Friday, September 28, 2007

Prescribe the Vibe!

As part of slate's ongoing sex series, there's a fantastic slideshow of the history of the vibrator! Visit this page and click the link at the bottom of the summary.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rub a Dub Tub

I'm pleased to read that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in Great Britain is endorsing pain relief for women in labour and encouraging natural birth processes - simply by stepping into a warm bath. From the article:

Giving birth should be a normal process which ends with a spontaneous vaginal delivery where mother and baby are healthy afterwards, the guidance says. But too often, it has become a medical procedure because doctors and midwives – and mothers – become anxious about letting nature take its course.

"In some cases women have had medical interventions they did not need. This guidance is about putting together best practice to ensure it is as normal a process as possible," the spokeswoman [from NICE]said.

The Secretary of State for Health has pledged to increase numbers of midwives to accommodate pregnant and labouring women receiving one-on-one care.

In Alberta, a midwife is not an option for women without forking out up to $3,000.00. Lisa Lampert of Martha's Monthly writes about midwifery in Alberta:
About 40,000 babies are born in AB each year. . . If just 5% of them (or 2000 babies) were caught by a publicly funded midwife it would save the Alberta government over $2,000,000. Now is it just me or does that make sense: offer a real choice to expectant mothers and save money?

I want to start hearing some women-friendly rhetoric in this province. I want to see more options for all women and more value placed on the experience of women giving birth. But I guess for now what we can do is draw a bath and hope for relief from the labour pains of this conservative patriarchal capitalist gong-show of a government.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Heart Hugo

Hugo Chavez criticises parents giving teenagers breast implant birthday gifts. That takes Quinceañeras to a whole new level!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Color Tinto

Check out a new Latino Restaurant in Calgary's Beltline! I went to the Lorraine Block today for lunch and found a new cafe just opened a week ago. The best part is is that the female owner and operator, Paula Cruz, is carrying Feminino coffee! I asked Paula if there are any other coffee shops in Calgary selling the woman-owned coffee collective and she believes she is the first one.
The wrap I ordered was delicious and the prices are very reasonable! For a full menu and hours of operation, visit Color Tinto's Website.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Of Douches. and Cunt Love.

Reading through a delightful post over at feministing that begins with a vintage video of a mother and daughter getting intimate on a beach on the subject of douching and ends with comments discussing the joy of the word 'douche' as an insult and the value of claiming it as a feminist insult (my personal favourite is douchgobbler and plan to take on this wonderful project of reclamation), Anna directs her readers to a very interesting website.

Vulva Perfume.

Um, wow and WTF? Very hip music, for one, which I have playing over and over again while I write this post... and I can't help thinking of the film Perfume I recently saw, a harrowing tale of a young man with the life goal to capture the perfect scent - the scent of a woman, concentrating it as a tiny bottle of perfume, which would put Europe into a crazed orgasmic ecstatic state of bliss (a beautiful metaphoric film worth checking out) ... Vulva Original claims:

The erotic, intimate scent of an irresistible woman... the precious vaginal odour filled into a small glass phial . . . Vulva Original is not a perfume. It is a beguiling vaginal scent which is purely a substance for your own smelling pleasure. Breath in and enjoy, anytime, anywhere, the odour of a beautiful woman.

I appreciate the rhetoric of this cunt-lovin' website and that they're totin' some serious vag love and selling a supposed smell of vagina! As questionable as the very thin, nipple/naval pierced air brushed models are, I still find the website and advertisement (cheesy suited guy and all) less offensive than the video initiating the feministing thread of a mother telling her daughter she ought to clean out her diry vagina! Douches be damned!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Catholicism ≠ Ethics

A North London private Catholic hospital has been offering contraceptives and abortion referrals and is taking the heat for it. The head of the Catholic Church in England and Whales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, is being pressured by Catholic lobby groups to impose his “arbiter-of-ethics” status against the hospital. Two years the Cardinal wrote to the Hospital’s chairman, “There must be clarity that the hospital, being a Catholic hospital with a distinct vision of what is truly in the interests of human persons, cannot offer its patients, non-Catholic or Catholic, the whole range of services routinely accepted by many in modern secular society as being in a patient's best interest.” Contrary to the Cardinal's opinion, a patient’s best interest is completely independent of what “secular society” may feel. It’s not a secular or societal issue. A patient’s best interest is exactly that - a personal issue, a personal choice of what the best decision is. What secular society thinks about abortion or about amniocentesis or IVF is entirely irrelevant in the case of a woman’s decisions about her fertility and her body.

I reference for you, from The World Medical Association's International Code of Medical Ethics, a few important issues this private hospital is violating:

A physician shall:

be dedicated to providing competent medical service in full professional and moral independence, with compassion and respect for human dignity.

act in the patient's best interest when providing medical care.

owe his/her patients complete loyalty and all the scientific resources available to him/her. Whenever an examination or treatment is beyond the physician's capacity, he/she should consult with or refer to another physician who has the necessary ability.

Catholic Religion and Medicine cannot co-exist in a relationship where medical doctors under oath are treating the public. This catholic hospital, like the one in Saskatchewan, needs to be handed over to an authority with modern ethics and principles valuing human dignity and a woman’s rights to make her own choices about her body.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Women Attending University: Statistics Canada

This is all fine and dandy, but women are still not getting the higher paying, higher socio-economic jobs!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Skinny and Gettin' None

The Daily Mail has a shit article today on size 0 women. In line with my last entry re: anorexia and mental illness, the article jumps to one conclusion for the claimed problem of infertility in young women - skinniness. Now I'm all about criticising cultural standards of unhealthy body-types like the woman shown in the photo of the article, and I believe that very low BMI affects fertility, but I was pissed off early in the piece:
"Extreme dieting can disturb the hormones and affect the sex drive - which could mean bad news for the men in their lives, warned expert Dr Sarah Brewer."
Wow! Sarah Brewer can fuck off. Bad news for the men? She offers no concern for the woman who's sex drive is lowered or hormones affected, no... it's bad news for the guys who were hopin to get some. This coming from a doctor who endorsed the dangerous Atkin's diet .

She goes on to say, ""Women are also often trying to get thin so they are more attractive to the opposite sex. But this will lower their sex drive and defeat the point of trying to be thin in the first place."

I find this is insulting on so many levels! She's saying that a woman is only attractive to the opposite sex if said woman has a high sex drive. Again, if a girl ain't gonna put out, the guys are goneso.

The epidemic of thinness and eating disorders is much much much much more complicated than getting laid.

Ligation Frustration - Litigation!

I'm a little slow on this report from CBC, but wanted to note it anyway, that Leann Gunther of Humboldt Saskatchewan is getting a $7,875.00 settlement from the the Saskatchewan Catholic Health Corp. in compensation for the Catholic-run hospital's refusal to give her a tubal ligation.

Not only should health care never be in relationship with religion, but this was simply an excuse to deny a woman her choice of reproduction. Thank godde the hospital's governance and operations are being handed over to the public health region at the end of this year.

More than the Models

Naomi Hooke tells her story in the Independent about her experience with anorexia, how it almost killed her and why she's convinced it's not about the skinny size <0 models on the T.V. and in the pages of the glossies.

My fall into the dark world of anorexia was never influenced by fashion or waif-like celebrities, though I knew others whose recovery from life-threatening illness was indeed hindered by the Western world's culture of thinness. I believe that the British Fashion Council's guidelines will go some way to protect the models themselves (of whom 40 per cent are said to suffer from eating disorders). However, I see problems both with the approach taken in Madrid of banning models with a BMI under 18.5, and the recent health certification scheme proposed in Britain.

Although BMI can offer a crude measure of physical health, it can never quantify psychological distress. Despite popular belief, low weight is not the only danger of eating disorders. There have been times in my life in which my BMI has been in the healthy range and yet my eating behaviours and mental state were far from healthy. I would starve myself for days on end before my body gave in to the pains of hunger and I would binge, after which I would feel so disgusted with myself that I would make myself vomit and/or cut myself with razor blades.

This story reminds me to always consider more than the obvious blame-issues surrounding a social problem. The easy answer isn't always the only answer and sometimes it's not even the right answer. It disgusts me to no end that girls and women are absorbing images of unhealthy women and often thinking they are an ideal body type, and it disgusts me to see the cut and tucked and photshopped bodies and faces on the covers of magazines with headlines like, "get skinny" and "how to have perfect skin" and the complete lack of real women with real skin and real bodies in the media. Even at the end of Naomi's article, I am still pleased to hear that the fashion industry has begun to take some steps to encourage models to have a healthier BMI, and I hope it will be reflected in the magazines and on the television. I also hope, though, that girls and women who read Naomi' article and are suffering from anorexia are encouraged to reach out to get help and understand the broad range of issues that may be surrounding their illness.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Caffeinated Tears

This weekend I watched the first half of the documentary, Black Gold. The first time I had a cup of coffee I was 18. I'll never forget it because of that unexpected buzz. It was an extra large double hazelnut latte from my small town coffee shop and an hour later I was at the college I was attending at the time locked away in a practice room my fingers flying over the ivory piano keys and only the morning sun shining in and my head hung back while I extemporized some quite surprising and frantic melodies with my shaking fingers! I was hooked from that day forward. I must say, though, the past few years I have been drinking certain brands of coffee with a guilty conscience. Mostly the coffee I have at home. I stay away from the stupid cult of starbucks with their tall and grand-eh burnt shitty coffee and cheek puckering sweet machiatos, as well as Tim Horton's, their pretend-to-be-canadian-but-sold-out to American-owned Wendy's in the mid 1990's and Afghanistan war supportin' propoganda bullshit - at work I try to pick the fair trade coffee...
Back Gold made me weep. The farmers needing $1.10 a day earnings to have a life they dream of: to send their children to school with nourishing meals every day. Living in shacks with 15 family members, the Ethiopian children are sick and dying in the regions where the coffee grows, especially the coffee sold and distributed primarily to Starbucks. To see the smiley green apron faces insisting you order by saying "Grand-eh" or tall or low fat... and that coffee makes people happy and the world a better place - the shame. The crying shame to see what it is really doing to people's lives.

A woman's coffee collective in Peru called Café Femenino is made up of about 750 women in approximately 50 communities. These women are in control of the coffee profits that come back to them and they have their priorities for the allocation of profits, children being a main investment. For women in regions soaked in poverty, this offers them a business opportunity but also independence and autonomy they may never otherwise afford.

Instead of spending $5 on a cup of coffee and stumbling over the starbucks-verse, I'm going to be ordering some coffee from this collective. I'll finish watching Black Gold, soon, and dry my eyes again. Keep seeking. Keep understanding. And caffeinate with a good conscience.


1/3 of men don't wash hands in restroom: Study

Monday, September 17, 2007

Diva Diaries - Part 2

Part 2 of Everywoman's Diva Diaries series.
For Part 1, click here.

Taking Back the Night and you know it feels so Right!

Here's another video of the Calgay Radical Cheerleaders at the Take Back the Night March on Saturday, September 15!
Note that it's better quality to watch it small-ish.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Silent Woman Entertainment

I saw this gross plaque today at the flea market. I doubt it's genuine, but a reproduction of real tavern signs in America in the 17th & early 18th centuries. I did a little google search and found another one of these signs with a photo of the description on the back.

Radical Cheerleaders on the Front Lines

One of the cheers from Calgary's own Radical Cheerleaders last night at the Take Back the Night March!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Feminist Flickr Fun!

Okay, well this isn't so much Flickr as a picture from my cell phone I took of a wonderful red wine bottle enjoyed last weekend with a dear friend in a jug of sangria. Keeping with last week's bicycle liberation, I thought I'd share this one and remind you, dear readers, that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
But naked flying goddess lady holding onto a bicycle is very hot. And I love my bicycle, too. In that way. Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Girls are Rumblin'

The International Herald Tribune reports today about young women in Thailand, mostly from poor farming regions, entering the ring for some rumblin' and power punchin'. It makes me happy to read that these young women are finding empowerment in their bravery of engaging in this sport in a country where 'feminine' ideals are highly valued and women are expected to be discreet, polite, and delicate. And the best part is that despite these values and cultural expectations, the sport is gaining in popularity. Boxing is one of the things I want to try this winter, as I love watching it at the pub but have yet to have the guts to take a punch! These girls have inspired me!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Maggots in the Rice and Needles in the Skull

“Maggots in the Rice,” a phrase used in China to often refer to baby girls, is a gross comparison, unarguably. But sticking needles in a baby? A woman in China, Luo Cuifen, now 29 years old, has been found to have had multiple sewing needles pushed into her as a child, including through the fontanel. This has lead not only to a painful process of her body expelling these needles through her skin, but these needles have actually migrated throughout her body, and are now in her lungs, kidneys, bladder, and liver.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Crush Fetish

I just love bizarre fetishes! Crushing creatures is gross and cruel, but inanimate objects - like toy trains - definitely laughable!
Compliments of boinboing.

Not so shocked.

On this anniversary of 9/11 watch this short film and consider checking out Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine. We must always empower ourselves with knowledge and educate ourselves with historical truths. By doing this we will not be afraid and we will not be swayed. Stay strong, all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Breaking News

The founder of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick, has died.

A lovely tribute to Dame Anita Roddick by James Macintyre

University Sex Assaults

This makes me sick. I visited the Women Against Violence Against Women's website to read some statistics again. This story at York Univeristy just makes me rage inside, makes me gnash my teeth and ask the desperate question, how long? One in Four. One in Four women in Canada will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. A woman is raped in Canada every 17 minutes (Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, 1985.). This doesn't include the unreported sexual assault crimes. The Take Back the Night March is a place to voice our anger, to raise our voices in a safe place. But attitudes towards women and violence against women need to change. Jane Doe, in her book, argues that if every 17 minutes lawyers or doctors were being beaten up, the army would be called in. She's absolutely right!

Alberta has a higher proportion of domestic violence cases against women than any other province (Canadian Institute for Health Information Report 2003). It takes more than a march, a protest. It takes more than donating to the shelters. It takes more than dialogue. What are we going to do about it? Come the revolution.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday Feminist Flickr Fun!

Visit Taisau's posted photo on flickr and read about how the bicycle became a symbol of women's liberation in the late 1800's!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

On the Frontlines - NDP Offers Women's Equality Challenge

From the NDP Website Yesterday:
"OTTAWA – The NDP issued an “equality challenge” to political leaders today in Ottawa. Recently, women have been losing ground in their fight for equality as the Harper Conservatives and Liberals in Ottawa have dramatically cut programs and moved backwards on women’s issues."

The Action Plan outlines the following:

Fairness for women - Action plan of the NDP federal caucus
1. Fairness for women at work
2. A better work-family balance
3. An end to violence against women
4. Making sure women are heard – in public, in politics
5. Fairness for marginalized women
6. Equality for women around the globe

I encourage you to read the rest of the plan on the website!


Finally finally finally I've found it! I've been looking for this film for a LONG time and thanks to Google you, too, can watch Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story as acted by Barbie Dolls.
Check it out!

Diva Diaries

What a brave woman. Al Jazeera's executive producer, Rebecca Lipkin, has been diagnosed with "inflammatory breast cancer, and it is extremely aggressive, with a lower survival rate than other kinds of breast cancer". Everywoman is chronicling her experience with treatment of the disease and you can watch the first part of The Diva Diaries here.

Diary Crime

Wow. I just read an article in The Independent about a Dutch woman who's diary was found in the jungles of Colombia by the Colombian Army. Fighting with the FarcMarxist rebels, alias "Eillen" was captured and is now "being held . . . and may face punishment, possibly death."

Eillen poured her thoughts into the pages of her diary - her frustrations, her passions, her hopes, her struggles, her fears... in Anais Nin's words, "we write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." We write for our own inner audience, for our children... for those who may one day find our journals. This is heartbreaking, though, as I am all too familiar with the solstice found in a diary, a paper friend, a trustworthy confidant; and to have those very pages exposed at such a time in one's life, or end thereof, possibly - breaks my heart.

Emily Dickinson did not want her dark poems to be published. After her death we read her "letter(s) to the world that never wrote to (her)." I'm struggling with this today, because I have always maintained we write for an audience and if we don't want our words read then we should destroy our writing. I never considered the consequences of having journals seized, and published while still living. It's this scenario I failed to consider. Eillen's entries can be found online. I feel it to be a courtesy to give her her privacy. I will not be reading her letter to the world.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Abortion in the Philippines

Reuters' Carmel Crimmins reports on abortion in the Philippines and increasing number of women seeking illegal abortions due to the United States government's agency USAID gradually halting distribution of birth control by 2008 in order to be "in line with Manila's goal of self-reliance in family planning." (What about self-reliance from the American troops in the Philippines?) Problem is is that the Philippines is run by militarist President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (evil evil evil), a devout Catholic with the political power of biships on her side. The other problem is, "Women who abort their fetuses in the Philippines risk a prison sentence of up to six years, while anyone providing help or assisting faces a similar sentence as well as the loss of any medical license."
Here is another example of how limiting access to abortion hurts women.

Fruit of the Loom is in Season

Thanks to Jezebel for this link about Melon's scented panties (on sale for just $6.00!) with a lovely fresh scent "built" in to the panties like a "second skin." Boasting that the scent is thanks to the same material as a dryer sheet, I've got an issue with that. Dryer sheets are toxic! Not only are they an irritant to sensitive skin, they contain toxic chemicals approved by the FDA for use! Read a list of dangerous ingredients in dryer sheets here!
Pussy smells like pussy so fuck off scented panties!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Following Up: Miss Dumb Blonde USA

With the debate sparked over the Miss Teen South Carolina video, there has been a lot of back and forth over whether the ridicule of Lauren Caitlin Upton was mean or desserved. Rebecca Traister weighs in on the debate:

Maybe we're not laughing because she's a pretty girl; maybe we're laughing because she chose to go on national television, where she wanted to win a contest that included a question-and-answer session, and then made a total ass of herself in that question-and-answer session. And while we're on the subject of the pageant, why are we snorting at a stupid answer when we don't bat an eye at the fact that Upton and her pageant sisters are smearing Vaseline on their teeth and parading around in bathing suits and evening gowns, hoping to be judged superior to one another and deemed emblematic of young American womanhood? Where, exactly, does Upton's (and our own) humiliation begin? Perhaps not with a geography question.

Exactly. I stand by posting the video on this feminist website.