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I have been uncomfortable about writing this post. You see, the tigresses recently finished and discussed a book that I suggested whose main theme goes way beyond the normal boundaries of decorous discussion. We read the book “Bear” by Marian Engel, and just to put all the chips out on the table, it’s a book in which the main character has sex with a bear. I’m not giving anything away here, just check out the cover.

A friend of mine from New York sent me the book with a note saying she thought I would like it. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the fact that I leaped to mind after she finished the last tantalizing page, but truthfully I really did like it. As much as it’s a story about a lady gettin’ it on with a bear, it’s also a story of a woman’s feminist awakening.

Lou, an archivist at a historical institute in Ontario is sent to a remote island to catalog the archive of an estate that has been bequeathed to the institute. Over the course of a summer, she goes through the papers of a family, uncovering their story and making “friends” with their pet bear, as she sheds the trappings of mousy librarianship and grows wilder and more sure of what it is she wants.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about “Bear” is that the bear in question is not an anthropomorphized stand in, but really and truly a bear. The reader never forgets that Lou is falling in love with an actual animal. For me, the inter-species love was disconcertingly not that disconcerting. I was happy that they had found each other, and they seemed like they were both into their affair. So who am I to judge?

That said, I was blinded to a much broader reading of the book by the overwhelming presence of bestiality. You know its going to happen from the first page, so its pretty difficult not to spend the whole time wondering when they are going to get down.

Overall, it’s a short book, a page turner, an artifact from the seventies, and definitely unlike anything else.


Mommy Time

From the mind of Julie Klausner:


The Taco That Ate Everything

Er, speaking of violence against women, I helped TA an Animation class at 826 Chicago a few months ago, and this is what my all girls group came up with. I kept on asking the girls, “What if he just tries to eat her and she gets away in the end?” and getting a lot of little frowns and shaking heads in response.


Williamsburg’s Take Back the Night Ninjas

I AM NOT A SEX OBJECT?A parade of lady ninjas tore down Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn last week, smashing the window of a local tea shop on the way. Today, a press release:

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – Dressed in matching black skirts and masks, dozens gathered on Saturday evening for an anti-capitalist Take Back the Night march, stopping traffic on Bedford Avenue, overturning trashcans, and breaking windows. Tired of tamely shouting slogans on campus sidewalks, we took the night back by taking it, refusing the structural mechanisms that create rapists and their victims.

Although in recent years Take Back the Night has been co-opted by liberal feminists, it has its roots in the widespread unrest of Italy in the late seventies. In 1976, a seventeen-year-old was gang-raped in Rome. A year later, when her case went to trial, she was gang-raped again by the same men: and this time, her whole body was slashed with razors in an attempt to keep her silent. Within hours, fifteen thousand women mobilized, uniformly dressed like the sex workers common to the district; “NO MORE MOTHERS, WIVES AND DAUGHTERS: LET’S DESTROY THE FAMILIES!” was the cry heard in the street. They came just short of burning the neighborhood to the ground.

Forty years later, we marched again, to refuse the violence that continues to force us to be housewives and fuck-toys and mothers and daddy’s girls, to refuse to understand women’s oppression in the private sphere as a simple cultural or ideological matter. We address capitalism and patriarchy as one intrinsically interconnected system. We are not asking for rights: we are demanding something else entirely.

A woman on the street stopped and attempted to begin an argument: “Why are you doing this?” A swift reply: “Because we have grown tired of rape and makeup.” The woman responds: “Just get drunk and get laid – deal with it.” But this is no longer enough for us. We are not asking for a right to the streets, we are taking them; we are not asking for advertisements that do not objectify women, we’re destroying the commercial mechanisms that objectify women; we are not appealing to male power for an end to rape, but threatening: “If you touch me, I will fucking kill you.”

For once, the mechanisms that create and maintain identities of womanhood were refused, and our desires were our own, our bodies were our own, and our violence was our own.

Gothamist is quickly critical of the fems, and wonders how “fighting violence with confusing, misdirected, messy, violent outbursts,” will help women resist becoming housewives and sex toys.

Their commenters are even more harsh on the lady warriors, writing things like, “Feminism makes me want to die. It all-too-often has the opposite of the intended effect. This just makes women look crazy and irrational,” and, “Were they wearing tight skirts? Any legwear?”

While I don’t plan to strap on a bandana and topple an American Apparel maniquin with the ninjas, and I definitely disagree with their use of violence, I am feeling a lot of empathy for their situation. It must be devastating to put so much fury into a statement only to have NYC point at you, laughing, “ha, another thing women can’t do right!”


I Now Pronounce You Mrs. Lady Gaga and Husband

As I watch the sunny weekends of my summer calendar book up with wedding after wedding, I’m consistently curious to know if the bride-to-be is getting a new name with the transaction.

Many of these women I know are knee-deep in their careers and have quite a nice google return on their birth names. But what happens if they choose to change it? Will their personality and identity split online and the past accomplishments get folded into and recognized only by the way-back-machine? Or will getting a new name save them from the discovery by future employers of a salty picture or two from a holiday party run amok in their 20s? All these things and more, I wonder.

Below is an article from Jezebel which on some level seems to add one more tick to the CON pile of taking another’s name. The study itself is spurious, but many of the ideas behind it are still clearly relevant and unsolved.  If any of you dear female readers are married, I’d be curious to know if you’ve taken a new name, kept your own, and what ramifications (if any) have been directly related to that decision?

Take Your Husband’s Name And Take A Salary Cut

Take Your Husband's Name And Take A Salary CutTaking a husband’s name may mean taking a hit in the labor market, according to a recent study. But lower salary isn’t the only ill effect women suffer when they switch surnames — or, conversely, when they don’t.

According to Catherine Rampell of the Times Economix Blog, researchers at the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research gave Dutch university students descriptions of women that were identical, except for the women’s decision to take their husband’s names. Women who did so, the economists found, were seen as more “stereotypically feminine” — the students perceived them as “more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, less competent, and less ambitious in comparison with a woman who kept her own name.” And in another experiment, the students were less likely to hire these women for a hypothetical job, and estimated their salaries as lower (by about $1,172.36).

As Rampell points out, the study has limitations. The students, for instance, were not actual employers. And as commenter Barbara notes, real bosses rarely have access to information about whether a woman has changed her name. Moreover, commenter Jennifer cites an effect of name-change not covered by the study — the loss of an online paper trail of publications and achievements under the previous name. She writes,

I’m interested to know more about the negative consequences of changing one’s name and then “vanishing” from sources of past accomplishments that would otherwise be searchable on-line (what employer doesn’t google their prospective applicant) or through other publications. In this case, the woman must either (a) continually cite her previous name to maintain the digital trail, or (b) accept that the advantages of having a digital trail may be lost.

Salon‘s Lynn Harris chose to solve this by keeping her birth name as her byline while using her married name in other situations. But even this compromise won’t work for everyone. Interestingly, Rampell chose to illustrate her post with a picture of Hillary Clinton, who had trouble in the presidential primaries in part because she was perceived as stereotypically un-feminine. Imagine how much more criticism she would have gotten for her supposed stridency had she run as Hillary Rodham.

Name-changing is still one of the many areas where society gets women going and coming. If you take your husband’s name, you must be dependent and incompetent. If you don’t, of course, you’re a ball-busting feminist — or that even more pitiable creature, someone without a husband at all. And, in most cases, you still have a name that came down to you patrilineally anyway. Luckily, there is one woman who’s thrown off the chains of the nomenclature patriarchy and received only praise for it. I speak, of course, of Lady Gaga.

(This is a re-post of a piece from Jezebel yesterday by Anna North)


Ahem, just following up…

…on my post from a few days ago.



The New York Times asks, Unshaven Women: Free Spirits or Unkempt? The comments are especially interesting. A lot of thoughtful ones from women who feel uncomfortable going out in public with hairy pits and legs, but also think its silly to shave.

Also quite a few hair haters (aka anti-hirsutes, a hilarious new vocab word):
“I’m sorry. I will vote for a woman for president. I will work for a woman. Women should be priests, soldiers, equal pay, whatever. But hairy women are seriously unappealing.”

“What’s next? Women with beards? Women are women, not men, so stop trying to turn into a male. If a woman wants to look like a hairy animal, go for it, but it’s sure not for me.”

320 comments in a day — its amazing how charged the issue of leg hair still is.