Thursday, April 7, 2011
If you fell into it, maybe you could understand her? The girl who walks you world with smiling eyes, laughing hands, who’ll give you a peaceable excursion into dark lands for a small, oh so careful fee. And you wonder, amidst her twisting, gyrating hips, if she cares a whit after all for her work. If work it be. She only offers her body up as goods, after all, something any other could do if she chose.
And yet, to move further up her skirt to the realm of mind, one gets the notion that the same principles take on different lights when offered to high bidders. There’s an idea that if one puts it to a processor’s query, it’s more meaningful that if one simply flips up a dress to reveal carefully sketched flesh for the taking. There’s an idea that her flesh, lined like sandgrains with purpose by her buyers, is somehow less valuable when marketed than lines upon lines of delicately rendered machine instructions.
There is almost a rejection of the girl for being so tenderly drawn, polygoned in the screens of real life just as the client ordered. This three-dee girl as your own, at least for a short while. There is a sense that to manipulate cold equations in brittle darkness is holier than paid images who draw themselves to your very wishes.
But they twin themselves with the issues of commonality and specificity. On one hand, any girl can lay herself out for cash ready enough. On the other, anyone can pen some passable instructions to a compiler. Now one cannot say in a ‘just anyone’ metric that in either case they’ll do it right and proper, only that they can do it well enough to get a check from an interested party. For sophistication, for walking that line of mysterious arcana, one gets more money, needs more skill. The art of appealing to a client with obscure lore, with specialised needs to match the client’s fetish is something difficult and prized for both a girl with clever hands and a boy armed with a compiler. It often takes years in both cases to assemble the necessary knowledge and practice enough to be crafty at it.
And yet, both sets advocate simplicity to draw more members in. What is that catchphrase, ‘ease of use’? And for the girls: ‘Love, you don’t even need to be pretty, just smile and nod.’ One can question whether these manwoman hours are wasted effort, but the upshot is that each day, a new set of boys and girls tries their luck wandering the world offering skin or symbols up as their stock in trade.
The boys stalk server rooms armed with scripts in foreign pearlised tongues, asking ever to be paid to adore your company’s machines for a fee, to whisper flirtations to them in their own tongues, to manipulate the nuances of the machines’ conversations with each other. And the girls walk through bedrooms, streets, boardrooms of business parties, ever wit the careful kind smile and deft figure, seeking only to be your companion for a bit, to converse, discourse with you on a multitude of levels. Seeking only to make you smile-laugh just so.
Now, is this unrespectable? Is this madness? Is this something to be ashamed of? According to the ones in their quiet houses, all locked away with warm tea and judgmental attitudes it is. They hate the girls with their crafted smiles, can’t stand the boys and their speech strewn with transistor lore and machine linguas. And the question, the question is why? Why is selling one’s skill with flesh or formulae a degraded thing? For centuries the girl’s skirted that edge between appreciation and degradation, but with the boy’s art, it is new and fearsome, and perhaps too distant from the memory of human eyes and mouths.
One gets uncertain in the face of both, be it crafted attraction that draws one in despite the artifice, or polished lines in another tongue unspoken by human lips, but murmured all the while in the machine’s humming belly. Perhaps that is the nature of the hatred, the uncertainty and ambivalent longing in both cases to have a little of that magic ability to bend others (man or metal) to one’s will with what seems commonly attainable skills. And the topic of being bent to wills brings one round to the religiosity of the two beautiful things.
The girls, they’ve other girls standing up for them, screaming for respectability, for honoured status in some cases, a return of the sacred temple meretrix. They want to be seen as haetara, as geisha lying down with you so blue. And the boys, they’ve other boys speaking of the purity of the scrolling lines, the art, the crafted beauty in their practice, the world-shifting importance in their daily efforts. They both want to be adored for their arts and talents rather than paid in secret, lowkey and deprecated in the sunlight. Their advocates sometimes, though not across a board, offer up the view of the work as sacred, to be cherished for its innate worthiness.
This can be appreciated, but it denies the flaky charm of the one-off, the backalley assignation, the hack in twenty minutes or less guaranteed. It denies that sometimes what is can only be what is, with no motive other than the moment. So these religiouslike advocates are sidelined, considered outré and half-mad by the narrow people in their cosy homes, defeating all their intent.
This could be borne if not for the boys. The boys so fond of the twittering beeps and chirps of response from the machines often deem the girls unworthy, cheapeners of a holy act between two open souls. They like to say that to spend money to see her, to hold her close for one gloried hour shames her and you both, makes the acts undertaken a shallow sadness. But the girl makes her movements out of love for her art, and a little love of her clientele. It is a general love of humanity, a ripened tenderness sharpened to a clever edge. She cherishes them all, in individual ways, and that kindness is what they fill her pockets with sacred gold for.
And those payments encapsulate. If the boys can parse their sold-off work from their for-fun work, it stands that the girls are at least as clever. It seems not only arrogant, but rude to credit the girls so lowly in brains. To pay simply takes the sum of the act and locks it in a small box, clean and safe emotionally for the girl and her client. It is the straight razor offering, honed and no less holy. And not so different from the alternate offerings of processor conversation sold to private label clients.
So please take the girl and the boy and what they lay before you as gift, not poisoned or damaged, just an encapsulated version of a more emotionally binding act. Art in a lockbox isn’t less than art given as a love token. It is just kept contained for private reasons, and those reasons should be respected, even if the arts in question are currently not widely honoured or respected. When next you chance on the girls, blow them tender acknowledging kisses. And when next you see the boys, whisper Hello Angel to their machines by way of greeting. And understand that they walk the same streets, just different ends of them.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I am tired of people brandishing badly crafted studies to ‘prove’ that exercise is completely unrelated to weight loss. I am tired of people using the fact that government agencies make unhealthy recommendations about diet as ‘proof’ that what you eat is completely unrelated to your weight. I am tired of people using set-point theorizings to ‘prove’ that the weight you currently are is the only weight you can ever be and you are being evil or fighting your body to be any other weight.
The reality is that those studies consider stuff like no-incline treadmill workouts ‘vigorous’. If your treadmill doesn’t go uphill, you aren’t burning many calories no matter how fast you run on it. The reality is that you don’t have to be cheating to be off on your calorie consumption estimates by 100, 200, 500 calories per day. This would of course wipe out any deficits accumulated through exercise. The reality is that you can be losing fat and gaining muscle and ultimately your overall weight doesn’t change, but it doesn’t actually mean ‘exercise never results in weight loss’. You just lost a bunch of fat while concurrently acquiring some muscle.
The reality is that trashing out your body’s natural feedback mechanisms for calorie burning and absorption with bulimia/anorexia/crash diets/etc. can create some pretty weird feedback mechanisms that may make you extrapolate that ‘eating less and exercising more is completely unrelated to weight loss’.
The reality is that exercise and dietary changes create long term weight loss and weight maintenance at those new low weights if people take the time to get to know their individual body’s calorie requirements and arrange their exercise program (for maintenance at a given weight or for weight loss, then maintenance) accordingly. Or weight gain, if your thing is to explicitly gain some muscle. Exercise and dietary changes can work there, as well.
The reality is that studies claiming being a bit fat or even very fat make you live longer mysteriously don’t look at people over age 75, who are incidentally overwhelmingly not-even-overweight. People bashing others over the head with such studies like to leave out ones that indicate being fat and old can lead to dementia onset (for women, according to a pretty big study of hundreds of old women ranging across the BMI scale).
I don’t really know why the people most likely to claim diet and exercise are completely unrelated to weight and weight gain/loss are women, and why they make a big habit out of insisting to other women that you cannot possibly lose weight through diet and exercise changes. I do know that it is crippling, it is cruel and it really really bothers me. As someone who listened to the lies and got sicker and sicker because hey! exercise and diet are totes unrelated to my weight, I hate the dishonesty operating on all sides of this thing.
I hate the badly designed studies that twist data to make their conclusions. I hate the rebuttals/debunkings that are just as data-twisting and dishonest. I hate when someone says ‘I’m 400 lbs and exercise all the time and and never lost a pound, so this proves diet and exercise are unrelated to weight loss!’
Because that someone is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a woman telling that lie to other women, making them feel that their bodies are chaotic entities they can never really understand, pressuring other women into believing the ancient male-derived myth that female natures are mysterious wacky things that nobody can really get a handle on.
I hate the way patriarchal cruelty gets reinforced by the same women who insist they are trying to offer an empowerment model by pretending diet (as in what you eat and how you eat and when and how much) and exercise(as in how hard, how often, what kind and how long) have zero connection to the workings of a given female body.
I do feel cheated by fat-positive notions that if my weight drops due to having a more active lifestyle and eating less, that I’m an anomaly when this is a norm for men. Over and over men get more active and eat differently/less and watch the weight fly off. But just as often women tell other women that stuff is a Big Media Lie and it can never happen for them and anyway, setpoints! mean your body totally wants to be gaining seven pounds a year. Until you’re in your 70s when mysteriously most people find themselves pretty slim.
We all have different weights that are best for our bodies. Some of them are pretty high according to government charts. Some of them are pretty low.
This is also true for calorie consumption. I was looking up people over 900lbs the other day and in many cases they were carrying hundreds of pounds of liquid, in some cases more than half their total weight. If your internals are swimming around in a bunch of fluid, you can get some pretty healthy-looking statistics precisely because you aren’t full of 900lbs of fat at all. In the case of these people, putting them on starvation diets was ridiculous because they weren’t full of fat at all, but rather had some complicated issue of liquids retention.
This does not actually prove that being 500 or 700 or 900lbs with low cholesterol readings is necessarily healthy. Rather, it illustrates that there is something going on that does not really map to established notions of weight. As well, some of those 900lb people were eating eight thousand or ten thousand, etc. calories a day as a norm (a much higher fraction than I actually thought was likely, so it was news to me.)
Also, apparently the shape of your good cholesterol is more important than how low the bad cholesterol is. In fact, this offers an explanation for the vegetarian triathletes dropping at 42 from heart attacks.
I guess for me, the weight stuff is like fertility awareness. Fertility awareness can provide a lot of information about your body, but it is unique to every woman, because our bodies are individual entities and they all work differently, even if larger patterns show up for a few things. With weight, women cannot get ‘large’ and ‘too muscly’, but they can get very very strong. They will probably not lose weight the same ways that men often do in terms of swiftness or amount. And they honestly do not tend to have the same calorie needs as men of comparable size and height.
Not losing weight was making me very sick. I was reaching a weight level where exercise was starting to become difficult to even attempt. And I kept trying to exercise, but would stop because I kept remembering the rhetoric that ‘exercise is useless for weight loss and nobody can really lose weight through conscious effort– it is a mystery how weight fluctuates in us gals’. So I believed that exercise wouldn’t do anything for my weight or my health (because if it didn’t have the capacity to change my weight up or down at *some* level, how on earth could it really do anything for my health?) and nearly ended up back in the hospital.
A lot of women are like me. If they aren’t going to gain muscle and/or lose fat, they have a hard time believing that exercise can improve the health, since they get told by other women that it cannot do either of those things.
Anyway, like fertility awareness, bodily awareness is a state of mind rather than a magic system or methodology. And like fertility awareness, I find it telling just which women claim to want you to exercise at any weight but want to deny that your body is a whole system and what you do with it beyond exercise is also relevant to how it behaves with you.
What I eat is relevant to how my weight rises and falls throughout my life. It is not the *only* relevant thing, just one of them. How I choose to be active or inactive is also relevant. The decision to intimately understand one’s metabolic mechanisms is not dissimilar to the decision to understand one’s fertility and gynecological health beyond fetishizing menstruation.
My genetic inheritances regarding metabolic feedback are relevant, but this, this is NOT the only relevant thing. Yet there is a discomforting level of insistence among women (and only women) that it is all that matters and our actions are meaningless gestures in the wind.
I’m fat, I’m losing weight through dietary changes and exercise, and I’m also gaining muscle. Due to having a trashed-out metabolism from anorexia and also being a very short person, I eat a pretty small amount of calories to lose weight– an amount that would be dangerous for someone taller with a better eating history. But it’s also an amount higher than what most women are told falsely is the only range that will result in weight loss.
I exercise by walking up a lot of steep hills, and never slowly. I do calisthenics and heavy weight training (deadlifting and the like). By the standards of the studies claiming people just gain the weight back, I burn about twice the calories per week the study participants do at ‘vigorous’ levels. Guess what that means? It means scientists don’t know what the heck vigorous exercise is. (In such studies, people generally do one type of exercise and nothing else. The body is very efficient at adjusting to one kind of exercise, which is why people should seek to be *more active* and not just do the same workout repeatedly. Nobody rotates exercises in any of these studies, and unsurprisingly, weight losses will not last without variety in activity.)
I exercise about three hours a week and I burn a whole lot more calories than treadmillers and flat-plain bicyclers working out six or seven hours a week. It is amazing how many calories are burned by explosive, whole body exercises, and by the ‘classic’ calisthenic bodyweight exercises of pushups, crunches and squats. But I mix it up and try to make my daily life more active in addition to a variety of exercises.
I will probably post more about this, because I didn’t realise that all the anti-diet, anti-exercise, anti-health rhetoric was coming entirely from women. Men don’t do this to other men.
Weight, exercise, size and health are very complicated and it’s even more dangerous to say exercise and diet have no relationship to weight than to say they are the only things that do. I have been up and down the BMI scales like many women, and right now I just want to have a strong, healthy body, and I don’t like being told I must have ‘magic genetics’ because I eat less, exercise more and am losing fat this way.
The truth is that people are not honest about this stuff, and studies are not designed to actually use techniques that work for long-term weight loss and maintenance.
But having said nearly two thousand words, I will stop now and just return to this another time, probably covering some of the individual issues I only mentioned briefly this time out.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
This is a question I will certainly return to in one form or another. For now, I will simply throw some statistics at the problem.
Since stripping pays a salary for all effectual purposes, it runs into the same issue as other salary data– it is right-skewed. That is a fancy way of stating that most strippers make relatively little and a handful make a whole bunch.
Thus, the answer to the question of what strippers actually make can be answered with an application of the Empirical Rule. Under the Empirical Rule, about 68% of all strippers’ earnings fall within one standard deviation of the mean. About 95% of all strippers’ earnings fall within two standard deviations of this mean. And most fun of all, 99.73% of all stripper earnings can be said to fall within three standard deviations of the mean.
Ah, but what is the mean?
Truthfully, the mean stripper earnings is approximately 100$ per shift worked, or the equivalent of a good night for a diner waitress.
However, the mean is ALL stripper earnings, even negative amounts (owing the house back fees, or VIP room fees, which sometimes come out of the stripper’s cut). That is why data has a standard deviation. The standard deviation for stripper earnings is about 175$.
In practical terms, this means that 68% of all strippers make between -75$ and 275$ on any given shift. It means 95% of all strippers make between -250 and 450$ (but subtracting the 68% means that you really have only 27% of all strippers making less than -75$ or more than 275$ at this point).
Lastly, it means 99.73% of all strippers make between -425$ and 625$ on any given shift. And again, with subtractions, you can work out how tiny the percentages are for a stripper to make more than 500$ on any given shift.
Some would say that these numbers contradict accepted wisdom about how much strippers make, but these numbers are about as close as one is going to get off-the-cuff for accounting for the strippers who work for free drinks/drugs (even if it is only, say, 20% of all strippers, that’s a lotta 0$ or negative earnings numbers), for accounting for the strippers who think 50-100$ is ‘enough’, and so forth.
In a nutshell, an average stripper can hope to make between 100-300 on any given night, and a top-end hustler can expect to occasionally pull outlier money of above 600$, with regular earnings on the edge of the 2nd and 3rd standard deviation.
This all pretty much only applies to strippers in clubs, though, not those who work for party agencies or do parties independently.
But wait! There is hope that strippers really make more than a lousy 100$ a shift average!
It is Chebyshev’s Theorem. It is a more…flexible way of looking at a data distribution, and may in fact be better for processing the right-skewed data that is stripper income.
According to this theorem, about 75% of all measurements lie within two standard deviations of the mean. About 90% of all measurements lie within three standard deviations of the mean. To borrow the mean and standard deviation from above, this would suggest that 75% of all strippers make between -250$ and 450$ on any given shift, and that 90% (or an additional 15%) make between -425$ and 625$. This opens up the possibility that as much as 10% of strippers earn way more than the mean, perhaps 4, 5, 6, 8 standard deviations more.
However, even under Chebyshev, the core assumption doesn’t really change. Averagely, if someone wants to be a stripper, they are looking at making less than 500$ average and are not unlikely to end up owing money. Alas.
Still what fun to learn what strippers really make, statistically.
The numbers are about as accurate as you can get when your data gathering methods must include copying out the lists of dance/vip tallies at clubs, direct interviews and other not easily nailed-down methods of assessment.
Friday, March 20, 2009
there is a man i know who is charming, easy on the eyes, and fun to hang out with. by most people’s standards and accounts, A Cool Guy.
he loves to visit strip clubs and book escorts, and he specially likes strip clubs where many dancers are happy to provide escort services in-club or out.
he prefers ‘brasileiras’ and ‘asian girls’, and his notion of what those categories constitute is exactly what you think it is.
he has made friends with many escorts, a slight majority of whom are/were in the business to earn enough to never have to go back to the men that beat/cut/raped them.
he often says he is aware of the game and its rules, and expects nothing more than a lady will provide for his cash money.
he is married, Catholic and can count intimacy with his wife in biannual increments. she will not except under duress, and then never without being almost fully dressed.
he never questions this situation, never tries to talk to his wife about how they could have a healthy, more fully Christ-modelling marriage. they never talk about Catholic views on marriage and sex within marriage. perhaps his wife is unfair, but he never asks her about the situation.
he started visiting clubs and escorts after a year of refusals.
is a year too much to honor your wife and love her as Christ loved the Church? is a year without sexual contact enough to break the marital covenant with suffering woman after suffering woman?
i know the girls he visits too. not all of them, but some of them. they have other customers like him. not demanding in some ways, but yet– always looking for the next girl to book, even if he books you ongoing every few months.
and he is the one who brings up the frigid and so Catholic wife, as if her religion is the problem. he never attends Mass or confesses, never speaks with his wife about her faith. but somehow she is the reason he has to book his latest brasileira or Asian girl.
somehow she is the only one in the marriage who has done wrong. the only one who can be blamed for the brokenness, the lack of conversation, the lack of sex, the minimal remnants of marital connection.
somehow he is innocent and sexwork must be wonderful, because without women selling themselves to him, he would be in a sexless, unhappy marriage, not having sex regularly. but the girls give him the sex and/or the sensual dancing, so he doesn’t have to concern himself about the girl he married and has broken faith with.
i don’t know the wife. i don’t know if she hates sex, or was taught poorly about sex, or if she is waiting for him to love her. i don’t know anything about her side of it.
i just know the john. i just know the girls he hires and what they say about him. and i know what he’s said to me in a subtle attempt to get me to sell myself as an escort outside of the club because he’s such a cool, undemanding guy. who hopes a little that i’m just doing this because my man beat me once too often and i had to cross the waters to come to america and earn enough to retire in my home country, since american dollars go so far in brazil, thailand, laos, china…
or did. things are changing now. from what i understand from girls who still see this john, he comes around less, and books less. as do many of their johns. american dollars are not so golden anymore.
i hope he is trying to reconcile with his wife, but i know better.
he is trying the cheaper girls, who say a lot of things in many accents for fifty bucks, or thirty, or twenty, and it all goes so fast, he’s had his fun and she’s got her money.
and i wonder if he’ll have a new set of beliefs about those girls, to justify never considering his wife for intimate moments.
probably not. he will probably consider himself wonderful because he gives sixty on a fifty dollar bj and anyway, she is just doing it to get away from her man who cut her, and that’s why she has the scar and is working this corner to save up money to get away.
he is just one of many johns i know.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I am embossed with the scar of your love,
Plated in desire.
Hold me as your vessel,
Love me again
love me again
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to experience homosexual love, as opposed to just the desire. I don’t tend to write about that side of my sexuality because I just don’t have affinity with bisexual or lesbian women who love other women. It is a circumstance where I sympathise and wish I could empathise.
I have never been able to love women romantically. It is easy for me as a Christian woman to say ‘Well, certainly I have desire for women, but God has quelled much of it in me, and it’s really no big deal to not have that desire as a large part of my life anymore’. It is easy because my desire for women is sexual, and when you have never loved someone of the same sex and hoped to spend your life with someone of the same sex, all that stuff in the Bible about how it’s not allowed is not really a problem for you. It’s just lust, and lust is sinful, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual. In other words, because I’m only tempted sexually, I can throw my desire for women into the ‘lust’ pot along with my desire for men and resist the whole, uh, stew of sexual temptation. And honestly, in my life, God has taken much of my sexual desire away, save the chaste desire I have for my spouse.
So I struggle with my inability to truly understand what it would mean to be Christian and desire to marry someone of the same sex, to be Christian and love others of the same sex romantically. In a way, my bisexuality creates an entirely different kind of temptation, as I have to resist the belief that everyone *could* be happy with a partner of the opposite sex simply because I still like boobs, but I get along without them just fine. That kind of privilege-laden belief can close one’s heart to another’s sufferings. Being Christian and desiring what the Word says is not allowed is a complicated enough struggle without someone smugly trying to tell you that since their desire is easily quelled, yours could be too.
Granted, I haven’t been that person. But feeling that ‘everyone’s a little bit heterosexual’ is bad enough. And I’m writing even this because I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t presume that my experience of same-sex desire should or could apply to all Christians who love or lust for same-sex partners. But I have, and did, and that was also sin.
Well, there you are. I’m a Christian who experiences same sex desire from time to time, but in general is not tempted by it, and though I can’t understand same sex loving (rather than desiring), I at least have come to accept that my experience cannot be extrapolated to all Christians with similar desires.
This post was inspired by a blogger who was wrong about something, but got belligerent instead of admitting to it. I just decided to admit to my wrong thing, so here we are.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I have been away from blogland for long enough. Here’s a spoiler-free movie review of sorts. But first some background:
Being an X-files fan from back in the day, I was obliged to see the new movie that was randomly sprung on summer crowds. It was quite the stealth attack advertising campaign. Just mixed in amongst the usual smash-bang-boom stuff is a rather promising trailer…for a show that ended nearly a decade ago. But the trailer was spooky and just evocative enough of the things one likes about X-files– paranormal weirdness, shadowed conspiracy and The ‘Ship between Mulder and Scully.
The movie itself was a curious object, different from its trailer in ways I did not expect. It was like a two parter from season 4, when it was still fun, but there was now non-awkward character development mixed in with monster-of-the-week.
Now, normally ‘It was like an episode of the show’ is a criticism, but in this instance, it was a strength for the film. There was evocation without excessive explanation, and that’s just what X-files did best. And in this film, the actors did all their work very well. The loathing between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson that generated so much wonderful tension is mellowed and weary here, creating a different kind of tension for the viewer (who is probably an X-files fan and thus expecting something very specific). They are done hating each other off-set, and so you have an interplay of curious rapport that was just not possible back in the day. Mulder and Scully transcend The ‘Ship in this film, and totally not in a way you’re expecting.
As well, the plot is a side-swiper. It presents a morally complex set of situations and then leaves the viewer turning them over as the film progresses. You keep checking and checking to see if they’re going to do anything with that moral complexity, and then the movie ends and you realise they just don’t know how. The reason is that it’s a movie about faith, and Catholic Christian faith very specifically– but the writers don’t actually know what they’ve written. And that’s because they aren’t Catholics, or even versed in the extensive range of Catholic responses to doubt and uncertainity in God.
But if you have even a passing acquaintance with those responses (any of them), then the movie is quite interesting to watch, even if they get it (Christianity) wrong. The dilemmas are that rich in possibility.
I liked it. As a fan, there were disappointments that were pretty much expected, but I wasn’t expecting a film full of completely unwitting theology. It was amazing to see it play out in all its flawed strangeness.
Apparently some people feel it’s anti-Catholic. I’d have to say it’s more uninformed about the complexity of Catholic Christian faith (and Christian faith in general). I can’t recommend anyone other than die-hard fans see it, or perhaps someone interested in watching the movie for theological analysis purposes. It lingers, yet not unpleasantly.
Like the show, it had some purely charming and/or intense moments. Also like the show, there were some clunky moments. It kinda summed up all I’ve liked and disliked about the X-files when I was watching it regular.
Lastly, since I am going on because the memory lingers so, the spooky bits are just the right kind of weird-spooky. Greatness eluded it, but it did not fail to fascinate. If I were rating, I’d say a solid seven of ten, or three of five.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Any sufficiently lengthy science fiction series will degenerate into sexual wish fulfillment for the book’s author.
The canonical examples of Shoeboy’s Law are the Dune series, which includes such things as Amazons from space enslaving the human race with Tantric sex and the Ringworld series, which pretty much degenerates into the hero having sex with bearded alien women (aka “rishathra“). Other examples include the Foundation series (in which the Asimov stand-in upsets one of the other main characters by having Too Much Sex with the sexually insatiable telepath character) and the Rama series, where the anal beads come out around the third book and one is left wondering how exactly they got into space with the rest of the cast.
Here are some links to wiki entries for the first book or so of each series.
I will update this with other sci-fi series that suit if it comes up.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sometimes I question the right to abortion. I don’t question it out of jealousy or resentment or a desire to keep women ‘in their place’. I question it because I question a societal circumstance that leads women to believe that an instance of pregnancy is a disaster that must be dealt with by obliteration. It bothers me that in a supposedly “civilised” cultural environment, women can still feel that something is wrong with giving birth in itself, that there’s a problem if they happen to be fertile enough to provide some continuation for the human race.
I can’t chalk it all up to the nihilism of middle class+ white women. This is something deeper and more constricting in American and Western European society. This isn’t a thing that can be blamed on women alone, the feeling that their fertility is a fault to be papered over with abortion.
This strange and latently nihilistic undercurrent in those social fabrics makes the question of reproductive freedom a particularly complicated one, because so often in the MSM it is defined as the right to obliterate life and not much else. But there is more to reproduction than restricting one’s reproductive abilities and calling that freedom. There’s also the freedom to bring life into being regardless of circumstance, to not be told you should have been sterilised. There’s the freedom to learn how to prevent conception, and contemplate an approach to sex that isn’t based around male-specific fertility (that is, the idea of continuous fertility).
Most especially, there’s reconfiguring the social structures so that it isn’t a ‘disaster’ when a woman does get pregnant (or when she gets pregnant with certain kinds of fetuses). To me, the idea of reproductive freedom involves eradicating this fear of pregnancy, of embracing the true nature of female fertility (which is yeah, different than male fertility), and mostly of creating a situation where women can start with avoiding conception first so that surgical, hospital-based abortion is the last resort.
Abortion isn’t comfortable or fun, and I believe it can be reduced while still allowing women to choose how they’ll plan their families (or plan not to have them, in those instances). This brings us back to fertility awareness and the desperate need for it to be a primary element of reproductive freedom, not an unspoken, misinformed rumor.
Reproductive freedom to me should be about informing women so totally about their bodies that they don’t have to have abortions most of the time but can instead simply not conceive. I don’t care if some doctors lose money over that. I just hope I and others can find a way to get more accurate information out to the vast array of women who just have almost no information about their bodies. I guess I feel knowledge is freedom, then access.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It has been a mystery to the American medical establishment why black American women got fibroids at rates far higher than white American women– some estimates run as high as 70%. It’s also been a mystery why black American men get higher rates of prostate cancer.
It’s the Vitamin D (or lack thereof). Unsurprisingly, the amount of Vitamin D one gets in a multivitamin is formulated for white people, who have far more ability to generate vitamin D in parts of America outside the South, where there’s less sunlight per day. And while many black Americans live in the South, there are plenty not living in the South, some so far north that they can’t make their own vitamin D (and the multivitamins don’t contain enough). Additionally, black Americans are concentrated in urban areas where pollution also affects how much sunlight can get to them to absorb and make vitamin D from.
Vitamin D is the precursor to hormones women and men need to avoid fibroids and some cancers.
There’s a mythos among fibroid sufferers (esp. black American fibroid sufferers) that the reason African women and men don’t get fibroids and prostate cancer at the crazy rates of American blackfolk is because of ‘traditional diets’. No, it’s primarily that African immigrants come from countries where they lived at a latitude to generate enough Vitamin D. Secondarily, it may be that their preferred ethnic diet is heavy in Vitamin D– but there are a lot of African ethnicities that immigrate over, and there is a fair variety in all the different diets.
There is finally starting to be a bit of research done (will update this post with the link as soon as I can find it) grudgingly suggesting that yeah, getting little black American girls vitamin D might help them not have fibroids, which is one way to avoid the disproportionate hysterectomies the medical establishment loves to inflict on black women. Plus, black men might not be dying at 55 from ‘stress’, but from not having enough vitamin D as little boys, putting them at higher risk for various cancers and even high blood pressure– possibly more so than ‘bad diet’ or ‘stress’.
I do think black Americans have more stress exposure in their lives and that it affects the health negatively, but it is quite appalling how ‘stress’ is used as a catchall to avoid investigating root causes (like this vitamin D issue, which involves some very cheap solutions to help people be healthier) when it comes to blackfolk.
Just an increase from 500 IUs of vitamin D per day to 2500-5000 IUs per day could be the key to saving a lot of black American women from unnecessary surgery and outright saving a lot of black American men. It would be bitterly excellent if millions could be helped by something so cheap as a bottle of vitamin D tablets.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Prostitution (and for that matter, all the rest of sexwork) isn’t the world’s oldest profession. In fact, the winknudge aspect of that whole association is remarkably non-respectful of womens’ ability to get along in the world using something other than sexual service. In the history of the world, women have been valued for far more than how much sex they can provide for cash in hand. The idea that in tiny twenty family villages there was a village hooker is just appalling. In such a tiny economy it doesn’t even make sense to have what is generally considered prostitution.
Prostitution fundamentally requires an at least minimally urban, specialised culture to sustain the idea of a woman having to support herself by having sex with the town’s men. In a foraging group, it’s not worth the trouble. The woman will get fed or get thrown out without having to have sex for the food. The fact that a society has to get pretty advanced to even have a village large enough to support a ‘town whore’ means prostitution is not the oldest profession, not even in jest.
I just get tired of hearing that transactional sexuality is the ‘real’ norm for sexuality– which is the primary underlying subtext in this ever-favored narrative. Women were engaged in plenty of other professions aside from prostitution historically. Which isn’t to say women’s lot has been perfect in the past or anything, just that it’s incredibly misleading to pretend that prostitution is what all women *would* do even if they all do not.
That’s another little implication. Of course, I still hold the oldest profession is murder for hire, and there’s less to dispute there comparatively. Anyway, it’s one of my little triggers, one might say.
Friday, May 16, 2008
“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.”
This is the kind of Bible verse cherrypicked by science-worshipping atheists to demonstrate that Christians are inherently opposed to science. Because in that worldview, humanity has magically come to a complete understanding of all bodily processes. Actual science reporting shows otherwise, but that is generally not the thrust of such discussions.
I look at a verse like that and I realise that science is a perfectly fine complement to Christian faith– it illuminates aspects of God’s glory and creation, without usurping His role as Creator. While we as humans can know the processes of fertilisation and pregnancy, we don’t know why some eggs get fertilised and why some don’t. We don’t know why some women can easily get with child, while others cannot even in their late teens and early twenties. We don’t know why most zygotes and embryos never make it to fetal stage.
We can describe what happens when things go well, but science is no help as to why things do not. And I appreciate this little note that we can never truly know, understand, comprehend all that God has made of us and for us and around us. It reminds me that pride is foolish, especially pride in science, which only tells you how little you know the more you study it in any specialised aspect.
Friday, May 2, 2008
In agreeing to participate in any form of sexwork, one is agreeing to rules and roles that are demarcated by society. They are rules that can be bent a little here and there, but it’s deceptive to claim sexworking is a transgression or flouting of social conventions. Sexwork is part of the social fabric in most post-agricultural societies, and as part of the fabric has rules and mores one is supposed to follow.
I won’t say they are comfortable or pleasant rules, but they are there. The work is many things, but it’s not subversion.
I’ll come back to this detail intermittently. It’s important to remember that true transgression generally doesn’t involve slotting oneself into predefined roles hundreds and thousands of years old.
Friday, April 25, 2008
A heavily edited assemblage of comments I made about sexuality a while back, edited to include the new information I have about fertility awareness and also a bit for cogence. I apologise in advance for any lack of focus, since many of these ‘grafs were responses to others’. But I want the general record of the thought process here, so, uh, enjoy.
I don’t agree with the stereotyped religious right notion of sexuality, not least because it tends to be held up as the only possible Christian interpretation of sexuality. Except the Bible is more egalitarian than any of that stuff.
However, that said, I do wonder in discussions of sexuality and sexual education why the discussion is always framed in terms of how people can have sex in ‘safer’ fashion rather than in terms of how people can just…not have sex. I mean, to me, the extreme Christian-culture view that sex is dirty and wrong is misleading and not ultimately helpful or useful. Concurrently, the progressive liberal view that everyone ought to be having sex if they feel the urges (so to speak) so long as it’s consensual and involves barrier methods is problematic for completely different reasons.
The progressivist view makes no allowance for restraint or demureness on the part of men or women, nor honestly for patience in relationships. Though one can SAY abstinence is ok, or waiting until marriage to have sex is ok, etc, focusing so much on how to implicitly and explicitly encourage teens and young adults to ‘just do it’ really shows that such advocates don’t have, er, faith that anyone would ever exercise restraint or discipline when it comes to sex.
Part of the problem with a harm-reduction philosophy towards sex is that assuming folk’ll do it anyway leads folk to think they ought to do it and that NOT doing it is ‘weird’ or ‘freaky’ or ‘abnormal’. It takes fortitude and discipline to not have sex, much as it does to not max out one’s credit. The doctrine of self-indulgence is a root from which springs both kinds of behaviors.
Of course, the flipside, demonising sex and saying ‘omg you will BURN if you evar touch another’s genitals and btw, you can’t even enjoy sex when married!!!!’ doesn’t really cover the discipline and restraint side of things. It just makes people feel bad for having felt good when they explored sexual feelings instead of offering ways to direct sexual energy away from indulgence for its own sake. Also, there is a subtext of extreme focus on sexual sin or misconduct to the exclusion of other sins in right wing Christian culture.
It’s inaccurate to say ‘abstinence education FAILS’ when it’s done in a way almost calculated to not work in the real world. i mean, poor teaching methodologies for non-sex things are critiqued but not dismissed. And abstinence education could be done in a viable way, particularly if it brought fertility awareness methods into the teaching.
Another issue with sectarian Christian culture among right-wing people is that pro-life and pro-choice views within the rest of the Christian community get zero play. Lots of Christians support in word and deed caring for single mothers, making adoption easier, supplying women with good prenatal care and even birth control. But they aren’t sectarians, or right wing, or part of the machine that now has become associated with Christianity despite openly advocating non-Christian beliefs and practices. They’re mostly small local groups or individuals doing what they can to help those in need in a way that is useful to those in need.
But a greater problem is the surrounding culture. You cannot have a culture of endless indulgence and then be shocked that some people turn sectarian. You also can’t be surprised that kids are having sex younger and younger.
Nabokov wrote of upper-middle class preteens having sex at 12 or so. Now it’s not just the richies being decadent, but everyone else too, and unlike Paris Hilton, the consequences are a lot worse for the indulger when one isn’t well-off.
Also, in a world where people are encouraged to just do what makes them “happy” (indulgence of every whim at that instant one has the whim), one cannot be shocked that boys and girls are growing up having trouble respecting each other. Girls see guys as objects that exist to give them attention and validation and possibly material goods. Guys see girls as objects offering unlimited consequence- free sex. If one girl won’t put out, it’s not so hard to find another who will. And if a girl or girls won’t do the acts you want done, there’s always a bunch of women doing them on the easily accessible porn that permeates the culture.
And interestingly, the increasing social approval of being sexual without restraint has actually led to women just commoditizing other women. Strip clubs are full of lesbians behaving as piggishly as male customers, and also bisexual and straight women both behaving piggishly and also trying to appeal to the male gaze through simulating interest in the dancers. And yet, because women still expect to not pay for sex even if they expect to act like men about it, they cost the girls who will explicitly sell their sexuality more and more money each shift.
It is fairly obvious to me that the sectarians who hate sex so much nobody’s supposed to like it ever are not so far removed from the people who advocate overt sexuality so much that other options become socially unacceptable. In this culture you have to pick either an extreme sectarian sex-negative viewpoint or pick a hyper-sexualised, ultra-indulgent sex-positive viewpoint (as the MSM will have us believe). That’s a difficult place for kids to be in, for women to be in, for men to be in.
I don’t think teen and young adults should NEVER have sex, ever. But they could NOT have sex until, you know, long-term relationship time rolled around. I mean, the idea of emphasizing celibacy for a period of time until one enters into a long-term relationship is honestly never a part of any sex education i’ve seen advocated by either right-wing people or left-wing people.
Altogether too many liberals find it being problematic that sectarians focus on sexual sin to the exclusion of other sins. But it’s problematic to err in the other direction and think that always choosing the option to have sex is ‘better’, which is the subtext you get from the other side. Plenty of people who are given to natural celibacy or asexuality, or even people who do want to wait and only have one partner for their own reasons often, often, often are considered strange and weird for not choosing the option to have sex.
Also, and this is key, we now live in a society that does not understand why the aggressively anti-gay whatnot is just as much a symptom of endless indulgence as aggessively pro-gay. People feel free in this culture to indulge it all, be it tolerant support or intolerant dislike or outright hatred. It is an unintended consequence, but there it is.
Ultimately, the extreme camps themselves aren’t so much the core problem as the fact that they are the operant ‘faces’ of each view to others. There are women who think they aren’t supposed to orgasm even in marriage (waaaay unChristian); there are women who think that they have to be extra freaky sexually and do a wide range of sexual acts with lots of different guys to be properly liberated. These women aren’t deriving this stuff from out of thin air. And there are women and men who are affected to lesser extents by the extreme and binary breakdown. Something as tiny as watching a porno you don’t like with your husband or boyfriend, or having sex with your girlfriend when you’d rather wait a few months on it but you are worried she will think you’re ‘weird’ or don’t find her sexually attractive.
Or conversely, trying to isolate yourself so totally from sexual expression that you really do end up unable to enjoy it. Or getting so caught up in the presumed ‘dirtyness’ of sex that you express sexual desire only through extreme fetishes.
The Puritans were so much more rational about it all. Wives and husbands were to please each other in bed and premarital sex was strongly discouraged, but you weren’t reviled if you had sinned that way because everyone sins and sexual sin wasn’t broken out and considered ‘worse’ than other sins and specific sexual sins weren’t judged as uniquely awful (like the current sectarian gay-hate– Puritans would have recognised that behavior as distinctly unChristian and rebuked it accordingly). But history is written by those who overthrew them, so the word has come to mean almost the opposite of what Puritans actually thought and believed, especially (though not limited to) sex.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
The blogosphere of infertile or potentially infertile bloggers posting about their attempts to get pregnant is a very fascinating place to wander through. I have one such lady listed on my blogroll because she’s just– well, she is very eloquent in her pain and occasional moments of hope. I empathise with her journey even if its particulars are strange to me.
It is absolutely remarkable how advanced medical technology is when it comes to giving women opportunities to have pregnancies they simply could never have achieved even twenty years ago. Science has its amazements.
But as ever, I mention all this to say that the infertilisphere fascinates me less because of the eloquence and artful writing of many its bloggers, or because of the advances in medical technology, but because of the class and race dynamics that bubble along as undercurrents.
I’ll get into some of those undercurrents as months go by. At the moment, I’m not too far from my own 2ww (2 week wait), and have some other things I’d like to get muh blog on about.
This is just a note to say I keep infertile women in my thoughts because their struggles are worth looking at and understanding more of.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The idea of chastity in modern life has become inextricably entangled with celibacy. This is a shame, because chaste sexuality is not so simple (or simply dismissed) as abstaning from sex. By binding the idea of chastity to a sort of arid, sex-averse conception of celibacy, the full range of sacred sexuality is denied expression and acknowledgement.
Chastity is a difficult concept to incorporate into sacred sexuality if one isn’t Christian. Sacred sexuality is all too often associated with a certain kind of neo-pagan sexuality, generally including something like sacred whores. There is also the idea that sacred sexuality is about sexual indulgence equalling innocence. That you can’t be sexually innocent without group sex, for example. Because somehow a sexual innocent would just naturally go for that (or other sexual acts/expressions the person in question prefers personally). And more to the point, this type of sacred sexuality presumes that sexuality must be expressed through specific sexual acts. There isn’t room for sacred virginity in such a worldview (which is quite fascinating in its divergence from the pagan traditions that effectively do make room for sacred celibacy/virginity AND sacred whoredom).
Christianity, however, presumes that sexuality is part of all that you are in a different manner. Sexuality is intrinsic, and as an intrinsic quality, does not need to be expressed to be present. It can be latent or dormant, in a sense, without that dormancy being a flaw or fault.
Chastity, from a Christian-sexuality perspective, is the state of living in holy sexuality. Because this includes latent or dormant sexuality, a virgin or celibate is as ‘sexual’ as, say, a married person and all three can thus have holy or sinful sexuality– that is, be chaste or unchaste. This is a much more nuanced approach to the idea of sexuality, to me. Likewise, a person who shifts from unchaste sexuality to chaste sexuality (such as someone who is a non-virgin due to fornication, but lays off the fornicating after being saved) is as sexually sacred as someone who was a Christian virgin or is a Christian celibate. There’s not a scale of chastity in that sense.
For Christians, sacred sexuality is more about honoring God than expressing themselves sexually. The second thing is one method of doing the first (ideally). Because the focus is on God, having sex can itself be perfectly chaste. But so can NOT having sex. And sometimes NOT having sex is unchaste (as when a husband denies his wife sex out of spiteful intent, or vice versa). So the specifics revolve around chastity being defined by how your heart approaches sexual matters. Come in with a heart for God, it is a chaste sexuality. Come in seeking to sin, it is unchaste. Whether sexual acts happen or not is often quite orthogonal to whether one’s sexuality is chaste or unchaste.
ETA: Essentially, for Christians chastity is about whether one’s sex life in thought and deed focuses on God. If it does not (even if no deed is committed), then it is not chaste.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
In the Bible, there are two ladies named Tamar that come up in regular discussion. The first of these is an ancestress of King David, while the second is one of David’s many children. What is interesting about both women is that they are both sexually victimised.
Ancestress-Tamar is used by her brother in law Onan for sex (Onan denies her the right to bear children by him, as was their mutual duty under Jewish law, by pulling out every time) and then screwed over figuratively and literally by her father in law Judah. When God strikes Onan down for being a greedy jerk (he didn’t want to lose his inheritance), Judah refuses to marry Tamar to his remaining son when that son hits marrying age. That’s the figurative. The literal is where it gets interesting. Tamar takes continuation of the line matters into her own hands. She dresses up as a prostitute and gets solicited. By Judah. He was pretty eager to break further commandments with her, so he does, but cannot pay immediately.
So Ancestress-Tamar gets some IOU tokens from him and sends him off. She gets pregnant, and is accused of immorality and threatened with death– by Judah. At that point she busts out with the tokens and Judah is like “I totally suck.”
She ended up with twin boys.
Daughter-Tamar is a different kind of sexual victimisation. She was ill-used without her consent. She was raped by her half-brother Amnon, after being bullied into going to see him by her father David. Her situation is interesting because she even offered to be wife to her half-brother, and that was rejected, because there was no love underlying his ‘affection’ for her.
Unlike Ancestress-Tamar, she does not take matters into her own hands. Her brother Absalom revenges her rape.
David’s wives are similarly passive (exemplified by Bathsheba) or even passive-aggressive (exemplified by Michal), while his other ancestresses such as Ruth and Rahab are pretty take-charge and assertive. That said, I don’t think Daughter-Tamar’s response was bad, but it is very different than Ancestress-Tamar’s response to sexual mistreatment (albeit more consensual in her case).
When dealing with actual prostitutes, the Bible mentions them in ways that belie the stereotype of the Bible as anti-woman or denigrative of female power. And that’s very interesting. Rahab the prostitute, after all, was an ancestress of Christ Himself, along with Tamar, who played one to get done what none of the men around her were willing to (continue the bloodline).
Thursday, March 13, 2008
In a way this is an extension of my thoughts about the possible class ceiling within sexwork. But thinking of sexwork from this angle explains a lot of the seemingly contradictory (to those outside the work) aspects of sexwork that crop up.
I’ll just list some similarities:
- Cunning is rewarded over abstract intelligence.
- Being plastically adaptable to many situations and circumstances.
- The constant focus on money (always defined as CASH) rather than assets.
- Related to that and also to cunning, both sexwork and grifting think of one’s body as the only real asset, with larger-scale assets rarely acquired and even more rarely kept over the long term. Also, that one asset is thought to be inexhaustibly profitable.
- Attracts binge personality types.
- Rewards and encourages sociopathic and narcissistic personality traits. This also relates back to adaptability.
I really think you hit a class ceiling where only up to x class level will you find people in either or both lines of work (there is some crossover, though not very much). At least for me, noting the similarities explains certain things better than any other explanation.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I suspect but cannot prove that there’s a class ceiling within the realm of sexwork, that it’s not a means of class migration and that really only middle class and below women enter into it at all.
But that does involve using a definition of middle class that isn’t quite tied to earning x amount of dollars per year.
However, I’m just not sure. I’ve never known anyone above middle class to be in sexwork, or even heard of such a thing. But there could be alternative anecdotal evidence to the contrary, possibly.
It would make for interesting research, anyhow.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I have a really massive amount to say about what is called Fertility Awareness, Natural Family Planning, Natural Birth Control, and a number of other names.
But what I am interested in right now is its invisibility. Basically there are three main methods– daily temperature only (thermal method), cervical mucus/fluid/discharge only (Billings method is the most popularised name for this one), and daily temperature plus cervical fluid (sympto-thermal, aka Fertility Awareness Method [FAM], popularised by Toni Wechsler in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility).
All of these methods take a maximum of five minutes and a minimum of 20-30 seconds per day, and are cheap or free. Their reliability in preventing pregnancy rivals Depo-Provera’s effectiveness. These methods (particularly the cervical-only and sympto-thermal) can even be used to increase odds of pregnancy to around 80 percent, if one wants children.
There are no chemicals or synthetic hormones required or involved. There are no side effects from use of these methods, and again– cheap, quick, reliable.
The sympto-thermal and cervical-only methods can even be used successfully for birth control when women have irregular cycles (such as from coming off the Pill, or breastfeeding, or stress, or PCOS, etc).
These methods allow women past optimal babymaking age (i.e., over 35) to undergo fertility testing and treatments at the most accurate and viable times for their individual bodies.
So why is this not the primary discussion topic among pro-life and pro-choice activists? Why does the discussion revolve around surgical and chemical abortion, which is basically something that occurs because women have been told their bodies are unpredictable morasses of hormones and OMG YOU COULD CATCH PREGNANT AT ANY TIME WATCH OUT.
Most women don’t know that sperm only live for days on end for a few days per month in any woman’s cycle. They don’t know that you can’t get pregnant for about 3/4 of your cycle (if you have a 28 day cycle, you have a maximum of about seven days fertility– the rest of the time, all the sex in the world won’t knock you up.)
They don’t know why some women ‘just walk by a dude and get pregnant’ (shorter cycles and/or maximum amount of sperm-friendly fertile cervical fluid).
In this society women are so totally disconnected from the reality of their femaleness that menstruation (which is the BEGINNING of your cycle, not the start and end of it) is reduced to a nuisance to be covered up with drugs so that you can be– what? Not a man, but not really a woman in the physical senses, either.
Birth control pills work by cruelly telling your body it is pregnant. The ‘period’ is a withdrawal from drugs, not an ovulation. That is basically appalling.
I know that some pro-life types hate fertility awareness methods because they think noticing fertility signs is somehow ‘going against God’s will’, nevermind that God gave women these signs for, you know, a reason. Maybe so they wouldn’t constantly worry at any minute they could CATCH PREGNANT? So that maybe they would be able to know their bodies intimately enough to take charge of when and how they wanted children, if they wanted them?
On the pro-choice tip, there’s a lot of talk about how it’s hard to swipe your vaginal lips and glance briefly at some goo (you can even do it with a tissue, if you’re squeamish). Clearly going to a doctor and paying monthly for pills or shots or patches that have obvious and at the least irritating side effects is somehow ‘more independent’. Not sure how relying on the medical establishment that brought us DES daughters and thalidomide babies and tested those quasi-holy Pills on brown women before daring to advertise them to whitegirls is a sign of independence and bodily integrity.
My views on abortion have changed somewhat upon finding out about fertility awareness. I guess I will bust out with some of this here. I am angry that in other cultures, cultures I will have to track down and identify by name, the cervical fluid method has existed and been in successful use for a long, long time. I am angry that some ‘Christians’ are against these methods because they were made popular in America among Catholics first (as a more accurate response to the almost unusable Rhythm Method). I am angry that these same ‘Christians’ think that telling women how their bodies truly work and showing that even a woman with irregular cycles can still find patterns and healthy things going on with her body is dirty and weird and bad. God gave us this world to study and in studying it, appreciate and love all the more the glory of His creation, the wonders of it all.
I am amazed that fertility awareness has shown that even with a giant fibroid, I have actually been ovulating and having normal cycles during all those months I thought the fibroid was bleeding my fertility away. It wasn’t. I just didn’t know what was healthy and what wasn’t. And so many other women are the same– no idea what kinds of bleeding are normal and sometimes a sign of excess fertility.
I am angry at pro-choice women who have diverted bodily integrity arguments away from the starting point– the ovulatory (usually) cycle. Some of them don’t like fertility awareness methods because of the Catholic popularising (as far as American understanding of them goes). Others don’t think they work because since they don’t understand or know how our cycles work, they just assume it’s a BS method to ‘keep women barefoot and pregnant’.
I think abortion is still important, because even if every young girl was taught some of these methods first and every consensual-sex pregnancy was a wanted one, you would still have women getting pregnant due to rape, incest, or having a life-risking pregnancy. And you would still have women who claimed they didn’t want to be pregnant and did it anyway (these are the women who skip their pills and then blame the Pill for ‘not working’– a small set of all women using birth control, but still, an important one to keep in mind).
For so many women, abortion comes up because pregnancy itself is considered an ailment that you catch unexpectedly, and is just not preventable without the god Science and Its magic Pills. The idea that we can take control of our bodies before the sperm ever get to them is just not in play.
And this is just amazing and upsetting to me. I want pro-lifers and pro-choicers to answer for this. Why are both camps united against starting with the cycle of fertility and infertility itself and THEN having a discussion about what bodily integrities need to be considered after that point?
Fertility Awareness methods=cheap or free, easy to explain, adaptable to women working two or three jobs. A case of thermometers is way cheaper than a case of birth control pills. And the easiest to do method (cervical-only) is totally free and takes ten or twenty seconds per day, completely competitive with the argument that ‘popping a pill is easier’.
I know also that fertility awareness is associated with over-35 professional, upper-middle class white women, but the current biases of FAM training and books are really an entire other post. The information itself is reducible to a postcard or so of data that all women can immediately put to use. It’s not ‘too complex’ to learn at least the cervical-only method. Eggwhite or lotiony cervical fluid–fertile. Gummy or just vaginal moisture–not fertile. That’s the minimum.
I just am baffled, hurt and angry at how mainstream and feminist views of femaleness try to dissociate women from the workings of their bodies. This even extends to the shaving and douching stuff– we’re not supposed to be women, we’re supposed to be sex-positive female dolls. Dolls don’t bleed, so you take a pill to stop the bleeding. Dolls don’t have icky goo spill out of them, so you douche it away. And dolls don’t have cycles– so if you catch pregnancy, you go have a doctor-man clean it out.
I still prefer herbal abortifacient knowledge and advocacy because so many abortion doctors are male and will continue to be male and this goes completely unquestioned among pro-choice feminists. Why is ‘bodily integrity and sexual freedom’ so tied to getting pills and procedures from a fundamentally masculine establishment that already tells us we’re ‘broken men’? Why is feminism structured to reinforce that patriarchal belief by rejecting any least sign of femalehood that cannot be sexualised, or cultifying it without understanding (the menstrual-blood painter feminists come to mind here)?
I’m a woman of color. The medical establishment is not really my friend– they think of me as test-meat for white women. The vitamin D deficiences that have led to 75 percent or so of black American women having fibroids–only just recently (the last year or so) getting mentioned. And the medical establishment STILL wants to rip out OUR female organs when they would never dream of recommending castrations for male tumors at the same rates.
But I’m digressing just a bit. I hope fertility awareness becomes more common among Christian women and non-Christian women alike– it would be great if abortion could be reduced simply by honestly knowing when you were and were not fertile. Not a behavior change or slut-shaming, not a pill or surgical procedure, but just teaching women to understand why their bodies do what they do for them.
That’s all for now. And no, I don’t think we shouldn’t have medical science, for pity’s sake– but if we can start with non-invasive, 99 percent effective birth control FIRST, why not go the route of least harm?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Let’s see– you would have territories instead, where your kinship group did its primary food-gathering. And periodically you’d have wars with other kinship groups who gathered their own food nearby over those territories. Those wars would be brutal and no-prisoners.
There are a lot of people who forget that not all borders were drawn by white guys sitting at a table parcelling up countries they were never going to live in. The people actually living in those countries already had their own established borders– white guys simply ignored those peoples’ own border-making decisions, not invented the conception of borders where previously there was none. The white man’s invented a lot of damaging stuff, but don’t give him any credit for ‘borders’.
War is about resources– borders are a decision by multiple kin groups, tribes or countries to not fight a war over particular resources. Resources are always going to be scarce.
Everyone has borders or territory they fight for or assign others to defend. You can have two tribes of ten people each– they’ve got territories they get into periodic war over.
A world without borders is called ‘Life Before Agriculture’.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
This is the sort of viewpoint that leaves people on both sides of the rape arguments fistfighting. But it is a simple enough reality, though with complex consequences of acceptance.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
This is a moderately common idea about prostitution, even if it isn’t always stated so baldly. Even among sexworkers who don’t perform sex acts (strippers mostly, but also some others), there is a little too much ‘yeah, i’d totally have sex for moneys if i thought the guy was hot and, you know, it was the right price’. The right price generally being minimum five figures for a night, shockingly.
Dirty little secret: if a guy is giving you money for sex with him, he mysteriously rachets up in appeal. is this unilaterally true? nah. every women who fucks for money refuses at least a handful of clients, even the ones doing it for drugs. but overall, most prostitutes don’t think their clients are omg hawt. that’s not how it works. you have money and that makes you omg hawt for the time it takes to acquire that money from you, within some surprisingly minimal constraints (this would be the criteria for refusal, which vary from sexworker to sexworker).
even when sex acts aren’t involved, the principle still holds. it is a fundamental of sexually-oriented work. when i danced, the range of guys i found attractive mysteriously increased to match the range of guys who would give me money with minimal or no hassles.
the myth that money doesn’t create its own sliding scale of tolerance in the interactions between men and women is one that irritates me regarding sexwork. a lot of women say ‘oh i totally would if i could only dance for/fuck/pose naked for guys i consider hot without money involved’. it’s a curious subversion that once you bring money into it, ‘guys i consider hot’ gets to be a pretty broad category.
another time i will mention casually another dirty little secret about the nature of the buyers, something that sexworkers instinctually or consciously use in their work but hate to have mentioned explicitly.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The War Nerd is the only white guy I know of who writes about brown and black people as though they are behaving perfectly normally. He never fails to point out that white people would and have done the same in similar circumstances.
War isn’t hell– it’s only human.
What’s being done in say the DR Congo is horrifying, but it possesses a horrid brilliance. And it is perfectly, sadly human. Humans with pale skin do the same things. Destroying your neighbor’s fertility by brutalising the women to near-death and scaring the rest into the woods where they’ll die of exposure is intelligence. It is cleverness. It is human. And it is not something only ‘dirty black savages’ do.
Women make life. Without women, there’s no more humans. This is why rape continually happens in war. It is a tool– cruel, awful, and consistently effective. The women are demoralised (and often denigrated, depending on the culture). The men are rendered powerless– they could not protect their women. And of course, the raped and sundered tribe/country/province will not have new children who could revenge the wrong done.
War-rape is especially horrible because it never fails to achieve the desired effects. Physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural trauma. Rape as a tool of war covers every base.
The War Nerd doesn’t get that involved in it, but he shows an understanding of what constitutes ‘normal human behavior’ that is wonderful in its rarity.
Normally, typically, regularly, we humans, regardless of coloring are awful to each other– and we seek to be more awful because IT WORKS. IT DESTROYS OUR ENEMIES.
It is so far beyond ‘such and such ethnic group is more prone to violence’ Total BS. Humanity is prone to violence. That simple and that unsettling.
And this is why I read the War Nerd– he is honest about this, and always has plenty of examples of white people behaving identically to the ‘black savages’ or ‘Arab savages’, et al. Because he is willing to admit that human nature is not inherently kind and gentle. I appreciate that.