Interesting posts, weekend of 1/30/10

01/30/2010 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Dear internet, I am still feeling used and under-appreciated this for the second week in a row due to family stuff, but perhaps a bit less so… When I talked about this with my boyfriend, he sent me an “I appreciate you!” gift so I feel a bit better now. At least someone appreciates me! And that is just one of the many reasons that I love him and want to have 100 babies with him. Well, maybe just 12 babies… okay, one. Hopefully. Maybe. It’s too early. We’ll see.

Friendly reminder: I am looking for Guest Posters. I want to hear more perspectives on the themes dealt with here at Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction. Because I am dealing with such a sensitive topic, I don’t think I can actively recruit new posters, since if I went onto someone else’s blog and said something like, “Hey u wanna write a post about your sexual health and/or feminism on a public forum?!” that would probably be very invasive. For this reason, Guest Posters requesting to remain anonymous will also be taken seriously.
At this time, criteria for inclusion is, “If you think you would fit in here, you probably would.” This may be subject to change but for now we’ll try that & see how it goes.
In an attempt to preemptively fight spam and rude comments, this blog’s email is private. Please leave a comment on this post if you want to write something. I’ll screen comments so you can remain anonymous if you want. That way I’ll have your email and we can collaborate.
Have something you’ve been working on? Send it my way.
Comments made by new e-mail addresses here are auto-screened before going live, so if you want to stay anon use an e-mail address that you haven’t used here before.

Now then, on with the weekly blog link roundup. Posts I found interesting for one reason or another over the last week. Share links if’n you got’em.

Submit Your Input to Inform the New Edition of Our Bodies, OurselvesIf you have any feedback for the new edition of OBOS, send it in! I have already communicated some of my feedback to MomTFH, who was working on the chapter that coincidentally talks about vulvodynia (but it didn’t contain a word about vaginismus! Or lichens sclerosus. And there’s some new resource & reference books that could be added to the appendix in the back… So hopefully those changes will make it in.)

There’s a number of themed blog carnivals getting ready to go live within the next few weeks. Want to contribute something? Chally’s going to be hosting one in a couple of days, so stay tuned… She’s got the scoop on a bunch of other ones, too. Notably, if you’ve got something relevant, get ready for the next Disability carnival, which will have a theme of relationships, ready to go juuuust a bit after Valentine’s Day. Carnival of Feminists needs hosts for upcoming roundups. And via Kowalski’s comment at FWD, there’s going to be a Sex & Disability carnival on February 14. I think I want to get in on that.

Two posts about adoption – well, the second post is sorta about adoption anyway. Adoptees of color speak out against international adoption of Haitian children – There’s a real, big risk that adopting children from areas of disaster will be fraught with serious consequences & manipulation. (Note: Comments are a mess on this one.) Update on the Tebow ad – During the Superbowl, CBS is going to air a pro-life ad placed by Focus on the Family, which is a reversal of their previous policy. (It’s noteworthy here that CBS has since rejected an ad placed by a gay dating site. Hmmm…) There’s some issues with the Tebows’ family story though – abortion is illegal in the Philippines (and as a result of this, thousands of women die each year – making it illegal doesn’t stop abortion, it just makes it unsafe.) Mrs. Tebow also happens to run an orphanage in the Philippines. Hmmmm……..

Penetrating Your Vagina for the First Time – [NSFW] I’m posting this with the caveat that Betty Dodson’s blog is, quite frequently, a mess of creepyness  and despite its marketing, surprisingly not-feminist sentiment. This one particular post isn’t completely irredeemable, but the rest of the blog has problems, if you ask me.
Take, for example, this hot mess - Strange Sex & Sex Addiction – [NSFW] VirginMonoblogger watched a TLC special called Strange Sex, which talked about four different sexual disorders, including PGAD. (There is a video available on TLC’s website, I think you need to register with TLC’s site to view it.) Now VirginMonoblogger thinks she wants to experience PGAD (Persistent genital arousal disorder, also goes by names like persistent sexual arousal syndrome and restless genital syndrome.) Dude, didn’t we already talk about PGAD over here, twice, at Feminists with FSD a few weeks ago? I left a comment at the Dodson & Ross blog with some informative links will hopefully set the record straight.

Sometimes I forget – Why Holly is sex-positive. Also from The Pervocracy, 6452 - Holly writes about a law proposed in Washington State that would crack down on deceptive practices by crisis pregnancy centers. (Not to be confused with clinics like Planned Parenthood.)

Fucked up books of my childhood – lol 1980s. I could never read the Sweet Valley High books. I tried, but I could never relate. I couldn’t get into the Babysitters Club either. And you know I never read any of the Flowers in the Attic series – in fact the first time I saw the movie adaptation was last year. Belladame’s post gets more complicated following an edit that looks at modern young adult fiction.

Ever Notice How Blame the Victim Narratives Reinforce the Myth of Male Weakness? – [Trigger warning] Figleaf talks about victim blaming in rape, a consequence of which is surprisingly misogynistic.

Rules of Desire: Flitter on “How to Become Invisible in Your Marriage Counseling” - Reason #25 I don’t want sex therapy. Even though this post describes marital therapy but it’s telling to me that the marriage therapist isn’t prepared to talk about sex.

Girls’ favorite cartoon characters get make-overs (not good ones) – These characters were never my favorite. Looking at the revised versions though, my thoughts are that… the character owners are probably trying to reach out to a wider audience – after a certain age, Strawberry Shortcake isn’t socially acceptable anymore, until you get older, and she returns to a “Retro Cool” state. If Shortcake & the others are older and older-looking, it may appeal to a wider age range of children – which is just more commercialization, I know. Dora’s and Rainbow Brite’s new designs are more complicated than the originals, but Strawberry Shortcake’s is simpler which means it will be cheaper to draw/animate. The loss of detail in hand-drawn animation in recent decades is truly tragic. The writing may have improved since the 80s, but the art itself, I think, has suffered. I’ve been seeing the influences of anime sneak into western cartoons for awhile now too – with a few exceptions, the results are not always good… and even anime itself, at least what gets imported over to the US, has felt choppy & generic since the early 2000s.
My point is, I’m not convinced it’s gender roles alone that’s the motivation for the change. The effect though, is worth investigating.

Not My Tax Dollars: More video goodness - don’t want your money to support abortion as health care coverage? Hey, here’s a list of other things other people don’t want to pay for.

The Secret Lives of Married Men — Now With Bingo Cards – C.L. Minou does a takedown on an article fraught with stereotypes about men & marriage.

Research On Link Between Pregnancy Coercion And Relationship Abuse – [Trigger warning] The well-known stereotype story is that women get themselves pregnant on purpose in order to ‘trap’ their partners. People really say this, I used to post on a forum where the most right-wing born-again baptist member constantly spewed this “Fact.” This study looks at a different, important angle – men who deliberately sabotage their partner’s birth control methods. When the woman gets pregnant in these relationships, which are often violent, it’s that much harder to leave.

P.O.’ed – More follow up on Paul Scott’s politics, particularly the transphobic policies he favors so much that he incoporated them into his campaign.

In memoriam: Haitian women’s rights activists – Magalie Marcelin, Myriam Merlet & Anne Marie Coriolan were women’s rights activists who died in the Haitian earthquake. There are links at the end of the posts to women’s rights organizations in Haiti.

Girl Culture and the Race to the Bottom: About that Rant About Women – This is a long post about the dynamics of girls’ friendships & mean girls style frenemies.

RIP Howard ZinnHoward Zinn passed away. He looked at and wrote about history from a different point of view vs what you’re probably used to in high school text books.

SOTUed – US President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address. I could not hear a damn word of  the SOTU address over my family members shouting at each other.

Breaking: Jury Convicts Scott Roeder of First Degree Murder - Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. George Tiller in 2009, was found guilty of murder. Given his current age it is unlikely he will ever be released from prison. There was apprehension about this case because the judge was willing to let Roeder argue in favor of a lesser charge – yeah that didn’t work out so well did it.

Erectile Dysfunction – Oldie but goodie from Christian Nymphos, saw it linked from a more recent post. Surprisingly comprehensive & non-judgmental.

Austrailia is back on the pipe – Austrailia has several internet censorship filters in place already (I remember a few years ago, they even censoreda kid’s virtual pet website, because there was a slots game! It was this whole big schpeil about the game leading to gambling and I just – it’s a kid’s virtual pet game website, not a gambling website!) Well Austrailia will now be banning another form of porn – two forms in fact, ones depicting porn participants with small breasts even if they are of the legal age of consent & this can be backed up with documents… and also being banned will be porn depicting female ejaculation. Because female ejaculation is “Abhorrent.”

I’m sure there’s more…

Let’s read books – Sex is not a Natural Act and Other Essays

01/26/2010 at 6:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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One of the most prominent voices in the realm of feminism as it relates to sexual dysfunction is Dr. Leonore Tiefer, who has been involved in sexology roughly three decades & has had various roles over the course of her career – author, researcher, psychologist, counselor, teacher, activist. Tiefer’s work has been strongly influential (and popular) in the context of female sexual dysfunction. For many people I’m sure it’s even been helpful. Tiefer’s work & campaigns have appeared in various media outlets, including the print and online versions of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and has been incorporated into college-level classrooms. Frequently when FSD is the topic of online articles, I see Tiefer’s name (and one or two of her quotes) pop up. Yet even Tiefer’s work is not without controversy – and I am not the first feminist with FSD to question her. But if I hope to analyze & critique her work (and become a better feminist/blogger in general,) I am going to first need to become even more familiar with it. I can delay it no longer.

Because I have already raised questions about just how natural sex truly is, I decided to start with Sex Is Not a Natural Act & Other Essays, originally printed in 1994 and then re-released in early 2004. The book is a series of her essays that were produced at various times (1980-2004) in different media outlets – newspapers, lectures, journals… For the record, I read the Kindle edition because it was cheaper & immediately available. That means I won’t have page numbers to reference for you when I use quotes or paraphrases from the text, I’ll have location numbers instead. To give you an idea of where to look for a cited passage, there are 3561 locations in the Kindle location, so lower numbers happen closer to the beginning of the book, and higher numbers are towards the end.
My use of the Kindle edition also means that this is the first book I’m reading on the Kindle, so I’ve been futzing around with the device’s features & settings. For example, the text-to-speech feature works – in the sense that, it does something… but the reader sounds far from organic, as compared to listening to an audiobook read by a human. If you use text-to-speech on a Kindle, you’re may have to read along with the text at the same time.

I’d like to take a real quick look back in time for some surrounding context around the book’s original publication. The first edition of the book came out a few years before Viagra was readily available. 1994 was also the year that the NVA was formed, so we know vulvodynia still existed back then. The so-called feminist sex wars of the 1980s had gone down but since their influence reverberates today in 2010, I think it’s safe to say that different feminist perspectives on porn & sexuality were still clashing back then in ’94, too. Several of the essays included in Sex is not a Natural Act were likewise written during the 1980s, and it shows – among other things, I’m picking up on some hints that suggest Tiefer was on the pro-free speech side during those clashy days (She says in one of her late 1980s essays,  “Censorship statutes are being passed to limit production and distribution of explicit sexual images to ‘protect’ women and children” (location 294) – note that she put “protect” in quotes there.)
Technologically, 1994 was right around the time of Windows 95′s release, so I can vaguely recall access to home PCs and the internet was becoming mainstream around that time, but… no blogosphere, so that means the feminist blogosphere as we know it wasn’t available to bounce ideas off of. It would be four more years before my family could finally afford a PC – a 300mhz, 6gigs and blazing fast 56k modem ready to connect to AOL PC.
As I often say, “I’m sure there’s more” we could say about the time in which the book material was written…

Anyway, Sex is Not a Natural Act is broken into five sections (not including the intro & conclusion) with 4-6 sub chapters in each section. Each major section has an overarching theme. My goal is to write a review/analysis of each section, mostly to make it easier for me to process.
We’re saving the best for last… the sections on medicine & female sexual dysfunction are the final chapters, although so far I’ve seen the early seeds of anti-medicalization in the first few chapters too.

The first sections we’ll be looking at today are the introduction & Part One: Sex is Not a Natural Act: Theme and Variations.

The introduction in the revised edition serves as a catching up point for old and new readers – but mostly old readers. The very beginning of the book is addressed with a “Welcome back,” (location 76) instead of a more general welcome, so there’s already an assumption that if you’re reading the book, you’re familiar with the older edition. (There’s a reason I mention this, we’ll get to it later…) In the years since the first edition was printed, Viagra hit pharmacy shelves, same-sex marriage was made legal in some countries, and of course there’s an obligatory mention of 9/11.

Early on in the intro & first few chapter, the reader gets a taste of what Tiefer’s big themes are – she places a strong emphasis on the social & cultural construction of sex & sexuality rather than leaving it up to innate biological processes. In fact early on Tiefer states, “I now believe that my dissertation [mating habits of hamsters] and other similar biological work are largely useless for understanding human sexuality” (location 118). For Tiefer, nurture greatly outweighs nature when it comes to sex, so that means that even your sexuality has been largely shaped by the culture in which you live. Indeed, as explained later on in chapter 3, the word “Nature” itself is a loaded word with multiple meanings & a fragmented history, and therefore whenever it’s used, nature has to be eyed with some skepticism. Tiefer quotes Raymond Williams when he said, regarding the word “Nature,” it’s “Perhaps the most complex word in the language (p. 219)” (location 471.) It also means that for Tiefer, biological functioning & sexual health have a lesser role in shaping sexuality.

You notice how I linked to a webpage about Raymond Williams just now? Well, there’s a reason for that too…
A couple of notes so far: the book is really fucking hard. This isn’t an easy, pick up & go book. Tiefer is writing from a point of view I’m not used to – she’s heavy on philosophy & anthropology, to the point where the writing is almost inaccessible to me. (Coincidentally, accessibility is a feminist issue this week!)
Tiefer frequently references previous studies, books, authors and researchers. While I feel no rush to become an expert (I’ll probably never a sexologist anyway, oh god who am I even kidding…) it will take me many, many years to catch up with all the primary sources she’s drawing from – if I can access them all; let’s keep in mind that library use may be free but journal articles are often locked up behind academic firewalls and price tags that I can’t break through. So a lot of these authors cited are New To Me, but not all of them are… I’m seeing some names I still see batted around in feminist circles in the year 2010… wait, I recognize these people… Michel Foucault… Shere Hite… Germaine Greer… and… Shelia Jeffreys? She’s in here too? Jeez, I’m never gona be done with this learning & cross-checking. Additionaly Tiefer sometimes cites her own pervious work.
As for the writing itself – well, it’s probably going to be easier if I just show you an example:

Kenneth Gerger (1985) defined the social constructionist approach as a form of inquiry indebted to intellectual trends such as symbolic interactionism, symbolic anthropology, ethnomethodology, literary deconstructionism, existentialism, phenomonology, and social psychology. (Location 301)

Did you get all that? Social constructivism, which Tiefer advocates as the lens through which to view sex & sexuality, sounds like a simple, straightforward enough concept to grasp, right?
Welp if you absorbed all that without having to re-read the sentence 2 or 3 times then you’re a smarter person than I am. (I wonder if Ily had this same problem – Ily? Little help?)

I should be used to writing like this! I went to college, (I recognize that that in and of itself is in large part a function of my own class privilage (and pure dumb luck! – Long story about that luck part; not important right now) I took 18 credits in psychology and in 3 in philosophy, and I’ve got the Internet available for more research – but I gotta tell you, Sex is not a Natural Act is an academic book, some of these essays conjure up images of literal ivory towers in my mind. Adding to my struggle to slog through the text, Tiefer’s expertise is not the field majored in while I was still working my way through academia, so I’m starting out a little behind. Most of the time I can follow along and figure out what Tiefer is talking about – but it takes every ounce of my concentration, and I find that I need to re-read sections often. Thank god that Kindle has a dictionary built in because I used it often.
That is why I mentioned Tiefer’s “Welcome back” note above – So far this isn’t an easy piece of work to grind through as a newcomer.

Coincidentally, at a comment left on one of SunGold’s recent posts, redmagaera explicitly said that, “Most feminists are social constructionists,” so it’s possible that I’ve been looking at feminism in terms of social construction this whole time without actually recognizing it as such.
Basically what this social constructivist point of view means is that it places “An emphasis on the person’s active role, guided by his or her culture, in structuring the reality that affects his or her own values and behavior. This perspective is to be contrasted with empiricism and positivism, which ignore the active role of the individual in favor of the impact of external forces that can be objectively examined and analyzed.” (location 302.) If I had to sum this up quickly, I would say something like, “Reality is what you make of it.”

All that said – Tiefer makes some good points in the intro about how culture – at least, US culture for sure – views sexuality. I’ve run into the idea that sex is natural and I’ve questioned that assertion independently, but it turns out Tiefer went down that road years before I started thinking about it,

“Despite the cacophony of messages about sex, many people still believe that ‘sex is natural’ – that is, that sex is a simple and universal biological function that, wtihout any training, all humans should experience, enjoy, and perform in roughly the same way. Many doctors believe this, too.” (location 131)

Tiefer’s goal is to challenge this view – that sex is natural – and the consequences of it. The idea is that, sex is mysterious, yet you’re supposed to just know how to do it. And when things don’t go the way you expect them to, it leaves you vulnerable to exploitation – from what I’ve seen of her quotes & work elsewhere, Tiefer’s big beef is with so-calledexperts & especialy Big Bad Pharma.
Tiefer challenges so-called experts too – “The media have created a class of sex ‘experts’ who write magazine columns, give radio advice, talk on TV… [etc]… Is anyone with an M.D. or a Ph.D. after his or her name qualified to speak authoritatively about physiologically and medicine, normal and abnormal psychology, couple interactions, child-raising, or sexual abuse and assault?” (location 271.)
The thing is, I’m not completely satisfied with who Tiefer thinks should be recognized as the true experts on sexuality – “Maintaining that ‘sex is a natural act’ identifies as experts those social actors who know a lot about body mechanics rather than those who understand learning, culture, and imagination” (location 162.) To me it just looks like she’s shifting power & control away from one elite group (medical doctors), and into the hands of yet another still-elite group (philosophers,) and never the twain shall meet.

Tiefer does a pretty good job breaking down sexual normalcy & nature – she presents the multiple meanings of these words, starting with “Five Meanings of Normal” in chapter 1, locations 225-239. There’s subjective normal, statistical normal, idealistic normal, cultural normal, and clinical normal – so when you talk about what’s normal sexually, which of these normals do you mean? It’s similar when talking about nature – starting at location 220-282, we’re presented with natural in terms of, an essential quality, an inherent force, and as the fixed material world untouched by mankind’s culture; in any event in terms of sexuality, the term is rhetorical. Tiefer says, “I submit that the term natural is used to frequently in sexological discourse because of rhetorical needs for justification and legitemacy. Nature and natural are used to persuade, not to describe or give information” (location 490, emphasis hers.) Why would you do this? “…Not just to endorse the value of sexuality but to increase their [sexologists'] own respectability as scholars of sexuality. Respectability is a chronic problem in this field.” (location 493.)

But I’ve run into an area that I’m getting stuck with: Tiefer doesn’t give a solid, reliable definition of sex and/or sexuality – at least, not in these first few chapters. This might be a deliberate reaction to the way doctors – particularly Masters & Johnson with thier Human Sexual Response Cycle – define sex as certain activities & bodily reactions, but, it’s a tripping point for me… because what do I know about sex & sexuality? What right do I even have to talk about sex, I don’t know what I’m doing, who do I think I’m fooling? The only degree I have is one completely unrelated to medicine or philosophy. So with regards to pinning down the kind of sex we’re talking about in this book, I wish Tiefer had given me something more tangible to go by than,

“So, if sex is not a natural act, a biological given, a human universal, what is it? I would say it’s a concept, first of all – a concept with shifting but deeply felt definitions. Conceptualizing sex is a way of corralling and discussing certain human potentials for consciousness, behavior, and expression that are available to be developed by social forces, that is, available to be produced, changed, modified, organized, and defined. Like Jell-O, sexuality has no shape without a container, n this case a sociohistorical container of meaning and regulation. And, like Jell-O, once formed it appears quite fixed and difficult to re-form.” (Starts at location 167.)

I’ve seen sex defined in terms of ideas & energies before… Anne Sprinkle comes to mind in that Spectacular Sex book. I’m reading Tiefer as presenting a theoretical definition of sex,  but, in practice, how does that look in real life? Tiefer also uses the terms “Sex” & “Sexuality” basically interchangeably, which I’m also tripping up over. I thought one was an act and one was an orientation or drive (or lack thereof.) Is sex & sexuality the same exact thing? On a related note, I haven’t been able to figure out yet where orientation fits in with Tiefer’s views on sexuality – if it fits in at all.
The impression I’m getting from reading Sex is not a Natural Act and from elsewhere is that, there’s a theory of sex, and then there’s the practice of sex… and when someone talks about one to great length, the other is overlooked even if it’s quite different. They don’t always match.

Speaking of Masters & Johnson above, Tiefer spends chapter 4 examining thier work on the Human Sexual Response Cycle (HSRC) in detail. Masters & Johnson probably already had an idea of the HSRC in mind when they started research, instead of letting the results just happen. For example, the researchers were investigating response to “Effective stimulation,” but Tiefer raises the question, “What is ‘effective’ stimulation?” (Location 672). Masters & Johnson didn’t say exactly what the rules were for meeting that criteria. So according to Tiefer, “Effective stimulation is that stimulation which facilitiates ‘progress’ from one stage of the HSRC to the next, particularly that which facilitates orgasm” (location 684.) Since the HSRC went on to be considered the normal response to sexual stimulation for everyone, Tiefer’s concerned that it “Contributed significantly to the idea of sexuality as proper parts-functioning,” (location 731) so deviations from the HSRC are interpreted as dysfunctions. That includes pain conditions.
Tiefer also presents feminist critiques of the HSRC, namely, the researchers required “experience and comfort with masturbation to orgasm as a criterion for all participants,” (location786) which favored men’s sexual experience. Culturally speaking, women are still discouraged from masturbating (think of Carrie Prejean,) and from having a wide variety of sexual experiences (think Purity Balls or the Purity Myth book.) This particular essay was written in 1991, so I’d like to believe that female masturbation at least has somewhat less stigmatization now, thanks to sex-positive advocates & even retailers like Babeland & GoodVibes. But obviously since this topic pops up from time to time even today, if Masters & Johnson re-ran their sample today with the same criteria, the resulting sample still probably wouldn’t be representative of all women everywhere.)
I have a hangup with Tiefer’s wording re: the sampling issue though. Tiefer states, “As has been mentioned earlier, by requiring experiene and comfort with masturbation to orgasm as a criterion for all participants, the seletion of research subjects for Human Sexual Response looked gender-neutral but in fact led to an unrepresentative sampling of women participants (location 785, emphasis mine.) I’d feel more comfortable with this statement if it were worded differently… because right now I’m inferring that if you are a woman who met that criteria – someone who enjoys masturbation & who has had a wide range of sexual experiences – you are not representative of women. I think I’m supposed to give Tiefer the benefit of the doubt here and interpret that statement to mean, it would have worked better to include women who met Master’s & Johnson’s original criteria, plus women who did not, in the HSRC study.

Whew. I could probably go on with the first section of Sex is Not a Natural Act, but I’ve already broken 3,000 words for this one post, and I’m only 24% finished with the book.

That said, there are a couple of phrases & key words Tiefer’s used that piqued my curiousity… symbolism… Tell me now, you tell me, person reading this blog post, if you’ve made it this far, I could use some feedback here: Would you consider myths & fairy tales to be symbolic? Do myths count as anthropology studies material? Something in this book made me remember something I read about vaginismus and certain women in fairy tales… and it ain’t pretty. There’s more too… DSM-III… disability… wait, you’re not looking at it from the other end.
And I haven’t talked much about using the Kindle itself – it’s undeniably a different expeirence from using a regular paperback book, and it’s got some positives and negatives. So maybe next time we talk about Sex is Not a Natural Act, we can also talk a little more about the Kindle itself.
But until then – that’s all I’ve got to offer you for now.

Interesting posts, weekend of 1/24/10

01/24/2010 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Dear internet, I feel used and under-appreciated this week. Family stuff. I’ll never be able to call the favors in.

P.S. – this is Feminists with FSD’s 101st post! We’ve broken 3 digits. I know that not all of those posts have been about feminism as it relates to FSD buuut… man I knew there was enough material out there to support a whole blog based around that premise!

Friendly reminder: I am looking for Guest Posters. I want to hear more perspectives on the themes dealt with here at Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction. Because I am dealing with such a sensitive topic, I don’t think I can actively recruit new posters, since if I went onto someone else’s blog and said something like, “Hey u wanna write a post about your sexual health and/or feminism on a public forum?!” that would probably be very invasive. For this reason, Guest Posters requesting to remain anonymous will also be taken seriously.
At this time, criteria for inclusion is, “If you think you would fit in here, you probably would.” This may be subject to change but for now we’ll try that & see how it goes.
In an attempt to preemptively fight spam and rude comments, this blog’s email is private. Please leave a comment on this post if you want to write something. I’ll screen comments so you can remain anonymous if you want. That way I’ll have your email and we can collaborate.
Have something you’ve been working on? Send it my way.
Comments made by new e-mail addresses here are auto-screened before going live, so if you want to stay anon use an e-mail address that you haven’t used here before.

Now then, on with the weekly blog link roundup. Posts I found interesting for one reason or another over the last week. Share links if’n you got’em.

Edit: Oop, almost forgot about one that MomTFH showed me – in vulvodynia related news, we have something about Decision making trees featuring the founder of CureTogether. Careful as you read though; the comments after the article are full of ice bergs.

There was a report released recently that examined attitudes of men who bought services from sex workers, and a couple of bloggers had thoughts on that report. Education, Education, Education – and decriminalisation – This one is kind of long; Snowdrop Explodes noted who the researchers are & how their background probably influenced the conclusions the report drew… and then he has his own conclusion at the very end which you can probably guess just from looking at the post title. There’s more here from good girls don’t, Rapeability, harm, and “listening” to men who buy sex

The 12th Carnival of Feminists – Review Edition! – Blog carnival consisting of feminist-related reviews. I submitted a review to this one but didn’t get in :( Oh well maybe next time. Anyway, links to reviews.
Speaking of carnivals, we also have Call for Submissions: The 13th Carnival of Feminists – Chally’s gonna be hosting the next one so send your stuff her way.
But wait, there’s more! Call for Submissions is out for Disability Blog Carnival #63: Relationships – Another carnival looking for submissions.

There was an article included in Rolling Stone about John Mayer. It included Mayer’s thoughts on his own masturbation habits. These thoughts were covered at Shakesville in The Wanker King (Literally) and the Dodson & Ross blog, in Quote of the Day: John Mayer. Same exact topic, same exact line from the article, getting two very different receptions. And actually, this time I’m on the Dodson & Ross blog’s side (gasp!) – because Melissa (and some commenters) demonized masturbation in and of itself – at least when Mayer does it. No, don’t do that, it’s not cool. There’s enough fodder to criticize Mayer for other things besides that.
On the other hand, Renee also covered the John Mayer article and completely left out the bit about masturbating, so now for something completely different: Douche Alert, Rolling Stone Chats with John Mayer – Okay, you know what, that’s… better.

Now that said, let’s move on to another Shakesville post, the topic of which got coverage at multiple blogs. The following posts relate to A Big Deal, especially if you live in the US sooo… if you live in the US & even if you’re just passin’ by this post, I strongly suggest you stop passing by & click the following links. This is Very Bad News – indeed… the Supreme Court of the US made a ruling which, in the name of free speech, will allow corporations & unions & other organizations to pay for political advertisements. Wooahh… This is going to favor larger organizations, for example, big corporations. You call that “Free speech?!” Dems React to SCOTUS Decision, trying to set up limits asap. Democracy, it was fun while it lasted – part mourning, part link roundup. There goes America’s democracy: I never thought I would be living in a dystopian cyberpunk novel! – includes videos & quotes.
Now I’ve seen some terms floating around these posts like, “Corporatoracy,” and you may be thinking what that might look like in real life? Anybody here besides me ever play Final Fantasy 7? If so, do you remember ShinRa? Did you notice how it was both a power company AND the government, complete with a military? Or, if you’re not into video games, did you see Wall-E? If you did, you may recall that B&L corp was big enough so that it became a caretaker for the people in space – and, with that kind of power, it was the government. Do you remember that scene where the Axiom captain watches the video the former president of B&L made, saying to initiate directive A113? Did you see the background? B&L WAS a corporatocracy.
For you see the answers to all life’s great questions can be found in science fiction… actually they can also be found in Wikipedia… And unfortunately, in real life we won’t have all the other fun stuff of science fiction like friendly clean-up robots and super-soldiers and slaying monsters etc… it’s going to be a lot more real and un-fun, to say the least.

January 22nd Blog for Choice day, and the theme was “Trust women,” a motto found on a button worn by Dr. George Tiller. I much prefer the more cynical looks at this motto, because a lot of the time? No, I don’t think folks do trust women. Even if they say they do. Even women don’t trust other women. Even within the feminist blogosphere. So here’s some more critical looks at the phrase. Blogging for Choice: On Trusting (and Not Trusting) Women – trust women to make mistakes. Do you REALLY trust women? – because sometime folks embrace views that really don’t. January 22: It’s Blog for Choice Day – Enjoy It While You Still Can – Ouch, Figleaf sounds mad… this isn’t really about reproductive rights at all, this is more about going out to vote in elections. Blog for Choice Day: “Choice” as a Feminist Idol – this one required an edit to make it more clear, it’s like… “Choice” alone has been too short-sighted.

Monday the 18th was Martin Luther King Jr. day in the US, and there were a number of posts about him & his work. I’m just linking to one that might’ve gotten overlooked, which is a collection of quotes. Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Enabling abuse in online communities: How many voices have been silenced? – I’ve seen this bullying phenomenon happen on online forums I’ve been a part of – sometimes it’s been propagated by the moderators & admins!

Reasons I Laughed Out Loud, Offending Several Fellow Patrons, During The Major Motion Picture “Avatar.” – Sady watched the movie and found it funny for all the wrong reasons. Reasons including,Avatar really did look like a Lisa Frank binder had sex with a mid-’80s sci-fi paperback cover and their baby threw up on your face, which was great.” Well that sounds… great. Lovely. …Hey whatever happened to Lisa Frank anyway, does she still make vivid school supplies for kids?

FOF: Fear of Feminism – Echidne’s reluctance to come out as openly feminist – it was risky because other groups that have a lot of power fear feminism too, & there’s a risk of reprisal from them. This post doesn’t speak to me personally though… I’ve been out as openly feminist, like, at work for example, for awhile now & it’s been working out surprisingly well.

The Bigger The Dick… – Uh oh, one of those posts from the Dodson & Ross blog that I have to pick on. Because it’s got this line in it:

So funny. Months ago my gynecologist told me I had a very small vagina. She knew her poking and prodding was uncomfortable. I was relaxed, sure, but every touch down there was rather sensitive. She even made a comment that sex might be painful for me sometimes. I had the twisted thought that it’s like that for everyone. But, that’s not true, is it?

And I’m like,… Ffffffffffffffor some of us it is!!!!! That gyn doesn’t sound too good, either. I’m not seeing what’s funny about being told you have a small vagina and that sex may hurt you especially considering that some folks really go through that. I, I don’t get it, where’s the joke here?

The Economist Debates: Women – There was an article with a really obnoxious premise posted at The Economist. Jill re-posted Terry O’Neil’s thoughts on why it’s obnoxious.

Paul Scott Targets Trans People In Race for Secretary of State – What is the point of this?? Oh right, fear mongering & transphobia, possibly to get votes… by playing on stigma…

SEXIST BEATDOWN: You Darn (Feminist) Kids Keep It Down Over There Edition – Sady & Amanda’s take on a disagreement between feminists re: accessibility – meaning, how accessible something is to read? Because Jessica Valenti has been singled out as being somehow too accessible vs. old school feminism. That’s not necessarily a bad thing!

Sex Workshops Can Be For Everyone - you mean it? I’m actually very interested in attending one of these workshops one day. There’s none around where I live now though. Maybe later.

I’m sure there’s more…

Tools of the trade

01/19/2010 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Awhile back, FWD asked for one of its Question Time posts, “What are your assistive devices, if any? (‘Assistive device’ defined as broadly as you like.)” At that time, I wondered aloud whether or not dilator kits counted as an assistive device. After all, the dilators assist me with managing the pelvic floor dysfunction, and make it easier for me to have sexual activity including intercourse. More recently, FWD also asked what kind of personal care items, if any, readers used to manage their self-care.

Actually, upon further thought, and since we’re allowed to define “Assistive device” as broadly as we want to – I want to change my answer. Upon further reflection, there are actually several items which I have found useful for managing my vulvodynia & vaginismus.

Some of them are everyday household items, others required a prescription, and others are readily available from specialty shops. Below is a list of objects I’ve found helpful in the care & feeding of my vulva. But please note: Nothing on this list should necessarily be taken as a mandate or recommendation, and if you have any pelvic pain you may want to talk to a specialist before starting any new activity. (Also, for the record, I had to pay for everything here with my own money & I receive no compensation for writing this.) Also, while some of the links here are work-safe, it’s better to err on the side of caution and just slap a big NSFW warning on this whole post.

Obviously, Dilator Kits still rank high up there as an “Assistive device” in my mind, because they assist me in pain management and in having sexual activity. I actually own more than one dilator kit. One is a prescription kit, which was very expensive, but I rarely use it anymore because some of the dilators have been damaged from getting banged around so much. (Lol, I really abused them.) You don’t need to spend a fortune on dilator kits though; my backup kit eventually became my standard workhorse, and that’s the Berman set, which doubles as a vibrator. Should you decide that a dilator kit interests you, there are actually several other sets to choose from, including the Soul Source line, which is silicone, and the Vaginismus.com kit. The Vaginismus Awareness Network lists other suggestions & instructions; you may not need to spend any money if you’re willing to improvise. Right now I’m looking to branch out into a more realistic looking kit, or at least, a more realistic stand-alone dildo. I’m ready.

Related, I need lots of Lubricant for dilating and sexual activity. I usually use Slippery Stuff gel, which is thick & water-based, and free of glycerin. Babeland offers advice on choosing the right lube for you. (You may need different lubes for different situations – I use an vitamin e oil when I need long-term, nonsexual lubrication – for example, to ease irritation – and when I’m doing what is essentially perineal massage, even though I’m not pregnant.)

Because I order lubricant in bulk every few months (I go through a bottle fast if I’m dilating regularly,) sometimes I wonder what retailers think of me when I place orders. They probably think I’m having much more fun than I actually am.

A sitz bath – To gently cleanse & relax the vulva with warm water. I don’t need to use one much anymore, but I keep it around “Just in case.”

So that’s lube and a sitz bath I’ve mentioned; I suppose more broadly I could claim water is assistive – to stay hydrated, keep urinary tract infections at bay, thoroughly rinse my laundry, take a shower, and make producing my own vaginal secretions easier.

A movable shower head – something I actually *don’t* own in my house and intend to install as soon as possible. When I was on vacation, I used one in my hotel room and it was comfortable – I didn’t have to put one foot on the wall of shower and try to contort myself into all these uncomfortable positions trying to get water directly onto my vulva. I have got to get one of these!

A magnifying mirror – simple household object, used to illuminate and magnify my vulva if I need to check things out visually. Related – A book light – for a long time I was using a flashlight to illuminate the reflection in the mirror when I was looking at myself. But this was awkward, since holding the labia open & poking around is a two-handed job as it is. Whose hand could hold the flashlight? The book light bends, so I didn’t need the flash light anymore. (Yes I still use it for reading.)

A cushion for sitting – such as a sacrum pillow, which has a hole in it. Some cushions are inflatable, others are mats, I’ve found both in medical supply shops. I use these to take pressure off of my vulva and/or tailbone if I’m sitting in something otherwise uncomfortable.
There were some times where I had to take the pillow with me to work and sit on it in the car. It was somewhat embarrassing to carry a pillow with a hole in it with me in public but I needed it.

A bigger pillow for sexual activity – I need to elevate my pelvis *just right* for PIV intercourse to take place. I do well with large wedges and I’m looking into getting some Liberator furniture once I and my partner move in together. It’s pretty expensive though so I’m hoping to find an alternative before then.

Comfortable shoes - if I wear high heels too much, they hurt my feet & lower back. My chiropractor & acupuncturist has raised concerns that they could throw my pelvis out of alignment. I’m not sure how likely that is in practice. I can wear heels from time to time, and I can wear them all day when needed, but I try to keep it to a minimum.

Related – thigh high socks – because I’ve had issues with longjohns/long underwear in the past. Thigh high socks don’t cover the vulva the way long underwear does.

Exercise aids – A stretch-out strap – I like to use it for stretching exercises in general. I also use a ball & band kit to help me with my kegels. It’s not quite like this set, but it’s similar – you’d need to snap a big chip clip around the band to hold it in place between your legs.

A Biofeedback device – unfortunately I do not own one of these; they can be very expensive to purchase. But I used one for months at physical therapy. It was non-invasive, pain-free, and taught me what my pelvic floor muscles were doing at rest and at work.

A massage toy – such as those made by Homedics or Body Works, to ease out tension in my glutes, thighs & other muscle groups when my hands get tired and I need a quick massage. (This is not to be used as a vibrator.) Related, massage feels much better if you have some kind of oil ready as a lubricant.

Books – there are a number of books about vulvodynia and pelvic pain now available, so your mileage will vary depending on what you’re looking for. Two books which I strongly recommend for everybody are The V Book, which is a general guide to the vulvovaginal area and pelvis and  Heal Pelvic Pain, which takes a physical therapy approach to pelvic pain conditions. I haven’t reviewed these books, in large part because I don’t think they need to be reviewed – I think they stand up on their own. (I may still review them at later date.) If you know you have vulvodynia for sure, you may want to use the Vulvodynia Survival Guide as your starting point for research, augmented by more up-to-date materials. From there you should be in a good position to pick & choose what other books you want regarding pelvic pain. Of course, even if you do not have pelvic pain, there are many, many other good books out there about sex & sexuality generally, which may be useful.

My mobile device – if you have one, it may be a helpful alternative to using a computer when sitting is unbearable or when you just need a break. It can also be used to keep track of appointments and whatever else it’s capable of (phone calls, text messaging, music, etc.)

and finally,

Feminism helps me understand the world I live in and gives me a different way of looking at sexual health. This can be a double-edged sword at times though, as it’s not exactly a unified movement, so it’s a bumpy road.

What about you?

Interesting posts, weekend of 1/16/10

01/16/2010 at 3:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Dear internet, I saw the strangest thing on television the other day… No, I’m not talking about the Doctor Oz vulvodynia special; I’m talking about a show in which a heterosexual couple have sex. What’s so special about that, you ask? It was some program on the CW network, I don’t even know, I was just flipping through channels. Anyway I happened to land on this program where the woman was doing a striptease for her partner, and so she goes over to him and the scene cuts to the conclusion of the sexin’… (It was censored of course.)
And what really stood out to me was the… artificiality of it all.
The characters didn’t have any chemistry. In fact they didn’t seem interested in anything at all. Not each other, not the sexin’, not anything… They just had these glazed, frozen looks on their faces the whole time and they talked in a monotone, but never laughed… and when they were done having sex, their hair was just perfect, there wasn’t a drop of sweat on either one of them, no lubricant sticking to their fingers, certainly no sex toys rolling around and dropping onto the floor. There was no sign of condom usage.
The couple looked so… bored. So beautiful, so glamorous, and so completely bored.
It was like… an epiphany. I know the way that sex is depicted in the media is totally fake & ridiculous, but… I watch a lot of cartoons & comedies so I’ve been out of touch with live-action drama lately. I don’t watch True Blood or Vampire Diaries; I never enjoyed teen dramas like Dawson’s Creek or evening soap operas like 90210. The only live action show I enjoy anymore is House (and even that’s about to jump the shark if it hasn’t already.) This mainstream media depiction of sex was a big reminder to how unrealistic sex when it’s shown in the media. Remind me again, is it always like that?
On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair to say that all sex has to be rip-roaring fireworks all the time, or to say that it “Should” be like this or that, or that it should HAVE to be a spiritual, transcendent experience… all those other expectations just add more pressure onto how to do sex right. But I just couldn’t relate to this scene at all. It looked so cold.
Well, to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe this episode of the TV show just caught the couple on a bad day.

Friendly reminder: I am looking for Guest Posters. I want to hear more perspectives on the themes dealt with here at Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction. Because I am dealing with such a sensitive topic, I don’t think I can actively recruit new posters, since if I went onto someone else’s blog and said something like, “Hey u wanna write a post about your sexual health and/or feminism on a public forum?!” that would probably be very invasive. For this reason, Guest Posters requesting to remain anonymous will also be taken seriously.
At this time, criteria for inclusion is, “If you think you would fit in here, you probably would.” This may be subject to change but for now we’ll try that & see how it goes.
In an attempt to preemptively fight spam and rude comments, this blog’s email is private. Please leave a comment on this post if you want to write something. I’ll screen comments so you can remain anonymous if you want. That way I’ll have your email and we can collaborate.
Have something you’ve been working on? Send it my way.
Comments made by new e-mail addresses here are auto-screened before going live, so if you want to stay anon use an e-mail address that you haven’t used here before.

Now then, on with the weekly blog link roundup. Posts I found interesting for one reason or another over the last week. Share links if’n you got’em.

Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake which has destroyed much of the already poor nation’s infrastructure. I’m hearing estimates of the number of dead ranging from 50,000 – 100,000; locally where I live many families in my area have been effected & there have been confirmed deaths of loved ones. A number of blogs are covering ways in which you can help; this post at Feministe lists a lot of different resources that could use a hand. Some commenters there listed other organizations as well. Unusualmusic @ The Angry Black Woman has a post looking at Western impressions of Haiti and a list of which countries have committed what resources.

The blogging topic that’s been draining me all week is My New Pink Button-Gate 2k10. My New Pink Button is a cosmetic dye available in various shades of pink which is marketed mostly for vulvar use, (it may also be used on the nipples or on men’s genitals,) to make the skin appear rosier for up to 48 hours. Several feminist blogs have written about this product and they sound outraged about it & the marketing involved. To some extent I understand why – the concern is is that this is yet another potentially harmful product designed to suck the $ out of vulnerable women’s wallets, by creating a fear that their vulvas aren’t up to par. Par being pink, so if your vulva is naturally dark you’re SOL.
Yet I am probably the only blogger who is adding the -Gate suffix to the end of this topic… because I feel like I’m the only feminist blogger who actually knows what it’s like to live with a significant (yet still not earth-shattering to me) cosmetic change to my vulva. A change which, incidentally, happened as a result of surgery, hey. (I know in practice I’m probably not the only femblogger who’s experienced something like that, but it’s so taboo to talk about…)
Really, my little cosmetic change isn’t that important to me. It just worked out that way. It feels better, so I don’t think about it much… except for when I run up against Walls of Shame to my left, right, front and rear re: Altering the form & functioning of the vagina & vulva. There’s no wiggle room…
I’d really like to use My New Pink Button-Gate 2k10 as an opportunity to inform folks that, sometimes there are certain skin conditions which change the appearance and functioning of the vulva… and those changes, believe it or not, are not a sign of good health and if you notice certain changes happening downstairs you may want to run to the dermatologist asap and if it turns out you feel disturbed by the changes happening downstairs and/or need to have some kind of treatment, surgery or reconstruction it would be hypocritical of me to blame you for so much as thinking about using a product like this… actually on second thought even if you are perfectly healthy and think about using a product like this I still won’t blame you because by who’s authority does anyone get to arbitrarily decide what is & isn’t important & worth doing? But I’m still reeling, so I’m not ready to talk about vulvar dermatological problems [NSFW!] yet. So for now I will leave you with the only response that didn’t break my heart: Glisten!

great piece: why porn for profit is dying – [NSFW] Interesting piece on the decline of mainstream pornography @ the Daily Beast, via Violet Blue. Follows the heels of the AVN convention in Las Vegas. Figleaf had a few thoughts on this too.

Disappointing Development in the Trial for Tiller – A Kansas judge is going to allow defendant Scott Roeder, standing trial for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, to present evidence supporting a lesser conviction of voluntary manslaughter. See also Feministe’s post on the same topic.
Related: Do you remember last week, I posted a link to Feministing, featuring a video of pro-life folks outside of a women’s health clinic harassing clients and disguising themselves as escorts? Well there’s some follow up to that: What antis say about their time spent harassing women outside clinics, and From our comments section: stories from clinic escorts

Cosmocking: February ’10! (Part One!) – This month’s snarking of Cosmopolitan was so big, it had to be split into two parts! Here’s Part Two!

Woman’s credibility in rape trial “shot to pieces” due to group-sex fantasies – [Trigger warning] – There seems to be some confusion about what happened, but F-Word is reporting on articles that claim that a woman’s rape trial was derailed due to her engaging in fantasy chats online. Cara @ the Curvature has more [still triggering.]

Bless: they’re still confused about weather vs climate – A quick & easy post about understanding climate change.

DC Prostitution-Free Zone and condoms – Also making the rounds on the blogosphere this week is news that if you carry 3 or more condoms with you, police may interpret that as a sign that you are a sex worker. This isn’t necessarily new news though; Jane Brazen has more.

Another Feminist Pet Peeve: Woman-Bashing Commenting – Although she doesn’t provide any hard examples herself, I understand what Echidne is talking about.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Proposition 8 on Trial – Some detail on the trial to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage.

Oh, Feminists, Can You Stop Telling People With Disabilities How To Take Care Of Their Bodies? – The post is right on. I would also mention that it works the other way too – don’t withhold treatments or make it harder to access them, if that’s what a patient wants. Don’t force, don’t pressure, but don’t withhold either.

Is Refusing Bed Rest a Crime? – Creepy case – this is a real thing – a pregnant woman, Samantha Burton, noticed symptoms of a miscarriage & went to her doctor, who advised bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. This wasn’t practical for Burton, but before she could get a second opinion, her doctor called in the state & she was forcibly hospitalized, then given (probably not the best choice of words,) a C-section.

FAQ: vagina vs vulva and public “faces of feminism” – Relevant to my interests; One single person’s opinion on the usage of the words “Vulva” vs. “vagina” does not account for the rest of feminism’s views in general.

Racism, reproductive (in)justice in Israel – Ethopians make up only a very small part of Israel’s population, but more than half of them are on Depo Provera – and quite possibly, not by informed choice. From reading F-word’s coverage, it sounds like women who visited one of the health clinics were given Depo Provera, but not offered alternative birth control options.

I’m sure there’s more…

The Dr. Oz vulvodynia video link

01/13/2010 at 6:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Just a quick update to the vulvodynia on TV related posts: Dr. Oz’s website finally uploaded the video about vulvodynia, so if you’re still searching for it and winding up here, follow this link, it’s what you’re looking for.

If you’re still interested in reading my summary & analysis of the video & an article accompanying it, that’s still over on this blog. I have also added the video link there. Thank you.

The post Dr. Oz vulvodynia discussion

01/11/2010 at 8:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Edit 1/13/10 – Now with 100% more video link!

Earlier this afternoon, Monday, January 11, 2010, the Fox television program Doctor Oz ran a segment about vulvodynia, a chronic pain condition of the vulva which can interfere not only with sexual activity, but with daily activity. There have been several other programs which have dealt with vulvodynia in fiction and in real life. Dr. Oz may not be the first member of mainstream media to talk about vulvodynia, but he is the first to impress me in the way his show handled it.

Let’s try to get on the same page.
Dr. Oz’s show website: Doctoroz.com
The video segment in question, with accompanying article: When Painful Sex is Something Serious [When is it not?] (Also, I can’t get a video to play; I don’t know if there is one? Edit 1/13/10 – Dr. Oz’s website uploaded the video today! I saw the show by tape recording it with an old VCR.)

This… Wasn’t bad. In fact, I would say this televised segment on vulvodynia…
Was surprisingly good. Not perfect, mind you; there’s always room for improvement, but this was a significant improvement from what I’ve seen before when the media talks about vulvodynia. (Remember Sex & the City? Or Private Practice?) This is probably the best handling I’ve seen so far, and I hope that this improvement in media coverage of vulvodynia becomes a trend.
For example, when 20/20 ran a segment on vulvodynia in August 2009, the show spread awareness of the condition & gave a brief overview of what’s involved – but it left out a lot of important information. Notably, the diagnosis was never spoken aloud, and the show placed a very strong emphasis on the sexual dysfunction aspect of vulvodynia. For some women, vulvar pain bleeds out into other areas of life besides sexual activity. One other problem I had with 20/20′s handling is that, one of 20/20′s companion discussion pages on the internet went to far as to censor words like “Vagina.”

Let’s recap & review…

Dr. Oz hit the ground running and although the segment on vulvodynia only lasted only a few minutes, a lot of ground was covered. Notably, Dr. Oz actually used words like “Vulvodynia” and “vulva.” 20/20 shied away from explicit but medically correct terminology. Dr. Oz did not confuse the words “Vulva” and “Vagina” or use them interchangeably.

This television program pinpoints the number of US women dealing with vulvodynia to some 6 million, and explicitly claims that 16% of women will deal with vulvodynia at some point during their lifetime. (This figure is about in line with other percentages I’ve seen dealing with chronic vulvar pain; for example the Goetsch study found about 15% of patients visiting a gynecological practice met the criteria for vulvar vestibulitis.)

Dr. Oz himself seemed particularly interested in the sexual dysfunction component of vulvar pain, but he did not overly fixate on it. At several points during the program, Dr. Oz or his guests pointed out that the vulvar pain can leak out into other, nonsexual areas of life – including sitting and working. Dr. Oz also mentioned that this can be a devastating condition to live with; some women experience a loss of self-confidence or become depressed. (Of course, a notable absence is that, some women do not experience distress from living with vulvodynia.)

Dr. Oz and another guest doctor on the show, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, talked about what vulvodynia is and is not (Hint: It is not an infection or disease,) and what some of the potential causes are. Drs. Oz and Ashton talked about what it feels like – “Acid,” “Burning,” “Knives,” etc. And they said that vulvar pain can happen at any time, seemingly from out of nowhere. It’s possible to be fine one day and not fine the next, or you could have pain problems gradually.

The strangest part of Dr. Oz’s show was the traffic light analogy. I suppose Dr. Oz had to use an abstract symbol in place of a vulvar anatomy diagram because this is a daytime television program… but remind me now, hasn’t Oprah brought plush vulva puppets onto her show the topic is sexual health & pleasure? Why Dr. Oz used this traffic light analogy, I’m not entirely clear. It didn’t seem critical. We could have used a different object, but whatever.
The traffic light analogy is this: Think of an ordinary traffic stop light as a metaphor for the vulva. The green light at the bottom is the anus, the yellow light is the vulvar vestibule, and the red light on top is the urethra. The entire light, including the metal casing, is the whole vulva. “Vulvodynia is pain in that area.”

There’s no set diagnostic test for vulvodynia, so doctors rely on a q-tip test. A doctor will take a q-tip and lightly touch around the whole vulva. If the patient has a pain reaction, it’s a warning sign that she may have vulvodynia. (The q-tip test alone may not be enough, as vulvodynia remains a diagnosis of exclusion.)

The causes for vulvodynia mentioned on this television show are a little different from what 20/20 went over, but still causes that I’ve heard before, and so not completely out of the blue -

  1. Genetics – for example, if you or a relative have a history of problems with inflammation, there may be something happening in your cells.
  2. Yeast – the theory being that chronic yeast can lead to other long-term problems.
  3. Pelvic floor weakness – such as pelvic floor dysfunction in my case; if the muscles weaken & shorten, it may trigger pain (How this works is not explained.)
  4. Trauma, such as injury.

Now, these may not be the only causes of vulvodynia; which one of these causes did I have? I don’t know, and I will never know. Although I have pelvic floor dysfunction, which came first – the vulvodynia or the vaginismus? The possibility of a hormonal component in the development of vulvodynia was downplayed except as treatment – in the form of topical estrogen. We’ll get to the show’s treatment coverage shortly.

One of the guests on the show was the National Vulvodynia Association director, Christin Veasley. (Has her title been upgraded? When she appeared on 20/20, she was the associate director.) She appeared on the 20/20 program as well; however this time around she was able to provide more details on her history. Christin’s vulvar pain came on suddenly, a few years after an accident, and she dealt with chronic pain not just limited to sexual activity; it limited her activities & what she could wear. She eventually married, had surgery, and went on to have intercourse and children. She’s feeling much better now, and in fact her recovery was fast- she was having intercourse within two months of surgery! It took me two years to reach that point! (Although for me it is harder to have intercourse at all, being in a long-distance relationship.)

Dr. Ashton pointed out that the surgical approach, which I myself have taken, is controversial. It’s not right for everyone and may be reserved as a last resort.

Here, Drs. Oz and Ashton go over four non-invasive treatments – another big improvement over the 20/20 special, which covered only surgery, hormones and physical therapy. Here, the Dr. Oz show covered:

  1. Biofeedback – Re-training the pelvic floor with the aid of a computer
  2. Physical therapy – Emphasis on massage
    (Really, Biofeedback & PT can be used together, and so could have been lumped into one treatment possibility. But it’s possible to do them separately too.)
  3. Topical estrogen – May restore elasticity to the vulvar tissues
  4. Anesthetics – Both Dr. Oz and Dr. Ashton were apprehensive but not entirely closed minded about prescribing anesthetics, since they numb the area. The trade off is that numbness is counter-productive to experiencing sexual pleasure. Dr. Ashton felt numbing agents such as lidocaine, may be appropriate for “Mild to moderate,” or “intermittent” vulvodynia.

Dr. Oz’s second guest Lisa developed vulvodynia about 20 years ago (!) after a few years of pain-free sex – she was 23 at the time, and very upset when she was told she’d never have the same sex life she had enjoyed up to that point. Here another possible treatment is mentioned – antidepressants. The type of antidepressant Lisa used was not named – for pain management, I’ve usually seen tricyclics used, not SSRIs. And for Lisa, her dose must have been relatively high – still low enough to not treat mood disorders or depression, but a high enough dose to be called “High” on the show. Here Dr. Ashton took some time to emphasize that the antidepressants used in this way are not for depression.
It was not clear to me whether Lisa is still on her antidepressants. With tricyclics, I’m aware that sleepyness can be a side effect, but if Lisa was sleepy, I didn’t notice it.

Dr. Oz’s third guest, Debbie, developed vulvodynia after using a topical yeast infection medication, about 2 years ago. Her treatment has been topical estrogen, and she’s been seeing a vulvovaginal specialist.

Dr. Oz then calls his guests onto the stage to talk about simple at-home interventions – all non-invasive. These simple interventions include:

  1. Cold compresses – like a bag of frozen peas since a bag of frozen peas can mold to the shape of the vulva. Dr. Oz could have also mentioned a sitz bath or rinsing with plain water after urinating, but did not. (To his credit, I know from personal experience that they are embarassing to carry around in public!)
  2. Using plain, boring toilet paper (He should have also mentioned changing soaps & laundry detergent.)
  3. Dietary changes – Here Dr. Oz is again apprehensive, as the low-oxlate diet in question is controversial. Some women see improvement on it, others do not. I personally do not wish to go on this diet, as I do not and did not have any food triggers that I know of… Except maybe for coffee; I tend to avoid coffee as much as I can. It’s very dehydrating anyway.

Dr. Ashton emphasized that patients should continue to search for what treatment works for them. There is no magic bullet cure, and what works for one woman, may not work for another. Dr. Oz concludes by pointing viewers to his website, and by saying that “If you’ve got pain down there, it’s not in your head.” This is an important message – its opposite is one of the most hurtful & counter-productive ones I’ve run into.

Now, at Dr. Oz’s website, after the embedded picture there’s a three-page article. There’s a couple of notes I want to point out from the site. The third paragraph of the article says, “The pain is a real gynecological condition called vulvodynia (aka vulvar vestibulitis) and the medical community is just waking up to high prevalence of this condition and finally starting to do something about it.” However, vulvar vestibulitis is a specific diagnosis; it is a type of vulvodynia. I personally tend to use “Vulvodynia” as a broad blanket statement, meant to include the specific category of vestibulitis. But vestibulitis is not necessarily the same thing as vulvodynia broadly. The article is clearer further on, “Vulvodynia includes any condition that causes pain, burning or itching in the vulva that cannot be attributed to a specific cause such as an infection, skin condition, neurological damage or cancer.” However, this is the first time I’ve heard the pain of vulvar cancer referred to as “Vulvodynia.” I’m not 100% sure if that’s correct, since cancer would be a different diagnosis… Although on the other hand, I imagine you can have both cancer and vulvodynia at the same time.

I’m impressed by the rest of the article – the author even pointed out the importance of using a smaller speculuum on patients for whom vulvodynia is suspected. The article also addresses some of the weaknesses of the short television segment, such as rinsing with the vulva with water after urinating. The website doesn’t touch upon all therapies available, (I do not see acupuncture listed) but it’s not a bad starting point. Interestingly, I don’t see sex therapy listed as an option (although sex therapy probably would not address the daily acute pain anyway; just the sexual component.) The article concludes by pointing readers to the National Vulvodynia Association. As of this moment, I do not see any comments posted at the article page (I’m not sure if Dr. Oz’s producers & webmaster allow comments.)

One drawback is that the article does not address the possibility of overlapping conditions, such as fibromyalgia, IC and IBS in relation to vulvodynia. It also does not mention vaginismus, although technically speaking I suppose that’s wrapped up in pelvic floor functioning.

Overall this… is a pretty good handling of vulvodynia on TV. Perhaps Dr. Oz’s producers actually listened to the feedback generated from the NVA following 20/20′s Medical Mysteries special. I think I’d like to write a note to the show producers to summarize what they did right and where they could use some improvement. But overall, I’m more satisfied with this than I have been in the past. I still want MORE coverage and more, better treatments for vulvodynia, so, TV producers if you will be covering vulvodynia again (you had better,) could you make it more like this?

What did you all think though? Where did you see room for improvement?

Interesting posts, weekend of 1/10/10

01/10/2010 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Dear internet, I’m not liking the direction 2010 is headed so far. My personal life has had significant stressors thrown in. I’ve been trying to distract myself with movie rentals.

Friendly reminder: I am looking for Guest Posters. I’ve sent e-mails to all anon commenters, but haven’t gotten replies back from all of them yet…
I want to hear more perspectives on the themes dealt with here at Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction. Because I am dealing with such a sensitive topic, I don’t think I can actively recruit new posters, since if I went onto someone else’s blog and said something like, “Hey u wanna write a post about your sexual health and/or feminism on a public forum?!” that would probably be very invasive. For this reason, Guest Posters requesting to remain anonymous will also be taken seriously.
At this time, criteria for inclusion is, “If you think you would fit in here, you probably would.” This may be subject to change but for now we’ll try that & see how it goes.
In an attempt to preemptively fight spam and rude comments, this blog’s email is private. Please leave a comment on this post if you want to write something. I’ll screen comments so you can remain anonymous if you want. That way I’ll have your email and we can collaborate.
Have something you’ve been working on? Send it my way.
Comments made by new e-mail addresses here are auto-screened before going live, so if you want to stay anon use an e-mail address that you haven’t used here before.

Now then, on with the weekly blog link roundup. Posts I found interesting for one reason or another over the last week. Share links if’n you got’em.

There have been two recurring topics swirling around the feminist blogosphere this week that I keep bumping into. This is a regular occurrence, even controversey is a regular occurence when topics get bounced back & forth across blogs. But these two – I cannot get around them.

First came G-Spot-Gate 2k10, in which a “Study” with highly questionable methods came to the conclusion that the G-spot does not exist biologically. It’s causing a lot of controversy, although it really shouldn’t – that study was bad science!
dude, where’s my g-spot? – [NSFW] – Violet Blue has some links. Note to G-Spot Debunkers: It Would Pay to Read the Original Book First Guys - Figleaf is willing to entertain the idea that some women do not physically have a g-spot, as he briefly reviews a book’s claims about it. The myth of the myth of the vaginal orgasm – Holly refers to Figleaf’s post which refered to Amanda Marcotte’s post and picks apart Amanda’s “Third option,” that it’s the belief in the g-spot that makes some women orgasm from stimulating it. (Sounds too much like yet another iteration of “All in your head,” to me.) I especially liked this line, “Look. I get the picture. Amanda Marcotte doesn’t have a sensitive G-spot. Fine for her. But she’s got no damn right to go around telling me how my vagina is.” Then there’s, G-Spot Debunkers Previously “Proved” Women Who Have Easy Orgasms are Evolutionarily Unfit – Figleaf has the quotes to back up the post – It’s a very heterocentric evolutionary psychology viewpoint. But wait, there’s more from Holly – Complicated. – Shout outs to those with sexual dysfunction here,

So maybe I’m biased here by the whole thing where an evil wizard cursed me to be a human soul in the body of a woman, but I see a lot of sexism in the “vaginas are complicated mysteries!” thing. It assumes the perspective of a heterosexual man looking at women from the outside. It assumes that women are incapable of perceiving and communicating clearly about their own sexuality. It assumes that women are something to be “figured out,” as if some intrepid man could discover the Solution To Women and retire happy with 3 billion girlfriends. It tells women with sexual dysfunction that they don’t have a real problem, they’re just being complicated. It reinforces the idea that women don’t really like sex that much. It lets guys who’ve mastered “touch her on the vagina” self-congratulate like they’ve solved the fucking Unified Field Theorem. And it gives guys who have crappy selfish sex a great excuse–hey, I’d like to please her, but she’s so damn complicated!

I’m not some exotic puzzle box. I’m a horny but conflicted human being. So’s everyone. [Emphasis mine, because I've run into this. Of course, you can be complicated AND have a real problem at the same time. And, well, maybe not everyone is horny... an asexual may not identify with the horny part of that last statement, but it's probably safe to agree with the "Conflicted" part.]

I haven’t fully fleshed out my own opinion on this debacle but…
Yes, even I have a g-spot… The only reason I’m able to know this at all is because I was able to get the pain problems under control well enough to actually explore that part of my vagina. Oh yes, it’s there – there’s some location on the front wall of my vagina which approximately matches the location, texture & descriptions I’ve read about the g-spot. It’s just not a sensitive or comfortable place to stimulate. Not yet, at least. I don’t enjoy it yet. I may never enjoy it. Which is fine… or at least, it should be fine… problem is this whole debate is adding to the pressure of the “Right” way to orgasm.

Then Mary Daly died. Daly was a second-wave radical feminist, author, theologian, philosopher, and self-described “Pirate.” Daly’s death received a lot of coverage, not only by feminist blogs but by mainstream media. And if mainstream media pays that much attention to the death of a feminist scholar… it’s probably due to something that will or has turned heads.
Daly’s name was vaguely familiar to me, but I could not remember from where I heard of her. I have not read any of her work. Then I heard about some of what she’d done in her career – including refusing to teach male students at her Boston College women’s studies class. Ooohhh… that was her? Wait, I have heard of her. I remember this… vaguely… that was back in 1999… so I would have still been a teenager.
Well, throughout the week, I’d learn a lot more about Mary Daly. Talk about a crash course. Our story so far…
She made notable contributions in the field of theology from a feminist perspective, and had an influential role on many who openly identify as feminists,
But you cannot have a discussion of Mary Daly without addressing her transphobia, racism and misandry. It is not sufficent to merely mention these aspects of her particular brand of feminism in the form of a footnote, because these aspects have had lasting effects for the last 20+ years and continue to influence some feminists, just as her outlook on religion does.
Upon her death, the blogosphere went all a-twitter with obituaries and eulogies. But a big problem is that a lot of those obits & eulogies ignored or downplayed the divisiveness  & damage caused by Daly’s transpohbia in particular, and her racism demonstrated by not publicly & swiftly responding adequately to an open letter by Audre Lorde. Daly was the advisor of Janice Raymond when Raymond was writing her transphobic thesis; Daly also printed transphobic comments herself. (One comment on that thread suggests that Daly may have changed her mind late in life, but as of now I have seen no evidence against which to verify this statement.) Daly may or may not have responded to an open letter from Audre Lorde – at the very least, she did not respond to the open letter openly in public, and even if she did in private, she did not address all questions asked of her.
Some of these glossing overs of her history were deliberate, but others stemmed from ignorance of Daly’s work. That Melissa and others, (including myself since I was unfamiliar with her before her death,) are able to claim, “We didn’t know,” is a direct function of our own privilege – in my case, that of a cis white woman. We did not know, because we did not need to know, because we do not come face-to-face with transphobia and racism in our own daily lives. And when feminist ally discussions of Daly’s work omit the problematic aspects, whether deliberately or because of a lack of exposure to her work – ignorance, and a function of privilege – it is crushing to members of oppressed groups. Because these are the people who continue to deal with the fallout in real, potentially deadly, ways. And yet here I am still stubbornly self-identifying with a label that I know has a long history of its own systemic oppression… But, even if you didn’t know who Daly was, it’s not so hard to Google and get an overview of her history & feminism, so it’s possible to still have relative privilege an
Usually I save this line for last on the link round-ups, but in this case since there’s still talk about it – I’m sure there’s more…

And there certainly is more news worth reading:

Acts and consequences – You may recall a few weeks ago, Uganda was seriously considering passing a law that would have made homosexuality a capital crime. US evangelicals working in Uganda strongly influenced the anti-gay sentiment there, yet act so surprised when it comes back to bite them in the butt. More from Pandagon – More information coming out about Ugandan anti-gay conference

Two feminist blog carnivals going on - 20th Down Under Feminist Carnival, mostly themed feminism & childcare. And Gender Across Borders has The 11th Carnival of Feminists – Global Edition!

How Refusing Marriage Equality Leads To Diluting Marriage – Because the US government does not recognize same-sex marriage, some states have developed what Ampersand refers to as “Marriage lite” policies, such as civil unions. But now some heterosexual couples are interested in these “Marriage lite” policies even though they have the option to become legally married.

Backscatter X-ray scanners, security theatre, and marginalised bodies – Following a semi-failed terrorist attack around the December holidays (It should never have made it that far in the first place,) some security experts in countries such as the UK (and the US) are pushing for full body scanners at airports. These scanners are revealing when used on anyone, but certain groups of people are more at risk of embarrassment, and possibly danger. That new danger doesn’t necessarily come from a terrorist, rather, it comes from being exposed, or “Outed.” And there’s questions about how secure the images that show up on body scanners really are.

What If Black Women Were White Women? – This has been getting passed around a couple of blogs. It flips beauty standards, which undeniably favor white women the most, over to black women.

If Warren Beatty Were A Woman, Would We Celebrate 12,775 Sexual Partners? - Sexual double standards. What stands out is this line – “If you want to make a young girls life miserable, start a rumour that she has had sex with several guys.  If you want to make a guy popular, start a rumour that he has had sex with several girls.” This really happened at my high school. It was a real problem, and the faculty was doing nothing to help.

It only seems threatening, but it’s not! – Analysis of an article that talked about heterosexual couples buying a house before marriage. Relevant to me, since that’s probably what my partner & I are going to do.

Fecke Health Update – with a greeting card! – Jeff Fecke of Alas! A Blog was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and has had surgery for it. He’s doin’ alright. Hope he’s got a sitz bath at home… hon-ey, you’re gonna need it…

Antis outside Louisville, KY clinic start wearing fake escort vests – A tactic used by pro-life protest groups outside of health clinics such as Planned Parenthood, which provide abortions. Usually pro-choice escorts assist people into the building when there’s protesters around, and these escorts make themselves easy to find. Now anti-abortion groups have started wearing the same kind of clothing as escorts do. And then they walk nearby the person who needs the escort & nag & natter & harass & act generally creepy.

Back Problems Numbed Out My Clit – My god in heaven, Betty Dodson actually let a post like this go through, one in which a person wrote in about having difficulty orgasming while she was having some major back problems & medical procedures done. She refers to sexual dysfunction in a follow up. Betty references herself to make unsolicited advice; she’s able to use an electric vibrator to reach orgasm. And she also is big on alternative healing treatments.

Why we do Kegels: Pelvic floor muscles problems – The Christian Nymphos talk about Kegel exercises. I like this post because I’m picking up on the key word, “Drop.” My own physical therapist has told me, it’s more of a Pelvic Floor Drop on the relaxation phase… and if you do it right, you feel that “Drop” sensation. I also see I’m not alone in the comments, as someone with pelvic floor dysfunction chiming in, and not alone as someone who’s benefitted from a physical therapist & biofeedback device for treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Google Chrome’s ‘Incognito’ mode (aka porn mode) – [NSFW] Making web browsing safer; applies to more than just porn. But it works for that too!

A Harpy’s Progress: India – It’s a travelogue.

I’m sure there’s more…

Vulvodynia to be on TV January 11, 2010

01/08/2010 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Edit 1/13/10 – Okay nevermind; Dr. Oz’s website posted the video segment in question, This is what you’re looking for!

Edit 1/12/10 – Okay people if you’re still arriving here from using search engines, the follow up is over here – The post Dr. Oz vulvodynia discussion – I do not DO have a video link for you at this time because I haven’t been able to find one online; I have also written a summary & analysis of the episode if you’re interested. Thank you.

ATTENTION EVERYONE: There will be a TV segment which will feature vulvodynia, coming up very soon – like in a matter of days. (I wonder if this is what the recruitment announcement a few weeks ago was related to?) Via NVA.org:

Monday’s Dr. Oz Show Features Vulvodynia Segment

Be sure to tune into The Dr. Oz Show on Monday, January 11th, when Dr. Oz will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of vulvodynia with Jennifer Ashton, MD, a New Jersey-based obstetrician-gynecologist and CBS News medical correspondent. The segment also features interviews with Lisa and Debbie, two vulvodynia sufferers, as well as with Christin Veasley, NVA’s associate executive director, and her husband Melvin.

Visit these sites to check your local listings:

http://www.doctoroz.com/sites/default/files/oz_wheretowatch.pdf

http://www.tvguide.com/Listings/default.aspx

After the broadcast, please take a few minutes to visit the show’s web site and send a brief e-mail to Dr. Oz and the show’s producers.  Let them know that you appreciate their coverage of this important women’s pain condition and that you’d like to see it covered again in the future.  You may do so here: http://doctoroz.com/contact.

Personally I prefer the layout of Zap2It for tv listings.

Let’s hope that, among other things, they actually use the word, “Vulvodynia” in this program! Last time a major US program ran a segment on vulvodynia, the word was not even spoken aloud, although that was the subject matter.

If Dr. Oz does not addresss some of the coverage shortcomings from the last program, the e-mail the show producers receive from me will likely contain some constructive criticism.

Better living through e-Books

01/05/2010 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Books, books, and more books. Seems like everyone is talking about books, contributing to books, and/or feminism this week. Maybe it’s because it’s right after the holidays, so people are receiving new books as gifts? No? Well it must be just me then.

The most exciting gift I received over the holidays was an Amazon Kindle. A slightly used Kindle, but a Kindle nonetheless. (Funny story behind that slightly used part; my partner & I have some kind of Gift of the Magi thing going on.) I know that e-book readers have some inherent flaws & limitations, not the least of which is a limited selection of books available, and DRM technology on the books that are electronic. I know that the price of e-books isn’t always much cheaper than ordering a hard copy online. I know that if Amazon goes out of business, theoretically, all my e-books could get wiped out. I know all this. I’m willing to accept those risks. I have a couple of goals I intend to reach using this Kindle – and my own in-print collection.

I’ve been meaning to turn over some hard copies of old books & replace them with digital copies. Lord of the Rings, The Prince, Plato, Freud, etc… classic books & authors such as those are often available for free on the Kindle anyway, or for a nominal price. I’m tired of those books eating up my shelf space. Now that I can replace the classics still in my possession with electronic versions, I can toss the hard copies & make room for more fun titles.

Another goal is to hide some embarrassing/controversial books on the Kindle. Currently I have to keep my erotica & detailed sexual health books hidden from plain view. I’ve been getting some flak for owning so many sexual health books – my mom has asked me, “K, why do you keep ordering books about vaginas? Don’t you have enough books about vaginas already?” No, I need more books about vaginas! And books that aren’t about vaginas!
There was also that time one of my girlfriends came over and saw that I had a book about Candida Yeast on my bookshelf… and she confided to me later, that when she saw it, she thought, “Okay, K has a book about Candida Yeast on her shelf… that’s a little different…”

My version of “Hiding” these books isn’t very effective – I just hide the titles of the books by making the pages face out on a shelf, instead of the spine of the book. And if I’m reading something sexually charged – for example, something by Violet Blue – I have to hide the book while I’m still using it. I can’t just leave it on my desk. I wish I didn’t *need* to hide my books, but if I leave them out I know that I’m going to deal with more flak.
So even though it means spending money on the same book twice, I’m going to try to replace some of my paperbacks with electronic copies.

The thing is, what do I do with those paperbacks now that I have them in e-format? I’m sure a public library would accept the classic titles. Would a public library also be interested in women’s sexual health books and erotica?

And of course, I’d like to get some new books on the Kindle – and I’d like to actually read them.

I’m a bit disappointed, I haven’t sat down and read a book in months. I tried to! I want to! I still have several books that I did finish reading, months ago, but haven’t reviewed here. More recently, I started to read a book by Violet Blue and an almost 20-year old book all about Vaginismus – and somewhere along the lines I got distracted.
The main distraction is the blogosphere itself, which is good to read too! Lots of interesting points of view & educational materials are available online! And it’s neat to interact with other feminists online – it’s dynamic. You can ask questions & change your mind, maybe even change somebody else’s mind.
Unfortunately that interaction also opens you up to the dark side of the internet too so there’s that to think about… it’s not all peace, geek & love all the time.
But it’s becoming clear to me that, in order to continue forward with my feminist & sexual health learnings, I’m going to spend more time reading Ye Olde Media in print form. That’s where some of the loudest voices & biggest figures are. If nothing else, I need to read these loud big figures in order to hear what the opposing viewpoint is.

So here’s some titles that I’ve loaded up onto the Kindle…

Sooner or later, I am going to need to chip away at Dworkin’s Intercourse. I can delay for only so long; it seems that I can’t get around it. I understand that this is a very difficult book to read. It may very well break me. But I’ll try it. At least I can say “I tried.”

To balance out the head-breakyness of Intercourse, I’m loading the Kindle out with something more fun – The Bottoming Book :3 Well that’s quite a mix isn’t it! I may attempt The Bottoming Book first, THEN Intercourse. Or vice versa…
I know what you’re going to say to me – “K, feminism and sexuality is not a zero-sum game!” I know. But I think better when I stagger the difficulty levels of what I’m reading.

I know i said I was going to get this next title used, but I changed my mind & got it on the Kindle, because it was there: Sex is Not a Natural Act and other Essays. I’m not fond of this author when her quotes appear in articles about sexual dysfunction, and judging from her table of contents, my opinion will remain unchanged upon concluding with this book. But I’ll see if there’s anything redeemable here. Maybe I’ll love it.

And then to balance out the head-breakyness of Tiefer, I also got The Topping Book.

There’s a couple of other Kindle titles I’m still on the fence about, and there’s others that can wait a little while. There is no rush. I have my whole life ahead of me to learn. Of course there’s still other books I’ll definitely have to get and keep in print.

And there’s other books I’m getting that have absolutely nothing to do with feminism or sexual health. Because believe it or not I have a life outside of those two realms too. Sadie Kay pointed out some FREE BOOKS to me over at a thread on FWD, so that’ll potentially help me save some cash. And maybe if you got a Kindle too, that’ll save you some cash now that you know such an online library exists.

And that’s some of what I’ll probably be chipping away at in 2010. Hopefully, reading. Fun stuff, hard stuff, challenging stuff, silly stuff, etc…

And I mustn’t forget about all the other books I have read which I still haven’t posted reviews for… I don’t know though, do books like Heal Pelvic Pain and The Camera My Mother Gave Me even need reviews? They should be required reading re: vulvar pain. They don’t always lend themselves easily to a feminist critique though…

BOOKS.

The other nifty gift I received over the holidays that I’ve been using every day is much cheaper – a plastic water bottle. It’s BPA free! And it fits in my purse! If I take my makeup bag out… I may need a smaller BPA-free water bottle. To make room for the Kindle, if I want to carry it in my purse.

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