In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Feminist Porn: Sex, Consent, and Getting Off

Warning: May not be safe for work…unless you are like me and work at Planned Parenthood. 🙂 The links are definitely not work-safe and may contain adult content to be viewed only by people over the age of 18.

Feminism has a love/hate relationship with sex. The “Feminist Sex Wars” rage on and not just between second and third-wavers. I once spent an evening at a hole-in-the-wall strip club with a 20-something friend fiercely debating her anti-pornography/anti-prostitution position. We spent half an hour of that night talking with a dancer, a young single mom and the only woman-of-color on the floor. She said it was better than working at a grocery store; she made more money and didn’t have to pay for day care. How could I blame her? It was niave and classist for us to engage her in this conversation, but I was in college and didn’t know how stupid I was being. This also happened to be the night I bought my first vibrator, with that same friend, at a sleazy adult store in Syracuse, NY. Long story short is that I became passionate about the rights of sex workers and people that work in the sex/adult industry and began a more intelligent and articulate study of why I felt so compelled to defend pornography, prostitution, women’s sexual pleasure, and my own sexual desires.

Read More…Read More…

Wheelchair Diaries: An Interview with the Artist

Artist Joan Tysinger was delighted on the day she received her wheelchair, one year ago. She explains that she was excited to finally have the chance to enjoy being outdoors, not having to drive everywhere. Joan says that her first thought upon arriving home was, “Finally, I’ll be able to do what all my neighbors do – just walk to the Flying Biscuit [a restaurant located not far from her house] for dinner.” So, she called her nephew and arranged to do just that -the pair planned to stroll to the neighborhood hang-out to celebrate.

What should have been an easy ten-minute walk turned into an hour of circumventing over-flowing trashcans left on the sidewalks, looking for curb-cuts, and finding routes around cars that blocked the walkways. The trip was so needlessly difficult that Joan and her nephew considered simply returning to the house. When they did finally reach their destination, Joan had made her decision – this was something that she was going to talk about in her art.

The result of that decision is a series of short films entitled Wheelchair Diaries, which document Joan’s travels around the sidewalks and streets of Atlanta.

Read More…Read More…

Blogging along with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Hello, Feministe! I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve managed to get my hands a little too full with other projects. I do have some posts on other subjects that I hope to have up soon, but I first I felt it was my duty to inform you all that this is the last weekend that you can see Joss Whedon’s new musical, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, for free. The final episode was just released this morning, and they’ll all be up until midnight on Sunday. (I assume that means Sunday night, not late tonight.) After that, you’ll have to buy them from iTunes.

But why are you blogging about this on Feministe, Holly? Haven’t you been criticized before for calling people’s attention to topics that are only tangentially related to feminism? Like say, racism? Never fear, ye pure of heart, because there’s definitely a point. For one thing, Joss Whedon is an unabashed feminist himself. The kind who says clearly that he shouldn’t get any medals for something every writer in Hollywood should be doing: writing strong female characters like Buffy (you know, the Vampire Slayer) or half the crew of the good ship Serenity.

For another thing, you know what the most fun part of Joss Whedon’s work is, at least for me? Dissecting it. Buffy has inspired quite a lot of scholarly work and criticism, to the point where it ostensibly has its own sub-field of cultural studies. (I have to admit at this point that I wrote my own undergraduate thesis about Buffy, although it was an anthropological study of early fan communities c. 1997. I also have to admit that I lost my taste for the show after the fifth season.) Although the most rabidly loyal of Whedonites may disagree about the need to be critical, I think a lot of other fans relish the fact that Whedon’s work often invites thoughtful questions, quirked eyebrows, even nitpicking.

So here’s what I want you to do. Go watch Dr. Horrible, all three episodes, while they’re still free. You’l be glad you did. Then come back here and click into the rest of this thread, where we’ll do SPOILERS and discussion and ask the question… is this a comic musical about a Nice GuyTM?

Read More…Read More…

Hugs, Kisses, Poetry, and Verka

Thanks for having me, Feministe, and thanks for reading and responding, guys.

I hope you stop by my magazine every once in a while. If you’d like to submit, keep in mind that we looking for more humor writers, as well as new coverage of election 08. If you’re a poet, consider contributing to our poetry section. On the other magazine, we cover a wide variety of topics, and are searching for contributors to our Muslim women section in particular. But honestly, many different pieces are welcome, as long as they’re well-written and do not include hate-speech.

OK, now that the shameless plug is over and done with, I’d like to leave you guys with two things for dessert:

This is my (loose) translation of a Mikhail Lermontov poem. I often find it useful when contemplating the universe and its less savoury elements:

We drink from the chalice of being/ With eyes blindfolded,/ Wetting the golden rim/ With our own tears./ When, before death,/ The blindfold falls,/ And everything seducing us/ With the blindfold disappears;/ We see the golden chalice/ Was empty all along/ The drink inside it was a dream/ And it was not our own.”

And this song by Verka Serdyuchka (alter-ego of Andriy Danilko), which has gotten me through many a desolate evening – “Vse Budet Horosho” means “Everything Will Be OK” (or “Everything Will Be Good,” or so the pedant in me says):

When one looks at Verka, one indeed believes that things will be OK, sooner or later.

Quote of the Day:

“When we find ourselves believing that killing a man makes us more of a man, but loving a man makes us less of a man, it’s probably time to reexamine our criteria for manhood.”

stolen from Andrew‘s g-chat status message.

Abortion as art


For once, I am at a loss for words.

UPDATE:Yale says it is “performance art”:

Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. Her art project includes visual representations, a press release and other narrative materials. She stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body.

She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art.

Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.

: The artist speaks out, and she has some really interesting things to say:

This piece — in its textual and sculptural forms — is meant to call into question the relationship between form and function as they converge on the body. The artwork exists as the verbal narrative you see above, as an installation that will take place in Green Hall, as a time-based performance, as a independent concept, as a myth and as a public discourse.

It creates an ambiguity that isolates the locus of ontology to an act of readership. An intentional ambiguity pervades both the act and the objects I produced in relation to it. The performance exists only as I chose to represent it. For me, the most poignant aspect of this representation — the part most meaningful in terms of its political agenda (and, incidentally, the aspect that has not been discussed thus far) — is the impossibility of accurately identifying the resulting blood. Because the miscarriages coincide with the expected date of menstruation (the 28th day of my cycle), it remains ambiguous whether the there was ever a fertilized ovum or not. The reality of the pregnancy, both for myself and for the audience, is a matter of reading.

This ambivalence makes obvious how the act of identification or naming — the act of ascribing a word to something physical — is at its heart an ideological act, an act that literally has the power to construct bodies. In a sense, the act of conception occurs when the viewer assigns the term “miscarriage” or “period” to that blood.

Emphasis mine.

Whether she actually did the insemination/period inducement regime or not (she says she did, Yale administrators say she didn’t), she does certainly make the point that naming things shapes reality; no one actually knows if she had abortions, but the story nonetheless revolves around that “fact.” Do read her whole op/ed.

Daily Misogyny

We occasionally get emails from readers who encounter pretty egregious misogyny in their real lives. First, one reader spotted this at her dentist’s office:


Read More…Read More…

Posted in Art

Boy Scrubbing for Fun and Profit?

Boy Being Scrubbed
That’s right, I said scrubbing. Scrubbing sweat off of underage boys in a locker room. It’s central part of a new game for the Nintendo DS called Duel Love, in which you play a female transfer student who ends up as the personal trainer for a secret “Fight Club” at her new high school. That’s right, the companies that brought you Pac-Man, Tekken, Power Rangers, Tamagotchi and many more now bring you… scrubbing down sweaty boys and giving them massages!

Romance comics for girls, often featuring delicate, beautiful boys who fall in love with the plucky or cipher-like heroine — or, just as often, fall in love with each other — are nothing new in Japan. It used to be that you could pretend this was just another Or in the United States; check the Manga section of your local Barnes & Noble. Dating games based in similar scenarios (often called otome, the Japanese word for maiden) are nothing new either, but they’re getting to be bigger and bigger-budget projects. And utilizing new technology as well… as you can see in the trailer below, you have to actually scrub back and forth with the Nintendo DS styles, and here’s a picture instructing the player to blow into the microphone to clear away the steamed-up shower stalls. Why, whatever on earth for?

Shower Stall Steam

Read More…Read More…

Support V-Day at St. Louis University

The international V-Day campaign has done amazing work for women world-wide — and women themselves have embraced V-Day in 120 countries. According to the campaign itself:

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.

Sounds like something we could all agree on, right?

Sadly, no. Domestically, “pro-life” groups dislike the campaign because it involves the v-word: Vagina. And because, apparently, helping to end violence against women doesn’t exactly mesh with the pro-life message. I realize that sounds a bit hyperbolic, but V-Day is, at heart, about empowering women and girls to take charge of their lives. That’s exactly contrary to the “pro-life” view of women, family and society.

Students at St. Louis University are trying to do their part for international women’s rights by holding a V-Day event on their campus. Unfortunately, the administration is shutting them down, so they need a little help and I’m hoping that Feministe can come through for them. Below the fold is an email from one of their organizers, detailing the problems and what you can do to help. Please check it out:

Undoubtedly, you are familiar with Eve’s Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, and the world-wide V-Day campaign to end violence against women and girls. At our Catholic, Jesuit University, V-Day is a very special time for UNA as it gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about gender violence as well as much-needed money for local charities that serve women. Last year, in 2007 UNA was told by the SLU administration that we would no longer be allowed to perform The Vagina Monologues on campus–ever. On top of this, we are not allowed to advertise on campus at all, or even set up tables to sell tickets. Determined to still raise money for our charities, we found an off campus location last year and the protests and controversy surrounding the production helped us sell out all our performances.

Read More…Read More…

Women and Girls Make Art

First, Girls Rock! The movie:

Gotta see it. That preview made me tear up a little. I wish I had had something like that when I was an angsty, miserable 8th grader. These girls are really inspiring.

And if you’re in LA, this feminist street art project looks incredible. “Women in the City” is a “viral public art exhibition” featuring the works of Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler and Barbara Kruger(!). A full list of the pieces and locations is here. Send pics if you see these pieces up on the streets.