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…

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  1. This is kind of why I avoid any and every discussion having to do with the G-spot like the plague. Because much of the “sex positive” feminist blogosphere apparently sees no contradiction in going on in one breath about their awesome G-spot orgasms and how terrific they are, plugging guides and sex toys for it, and then going “Oh, by the way, vague research vaguely suggests that some women might not have a G-spot or a very sensitive one, so I guess that means they’ll never have the brain-explodingly awesome sensations I do. Sucks to be them, huh?” But then some of those same people will start flipping out at the idea of drugs or technology designed to increase women’s sexual pleasure and griping about Big Pharma conspiracies, and how the only thing really needed to enhance a woman’s pleasure is to feel good about herself, blah blah blah. (But then don’t do a whole lot to challenge standards of beauty which say that women of color or physically disabled women or fat women can’t be beautiful or shouldn’t feel good about themselves. protip: having a size 12 white model on the cover of a fashion magazine is really not “liberating standards of beauty” that much, peoples.)

    Liek whut? Just what is the problem with a person wanting to at least try to enhance their sexual pleasure? I know I ranted about the same thing in my very first comment on this blog, but I still don’t get it. What’s different between libido-enhancing drugs and electric implants to help with orgasm, and some of the more interesting vibrators/dildoes/strap-ons/etc already out there? Because some of those pretty definitely go past anything that human bodies can do on their own– they’re designed to.

    If you acknowledge commonly used sex toys as being okay even though they’re not “natural,” what’s the problem with some of these other suggestions? I mean, I’ve sure as hell never seen a guy whose penis is shaped like a rabbit vibrator. (Or anyone of any gender with a built-in vibrate option, for that matter.) Is it just scary or disturbing because it’s new? People griped about vibrators being unnatural when they first became widely available for sexual purposes too.

    And the whole “the G-spot/female ejaculation/etc is super great and the best thing ever but oh btw some women can’t do this,” and then the ranty ragey slapping down of any new proposal for sexual enhancement technology as somehow wrong, bad and unhealthy, seems… I don’t know, arbitrarily cruel? Like… you want to hoard all the G-spot orgasms to yourself or something? Seriously, what? If you think it’s the greatest thing ever but believe that not all women can do this, isn’t it pretty screwed-up to say that other women can’t or shouldn’t have technology that would let them experience it too? Are they just supposed to be content with the inferior pleasure they have and wistfully imagine the supposedly superior feelings you experience? (This is assuming that the whole “some women have it and some don’t, sucks to be you if you haven’t” thing has any scientific validity to it– just about every single study I’ve ever seen on G-spots and vaginal orgasms and similar had way too few participants and seemed way too guided by researcher bias to draw any kind of definitive conclusion I could believe in.)

    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.

    Oh gods, yeah. I tried reading a little bit of the stuff you linked to, and both sides of the debate are swimming in it, that “right way to orgasm” attitude. I haven’t done much experimenting with BDSM myself, but I kind of think that the attitudes towards and acceptance of “some people think this form of stimulation is the greatest thing since multicellular life, others go ‘eh’, and that’s fine” can be… healthier and more realistic in the BDSM community? Like… even just casually browsing FAQs or communities, I don’t feel judged on my preferences or that I’m possibly being judged as inferior, in the same way I do when browsing most “I know the G-spot does/doesn’t exist from my personal experience and I’m going to rant all about it!” stuff. Not sure why, really. It’s just sort of a gut thing. I sometimes think what a lot of this comes down to is that in a patriarchal society still recovering from centuries of sexual repression, everyone, but especially women, worries that they aren’t “okay” sexually, and can get aggressive about defending their okay-ness. And maybe if you’re aware that your sexual preferences and turn-ons are nothing near what the mainstream considers “normal,” you have to face more squarely the fact that they’re very individualized things, and just focus on enjoying what you enjoy, because there’s never going to be an end to the people telling you that you’re Doing It Wrong. I may be totally off base here, and there are obviously judgemental assholes in every community, but… just conjecture.

    I can… definitely tell I have some kind of place somewhere around where I think the G-spot is supposed to be, which responds to stimulation, but… hard to explore it much when pain issues get in the way. I think the issue I’m having is that I’m perceiving it as a good sensation but not necessarily a sexual one. Could potentially end up associating it with sex, given time and lack of pain, but that’s… something for the future, I guess. I can’t really picture myself preferring it to any other form of stimulation, more like an interesting option when I’m in the mood.

    But, anyway, in light of all of that and what I mentioned above, you’d think that it would make people even more inclined to see FSD as a feminist issue. And for some reason, most people still don’t. Could be the privilege that comes of not having to realize it exists, but mainstream feminism sometimes seems to weirdly allocate its priorities about sexuality, and who has the right to sexuality, and who has the right to what bits of their body functioning the way they want them to and giving them pleasure.

    For instance, I know someone who underwent a botched clitoridectomy as a child– would most feminists get in line to support that person’s access to technology that could restore more of her clitoris? I’m betting they most definitely would. I mean, yay for recognizing the importance of the clitoris and the right of women and girls to have intact bodies, but it’s kind of begun to seem to me like when clitorises and FGM are involved, mainstream feminists will pull out all the stops defending the importance of that particular organ. Not that they shouldn’t– I think they absolutely should. But… I don’t know, I can’t quite describe it: why is an intact functioning clitoris considered a human right while having an intact functioning vagina that doesn’t feel pain with penetration is brushed off or dismissed? Is it because of the whole clitoral orgasm vs. vaginal orgasm dichotomy, and how focus on the clitoris came to be considered liberating and a rebellion against Freudian ideas about orgasms from vaginal sex being more “mature”? Is it because of old ideas about painful intercourse being a sign of “frigidity” and psychological immaturity? Is it because it’s doctors or relatives doing genital mutilation versus a chronic pain condition with no known cause, even though physical trauma seems to trigger or exacerbate vulvodynia in some cases, and some women experience pain in their clit too? But even the G-spot-is-awesome crowd doesn’t seem to be getting it here, for the most part.

    I’m having trouble getting my thoughts in order here, I just feel like… something in this pattern doesn’t quite add up. (I’m also seriously bugged by a lot of white feminists’ approach to FGM, which sometimes seems to amount to “it’s this ignorant savage custom practiced by these ignorant savages who don’t have the benefit of Western knowledge and science, they’ll never stop it unless we evangelize our ways to them.” Just this… whole barely-addressed veneer of cultural/Western/white supremacy, where you sometimes get the feeling that the issue isn’t really clitorises, but some kind of White Man’s Burden thing. Like women *and* men from within the cultures that practice it haven’t realized it’s wrong and spoken out against it and challenged it too. But that’s a whole other issue…)

    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.

    Huh, I think I’ve had issues of back and pelvic misalignment messing up blood flow and sensitivity before. (I’m hypermobile, which is screwing with both my spine and my pelvis– not horribly at this point, but it’s something I need to be a lot more concerned about as I get older.) But… yeah, I’m not super thrilled with her blog either, for similar reasons to yours. She gives good responses to some questions, but sometimes the way she’s oblivious to her own privilege just makes me want to rant.

    (BTW, I’m working on a response to your last email– it’s taking me forever to put my thoughts about it into words for some reason, but I’m still poking at it.)

    • I think that, with the medical aids like libido enhancer drugs & electronic stimulation implants, the big concern is that Big Pharma is going to market the shit out of these materials, to push them onto new customers, and make $$$TONS OF MONEY$$$. It’s like the concerns raised over direct-to-consumer advertisements you see on TV & magazines for all kinds of drugs.

      But like… what I’m thinking is that, there’s another layer of complexity added in when the drugs are, for women, re: sexual health… like then you’re dealing with this whole historical context in which a bunch of guys went around marketing hysteria and curing hysteria by inducing orgasm (which, to me raises concerns about consent, to say the least…) and I think that, some of the article writers… they kind of fixate on that historical context, to the exclusion of what happened after.

      It’s 2010 now… so can we take a bigger, broader, newer look, at medicine & sexual dysfunction? Because I mean, I have it, and I am not yet seeing drugs marketed addressed to me as one with vulvodynia… oh hey what do I have, oh hey a few off-label oral meds and some topicals…
      Of course sometime in the next few months or years I may have to re-evaluate that statement, what with Filbanserin getting ready to come out.

      And like… the drugs & implants & surgeries, they have side effects that the vibrators & dildoes don’t.
      But on the other hand, the people who would probably most benefit from surgeries, and meds, and implants…
      Are probably the people who may not derive the same benefit as everybody else, from toys alone. You know, maybe they tried all that already. Ruled everything else out.

      With the other medical interventions, I’m like… If you need it, you need it. And if you need it, chances then hopefully you already thought about the side effects vs benefits. I did.
      And if you need it, you’re probably going to run into some roadblocks, including shaming… “Why do you think you need that?????? People who buy this stuff encourage Big Pharma!”

      But Big Pharma doens’t… pay much attention to the kind of sexual dysfunction I have anyway. Where’s my commercials?

      I think that like… when people talk about how great G-spot orgasms is, it’s, it’s supposed to let you know that YES YOU TOO CAN EXPERIENCE THE PLEASURE of this or that… like, instill the fantasy & fantasy is supposed to lead to desire and desire is supposed to lead to exploration, exploration leads to results. Which you can do manually or by buying dildoes with curves in them.
      So what happens when you do that and it doesn’t work out? What about when you don’t get the result you wanted & were led to expect?

      I’m finding that I’m feeling more comfortable exploring BDSM communities/blogs lately. I’m still working on reconciling sexual pain with the pleasure-pain of BDSM though. I think I need help with that.

      Now here’s what I’ve been seeing in feminism re: FSD. So much of Dr. Tiefer’s work. The backlash against medicalization of sex & sexual health. But in the process it… I think since she acknowledges pain as a valid sexual dysfunction (the ONLY valid sexual dysfunction, she said,) it like… creates this hierarchy of what is & isn’t valid & real & worth treating. Which I don’t think is fair.
      So like, yeah FSD comes up in feminist discussions sometimes but… Not the way I think of it. Hence, me talking, here. I feel like I’m really going against the grain, here.

      Re: restoring sensation to the clitoris – actually, this came up at Shakesville a few months ago, so yeah there’s definitely some feminist support for reversing FGM when possible. See, Melisssa posted This Story a few months ago, about Marci Bowers & Brigitte Boisselier, about Clitoraid. It’s a charitable organization that can surgically restore the clitoris in some cases.

      There’s some controversy about that charity, Clitoraid – it’s supposed by Raelians, who have this … connection to human cloning. I think that a few years ago they announced they produced a cloned human baby and it was a hoax. Like, check it out… the same woman who appears in the interview posted at Shakesville – she also announced the clone baby a few years ago…

      So that’s something to think about… questionable connections behind this particular charity…

      I’ve been losing respect for Betty Dodson ever since I started reading her blog. That probably sounds like a horrible statement. I know I’m supposed to be grateful to her for liberating masturbation. But the more I read of her & her co-contributors works – the more… I just… I don’t get it. I’m not seeing it. It’s got a lot of problems. There’s a LOT of room for improvement… I’m not 100% comfortable writing openly about why Dodson’s blog bugs me at this moment in time, so I’m probably gona keep being passive-aggressive about it for awhile more but… Carlin’s postings bug me the most… she’s written some posts & used some language that just shocks me. (Hint: Roman Polanski.) She’s identified as feminist in the past too which is partly WHY it shocks me so much.

      And hay thanks for looking at that last email. Your mission, should you choose to accept it… I’ve been thinking about what you said but I don’t want to take the words out of your mouth.


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