t think it is proper to discuss or rant about such things as “long and blonde” being the ideal femininity standards for women’s hair without pointing out that there are some biological reasons for this.
Often, “beauty” is really just about genetics, healthy children, and the survival of the species. Long hair is a sign of health, and health is genetically preferred. Lighter hair, especially blonde hair, is often an indicator of youth and therefore fertility. The fair skin which typically, naturally, accompanies the blonde hair also makes it easier to see signs of disease, infestation, infection, and the like. Such blemishes are signs of genetic weakness, aging, or other potential problems with the viability of offspring. This is all hardwired into humans biologically. It’s primal evolution. This is why fake blondes enjoy the same attention as natural blondes; for even when everyone knows they’re seeing a bleach-bottle-blonde, the sight triggers an unconscious response of, “Yes, this is preferred genetic material.” This biological drive is what is sets many “beauty standards”. And since blondes, especially the light-white-skinned and blue-eyed variety, are fewer in numbers, their rarity is akin to “coveted and collectible”. [After decades of hair styles, lengths, and colors I know (NWS) that blondes do have more fun — if by “fun” you mean “attention.” Not all of it positive, either; especially when the attention is from other women (NWS). Women hating or deriding blondes, real or fake, is like any other body shaming issue and should be stopped.]
While genetics and evolution are typically not conscious thoughts in the process of calling someone “beautiful” or “attractive”, there are many recorded acts of using beauty standards as markers for desirability in gender and race. From the Bible and organized eugenics programs to the less organized attacks of societal judgements (NWS), history shows that women have been — and continue to be — judged, humiliated, marked, and controlled by their hair.
This brings be back to the aforementioned issue of “scalping” and how I often feel that the current trend in removing the pubic hair of women is not unlike the “pussy scalping jokes” of the past (NWS). It’s not only racist, but all about controlling women and their bodies.
A vintage advertising blotter, likely from the 1930s — 1940s, which focuses on a male geriatric problem.
The blotter reads as follows — and it should be noted that the print gets smaller as it goes along (which is cruel in many ways for an aging male, I say):
A GERIATRIC PROBLEM
One of the problems of middle age is loss of sexual power in men who are still capable of raising a family. In such cases and effective aphrodisiac may be indicated.
XANTHINUX (Cole) stimulates masculine potency through the spinal cord, just as a strong cup of coffee stimulates the thinking centers of the brain. The result is a firmer, more vigorous erection and orgasm.
Reports from various physicians show that XANTHINUX not only boosts male potency but also has a euphoric action.
Because of its strong aphrodisiac action, XANTHINUX is not recommended in cases where sexual intercourse should be curtailed; elderly men with severe cardiac conditions or arteriosclerosis.
Samples & Professional Literature on Request.
From the Cole Chemical Co., St. Louis 8, MO. U.S.A. [Printed in U.S.A. (form) 549.]
Further research shows that Xanthinux was a combination of strychnine (yikes!), caffeine, and theophylline. Big shocker here: in 1963, medical reports on Xanthinux state that there’s “no evidence that it acts as a sexual tonic.”
Plus there’s that whole strychnine-poison thing.
However, culturally speaking, I do find the reference to “men who are still capable of raising a family” a line that’s absolutely missing in today’s recreational & romantic messaging about ED. Which, naturally, speaks extra loudly in today’s world of restricted women’s rights.
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.
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.
It occurs to me, as I sit awake, unable to sleep because I am a sweaty mess of hormones and hot flashes, that we have done women a(nother) great disservice.
You know how we start in grade school to educate girls about that special “womanhood” thing? We separate them from the boys, and tell them all about their changing bodies — even before those bodies are changing. I’m not saying it’s all aces in terms of such education; but there are far fewer girls running home crying thinking the blood in their panties means they are dying. So why don’t we pull young women aside in say high school, and them them all about the other changes their bodies will go through — namely menopause or perimenopause.
And when we teach it, we should teach all of it.
First of all, menopause isn’t “the change.” As a woman, we experience lots of changes. Menstruation, for example, is not the mere existence of blood in the crotch of our panties. It’s not even the evidence of the miracle of life in terms of the biological machinations. Yeah, egg released, womb is lined, womb is shed — but no one tells you about what that means for you and your changing body.
No one tells you that the hormones requires to start this perfectly natural cycle will make you feel like 900 pissed-off and pointy cats live inside of you. Their sharp teeth and claws may not exactly puncture you internally; but are like sandpaper on every last nerve.
No one tells you that the process for shedding the uterine lining means more than “cramps”; how the body resists and reacts to these cramps with everything from hot constipation and burning diarrhea (yes, often both) to increased breast and genital sensitivity and increased sexual desires (yes, often with both again). You may not want to know the details of my lovely cycle, but let’s just say it’s the frustrating crush of a fist holding everything, including my breath, tight and still — followed by a rush of “everything must get out.” That includes skin eruptions and bowels along with my uterine lining.And while everything is sensitive, those utero-contractions make me feel like I’m on the edge of something… Like a great big orgasm, so let’s get on with that and get it out too. (Which reminds me, ladies, if we had proper sex education, we’d be telling young women about this reality — and how great vibrators and sex toys can be. Heaven knows, if I’d had known about the joys of a Hitachi Magic Wand in my 20’s, I’d have skipped many a bad romance, and better coped with my periods too.)
You’re right; this isn’t “ladylike.” But it’s what happens to ladies, to women; so let’s stop denying it.
Now, when it comes to menopause, there’s a lot more to the ending of this monthly cycle — which, while often hellish, is our damn monthly cycle. We can hate it, but we’ve just spend decades getting used to it, and now what the hell?!
Thanks to women’s magazines and shows like Oprah, there’s been some talk about menopause. Frankly, I didn’t tune into them all; like the little girl I once was, I figured that change was so far ahead in my life, I didn’t need to worry my pretty little head about it. Which is why it was great that sitting down to hear it was a forced mandatory school thing. Hence my belief that the same should be done regarding teaching the realities of menopause to young women in high school. But anyway, like many of my sisters who are ushering in the age of chronedome, I am amazed to discover there is lots that I don’t know about this specific change. Knowing that this particular biological trip is the end of creating life, that this agonizingly slow, back and forth of you have a period then months without it, then BAM! have a period of some sort again, isn’t all there is to the story.
You’ve likely heard of those hot flashes. Well, they are real.
And they are a real bitch.
If you didn’t already have insomnia, the hot flashes are enough to give it to you. You lay awake, sweating. You kick off the covers. You turn a fan on, even when just hours before, you were begging your husband to turn the heat up. And when you do pass out for a bit, you wake up frigid. (Not just temperature wise, but sexually too. Because you are sleep deprived and you are aware just how much you freakin’ stink from sweating, so the last thing you can imagine is having sex. But wait a while… Your hormones will demand otherwise soon enough. Just pray you haven’t alienated your partner too much. Or hit that vib for medicinal reasons — because there will be times that orgams will be the only way to knock yourself out well enough to sleep a few hours.)
And then too, the fan is awesome white-noise to help alleviate insomnia in general. Your partner may not dig this. At best, this adds stress to an already stressful time — leading to more insomnia for you. At worst, you find yourself yelling sarcastically, “Yes, please do turn the fan off. I am completely faking all this wretched sweating just to make you cold at night! It’s all about you — always!”
Like I said, it’s not pretty. Especially when there’s little understanding. And how can there be understanding when the bulk of knowledge about menopause if a joke about the little old ladies with fans?
One other ugly thing I am experiencing is boils. Big nasty, angry-ass boils.
No one wants to talk about these hideous things. Just the other day, I was swapping horrible night-sweat stories with a friend. You know, in that bitter misery-loves-company way involving bitter laughter — until you cry. But I didn’t dare bring up the boils. They are just too ugly. Normal, it turns out; but still ugly.
But the whole drive home, I kept kicking myself in the ass for not saying something — for not speaking the truth. What if she had them, but didn’t know they were normal? What if she blamed herself for some imaginary hygiene problem? What if she was too embarrassed to talk to her doctor? What if she did mention to her doctor, but that doctor was an ass about it, like mine was? It took me going through some basic boil info to realize that boils are often a part of perimenopause because boils are caused by ingrown hairs (something affected by hormonal changes) and plugged sweat glands or oil ducts (thanks again, hot flashes). So a-duh you can have boils at this time. But thanks, Dr. Ass-Hat, for making me spell it out for you. (Thankfully, you can also have a new doctor at this time too.)
For these reasons, I remain silent to longer.
“Hey, world, I am a suffering yet another painful change in my body and life! This one comes with mood swings, the loss of ‘beauty’ (i.e. clues to health and fertility) and societal value, hot flashes, sleep deprivation, and big ol’ boils! Arg!”
And when people don’t get it, when they call you insane or mock you with even the slightest of eyeball rolls for your hormone-ridden life — be it menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, you want to scream, “Hey, buddy, you can leave any time you friggin’ want — me, I’m f-ing stuck here with this situation!”
Now, maybe it’s sleep deprivation talking, but all of this reminds me of the depictions we have of witches…
Witches are usually old; with grey or white hair and long noses. Witches are typically depicted with what we call warts, often with a hair jetting out of them. Here I see boils. Boils, as mentioned, are often sprung from a hair follicle.
And witches are often shown sweating over a huge caldron of boiling something-or-other. Is that a reference to hot flashes?
Unlike the idea of wise crones, witches seem to be the ugliest, scariest, icons of menopause.
Perhaps the flying on brooms thing is about older women now being able to leave home and hearth; the scariest thing of all for a woman to do — other than be sexual, of course.
The scarlet letters of this authentic suffrage poster read, “A Woman Living Here Has Registered to Vote Thereby Assuming Responsibility Of Citizenship.” Because that’s what voting is, a responsibility of citizenship.
Whether or not the makers of this poster (which also appeared with blue lettering) intended to draw references to Hawthorne’s work or simply skimped on one-color ink printing, there’s resonating poetry here. Even Especially today.
We women and men who understand the realities of the issues need to exercise our responsibility to vote and help others access their right to vote. And we need to know the facts, share the facts.
Fact: Access to health care and, yes, even abortions, are constitutional rights — access to a clinic should be as easy as access to a church or other religious institution, not thwarted by acts of tolerated domestic terrorism.
Only twelve percent (12%) of US counties have an abortion provider. You read that right. (When I tell another woman who considers herself informed that very figure, it invariably leaves her agape and amazed. See, we aren’t paying attention, sad to say.) But 1 in 3 women will have an abortion at some point in her life. Think about that. Then do the math. This isn’t about luxury. This isn’t about some rare procedure that a woman can get if she really puts her mind to it or has the money. This is something 1 in 3 women feel they must do, and will do, at any cost. So, rich women will travel. Poor women will die.
Where I live, Lane Bryant is the only store which carries bras over the size of DD cups. Supersillious of the majority of stores to stop at the very size of the average American woman; surely there are great numbers over that size. You can’t open a browser window to a health site or news page, turn on TV or radio, or leave the house and not know how big we American’s are; myself included. It’s not just the USA, and weight isn’t the only reason for the overly-developed bosoms in developed nations either. If I were a CEO of an apparel manufacturer or chain, I’d find limiting bra sizes to exclude such a huge part of the market not only worthy of eyeball rolls, but I’d roll some heads too. It’s unacceptable. But the fact is, there is only one store in the whole metropolitan area which sells bras larger than double-d cups; and that store is Lane Bryant.
So I’m shopping for bras at Lane Bryant, which means finding one that fits. I can’t just use the size that’s on my current Lane Bryant bra, because it no longer properly fits — in fact, none of my Lane Bryant bras seem to fit after say a dozen washings. The center piece pulls away, no longer sits flush against my breastbone. I know from Ali Cudby, and the aches and pains in my own body, as well as how my form looks, that this is no good.
Maybe this is all just a result of the cheapening of clothing, thanks to WalMart. But I hope not.
There are two sales associates at my disposal, one presumably training the other in this nearly-empty store. I try to ask them for some suggestions. I know from decades of previous retail work, that they aren’t really trained for much past working the register and meeting sales quotas, but I figure they know from their own figures and customer comments or complaints which bras are least likely to have the problem.
I describe my problem and the clerk-in-training eagerly replies that her bras all do the same. Rather shocked, I begin to explain that that is not how a bra is supposed to fit — that’s when the more experienced clerk interrupts me.
“When you’re talking about an E cup or larger, that’s an awful lot to ask of a bra,” she says.
Now I’m even more shocked.
“Yes…” I begin, “But the bras aren’t just supposed to ‘be larger’ but actually fit. When bras don’t fit right, there are aches and pains… Plus the rest of your clothes look sloppy.”
“Yes,” she replied, with a tense smile, “But at that size…”
“Well, if you wear a size 26 pants, they still have to fit, right?” I challenge her. “I mean the crotch is where it’s supposed to be, not at the knees. The pants are larger — but not just larger. They have to fit.”
In that magical retail blend of “the customer was always right” and “if you have nothing nice to say…” she had nothing to say in reply. The other clerk kept a smile on her face, but, taking her clues from her superior, she too was silent.
Now I was more than shocked; I was disturbed and saddened. Here’s a plus-sized lady working in a shop selling plus-sized clothing, and she’s making excuses for accepting clothing that doesn’t fit.
I don’t know whether the clerk’s stance was some reflexive act in defense of the company she works for; or if it was a sad commentary on average-sized women, working in a fashion store or not, who are told they are “large,” “plus sized,” or even “fat” who feel they aren’t worthy of clothing that actually fits them.
In any case, all that was left for me to do was to try on bras until I found one that I could pronounce “fitting” and worthy of purchasing; then take it home and see if it fares any better than the others had. (My fingers are crossed that it does; but the past few years has taught me not to hold my breath.)
There are plenty of reasons right here in this one shopping experience to explain Oprah’s claims that 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. (There is some confusion regarding the Oprah statistic and the much touted 80% figure which may have started with a Wacoal study in 2005. Also, here’s a medical study regarding women with thoracic spine or posterior chest wall pain which says of the 80% who wear ill-fitting bras, 70% are wearing bras that are too small, and the BBC reports that 100% of women going into a hospital clinic for breast reduction surgery were wearing improperly fitting bras. Clearly this is an issue!)
The reality is that ordering dozens or even a handful of bras to try on is not an option for the majority of women in this country. WalMart may have cheap bras (both in terms of quality and price), but even online, the largest size they have is a 48DDD and only in one bra. Most bras over a DD cost $30 to $45 (and, of course, much higher). Few women have hundreds of dollars to tie-up in ordering bras — even if they are returning most of them. We are the 99%, or the 80%, if you prefer; not the 1%. So we remain held hostage by the inaccessibility.
What worse, we are women who already held hostage by our breasts. Along with our vaginas and uteri, our breasts are legislated. We dare not bare our breasts in public, not even to feed our children. Many school and employment policies have dress codes which require female employees to wear bras. (We make 77 cents for every dollar a man does, and we are required to wear garments with a heftier price-tag than men too.) Gawd forbid we show a bra strap. All because breasts not bound enough can be too sexy or whatever; especially larger breasts. As if there weren’t enough judgements from pigs, we as a society allow judgements about female breasts.We’re supposed to blame and contain breasts as opposed to make men responsible for their silliness or worse. It’s all the American versions of the burka and sharia law.
As if having larger breasts weren’t problematic enough, just finding the right bras to do all this — as well as prevent the pains that insurance typically won’t cover — is thwarted by not having access to bras in our size range.
These knit or crocheted caps for infants to wear which make the baby’s head look like a boob — complete with natural yet contrasting areaola and erect nipple — are a rude push-back. They are strictly for shock and humor value and do nothing to move forward the rights of women to breastfeed in public as they reduce breasts to sexual objects and jokes. And when these hats are not just for nursing infants, but for adult men to wear too, they aren’t about raising awareness of breast cancer or breast health either. It’s the sort of silliness which is a giant step backwards.
As a feminist, I’ve often understood the old health concerns simply to be over-reactions — or outright orchestrations to limit women. But I bet some of those doctors are rolling over in their graves now.
My first thought was that this was the agonizingly personal doodles and notations of a woman contemplating abortion. There are lists of check-marked points, like pros and cons, with one side only listing “career, “money,” and “birth control,” while the other lists “guilt,” “alone,” “instability,” “social pressure,” and “environment.”
Frankly, looking at it made me more than a little uncomfortable — not only because I felt like I was reading a page in someone’s private diary, but because I’ve had my own experiences with such thoughts. I wanted to reach out, somehow…
But this work is not the intimate struggles of a lone woman.
It’s the beginnings of a work of art.
Following up on the only credits appearing on the Tumblr page where I found the inked sketchings and notes, I discovered that this sketch is the work of Julian Murphy, self-proclaimed maker of “Tantric Pop Art.” And, according to this interview, this is indeed a page from the artist’s notebook, though no final work is noted. Nor can I identify which work it might have led to. This is problematic for me as seeing the finished work may make me feel a lot differently than I do now.
Few decision are as personal and female — and attacked — as an unplanned, unwanted, or unhealthy pregnancy. Knowing that a man created this?! It’s quite difficult to bear.
Reading the words “excuse/reason“…
seeing an arrow with the words “liquidiser” pointing below the waist on a female figure…
the rectangle drawn around the words “Abortion — Liquidised Asset” in all caps…
some sort of gauges apparently measuring “justification”…
Even if some of his works are provocative — in a good way. At least without seeing his notes, reading the words used in his process, there’s the possibility of exploration, of fantasy. But this is the male artist who brings us the blindfolded submissive woman as a vacuum cleaner — what on earth could his intentions of a liquidizing female abortion thing be? Some sort of blender?!
I believe in the right of artists to explore issues; I’m no censor. But when a man uses such painfully loaded language to work on his concept — this concept, I really need to see the final work, to hear the artist discuss his thoughts. Maybe he is as woefully unaware of the language he is using as he is ignorant to the issues women face.
Abortions are not “easy.” Hell, they aren’t even options in many places — regardless of laws stating the right to such an option. And Murphy’s language, his “reasoning,” just scares the hell out of me.
In light of the recent war on women, we are calling for a nationwide sex strike from April 28th to May 5th. All women should withhold from having sex with their partners.
This will help people understand that contraception is for women and men, because men enjoy the benefit of women making their own choices about when and if they want to get pregnant.
Once congress and insurance agencies agree to cover contraception, we will then resume having sex. Until then men will have to be content with their hand.
The suggestion is nothing new and the group notes the history on their FaceBook page — a page where you can read some nasty, negative and ignorant responses which only make women like me feel more like doing it by not doing it, i.e. going on a sex strike. However, the sex strike mandate does present some issues…
While this may have some merits in terms of affecting those with men who need a little push, making those men pull it on their own, what about lesbians? And does this effectively unemploy sex workers?
These may not be the groups who should bear further duress in our dark times.
Besides, am I to punish myself and my husband — a man who already agrees such attacks upon women are terribly unfair, unsafe, and unreasonable? Isn’t the real point to motivate the unbelievers, those who would keep women under their thumbs?
As a survivor of domestic violence, my main concern is that this passive act of civil disobedience by women will be met with violence from their men at home. Unlike Virginia State Del. David Albo (R-Fairfax Station), not all men will take “no” for an answer; especially if it’s politically motivated. After all, the whole point of this anti-women legislation is that we women are not individuals with equal rights; we are property that men control. So why would a man male who thinks that way accept his property has the right to say no? It brings the all too real and violent images of “breaking strikes” to mind.
The Relax-A-Cizor is an Electrical Muscle Stimulator. They date from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s, and sold for $200- $400.
It claims to reduce girth by giving electric shocks to the muscles. Wet pads are strapped or placed on the body, attached by cords to a power source.
Pads can be placed on the stomach, thighs, arms, etc., even the face. Then you just lie there and electric shock yourself into a fabulous figure, yay!
Sounds scary, huh?
In 1971 the FDA declared the Relax-A Cizor to be dangerous, causing or aggravating medical conditions.
This is after selling thousands of units for decades!
The FDA ordered the destruction of units, or for them to be made inoperable. They also banned the resale of already purchased units. So, given all that information, this auction is for the purpose of Collecting Medical Quackery Items only. This Relax-A-Cizor is not being sold as an excercise or fitness machine.
This auction contains:
the original hard case
electrical console with dials, toggle, and inputs
The original instructions
6 disks with pads
face pads and strap
chest pads and vest
The instructions have gorgeous drawings of statue like women, some naked, I love the art, fabulous! There are photographs of pad placement in these instructions, including some nudity.
The funniest thing about the instructions (in my opinion), is the lack of warnings. In fact, the only warning is to NOT store wet pads in the box. The only other warnings are to make sure to lie down, and to get the pads thoroughly wet, nothing about being shocked!
This is a true medical oddity.
This Relax-A-Cizor is in excellent condition. The pads and straps have some discoloration from use, age, and storage. I’m not sure if this unit is complete, there is no item list. The paper instructions are in excellent condition, there is a hand written note taped to the inside. The case is in excellent condition.
I do not know if the unit works or not. There is some broken and burnt looking ends on the wires.
As a researcher *, I disagree that corsets were as restrictive as the roles women had in society. Because women controlled how tight they laced, could remove stays, etc., there was far more control by the individual over her corset than her culture. Culture has been far more damaging, suffocating, than any corset.
There were actually significant health issues directly tied to corsetry, as well, particularly when the fashions dictated the smallest possible waist. Women did permanent damage to their lungs and even rearranged their internal organs to accommodate corsets! Plus, it was (in my oh-so humble opinion) a lovely turn of phrase…and I love a good turn of phrase. :)
In that sense, women today who are not wearing a properly fitting comfortable bra are doing far worse things to themselves and their bodies than corsets, really. We are imprisoned by the places and times we live in, yes, but our ignorance of our bodies, our bras, is some sort of self-inflicted madness at this point…
Agreed, especially as society is less rigid today and women have much more opportunity to make decisions for themselves about how to dress, especially underneath their clothes.
To that extent, I see your book as a companion piece to the iconic Our Bodies, Ourselves. How can we be the action figures we need to be in our lives without knowing this fundamental functional part of our lives? That question may be rhetorical… (Feel free to comment though!)
Naturally, I love the idea of being a companion piece to the seminal Our Bodies, Ourselves! When it comes to bras, specifically, the thing I love is how empowered women feel when they figure out how fit works on their bodies. It’s fantastic to help a woman feel better in her skin and move past the negative body image messages perpetrated by the media.
I’m glad you mentioned body image messages in the media… Fundamentally, we women think we know our breasts. But we really don’t. I think we more about how our breasts are “supposed” to appear, clothed or not, and we certainly have feelings about that… But we really don’t know our own breasts, do we? How does this compound the matter of fit?
I don’t think I’ve said that women don’t know their own breasts, but women certainly get mixed messages about the role of breasts in society.
No, you didn’t say that bit about women not knowing our own breasts; I did. *wink* It seems we don’t know as much as we should, or we wouldn’t suffer with bras that don’t fit!
If you’ve never been taught how a bra should fit, and you may not even be aware of brands that are designed for your specific body type, it’s like trying to hit a moving target with a blindfold on!
In Chapter Two, in Once Upon A Time, When Fit Was A Fairy Tale, you discuss the fairy tale of fit:
Bra fitting can be confusing because there are so many pieces to literally fit together, and it’s not something most American women are taught — not at home, in school, or anywhere else. There’s no real mechanism for that education. It’s not taught in high school health classes. Many mothers overlook the chance to help their daughters get fit correctly, perhaps because they never experienced the benefits of the right fit themselves.
So poor bra fit is literally passed down through the generations!
Historically, speaking, what’s to blame for this? How much of women’s ignorance to the issues of bra fit are our fault? How much do we, must we, hold others accountable for? How do we take back our breasts, our health, our lives? Is there anything we can do at the consumer level?
I think economics and the bottom-line thinking that has been so pervasive in America is the culprit. Customer service has left the building in a lot of areas of the department store (except the men’s suit department…hmmm).
The good news is that I see a swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction. There are an increasing number of fit-based boutiques out there. Right now, most of them cater to the high end of the market, but it could be a beginning of a movement. I’d like to think so, at least! The product is there, the message is getting out…so I’m optimistic about the direction this industry is going.
We’ve all heard (and quite possibly ignored) the percentages of women who are not wearing a properly fitting bra; what does this percentage mean in terms of number of women?
The numbers are staggering. Between 80-100 million American women spend several billion dollars each year on bras that don’t fit and cause them physical and emotional harm!
And that’s just women over the age of 18 — the youngest group of women are actually most likely to wear bras that don’t fit.
I know you’re not a doctor; and neither am I, but I’d guess this phenomenon of poor fitting bras and the increase of medications for depression, anxiety, aches and pains, lethargy, et al. is likely related. My readers might think I exaggerate — do you have any comments on the links between poor fitting bras and the things that ail us?
I know that women who have gotten fitted report that they no longer have daily headaches, shoulder aches and back pain. They stand taller and feel better — both physically and emotionally. I know that was true for me, and my experience is what led to me writing this book.
To say that proper bra fit can be life-changing may sound overblown to some, but I’ve seen it happen way too many times to question the phenomenon!
The reason I find your work, your book, so amazing is that women spend how many hours a day in their bras? I mean, even if we take them off the second we can, it’s a lot of hours to be miserable! Like that seminal feminist work, Busted! is based on the principal that we can be instruments of change — for ourselves, personally, and for society itself. In order to do that, we need to be educated. Did you have any idea when you began your work as a bra coach that you’d be writing such a book? Did the connections between bras and health, society, etc. surprise you?
First off, thanks! I really appreciate it. My work has evolved very organically. It started with my own moment of realization, when I found pretty bras that fit and were comfortable. I started talking to my friends about my discoveries and began helping them. Then friends started bringing friends, and the seeds of my fit methodology began to gel, and I started talking to industry experts and blogging about my experiences. The more I learned, the more I realized how pervasive this issue is, both from a comfort standpoint and also that connection to self-image so many women face.
Bra coaching goes way beyond bras — it goes to the core of how we carry ourselves as women. I didn’t expect that, and every time I hear back from someone who has benefitted from my fit methodology, it’s incredibly fulfilling. Helping women feel better about themselves is rewarding on so many levels.
Is this an American problem; are things better in the UK or elsewhere?
Culturally, women from the European countries seem to value buying fewer items of better quality more than in the US. And in the UK there is a wider array of product available in more places, it’s just easier to find stores that carry a variety of sizes. But availability of product doesn’t necessarily translate into excellence of fit. Fit is a challenge worldwide, simply because there are so few standards for sizing within the industry.
I would love to see American women placing more value on finding a quality garment that fits, versus going for the least expensive, or only buying on promotion.
Since you work with bra designers and other in the manufacturing industry I have to ask, how much of the problems regarding limited bra sizes begin there? Or is it the retailers who are the biggest problem?
I think there’s a ton of great product out there in a huge range of sizes – like I’ve said, 28AAA through 56N. The challenge is finding what works for you.
There are real issues for retailers when it comes to stocking that wide range of products, the amount of inventory required is mind-boggling. So (as with most things in life) it’s more complicated than it seems and I honestly believe that most manufacturers and retailers want their customers to be thrilled with their purchases.
Rather than focus on the inherent problems, I see a great opportunity for women — own the solution by understanding fit on your own body and finding the products that work for you, either in local stores or online. It’s very empowering!
Now go forth, ladies, empower yourselves with Busted!
* In fairness to Ali, and for clarification for you readers, I should note the following. Ali and I had a bit more of a discussion about corsets and history. She is operating off the more generally accepted wisdom about corsets, yet when I proffered her my research (What If Everything You Knew About The Corset Was Wrong?, Corsets Are Too Sexy?, Corsets Bound To Stay Suffrage), she not only read the posts but called them “fascinating!” We happily agreed to the following: Corsets, while restrictive, may not have been AS restrictive as women’s roles in society. That is probably more than a humble research obsessed feminist historical blogger can really ask for.
Forget yer flashmobs; feed me the health and morality lessons via the kitschy art. Artist Ron English makes his statements about cereals in parody designs — Pop Art Krispies, Sugar Corn Popogandas, maybe? — and then places the boxes on store shelves. If you find a box, he’ll sign it for you. Personally, I have to ask where the Sugar Colon Pops are. (Via Geyser Of Awesome.)
The Dr. Suess nature of this is great, but unfortunately I have to offer a bit of criticism. You’ve done a lot to reinforce standard gender stereotypes.
The section for guys reinforces the idea that it’s ok to ogle girls, and masturbate. The section for girls is all about “be careful because you might be pregnant. Really? Is that the message you want to be sending?
How about teaching girls that masturbating is a good thing and not something to be ashamed of? And what about teaching guys the importance of being respectful and mature about birth control?
Also, where’s the safer sex message? With the millions of euphimisms about condoms, there’s gotta be a way to put at least one of them in a Dr. Suess fashion. Don’t you think that’s an important message to put out there?
Maybe this was all done in fun and games, and you were just amusing yourself with it. Great! I’m glad you had some fun and put together an awesome piece in the style of Dr. Suess. However, there’s a much bigger picture here as well, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to consider it.
Despite her “Be well,” Ms.JayLynn was, of course, bashed for not having a sense of humor.
Hey, Ms.JayLynn, come on over here where we understand that sometimes inequality just isn’t funny. Sometimes even jokes and humorous pieces when just left to their own comedic devices do more than inspire giggles — they perpetuate the stuff that makes us insane. Like treating women as problems not people entitled to their own pleasures. Like not discussing the health concerns by omitting condoms — but still pointing out pregnancy, as if it were “the worst” and something women are responsible for. Ugh.
As for those leaving nasty comments to MsJaylynn, here’s something for you to consider: Now that you’re big, stop being a sexist pig.
A man’s best friends are his wife, his back, and his dog. The back, however, has a reputation of not being as faithful as his other two friends.
Well, at least women were considered faithful — even if they were compared to dogs and “things that work for men.”
Care Of The Back, Industrial Edition, William K. Ishmael, M.D., F.A.C.P. and Howard B. Shorbe, M.D., F.A.C.S., Distributed by Safety Department with Approval of Abbott Skinner, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Great Northern Railway Company. Cartoons by Ken Colgan, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
This edition is the forty-third printing of the revised U.S. edition of the official RCAF fitness plan, published in 1962. It’s two books in one, as it contains both XBX (Ten Basic Exercises), the twelve minute a day plan for women, and 5BX (Five Basic Exercises), the eleven minute a day plan for men, which were previously published separately. (Note, the “X” in XBX does not refer to the two x-chromosomes of women.)
The plans enable you, the common folk, to get fit just as the fancy airline folk do — by yourself, at home, in your spare time, at your own rate, without any equipment.
The women’s exercises are shown with step-by-step photographs of women in leotards:
While the men’s are shown with cool, graphic, iconic, illustrations:
While it’s true that the men’s fitness plan predates the women’s by a couple of years, I still find the differences striking… Was one gender thought to be confused by less-than realistic images? Is the female form just more acceptable, if not titillating, when shown in photographs? Or was continuity broken because greyscale printing became cheaper or otherwise de rigueur?
Before you decide, let me just show you one more thing…
While the men get a great phallic graphic, we women are sans a powerful ovarian homage.
Last week I watched The Republican Debate at the Reagan Library. I found myself astounded by the fact that these people with limited intellectual reasoning, if not limited intellectual functioning, were in positions to actually be running for President of the United States of America. I’ve more to say on that subject (expect another post soon), but for now, I’m just going to focus on the one subject in which I found myself even more shocked: the one time when I found myself agreeing with some of the things the potential candidates said.
The subject was mandatory use of the Gardasil HPV vaccine; something I’ve long considered dangerous — especially as it’s equated with crony capitalism. Now, to be clear, I’m not one of those who thinks that preventing a disease which is linked to sexual behavior is akin to giving young women (or anyone) a Go Out & Screw card; you should know by now I’m not that kind of silly. But I’ve been concerned for a long time about the dangers of Gardasil, a drug pushed through quickly and forced upon young women and their families who are kept ignorant of the dangers — including deaths — of the vaccine. However, as I was soon to be traveling, I decided I didn’t have time to write about this subject again. Until…
Not long after I arrived home last night, my father in law called me. A reporter, Kristin Helgeson from Valley News Live, had left a message for him, asking if he was related to a Deanna Dahlsad. Yes, he is; yes, I called the phone number Helgeson left, and left her a message. But it wasn’t until this morning that the reporter and I connected.
Seems Michelle Bachmann stepped in it again, this time taking one individual and unverified comment and making the claim that “Gardasil led to mental retardation,” and Helgeson, having found my coverage of Gardasil at my other blog, wanted a comment from me. However, now that it was the next day, the story is “over.” While Helgeson was interested in pursuing the information I had, her boss, News Director Griff Potter, felt new and more accurate information wasn’t warranted — at least not enough to continue the story on air. Instead, Potter feels that I should just add a comment to the news story on their website.
It’s here that my story turns, for the moment, from one of the dangers the Gardasil vaccine, to that of the problems of The Media.”
On their website, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a review page for this vaccine. None of the serious side effects have been linked to the vaccine and there have been no reports of mental disability. In fact, the most serious side effect they found was fainting. They now ask patients to sit down for 15 minutes after they get vaccinated.
This may be true — but it’s clearly not the whole story! As I’ve uncovered, there are deaths linked to Gardasil — in the US and India. While Valley News Live may not find their omission “retraction worthy,” surely they should present the other information that the public ought to be informed about. And they should do so in the same format as their original coverage. One hopes that the folks at Valley News Live know that their television viewers are not necessarily those who will turn to the Internet and look for updates on earlier stories (or trust the comments left by some “kook” like me); if there was something important to add to the story, they’d show it on the news right? Wrong.
I want to be clear here and state that Helgeson wanted/wants to proceed with the story. And I did call Mr. Potter to voice my concerns too; as of this writing, he has not returned my call. I hope he is out to lunch in the literal sense, not metaphorically, and that I will hear from him — or from Helgeson, saying Potter has reconsidered. But until then, this whole thing just makes me so angry.
How long will the arbitrators of news continue to dismiss the issues in this story? How long will they continue to discount women — not just as part of their audience, but in general? For cutting or ignoring the facts from stories like this only perpetuates the problems of poor ethics in everything from medicine and politics.
For more, see my other related posts, at varying sites:
The shoe auctions began on September 8th, and the first 150 pairs sold for approximately $6,100 per pair — reportedly raised an amazing $921,290 for The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Since then, prices have dropped to roughly $4,500 per pair. Prices may still very well continue to drop. While still not affordable for me, those of you looking for something rare for yourself –or to give that special someone, this is the gift that “kicks.”
Over a decade before Rethink Breast Cancer & MTV News Canada launched (to public outcry; video), and the Women Rock! Girls & Guitars breast cancer benefit too, MTV had the High Priority campaign against breast cancer. (You can be cynical, and view MTV’s interest as self-interest — be it sexist preservation of the sweater-puppets which jiggled in videos, or a way to combat judgement that rock videos and music television would be the end of civilization, but whatever MTV’s motives, they’re active in PSAs.) The campaign began in 1984, but my thrift store find is the 1987 High Priority album.
(I say “find” because up until spotting for $1 at a thrift shop I was ignorant of this MTV effort. In my defense, we didn’t have cable; our family only managed to get a color TV in the late 70s or early 80s — but we were the first to have a microwave oven. My parents only got a video player after I moved out; and they just got cable two or three years ago. So that tells you something about our family values. And why, even if we had cable, I would have likely opted to read anyway instead.)
The profits from this album went to the AMC Cancer Research Center. The album cover featured unfinished, yet signed, art by Andy Warhol on the front; monthly self breast exam info and other cancer prevention tips on the back; and ten songs from leading female performing artists of the time:
Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves; Aretha Franklin with The Eurythmics Manic Monday; Bangles I Can’t Wait; Stevie Nicks You Give Good Love; Whitney Houston Time After Time; Cyndi Lauper
Oh People; Patti Labelle Le Bel Age; Pat Benatar Nothing At All; Heart I Feel The Magic; Belinda Carlisle Slave To The Rhythm; Grace Jones More Than Physical; Bananarama
While the High Priority Campaign holds no “remember when” significance, the songs and artists do. So I’m lovin’ listening to it. Grrl power!!