What is this war on women you speak of, and why should I care?

02/16/2012 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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You may have noticed that there is a war on women being waged in the United States. It’s not a war (always) fought with weapons and explicit acts of violence (although violence against women is very much alive and well.) It’s not (always) a war confined to a physical area in space (although genuinely terroristic activities can target certain facilities used by women more than others.) It is very much a Cold War, one fought via politics and policies, threats and fears. And like all wars, this one has casualties – women, most obviously, though women are not the only ones to feel the shocks. You don’t have to be a lady to express femininity, and thus to be perceived as womanly – and therefore in need of “Correction.”

So what exactly is this war on women, and what does it mean?

The war on women is big enough so that you have to step far back to really take in its overwhelming scale. The war on women means that in the US, social services used by a whole lot of women are getting scaled and cut back. The war on women means that services related to sexual and reproductive rights in particular are the target of vitriol and budget cuts. Social services broadly include social safety net features like Title X and prenatal care, food assistance, and more.

The most talked about targets in the war on women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare (this week) are Planned Parenthood and contraception in general. When anti-abortion politicians infiltrate women’s health care organizations and then deliberately divert cancer screening funding away from other healthcare services – precisely because that targeted organization provides abortion among other thingsthat’s the war on women in action. When a bunch of old guys get together to whine to Congress about how much they hate contraception and don’t let the people who actually use contraception talk – that’s the war on women in action. When politicians create barriers to care – like when they design & then try to ram through “Personhood” laws and/or laws that require needless medical procedures or waiting periods to obtain legal medical servicesthat’s part of the war on women. It goes on.

Maybe you don’t want to call it the “War on women.” Maybe you are not a woman and so believe this does not apply to you – you’d be surprised. Sexologist Marty Klein and historian Dagmar Herzog address overlapping subjects when they talk about “America’s war on sex.” (In fact, Dr. Klein calls the PP/Komen debacle part of the war on sex here.) I am increasingly convinced that the “War on women” and the “war on sex” are two sides of the same coin. You can’t go after one without simultaneously demonizing the other, and I think resolution will require looking at both.

This war on women (or war on sex, if you prefer,) is basically one part of the exact thing feminist sexologist Dr. Leonore Tiefer is talking about in her work when she says we need to examine the social & cultural forces that negatively impact women’s sexuality and thus lead to sexual problems. There’s a lot more to the social construction model of women’s sexuality (you had to have been there,) but the war on women is part of it.

Remember: The social construction model of sex means that what we “Know” about sex isn’t set in stone – our understanding of sex & sexuality is shaped by our social contexts. Sex doesn’t have an inherent meaning so much as it has whatever meaning you, me, and our peers say it has. Get enough people saying the same thing about sex, women, whatever, and you get a big feedback loop that just feeds itself. By the way – there’s already a feedback loop.
I tend to criticize Dr. Tiefer’s work in particular since she’s recognized as a feminist leader in the social construction model of women’s sexuality and sexual dysfunction, yet her work still can’t be a panacea for all the sexual problems.

You don’t ingest the war on women – an idea, a description, a series of events – like a poison from a tangible cup. It’s a cumulative process, where the little things pile up and subtly alter your opinions & perceptions. In other words, you internalize the negative beliefs you’re constantly exposed to. So credit where credit is due – we’re seeing the social construction model of sex in motion before our very eyes. The war makes it harder to express & find what you want, to the point where if your desires don’t match up with what enough other people say is right, you can be subjected to violence (TRIGGER WARNING).

Social construction has limits and problems of its own. It cannot explain away and treat all the sexual problems. My vulvodynia & vaginismus didn’t spring up in response to any particular slight. Even if this war on women ended tomorrow, I’d still have physical problems lurking in my body. Medical science would still be confounded by my case. Kyriarchy would still be alive & well so we’d still be dealing with other kinds of prejudices & phobias. But it’s there.

I wish I could say that “No one wins when there’s a war against women going on,” but obviously someone’s coming out ahead or else this whole mess would never have happened. Someone out there – a few, elite powerful leaders maybe – must be gaining power and/or money off of it. There are a lot of casualties in this cold war; patriarchy hurts men, too. But from where I’m sitting, it looks like the deck is stacked against the ladies in particular.

I think the war on women goes something like this:

  • There’s cultural pressure for women to remain “Pure,” sexually,
  • So if you have sexual experience, if you have been raped, or are merely perceived as “Impure,” you have to take shit from surprisingly angry people about the fact that you may or may not have had sexual activity (Slut shaming.)
  • Simultaneously, there’s cultural pressure for men to have sex with women – the more, the better.
  • Yet paradoxically, this pressure to have sex with women exists even though there’s misogyny in the first place!

It gets worse: that’s not just pressure to perform sexually… Some folks think they are genuinely entitled to have sex with the very women they loathe so much. This is what social justice advocates are referring to when they use the term, “Rape culture.” Rape culture supports and even encourages ideas like: Violence and sex go together naturally. Women aren’t supposed to want sex and if a woman is raped, she must have done something to provoke it. Men can’t be raped and it’s funny when they are. I’m sorry to say, there are literally countless examples of Rape Culture. It is a culture in which rape is allowed to happen – in where it’s justified, or it must be made-up, or not that big of a deal, or what did you expect? Rape culture is the culture in which even I cannot distinguish between statements made by rapists and statements published in a lad magazine. I don’t know what the bigger backdrop is; the war on women, the war on sex, or rape culture, but they’re all going on at the same time in the same spaces, and I think it goes something like this:

  • Meanwhile, for the most part culture doesn’t know what to do with folks who don’t fit well in a gender binary – leading to unnecessary & malicious policing.
  • “Sex” means, “Penis-in-vagina,” = Intercourse.
  • “Penis-in-vagina” = 2 cisgender, heterosexual partners, so that pretty much wipes out queer relationships.
  • PIV intercourse has its own risks – notably, infections and potentially fatal diseases and pregnancy.
  • The responsibility for pregnancy prevention tends to fall on women in cis, het relationships – after all there are still only 2 kinds of birth control available to sexually active men (condoms & vasectomy.)

That’s about where the war on women steps in. Women are expected to be the ones to prevent pregnancy, and when women do have children, childrearing responsibilities still disproportionately fall on women. That makes it hard to bring up a baby and improve your career at the same time (and savings, and thus later on, your social security/retirement income.) The war makes it even harder to obtain contraception and family planning services.

I could just leave it at that, but this is a sexual dysfunction blog and there’s additional stuff that pertains to people with sexual dysfunctions.

  • Sex – that is, intercourse as defined above – isn’t so easy to pull off if you’ve got some form of sexual dysfunction.
  • If that’s the case, then you get to take on the additional pressure of not conforming to the problematic gender dynamics culture set up for you to adhere to in the first place!
  • You can’t perform your role as “Nature” (not necessarily) intended.
  • Not to mention the part where folks who aren’t het can also develop sexual dysfunctions.

This is the environment in which the medical model of sex thrives. Dr. Tiefer wrote extensively about this – how, in a setting where there’s so much sexual pressure and cultural rigidity around sex, marketers for drug companies can easily exploit people with sexual problems & insecurities. (I think the US’s lack of public healthcare contributes as well.) She’s explicitly anti-medical model though, whereas I recognize that some people still have a need for medical assistance even when there’s social forces whirling around. The marketing may make it look like medicine is easy to obtain, easy to use, and easy to get results – but in reality, it’s not so easy.

Anyway, the war on women sounds very limiting, right? But enough people just don’t see it that way, and are willing to serve as foot soldiers. There’s enough folks within the US who (Publicly) are so heavily invested in holding up this “One true way” of sexuality that they grew up with, so that it fucks up life for all the rest of us. So the war goes on:

  • We weren’t raised in a vacuum. You might have been able to buck some of the cultural pressure and expand your definition of sex as you grew up. But pretty much everyone has been stewing in it for a long time…
  • …Some people are just more heavily invested in upholding the dominant cultural sexual narratives than others.

So I’m seeing a lot of sexual double standards in place that make it a lot harder to enjoy sex and to, you know, live. For me, anyway; maybe you’re still totally cool… But the war on women creates a hostile environment in which to discuss and engage in sex. If I get hurt or in trouble, I may not be able to get help – something I’m sure some of you already experienced first-hand.

The (slightly late) 2011 retrospective post

01/19/2012 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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2011 has come and finally gone, as have most of the retrospective posts around the rest of the blogosphere. As my time has been worn thin due to real life concerns, I’m only just now able to catch up to everyone else.

Slowpoke with top hat

[Image description: Slowpoke from the Pokemon franchise. Quadraped pink critter with its mouth open and big, dead eyes, and a blue top hat that says "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" Found via Know your meme.]

If I could give 2011 a theme as it relates to my personal life, the theme was Change, con’t. I made a big life-changing switch at the very end of 2010 and spent much of the rest of the year re-adjusting & getting back on my feet. Most of the changes involved in my personal life were positive, but there’s still one area that’s acutely lacking. I’m working on fixing the weakest link. Unfortunately for the blog, my attempts to further improve my personal situation continue to impede my ability to write on a regular basis. This trend will continue until such time as I get everything worked out to my satisfaction.

More broadly – politically and economically – 2011 was… more of the same shit from 2010… Pretty lousy. Unemployment in the US is still high, both the US and Europe had debt problems, the US continues to see record numbers of laws restricting reproductive rights, etc. Man-made and natural disasters did enough damage on their own and combined into some long-term destructive forces. But you already knew all that, and other bloggers have done a superior job delving into 2011′s news.

I didn’t see quite so much buzz re: sexual dysfunction in 2011 as I did in 2009 and 2010 though – probably because the flibanserin fiasco is done, with no change for ladies. You still don’t have an oral medication option to address a low sex drive. There are still activists who will do everything in their power to combat any such drug from entering the US market. I didn’t hear any news bits about vulvodynia or vaginismus coverage on the television or radio either, but if I missed something, let me know in comments.

One story I did miss re: vulvar pain is that, another study just confirmed what we here already knew: That vulvar pain is still ~uncommon, in the sense that less than a majority of vulva-possessing people experience it… but ~common enough so that you’d be surprised at just how many people do deal with it – up to 25% of women experience it at some point during their lives. Wow. Based on survey results, researches concluded that somewheres around 8% of women  (cis in this study, I presume?) have it now, and a lot of them aren’t able to get effective treatment. I wish I could say I’m surprised by the findings, but I’m not. Here’s an abstract to the official study.

My blogging schedule is reduced, but we’re still able to crank out some original content here. Let’s review some previous noteworthy content first.

The 2009 retrospective
The 2010 retrospective

Don’t miss the guest posts from 2011: 

Guest post – update from a guest poster – the return of Rhiannon, who provided readers with a follow up to her original 2009 guest post.
Guest post – the sexual subject – about pleasure and vaginismus, in a culture that works to impede women’s enjoyment of sex in the first place.
Guest post – on sexual pain, consent and treatment – an anonymous post from someone with PFD/vaginismus, addressing important topics. It’s still rare for me to see perspectives on these topics from someone whose sex life is made more complex due to sexual dysfunction(s.)

Top 10 don’t-miss posts I wrote in 2011: 

1. Feminists with FSD does Orgasm, Inc. – If you read just one 2011 post by me at Feminists with FSD, make it this one. This is the post that finally addresses the film that everyone’s talking about. You know – the sexual dysfunction documentary that didn’t talk about sexual pain, which Dr. Leonore Tiefer herself is surprisingly quick to pathologize as the One True sexual dysfunction. You know – the film that I’m not even sure if it took the perspective of women with sexual dysfunction, considering the one woman interviewed who talked about experiencing it, we’re supposed to question whether she really had it and even then at the end, she decided she was normal all along after all. Great for her, not so great for me, since I had another solid year of sexual dysfunction and stigma.
These cartoonish slaps the face somehow aren’t working to snap me out of it – they just annoy me.

2. Vulvar pain in women of color – This blog desperately needs perspectives of vular pain and other sexual dysfunctions from women of color. If you are a woman of color who would like to submit something, please leave a comment somewhere on this blog (this post is fine,) and I’ll get back to you with contact  details.

3. Conceptualizing the FSD hierarchy - So if dyspareunia is the one true sexual dysfunction, then what about every other kind of sexual problem? I cobble up graphics to show the relative importance placed upon a few different broad categories. I don’t like that there’s a hierarchy at all and I think it sucks.

A series of posts!:

4. Doctors debate dyspareunia (painful sex) – Starting off an in-depth look at the weird way painful sex is treated by sexual health professionals. It occupies a unique place in that it’s a hot potato no one knows wtf to do with.
5. Doctors debate dyspareunia part 2: is pain the only valid FSD?: Start of a 2-part series within a bigger series in which I take a more detailed look at that journal article/editorial/reply by Dr. Tiefer I’m always linking to.
6. Doctors debate dyspareunia part 3: Pain’s validity, con’t: We finish looking at Dr. Tiefer’s response in the debate about wtf to do with sexual pain.
7. Doctors debate dyspareunia part 4: The debate continues: My conclusion upon completion of our multi-part series is that, no one knows wtf to do with sexual pain; everybody has a different opinion and a basis for for their opinion and oh my god it’s a fucking mess out there. Ya’ll on ya’own. The fact that doctors are talking to each other without soliciting the feedback of patients contributes to the problem. Hey. Hey. We’re over here. *Waves arms* Hey. Can someone send up a flare signal over here or something?

8. For (belated) Lady Porn Day: What are the experts saying?: In which I feel like I’m in the middle of a tornado and the tornado is made up of different sex therapists’ opinions about pornography’s place in relationships and sexuality. Who do I believe and why should I trust you, but not this other person with likewise admirable credentials, who came to an opposite conclusion after years of practice?

9. Happy 3rd birthday, Feminists with FSD: I can’t believe I blogged that much… also, ponies.

10. Where are all the good advice columnists?: Yeah good luck finding one of those when it’s all just more of the same. Well, maybe not always – there’s a few good eggs out there I guess.

What’s next? We still have a lot of work left to do, if my previous retrospectives are any indication. There’s still a lot of topics we haven’t covered, and new areas to explore develop with every passing year. Those posts aren’t going to write themselves, people.

One painful topic I’m brainstorming on is sex or the lack thereof within marriages and unconsummated marriages. Why think about this now? Because I am so completely disgusted by some recent conversations about “Cutting off sex” – because there’s a very real possibility that that could be me everyone’s gossiping about someday and how could she do that to him etc marriage is a contract with certain expectations etc terms of the relationship etc disclosure etc no one is saying he’s entitled etc physical intimacy etc x number of weeks/months/years is far too long etc (why is marriage between asexual partners not coming to everyone else’s minds?) etc at least open the marriage up etc unreasonable demands etc…
Has everybody forgotten about the post, “Painful vagina? Your poor husband!” Cuz I didn’t.
So if’n anybody reading knows about sexless marriages/unconsummated marriages and divorce – comment and let’s see what you can give me to work with here. (Poking around on google, it looks like there’s no legal precedent for lack of sex to be a viable grounds for divorce in and of itself.) Yes I want to explore the very language used in these conversations, ie how exactly are we defining “Sexless,” “sex,” “unconsummated,” etc. I don’t mean to use these terms uncritically.

Alas, my time and energy levels are limited for the vague reasons outlined above – I only just now finished reading like 1 book for pleasure within the past year, so I couldn’t even crank out a book review.

But we’re still here… going at whatever pace I can manage. Stay tuned…

Shorties II

03/21/2011 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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In the same spirit as the original Shorties, I bring you: A series of posts which were each too small to constitute blog entries on their own. Divided we are weak, but together, we are strong!

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The National Vulvodynia Association’s newsletter for 2010 is posted on their website, here. It includes updates on research and funding, and profiles of researchers who have received NVA-related grants. There are also profiles of medical professionals working towards a more comprehensive understanding of vulvodynia. There’s also updates on educational materials and programs provided by the NVA.

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There’s a couple of reasons I like to post book reviews on this blog. I may post product (vibrator, dilator etc.) reviews in the future; I haven’t decided yet. Again, a reminder: Any reviews I posted here so far, I had to pay for the product in question & I haven’t gotten any compensation for my services.

It’s a blog about sexual dysfunction, especially that greatest bone of consternation, female sexual dysfunction. One of the common themes I read in feminist analysis of FSD is that a lot of it is actually sexual insecurity which stems from ignorance and lack of education. The idea goes something like, men & women are socialized differently and grow up with different expectations & pressures when it comes to sexual behavior. (In other words, differences in sexual behavior between men & women aren’t necessarily inborn.) Women are discouraged from learning about sex & pleasure. Combine this with shitty sex education and you have a pretty good chance of not understanding the influence of gender roles and how your own body works. This in turn is misinterpreted by the individual as “There must be something wrong with me” when experiencing a normal, understandable reaction to sexual stimulation. And the cure for this is better sex education instead of medication. Go read a goddamn book or something!

Improved sex education is great, so that’s one reason to post reviews of sexual guides and products. So every one in awhile you’ll find such a review here – it’s my way of saying, “Hey, here’s something that’s good and worth your time,” or, “Hey, here’s an overrated product that isn’t worth the packaging it came in. Save your money.” Or I’ll post something more nuanced –  “This is good, this is bad, and this part I don’t understand at all.”

However there’s another reason I post the reviews here…
Sometimes all the sex education in the world cannot fix a sexual problem.
Because it doesn’t all come from sexual ignorance.
Many of the sexual guides I’ve read, some of which come highly recommended, do not do a good job of addressing my problem in particular – pain. Maybe it’s because they’re not medical advice books so they can’t recommend treatments. Liability issues, maybe.

I’m doing what I’ve been told to do. I’m getting better sex education. I read the blogs. I buy the sex toys from the feminist sex shops. I have explored my sexual fantasies and will continue to do so. I masturbate to orgasm. I am in love with a supportive partner (the feeling, I understand, is mutual.)

The lady with sexual dysfunction is reading a goddamn book or something.

So why do I still experience dyspareunia?
Why do I still have vaginismus?
Why does my vagina still take so long to recover from vaginitis?
Why is medical intervention the treatment that best addressed the sexual and chronic pain?

Hey wait a second, this isn’t working. I still want to have some penis-in-vagina sex over here and that’s still like, really hard to do. Maybe I’m just not reading books and trying to learn hard enough.

The sex education helps – it’s definitely worth something. But it’s not comprehensive enough for me.

Now we could say here that I am the special snowflake exception to the general rule that FSD is a fake invention designed by Big Pharma and evil doctors; Dr. Leonore Tiefer, organizer of the New View Campaign, said as much when she wrote, “Dyspareunia is the only valid sexual dysfunction and certainly the only important one,” in response to the suggestion that dyspareunia might be better considered a pain condition rather than a sexual problem.

So hypothetically I suppose I could say, “Fuck you all; I got mine.”

Hypothetically. I have no desire to actually do that and in fact I feel dirty for having spelled such a phrase out in text. Excuse me while I swish some mouthwash and/or wash my hands. Is that what I’m supposed to say? Is that the way I’m supposed to feel? Is this the signal that, as someone with dyspareunia, I’m supposed to shut my pie hole when I see folks with other dysfunctions belittled for it?
I maintain that elevating one or some forms of sexual dysfunction as more real than others creates and crystalizes an artificial hierarchy. And it throws folks with sexual dysfunctions other than or in addition to pain under the bus.

And if, for me, all the sex education in the world fell short of actual medical help from professionals, then why should I believe that it would be any different for all of my friends who have sexual dysfunctions that are not painful?
Not that sex education has been completely useless; far from it. I have taken advantage of the information I found useful. (I also tripped over the parts that were counter-productive.) But to deny medical options to women with sexual dysfunction is to remove an important potential treatment, which for some folks may very well be necessary to find sexual satisfaction. And I find it highly disturbing when such options are removed through means of threats & intimidation, shaming, or ableist comments.

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Speaking of dyspaerunia being “The only valid sexual dysfunction and certainly the only important one,” I made this Privelege Denying Dudette meme just for you:

[Picture: Background: 6 piece pie style color split with pink and blue alternating. Foreground: White girl wearing a green t-shirt, featuring an African-American Sesame Street muppet with nine different hairstyles, subtitled, “I Love My Hair.” Has a smug, arrogant facial expression and plays with her long, brown hair. Top text: “ [SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION ISN'T REAL, YOU DON'T NEED MEDICAL INTERVENTION IN YOUR SEX LIFE] ” Bottom text: “ [WAIT, YOU HAVE DYSPAREUNIA? YOU BETTER GO SEE A DOCTOR.] ”]

What? Wait, what’s it going to be, do I trust my doctors or not? Do they know enough about sex to help me or is it an exercise in futilty to even bring up a sex problem? Am I allowed to go to one of the heavily-marketed sexual dysfunction clinics Dr. Tiefer mentioned in Sex is Not a Natural Act when my regular gynecologist gets stumped and refers me to such a clinic? If I take a prescription for sexual pain, am I just feeding the Big Bad Phama Beast and looking for an easy, quick fix? If I get treatment for dyspareunia, does that count as medicalizing sexuality?

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I recently came to a revolutinary conclusion. If your definition of sex positive does not include sexual dysfunction, then your definition isn’t positive enough.

I want to go out of my way to explicitly include sexual dysfunction in sex-positive discussions. Because ignoring it, outright denying its existence, or claiming that looking at sexual dysfunction = focusing on the negative, will not make it go away. Insisting that sexual dysfunction is a lie erases people who actually have sexual dysfunction. As a result, people with sexual dysfunction are excluded from sex-positivity – and I hate that. There is push-back against excluding people with a history of STIs from the sex-positive community by means of negative, stigmatizing language – why not push back for people with dysfunction?

You know what? I have sexual dysfunction. I exist. This is a long- term thing for me that I do not foresee changing any time soon. It will not go away just because you are uncomfortable with dysfunction (and, by extension, disability. These two phobias tend to go tovether, possibly because dysfunction may be viewed as a sub-type of disability.)

Yet even with the dysfunction, somehow, in spite of everything, I am sex-positive. I have made peace with it – or, at the very least, I have made a truce with myself until I can figure something better out.

Insisting that sexual dysfunction isn’t real or that medical options are unwarranted is just going to make it harder to get the care that I and my friends need. It’s true that most people will never experience sexual dysfunction, and so will not require medical options to address it. Nonetheless, inevitably, some people are going to develop sexual dysfunction. Isn’t there a way we can focus on getting support to such folk, instead of trying to sweep ‘em under the rug?

Sexual dysfunction and sex-positivity do not need to be mutually exclusive.

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Sometimes, I worry a little bit about my reliance on a vibrator for orgasm. I think that, with enough practice, I probably could masturbate to orgasm using only my (or my partner’s) hands. But until then, I orgasm easily enough with a battery-powered vibrator.

I’m not worried about spending money on vibrators and thus supporting a capitalist system. I’m not worried about using my vibrators during sexual activity with my partner. I’m not worried that he’ll feel inadequate compared to my vibrator. I’m not worried about becoming addicted to masturbation. I’m not worried that I’m supporting the tyranny of orgasm.

The real reason I sometimes worry about using my vibrator is…
…I have this paranoid fear that some day space aliens or a freak accident or a Hollywood movie-esque disaster will unleash an electromagnetic pulse over the USA (home) and all elecronics will lose functionality.
Including my vibrators.
And then I’ll have to find a techno wizard to SteamPunk some kind of hand-cranked or steam-powered vibe for me. Possbily incorporating or inspired by one of the old-time antiques like those found in the Museum of Sex. And it’s just going to be really awkward and frustrating and I’ll probably have a lot of other important things to worry about post-EMP.

Obviously I don’t really know how EMPs work and I don’t really care. Everything I learned about them, I learned from movies.

I think about this with about the same frequency that I think about the Zombie Apocalypse as a real thing. Which is to say, not very often except for maybe after watching a movie about a zombie apocalypse or a post-apocalyptic setting.

Interesting posts, I can’t deal with this edition

03/13/2011 at 7:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Dear internet, I no longer know what country I’m living in.
I no longer know what planet I’m living on.

There is too much shit going on in my home country (the USA) and around the world that I do not have the energy to process it all. It’s everything; politics, laws, reproductive rights, environmental disasters, protests – and government crackdowns on protests. Then there’s the little news bits that I feel somewhat ashamed about not discarding in light of life-threatening events – the usual sexuality & sexual dysfunction news & spins, the celebrity gossip & spin, video game culture news & spin, etc. For every piece of news I can provide you with, I’m going to miss 10+ other important happenings.

I miss slow news days.

Friendly reminder: I am looking for Guest Posters. Did you see this week’s guest post by Elaine F. Bayless?
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.

Can’t get enough of feminism and sexual dysfunction on the internet? You may want to think about following the Twitter feed, which is more accurately described as my Twitter feed since no one else manages it. Some of my daily mundane and/or angry thoughts sneak in there but I try to include trendy topics as well as a healthy dose of sexual dysfunction related news when I find it. But I am still having problems with it on my mobile device.

Now then, on with the blog link roundup that’s starting to become an irregular feature around here. An incomplete collection of posts I found interesting over the month. Share links if’n you got’em. Remember, if I left anything out, it’s not because a topic was unimportant – it’s because I am a one person with a finite time on my hands.

On March 11 there was a 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan, followed by strong aftershocks and a tsunami. Thousands are dead or missing; many more have evacuated or have lost their homes entirely. Then some of the nuclear power plants started malfunctioning. I keep seeing comparisons to Chernobyl & I’m seeing the word “Meltdown” used in headlines however I am unable to confirm whether or not such a catastrophic event has actually occurred. My understanding is that Japanese officials are treating the situation as though a meltdown occurred in order to use maximum precautions. I was alive when the Chernobyl disaster occurred but I was too young to have a conscious memory of the event. It’s been around 10 years since I took a chemistry class and as such I am struggling with a crash course in understanding the historical comparison to today’s news.

And this earthquake comes only about a month after the Christchurch, New Zealand one, which is still causing problems.

Anti-Gadaffi government protests continue in Libya. When Egyptian women went to publicly rally on March 8 (International Women’s Day,) they were harassed. Saudi Arabia’s Day of Rage didn’t work out so well. [Trigger warning for rape, transphobia and rape culture:] Teens and young men raped an 11-year old girl in Cleveland, Texas – and the news reports gave quite a lot of coverage to the local sentiment, which is that the victim is anything but. Also, some news has drawn attention to the racial tensions in the area.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, with the support of Republican representatives, passed a bill which effectively disbands collective bargaining rights for public employees not involved in fire safety or law enforcement. Although Walker had said that the law was supposed to be tied in with government spending, what happened is the lawmakers actually split that original bill up into two smaller ones. Since the collective bargaining part was separate from the budget bill, the government did not require a quorum (which would usually mean having then-absent Democratic representatives present.) Now keep in mind this is after Walker, via enforcement officials, passed a bunch of other anti-protest shit that basically shut down the Capitol building to anyone Walker didn’t like. It’s possible to make a compelling case that the public worker anti-union bill is part of a larger attack on women, or that it’s a Republican attack on Democrat political organization.
[Trigger warning for disablism:] New Hampshire representative Martin Hardy actively wants people he calls “Defectives” to be sent off to Siberia to die. Nevermind the fact that you do not need to live in the Russian frozen tundra to freeze (or overheat) to death already.
Meanwhile the state of Michigan’s House & Senate passed this bill which allows the governor to appoint officials to take over public entities. I think this is more extreme than the current version of when local governments delegate public services (like water & waste management) to private entities.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I keep thinking that the USA is looking more and more like the government in the Final Fantasy 7 game, where it’s political and corporate, also nepotism, to hell with the people & the vote. It was supposed to be just a game! You weren’t supposed to haunt me 14 years later!

Sexuality & dysfunction-related news:

In response to the US House of Representatives voting to de-fund Title X & Planned Parenthood (a measure which failed in the Senate, BTW – fight’s not over yet though,) US Uncut made this video. There’s no transcript yet so it’s basically music + a montage featuring a bunch of young people holding up paper signs that read, “I have sex,” “I don’t have sex, but I plan to,” or “I have friends who have sex.” And everyone says what’s on the card & is all smiling and laughing & pointing out that lots of young people have sex & need reproductive & sexual health support.

Announcing a Support Group for Disabled Folks – it is a sexuality support group for folks with disabilities of all sorts, and it’s in Berkeley, California. Organized by this Soma Evolution.
Call for Participants: Research on Women’s Sexual Desire in LTRs – Interesting because I have recently seen the so-called “Seven-” or “Three-year itch” tossed around. Hmm, I wonder where they get their funding from, hmm oh really, that’s certainly interesting… (I think we may need to go back and look at some of Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion’s funding sources later…)
Sex Ed for Cancer Survivors is Often Missing – About the difficulties of addressing & caregiver’s awkwardness re: sexual problems during and after cancer treatments.

The Liz Canner film, Orgasm, Inc. continues to make the rounds. If you actually know what sexual dysfunction is like, then you probably want to stay out of the comment sections on reviews. This week’s reviews are brought to you by Comment is Free, and the F-Word UK. I like how Brooks’ article states the obvious; how a device designed to assist women with orgasm difficulties will not help women with desire problems. I don’t think she meant it that way though; I get the feeling that she meant to conflate the two problems into the same exact thing.
There were also reviews for the ubiquitous film on Funky Brown Chick and the Babeland blog. I am definitely noticing common themes in almost all of the reviews. But I am still requesting a guest post to really brace myself for it.
Edit 3/14 – Great Scott, hold the phone – I think we finally found a voice of dissent. Here is the first film review of Orgasm Inc – “Orgasm Inc.:” Libido Meets Pharma at a Theater Near You - I could find that is actually critical of the film – of all places, unexpectedly, it’s over at Women’s Voices for Change. Unexpected.

Ask an Abortion Provider – Now this one is doubly-interesting, because obviously it’s an abortion provider answering questions… she also had an abortion herself… …which she sought after getting pregnant from what sounds like outercourse. Friendly reminder: So long as there is a combination of semen + ova involved, there is still a slight, but non-zero probability, of pregnancy even if you’re not having PIV sex.
National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day[Trigger warning] – Documents recorded acts of violence against abortion providers.
The War on Reproductive Rights: A Recap – A summary of much of the bullshit going around in reproductive health.

Endometriosis Awareness Week 2011 – About the author’s experience with it & a general overview.
Jeanne is taking a critical look at Yellow-Washing – basically, pink-washing (branding crap as benefiting cancer research when the product being sold is possibly carcinogenic) except for endometriosis. She also remembers what it was like being a teenager with undiagnosed endo.

There’s been some shitty op-ed/blog post/discussion/book promotion pieces going around the ‘tubes lately. Usually targeting women and how everything they do is wrong if they want a committed relationship. Here’s some evisceration to lighten your day: Gentlemen Prefer Grinning AutomatonsRoss Douthat sells sex and young people way too short.

Cosmocking collection! March ’11! April ’11 part 1! April ’11 part 2!

Ask Matt: How Can I Enjoy Sex When I Hate My Body? – Some suggestions & responses to a trans man reader.

Violet Blue saw Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction! *Excited gasp nowai!* She included one of the Lady Porn Day posts in one of her roundups because it had a different perspective that’s valuable enough to share! Look, the blog post is included right alongside Miss Maggie Mayhem, the Sexademic and Ms Naughty. Yay!

In vulvovaginal pain news:

There’s some updates on vulvodynia-related research posted on the Vulvar Vestibulitis Support Network blog.
VVSN brings the news that: There’s another new book out about painful sex! Buy it from the NVA’s website, cuz if you spend money that way, then the NVA gets 25% funding! It’s called, When Sex Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain, and it’s also available in e-book format for the Kindle! ~$10!

You want less wrinkles in your vagina? – Pain in the ass bullshit Down There had to go through to get botox treatment. It’s not just for breakfast cosmetics anymore.

When Sex is Painful, Valentine’s Day Doesn’t Look So Sweet – Something many of the readers here can probably relate to. I didn’t have any PIV sex on Valentines Day, either.

I found this blog, Christians with Vulvodynia, which might also be of interest to some readers here. I have no spirituality so all the psalm & praise stuff passes right through me but I still like this blog because it also has Comic Strips by the author and I brake 4 comics. Especially the ones by women.

Also, I notice some of the V-bloggers are still dealing with our virulent, mansplaining, hate-and-shit-sandwich-spewing troll whose IP traces back to the Philippines. His comments are easier to control on the WordPress platform, because WordPress lets you edit comments whenever you see fit – or send them to spam, or just block ‘em all. It’s harder to moderate comments on Blogspot, so that’s where I’m seeing him more often lately.
May I suggest, if you are a V-blogger still dealing with troll problems, the Disqus comment platform? Shakesville is a big blog, and the moderators use Disqus to moderate comments. There is a drawback though: You can’t have Blogger comments + Disqus comments on at the same time. I think that if you switch to Disqus, you’ll wind up losing whatever Blogger comments you got so far, so, this might be a very good option for New & startup V-Bloggers who have not yet accumulated a lot of discussion.
Still, even if you are an old hat on your Blogspot place, this might work well if you’ve derived all the useful info you can from your comments section, or if you decide that such a moderation tactic is worth the trade-off. If you or someone you know is V-blogging and is getting harassed by trolls on Blogspot, please, let them know about this comment moderation option.

As always, I’m sure there’s more…

About Northwestern University

03/08/2011 at 1:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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A recent controversy in sex education involves one Prof. John Micheal Bailey, from Northwestern University. Professor Bailey teaches a Human Sexuality class to some 600 college students. He is a controversial figure, as described on the wiki page linked to – previous work includes his theories about homosexuality (he believes it is largely an inherited orientation,) and a book about transsexuality, which has been heavily criticized by trans activists for racism & transphobia (Plus Bailey engaged in unethical conduct while making the book.)

Bailey’s sexuality class includes optional events with guest speakers who talk frankly about sex & sexuality. The controversial event in question was titled, “Networking for Kinky People,” and the guest speaker was Ken Melvoin-Berg, associated with the Weird Chicago Tours group. Melvoin-Berg brought his partner and a kinky, engaged, exhibitionist couple with him to the event. (The couple has been named by some sources while others are keeping them anonymous; I’ll stick to the anonymity route here since outed kinky folk face safety risks.)

According to this Salon.com article, during the day’s lecture, Bailey presented a lesson on the G-spot. The Chicago Tribune says that the lecture included an educational video about the G-spot. Melvoin-Berg, his partner & the kinky couple arrived early, so they happened to be there for Bailey’s lecture and video. Melvoin-Berg’s group members were all unimpressed. So just before their speaking part was about to begin (after the lecture was officially over,) Melvoin-Berg asked Bailey for permission to demonstrate to the class what a g-spot orgasm looks like, in person, with a fucksaw. (Exactly what it sounds like: This is basically a modified power-tool with a dildo on the working end.) Bailey hesitated but decided that the demonstration would fall within the bounds of the scheduled speaking event, since such a demonstration is undeniably kinky.

So that’s what happened. The couple Melvoin-Berg brought with him, did exactly that – after giving an hour & half speaking lecture with a Q&A session first, according to Rabbit Write (the same Rabbit Write who organized Lady Porn Week.) When Melvoin-Berg’s crew finished the speaking portion of their presentation, the boyfriend used the fucksaw on his girlfriend and she had several g-spot orgasms in front of about 100 or so present students.

After that, the student newspaper reported on the event. From there, a lot of mainstream news sites picked up on the story. Reports about sex are easily sensationalized & they sell well or generate page views, whatever. So now there’s a lot of backlash & controversy going around now.

I can’t decide whether I’m in favor of this event or not. At first I was all for it – I thought, “That sounds useful,” and I understand that sometimes, written instructions, diagrams and educational videos fall short because they do not provide experience. I needed help learning how to find and then use my own pelvic floor muscles. Although I had anatomy diagrams and written instructions on how to dilate, I eventually hit a wall with my at-home dilator kit and needed to get physical therapy to progress with treating my vaginismus. (It was an incredibly clinical, non-sexual and useful experience – not really all that much different from rehabilitating any other muscle group, except for all the cultural baggage and weight assigned to people’s genitals.) But that was something I initiated, and since it took place behind closed doors, there was no risk of making anybody else know what was going on.
But then the more I read about Professor Bailey and the Northwestern University event, the more I started to change my mind & think to myself, “Hmmm… maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…”

Even Bailey himself has issued a formal apology, of sorts, for drawing such negative media attention to NU. If he could do it over again, he wouldn’t.

However, demonstrations like this have taken place before – just not on campus. Let’s all turn to Page 13 of Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide by Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah. Some of the relevant parts are available on pages 13 & 14 from Google Books. Unfortunately not everything got scanned in – it looks like all the pictures are missing, and page 14′s relevant text is blocked out (It should be on the left side of the page.)

To summarize the relevant passages, the book says that a couple of years ago, sex educators affiliated with Babeland (then still known as Toys in Babeland,) took their G-spot program to a “Carnival-style book release party of a friend of Babeland…” (The next page says this event took place at a bar.) The sex educators set up a tent and one of them called out to passers-by, asking patrons to go in. People who went into the tent (up to 10 at a time) received a lesson in human female anatomy, complete with some suggestions for ways to find the g-spot. But the lesson didn’t end there, “Once they were inside, we gave them more than just a lecture.”

One of the sex educators took safe sex precautions (a glove and lubricant in this case,) and said, “Okay, who wants to experience it [a g-spot orgasm]?” So one lady and her boyfriend stepped up and the lady sat down in the hot seat. The description on page 14 says that this volunteer took off her underwear & used a vibrator on herself, so onlookers would have her masturbating. Then the sex educator with the lubricated glove on inserted two fingers into the volunteer’s vagina & found the g-spot. It’s not clear from the text on this page whether the volunteer had an orgasm on site. The text makes it sound like this scene was repeated throughout the evening.

So one reason I don’t fully understand exactly what the problem with the February 2011 demonstration is that there’s precedent for g-spot demonstrations just like the one at Northwestern University. This already happens. The show-and-tell described in the Sex Toys 101 book didn’t use a video, puppet or a piece of fruit as a stand-in.
On the other hand, this article from GoodVibes says that events which GV hosts do use stand-ins or clothed volunteers. So okay, sex educators can go either way when it comes to live demonstrations.

At first I thought the reason the school program caused so much controversy is that it must have been paid for with school funds, because that’s what was going on when feminist pornographer Tristan Taomino was initially un-invited from speaking at Oregon University. The student newspaper says that NU has events sponsored by Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and this Chicago Tribune article says that NU provides funding to Bailey & his speakers (including Melvoin-Berg but not the kinky couple) via this organization. But according to this statement from Bailey, he arranges the class events at “Considerable investment of my time, for which I receive no compensation from Northwestern University,” which makes it sound like he pays for the class’s extra-curricular speaking events out of his own pocket. So now I can’t follow the money trail because there’s like 3 different things going on there. (Maybe the school doesn’t pay him for the time it takes to arrange speakers but it does cover their fees? Like, no overtime pay for whatever networking is required to set everything up?)

So far what I’ve read about the event says that, participants who stayed for the demonstration aren’t the ones who are upset about it – as of 3/6/11, Bailey says that all the feedback received from attending students was positive. It is people who were not present for the show and found out about it afterwards that are registering complaints. They’re upset that it took place at all. I’m seeing similar complaints in comment sections of articles summarizing the event, and the negative comments usually contain some variation of “Immoral,” “distasteful,” “exploitative,” or “sick.” Something to that effect, which focuses on the content of the demonstration. Since kink is widely misunderstood & berated, I’m thinking that such comments would inevitably be made of such a demonstration or sex act regardless of the setting.

Every once in awhile a commenter will bring up the viewers’ ability to fully consent, which I think is a stronger argument against the demonstration, since it was spur-of-the-moment. An event like this should have required time to plan it out and better distribute information about the content. There wasn’t time to include this on the syllabus, basically (though being an optional event, it wouldn’t have been required either.) But even then, the articles say that Bailey & Melovin-Berg took steps with the limited time they had to make sure that the students understood what the content of the demonstration was going to have & that they had the option to leave without penalty, which some students did exercise. Yet, one student Bailey’s class explicitly told the media, “Then, just out of nowhere, the girl just takes her pants off, takes her shirt off, takes her underwear off.” That the student used the phrase “Just out of nowhere” suggests to me that adequate preparation for the students was nonetheless lacking. It should have come from somewhere. This student, though, also acknowledges that students were given adequate opportunity to leave.

So with regards to what the real problem is with this NU event, I keep getting different answers – including the “Nothing wrong” answer. I can’t pinpoint it down. But having done just a cursory background check on Bailey himself, even I am now resistant against throwing all my support behind him too. Will NU administrators be more translucent with their investigative findings now than they were when claims of impropriety were previously leveled against Bailey?

P.S. Good god almighty can I just express my own frustration with this entry –  this was hard to research; every source I checked had different pieces & I couldn’t get a comprehensive tell-all! And then before I knew it I had 1600 words and okay fine, up it goes.

Interesting posts, weekend of 2/13

02/13/2011 at 3:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Dear internet, I have come to a revolutionary decision. Or conclusion. A thought. Here’s what’s on my mind right now: If your definition of “Sex positive” does not include sexual dysfunction, then your definition isn’t positive enough. I thought about it for more than 5 seconds and then decided that it’s really not that revolutionary at all. But I am certain that to anyone who doesn’t think about this addendum, it will seem that way.

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.

Can’t get enough of feminism and sexual dysfunction on the internet? You may want to think about following the Twitter feed, which is more accurately described as my Twitter feed since no one else manages it. Some of my daily mundane and/or angry thoughts sneak in there but I try to include trendy topics as well as a healthy dose of sexual dysfunction related news when I find it. But I am still having problems with it on my mobile device.

Now then, on with the blog link roundup that’s starting to become an irregular feature around here. Posts I found interesting over the few weeks. Share links if’n you got’em. Remember, if I left anything out, it’s not because a topic was unimportant – it’s because I am a one person with a finite time on my hands. (Some notable omissions this week are a deliberate effort to stay under troll radar.)

Hey, if you live in the New York City area, check out this calendar of events… Events Calendar for Babeland – On March 10, 2011, the Babeland Brooklyn store is going to host an event, “Overcoming painful sex.” Isa Herrera wrote this self-published book, Ending Female Pain, and she’s going to be at the workshop. It’s FREE!

Hey, if you live in the Seattle area, I see there’s also an event targeting medical professionals at the Seattle store, scheduled for March 31, 2011. The description says staff will show medical pros some devices that might assist patients dealing with pre-orgasmia, ED or ejaculation problems and menopause. Also FREE! (Am I supposed to flap my arms and go all like, “Uh oh, someone’s trying to medicalize sexuality! Quick! Someone stop them!” now? No I’m not doing that. I will, however, segue:)

The ubiquitous film, Orgasm Inc. will be releasing into more movie theaters over the next couple of weeks, so we’re probably going see yet another flurry of almost identical reviews of the movie. Call me cynical, but it seems that every time it releases somewhere else (Can it really be considered a “New” film if it came out in 2009?) there’s a a couple of sites that review it – and proceed to question the validity of sexual dysfunction, usually by citing poor sex education, Big Pharma, genital cosmetic surgery (SHOCK VALUE!) and one of the participants in the film who had the sensationalized orgasmatron spinal cord device installed. These reviews usually end by offering unsolicited advice and/or inviting blog commenters to speculate as to the reality of what folks like me and my friends are going through. And further to speculate as to whether or not folks like me and my friends really need to have a medical option available or whether we should all just dump our boyfriends, who simply must be shitty in bed (the assumption in comments is almost always one of heterosexuality.) This month’s (week’s? I have no doubt there’ll be more soon) obligatory Orgasm Inc. press coverage comes from FeministingWired magazine and Jezebel. (Note: this particular Jezebel post actually does the thing where the OP openly invites speculation.)
I think I finally saw a date pinned down as to when the DVD will be available, something about June.
Since it’s supposed to be more widely available soon, I would like to request that a guest poster who has some experience with FSD write a review of Orgasm Inc. for this blog.  Also because I am selfish, so that I can brace myself for it when I eventually have no choice but to watch the film. I’ll have to watch eventually but you go first.

In more helpful news, here’s A new idea – The 5’11″ish woman is interested in starting a vulvodynia support group via Skype. Times like this I really like technology.

Good Vibrations House Calls: I’m Way Too Tight – Some suggestions for dealing with difficulty when attempting vaginal insertion during sex.
Something for the folks who once had but are now minus a prostate: Good Vibrations House Calls: Orgasm After Prostatectomy
Sex Isn’t The Same Since My C-Section! – It isn’t just vaginal birth that can lead to sexual problems and scarring after having a baby.
Something highly disturbing which just illustrates how ableism is still an actual thing in the world (Trigger warning:Informing Consent. A man with cognitive disabilities was legally barred from having sexual relationships and from receiving sex education, on the advice of a psychiatrist. This is problematic on multiple levels; one of the problems is that by denying sex education to people with disabilities, you also make it harder to report sexual assault.

Something else about sexual health and Big Pharma – in this case, an antidepressant which may cause fewer sexual side effects vs. traditional SSRIS and discussions with folks who did experience sexual side effects while on antidepressants: Antidepressants and sex: A doomed romance? Via Violet Blue [NSFW]. Might be of interest to some readers here. Ever the cynic, I find myself wondering why I didn’t see any feminist blog posts making fun of this drug’s name the way that the word “Flibanserin” became the butt of some kind of huge joke last year.

More on Big Pharma and the miscellaneous hazards of backlash against it: How To Avoid Being Seen As A Drug-Seeker (if you have chronic pain), also A Chronic Pain Patients Bill Of Rights. and finally The Government’s Cruel War On Pain Medication. Don’t know about using “Ron Paul” and “Good” in the same sentence, though.

In old time news, here’s Your Sex Questions Answered (Jan 1959) – This is 11 pages of actual sex questions and answered published in an old magazine, Sexology. You can buy “Best of” collections of this magazine on Amazon! Some of these questions and articles are very interesting and well-answered! Others are handled just terribly to the point where it’s almost humorous! The nice thing about this article is that, even though the pages are in graphic form, there’s a full text transcript at the bottom. I might come back to this article later as a full blog post because it looks like fun to pick apart.

Superbowl Sunday was last Sunday. It was turned into “Porn Sunday” by some anti-porn organizations. Food for thought; here are some posts that take quite different stances regarding pornography and Porn Sunday. The first one is actually an Oldie but Goodie from last year, a friendly reminder of just who it is that’s so All Up Ons about porn: Anti-Porn Profiteering: What They’re Selling. Now compare this with explicitly anti-porn, Pornography Nation. Did you catch that? Okay, now compare that to Humans Aren’t Rodents. Porn Isn’t Ruining Marriages. Interesting conversations going on in the comments over there.

GOP Cuts – a list of the departments, programs, and amounts of $ which US Republicans have proposed cutting. Ow. Ow. Ooooww. These cuts would essentially defund Title X, family planning, which includes health care for women.

Here’s a neat book and blog, because I just really like comics. Black Comix by black writers & illustrators, blog especially covers events pertaining to the book. Via Boiling Point Blog.

Feminism 101: Helpful Hints for Dudes, Part I – Helpful advice for the gentlemen who are themselves feminist or have feminist partners. I especially like the advice where Liss is all like, stop asking the ladies to divorce their sexuality or some other component from who they are. (I get that a lot. Some variation of “Well if it weren’t for X, then wouldn’t you Y?”)

Africans in Ancient China & Vice Versa, Part 4: A Final Word about Zheng He–Guest Blog by Eccentric Yoruba – Something that I didn’t learn from my highly informative Asian studies class.

Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey – A big study that shows how trans folk & people who don’t fit into nice neat little gender boxes face real, tangible, dangerous discrimination. As a result of this discrimination, trans & gender non-conforming folk deal face high rates of unemployment, poverty, lack of health care, educational barriers, violence and death. This report also includes some recommendations to reduce this discrimination.

Getting around to older items from my RSS feeder:

Ask Matt Monday: My Guy Doesn’t Want to Have Sex – in this blog post, Matt answers a reader query regarding a trans man who is uncomfortable with sexual activity in a relationship.

That troll who goes around targeting V-blogs and anything vaginismus related is still active. If That Guy, (it’s a guy) has tried to get all up in your bloggy business, then this may be of some use to you: How I minimize the online abuse I receive. Once again let me reiterate: there is a reason I make it deliberately hard to get in contact with me.

Do you scream?[Trigger warning] – This is an example of one way rapists groom their victims.

Last week I posted a link to shitty logo design for women’s groups. This week here’s a common uncreative theme shitty advertisements use when targeting the ladies: Women laughing alone with salad (via Feministe.)

As always, I’m sure there’s more…

Interesting posts, weekend of 2/6/11

02/06/2011 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Dear internet, I’ve been feeling like lying low for awhile in terms of cranking out new content here. This time, it isn’t because I am busy or because I’m having too much fun. It’s because I was starting to feel burnout start to eat away at my core. So rather than get burned and stop blogging together, I withdrew into myself. Unexpectedly, it wasn’t even sexual dysfunction related news that got me feeling overwhelmed either; I’ve been keeping an eye out for more FSD news (crappy and good articles) but that front has been relatively quiet lately… Just more of the same and the occasional troll. No, what had me feeling overwhelmed was just general political & feminist news happenings. I’ll share with you all today some of what has had me feeling powerless – some, but not all of it, for reasons that include my need to feel relatively safe.

Before we begin the weekly blog link roundup though, I’d just like to say – this week, Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction had its 50,000th page view.
HOLY SHIT. 50,000 page views??? This calls for an irreverent picture!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

[Image Description: Little kid Corey from the terrible video game movie, The Wizard, staring slack-jawed at an old arcade game box. From Canada.com; I am pretty sure their TOS will forgive me fair non-commercial use of this picture.]

“You scored 50,000 on Double Dragon?!” We sure did. And it only took us… what, 2 & 1/2 years…! Ugh, I know some blogs get that many hits in 6 months. But this isn’t exactly a team blog, and I have work to do besides blogging. So I suppose it’s reasonable that it would take us awhile longer to get that far. But we still have a long way to go… (and I really need to work on my cis-sexism :/ ) We haven’t quite broken 200 posts yet but we’re getting there. Won’t you stick around and contribute to help us get there & beyond?
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.
One of the posts that pushed us over the 50,000 page view edge was this recent guest post from Rhiannon, who was our very first guest poster all the way back in 2009. Did you all get a chance to see her new follow up post?

Can’t get enough of feminism and sexual dysfunction on the internet? You may want to think about following the Twitter feed, which is more accurately described as my Twitter feed since no one else manages it. Some of my daily mundane and/or angry thoughts sneak in there but I try to include trendy topics as well as a healthy dose of sexual dysfunction related news when I find it. But I am still having problems with it on my mobile device.

Now then, on with the blog link roundup that’s starting to become an irregular feature around here. Posts I found interesting over the few weeks. Share links if’n you got’em. Remember, if I left anything out, it’s not because a topic was unimportant – it’s because I am a one person with a finite time on my hands. (Some notable omissions this week are a deliberate effort to stay under troll radar.)

So in the United States following last year’s elections, the House of Representatives has more Republican party members than Democrats. What’s some of the recent, important legislation that (mostly) Republicans and conservatives are pushing for? Is it something to stimulate the economy? Something to see to it that unemployed people will not be unemployed much longer and in the mean time have enough food and receive decent healthcare? No! There are like a bunch of things going on that make me feel 100% comfortable calling many congressfolks in the government proud members of the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club.
House Repeals Healthcare Reform – Now this is just the House of Representatives; the Senate did not follow suit. So national health care reform passed by President Obama is still under attack. Also, there was this: Federal Judge Rules Key Provisions of Healthcare Unconstitutional. Now this judge sounds like he agonized about having to declare the entire law unconstitutional, based on the fact that the law makes it so citizens need to buy health insurance. The thing is, if you will recall, this was a concession made to appease big health insurance companies. So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with being part of the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club? Well for one thing, health care & insurance is still a feminist issue, and one which has a strong impact on women. Today’s Health Care Battle in Congress Directly Affects Women’s Health. Here’s an example of how the availability of health care impacts women with vulvodynia in particular. Number 50,000,001:

“I am a statistic. I’m am one of the millions of Americans who is unemployed. But that’s not the only category I fall into. I am also uninsured. I am unemployed and I am uninsured. And I am scared. I’m scared that I won’t find another job and that we won’t have enough money to pay the bills. I’m scared every time my husband leaves for work that he will get in an accident and we won’t be able to cover the care he needs. And mostly, I’m scared that once my medications run out, I won’t be able to afford to buy them, and my vulvodynia will get worse.”

In December, the House of Representatives also blocked legislation that would have supported the prevention of child marriages outside of the US. (The Senate had passed the bill.) What changed the House’s mind? A couple of hours before the vote, this memo went around to pro-life representatives, saying something about how the law would support abortion or something. Abortion isn’t even mentioned in The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act!
Then, this other bill, HR3, would have redefined rape for the purposes of who gets to have an abortion covered by federal funds – forcible rape only, whatever that vague language even means officially – though feminist analysis has some pretty good insight as to how it would have created a false hierarchy of rape. [Trigger warnings apply:] Redefining Rape: More Important Than Jobs – now there’s several layers of wrong with this bill, it’s both about abortion funding and rape, and Sady Doyle was on top of it with a activism campaign, #DearJohn. This worked to remove the “Forcible rape” language from the bill but it’s still seriously fucked up and so we’re not done with it yet.
But wait there’s more - Chip, chip, chip… multiple bills that hack away at reproductive rights.
Whew. Are you starting to see the big picture now? Does anybody else smell some a double-standard what with the, fearmongering about Death Panels & fear of Big Government health care dipping into what procedures you are and aren’t allowed to get, but then like, folks (mostly Republicans) involved in Big Government do exactly that? I, I don’t get it; we can’t allow government to provide health care to millions of people because then government will bureaucratize health care and nobody wants that oh by the way here’s a bill that makes it a lot harder to get certain medical procedures done and it just so happens that those procedures impact women more than men. What? I am not seeing the link between all this reproductive coercion bullshit and cutting the deficit.

Now here’s something that you may’ve heard about, a truly seedy abortion clinic. On second thought about Kermit Gosnell – Kermit Gosnell ran a truly disgusting abortion clinic in Pennsylvania and he got busted after one of his patients died; some babies born live may have also been murdered. This is by no means a standard of what abortion providers are like, this is an exception to the rule – especially since Gosnell & co. weren’t even supposed to be providing abortion in the first place. So why would you go there? Because there was no where else to go.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood (which does provide abortions in sanitary conditions as well as general sexual health care,) has come under attack by one of those fake video sting campaigns. Standing with Planned Parenthood. This is like the 4th fake video sting that I know of, if you go back to the ACORN thing, Shirley Sherrod’s heavily edited speech and James O’Keefe’s attempted entrapment of a news reporter. As was the case before, what’s been released is heavily edited & designed to make Planned Parenthood look bad. One of twelve targeted facilities did not follow protocol in cases of suspected abuse & the employee who messed up has been disciplined.
Meanwhile! One Maggie Gallagher, founder of the homophobic National Organization for Marriage (The organization that put out that “Gathering storm” ad a few years ago,) has made some odd statements trying to link abortion to anal sex. Um. I guess because they are both dirty, painful and terrible, you see (not really.)
Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin will no longer be providing abortion services in its clinic, due to the dangers caused by protesters outside.
Also, just in case you’re hanging around a forum and get sucked into an abortion debate (it’s happened to me) and somebody goes all, “Women get abortions in secret and don’t tell the father and I’d want to know about it!” Here’s a resource you can use to say, most women do share with their partners when they will be seeking abortion, most partners support the decision. A notable exception is when there’s domestic violence involved. Partners of Women Who Have Abortions Are in the Loop.

Some nice posts on asexuality. Not social justice from where I’m standing from Chally about how sexual social justice is incomplete if you exclude asexual folks, especially when sexual folks appropriate asexuality to illustrate stuff that’s wrong & bad from truly anti-sex folks. Then on Goodvibes there was two posts, Asexuality is Not Antisexuality: Sex-Positivity in a Negative World and then Sex-Positivity and Asexuality: Bringing Them Together. There’s also this post by swankivy, who identifies as asexual: Sexual Attraction vs. Romantic Attraction.
I’d like to believe that Feminists with FSD is ahead of the curve for reaching out to and including works by asexual folks on a mostly sexual blog but really if you want to talk about being ahead of the curve then you should probably go visit some asexual blogs which have been around for longer than this sexual dysfunction blog.

Something a little bit fun but also NSFWLoveHoney’s design a sex toy contest. What I find noteworthy is that last year’s design was the Sqweel, which is designed to mimic oral sex – it’s not for vaginal insertion. (Or I suppose it could be if you were really creative with it? It looks more like an external toy to me…) So wouldn’t it be funny if someone with a sexual dysfunction designed a winning sex toy? Hmmm…
Something else that will hopefully amuse you and disabuse you of any shitty lessons you may still be bearing: Bad Sex Ed tumblr. (via Babeland blog, probably NSFW.)
Here’s a survey for long-term lesbian couples, via Violet Blue [NSFW]. Lesbian Couples Sex Survey.
A book offering a frank discussion of sex education with a Muslim audience in mind is causing controversy in Pakistan. Fury over doctor’s book on sex education for Muslims (again via NSFW Violet Blue.)

Some strange news regarding who is OK to speak at colleges about sex, first link is NSFW: Tristan Taormino, Ann Coulter, And The Disgrace Of Oregon State University – so feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino was invited to speak about modern sex at Oregon State U, but then after she’d already paid for transportation & all, OSU backed out and was all like, “Don’t come here anymore because we can’t be all using public $ to pay for a pornographer to come here and talk.” Meanwhile, Bristol Palin was offered private $ to come speak at Washington University for Sex Week – she would have been talking about abstinence. But then that appearance was canceled, too – because Bristol wasn’t abstinent. I was going to say something about there being a double-standard but since both schools canceled appearances by speakers who have been in some way involved with sex it’s not really a double-standard at all – the consistent message is something along the lines of, if you are a woman who has been in any way shape or form involved with sex, get out.

A blogging event coming up on February 10: Love Beats Hate: February 10, 2011 Event
Another one, the Blog Carnival of Mental Health: Announcing the February Blog Carnival of Mental Health – You got till Feb. 26.

A little bit of an older post but a good one, Why I ditched the “lady mags”. Note also the plastic shield in front of the Woman’s World magazine, which features a woman of color on the front. Now compare to a recent episode in which a plastic “Family shield” was used to cover a picture of Elton John with husband and child.

If you were a logo designer, how might you design a logo for something relating to a service for women? If you are completely uncreative and unoriginal you’ll probably dip into these tired old “Women-as-squiggly-lines” images. (Either that or you might refer to one of those O’Keefe paintings of flowers as vaginas, which I am so tired of.)

Two instances of barely averted domestic terrorism in the US. This threat comes from home, not from without. Pipe bomb threatens Spokane MLK Day parade, and then later Another attempted terrorist attack to send down the memory hole. Now just in case somebody tries to dismiss these acts of violence with something along the lines of, “Oh well that’s just one person and he’s clearly crazy,” don’t let whoever says that to you off the hook. Why do you speculate as to these guys’ mental state? Let us not forget that people with disabilities, including mental illness, are more likely to be themselves victims of violence. Case in point: Dutch Psychiatric Patients Likely to Be Victims of Violence.
It’s probably no coincidence that a Latina child, Brisenia Flores, was shot in killed in what I would certainly consider to be an act of domestic terrorism.

I’ve been following BoingBoing.net’s coverage of the Egypt protests & counter-protests. The Pursuit of Harpyness blog provided details on the revolution in Tunisia: WTF is Going on in Tunisia: Must-reads.

F*cking tides, how do they work? - Mildly funny but also pathetic.

Toy Story 3: Lessons in Race and Gender - Because I just really like cartoons and analyzing cartoons from social justice & feminist perspectives.

Fat, Ugly or Slutty – [Trigger warning for violence, misogyny] – Think of it as the HollaBack for video games. Women gamers post actual screenshots & messages from creeps in online games. Via the F-Word.

The nice pregnant lady’s guide to not offending polite society* – Bullshit pregnant women have to put up with when talking about being pregnant.

Something that may help some readers here – Scarleteen’s Find-a-Doc service. I actually used this to find some potential doctors in my area!

I’m sure there’s more…

Interesting posts, weekend of catching up

01/16/2011 at 7:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Dear internet, it certainly has been awhile since we last explored interesting posts in the news and the feminist blogosphere together. I’ve just been so busy with adjusting to my new life… plus, I finally admit it – I was having too much fun. There’s been some problems too but I’m attempting to address the shortcomings as best I can.

One of the interferences with blogging lately is that someone finally showed me Minecraft and how to play it and I’ve been having a ball with that for a few weeks. I gave up on some of my worlds and started over 4 or 5 times but now I feel like I know what I’m doing… …plus I set the difficulty to Peaceful for awhile. I was getting frustrated with the Creepers sneaking up on me and stopping me from moving around freely. I’ve got a nice shelter setup now – the only problem with it is it doesn’t look like a castle or a fancy mansion. It looks like a goddamn office building. How boring! And I keep meaning to reset the game back to normal difficulty now that I have good stuff but I’m actually having more fun walking around and digging without having to worry about monsters.

I also watched some Let’s Play videos of the entire Mother (Earthbound in the USA) video game series. (#1 and #3 were translated into English in ROM form, they’re not available in the US by legitimate means.) Watched the LP’s because I don’t think I’ll ever have the time or patience to play through them myself at this point. The games look all cute & stuff, little weird with the space aliens and all… then you get deeper into the games and it gets really fucking disturbing. Like, deeply psychologically disturbing, especially towards the end of the games. All 3 of them. I think #3 disturbs me the most of all.

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.

Can’t get enough of feminism and sexual dysfunction on the internet? You may want to think about following the Twitter feed, which is more accurately described as my Twitter feed since no one else manages it. Some of my daily mundane and/or angry thoughts sneak in there but I try to include trendy topics as well as a healthy dose of sexual dysfunction related news when I find it. However I’ve been having some problems using the Twitter on my mobile device lately. I can’t RT stuff for some reason. Annoying. So I don’t know what I’m going to do with that.

Since I’ve been away from blogging for so long and especially away from the weekly blog link roundup, my RSS feeder is hopelessly clogged beyond catching up and there’s no way I’ll be able to present a comprehensive picture of what’s been going on in the news and feminist blogosphere. Hope you’ve been keeping up. There were posts about consent and Wikileaks. There were posts about violence and social justice. There were some posts about sexual dysfunction (with predictable results. I mean that in a negative way. Try, (or don’t try if you’re not in a good position to get back to a comfortable state of mind!) for example, yet another post related to Orgasm Inc. that was over on the Jezebel recently. You know, for a movie that’s supposed to be doing good things, it sure does bring out the worst in people, mhmm.) And so on. Let’s see what I’ve gotten to so far. As always, anything I left off this list wasn’t left off due to a lack of importance. It was left off because I am a one person who cannot keep up with everything at once. Post links if’n you got’em.

A two part series: Good Vibrations House Calls: Vulva Cancer, the Clitoris, and Pleasure – A reader wrote in to Good Vibrations to ask whether it would be possible to still have an orgasm following surgery for vulvar cancer. The surgery included the removal of the reader’s clitoris. Carol Queen offers some possible routes to sexual pleasure post-surgery. There’s also a chapter about this in a book I have, but it doesn’t talk about sexual pleasure so much as it does about what medical professionals can do to in relation to cancer-related sexual pain. And then here’s part 2: Good Vibrations House Calls: Vulva Cancer, the Clitoris, and Pleasure (Part 2) which addresses ways to experience sexual pleasure when genital contact is difficult.

Call for Participants: Ultrasound Study of Women’s Pelvic Floors – This is going on NOW! I would be a very interested in seeing the results of this study, seeing as I am one with a messed up pelvic floor.

Sensual Prenatal Massage – Sounds interesting, particularly the perineal massage. You don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from perineal massage. At least I don’t have to be.

I Will Survive (Thoughts on Survivors Giving Birth) – Reflections on childbirth after sexual assault. Via Mom’s TFH.

The group blog FWD, Feminists with Disabilities, for a Way Forward, has closed, though the archives will remain up indefinitely. Many of the regular and guest contributors maintain their own off-site blogs and so you can keep up with individual bloggers. Check out the blogroll for some authors (but remember that there’s many disability bloggers who are not listed on the blogroll too.) One interesting post that came up recently was a critique of Big Pharma ads. What I found most interesting is that two of the Big Pharma medication advertisements dissected were for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. Do you know what happened in the comments? No one denied that sexual dysfunction is an actual thing. How about that! Contributors were able to analyze Big Pharma ads without completely denying the existence of the condition that the medications advertised are supposed to treat! Shocking!!! Not really shocking at all. Refreshing, though. Sadly refreshing…

Offended? Cool by me. – The pharmaceutical company, Teva, which is the biggest manufacturer of generic drugs, put together a messed up advertisement for birth control that co-oped asexuality. Now keep in mind this is the same pharmaceutical company that recently hosted a big fake birthday party in honor of the 50th anniversary of The Pill. Hmmmm… Hmmmmmmmm… *eye twitch*

Study Finds 10% of Teens Who Say They’ve Never Had Intercourse Test Positive for STDs – There are a number of blog posts about this study, which has some problems going on in and outside of it – how was sex defined, (Excluded activity other than PIV intercourse) what are folks saying about the research, what are folks saying about the study participants (Variations of “Can teens be trusted to tell the truth?”) when did such STIs take place, etc.

Different versions of virginity – Now this one comes on the heels of the pornographic website Kink.com airing model filming model Nicki Blue’s first sexual intercourse experience, which is also an interesting topic because of how it was first marketed & then they had to go back & change it cuz it was all exploitative.

The Complicated Process of Actually Having Intercourse – It doesn’t come easily (no pun intended) for everyone.

Lube Makes Sex Better (Now, we have proof!) – But when you do go to have sex (under the broadest definition,) lubrication will usually make it more comfortable. In which case the challenge for some of us will be finding the right lube.

Condom Size Chart – Something that may help you and/or your partner(s) choose the correct condom size. Unfortunately if you know you’re sensitive to certain materials, you may be out of luck because not all materials are available in all sizes. Which I think totally sucks.

The Feministing Five: Tristan Taormino – She is a feminist pornographer. Those two terms do not necessarily have to contradict each other. I watched one of her pornographic videos this week. It was okay.

A tumblr for you: Sex is not the enemy [NSFW] – photographs of happy naked people having sex. Via Figleaf.

Cosmocking: February ’11! – Holly’s evisceration of Cosmopolitan for the month.

[Trigger warnings] The Julian Assage of Wikileaks fame sexual assault controversy (Not strong enough of a word, really…) continues. Blogger Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown called out Michael Moore until he eventually —sort of—- indirectly —- apologized for his rape apologism. (Wow! Okay it’s not an explicit “I’m sorry” but still… he reached out to Doyle personally.) It was a very difficult task & draining task Sady took on.
Feminist author Naomi Wolf, who wrote The Beauty Myth, continues to dismiss the seriousness of rape allegations against Assange and the nature of the allegations. Also that the names of accusers of rape should be published. What? That also sounds like an absolutely terrible idea. This is a big, though not necessarily surprising, disappointment from within a feminist circle.

Amy Chua wrote a book which had excerpts published in the Washington Post, under the title “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” It has caused a lot of backlash. Being that I am White, her article does not apply to me directly but it is relevant to someone who is most near & dear to my heart & who found it upsetting if not outright triggering.

Blog for Choice Day is coming up shortly. Before you write about how folks should have the right to choose, I want you to sit down and really ask yourself: Do you really believe what you are writing? Can you actually say with a straight face that you believe in choice if you actively restrict certain choices from being made consensually? The post I’m thinking of is from last year, Do you really trust women? Do you?

Related to issues of reproductive choice, here’s some posts. Black Women Once Again Targeted By Pro Lifers. MTV ran a special called “No Easy Decision” which openly discussed abortion. As a result, Ross Douthat wrote something about how much better it was when adoption was the only legal option even if it was a form of (and sometimes continues to be) reproductive coercion.

[Trigger warnings for violence, ableism] Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range at a grocery store in Tuscon, Arizona. Giffords has survived but several people, including a nine year old child, were killed. The shooter has an online presence which has been analyzed and there is open speculation that he may be mentally ill. However even if this is the case that does not erase the sociopolitical environment in which this act of violence took place. For example, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin had a web site with a picture of the USA. There were crosshairs over 20 political districts. Some copies of the picture have been taken down from websites but it’s so, so hard to erase things from the internet & you can still find it. And Giffords has been threatened before, recently, so this isn’t the first time she was in physical danger. But when called out for encouraging this kind of threatening environment, politically, Palin released a statement where she called allegations against her a “Blood libel.” A term which has a long history and a specific meaning.

I’m sure there’s more than this but we’ll have to do more catching up later as there are some tasks I must now attend to.

2010 a retrospective

01/01/2011 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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So long, 2010! Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, ‘cuz I don’t want ass prints on my new door!

2010 is finally over. It was a difficult year for me filled with many changes and much instability. Ten people that I personally knew died in 2010; I was close with three of them; one of them was only my age (still under 30.) The political climate in the US (where I live) continued to shift towards the right-wing, particularly the extreme right-wing towards the end of the year. The US economy continues to be shit even though I have heard economists proclaim the recession to be officially over. In the last quarter of the year, I went through two major life transitions, much needed and long overdue, which culminated in the largest change I have ever gone through. Since I’m still trying to maintain a level of anonymity, I can’t explicitly state what the big change was. It’s sufficient to say that  I can never return to the old normal I once had, but at this point I wouldn’t want to anyway. Still, my life remains in a state of flux. Phase 3 of my major life change starts today, though phase 3 will be intangible, long and drawn out, and less major… basically consisting of adjusting to all the newness I am surrounded by.

With phase 2 of my life upheaval over, I can now turn my attention back to other areas, such as this blog. Sexual dysfunction is still real, it’s okay to have sexual dysfunction, it’s okay to want and/or need help with your sex life, and it’s okay to be a feminist yet still have sexual dysfunction. We may not see female sexual dysfunction covered in mainstream news for awhile, but that doesn’t mean FSD is going to disappear into the ether. (At least, not for me it sure isn’t; yours, if you have any at all, may resolve, but I still face a long road ahead.)

We got a lot done in 2010 – we here talked about a lot of different topics and explored some different perspectives on FSD. I would like to extend a special thank-you to all guest posters and contributors who participated in this blog over 2010 and 2009. Did you see the following 2010 guest posts and contributions?

Guest Post – On the social construction of sex
Guest Post – 10+ years with vaginismus
Guest post – Heteronormativity and FSD
Guest Post – On dealing with doctors
Guest post – On the FSD hierarchy and why it hurts all of us
Guest post: GUILT, FAILURE AND A PRE-ORGASMIC FEMINIST
Guest Post: Interview with Elizabeth on Asexuality
Feedback reconciling BDSM and painful sex
Feedback understanding the difference between BDSM and painful sex
BADD 2k10 – sexual dysfunction as disability
Female sexual dysfunction discussion Bingo!
Guest blogging: Reaching out to the asexual community (I did some guest posting too.)

Some other posts I wrote and am particularly proud of in 2010 on Feminists with FSD in 2010, as arbitrarily chosen by me (Not in any particular order):
Statistics and FSD – Part 1 of 2 – In which we examine that famous study that said something like 43% of all women in the US have some form of FSD.
Statistics and FSD – Part 2 of 2 – Don’t miss part 2! I think of it as a follow up to that 43% study. For some reason this follow up never generated the same number of views as the original, which bums me out.
Picture post – Antique prophylactics [NSFW] - People really liked this funny picture post! Someone even offered to buy the antiques off of me but they’re not truly mine to sell.
A 5-part series in which I read all of Sex is not a Natural Act and Other Essays by Leonore Tiefer, which came highly recommended and presents a social construction critique of sex and female sexual dysfunction. My opinion remains unchanged: The book was not enough to convince me to take an exclusively social construction perspective; it’s filled with disabilist statements (It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!) and it creates unique problems of its own which merit further examination.
Edit 1/7/11 – Oh what the heck, throw this one up there too: Book review: A New View of Women’s Sexual Problems – because if anybody suggests that I read this in 2011, I beat you to it. We did that already. Same conclusion as the above book review.
Symbolism, archetypes and stereotypes: What experts have said about vaginismus – You want to talk about the symbolism behind sex fine let’s go and do exactly that.
Book review – The Camera My Mother Gave Me – I thought it was a good review.

Television programs that addressed vulvovaginal pain conditions in 2010:
Dr. Oz – Vulvodynia
Dr. Oz – Vaginismus
Strange Sex on TLC – Vulvodynia – I can’t find a video of the segment so here is a transcript instead!
Chelsea Handler responds to Dr. Oz winning a television award (Warning: you’re probably not going to like this one. Proceed with caution… But on the bright side, there’s 3 serious videos on that same page, right after the Chelsea Handler one, which are more comprehensive and informative about vulvodynia. You might like those.)
Action News – Vulvodynia
MTV – True Life: I Can’t Have Sex - Vaginismus, vulvar vestibulitis, pelvic floor dysfunction; did not explore overlapping conditions.

Wow. I’m impressed with the quantity of media coverage (though not always impressed with the quality,) and that’s just what I know of. I can’t decide which one I like best, the Dr. Oz coverage or the MTV coverage. The weird part of the Dr. Oz video for vulvodynia was using a traffic light analogy. I would have gone with one of those plush vulva puppets instead.
Drop links if’n you saw more about pelvic & vulvovaginal pain conditions in 2010!
Strange Sex also covered restless genital syndrome, aka RGS aka PSAS (persistent sexual arousal syndrome) or PGAD (persistent genital arousal disorder.) The video was here in 2010 but I’m not sure if it’s still up. And you still have to register to get that far.

Biggest FSD controversey topic of 2010: Flibanserin and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD.)
In 2010, pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim moved forward with plans to gain FDA approval on flibanserin, a drug that started out as an antidepressant but that, in drug trials, showed a small but significant change not on mood but on women’s sexual satisfaction. As the FDA hearing date approached, media and blog coverage of this topic increased. However what the great flibanserin debacle of 2010 reveals the most about FSD, isn’t the drug or its development or the long arm of big pharma. There’s that, yes, and I have no doubt that much of the media coverage we saw was yet another form of marketing. What was revealed but went unexamined in most mainstream media coverage can be found in the comments about HSDD, FSD and flibanserin. In comments and sometimes in the articles themselves, negative, patronizing attitudes towards women with FSD are made clear. I mean, look at these piles of bullshit people say and think (Trigger warnings):
The ugly things people say about FSD Part 2: Electric Boogaloo
The ugly things people say about FSD Part 3: The Redeadening
Good grief. And it just went on like that in some fashion on other blogs and news outlets, resulting in the FSD Bingo Board (linked to above.) But misogyny and disabilism isn’t limited to HSDD. Trigger warning re: [Trigger warning] all the troll comments that Chloe’s article in response to MTV’s True Life: I Can’t Have Sex received on Salon.com. There is something going on with, I think all forms of FSD, where it isn’t acknowledged as a valid experience and diagnosis. When it comes to FSD, it doesn’t matter what kind of FSD we’re talking about; everyone is an expert except for the women who live with it.

Speaking of trolls, heads up: as of the end of 2010, there is still some guy going around targeting V-blogs, YouTube Videos, articles about dyspareunia, etc., and spamming them up with troll comments – Usually the same exact troll spam copied word-for-word, or slightly modified. If you’re maintaining a V-blog and get a weird, deliberately ignorant comment about vaginismus from an IP address that traces back to the Philippines, then that’s the guy. See, this is the crap you have to deal with when you write frankly about life with FSD! Here are some short entries with links to other entries about dealing with trolls, from a feminist perspective: GeekFeminism and FF101.

Reminder: things Feminists with FSD is not:

  • A medical advice blog: It’s possible that some commenters and/or guest posters have medical qualificatons, but I don’t. Do not ask me for medical advice because I probably don’t have any new information for you and god forbid I give you the wrong information, and just make things worse.
  • An agony aunt blog: I am not here to give you dating, relationship or general life advice for the same reasons listed above.
  • A news blog: I make an attempt to keep abreast of FSD news but I have a life outside of blogging and I’m not a journalist.
  • Making any money. I haven’t figured out a way to fairly monetize the blog. Full disclosure: to this day I have earned exactly $0 from blogging about the intersections of feminism and sexual dysfunction.
  • The final authority on FSD – I’m a feminist blogger who has sexual dysfunction. I have my own opinions which may not match your own. Although I certainly hope that as someone who actually lives with the topic of interest, you would give some extra consideration to what it is I say. I’ve been through quite a bit already. I hope you would also question anybody who claims to be the final boss of FSD.

Is Feminists with FSD a sex blog? I don’t know; I’ve said elsewhere that I consider myself to be more of a lack-of-sex blogger. We talk about sex and sexuality! I’m even open to reviewing sex toys in the future. But it doesn’t come easily and my experiences are fairly limited (though many sex bloggers likewise strive and struggle to put out good quality posts, so it’s not like sex blogging is easy, either.) And then there’s times where sexual problems aren’t elusively sexual problems. Problems bleed out and overlap. They stain. If this is a sex blog at all, then certainly it’s a different kind of sex blog.

And so, as 2011 begins, I see that there is still much work left to do. We’re not done here. I have not yet begun to fight so it’s a good thing I’m still not burned out.

I’ll be catching up with my RSS feeder and working on new posts over the next couple of days. Won’t you join me on this journey? I cannot do it alone.

Notes on MTV’s True Life: I Can’t Have Sex

12/07/2010 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Last night, December 6, 2010, at 10pm EST, MTV aired the season premiere of the television show, True Life. The episode was titled, “I Can’t Have Sex.” To produce this program, the show crew followed three women around over the course of several months and presented the impact of chronic pelvic pain conditions on their sex lives.

I watched the episode on television and I took notes. There’s a lot of things going on with and around this episode!

First, in case you missed it, MTV.com has the full episode available for viewing, now! This is what you’re looking for! I do not know if it will remain online indefinitely or if it will be removed in the future, but if you missed the episode here is a chance to catch up to it. It’s 42 minutes long. No subtitles available on the online version. Here is a brief summary with a link to the video. MTV has posted this follow up feature: True Life Check-ins. The follow-up article contains links to helpful resources.

Full disclosure: I sort of “Know” two of the women who were featured in this episode, because Tamra and Tali both maintain blogs. I do not know if Tess maintains a blog. Tamra’s blog is Living with Vulvar Vestibulitis. Tali’s blog is The Rambling’s of an IC Patient. I have not met anyone in person (that I know of) who was involved in filming this episode. But still, I feel a little weird posting about the episode at all, since I can apply a name, a face and a blog archive to two of the women who were on TV. It’s also weird because I have some of the conditions which were examined on the show.

Here is some of my notes taken during this episode, fleshed out a bit:

This is the first episode of MTV True Life that I have ever seen, so I went in not knowing what to expect. I rarely watch MTV and I tried to ignore the commercials that aired between segments. I was anxious about how the show would be edited and whether there would be any commentary provided by a third party. I’m still anxious about how the episode was received by a general audience. The sound to my TV was cutting out for a second at a time here & there so I was having a hard time hearing at some points.

The episode features three 20-something year old white women over the course of several months – Tess (self-diagnosed with vaginismus,) Tali (the episode focused on pelvic floor dysfunction but she has overlapping conditions which were not all given screen time,) and Tamra (diagnosed with vulvar vestibulitis and, later, orthopedic issues.) Chronic pelvic pain is an invisible condition. You would probably never guess from a first impression that these three women were dealing with chronic health problems unless they chose to disclose such information to you. Tamra, Tess and Tali are currently in, have previously been involved in, or are interested in heterosexual relationships. They are all unmarried and do not have children. We saw Tess and Tali’s boyfriends (at the time of filming) on this episode and MTV followed Tamra around on a date and to a social event. All three live in the USA. Except for the introduction to the episode, there was no narrator. That means that everything you heard, was spoken by the women or those close to them. Of course I’m sure MTV did some creative cutting and editing of the material collected. Filming wrapped up awhile ago, so there have been updates and changes in the womens’s lives in the interim between filming and the airdate.

Actual, proper terminology was used throughout the show. Chronic pelvic pain conditions were named, but some conditions that overlap were not mentioned at all (interstitial cystitis, for example, was not explored in this episode. This is a shame – interstitial cystitis is another misunderstood condition which would benefit from careful media coverage.) This episode focused on the impact of chronic pelvic pain on the women’s sex lives. And that means that while you could learn a little about life with chronic pelvic pain from this episode, for a clinical discussion and details on specific conditions and available treatments, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

We see some of the treatments that Tess, Tali and Tamra tried. A dilator kit on television, a TENS unit, a visit to a sex toy shop (Babeland) to pick out a comfortable lubricant. Psychological therapy, and pelvic floor and intra-vaginal physical therapy. (Several scenes where Tali received physical therapy with Isa Herrera looked familiar to me and Herrera talked about muscle tightness which was and remains a problem for me. It was just weird seeing someone else in the same position I had to spend so much time in.) Injections of anesthetic to the pelvic area and oral painkillers. Ice packs as needed. But I didn’t see anything about diet modification or alternative therapies like acupuncture.

Although sex and sexuality were the focus of this episode, MTV did show how chronic pain and anxiety can bleed out into other, non-sexual areas of life. Sometimes, like in Tamra’s case, pelvic and vulvovaginal pain is not limited to sexual activity. This was downplayed compared to the sexual aspects of pelvic pain, however. Because this is a blog about sexual dysfunction, I was okay with the sexual aspects of life with chronic pain for the episode – especially since I’ve been on this kick lately where I want to hear women talk about their own experiences with sexual problems. But keep in mind that if you do have chronic pelvic pain, there may be a lot of issues going on at the same time besides sexual problems. Or it may all be connected.

For example, there was one point in the episode where Tamra was speaking with a therapist. It was an emotional scene. But I thought that the therapist was misinterpreting Tamra’s concerns. Maybe it was just the way the editing was put together but during this scene, I thought that Tamra’s concerns included sex, yes… but they also went beyond relationships and sexual pleasure. However that that is what the therapist seemed more interested in. In this scene, I thought the therapist’s priorities did not match Tamra’s.

Tess was in a 5-month relationship with her boyfriend at the time filming began. She had not been able to have intercourse with him and was upfront with him. She picked out a dilator kit that came with an educational booklet and talked to a therapist to help address her anxiety.

Tali experienced the onset of her symptoms at age 17 and has seen 24 doctors. She was in a relationship with a young black man, Boom, at the time of filming (they have since broken up.) Remember, Tali’s blog is titled, “The Rambling’s of an IC patient” – yet this episode did not talk about IC at all.

Tamra was a student and the episode featured her giving a speech about vulvar vestibulitis in front of a whole bunch of people, as part of a women’s & gender studies class. Hmmm. Tamra had been in a sexually active relationship before developing what would be diagnosed as vulvar vestibulitis (her condition has since been re-examined.) She talked openly about how pain was making it hard for her to date and enter relationships – and pain made hard to enjoy other activities, like dance.

Viewers saw some of the relationship tension that Tali and Tess had, at least as far as their sexual problems went. If there were other problems in their relationships beyond sexual problems and anxiety, that was downplayed for this episode. Tess mentioned to her therapist though, that a previous boyfriend had said abusive comments to her. I thought it was interesting how Tess and her therapist involved Tess’s partner, Antonio, in her treatment for anxiety. Tali’s physical therapist also demonstrated some therapeutic techniques to Boom. (I wish I had had this opportunity to do the same with my partner; however we were in a LDR at the time of my physical therapy.)

Tess and Tali showe improvement with their favored treatments. For Tess and Tali the episode ended on an optimistic note. By the end of the episode, the two couples, Tess and her boyfriend, and Tali and Boom, were having sexual intercourse following the therapies they chose. But for Tamra, she was still dealing with a lot of pain in the end, and with a new diagnosis and the possibility of surgery. She had a labral hip tear and this may account for a lot of her pain. (She has been writing about this on her blog for some time now.)

Overall, I liked the episode. I thought it was good and I am shocked with the amount of time that these topics received. A whole hour-long television show, which works out to over 40 minutes?! Here I was scrabbling around for 2 to 7 minute clips! But there’s always room for improvement. This episode could have given much more airtime to Tali’s related conditions. Any airtime, really, for IC and lichens sclerosus. Just name them, even. In the future, a television program or other media outlet could do a whole episode or article about life with chronic pelvic pain and focus on areas besides sexual activity, because there is so much to life with pelvic pain. But there is that sexual aspect too… Was sexual pain sensationalized in this episode? Hmm… No, I don’t think so, I thought it was pretty frank. It was focused on sex, yes, but realistic to me. The editors certainly took the show in a certain direction. But it definitely wasn’t sensationalized like a recent segment on vulvodynia that aired on a local news channel. And pelvic and vulvovaginal pain was not treated like a huge joke (although Tess and her friends did laugh nervously when discussing vaginsimus.) There was no narrator for this episode and it did not feature an interview with say, a gynecologist, so no one was able to go into great detail about what causes pelvic pain and what treatments there are.
Future programs like this could also take steps to be less hetero-centric, and could actively reach out to more nonwhite women. (For example, years ago producers of the television show Oprah reached out to women of color for an episode about pelvic pain – an episode which has never aired.) And I’m surprised that the episode didn’t list some resources or URLs to information about chronic pelvic pain during the follow up with each of the interviewees. Resources such as the National Vulvodynia Association, The Interstitial Cystitis Association, and The Interstitial Cystitis Network.

So so far, in 2010, there have been a few depictions of vulvovaginal, sexual and pelvic pain, and each of these depictions have been different. There have been strengths and weaknesses with almost all of them. And I’d like to see more topics like this covered going into 2011 and beyond.

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