Guest Post – On dealing with doctors

07/26/2010 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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Dear internet, we have a guest poster today! The following was written by Simone, who blogs over at Notes for a Feminist Rebellion.

Hello everyone!

I’m a twenty-something aspiring mathematician, who roams the internet under the name of Simone Lovelace. I am Jewish, bicurious, and whiter than the day is long. I’m in a long-distance relationship with a wonderful man, and I have female sexual dysfunction.

I’ve had dyspareunia (pain with vaginal penetration) since I first became sexually active. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of do-it-yourself treatments. I’ve gone through gallons of lube, tried increasingly bizarre positions, and switched to all-cotton panties. Nothing worked. Finally, this spring, I decided to see a doctor.

Since then, I’ve visited several medical professional in two U.S. states. I still don’t have a diagnosis, and the treatments I’ve tried have been useless. Right now, I’m not too concerned about this. Dealing with FSD is a process. If it takes me a while to find the right treatment, then c’est la vie.

One of the things that has surprised me most in my FSD journey is the range of attitudes I’ve experienced from my doctors. These have run the gamut from compassionate and respectful to judgmental and mildly sadistic.

Finding a supportive doctor can be a crucial step in managing FSD. On the one hand, dealing with a judgmental doctor can be incredibly painful. On the other, a compassionate doctor can be invaluable—particularly for someone with a condition as complex and personal as FSD.

Doctor Evil

When I first sought help for my FSD, I was finishing college in southern California, and the on-campus clinic was my only real option. I called up Student Health Services, and got an appointment with a woman I’ll call Dr. H.. Unfortunately, as it turned out, working with Dr. H. was more traumatic than helpful.

Dr. H. was judgmental about my sexual choices, and inconsiderate of my feelings. During my first appointment, I told her about my symptoms, and gave her an outline of my sexual history. Since I was menstruating, Dr. H. couldn’t give me a physical exam that day, but that didn’t stop her from speculating about possible diagnoses. There are a number of conditions that cause dyspareunia, most of which are quite treatable. Some are sexually transmitted diseases, but many are not. Dr. H., however, mentioned only two possibilities.

“Well,” she said, “That could be herpes, or HPV. I’ll have to run some tests.”

I was shaken. It was as though I’d come in with a headache, and been told, “Well, it could be cancer.” An untreatable STD was my personal worst case scenario. I wasn’t worried for myself, so much as terrified that I might have given my boyfriend an incurable infection. We’d always played it safe, but my protection had failed me before. Despite using condoms with every partner, I had gotten a case of chlamydia in the past year.

It’s possible that Dr. H. was simply ignorant of the many conditions that cause dyspareunia, all except HPV and herpes. However, it seems implausible that a doctor would be unaware, for example, that insufficient lubrication causes sexual pain. To me, it’s far more likely that her bizarre behavior was the result of bias.

In retrospect, I’m pretty sure Dr. H. disapproved of my sexual choices. Most likely, she saw me as irresponsible and promiscuous—a “slut.” In American culture, we have an unfortunate tendency to view STD’s as punishment for deviant sexual behavior. Perhaps it was Dr. H.’s whorephobia that lead her to focus on the possibility of that I might have an STD, and ignore other options. And perhaps it was the same prejudice that prompted her to be so cavalier about what, for me, could have been a devastating diagnosis of herpes or HPV.

When I was about to leave, Dr. H. asked me about my positive chlamydia test. I told her that I wasn’t sure how it had happened, but that I’d taken antibiotics, which had cured the infection. Dr. H. responded with a few words of wisdom.

“Given your history,” she said, “the most important thing is that you minimize your number of sexual partners, and practice safe sex.”

Now, safe sex is a good thing. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to advise someone whose STD status is uncertain to be abstinent. But judging from Dr. H.’s phrasing, she seemed to think I was barebacking with a new man every night. I had already told her that I was in a monogamous relationship, and that I always used protection. Being accused of promiscuity didn’t phase me; what bothered me was being accused of infidelity, and called a liar to boot.

As her comments indicate, Dr. H. used my “history” as an excuse for making wild assumptions about my lifestyle and my physical health. This sort behavior is both immoral and dangerous. A doctor who is busy passing judgement on her patients’ personal lives is in no position to provide quality medical care.

In addition to being judgmental, Dr. H. was indifferent to my pain. She never showed sympathy, even when I was in obvious distress. During our second appointment, she gave me a pelvic exam. Naturally, I found this very painful, and I whimpered a little. At this, Dr. H. asked if the pain was similar to what I felt during sex. When I told her it was, her response was simply “Oh.”

After the exam, Dr. H. told me that everything was normal, and I was free to go. When I asked if there was anything more she could do, Dr. H. responded that painful intercourse was just an issue “some girls have.” She then suggested that my problem could be psychological, and that I might need anti-anxiety medication.

Dr. H.’s claim that dyspareunia was simply a problem “some girls have” was both ignorant and hurtful. It was irresponsible to suggest that I give up hope, just because the exam had turned up nothing. At the very least, she could have told me there was nothing she could do, and referred me to a local gynecologist.

When she dismissed dyspareunia as something “some girls have,” Dr. H. was implicitly refusing to treat the pain itself. There are numerous techniques for managing vulvar pain, from acupuncture to topical anesthetics. But Dr. H. wasn’t interested in treating my symptoms. Vaginal pain, in and of itself, didn’t strike her a something that warranted her attention.

Finally, Dr. H.’s comment about my pain being psychological was absurd. While FSD may have a psychological component, it is rarely a purely psychological problem. Dr. H. had no reason to assume that my pain was of psychological origin, or to recommend psychotropic drugs.

That appointment was the last I saw of Dr. H.. My STD tests, incidentally, came back negative.

I’d like to say that my experience with Dr. H. was a fluke, but I’ve heard similar stories from other women with FSD. It seems that many of us face the sort of problems I encountered with Dr. H.. American culture has highly repressive views about women’s sexuality, so perhaps it’s not surprising that women with FSD have a hard time obtaining medical care. Many doctors are simply uninformed about FSD; others are actively dismissive of women’s sexual issues. Too often, women with FSD must contend with doctors who judge us for our sexual choices; dismiss our problems as unimportant; or tell us that it’s all in our heads.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

After graduation, I went home to Boston for the summer. There, I paid a visit to my usual healthcare provider, a physician assistant whom I’ll call Carol. In terms of treating my FSD, Carol was not very helpful. For starters, she didn’t give me a diagnosis. By this point, I had done a fair amount of research, and become convinced that I had vulvodynia, a vulvar pain disorder of unknown cause. In particular, my symptoms correspond to a subtype of vulvodynia called vestibulitis. While Carol did mention vulvodynia as a possibility, she made it clear that she knew little about the condition.

Although she wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong, Carol did prescribe some treatments. She gave me a set of vaginal dilators, which I’ve been using daily for the past few weeks, and an anesthetic cream to make dilation less painful. So far, these have proven essentially worthless. The cream burned badly on contact, and any subsequent numbing effect wore off too quickly to be useful. I soon decided I was better off dilating with it. Moreover, I’m skeptical of the dilation treatment itself. I don’t have muscle spasm or vaginal tightness, so why would I need to dilate?

I’m not too bothered by Carol’s inability to instantaneously cure my FSD. Carol is a P.A., not a specialist in vulvar pain disorders, and I didn’t expect her to give me a miracle cure. What I want to stress about Carol is that she was incredibly kind and respectful. During my visit, she was actively supportive in several key ways.

She was careful not to jump to conclusions. Carol took a detailed history, asked numerous questions, and gave me a physical exam. Only then did she begin suggesting possible diagnoses and presenting treatment options. This sort of diligence can be invaluable in any non-emergency medical situation. It’s particularly crucial in treating a complex, multi-factorial condition like FSD.

She took what I said seriously. Carol was never dismissive of my concerns, and she did not treat me with suspicion. Our conversation felt like an exchange, not like an interrogation.

Carol trusted me, even when I said things that didn’t fit the stereotypes about women with FSD. When she asked if I had any negative attitudes toward sex, I responded that I didn’t think that was an issue. I was comfortable with my sexuality, had no moral qualms about intercourse, and enjoyed non-penetrative sex. Carol took my answer at face value and moved on. I cannot overstate how much I appreciated that simple act of respect.

She was open and non-judgmental about sex. Strangely enough, there are still doctors who still blush at the word “vagina.” Carol, on other hand, seemed perfectly comfortable discussing my sexual anatomy.

In addition, Carol avoided expressing any judgement–positive or negative–about my sexual behavior. She showed no disapproval when I recounted my sexual history, and she did not praise me for using condoms. Her focus was always on easing my pain, not on policing my behavior.

Discussing ones sex life with a medical professional can feel embarrassing or demeaning. Due to Carol’s respectful attitude, I was comfortable engaging her in a frank, detailed discussion of my FSD.

She acknowledged that my FSD was a real issue. To Dr. H., my pain only mattered if it pointed to an underlying disease. Carol, however, understood that my pain was a problem in and of itself. She was warmly sympathetic when I told her my story, and proactive about trying to find me a good treatment. I’m not too optimistic about the treatments Carol prescribed for me. Nonetheless, her willingness to recommend treatment options sent a powerful message that she cared about my pain, and was invested in helping me heal.

In a perfect world, all medical professionals would be as genuine, thoughtful, and compassionate as Carol was to me. Sadly, many fail to do so. Sometimes, women with FSD may need to accept disrespectful behavior from doctors, just to get the medical care we need. But I think it’s important to hold our doctors to a high standard whenever possible. It’s important to remember that when we seek medical care, we deserve kindness and respect.

With that, I’d like to open up the discussion to you. Have you seen a doctor for your FSD? Was it a positive experience? Why or why not? What words of advice, encouragement, or warning would you give to women seeking treatment for FSD?

Interesting posts, weekend of 7/25/10

07/25/2010 at 2:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Dear internet, oh my god can you believe that it’s almost August already? Where did my summer go? It’s been so hot out, mostly I’ve been staying indoors where it’s air conditioned and cool. Seen a few movies, went for a swim last week, played some puzzle video games, so that’s good summertime fun. I’m missing Comic-Con though :/ I need to stay up-to-date with these conventions, somehow I always miss out on all the fun.

The boyfriend has suggested that I add more pictures to the blog. What do you think? It might break up the massive walls of text my posts usually turn into. But I don’t know what fun and interesting pictures I could add… So I went to the grocery store and bought some goodies with silly/innuendo sounding names, because such things amuse me. The packaging might make for some interesting photos when I’m ready to break out the digital camera again.

Friendly reminder: I am looking for Guest Posters. We will be featuring a guest post this week.
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.

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

Patterns / Questions of My Own – People asking questions about a relationship in which low libido & VVS are an issue, but what questions are not being asked? Whose pleasure is centered in these questions?

Fibromyalgia Is Not Caused By Men – (Via FWD) Something I thought some of the readers here may be able to relate to, especially if you live with fibromyalgia. How very interesting that some experts push the notion that fibromyalgia is caused by the stress of dealing with men. Where have I heard that argument before… that sounds strangely familiar to me… HMMMM. Indeed.

Call for Submissions: Women’s Descriptions of Their Orgasms – This could make for an intriguing set of essays. The rules don’t say what kind of orgasm it has to be.
Here’s another call for submissions, this one from Tasha Fierce – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – Occupied Bodies: Women of Color Speak on Self-Image – Deadline October 15, 2010

Ain’t No Shame – Media including Perez Hilton are jumping allover teenage actress Taylor Momsen for openly talking about masturbation. Whereas when American Pie came out all those years ago no one batted an eye at the prospect of young men masturbating.

Cosmocking: August ’10! – Wtf is a “Trouser snout?”

On Sex & Compromise – Interesting, yes, but useful, No. I have not come to terms with the enthusiastic consent model of sex or with scheduling sex as a compromise in a relationship. How the hell do you do enthuiastic consent when in pain? Does not meeting the enthusiastic consent model preclude sex in that case?
I found this post, Eugene Volokh on “One True Inherent Purpose” to be more useful, though it’s not directly related to enthusiastic consent, it’s just neat. It talks about the supposed biological function of how your’re expected to do sex.

Some good news for HIV prevention – “Some” being the operative word; it will not be as effective as condoms are, but an antiviral gel does offer some protection from HIV infection. I’m curious to know what all the ingredients (besides the antiretroviral substance) are in the gel because I’m the kind of person who worries about irritation AND HIV prevention at the same time. The gel also provides some protection against genital herpes.
Another one from femonomics –  Congress Introduces Legislation to Protect Public Health – if passed, the government would have more authority to regulate what goes into cosmetic products. Makeup isn’t necessarily safe even if it’s on the shelf.

Dead Firefighter’s Family Sues His Widow Because She is Trans – [Trigger warning] A trans woman, Nikki Araguz, lost her firefighter husband while he was working. The couple lived in the state of Texas, and her late husband’s family has been fighting her claims to benefits. In Texas, there is legal precedent to deny Nikki life insurance benefits on the basis of her trans status; additionally courts have frozen her assets. The conflict does not end there, however, as Nikki’s past and relationship have been called into question and scandalously publicized, which puts her at increased danger for violence.
Another one from The Curvature – Age Old Victim-Blaming Myths Win Court Case for Girls Gone Wild – [Trigger warning] A young woman was present at a bar where Girls Gone Wild was being filmed. She was sexually assaulted and this was caught (and used) on tape. On the basis that she was there and she had danced, the court found in favor of GGW.

My Story – via the F-Word blog – a domestic worker recounts the abuse and restrictions she labored under while employed in Singapore.
Taking on a mainstream 9-to-5 job after sex work isn’t always risk free either. Straight work has risks, too, and problems and violations encountered on the job aren’t always well addressed. Prohibitionists’ comparing sex work and straight work: they are dead wrong. [Trigger warning]

In US politics and social justice, one of the big stories going around is the resignation of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod. Sherrod was put under pressure when a heavily edited video of her giving a speech at a NAACP function was released. The speech seemed to include her talking about how she refused to help a white farmer out, which was her job at the time. (Sherrod is black.) Out of context, the speech segments looked bad but it turns out in context she was talking about racism and poverty, and she’s maintained friendship with the farmer’s family since then. The US government didn’t find out about the editing by Andrew Breitbart until after she’s already left her job and now the government is looking to pick up the pieces. Here’s some links related to that story. I’m shocked… from Shakesville, Gawker: Shirley Sherrod should not have been forced to resign, White House “embarasses itself” from femonomics, and another Shakesville post, President Obama calls Shirley Sherrod

Another bit of US news going around the feminist blogosphere takes us to San Diego’s Comic Con 2k10, where would-be real life troll Fred Phelps and co. were planing on picketing the event… and got chased out of town by counter-protester superhero cosplayers. Pictures and video here – Super Heroes vs. the Westboro Baptist Church – Some of the pictures may be triggering due to language. I like the Bender sign/costume :3 Man I wish I’d been able to go to Comic Con, I never get to do anything fun!

Notes from a bitch…on unemployment and motivation… – About Congress foot-dragging extending unemployment benefits while the US is still mid-recession. We’re not out of the woods yet, people. I saw a chart with unemployment statistics and some states are still in the double-digits. I remember seeing Michigan was particularity hard hit.

Two More Accusations Against Gore Surface – [Trigger warning] Tabloid magazine the Enquirer claims to have information about more sexual assault accusations against Al Gore. Being a tabloid magazine, the story is being met with considerable doubt.

Victory for Constance McMillen! – Itawamba School District, which cancelled their prom and then set a fake one to send open lesbian Constance McMillen and some disabled students to, has agreed “To have a judgment entered against them.”

Sexual Harassment of Fundraisers by Donors is Very Difficult to Report, Deal With – [Trigger warning] An experience some employees for organizations go through with big donors, not willingly and with little recourse.

I’m sure there’s more…

Symbolism, archetypes and stereotypes: What experts have said about vaginismus

07/21/2010 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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While browsing for interesting (and often outrageous) coverage of sexual dysfunction via Google Books, I’ve occasionally stumbled across experts (doctors, sexologists, laypersons, etc.) interpretations of vaginismus and the women who live with it. I’d like to present some of my findings to you now. Full disclosure: I haven’t been able to finish every book I’d like you to look at today.  But on the other hand, I’m not doing a full book review today either and I am not certain what context, if any, could redeem the following passages.

One of the points Dr. Leonore Tiefer made in Sex is Not a Natural Act (yes we’re returning to this title again) is that we need to look at sex symbolically. Sex has meaning beyond the obvious that we can see and feel, and to understand sex and sexual problems, we need to figure out the meaning behind it. Consider some of the following quotes with emphasis added by me (thanks to Kindle’s word search feature:)

“It’s the symbolic investment that makes sex ecstatic” (location 1215).
“The first [story about doing the ‘Viagra tango,’ as she puts it] is about how Viagra the pill, but more importantly, Viagra the symbol, may affect the sexual conduct and experience of women and men in many parts of the world” (location 1315).
“[Orgasm is] just a reflex. It’s the symbolism that makes it feel so good” (location 1195; available online.)

And it goes on like that at a few more points throughout the book. We need to look at the symbolism of sex, phalluses, the Viagra family of sexual medicine, etc. We need to pull the curtain back and understand the why behind a woman’s libido crash. Some contemporary examples of where understanding sex and symbolism would be helpful are with the very expression “Sex symbol” and with sexual imagery used in advertisements.

There’s just one potential problem: Some so-called experts on women’s sexuality have already done that – looked at sex, women, women’s sexuality and sexual problems symbolically – and the results haven’t been pretty. Sometimes the ugly things people say about FSD and the women who have it doesn’t come from hack journalists and misogynist comments on message boards. Sometimes – often times – it comes from the professional sphere and trickles down.

Let’s focus on vaginismus as an example. Vaginismus, if you didn’t already know, can be described as an uncontrollable spasm of the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles, usually during sexual activity. It’s most obvious when attempting penetrative activity, like sexual intercourse, but it may also occur with a dildo, tampon use, or during gynecological exams. The spasm may be strong enough to completely prevent an object from entering the vagina, or it may be possible to insert something, but with pain. As such, it can be the cause of dyspareunia (painful sex.) Vaginismus is often recognized as a sexual dysfunction, however, some sexologists question the validity of sexual dysfunction broadly as a diagnosis at all and vaginismus in particular. For some folks like me, vaginismus a chronic problem connected to medical issues, other times it’s situational.  Some folks say it’s purely psychological and can be treated without physical intervention, others say there’s a physical component and that it can be addressed physically.
Vaginismus does not necessarily require any treatment at all, but when folks with vaginismus do seek assistance to address it, that assistance may come in the form of talk therapy with a counselor or sex therapist, dilator use, learning how to kegel, or more extreme medical intervention such as botox injections (not for cosmetic purposes) or physical therapy.

And some sexologists have described vaginismus symbolically.

One of the first, if not the first, books to deal with vaginismus exclusively is 1962’s Virgin Wives: A Study of Unconsummated Marriages, by  Leonard J. Friedman. It’s out of print now, but you may still be able to find a used copy online or through your library. I first came across this title while slogging through Linda Valin’s When a Woman’s Body Says No to Sex: Understanding and Overcoming Vaginismus, a book about vaginismus, from the perspective of someone who has personal experience with it. Valins acknowledged Friedman’s contributions to her own book, but alas Google Books does not offer me the complete text of Virgin Wives or a preview version to pursue at my leisure.

However, because authors like Valins have referenced Friedman’s work, we can get a pretty good feel for what he thought about women with vaginismus. Valins is a big fan of his, so it probably isn’t all bad – but I found the following disturbing.

Last week, I tweeted one of my findings regarding symbolism and vaginismus, from Google’s preview of 1987’s Sexuality and Birth Control in Community Work, by Elphis Christopher. Based on what I can see in Sexuality and Birth Control in Community Work, Friedman described three archetypes of women who tend toward developing vaginismus:

(1) ‘The Sleeping Beauty’: this occurs where the woman denies her own sexuality and waits for the man to awaken her sexually. Unfortunately, she often chooses a ‘safe’ partner, i.e. a man who is uncertain of his own sexuality and may suffer from impotence. He is often praised as a ‘good,’ nice boyfriend because he did not attempt pre-marital intercourse.
(2) ‘Brunhilde’: this refers to the woman who is always looking for a man strong enough to conquer her. She usually chooses as sexual partners men whom she despises.
(3) ‘Queen Bee’: this refers to the woman who manages to get pregnant without allowing penetration so that she can claim the pregnancy for herself.

What… the… fuck…?

I have no reasoned, rational response to this. Do I need to explain the multiple layers of Wrong with this picture to you?

We got here, above all, the assumption of heterosexuality, and according to these personality types, if you have vaginismus you are likely to be:

1. a woman who refuses to own her own sexuality and instead waits for some guy to come along and give it to her. But for some reason the author decides that a man with basic human decency who did not coerce his partner into sex simply must be sexually insecure and possibly “Impotent” (as if there’s anything wrong with having erectile dysfunction.)
2. I don’t know wtf this is – Some kind of Viking archetype I think where a woman who doesn’t settle down with any ol’ jerk and who doesn’t take shit is asking too much. Or else if she’s got vaginismus, it means she must hate her partner.
3. I don’t know wtf this is either. I think term is dated because I had to look it up. I think this archetype is supposed to conjure up images of a bossy lady who, frustrated with vaginismus, gets pregnant the “Wrong” way – minus the ejaculation of a penis inside of her.

So, what the fuck, which one of these archtypes am I then? Anybody here identify with one of these three archetypes? Does anybody here appreciate being described like this? Does anybody here in a relationship appreciate having your partner described like this?

“Now wait, K,” you may be saying. “That paragraph starts out talking about non-consummation generally, and then the next paragraph is about vaginismus.” Fair enough, so let’s make an effort to double-check and make sure that we’re talking about the same thing. Here’s a website that mentions the three archetypes of women who are prone to vaginismus, and it says:

Friedman (1962) describes three types of women inclined to vaginismus:
* the sleeping beauty (father-type relationship with partner and various feelings of guilt)
* the Brunhilde (the woman perceives sex as a battle between the sexes, and the male dominance has to be opposed)
* the queen bee (the woman perceives sex as dirty and sinful, she is afraid of pain in coitus and, in principle, she wants to get pregnant)

Again, what… the… fuck…?

Still don’t believe your eyes? I’ve got one more piece of evidence I can present, from the Science/Fiction of Sex: Feminist deconstruction and the vocabularies of heterosex. I’ve been picking it up and putting it down every once in awhile, browsing random passages – because every passage is so cerebral. This book is hard. Alas, unless you’ve got a copy of the book you won’t be able to read page 210 so let me fill you in. This is, as the title says, a feminist deconstruction of sex, so the author does not necessarily endorse what I’m about to show you.

Annie Potts references the work of Eve Adler, who submitted an article to the British Journal of Sexual Medicine in 1989. I have tried to access the journal article myself but have not yet been successful through my usual means. Adler described several archetypes of women with vaginismus, including one of particular interest to Potts:

Less commonly seen today is the primary vaginismic patient, Sleeping Beauty; an emotionally immature woman awaiting a sexual awakening without taking responsibility for it. These ‘good girls’ have often been brought up to believe that sex is bad or dirty; she had to save herself for marriage! This type can appear quite ‘little-girl-like,’ pristine, clean an tidy and very controlled generally; or she may look quite sexy, enjoy sex play and experience orgasm with clitoral stimulation. Her partner is often ‘a gentleman’ in every sense: an unassertive, gentle, literally non-pushy man who may well have hidden anxieties about his own sexual abilities (Adler 1989 in Potts 2002)

What… the… fuck… What is the meaning of this bullshit?!

“Emotionally immature?” “Little-girl-like?” “Unassertive?” This is in print, people! This is how women with vaginismus and their partners have been described. In books and journal articles. What about descriptions like “Creative and resourceful?” Or “Resilient?” How about some of that?

Don’t be too angry with Annie Potts for re-printing that passage above though; she analyzes it, though you may not agree with her analysis either…  It gets far out there when she starts talking about vaginismus as a form of political resistance against a phallocracy, and hey did you ever notice how phallic your fingers and a newborn baby are.

Let’s go a little deeper and focus on Sleeping Beauty since she keeps popping up re: vaginismus. The myth of Sleeping Beauty has been reinterpreted by various authors. According to one interpretation by Joan Gould, when Sleeping Beauty pricked her hand and fell into an enchanted sleep, the spindle that cut her represented a phallus and sexual maturity; the blood that came out of the injury represents menstruation. Sleeping Beauty was protected from spindles (sex and puberty) by her royal family up her 15th birthday – the age by which many girls reach menarche. The sudden appearance of sex and adulthood upon her (and Snow White, too, for that matter) was too much to bear all at once. The sleep she fell into was not necessarily a passive time; she spent the century mulling over impending adulthood and all the responsibilities that came with it. At a predetermined time, a prince came to wake her up and she was transformed into a woman ready to act as an adult. Usually we think of the awakening as romantic, stemming from a kiss but some versions have her shocked out of her sleep by rape or nursing her babies – conceived in sleep during rape, the perpetrator long gone (Gould, 86-126). Gould’s explanation of the myth of Sleeping Beauty, coincidentally, also addresses the myth of Brunhilde. However we cannot ignore the well-known 1959 Walt Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, in which Aurora was at last rescued from an evil witch’s spell by an active, handsome prince – who she was scheduled to be married to anyway. We need to think about that version too, especially since Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was released by the time Virgin Wives was printed.

Edit 7/22/10 – The boyfriend suggested I add more pictures to the blog. Here’s a picture of Disney’s Princess Aurora, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

Disney Aurora

Disney Princess Aurora

[Image description: A picture of Disney’s Princess Aurora wearing an iconographic pink dress.]

Is this the true face of Vaginismus? What the hell does she have to do with vaginismus? You think of vaginismus, what’s the first thing you think of, Disney, right? No. (Via.)

But wait, there’s more! Last week, when I Tweeted a link to my findings about archetypes of women with vaginismus, @NevillePark responded back with a very good question:

Wow. Uh, dykes, genderqueers, masculine folk, trans guys, etc., can’t have vaginismus? NEWS TO ME #youreadthisstuffsowedonthaveto

Indeed, good point! Because Friedman was looking at unconsummated marriages back in the 1960s, the most likely scenario is that he wasn’t interested in anyone who wasn’t cis- and heterosexual. After all, marriage was then (and remains to this day in the US on a federal level) defined as a legal union between man and woman. I would love to get my hands on a copy of Virgin Wives just to confirm that he had no interest in queer sexuality and vaginismus.

Alas, I cannot offer a complete answer to the question @NevillePark raises. However, we can turn to another body of work for partial credit.

Last week on Google Books I found Sexual Salvation: Affirming Women’s Sexual Rights and Pleasures, a book about women and sex, with an interest in often marginalized groups of women. I’m surprised to report that it does have a Kindle e-book edition (though the Kindle version is out of my price range right now! $63?! For a sex therapy textbook!? That’s not on the budget!) Overall it sounds interesting and potentially valuable – the Amazon summary says the author spends time talking about feminism and marginalized groups of women, including seniors, disabled women, and sex workers. And I can see from looking at the indexes to Sexual Salvation and (once again for the millionth time,) Sex is not a Natural Act that the authors, Naomi B. McCormick and Dr. Leonore Tiefer, respectively, reference each others’ work. Hmm…

The discussion of vaginismus starts on about page 190, preceded by a discussion of dyspareunia (painful sex) and followed by a discussion of sexual dysfunction, especially in men, and then sex therapy.

There’s a lot we could talk about with this one section of the book, but for now let’s focus on the following:

Taught that the only “real sex” is sexual intercourse, heterosexual women are susceptible to two sexual problems that are largely unknown to lesbians, dyspareunia, painful coitus, and vaginismus, involuntary spasms of the vaginal musculature which prevent penetration. (McCormick, 190).

Well there’s an answer. This leaves room for the possibility of lesbians to experience painful sex and vaginismus, but according to McCormick, that’s almost unheard of. (An unfortunate side effect of establishing profiles of ‘typical’ patients for diagnosis of problems though, is that if you don’t fit the profile, you may have to work even harder to get a caretaker to take your complaints seriously.) She does, however, go on to describe situations in which a lesbian may find herself in a heterosexual relationship and experiencing vaginismus, and some pages later, she describes a lesbian couple coping with cancer and sexual problems including genital pain. Meanwhile, the Vaginismus Awareness Network goes on to address two myths about vaginismus and sexual orientation (Emphasis mine):

A woman MAY be a lesbian if she has vaginismus, just like she may be a lesbian even if she was able to have painfree intercourse with a man.

This myth seems to spread from the belief that lesbians won’t have penetrative sex. Though that may be true for some of them, others will use strap-ons etc and have ‘intercourse’ too. So clearly vaginismus has little to do with one’s sexual orientation since so many heterosexual women in love with their partners have it. It has more to do with lack of knowledge of one’s private parts, lack of information on their PC muscles, lack of sexual education and lack of kindness…

You know, I don’t always agree with the VAN. I have the sexual education I need to understand my own anatomy and how to do a kegel, and my partner is kind to me, yet somehow I still have vaginismus. Maybe we shouldn’t paint all women with vaginismus as one big homogeneous group. But compared to the other Freudian analyses described above, even I prefer this. I’m very uncomfortable by the way women with vaginismus have been described in literature like what I’ve shown you today. For how long were these archetypes and stereotypes repeated and used in clinical settings? To what extent do the myths and stereotypes about women with vaginismus still exist, and what effect do they have now?

Interesting posts, weekend of 7/17

07/18/2010 at 8:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Dear internet, I watched Disney’s The Princess and the Frog on DVD. While I’m glad to see a return to traditional 2-D animation and Disney’s first black princess, there are (obviously) several problems with the film.
If I could summarize the moral of the story, I would say it’s, “Give up your lifelong dreams for love.” and by “Love,” I mean, falling in cis het love. You have this young black lady, Tiana, clearly struggling against a history of classism and racism as she works toward her goal of being an entrepreneur, and she gets derailed to bail this strange man, Prince Naveen, out of trouble, even though she’s never met the guy before. And I was not impressed by the prince at all, he was very underdeveloped. He didn’t do much other than serve as a foil for Tiana.
And Tiana is pressured by other characters to relax on her dream and settle down, with a man. There’s no stopping to ask whether or not Tiana is even interested in a relationship.
And yet when they are thrown together, Tiana and Naveen somehow fall in love after only 24 or maybe 48 hours. The price is ready to give up his philandering ways and settle down into monogamy after only about a day of exposure to Tiana. He’s supposed to have learned a valuable lesson about hard work and independence but since he was so free rolling for his entire life up to that point, I doubt he’ll change overnight. Obviously it’s not a realistic scenario. I don’t want to spoil the ending but it bothered me. I found the ending disturbing.
Don’t even get me started on the character shading, or lack thereof. You’d think with the importance of shadows throughout the film, the animators would take more time to add subtle shading to costumes and faces and arms and such. I was expecting a full feature-length animation masterpiece over here, not some Saturday Morning Cartoon rushjob with the shading! And Disney has this thing where they recycle old character designs. The alligator looked identical to some of the alligators in the Rescuers movie. I guess there’s only so many ways you can draw an alligator in such a way as to give it a unique personality but this was a very generic looking cartoon alligator to me.
I loved Keith David as Dr. Facilier though :3 I want to know everything there is to know about the Shadow Man. How did Facilier become the Shadowman? What deal did he make with his friends on the other side? What is the extent of his magic? What specialty is his doctorate in? (I bet it’s philosophy.) What a show stopper. Ohh man can you imagine how good he would look in 3D, like in a Kingdom Hearts game? And I don’t even play Kingdom Hearts. Oh man if Disney made one of those direct-to-DVD prequel movies to The Princess and the Frog, and it was about Facilier, I’d totally watch it. But it better be scary and he better get a detailed back story.

Also, I need to ask this here because it is a deeply philosophical question: What would happen if a tick bit a vampire?

These are the deeply philosophical questions we need to better understand the world around us!

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.

Now then, on with the weekly blog link roundup. Posts I found interesting over the last weeks. Share links if’n you got’em.

Please note, I wrote most of this week’s blog link roundup while working on my mobile device. Due to the nature of the mobile device and mobile media, there may be some manufacturing errors in this week’s collection. If you see anything glaringly wrong, let me know.

First up here’s some links pertaining to sexual dysfunction –

In Which I Masochistically Attempt to Understand Camille Paglia – a rebuttal to Camille Paglia’s bizzaire anti-flibanserin, anti-FSD in general NYT piece. Surprisingly this rebuttal treats FSD with the same respect as any other disability.

Vaginismus & Pain During Sex – A short piece of advice & encouragement from Dr. Lissa Rankin, who has personally dealt with vaginismus & vulvar vestibulitis.

Two (maybe NSFW) posts about Dr. Amy Marsh, a sex educator & sexologist who has experience working with clients who have Asperger’s Syndrome. This one is about her. Sex Educator Profiles: Dr. Amy Marsh. And here, she answers questions about sex and Asperger’s Syndrome. Sex & Asperger’s Syndrome: An Interview with Dr. Amy Marsh

My disabilities and sex – about sex and sexual problems with depression and possibly another disability, though the word “Dysfunction” is not explicitly used.

There was yet another post about Orgasm Inc by someone who hasn’t watched it yet and I was going to include it but then I watched the trailer and I was like, “Not today…”

And here’s some stuff not necessarily related to sexual dysfunction.

Media, news, celebrity and art:

Roman Polanski set free by Swiss authorities – After all that, Roman Polanski walks free, not to be extradicted to the US to face charges for child rape.
“Why does this matter,” ask hardcore Polanski fans. C. L. Minou has an analysis of Polanski getting off the hook over at Tiger Beatdown. Forget it, Jake: It’s Patriarchy.

Speaking of art, media and Tiger Beatdown, here’s a post that addresses two other contemporary cases – a farce of a non-trial revolving around (swear to god) milk enema porn (something about obsenity laws,) and a photographer (not related) who took video of his daughter’s developing breasts and passed it off as Art. SEXIST BEATDOWN: What’s Good For the Goose Is Good for Buttman Edition. Interesting to me because I have had art teachers who would defend a pile of dog shit as artistic expression so long as someone called it art. Or better yet a photograph of a dog taking a shit.

Accessibility and disability:

What Does it Mean to Get Better? – Changing the way you think about “Better” when living with chronic health conditions.

Announcing: Disability Carnival #68 – Deeply Problematic will host the next Disability Blog Carnival. The theme is “Evidence.” You have until July 26 to submit something.

On access policies, conventions, and sausages – steps to consider when designing programs, to make such programs more accessible.

Quite a number of links on racism and racefail this week:

The Master’s Publishing House – the publisher who shall not be named is Seal Press FYI and if you browse the internet back far enough you can get confirmation on what the commenters are talking about.

Learning Fail – Gizmondo editor engages in racefail, sexism, colonialism, at least. Guest poster knitmeapony concludes,

My psychic prediction: Next week, Gizmodo once again laments that tech & programming culture have a dearth of women and people of color. I will definitely get that irony. Sigh.


Unusualmusic spells out the long term problem of racism and whitewashing in Hollywood: Whitewashing: Stealing our stories from real life to fiction.

‘Fair and Handsome’= White as Vaseline Skin Whitening Facebook Tool markets colorism in India – Vaseline is marketing its potentially dangerous skin-lightening cream in India with a photo editing FaceBook application.

Bait taken – The NAACP called out the Tea Party on its systemic racism and in response Tea Partier Mark Williams posted a racist message which just proved the NAACP’s point.


Mansplaining – defining mansplaining, with examples.

Some Good News On Pay Equity – – “Some” being the key word here. If you’re under 35 you’ll probably do better in pay equality relative to older generations, but after that we still got a long way to go.

Feel the Homomentum! – Argentina has legalized same sex marriage.

These two things are not like each other. – the Catholic Church has declared that inordinating women is an abominable crime on an equal level as molesting children. Because I don’t know why.

Michael Kimmel on male entitlement, anger and invisible privilege – I liked this post about masculinity and feminism. It’s not a happy post per se though.

Dear Imprudence: When to Out a Transgendered Dater? How About Never? – Terrible to the point of dangerous advice given by an advice columnist.

I’m sure there’s more…

Navigating PIV sex with a history of painful PIV

07/14/2010 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments
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NSFW/TMI Note: The following post will contain frank (but not explicit or sexy) language about sex. There are no pictures but since we’re having grown-up talk, the content will go behind a WordPress cut. Everything should still appear in your RSS feeder, but if you’re reading from the main page, you’ll need to click to go on. Thanks!

Continue Reading Navigating PIV sex with a history of painful PIV…

Interesting posts, weekend of 7/10/10

07/10/2010 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Dear internet, I wore a skirt to work this week. This is not so unusual – I’ve been wearing more skirts lately, even to work, the same week. The difference is that all the skirts I had worn to work were at least knee-length or longer. The last skirt I wore this week was shorter – above the knee. This, also, is not so unusual, as many of my co-workers also wear shorter skirts to work. This is acceptable according to the dress code. In fact the same day I wore the short skirt to work, 2 of my co-workers had skirts of equal length on. But for some reason, when *I* wore one, people commented on it. “Ooo look at K lookin’ so good today!” and variations on that theme. Nothing mean … but it’s like, why is this an issue at all. I think I look good every day. Why do you feel the need to point out to me what I am wearing. I put it on this morning. I am fully aware of the fact that it’s not a pair of pants. And you are yourself fully aware that shorts and capris are not an acceptable part of the dress code for my area.
It’s a skirt. It’s hot. It’s been hot for weeks. If I can get away with it I am going to wear a skirt. Why is this an issue. I’m up, I’m dressed, what more do you want?

In other news, I watched both Toy Story 3 and Twilight: Eclipse. Toy Story 3 was alright, but it had one genuinely frightening scene that gave me nightmares. I’m getting nightmares from a G-rated movie over here. Why did Pixar even include that disturbing scene in their film? Twilight was… Twilight. With the Twilight movies, if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Very surprised to see the audience was half older couples without children.

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.

Now then, on with the weekly blog link roundup. Posts I found interesting over the last weeks. Share links if’n you got’em.

Campaign Tackles Women’s Chronic Pain–But There’s a LONG Way to Go – a detailed look at the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women, and about life with chronic conditions… including vulvodynia, which presents difficult questions about sex and sexuality.

What she said: Women are not broken edition – An analysis of responses to Camille Paglia’s miserable editorial on female sexual dysfunction/flibanserin/classism/racism/shitty music/wtf is this? Op-ed piece.

Speaking of Which, HIV and Other STI Rates Are Increasing With Age, Viagra Use – Correlation is not the same as causation though, and FigLeaf addresses some possibly contributing factors in comments. (Such as: stopping use of condoms with age & lack of comprehensive sex education.)

The Sicks. – because of this line,

I can tell you this: if I were afflicted with a physical condition that made me incapable of experiencing most forms of sex, fixing this wouldn’t be “recreational” or silly or gross; it would be a goddamn emergency.

Sex and Menopause, Some New Research – some links and books about sex during and after menopause.

Life After Sex – About sexuality and sexual functioning during and after MTF transition.

Not a Fish, Not Yet A Human – We are still talking about Disney’s The Little Mermaid from a feminist perspective.
Speaking of Disney, did you all see this? Pixar Brave wikia – I was looking up Pixar stuff and it sounds like their 2012 movie, “Brave,” will have a female lead character. This could be veeeery intersting indeed! Sounds like the lead character is still a princess… who wants to be an archer. This could address the criticism that Pixar has gotten for sexism and for not knowing what to do with women characters!
Speaking of sexism in the media, the women of the Daily Show wrote an open letter responding to allegations of sexism in production of the show. Well that’s real good but it needs improvement, since we still don’t get to see these women on screen. I am reminded of the leaders of Fortune 500 companies… these big companies hire women, yes, but overwhelmingly do not confer titles of authority onto women, why?

About the Gulf Oil Spill:
Plastic And Oil… And My Take On Dawn Dish Soap – Lots of discussion and YouTube videos (no transcript) about the oil spill and cleanup there.
Truth is a Casualty of the Gulf Disaster – BP’s involvement or appearance of involvement only when officials are looking.
The Unseen Spill: The Human and Reproductive Health Catastrophe of Toxic “Hot Spots” in the Gulf Region – The spill may have an impact on reproductive health, but the Gulf region has been at risk health-wise for a long time due to so many plants using and dumping toxic chemicals.

Some news in marriage equality:
Hawaii Governor vetoes civil union bill – she says her personal bias isn’t the real reason…
And yet Boston judge rules federal gay marriage ban unconstitutional – The judge ruled that 1996’s DOMA was discriminatory! It’s a big decision but it’s probably going to get appealed to a higher court.

Hollaback’s iPhone application for documenting street harassment should be available in the iTunes store soon. I plan to download it, though I hope I never have to use it. From what I hear, it may be available on some other platforms besides the iPhone down the line as well.

Caster Semenya to Return to Racing – South African athlete Caster Semenya, after months of invasive testing and inquiry, has been cleared to race again ASAP.

Verdict in Oscar Grant Murder Case [Trigger warning] Oscar Grant, a young black man, was shot in the back at a BART station in California, while being detained by white police officer Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle was found guilty of the least possible charge in the case, involuntary manslaughter. The shooting was was filmed by onlookers. Keep in mind that LA prosecutors have not won a conviction in a police murder case in 27 years.

Breaking: “At this time SLDN cannot recommend that LGB service members participate in any survey” – The Pentagon has sent out surveys to about 400,000 of its servicemembers, supposedly to find out how members of the military feel about allowing gays to openly serve. But there’s no guarantee of privacy and if gay and lesbian service members answer, those answers could be used against them later.

Sex and politics collide as Julia Perez takes on Indonesia’s conservatives[NSFW?] Celebrity, singer and actress Julia Perez (Jupe) is also an… activist? She is running for government, the position of deputy district head in Pacitan, Indonesia, where most of the population is Muslim. She has spoken out for better sex education and HIV prevention. Via Violet Blue [NSFW]

I’m a feminist because. – RMJ describes her conflicted relationship with feminism.

How Sexism Hurts Men: “Undateable” – An example of PHMT (patriarchy hurts men, too.)

Google Says the World Was Made, Made Pretty By Men – On June 6, Google’s doodle was that of Mexican surreal artist Frida Kahlo. But this is but one of eight doodles starring historical women.

I’m sure there’s more…


07/06/2010 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Submitted for your approval: 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! Caution: TMI/NSFW content alert, for frank description of 1 sexual act towards the end. The one TMI/NSFW anecdote included will go behind a WordPress cut, so if you are reading from the main page, you’ll need to click through to go on when the time comes. Everything should still appear in your RSS feeder though, so scroll at your own discretion. Thanks!


The National Vulvodynia Association has released a new e-newsletter! It’s been months since the last one was released in January 2010. Keep in mind, this is not to be confused with their regular newsletter. You need to be a member of the NVA to read their regular newsletter, but the e-newsletter is a .PDF available to the public.

Some highlights I found interesting are below; do check the whole newsletter for more when you have a chance:

The NVA is adding three new self-help booklets to their web resources, available to NVA members. The topics may be of some interest to readers here – First up will be Vulvodynia, Pregnancy and Childbirth, then My Partner has Vulvodynia – What Do I Need to Know? and How to Apply for Disability Benefits. Personally I’m very curious to see what the Partner booklet looks like – the e-newsletter does not use gendered pronouns so here’s to hoping that it doesn’t take an exclusively heterocentric view. But of course I’d like to see the other two booklets as well.

The e-newsletter also goes over some updates in the wide world of vulvar pain. There’s a new clinic open in Miluwakee, Wisconsin. Research and grants remain ongoing. One of the research topics is on vulvodynia and pregnancy, so women with vulvodynia may soon have some rigorous science available to help make decisions, in addition to anecdotes and stories of support presently available. There’s going to be a vulvodynia conference for researchers later this year, in October 2010. Findings from the conference will be published in a medical journal, but the e-newsletter does not say which journal yet, or when. Hm, that’s interesting. I’d like to keep an eye on that. I hope no one stages an anti-vulvodynia researcher conference outside of it.

The last page is dedicated to summarizing the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women. You may remember not too long ago, the Overlapping Conditions Alliance went to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of chronic conditions that disproportionately effect women. There’s links to some videos related to the conference, and the e-newsletter says that representatives met with political representatives, including Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. There’s also a request in the newsletter for readers to send an e-mail urging select US government representative to get on board with the Campaign – I’ll just let you click through to that form via the e-newsletter.


Thoughts on a Dear Abby column, in which the writer, a elderly man, writes in asking for advice on communicating about his Viagra use to his female sex partner. My thoughts are: What an interesting way to phrase a question about communication and what interesting assumptions everyone involved seems to be making.

So “Vital Man” writes in because when he went away on a week-long trip, his sex partner “Demanded” that he leave his Viagra with her. Apparently he and his girlfriend are comfortable with him using Viagra during sexual activity, but they don’t communicate about it openly. Vital Man assumes his girlfriend assumes he needs to use it each time he has sexual activity, therefore Viagra is like a tether. If he can’t maintain an erection, theoretically he won’t have sexual relations with another partner.

My thoughts are: Well did he outright lie to his partner and tell her “I need it,” or otherwise deliberately mislead her into thinking something along those lines… or did they not talk about it and he assumes that’s her assumption? What makes this guy think that she doesn’t already know that Viagra is optional for him?

My other thought – maybe she wants to try the Viagra out herself, while he’s out of town. That way she can find out if it has any effect on her, and if not, then no pressure to perform! (That’s what I’d do anyway. That was my first thought!)


In my free time, for fun, I’ve been reading rule books for Dungeons & Dragons. I’m having some difficulty finding a local group to play with, but I’ll keep looking.

Perhaps there’s a deeper meaning to my choice of book types – Dungeon Master rulebooks rather than the player handbooks. Maybe casual players read DM books, too, I don’t know. Or maybe it means I secretly want to control a whole imaginary world and be a level-building world-destroyer.

I once read or heard an axiom that stated something like, any time a new technology comes out, it will always be adapted to sex. I don’t know if that’s an actual expression or who first declared it, (any ideas?) but it sounds about right to me. So of course as I read the D&D rulebooks I started thinking if there was any way to incorporate sex & sexuality into campaigns. Does any group ever do that? Surely I couldn’t be the first one to think of that…

As it turns out, I’m not the first whose thoughts turn to adult situations in roleplay games. I won’t be the last. I’m not going to post a full review of this book, because it’s too embarassing even for me, even on this TMI blog. But I bought, and read everything in the Book of Erotic Fantasy, compliant with D&D rules (3rd edition…) which means the rules are outdated already, but I’m sure they can be adapted to 4th edition rules by a creative DM.

What’s funny besides the bad Photoshops used as illustrations (instead of drawings) is how seriously the book takes itself. Very serious about the rules of sexual roleplay, complete with charts and tables for decision-making and dice-measuring. Very serious and complicated even though in this case the roleplay is done entirely in players’ imaginations, and not performed on each other in the flesh. I think…. in most cases it would not be performed in the physical realm. The exception, I suppose, would be for LARP players. That might be fun to watch.

Since the rules are now outdated and many (if not most) of the rules can’t be applied to real life situations (even one-on-one partner bedroom play – unless you’re really creative,) the Book of Erotic Fantasy is purely For Novelty Purposes Only.


I e-mailed Durex & Lifestyles about the lubricant used on their non-latex condoms (Durex Avanti/Avanti Bare & Lifestyles Skyns.)

According to the e-mailed responses, both brands are coated in silicone-based lubricant. Just FYI for you.


And this is where it gets TMI/NSFW-ish, so here’s that WordPress cut you’ll need to click through from the main page to continue forward at the time of your choosing.

Continue Reading Shorties…

Interesting posts, weekend of July 4, 2010

07/03/2010 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Dear internet, it’s a holiday weekend in the US and even though I just took a vacation a few weeks ago, I most definitely needed another one. Even as we speak I am enjoying the sounds of the overhead fan whirring and birds chirping outside. There’s even a few movies in theaters I’m hoping to get to soon. But it’s not all fun and games – got some paperwork and computer stuff I need to take care of on break. I’m hoping to see my partner again sometime soon, “Soon” being a relative term when you’re doing the long-term LDR thing.

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.

Now then, on with the belated blog link roundup. Posts I found interesting over the last few weeks. Share links if’n you got’em.

First up is news related to sexual dysfunction because that’s kind of what we do around here… I got some good news and I got some bad news. Not in order.

Dr. Oz ran a repeat episode, the one which included a surprisingly comprehensive 5-minute clip on vulvodynia, originally broadcast in January 2010. (My thoughts on the Dr. Oz coverage of vulvodynia are over here.)

The US talk show Chelsea Lately ran a bit on vulvodynia in response to Dr. Oz’s re-airing of the above episode.  I have the Chelsea Lately video for you sans transcript, but if you’re a regular reader here or if you’re a woman with vulvodynia who stumbled upon this blog while searching for the video, you’re probably not going to like it… Having borne witness to the Amanda Palmer Evelyn Evelyn disability blog debacle a few months ago, I feel I have no choice but to refrain from critiquing the video in great detail. Once again my need to feel personally safe is greater than my need to educate. Anyway, some hits to this blog were coming in from searches for “Chelsea Handler vulvodynia.” You asked and I deliver, though I’m numb from handling it. Chelsea Lately vs Sexual Suffering-Vulvodynia [VIDEO]

An Oasis for those in pain! – a dilator series review by a sex blogger who also deals with vestibulitis and vaginismus! Eerily familiar. If you’ve been thinking about getting a dilator kit and you live with vulvar pain, check this one out!

Flibanserin Defeated; What Is Accomplished? – Veeeery interesting and refreshing take on the New View Campaign vs. flibanserin; dare I say, I recommend reading this post. Even sex therapist Dr. Marty Klein has criticisms of the tactics of the New View Campaign in its quest to defeat Flibanserin! I never would have expected that. They’re pretty solid criticisms too, like, how the New View Campaign does not center women with FSD and how calling it “Pink Viagra” is a misnomer which leads to confusion about what flibanserin and Viagra do and confusion about the difference between desire and physical arousal.

In that same spirit, I’d also like to present to you Flibanserin: Is a ‘Female-Desire’ Drug a Bad Thing?, a post by someone who actually has personal experience dealing with prescription hormones. Found via Womanist Musings.

I also enjoyed “Why Not Me?” Ask Women As FDA Turns Down ‘Female Viagra’, which talks about the flibanserin study results – what happened, side effects, etc. Yes, ASK WOMEN. TALK TO WOMEN. Who have FSD, in this case, HSDD in particular. Talk to them!

Camille Paglia talked about flibanserin… I think. Shit I can’t even figure out what she’s talking about. She wrote in an op/ed piece to the New York Times and it’s this… on the surface, it starts out as being about “Pink Viagra” so she’s referring to flibanserin, (and as Dr. Klein just pointed out like 5 minutes ago the above post I linked to, that’s not a completely accurate description.) But I’m really struggling with what to do with this piece. What is this post even about??? I don’t know, I read this editorial 3 times and I keep losing her train of thought. I… think it’s supposed to be a distilled, distorted version of the social construction model of sexual dysfunction, so it’s got elements of “FSD isn’t real, it’s just that everyone is shitty in bed due to shitty music and television. Also people don’t conform to their gender roles and THAT IS BAD FOR SEX.” What? Also punctuated by racism and classism. Anyway, here’s No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class.
(::mutters to self:: “Sexual malaise?” Has she ever used the internet and found a sex blogger’s site? Any sex blogger? I don’t even…)

A few feminist bloggers have produced responses to this weird NYT piece, some of which are better than others. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I am willing to bet cash that sooner or later a feminist blog post is going to be written which will contain some permutation of “I’m not agreeing with Paglia, but…” and then say something which basically agrees with the worst parts of her arguments and climbs on the “FSD isn’t real” bandwagon… I am not actively looking for such a post, but it’s happened before, and it will happen again. BUT I haven’t found such post yet so in the mean time here’s a pretty good skewering by Holly of the Pervocracy. No sex please, I’m a complete twit.

Understanding restless legs syndrome – People joke about it and don’t understand it but it’s actually pretty serious, and has connections with other chronic health conditions – including sexual dysfunction, though in this article that’s only briefly mentioned. Still, how interesting and relevant. Via FWD.

Stuff not necessarily about sexual dysfunctions:

Good Vibrations House Calls: Sexual Surrogate for a Gay Man? – Interesting because you might remember a few months ago that I watched a movie about sexual surrogacy and asked some questions of Shai Rotem of IPSA.

Scientists invent first male contraceptive pill – I have no idea how far this will get in human testing since supposedly this little pill has been in the works since I was in high school. Here’s to hoping it works well without damage. Coices and options and shared responsibility is a plus.

One reason why humans are special and unique: We masturbate. A lot – Seems like everybody and their grandmother is talking about this Scientific American post. I liked Bering’s summaries of documented historical observations on masturbation in the animal kingdom, the health of sperm and the attitudes of old time experts towards masturbation, but I did not like all of his opinions formed based on the readings. In particular I did not like his questioning asexuals’ orientation on the basis of what their sexual fantasies may be. Fantasy is not reality and it’s not cool to judge what someone’s sexual orientation is based on their fantasies.

Disability Blog Carnival #67: Proud Voices. – Been waiting for this one. Wow Dave really did a nice job rounding up the posts.

Anti-Porn Profiteering: What They’re Selling – Is this accurate? Selling “Cures” for masturbation??? Violet Blue usually does her homework, but to say these organizations are selling a cure to masturbation? It sounds too rich to be true. Why does this need a cure? Does this apply to people without sexual addiction, which I know is controversial? I don’t want to cure my erotic fantasies!

Why you should not see “The Last Airbender” movie, but watch the cartoon instead. – Not on my list of movies to see to begin with (I never got into that show.)

White House aide meets with LGBT media – no news, lotsa spin – Pam Spaulding met with white house representatives on LGBT rights, on the record.

Iceland Legalizes Gay Marriage, Prime Minister Marries Partner – Making PM Johanna Sigurdardottir “The world’s only national leader with a same-sex spouse”

World Cup Fever: Has it Really Led to an Increase in Trafficking? – Which is what I heard, but Audacia Ray has a more nuanced discussion:

Trafficking is a very serious topic, but it’s important to recognize the differences between trafficking and sex work, without doing so, we do a disservice to both victims of trafficking and sex workers.

And Now For Some Unabashed Jingoism! – July 4 is Independence Day in the US, Canada Day is July 1.

On Cure Evangelism – Attention grabbing early on since the post quickly defines Cure Evangelism as,

Put simply, cure evangelism involves aggressively pushing a medical treatment or approach to a medical condition or disability on someone, without that person’s consent, interest, or desire.

The High Price of Industry: Cancer Villages in China – Since China has been industrializing at such a fast rate, the rates of cancer have increased. These cancer cases cannot always be averted with lifestyle changes because the causes are all around people.

Sometimes a Strange Notion – A survey of attitudes towards equal rights for men & women globally.

You don’t get to out me – Above a 101 level discussion of trans topics; this one is about how allies sometimes mess up by outing bloggers as trans men or women but in this case trans women especially. If you out someone, you probably won’t have to deal with the worst of the fallout directly.

Posts that might be triggering:

Tracking Shit On The Carpets – [Trigger warning] – Not actually about what the title is. Kinky spaces are not “Anything goes” spaces. You still need consent.

Police Don’t Really Protect Victims of Battery or Sexual Assault… Why Believe They “Protect” Sex Workers? – [Trigger warning] Figleaf goes over 6 points why we should question protection as motivation for police involvement in sex work.

On Dismissing Sexual Violence Against Some Women As “Cultural” – [Trigger warning] – On the need to recognize rape as a threat to security and take it seriously.

Human Rights Violations at the G20 – [Trigger warning] – Protesters, and in this case, a journalist, were arrested outside the G-20 convention. Afterward, the detained were subjected to threats, abuses and assaults. This ensures security how?

Does Rape-aXe prevent sexual assault? – [Trigger warning] The short answer is no probably not, it only works with PIV rape, and it places a burden on rape victims.

The complicated relationship of sexual aggression and porn – [Trigger warning] Seen a couple of blogs going back-and-forth about a study on pornography and sexual aggression, I particularly enjoyed this one, mostly because of the following paragraph:

I’ve noted in the past that I think the outsized role that misogyny plays in porn probably has to do with the fact that a small percentage of heavy duty porn users dictate the market.  I speculated that most men spend not very much time looking at porn compared to other activities, but that some men are complete pornheads who have to be staring at it all the time.  I suspect that men who look at porn well beyond the basic “get on, get off, get on with some other activity” amount are way more likely to be in it to see women hurt and degraded, on top of just wanting to get off.  And since they look at it way more and spend way more money on it, the industry caters to their demands.  Which is why, to quote a friend of mine, in a lot of porn videos there seems to be a need to have a winner and a loser of the sexual encounter, and the woman is the loser.  And men who are less interested in having their ego shored up this way simply tune out or refuse to analyze some of the misogyny in a lot of porn, because they see it mainly as a masturbatory tool.

[Trigger warnings] On the subject of prenatal use of dexamethasone, I’ve seen the discussion go in two directions. One direction focuses on the use of this risky drug as guiding sexual orientation while a fetus is still developing: Doctor Testing Dangerous Drug to ‘Prevent’ Lesbianism? The other direction focuses on administration of the drug as a prenatal treatment for ambiguous genitals which may be associated with intersex conditions, Discussion Thread: Dexamethasone and “Fixing” Broken Girls. Feministing has, I think, a pretty good breakdown of what intersex means – intersex is not necessarily a problem at all; doctors and a kyriarchy culture make it into a problem.

I’m sure there’s more…

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