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masters of the uterus

An interesting quick-history of birth control in this Mother Jones article.  Check it out. Here are some highlights:

1554 John Calvin calls masturbation “monstrous” and withdrawal “doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring.”

1861 First condom ad (for Dr. Powers’ French Preventative) in the New York Times: “Those who have used them are never without them.”

1975 Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” is a country hit: “This incubator is overused / Because you’ve kept it filled / The feelin’ good comes easy now / Since I’ve got the pill.”


Tea Party? Feminists? Pashaw!


A recent Slate article is headlined, Is the Tea Party a Feminist Movement?. I’ve noticed journalists doing this a lot lately, using questions as headlines in such a way that I just can’t help clicking on them. The NYtimes had a headline recently that read: Was Bush Right?GASP! I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to see how such a horrifying question might be justified. (until I realized it was a blogginheads video.) And so it was with this Slate article — Tea-Party? Feminism? Could it be true?

The article sights some interesting statistics — For example,  “Of the eight board members of the Tea Party Patriots who serve as national coordinators for the movement, six are women. Fifteen of the 25 state coordinators are women.” But the author seems to forget that women being a part of something doesn’t necessarily make it feminist.

It’s true, women do seem to be incredibly active in the Tea Party, but women are incredibly active in a lot of things that aren’t femminist (here’s one example), and although their activism has likely been empowered by  the feminist movement and may even be inspiring to other women, the movement itself is not feminist. The Tea Party does not, as far as I can tell, promote women’s equality, or equality for anyone.  It is anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-choice, and thumbs it’s nose at some of the very institutions that have protected women and other oppressed minorities over the years.

I’m glad that the women of the Tea Party feel empowered enough to be a part of it, and I admire their gumption in many cases,  but there’s an old saying I can’t help but think of when I think about (some) Tea Party women –

“An ungrateful person is like a hog under a tree eating acorns but never looking up to see where they come from”.

That’s what my old Grampy George used to say. No, actually, some guy named Timothy Dexter said it and I have no idea in what context, but what I do know is that those “acorns” came from the strong and mighty branches of the great tree of feminism — a tree that was watered by the progressive feminists of the 60’s and 70’s,(the ones who weren’t afraid to call themselves feminists) and the ones even before them. The Tea Party women would do well to remember it. Come to think of it, we all would.


too little, too late?

Last year we read the book, American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld. The book is ficiton but it’s clear that the two main characters are meant to represent Laura and George Bush.  Laura is painted as a liberal but meek, “stand-by-her-man” type who was a good person at heart, but never seemed to feel it was her place to interfere in her husband’s politics.

Now the real Laura Bush has written the real Laura Bush biography , and she’s out doing interviews to promote it. It would be interesting to see how her book compares with Sittenfeld’s, I always wondered if she read the Curtis Sittenfeld version of her life, and what she thought of it.

Here she is on Larry King, talking about being pro-gay marraige, and  pro-choice.  I’m kind of vacilating between feeling like this public statement is ‘too little, too late’ and feeling proud of her for being able to hold onto her values through her marriage to GW.  Any thoughts?


Mommy Time

From the mind of Julie Klausner:


a cruel promise

Came across this letter on another blog. It’s from Amelia Earhart to her fiance on the morning of their wedding.



the catholic boys-club

Check out  this fascinating article by Lisa Miller in Newsweek about the lack of female influence in various realms of the Catholic church, and how this lack has caused the Catholic “boys-club” to be further and further removed from reality.

“But in the Roman Catholic corporation, the senior executives live and work, as they have for a thousand years, eschewing not just marriage, but intimacy with women and professional relationships with women—not to mention any chance to familiarize themselves with the earthy, primal messiness of families and children. Indeed, it seems the further a priest moves beyond the parish, the more likely he is to value conformity and order above the chaos of real life.”


do we desire a shirtless future?

There’s an old saying that goes, “if you haven’t seen bare breasts within 10 minutes, you’re not watching a sci-fi movie”.

Okay, there is no old saying like that, I made it up. But have you ever noticed how especially in the 70’s hippy-sci-fi movies, there is inevitably  a scene in which a topless woman rides up on a horse? The reasons for this are both obvious and ironically opposed — 1) the audience for science fiction is overwhelmingly male and 2) in the future, we reach an enlightenment in which breasts are no longer seen as sexual objects.

Apparently, in Portland, Maine it’s already perfectly legal to go shirtless if you’re lady. (I was not aware of this during the 8  months I spent going to school and working there, alas.) This past weekend a bunch of women and men took shirtless to the streets to try and begin the process of making female topless-ness more normal.  They were predictably met by a mob of male creepers, who gawked and took pictures of them with their cell phones.

Legal or not, I find the idea of going shirtless in public completely terrifying.  I have done it only in my anxiety dreams — the same ones where I realize I have to go back to high school because someone figured out I never actually graduated.  I suppose for me, shirtlessness is not on the top of my feminst agenda, but more power to the women who decide it is.

I cannot imagine a time (even in the sci-fi future) in which a woman could walk down the Chicago street where I live –a street where men gawk at you even in the dead of winter when you are dressed as a gortexed pig-the-blanket — when I could go shirtless and not feel completely vulnerable.  I also have to wonder – would common-place female toplessness automatically assume the end of the sexualization of breasts? And is the de-sexualization of breasts something that most women desire?

What are your thoughts?