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Archive for May, 2011

Caution: do NOT click on the link to the ref to this post unless you are of age and prepared to see images that some may find disturbing … if real women’s bodies can be found to be disturbing. I offer a half-assed apology to any who may be offended by this post, the subject matter being considered taboo in some quarters, but suggest those who find it a bit unsavory get the fuck over it …

With a recent post prompting a spate of speculation over the possible reasons women subject themselves to all sorts of painful and expensive surgeries in hopes of somehow improving their … what? … looks? … chances? … futures? … whatevahhh … this article, “Why Australian law demands all vaginas be digitally altered”, really got my knickers in a twist.

Although there’s a flap in the comments over the writer’s terminology, she does admit that out of some drive for easier digestion she uses “vagina” when she should be calling the parts to be altered “vulva” and I’m not bothered.

A couple of things do bother me, though, and a lot! First, the fact that I’ve gone through my whole life having NO idea that some of what went on in the world of pornographic images of women was happening. Second, the impact on the generations of women who’ve been living during the time of this ruse.

Although familiar with the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, I must admit to being completely surprised by the fact that women in “civilized” countries have been lining up for not only boob jobs, but labiaplasty, and for many of the same reasons.

Porn, apparently, not only touts plastic tits, but altered twats. No shit?

Pardon my naiveté, please, but quite honestly I’ve never been in a position to examine another woman’s private parts, and even on the occasions I have seen pornographic images … and there have been many of those since no few men I’ve been around have found porn “entertaining” … I found myself paying more attention to the pestles than the mortars, and absolutely none to the dialog. Given the issue of location, I’ve rarely even checked out my own all that often or thoroughly, so it’s safe to say I’ve given little thought to vulvas.

I am appalled, however, to learn that even that most girly of girl parts has been subject to the airbrush, the tidy-up, the alteration.

If I handed you a pencil and paper and asked you to draw a vagina*, odds are you would come up with something like this:

Which is interesting, considering only a small minority of mature females actually have fannies that look like that. Little girls – yes, that’s pretty much what they all look like. But grown women? The vast majority have a least a peep of their ‘inner lips’ showing, even when standing upright with their legs together while sipping Earl Grey from gold-rimmed Royal Doulton and nibbling on homemade shortbread. For many women, it’s more than just a ‘peep’ – some have full-blown dangly blossoms on display. This has nothing to do with how much sex they’ve had, their state of arousal or whether they’ve borne children (although, so what if it was?). It’s simply the way they are built.

So, getting this straight … men are being taught through the handbooks most end up learning from that women should look like little girls. That sucks!

And that’s not all that sucks …

Girls are also given one more fucking thing to feel insecure, different, weird about. Another impossible Barbie image … Great. Just great.

And the terminology!

Many of those models actually have outies in real life, which have been ‘healed to a single crease’ …

Healed?

Don’t mean to pull a tit-for-twat here, but … REALLY NOW … is there anything esthetically pleasing about a pair of hairy, puckered testicles? Yet, as pointed out in the article:

Imagine for a moment if someone in the censor’s office had decided that testicles were too ‘explicit’. Imagine that to be sold over the counter at a normal newsagent, your naked pictures of men had to have their testicles digitally removed.

Yes, digital castration. Think there might be an outcry?

I know Ken has no balls, but how many men ever felt pressure to be anything like that bit of plastic?

If someone had told me there was something else to be shocked about in the world of sex, I’d have thought them underestimating my scope, but this has really thrown me, and I’d not suspected labia to be a flash point for women’s rights.

Yes, I do know there are legions of straight men who would rather not spend time looking, up close and personal, at what they consider heaven … and, quite frankly, I’ve always rather doubted the commitment to the female form in guys not totally immersed … but the knowledge that they’ve been led down some trimmed rose path has come as a surprise.

Perhaps it’s time women developed a bit of the overblown pride men sport when it comes to their sexy parts, some of that fall-to-the-knees fascination glorifying every lift and tilt and ooze that can occupy a man for hours on end.

Sure, we won’t be able to wag it over the fence with a “Lookie what I’ve got for you, Baby!”, but we don’t have to hide ours away just because it doesn’t stand quite so high and shout for attention.

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Hanging in a place of prominence in every house I’ve lived in for the past 30-something years is a photo of Roy Rogers in his prime upon which is the legend:

Stinkpot,
You old horse.
Roy

Not a personally autographed souvenir from a cowboy hero, but rather a snarky Christmas gift emblazoned with amusing family references by my brother in a quintessentially Hanks way I’ve treasured ever since the morning I unwrapped the thing and got a good laugh.

It was my father who dubbed me both “Stinkpot” and “Old Horse” … and the two often went together … when I was a little kid and since neither moniker was meant to sting I’ve no resentments or emotional scars, just the appreciation for humor that runs in my blood.

Why am I sharing this today? Well … I was pecking around for a post title, came up with this one and thought an explanation might be a good lead when addressing the issues of aging women. (So I’m considering this contribution a twofer … )

It’s this from the Washington Post written by Naomi Wolf, a writer whose work I’ve followed and appreciated for yonks and whose thoughts on women resonate.

Her topic in the Post is “The Aging Myth”, and I’m liking what I read.

I had thought that getting older would be harder. The common cultural script tells us that women lose value as they age and that men will trade in their counterparts for younger versions (because, of course, that would be trading up). Middle-aged women are supposed to face the loss of their youthful selves with grief and anguish.

I look around at the magnetic and dynamic women my own age, I look at my own life, and instead that script seems more like a convenient fiction — designed, as so many aspects of “the beauty myth” are, to make women feel less powerful; in this case, just when their power, magnetism and sexuality are at their height.

I’m not claiming that “at their height” thing personally, and although there are aspects of aging I’m not exactly chuffed with I’m far from anguished, as are the women I know.

Interestingly, Wolf compares today’s messages with those cranked out by ad agencies, marketing folks and others with a vested interested in fostering self-image damage of the past and finds the present-day situation even worse for women:

When my book was published in 1991, I noted that a burgeoning epidemic of eating disorders was engulfing what should have been the feistiest, most confident generation of women ever. The field of cosmetic surgery, especially breast implant procedures, was booming. Pornography was chipping away at young women’s sexual self-esteem just as insult-ridden advertisements for anti-aging creams were shaping the way women thought about the experience of getting older. The way we looked determined our value to society.

Since then, many of the issues I warned about have, indeed, gotten worse. The body size of fashion models and starlets has dropped still further; fashion ads showcase women who look as if they should be hospitalized. The technologies of cosmetic surgery have become so commonplace that there are communities in which women with unreconstructed faces are seen as bucking the norm. Breast surgery is almost universal in pornography, and pornography is almost universal in the sexual coming-of-age of both young women and young men; those images now have greater impact than they did when I wrote the book.

The good news, however, is that we’re not buyin’ it, or at least not in the wholesale ways we once went like sheep to the slaughter. She calls it a “substantial subset” and sites a study that reports about 30% as “change agents” … women “who are defining beauty for themselves”.

How this translates to both men and young women is a question, but I have to wonder if it’s one we need bother asking.

If I look like a crone to a twenty-something chickie-pooh should I feel somehow less-than? In actuality, I’m more-than and if she chooses not to notice the accumulation of wisdom and wit she still might catch the reflection that is herself in time.

If my age makes me invisible to a man whose vision is limited to the firm and perky is there some mandate stating I must react with self-flagellation with a sack of insecurities and regrets over what I no longer have at my disposal?

There is only one alternative to aging and that involves a deep hole and a box, so beating myself up over the rings of my tree … even if they add a bit of girth … seems a waste of time and an endeavor meant only to add to frown lines.

Ms. Wolf goes into some detail on the advantages of aging, and I don’t disagree:

On the street, young women are told: Give me some. Older women hear: I love your eyes. That is not a bad trade.

Since I hear that quite often, I’ll settle for being how old I am … until I’m older.

Here’s lookin’ at you, Kid …

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The following is an apocryphal accounting of the approach of Judgement Day, true to the nature of such to the nth degree, and to be taken with every bit of the gravity it deserves …

If you’re one of those thinking a bullet was dodged on the 21st of May you are missing something … or from Joplin, MO.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are heading for the last roundup, and last week’s “deadline” was nothing less than a census before culling begins.

All the advance press on this palaver being subject to interpretation, it’s now clear that the parameters used to establish who makes the cut and who bites it are not exactly what that fuckwad from Oakland espouses, although he may very well be part of the testing process. His biblical references and yaddidy yaddidy on the “invisible judgement day” … small ‘j’, small ‘d’ … are merely a smokescreen masking the real criteria that will be used to establish who rises like yeasty bread and who’s toast.

Although nonbelievers may balk at this revelation, the truth is, in part it’s facebook that will be used to separate the productive wheat from the useless chaff, and anyone fooled into thinking only their friends are watching what they post needs to be led to the light.

It has been revealed that god isn’t stupid and actually does have a sense of humor, so sensibly decided eternity will be one hell of a lot more fun and interesting if populated by only funny, smart souls. In other words, dour, dumb downers will be heading in their chosen direction. (Not up … duh … )

Figuring that Adam/Eve/apple thing was more than a bit simplistic, counted too heavily on impetuosity and didn’t really give much clue to anyone’s true nature, an Onion was substituted and social networking was extended toward humanity as a test of an individual’s character.

Turns out that faith, adherence to antiquated dictates, gullibility and a refusal or inability to link thoughts together independently is easily tracked on fb wall-by-wall and comment-by-comment, and the resulting lack of a grasp of satire … a word rooted in the Latin satira, meaning “poetic medley”, therefore having nothing to do with Satan … pretty much adds up to putting a person on the “toast” list.

No longer seeing a need for the confessional closet when a website will do, Literally Unbelievable came to be. Not that the omnipotent needs such a convenience, but it does make it easier for god’s representatives on Earth to work out which folks they’ll not have to be listening to in the hereafter. Click on the link for an idea of what we’ll be missing … sheesh ….

Harkening back to more a more traditional take, a read of the Book of Revelations makes the point:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Rev 20:11-12)

There it is, in black and white … IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO READ ALL THE WORDS, AND TO GET IT!

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You know how some news stories grab attention and make sense on some level, yet grate away for a while leaving enough of a raw spot to require examination?

No, I’m not talking about spending any time pondering what that fuckwit Camping is thinking as he has shifted doomsday to October since he’s clearly hoping to clear a few more million before the world or his credibility finally comes to an end. (And if you happen to know anyone stupid enough to even think about sending him some dosh, have them send it to me instead. I’ll get the word out just fine, thankyouverymuch, and I won’t publicized the idiocy of handing a load of cash over, so no worries about something like this showing up in the media:

“I’ve been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I’ve been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car,” said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, New York. “I was doing what I’ve been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I’ve been stymied. It’s like getting slapped in the face.”)

What a moron … but not today’s topic …

The story that got me was this from the BBC: India’s Unwanted Girls.

India’s 2011 census shows a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven – activists fear eight million female foetuses may have been aborted in the past decade.

Horrible. Just horrible. But this is not a story about abortion. It’s not even a story about the illegal practice of prenatal determining of the sex of a fetus with the intention of aborting girls. It’s not about the consequences the imbalance of girls-to-boys when it becomes women-to-men, how few brides there will be, how many guys will be left high and dry and how that will impact future generations.

Nope. This is about the simple fact that in 2011 the female gender is disregarded to the point of being considered in negative value to the point of genocide, or “gendercide” as some choose to call it.

It’s not new, as Gendercide Watch makes very clear:

In many cultures, government permitted, if not encouraged, the killing of handicapped or female infants or otherwise unwanted children. In the Greece of 200 B.C., for example, the murder of female infants was so common that among 6,000 families living in Delphi no more than 1 percent had two daughters. Among 79 families, nearly as many had one child as two. Among all there were only 28 daughters to 118 sons. … But classical Greece was not unusual. In eighty-four societies spanning the Renaissance to our time, “defective” children have been killed in one-third of them. In India, for example, because of Hindu beliefs and the rigid caste system, young girls were murdered as a matter of course. When demographic statistics were first collected in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that in “some villages, no girl babies were found at all; in a total of thirty others, there were 343 boys to 54 girls. … [I]n Bombay, the number of girls alive in 1834 was 603.”

So neither new, nor improved.

The BBC’s take focuses around the availability of ultrasound technology and subsequent abortion and quotes someone who apparently didn’t study up on this history much …

Until 30 years ago, he says, India’s sex ratio was “reasonable”. Then in 1974, Delhi’s prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences came out with a study which said sex-determination tests were a boon for Indian women.

It said they no longer needed to produce endless children to have the right number of sons, and it encouraged the determination and elimination of female foetuses as an effective tool of population control.

A 1994 law outlawed sex-selective abortion, but the government has “been forced to admit its strategy has failed to put an end to female feticide.”

Well, yeah … Since laws against murder did squat to stop female infanticide, why would anyone expect this to work?

As illustrated well in my friend Rihaan Patel’s award-winning short film “The Death of Daughters” girls born does not lead to girl living. (Yeah, that’s a plug. He’s young and just getting started, so I thought I’d give him a mention.)

From Gendercide Watch:

Lakshmi already had one daughter, so when she gave birth to a second girl, she killed her. For the three days of her second child’s short life, Lakshmi admits, she refused to nurse her. To silence the infant’s famished cries, the impoverished village woman squeezed the milky sap from an oleander shrub, mixed it with castor oil, and forced the poisonous potion down the newborn’s throat. The baby bled from the nose, then died soon afterward. Female neighbors buried her in a small hole near Lakshmi’s square thatched hut of sunbaked mud. They sympathized with Lakshmi, and in the same circumstances, some would probably have done what she did. For despite the risk of execution by hanging and about 16 months of a much-ballyhooed government scheme to assist families with daughters, in some hamlets of … Tamil Nadu, murdering girls is still sometimes believed to be a wiser course than raising them. “A daughter is always liabilities. How can I bring up a second?” Lakshmi, 28, answered firmly when asked by a visitor how she could have taken her own child’s life eight years ago. “Instead of her suffering the way I do, I thought it was better to get rid of her.”

Another cultural quirk like female genital mutilation, preventing women from participating in life through bans on voting, owning property, driving, getting an education, leaving the house?

Can there be any doubt over why it’s okay for many to kill baby girls when the world has yet to come to any meaningful consensus on their worth? When the simple possession of a penis bestows esteem … no matter how stupid, useless, debauched, evil, profane or disgusting the bearer … and societies encourage this view, the issue of allowing more girls into the world can seem a silly waste of resources at best, and a dangerous game of numbers to some.

Zero tolerance for such attitudes is the only answer; international courts where offenders, both individuals and offending nations are called to account as well as local jurisdictions with the will and the power to enforce laws demanding equal treatment, equal rights. Poor countries with stone age perspective and well-entrenched customs should be sanctioned out of their socks, taken to task, forced in all possible ways to abandon the old traditions and move the female portions of their populations into the mainstream of everything.

It will happen. Not in my lifetime, for sure, but it will, and maybe even before the rapture … rupture … whatevahhh. If it does take that long, watch out, because God is going to be really pissed off at how her girls have been treated.

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I know I’ve not written for a while, and there’s a reason for that; there’s nothing new to blather about.

The world hasn’t ended, Seychelles has the same President and people are still screwing around on their partners and behaving badly in general. Where’s potential for interest in any of that?

I did start a rant last week over the infidelities in the news, from that Prick-for-brains IMF creep and the Sperminator, but really now … is there anything new about politicians or actors, or both (or musicians or lawyers or whatever … ), not being capable of keeping their parties within the confines of their own pants, if not limited to their partners?

I suppose I could have pounded out something on the targets of said philanderers and the treatment they’ve received in the press, but have been in no mood.

I found it mildly engaging when taking into account the particular women on the other end of the cheatin’ stick, but even Mrs. Prick-for-brains IMF creep and Maria Shriver aren’t anywhere near enough outside the boundaries of run-of-the-mill in their ties to scoundrels to post a whole blog about them.

After all, cheaters cheat, liars lie and Let Cheating Dogs Lie could be a bumper sticker. (Don’t get me wrong … I like dogs, but only if they’ve had all necessary injections, are housebroken and well-trained. Feral scavengers are just pitiful and it would often be a kindness to put them down.)

Money-grubbing religious asswipes are also not rare, and neither are morons who send money to buy their bullshit, then have their asses wiped. Sure, it’s all vaguely amusing on some level, but the fact is there are far too many far too stupid to live, and that’s not news, either.

On a local level, our Presidential election came and went with no changes, so there’s not much to say about that.

On a personal level, I’m enjoying myself, but not sharing the who, what, where, when or how of that, either, so neener, neener, neener.

Anyone really missing me is free to send a topic and I’ll do my best to work up a good head of steam … or mist … or fog … and bang out what I can that may or may not relate, assuming, of course, an Internet connection tamps down annoyance levels.

Not missing me is okay, too.

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Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t. ~Richard Bach

If you happen to run into me today, please give a kiss and a hug and congratulate me on not being dead yet.

It’s the 17th of May again, an anniversary I have, for 11 years, marked by not being dead. It was emergency bypass surgery that made the still alive thing keep happening, a holiday adventure in Singapore I’m not likely to forget, and although not high on the fun-and-games factor, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever made.

Being alive, I keep writing, and usually on the 17th of May I jot down pondererings on aspects of life I tend to take for granted much of the rest of the days I walk and breathe and watch a sunrise.

On the 16th of May, 1999, I was abruptly informed that I was somewhere between one and thirty days of a fatal heart attack … news that almost caused one right there and then. By the 17th I’d been sliced and diced and given a new lease, and although open-ended and loaded with get-out clauses for the lessor, I’m still not complaining.

Had I died back then I would have missed a lot. Some of it total shit, for sure, as at that time I was a reasonably content woman and had not buried any child of mine. I could have predicted little that has happened since, if anything, but I guess that’s a good thing.

Of course, Sam and Cj are bonuses beyond belief, and although they would have come into the world without me since I had nothing to do with their creation, missing out on being their mother would have been a real gyp.

I’d like to think that the end of me would have taken some residual good stuff with it; there would be a bit less music and much fewer words around, and maybe … just maybe … I’ve done some good for someone somewhere over these years of gravy that pay toward my price of admission.

Checking off another year prompts more than reflection, though, as each 17th of May I wonder about the 364 days until the next one and what they might bring. Sorry to say I don’t do this with as much joy and wonder as I should, but rather with no little fear that I might not be able to pull off another whole year.

That low-hanging sword serves to remind me life is a short option under any circumstance, and although I have little fear of being dead I can be terrified of potential alternatives.

This is the time of year I want to grab every bit of life I can by the collar, pull it close and squeeze as much out of it as I can. My patience grows thin now … not that it’s ever very thick … and a welling sense of panic creeps over me that too much is passing too quickly.

It’s not a case of feeling compelled to climb Everest or fling myself out of airplanes. No. My bucket list is pretty damned simple.

Item number one for the last some years was having all four of my kids under the same roof with me at the same time. That is no longer possible, but I do hope those of us still around share space someday.

I would like to feel safe and be happy for as long a time as possible, as that would be a whole new experience that would be nice to have for a while … just to check it out.

Watching mountain gorillas and seeing Venice … not at the same time, thankyouverymuch … are about as close to conventional if-I-can-before-I-croak dreams.

A sense of settled with some idea of what just might happen over the next month or two or six would be nice, too.

Perhaps all that will happen … maybe this year, even. Perhaps not. The point is, however, I am still along for the ride, and good, bad or indifferent, I’m bloody grateful to be here.

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Yes, Mondays are weird.

My dream this morning started out with a giraffe in the kitchen. Granted, it was a baby giraffe I recognized immediately as a young version of Tisha, a long-necked friend from years back … but I still nudged her out the door. Finding her buddy Brutus … and he was a treasured kindred spirit for a long time … waiting outside was a real treat.

Examining the contents of my fridge, I found … What else? … carrots and cucumbers and jack fruit and acacia branches, so loaded up some buckets and headed out to share the treats.

I wasn’t alone, however, as my daughter Jennifer was with me, also much younger than she is now, and a monkey who’d brought his own bucket. Together, the three of us had a great time feeding Brutus and Tish, scratching that itchy place between their horns and being licked and nibbled in appreciation.

(Readers I worked with at the Sacto Zoo might appreciate that the monkey looked a lot like Pinot. I said it was weird … )

Mondays lately have also been annoying. Kokonet, the local ISP that takes both the “S” and the “P” out of the “I”, has been total crap all weekend and even worse this morning. Since not only my work, but also my desire are accessible only online at the moment, I’m threatening to loose a squad of testicle-munching, starved and angry versions of Pinot on those “in charge”.

Given the circumstances, I’m in no mood to post anything particularly profound today … if, in fact, I’m able to post anything … so you poor readers get weird dreams and aggravated bitching.

Sorry, ’bout that …

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