sunday smut: links on sex and gender (no. 13)

Just links this week folks . . . ran out of oomph to provide commentary.

Can You Get Sexuality Info at the Library? | Charlie Glickman @ the Good Vibrations Blog.

Sexually Confused | Zoe Margolis @ The Guardian.

But Women Don’t Rape (about female-on-male sexual assault) | Rachel Hills @ Feministe.

When Rapists Graduate and Victims Drop Out | Amanda Hess @ The Sexist.

"A Culture of Indifference": Report on Campus Sexual Assault Reveals Inaction Taken by Schools, Education Department | Vanessa @ Feministing.

Our Addiction to Tiger Woods’ “Sex Addiction” | Marty Klein @ Sexual Intelligence.

How *not* to write about sex addiction | Amanda Marcotte @ Pandagon.

Surrogacy: The Next Frontier for Reproductive Justice | Miriam Perez @ RhRealityCheck.

Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We've Got It Covered | Miriam Perez @ RhRealityCheck ('cause why not link the Radical Doula twice when you can?)

How childbirth caused my PTSD | Taffy Brodesser-Akner @ Salon

“What does a feminist mother look like?”: 2 of 2 | Molly @ first the egg.

Our Labia Look Just Fine, Thanks: Part III | BeckySharper @ The Pursuit of Harpyness.

Is Saying “I’m Gay” Offensive? | Toni Infanti @ Feminist Law Professors.

Gay Relationships & the US Census | Charlie Glickman @ the Good Vibrations Blog.

Gay Mafiosi and Group Marriage Monotheists: Sex, “Caprica,” and a Changing World | Greta Christina @ The Blowfish Blog.

Lady Gaga sports a strap-on | Jessica @ Feministing.

Cyndi Lauper & Lady Gaga Go Off Script, Discuss Safe Sex On GMA | Margaret Hartmann @ Jezebel.

which leads for obvious reasons to...

Homophobia and the Olympics & Johnny Weir, you're awesome | Amanda @ Feminist Musings by a Christian Woman.

*image credit: Figure Skating Johnny Weir 2009 NHK Trophy made available by ando.miki @ Flickr.com


"don't ever link those two things again..." (4 of 4)

And....finally, after a couple of weeks' hiatus, I bring you the fourth and final installment of a guest post by Hanna, cross-posted at ...fly over me, evil angel... (if you missed the first episodes, you can read installment one, installment two, and installment three before proceeding further).

a quick review from...well, the last time this was on a saturday: in the spirit of "don't complain about something if you're not prepared to do it better," i noticed over the past couple of weeks two lists -- one from wired and one from a blog i know not of called ink-stained amazon which i have to say is beautiful to look at it -- that both purport to be 'essential lists' of 'geek culture' quotes.


okay, so the wired list starts off with monty python and the holy grail and the amazon list includes the sarah jane adventures -- but i'm still not wildly impressed with either one.

i figured i could do better.

then i thought about it and realised that, on my own, i didn't have the time to do better so i roped in my ever-patient girlfriend to help me do better. :)

first off, a couple of notes:

1. this is for fun. if you're not amused, go read something else. i won't be offended, promise. that being said, suggestions and additions (politely phrased!) are welcome in the comments. but keep in mind this is installation 1 of 4! not everything will fit in here.

2. these are probably mostly going to be dredged out of my memory, anna's memory, imdb, or official show/movie sites. inaccuracy is, therefore, almost inevitable. not to mention repetition of shows or characters. if this annoys you-- well, make your own list. :)

3. i'm not aiming for some kind of "worst to best" or "best to worst" list. they're here because the two people making the list think they're fun or because one of us was able to strong-arm the other into including them. brief context is provided where anna or i thought it was necessary.

5. i am aiming for 4 posts of 25 quotes each over the next 4 weeks. tune in each friday/saturday for your new installment! and here's the link to the first post, and the second, and the third.

okay, and that being said...

1. The Doctor: "Allons-y!" Pretty much any episode of the new series with David Tennant (we'll miss you, Mr. Tennant, sir.)

2. Gareth Blackstock: "I am Gareth Blackstock; I am seriously unpleasant!" Chef!, can't remember which episode. Something in Season 1, I feel.

3. The Player [to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]: "Until next time." Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

4. Leela [to someone attempting, foolishly, to grab her]: "Touch me again and I'll fillet you." Doctor Who, "The Sunmakers."

5. Lola: "Burgundy. Dear God, tell me I've not inspired something burgundy." Kinky Boots.

6. Cat: "I'm lookin' nice. My shadow's lookin' nice. We're a great team!" Red Dwarf, again, something in the first season.

7. Spongebob: "I came over to see if you wanted to go jellyfishing, but I can see you're busy having an episode." Spongebob Squarepants, something in the first season...er. I can't admit to remembering the name of this episode but nothing from Chef! or Red Dwarf -- I just can't!

8. Han Solo: "Hey -- it's me." Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

9. Jared Grace: "I was reading in a footlocker!" The Spiderwick Chronicles.

10. Sarah Connor: "Do I look like the mother of the future? I can't even balance my checkbook!" Terminator.

11. Danny Archuleta: "It has not been a nice day!" Predator 2.

12. Ianto Jones: "Because I know everything. Also, it's written on the bottom of the screen there." Torchwood and I am ashamed to say, but I have no idea which episode it's from. ... Second season? Maybe? Oh, help.

13. Son of Mine: "He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing - the fury of the Time Lord - and then we discovered why. Why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind." Doctor Who, "Family of Blood."

14. Sarah Jane Smith: "There are two types of people in the world. There's people who panic -- and then there's us. Got it?" The Sarah Jane Adventures, "Invasion of the Bane."

15. Eddie Izzard: "I have penis nonchalance, really." Live at Wembley.

16. Sam Winchester: "You're...afraid of flying?" Dean Winchester: "Why do you think I drive everywhere!" Supernatural, "Phantom Traveler."

17. Willy Wonka: "Everything in this room is edible. Even I'm edible. But that, children, is called cannibalism and is frowned upon in most societies." Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

18. Dr. Frank N. Furter: "But isn't it nice!" The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

19. Willow Rosenberg: "The library. Y'know -- where the books live?" Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Welcome to the Hellmouth."

20. Reverend H.W. Smith: "This is God's purpose, but not knowing the purpose is my portion of suffering." Doc Cochran: "If this is His will, He is a son of a bitch." Deadwood. Sometime around the end of the first season.

21. Carmen Ghia: "May I take your hats? And your swastikas?" The Producers.

22. Protagonist: "My name? Well, if you knew that, you'd be as smart as---" Layer Cake.

23. Nina Conti: "That's a sweet voice on a monkey but with breasts it's bloody sinister."

24. Arthur Burns: "You shot me, Charlie. What're you gonna do now?" The Proposition.

25. Norman: "What about me?!" The Dresser.

And I know I strayed a bit from my original self-issued mandate with 22, 24, and 25.

But...sue me, really. :)

They're all amazing movies. If you haven't seen them -- why the hell are you still sitting here reading this? You have watching to do!


tech note: blog redesign

Hanna has offered to help me revise my blogger template this weekend; there are some things about the current one which continue to frustrate me, and I feel like the Future Feminist Librarian-Activist could do with a fresh look. So bear with us as we play around with various features. We'll hopefully have it all up and running in no time, but tech glitches do happen!

friday fun(dies): CPAC & Teaparty Conventions

On Tuesday night I had this dream in which I was debating politics with a conservative journalist who kept referring to President Obama as "the black president." I got really irritated with this, and kept trying to patiently explain to him that while it was acceptable to describe Obama as "the first black president" (although he actually identifies as biracial) it was not acceptable to refer to him as The Black President, as if that was his title. Because this implied that Obama is not the American president, but some shadow leader who doesn't serve the entire country.

In the dream I was totally articulate (you know how you are in dreams?), and yet this reporter would just not listen to me. So I picked up a fork from the table at which we were sitting and threw it so hard that I impaled it in the reporter's thigh.

Then, when he still refused to accept my argument, I did it again.

I'm not particularly proud of the fact that my most satisfying dreams are about making flawless rhetorical arguments and stabbing right-wingers with dinnerware. Hanna says if these are the kind of dreams I'm having, I might have to go sleep on the couch. But in my defense, walking home from class on Tuesday night, just before bed, I was listening to this Fresh Air story on the CPAC conference and the new face of American conservatism.

Transcript available at NPR.

Now there's a lot that I find upsetting in this report, not least of which the fact that the center of gravity in right-wing politics seems to have shifted to the libertarian right of George W. Bush. And they're talking crazy-talk.

But the dream fantasy about the dinner fork was, I think, inspired by this bit about Sarah Palin.

GROSS: So I should mention Sarah Palin. Where is she now on the conservative movement? Where does she fit? How much influence does she have? Or maybe influence isn't even the right word. How much faith do people have in her, like?

Mr. WEIGEL: Well, tea party activists and conservatives have a lot of faith in her for different reasons. Tea party activists respect her because they think she's one of them, and conservatives like the way she's attacked by the media.

They - Palin spent a lot of time, recently, attacking media figures who use what she calls the R-word to describe the developmentally disabled. You know, that's not a political quest that makes sense, but activists who are very oppositional and think that there's a big infrastructure out to get them, really respect her for that. So she's not as much a leader as somebody they identify with.
So let me be clear here. Using the word "retarded" to talk about developmentally disabled folks, or as a slang word for "stupid" ("that's retarded") is an issue. One that activists whose blogs I read have been raising for quite some time, and one I also believe Palin is within her rights to talk about.

The thing is, I would take her much more seriously if she (and the conservatives who identify with her) too me and my people seriously when we raise issues about how language has real-world consequences. Like when we talk about God language, or the use of casual use of words like "rape" and "gay," calling grown women "girls," or parents "breeders." Feminists and other activists on the left have been talking for decades about how language matters. And we've been consistently derided as being too fucking serious for our own good. We've been accused of being "the language police" and laughed out of town for being "politically correct" (which has mysteriously turned from an inclusive goal to strive toward into something legalistic to be avoided at all costs).

So it's really, really hard for me to take Palin & co. seriously when they suddenly decide they're all about defending certain folks against marginalization through language. Not because I don't agree with them (on this particular point, if nothing else), but because it never mattered to them until now, and I have yet to see them take that personal revelation about the importance of language and realize how others might have the same experience over different words. A little bit of empathy will get you a long way, people. Go away and exercise those muscles, and then come back and talk to me.


booknotes: right (part one)

Jona Frank's recent work of photojournalism, Right: Portraits from the Evangelical Ivy League, uses images to explore the world of Patrick Henry College. Patrick Henry is a four-year college founded in 2000 by Michael Ferris specifically to be "the Christian equivelant of the Ivy League," as journalist Hanna Rosin writes in her introduction.

I discovered Right through this photo essay at Mother Jones (if you're interested in seeing some of the images from the book) and since I've read Hanna Rosin's earlier book on the subject -- and am fascinated with home education and the Christian right generally -- I knew I had to check out the book. Despite the fact Hanna looked askance when I brought it home.

This is actually going to be a two-part review. The second part focuses on a lengthy quotation from one of the student interviews; watch for that coming in a couple of days. Here, I'd like to make a couple observations about the way in which the photographer and two essayists (Hanna Rosin and Colin Westerbeck) approach their subject.

I am not practiced in visual analysis, and therefore feel slightly out of my depth in reviewing a book composed largely of images. The photographs are largely composed, rather than action shots, and highlight individual students, some of whom are photographed multiple times and several of whom were interviewed, with their responses providing text for the book.

I was left with the distinct feeling that the photographer and contributors (Rosin and Westerbeck) had missed an opportunity to really unpack some of the complexity of their subject. This is a frequent frustration I have with treatments of both the modern home education movement and recent American religious history: that both get characterized in broad strokes with little attention to nuance, and taken at once too seriously as a potential threat to mainstream society and treated gingerly as mysterious outliers rather than human beings with real effect on our world.

Rosin, as I have pointed out before, consistently collapses all home educators under the umbrella of Christian evangelical right-wing homeschooling -- a lack of distinction that does a disservice both to the practice of home education and to the specific experience of those who home educate for explicitly Christian reasons. "The homeschooling movement," she writes, for example, "is full of nostalgia for a prelapsarian age, before the Pull or even sewing machines. The result is that sometimes families seem frozen in an indeterminate earlier time" (9). While skepticism about the effects of modernity and industrialization on human life is certainly present in some homeschooling families, on the political left as well as the political right, I would argue that it is reductionist to speak of The Homeschooling Movement as a singular entity with one philosophical orientation toward technological and social change.

Likewise, I was struck by the wariness that Frank brought to her project, as voiced in her own narrative essay toward the end of the book.  She describes the difficulty of creating portraits of young people groomed for public service and intensely conscious of the image they are projecting in the outside world. She then turns to the uneasiness that the self-assurance of these young people engenders in her.
Elisa, in her trench coat, is self-assured and ready . . . One month after this photo was taken, she will be married, her name changed, school will be over, and she will be in her life, on her path. She's done everything right. Yet when I look at that picture, I feel concern for her. It all seems so fast and she seems so young. But herein lies my fascination with the sense of assuredness these kids possess. Maybe she is not so young. Maybe she is tired of waiting.

The assuredness confuses me. I had vague notions that I would marry and have a family when I was twenty-two, but both were far off. What I wanted was exploration, travel, stories, youth hostels and road trips, part-time jobs and film school. Before commitment I yearned for freedom. This is part of being young in America, or so I believed, until I went to Patrick Henry (143).
I appreciate Frank's candidness about her own complex response to the different path to adulthood that Patrick Henry students have taken: home educated young people, particularly those who come from families that take a critical stance to mainstream American culture (regardless of political orientation) often do reject notions of adolescence that are so ingrained in the American psyche that they seem commonsensical. For example, the idea that adolescence and young adulthood are "naturally" a period of rebellion and freedom from "commitment" -- and that somehow that lack of commitment to experiences that are coded "adult" experiences (marriage, parenthood, careers) is crucial to identity formation.

I would argue, instead, that it is an experience perhaps crucial to a certain kind of identity formation. One with think of as natural, perhaps inevitable.  The normal state of being. Home-educated young people often make the world aware, simply by their presence, how much of what we take to be "normal" is, in fact, a product of particular decisions about childcare, education, and the expected path to full participation in society. As a feminist, I really do believe in the personal and political are interconnected.Certainly there are connections to be made between the chosen life path of Patrick Henry students and their (by and large, although not monolitic) right-wing politics. Yet the correlation is far from uniform. We can, after all, be just as self-assured about following life trajectory wholly at odds with the ideals that Patrick Henry students espouse.

Who knows. Maybe there's a book to be written there somewhere. Maybe someday I'll end up writing it myself.


quick hit: questions from a three-year-old

Let me be upfront about this: I am not -- I repeat NOT -- a fan of the genre of writing/commentary that highlights the "cute" things children say as an underhanded way of making fun of their understanding of the world. I don't know about you, but I was always terribly insulted as a child when I said something I thought was astute and grown-ups laughed at me (I'd argue that affectionate laughter was worse than mean laughter -- it meant they weren't taking you seriously. Which, as a kid, sucks.)

So I'm sharing this in the spirit in which the original poster, Molly @ first the egg seems to have written it: damn respect for a child who can ask us to re-evaluate our understanding of the world so profoundly by asking a few simple and completely logical questions.

During the last week of 2009 and the first of 2010, our son Noah asked the following questions:

* What are some people real and some people not real?
* Why do characters do real things? (Contests are real—why is Harry Potter in a contest and he’s not real?)
* What is dying?
* Why do some people kill people?
* Where do people die?
* Where are we going to die?
* When am I going to die?
* Why are some people bad?
* Why are some people mean?
* Why do people mess up?
* Why do some people eat meat? (Why do some people eat animals? Why did someone give us a meat cookbook [i.e., a cookbook that’s not totally vegetarian]? Why do some animals eat other animals? Why are some animals mean? Etc.)
* Why are water bottles all different?
* Why are dirigibles bigger than people?

Go read the whole thing over at first the egg.


the black hole of $1 book carts

Living in Boston, Hanna and I have ample opportunity to peruse used bookstores, which could put a serious strain on our already-stretched budgets . . . except for the wonderful phenomenon known as $1 carts, which can provide brilliant finds for $1/each.

Last weekend, we stopped at the Brattle Bookshop near Downtown Crossing and I found five books that could be justified as having some scholastic thesis-related or otherwise worthy worth:

Appleby, Joyce Oldham, Lynn Avery Hunt, and Margaret C. Jacob. Telling the Truth About History. New York: Norton, 1994.

Cremin, Lawrence A. The Transformation of the School; Progressivism in American Education, 1876-1957. New York: Knopf, 1961.

Macedo, Stephen. Reassessing the Sixties: Debating the Political and Cultural Legacy. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.

Roszak, Theodore. The Dissenting Academy. New York: Pantheon Books, 1968.

Wartzman, Rick. Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. New York, NY: PublicAffairs, 2008.

So far I've read parts of The Dissenting Academy and Reassessing the Sixties. The Sixties book mostly sucks (written largely by people who identify the evils of modern civilization as -- and I kid you not -- feminism, environmentalism, and rock music), but I'm pleased I paid the $1 because its one redeeming chapter is an essay on the children's rights movement of the early Seventies, written by law professor Martha Minow. Since the children's rights movement is chronically understudied from an historical perspective, I was pleased to see it represented therein -- and not in an unsympathetic though also not wholly uncritical light.

Happy book hunting, one and all.


multimedia monday: 2-for-1 on mental health

This week, I bring you two segments from NPR's Talk of the Nation and On the Media that I listened to last week while entering metadata at Northeastern. First up, we have author Ethan Watters discussing his book Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche.

Transcript available at NPR.

I really like hearing medical professionals place illness and healing in cultural context: while physical and mental suffering is undeniably real, so often the way distress manifests itself is shaped by the time and place in which those suffering are located (much like, kofkof, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression).

Likewise, Johnathan Metzl, author of the new book The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease charts the evolution of schizophrenia through the latter half of the twentieth century from being a disease of white female passivity to being associated with male aggression (and diagnosed disproportionately in African American men).

Transcript available at On the Media.

Check 'em out. Learn something new today.


sunday smut: links list on sex and gender (no. 12)

The award for best critical book review this week goes to Ashley Sayeau @ The Guardian writing on Laurie Gottleib's Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough. She gets points for historical analysis ("The book's jacket claims this is all new – the author, it states, has said "the unthinkable" – but of course nothing could be farther from the truth") as well as attempts at finding a kernel of worth in an otherwise painfully anti-feminist screed ("This is frustrating for many reasons, but especially because Gottlieb's subject – the question of compromise in modern relationships – actually deserves attention, just not of the sort she gives it").

Bianca M. Velez @ RhRealityCheck wonders about the wisdom of consent laws which dictate to young women whom they can and cannot consent to sexual relationships with in Consenting to Sex: Yes, No, Maybe?

PhDork @ The Pursuit of Harpyness blogs about how olympic "human interest" reporting has subjected female athletes to shaming comments about their body weight and health in Female Olympians are Fat!(TW).

Ann Bartow @ Feminist Law Professors highlights the official opening of the Feminist Theory Papers at Brown University's Pembroke Center. I seriously considered applying for a year-long processing position with the FTP a couple of years ago, and they are definitely on my watchlist as an Archive I would love to work with/at someday.

My "new blog" discovery of the week (well, one of them: the list of feeds on Google Reader is getting scary long!) was Sex and the Ivy, authored by Lena Chen. On said blog, I found this delicious analysis of a talk given last November by faux feminist Christina Hoff Sommers on why modern feminism has supposedly failed. I have a sick fascination with people who look at the world and see the things I believe are amazingly awesome as a sign of deep pathology.

Kinda like this guy (and his audience), posted by Melissa McEwan @ Shakesville who seem to believe that courses in feminist theory that incorporate issues of race and class are . . . antidiversity?

(Speaking of Melissa McEwan @ Shakesville, this week she also posted a thoughtful critique of the assumption that it takes having kids to become a family.)

Thanks to Sex and the Ivy I also discovered a couple of older (2005) blog posts on the subject of sex-positivity and pornography which I enjoyed reading. One is by Susie Bright @ Susie Bright's Journal in which she responds to a Slate.com book club discussion of Pornified and Female Chauvinist Pigs which took place in 2005 involving Wendy Shalit (another faux feminist whom I find it easy to fixate upon), Meghan O'Rourke, and Laura Kipnis. The other is one of Laura Kipnis' contributions to said bookclub discussion in which she points out that "people may like making their own preferences into norms, but that's a bit monstrous in itself." Well said, Ms. Kipnis. Read the whole thing over at Slate.

MandyG @ Feministing Community cross-posted an op-ed by Nancy Willard, Sexting: A Rational Approach, which discusses the adult hysteria over adolescents engaged in the exchange of self-created sexual images online.

A Georgia bill revives tired stereotypes about connections between family planning and eugenics. Planned Parenthood's Kelley Robinson @ RhRealityCheck points out that, far from "targeting" minority women for abortions, clinics like Planned Parenthood are often the only sites where minority women are offered affordable reproductive healthcare.

Cara Kulwiki (of The Curvature) comments @ The Guardian on the results of a recent study showing that women are more likely then men to blame victims of rape for their assault. "When we say that women are less "forgiving" of rape victims, we ignore that being raped is not something for which one needs to be forgiven. And while being blamed for your own rape is an incredibly traumatising experience, we forget in this discussion that there would be no victim to blame if there wasn't a rapist committing assault first."

And just so we're not ending on that important yet not exactly uplifting note, I will end this thread by introducing you to the mind-bending concept of cupcakes for men. You didn't know cupcakes were a girly thing? Click through and gwen @ Sociological Images will enlighten you.

*image credit: Life Drawing by henrybloomfield @ Flickr.com. Thanks to Hanna this week for selecting the featured picture.


once again, we beg your indulgence

Okay, okay, so it's not like we think there are legions of fans out there waiting with baited breath for the forth installment of our 100 movie quotes endeavor (see parts one, two, and three for a refresher), but still: we apologize for the fact that we are delaying the post for another week. Hanna has been working industriously all week transcribing the terrible handwriting of ninteenth-century medical photographers and her wrist has become (as they would have said back then) overstrained. It needs bedrest and a cold compress. And a day or two away from typing -- even fun typing.

So instead I bring you a few movie-related links that will hopefully brighten your weekend, and Hanna has volunteered to augment my ramblings with some deftly-chosen youtube clips (minimal typing required). So here we go.

If you're looking for list-type things to read, wander on over to debontherocks @ Blogher, who put up a post this week of her nominations for "the Opposite Oscars," where "we could call out the performances and films that aspired for greatness, but turned out to not even be worth the popcorn required to survive them." While I am not particularly partisan in terms of the films she nominates (most of which I have not seen), I enjoyed this description of the ceremony:

Nominees could attend in their jeans or yoga pants, grab a boxed lunch from the folding table by the door, and wait expectantly to see who was dubbed worst. The loser could then tell off the people who led them to that bad performance, they could nurse their wounds, or just apologize. "I needed the money to pay a bad IRS debt/lift-tuck the twins after breastfeeding the real twins/buy back a digital video camera I inadvertently left in a South Beach hotel room," they would say. And we might understand, or we might cluck and boo, but at least we'd have resolution.

debontherocks would probably appreciate (if she has not already read) what might just be the best movie review of the year, to date. Actually, I'm quite sure it's the best movie review I've read several years running. Although I feel a bit diminished, as a human being, for writing that since it's a total pan of a film that I haven't even seen, the romantic comedy Valentine's Day. Sady Doyle @ The Guardian writes:

The cumulative effect of Valentine's Day is to make you feel that all human emotions are shameful. Have you ever been sad about a break-up? Had a crush on someone? Wanted your ex-lover back? Been happy to meet somebody promising? Wanted to have sex? You are terrible. You are feeling the same emotions portrayed in the movie Valentine's Day. And these emotions, Valentine's Day confirms, are cheap, and disgusting. For they make you like the characters in this movie.

I mean, wow. That's quality panning.

If this is really the effect of Valentine's Day then it deserves to be panned. Because, you know what? Human emotions aren't shameful. And any movie that makes us feel they are is a disservice to the craft. In fact, I'm a firm believer in movies doing quite the opposite: giving us space in which to witness and experience human emotions (light, dark, and all the shades between) without embarrassment. For example, here's some quality romance, brought to you by the team who were also responsible for that near-perfection of a film, Love Actually.

(Hanna says I am required to warn you that tissues will be needed to watch this scene.)

I will love John Hannah forever for this scene (well, and for his character in The Mummy, but this primarily since it was the first role I ever saw him in, and he made me cry).

Speaking of things that have made me cry recently (I didn't realize this post was going to be so teary, but there we are -- I promise to end with something more ebullient!), Terry Gross recently interviewed Colin Firth about his Oscar-nominated role in A Single Man.

This, like Valentine's Day, is a film which I have neither seen nor heard very much about, but which after listening to said interview I fear I might never be able to watch. Not, however, because I fear it sucks, but because I fear it does not. In fact, I fear it is brilliant. It is the story of a professor who, in the opening scenes of the film, loses his lover in a car accident, and who struggles to go on living in the aftermath of that loss. Terry Gross plays, toward the beginning of the Fresh Air interview, the scene in which Firth's character recieves word that his lover is dead. The audio alone was enough to make me tear up, sitting there at my desk at work.

Firth, in the interview, likens the story to Joan Didion's memoir describing the loss of her husband, The Year of Magical Thinking, which I likewise know I would love and also know I may never have the strength to read. (For those of you who are tempted to think there's some enobling purpose to suffering, go read Jonathan Romain's recent commentary at the Guardian: "Let's be very clear: there is no divine purpose in suffering whatsoever.")

And because I can't possibly leave you all on a note of such existential despair, here's Colin the Sex God from the aforementioned Love Actually exploring the wilds of Milwaukee with a blackpack full of condoms and an openness to cross-cultural experiences.

Hanna reports there is an urban legend that Kris Marshall refused his paycheck for filming this scene on the grounds that it was just too much fun to count as actual work. I leave it to y'all to decide whether that's true or not.

Have a good weekend. We'll be back next Saturday with more movie fun (and possibly even some movie quotes!)


quick hit: "there is no alternative justice system"

Last week, Terry Gross interviewed journalist Jane Mayer about Attorney General Eric Holder and the politics of terrorism trials. The whole interview is worth listening to, although it's upsetting to hear the extent to which Republican politicians basically don't believe in the rule of law (at least the rule of law applying to people they're scared of: read, terrorists). I always thought the point of the rule of law, at least in theory, is that it applies to people we don't like as well as people we do: it's impartial. That's why it's a legal system, not system of patronage. We can talk at length about how fucked up the American judicial system is, and how it falls far short of this ideal. But at least that's an ideal I thought we could all agree on. Apparently not. As Jane Mayer points out:

Basically, the treatment of Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomb suspect, was exactly like the treatment of every other terror suspect who's been ever been captured inside the United States. It's completely consistent with the Bush administration's treatment of terror suspects and previous administration's treatments of terror suspects. And there really wasn't a question of sending in the Army or the, you know, the special forces or something and grabbing this man at the airport in Detroit.

A senior administration official in the White House said to me there's, you know, that there is no alternative justice system. That's a kind of fantasy that takes place in the show "24" or something. We the Constitution does not allow the military to just come in and take people away to some dark place without any kind of judicial supervision and make them talk - whatever that would really mean.

View rest of the transcript at NPR.


from the neighborhood: doughnut puffs!

Hanna and I had lots of not-so-fun stuff to do this passed weekend (bill paying, errand running, paper writing, laundry,) but we did have the pleasure of exploring some of the recipes in a couple of vegetarian cookbooks we checked out of the library, principally the doughnut puffs in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman.

The recipe feels really weird to prepare, but is super easy:

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) In saucepan melt 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water until boiling.
3) Turn heat down and add 1 cup flour all at once, stirring continually until dough thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball.
4) Remove pan from heat and add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg.

5) Drop spoonfuls of batter on a greased pan, dust with cinnamon sugar, and bake for +/- 15 minutes (the book says 10-15; in our stove it took about 20).

Doughnut puffs, uncooked, on pan and topped with cinnamon sugar. Image by Anna Cook.
They kinda reminded me of a richer, smaller popover (also tasty!). You can also deep-fry them in oil, but given the amount of butter in the recipe itself this seems like overkill, and the baked versions were just as nice!


the logic of children & other thoughts on learning

My mother, now that we kids are all long out of the house (my youngest sister is a senior in college this spring), works as a childcare provider for a family in the neighborhood. Both parents are teachers in the public schools, and this past weekend my mother sent this great anecdote that I thought I would share with y'all.

K [the mother] told me a hilarious story about science lessons in her kindergarten. They had apparently finished a mandated unit on the concept of "force." And there was a test at the end. One of the questions asked them what would they use to get a ball to move, the answer being "force," but overwhelmingly the kids said she would need a dog. I love it. Interestingly, K was discouraged by this. But I said, just refuse the grounds of the test. They can't identify something as vague as "force," even if they can talk about it. The demand is inappropriate. Nothing is wrong with exposing them to the vocabulary, but expecting them to manipulate so abstractly is maybe useless to them.

I actually think the kids provided a perfectly logical response to the question posed, given their experience in the world (and, I would bet, the illustrations in the teaching packet used). So they actually have the answer correct: want the ball to move? You need something to move it! It's not going to leap into action on its own (that is, it requires outside "force" to give it momentum). What have you seen make a ball move? A dog playing fetch!

This story reminded me of a story in New York Magazine that I saw while browsing at the newsstand in Trident Booksellers, "Junior Meritocracy," by Jennifer Senior, which explores the (apparently highly competitive?) world of kindergarten entrance exams. The article is interesting (though, if you're a test-skeptic like me, somewhat stressful to read) and I recommend clicking through. In a nutshell, Senior describes the culture of competitive kindergarten and then talks to sociologists who point out what (to me, anyway) seems like the obvious:

“People have the idea that with these tests you can cancel out socioeconomic background and get to some real thing in the kid,” agrees Nicholas Lemann, dean of the journalism school at Columbia and author of The Big Test, a history of the SAT. “That’s a chimera. If you’re a 4-year-old performing well on these tests, it’s either because you have fabulous genetic material or because you have cultural advantages. But either way, the point is: You’re doing better because of your parents.”

Rather than promoting a meritocracy, in other words, these tests instead retard one. They reflect the world as it’s already stratified—and then perpetuate that same stratification.

Since getting involved in the debate at Yes Means Yes over the culture of home education last week, I've been thinking a lot about the powerful assumption made by Americans (and Americans of the liberal persuasion particularly, I venture to suggest) that education (specifically universal public education) is the solution to all of the inequality that exists in our country. This was certainly the point of view Gregory Butler (commenter "Movies, Reviewed") put forward over at Yes Means Yes: that mandatory public schooling would guarantee universal cultural harmony . . . or at the very least, protect us from the stress of living in a society in which not everyone shares identical values. The idea that education (in the specific package of schooling) is the key to life success has the status of common sense: we seldom question this notion, and therefore scramble -- like these parents of prospective kindergarten students -- to give children the advantage of what is seen as the best schooling (whatever we feel that to be).

I'm skeptical. While I value learning deeply, I am also wary of buying into the notion that schools are the best educative space in which to invest as a solution to the inequities that (yes, absolutely) exist in our culture. If nothing else, I am mindful of the legacy of turn-of-the-twentieth-century progressive educators like Jane Addams and John Dewey who (while, don't get me wrong, put forward many wonderful ideas about how to reshape learning environments to better suit the children who inhabited them) held up public schooling as a way to Americanize the influx of immigrants who were seen as jeopardizing America's social stability and national character.

Possibly more thoughts to come on this. Meanwhile, rest easy in the knowledge that when faced with the task of how to move a ball, you know what to do: go find the nearest golden retriever!

*image credit: Dienstelle 75 @ New York Magazine.


DADT on TOTN: nakedness vs. nekkidness

I've been commuting more alone lately, since Hanna and I switched schedules due to the advent of the new semester and Hanna's new job at the Countway Medical Library), and because of that and also because of metadata entry at Northeastern, I've been listening to a lot more NPR than I have had the chance to for a while. Last week, I happened to catch this segment on Talk of the Nation regarding the American military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay and lesbian service members.

Transcript available at NPR.

The strange history of "don't ask, don't tell" and the position of queer service members as openly closeted (is that the best way to describe it?) is probably not unfamiliar to y'all. The good news: I was impressed with the number of eloquent military folks who phoned into the show supporting the repeal and affirming that a person's sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to serve. Several spoke in no uncertain terms about the burden of responsibility should not be placed on queer folks, but upon the military structure for disciplining and educating folks who exhibit homophobic behavior.

The piece I actually want to comment (rant?) a little about in this post is the commentary of retired Lt. Col. Bob McGinnis, who was part of the task force that originally studied the issue in 1993. What he circled around, and didn't quite actually say in several exchanges, was that he's squeeked out by the idea of non-straight folks sharing dorms and showers with straight folks of the same sex.

I really don't understand this. Or rather, I don't understand how the solution of segregating folks by sexual orientation for sleeping arrangements makes sense to anyone. You feel uncomfortable around people who might find you sexually attractive? Okay, everyone's allowed their own subjective experience. But what I find fascinating is that these folks don't seem to understand that regardless of whether they know they move through a world of diverse sexual orientations they do: this is not about allowing non-straight folks to serve in the military. This is about allowing non-straight folks who already serve to be honest about their orientation without fear of official reprisal. Do guys like Lt. Col. McGinnis not understand that they shared dorms and showers with gay and bi men when they were active soldiers? Do they not understand that they share their swimming pool locker room, sauna, spa, with non-straight guys in various states of undress? I'm just . . . baffled.

I wonder, sometimes, if we grew up in a culture with more casual, non-sexualized nudity whether this would just not present as much of a problem. In America, so many people seem to think naked automatically equals "nekkid," or nakedness in a sexual context. We strictly segregate men and women, boys and girls, from one another in any situation that might lead to nudity, the assumption being that only in homosocial space (among folks of the same sex/gender) can you be protected from the gaze of those who find you erotic (the idea that it's good to have protection from that, as if it's something harmful -- even for adults -- is also a particular cultural assumption). Nudity can be neutral. Physical closeness can be neutral. Only in the modern, relatively privileged world of the industrialized West have been been able to afford to segregate such activities as washing, dressing, sleeping (and even love-making!) in spaces of literal privacy. In the past, cultures have had to negotiate customs of "privacy" that supported the need of couples to have intimacy even within conditions of severe overcrowding. We might do well to consider how they did so, and how we might adapt some of these expectations to our world, with its fluid understanding of sexual orientation and gender (people!! there is no--nada-none!! feasible way we could provide separate facilities for every sub-group of human beings categorized by sex, gender, or sexual orientation. So we're gonna have to learn how to be secure in our bodies and minds without being surrounded by folks whose bodies and minds work (or whose bodies we imagine work) precisely the same way as ours.


multimedia monday: stoned olympics

This week, in honor of the Olympics, I bring you the inimitable Eddie Izzard describing the (highly amenable) course of the Olympic games if everyone competed, well, stoned.


sunday smut: links on sex and gender (no. 11)

Here's a shorter-ish links list this weekend; anyone who can name all the musicals quoted here (without using the interwebs as a reference!) gets special mention in next weeks' installment :). Leave your IDs in comments.

Marry the man today / and change his ways / tomorrow. Vanessa @ Feministing draws our attention to the publication of a new book urging women over thirty years of age to "settle" for "Mr. Good Enough." While I'm 150% for not holding human beings to inhuman expectations, I find this idea insulting no matter what the age and/or sex of the parties in question. Who wants their life-mate to turn to them and say, "Gee, honey, I thought about it and decided you were adequate as a spouse..."

My white knight / not a Lancelot / nor an angel with wings. Kjerstin Johnson @Bitch Blogs also tackles the Gottlieb Question, concluding that the "take-home message isn't that successful relationships (and yes, even those recognized by the government) rely on compromises; but that it's your fault for being too picky to settle down." Sarah Menckedick @ Women's Rights Blog adds pointedly (in The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough) that media coverage is only "reinforcing the feminism vs. Gottlieb and feminism vs. marriage dichotomy, setting up feminists as reactive raging crusaders attacking the poor Gottlieb -- who was only acknowledging the truth after all."

Everything you can do / I can do better / I can do everything / better than you. Charlie Todd @ Urban Prankster posts a video and photo of counter-protesters who showed up outside Twitter headquarters to butt heads with protesters from Westboro Baptist Church (the group that tours the country virulently protesting homosexuality). This confirms my hypothesis that one of the most effective ways to combat hate and fear is through humor.

Princes wait there in the world, it's true / Princes yes but wolves and humans too. Jessica Valenti @ her personal blog that anti-feminists over at the beatifically-named Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) hold feminist activists responsible for the commodification of female virgin status. As Jessica points out, methinks they need to do a little homework on the long history of commodifying women's sexual status.

You wait, little girl, on an empty stage / For fate to turn the light on /Your life, little girl, is an empty page /That men will want to write on. BeckySharper @ The Pursuit of Harpyness blogs about a "Miss Manners" column in which a young man wrote in asking advice about following up on a meeting he had with the father of a prospective girlfriend.

I'll teach you what shoes to wear / how to fix your hair / everything that really counts to be / popular!
Roxann Mt Joy @ the Women's Rights Blog reports on the deceptive use of imagery by a conservative Focus on the Family affiliate in Florida to oppose gay parenting. Short version? 1) only straight folks who conform to our current definitions of optimal beauty can be parents and 2) women who conform to those current definitions can't possibly be non-straight ('cause apparently everyone "knows" what lesbians look like). The mind boggles.

I need a place / where I can hide / where no one sees my life inside / where I can make my plans and write them down / so I can read them. Harriet Jacobs @ Fugitivus points out the monumental fuck-up that was Google's roll-out of its new networking feature "Buzz" this weekend. Really, Google, please please please do not EVER automatically enroll me in a social networking site again. (Update: Fugitivus now requires a Wordpress account to login; if you wish to read about the story without creating an account or logging in, you can visit TechCrunch, which covered the story in Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications.)

Sentences of Amys / paragraphs of Amys / filling every book. And finally, totally "for the win" this week comes this proposed word-centric condom campaign from Durex as mst'd by Amanda Hess @ The Sexist. I can't answer her question about what my boobs would say if they could talk, but I find myself mesmerized by the people made of words and what their boobs are saying.

*image credit: Lookout II by rivergalleryartist @ Flickr.


in leiu of part four, we bring you men in kilts!

So it's been one of those weeks where every day seems to run from about six am to midnight without a lot of time to stop and pause for breath. Let alonge movie quote blogging. So Hanna and (much more tangentially) I are taking a pass this weekend on the final installment of the movie quotes post.

If you are absolutely positively dying to read lists of things related to film and our commentary about them, then you can enjoy last years' list of twenty-nine of our favorite romantic movies.

Meanwhile, we were sucked into watching the latter half of the opening ceremony of the Olympics last night and were completely won over by these guys (and gals)

Who played fiddles, had GREAT body art, and did step dancing in doc martens to boot

And in case you happened to miss the show, here's the answer to the mystery of who was going to carry the torch on its final leg to the stadium.

Enjoy the long weekend, sports (if you like that kind of thing) and movies (if you enjoy that). See you back here next Saturday for the concluding installment of "don't ever link those two things again..."

*image credits: Winter Olympics - Opening Ceremony and 95658513PB085_Olympics_Open @ Flickr.com.


booknotes: "we'll want the breasts exposed, and yet covered."

I love the things I can pick up and read in the name of thesis research. Take, for example, Elizabeth Fraterrigo's Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America (New York: Oxford U.P., 2009). I saw the book by chance on the shelf at Borders a few weeks ago and while I would have read it eventually anyway (what's not to like? sex! gender! money! drama!), I realized after pondering for a day or two that I could consider it background research on American postwar culture. So off to the library I trundled. (Or rather, off to the online catalog I clicked, forthwith to inter-library loan a copy through the Brookline Public Library).

And Ms. Fraterrigo did not disappoint. This dissertation-turned-book is a richly researched yet highly readable account of Hugh Hefner's self-re-invention as the playboy of his dreams, a life he carved out for himself with relentless hard work and not a little luck after the dissolution of his youthful marriage and a series of unsatisfying desk jobs. Hefner, Fraterrigo convincingly argues, took various cultural elements in already in play (dissatisfaction with suburbia, anxiety about masculinity and women's increased visibility in previously male spaces, a rise in consumer spending, postwar debates about what constituted the "good life," and the scientific examination of human sexuality) and packaged them in a highly-successful formula that catapulted him to the top of a cultural and financial empire.

She draws two fascinating (if superficially unlikely) comparisons between Hefner and women writers of his day. First, she suggests a commonality in thought between Hefner and early feminist rhetorician Betty Friedan (author of The Feminine Mystique). Both Friedan and Hefner drew on their own personal experience to build a critique of the hegemonic postwar culture and its emphasis on the middle class, suburban nuclear family. In response to an unsatisfying homelife, both championed participation in the capitalist economy (as both worker and consumer) as a potential route to self-realization (see pp. 26-36).

Second, Fraterrigo points out the striking parallels between the ideal woman as articulated by Hefner in the page of Playboy (and in real life by the women who worked as Bunnies in the Playboy clubs) and Helen Gurley Brown's "Single Girl," found in the pages of Sex and the Single Girl first published in 1962. Both Hefner and Brown managed to carve out a place for singledom and pre-marital sex in culture dominated by the value of marriage and family. Yet they did so in ways that in no way challenged the status quo of inequitable gender relations or the notion of gender complimentarity (the idea that men and women "naturally" perform different, though complimentary, roles in society).

Brown's Single Girl fit easily into the harmonious system of gender roles supported by Hefner. She made few demands on the male pocketbook [unlike a wife], aside from accepting the occasional gift or evening on the town, and instead made her own way as a working girl. Like the playboy, she strove to work hard and play hard too; yet she had no pretensions about achieving much power or earning vast sums of money through her role in the workplace. Instead, she accepted her marginal economic position and limited job prospects with a smile on her well-made-up face. Though she may not have enjoyed the same degree of autonomy and plentitude as the playboy, the Single Girl shared his sensibilities . . . [she] was both a handmaiden in the liberalization of sexual attitudes in the 1960s and the ascent of a consumer-oriented singles culture (132-33).

As the Swinging Sixties gave way to the cultural and counter-cultural revolutions of the early 1970s, Hefner found his idealized Playboy -- once a symbol of avant garde youthful revolt against the status quo -- derided by both men and women of the Movement cultures who critiqued his unabashed materialism and stubborn support of strictly segregated gender roles. He was taken aback by the "aggressive chicks" of the women's liberation movement who pointed out that structural inequalities and oppositional gender typing (the strict separation of "masculine" and "feminine") left women in a systematic disadvantage. Despite Hefner's (and Playboy's) support of such feminist causes as women's right to sexual expression, sex outside of marriage, access to abortion, and women's participation in the workforce, he seems -- according to Fraterrigo at least -- to have balked at re-imagining a world in which the division of gender roles was less strictly dictated than it had been in the decades of his youth.

In this, Hefner is far from alone to judge by the continued popularity of "complementarian" arguments for "traditional" feminine and masculine roles among various conservative groups and even in some feminist circles -- yet I am perennially puzzled by the amount of fear and resistance appeals to loosen gender-based expectations routinely encounter. While beyond the scope of Fraterrigo's deftly-woven narrative about Playboy and the postwar culture of freewheeling consumerism it helped to legitimate, it is certainly a question which Playboy encourages us to ask: What, exactly, is at stake for individuals who defend complementary gender roles? The women's liberationists of the 1970s thought they had the answer: unfettered male access to women's bodies and the uncomplaining domestic support of housewives and secretaries. Fraterrigo's tale, however, suggests that the answer is -- while still containing those elements -- far more complex (and more interesting!) than it appears at first glance.


Tech Note

UPDATE: we're back online.

Just a quick tech note for anyone normally uses the http://www.annajcook.com URL for reaching this blog (possibly I'm the only one! but just in cases). Due to neglect on my part, my registration of that domain name expired on Tuesday and while I've now renewed it, I'm having some difficulty re-directed the URL to point to this page. Obviously (if you've found your way here) the Future Feminist Librarian-Activist blog is still up and running at the blogspot address, and I will get the re-routing activated from annajcook.com as soon as possible.

language and authority: take two

First, because Hanna (rightly) chided me for not including it the first time around, I bring you a clip from Doctor Who in which the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) staunchly defends his non-BBC accent in the face of companion Rose's skepticism. You can carry Leeds on your lips and still save the universe: take that language snobs! (Apologies: neither Hanna nor I could find an embeddable clip of the exact bit we wanted -- maybe someday we'll learn how to rip this stuff properly!)

And on a more serious note, the passionate and articulate Sady @ Tiger Beatdown writes at length on the power of words and the importance of context in "Inappropriate Language: Some Notes on Words and Context." I cannot quote the whole piece here, but strongly urge you to click over to her blog and read the whole thing, since I admire the way she argues for a more complex understanding of how context shapes the meaning of certain terms, while not dismissing the idea that words have the power to harm -- and that some epithets simply should not be used at all. While being funny to boot! I offer the following illustrative passage:

But language is also complicated. The reason a lot of people (thoughtful people, anyway) object to language debates is that they seem to oversimplify or misunderstand how language works. I’m sympathetic to that argument, to some degree. It’s undeniably true that words get re-purposed all the time – “gay” itself being a really prime example. But it takes a long time, or a major paradigm shift, or both, for semantic shifts on that level to occur. You need what would appear to be centuries of “gay” picking up steam as a euphemism for “slutty,” you need people slyly re-purposing the word for their own particular variety of socially-unapproved sexiness so that they can hint at their sexuality without getting in trouble, you need that usage in turn to pick up steam, and you need Stonewall, and you need the decision to go with “gay,” this by now much-evolved bit of sound and code, as an alternative to other labels that are openly pejorative, either because they used to be clinical diagnoses of mental illness or because they are just plain slurs. And then – and then! - this word “gay” becomes a pejorative itself, based on the new meaning.

It takes a while, is my point, for the phrase “my, don’t you look gay in your new ensemble” to go from “you look like you are ready for a party” to “you seriously look like you are ready to put out at that party” to “we are surrounded by a room full of people at this party, and thus cannot acknowledge the way you like to put out, but I happen to be down with putting out that way my very own self” to “I hate your t-shirt, but am for some reason talking fancy.” The meanings overlap in a lot of different ways throughout the history, and it gets tricky, but the overall shift in meaning is clear – we can’t get back to the first stop from the current one. There’s no return, “gay” as “totally and asexually ready for a festive occasion” is just done.

So go forth, read, talk (in whatever accent and using whatever words you feel are appropriate to your own context) and think.

*image credit: Xeyra @ Livejournal.


Research @ Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection

The Women's Collections Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists reports that Cornell University's Human Sexuality Collection is offering travel funds for researchers wishing to use the collections. Applications are due March 31st and guidelines for applying can be found on the HSC website. According to the collection website,

The Human Sexuality Collection seeks to preserve and make accessible primary sources that document historical shifts in the social construction of sexuality, with a focus on U.S. lesbian and gay history and the politics of pornography.

You can check out the awesome-sounding projects of previous awardees as well.

On a side note, the curator of the collection holds the title of "Curator, Human Sexuality Collection; Library Liaison to the Cornell Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program" and someday I totally want her job.


from the neighborhood: mhs bouquet

Last week, the Massachusetts Historical Society hosted a reception and lecture for a group called the Seminarians. They ordered this gorgeous bouquet of cherry blossoms and red roses and left it behind for us to enjoy. Cut flowers always make me a little sad, but while they last they are lending a much-welcome spot of color to our front foyer.


multimedia monday: "i can download protection for up to a thousand periods!"

TECH UPDATE: Reader Saskia Tielens alerted me to the fact that this video is marked "private" and will not play as an embed. I will try to locate a usable video! ~A.

Further tech update: Finally had a chance to find a YouTube version that wasn't private. The embed should work now ~A.

After Apple announced that it's latest gadget was going to be named the iPad, a number of my feminist blogs pointed out that "tablet computer" was not the first thing that came to mind when they heard the word. Turns out (hat tip to my friend Rachel for the video link) that MadTV was ahead of them.

I've seen critiques of the iPad/period jokes based on the fact that they're predicated on the idea that periods (and by implication the working of women's bodies) are gross and icky . . . and Hanna contends the joke is just a "groaner." Personally, while I recognize the validity of both of these criticisms, I also think the MadTV video is making fun of the cheeriness of menstruation product and Apple product marketing than passing judgment on the inherent value of either.


sunday smut: links list on sex and gender (no. 10)

"Turkish police have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl they say was buried alive by relatives in an "honour" killing carried out as punishment for talking to boys." Robert Tait @ The Guardian wins for "most horrific sexuality and gender related story of the week" with his story of a Turkish teenager who was killed by her family for transgressing their expectations of appropriately feminine behavior. I wish to point out that, rather than demonstrating some yawning chasm between "West" and "East," this sort of action should be seen as a symptom of our global preoccupation with the purity and virginity of girls and women.

"It's maddening that the people who want to take away women's right to choose have annexed "choice" to their own cause. If the law compelled women like Sarah and Bristol Palin and Pam Tebow to continue problem pregnancies, there would be no heroism in doing so--you don't get much credit for taking the difficult path if that's your only option." Katha Politt @ The Nation vents about the current politics of abortion in her latest "Subject to Debate" column.

"One of Blankenhorn’s leading concerns is with the well-being of children. He has argued, citing solid studies that corroborate this, that children raised by single parents are, as a group, at a disadvantage, and that having two married parents is a boon to children. But surely this raises the question: wouldn’t same-sex marriage help the children of same-sex couples...?" Margaret Talbot @ The New Yorker News Desk wonders why the pro-gay-marriage side in the Prop. 8 case hasn't pushed the antis harder on the question of how gay marriage will hurt families in Gay Marriage and Single Parents.

And further, Talbot suggests that "You sometimes hear it said that a courtroom is not the best venue for playing out battles in the culture wars [yet] a courtroom can also be a great and theatrical classroom, where the values of thoroughness, precision in speech, and the obligation to reply have a way of laying bare the fundamentals of certain rhetorical positions." See The Gay-Marriage Classroom.

"I’m not sure. Can your partner be your best friend? If so, can you still have other best friends? And if they can’t be your best friend, then what are they?" Essin' Em @ Sexuality Happens muses about the delicate line between "friend" and "significant other" in My New Best Friend.

"When I close my laptop and head to work, I'm not exactly sure what's going on in the world, but I do kind of question whether I'm pretty or young-looking enough to navigate it." Christina C. @ the Women's Rights Blog argues that science reporting on "studies" supposedly determining optimal human attractiveness are as biased as the advice columns in women's fashion magazines in Sexy Science: From Lips to Hips to Cheeks, Studies Rank Women.

"Recent hopes that Apple was about to unveil an electronic device that could do absolutely anything were dashed when it became obvious that the iPad cannot in fact locate the G-spot. Nor can it fit in your handbag, which is another reason why women are disappointed by it." The Independent weighs in on the kerfluffle about women's sexual pleasure and "the geographical whimsy with which the mystical G-spot appears to operate (or not)" in Yes, Yes, Yes, No, Yes!

In other sex-meets-science news, Jill Filopovic @ The Guardian comments on the latest study on abstinence-until-marriage propaganda in sex education. "If there is one thing that has proven true throughout human history, it's that people like – scratch that, love – to have sex...Of course, for a lot of us, the 'going forth' part is more desirable than the actual multiplying, and so human beings have also spent centuries trying to separate one from the other."

And finally, for your "weird but true" story of the week: "Senator Saxby Chambliss, the Georgia Republican, warned [in Senate hearings] that 'the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts' would be likely to create an atmosphere susceptible to 'alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art.'" Lauren Collins @ The New Yorker News Desk reports on the Senate hearings about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy concerning sexual orientation and kindly alerted me to the hitherto under-reported link between same-sex attraction and the desire for ink.

Note to self: must really see about getting that tattoo I keep talking about.

*image credit: Victoria - Nude woman painting at Whitebird Cafe by Tarjin Rahman @ Flickr.