Friday, June 29, 2007

Waxing and circumcision and social pressure, oh my!

Via Pandagon is a story about a girl who got a serious infection in her naughty bits because of waxing and shaving, not once but twice! (Click through links at Pandagon to see the most horrific picture- not for the faint hearted.)
She presented to the ER with not only “grossly swollen” external genitalia, and pain so extreme that she had to be put under general anesthetic just so her physician could perform a gynecologic exam. She was so swollen that, according to the legend to Figure 1 (which you can find online, as the article is freely available), “she was unable to pass urine, and the vaginal space was obliterated by edema.”
Whenever removal of body hair (or most beauty rituals performed by women for that matter) comes up in feminist discussion, there is always a good portion that involves women explaining that they conform to those standards but only because it is their choice, not because they want to live up to the patriarchal ideal. Maybe that's true, but I doubt it. We are all victims of the patriarchy and even the most strident of us feminists have issues that aren't quite resolved.

For example, I shave the legs and pits. I will tell people that I do it because I love how my legs feel right after I shave them, and that is true. But if that was the whole truth, then I wouldn't have a problem wearing skirts when I haven't shaved them. I wear skirts almost everyday, but not if there is stubble on my legs. That has nothing to do with how it feels to me physically, but it is because the ideal has been ingrained into my brain and I haven't been able to break that bit of social programming.

As for shaving the girly bits, about once a year or so I forget how much pain it causes me and I go bald. It feels really nice for about 12 hours, and then I remember why it is that I don't do this. For weeks after there is itchy regrowth, ingrown hairs that become infected, and without it's protective covering, the bits become prone to yeast infections (I know- oversharing, deal with it). The women I know who do this all the time don't deny these problems, but they see it as a "cleanliness" issue. For some reason it has gotten into people's heads that pubic hair= dirty, smelly pussy. I wonder if these people have ever heard of water and it's magic cleansing powers. They also claim that you get used to it after a while. but I've been shaving my legs since I was 12 and they still get itchy with ingrown hairs. How long would I have to endure the much worse discomfort of shaving the bits? 20 years of shaving the legs hasn't made me used to it.

And that brings us to circumcision (on males, that is).

The guys in my family aren't circumcised, and that includes my son. Maybe because of my paternal grandmother's Eastern European heritage they missed the whole 1950's push towards circumcision as a hygiene practice. But they aren't. And when the Kid was born 12 years ago, and still sometimes today, I get no end of grief about how wrong I was not to circumcise him. Here's an example of a conversation I once had with a guy about this:

Guy: That is so wrong.

Me: Why? We're not Jewish. Why should I have had him snipped?

Guy: Because it's dirty. Think of all the crud that gets stuck in there.

Me: Oh my god, your totally right! Think of all the crud that gets stuck under your fingernails. You should cut off your hands instead of, you know, grabbing some soap and water!

This is how nearly every argument I've had with people over the circumcision thing has gone. This whole conversation could apply to waxing the bits for hygiene purposes too (though for washing girly bits, if you must use soap it should a be mild, glycerin- free version. Consider that your sex parts tip for the day).

The girl in the original story, the one whose "vaginal space was obliterated", after the first infection could not possibly have been doing it because it felt good. She was willing to risk her life a second time for a pornified ideal. Not just discomfort, but toxic shock, possibly lethal. We might not all have reactions that bad, and none of us are completely free from behaviors that are socially programmed and we all have to examine those behaviors to at least understand why we have those behaviors and decide if it might be healthier to change them.

(note: I know there are studies that say circumcision may lower the transmission rates of HIV in males. But so do condoms. I think I'll teach the Kid about safe sex practices and if he decides he wants to get circumcised as an adult to lower his HIV risk- I'll smack him on the head once with a box of trogans and then let him do what he wants. )

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Own Dead Celebrity Soulmate

Hmmm.... well the description of "what your date might be like" sounds something like my love life, except usually I'm the one who ends up throwing things.

My other Options were Edgar Allan Poe & Billy the Kid... go figure ;)

Dead Celebrity Soulmates!

I match up with Leonardo da Vinci and Rudolph Valentino

Da Vinci- not so much on the physical hotness, but I would have done naughty bad things to his brain. Oh and just think about the kind of devices I could have inspired him to invent. Hubba hubba.

Now Rudolph, there's a hottie I could totally get behind (or under or on top of). Yummy yummy.

I heart Elizabeth Edwards

Screaming banshee Ann Coulter appeared on on Hardball with Chris Matthews and Elizabeth Edwards called in to ask Ann to stop the personal attacks on her family. Elizabeth was way more polite than I would have been (see my NC17 rating). After all, Coulter has called her husband a "faggot" and accused him of driving around with a bumper sticker that read “Ask me about my son’s death in a horrific car accident.” I would have torn Ann to pieces with my bare hands, but Elizabeth is way more classy than I am.

Here's my favorite bit from Elizabeth:
I haven’t talked to John about this call. I’m making the call as a mother. I’m the mother of that boy who died. My children participate — these young people behind you are the age of my children. You’re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues, and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well.

Video and a full transcript here

And just a few other reasons to love her:

Marriage Equality

Putting up with the awful interview style of Katie Couric when being grilled about breast cancer (funny thing is- Katie didn't give up her job when her husband had colon cancer. Was she putting family first or her ambition?)

And rumor has it that she is way more on the ball with the internet stuff than her hubby (who says girls don't like technology- puh-lease!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hide the kiddies!

Online Dating


The neighborhood I grew up in is on fire. Rumors are that the high school I went to burned down. The pond area where we used to sneak off to drink beer has been burned, so has the place where I once had a picnic and got more than a little frisky with my high school boyfriend, until we got chased off by a bear. I wonder if the bear escaped the fire. I wonder how long bears live, it's been 15 years.

I remember one summer when I was a kid where we had fires burning all around the basin. The sky was pink and gray from smoke and everything smelled like a fireplace in winter because of all the burning pine. There was only one road out of the basin that wasn't consumed by fire. This fire is worse.

People are being evacuated to the Rec Center. It's weird to think that the place where I took swimming and ballet lessons is now housing a bunch of families whose houses have been turned to ash and cinder. It's also weird to read about people running towards the Y, a shopping center at the south end of town where I worked for an entire two weeks as a waitress and realized I never wanted to be paid minimum wage to deal with other people's food again. I thought that particular place was hell, the idea of people running towards it seems wrong in so many ways.

I hope the fire gets controlled soon, for the sake of the people and the bear.

The joys of parenthood

Kid: Mom! I need scissors!

Me: Why?

Kid: Someone covered our dumpster in fliers to get people to join the military. I want to cut them down.

Me: Do you want scissors- or do you want a Sharpi so you can graffiti them?

Kid: Oh, I totally want the Sharpis.

Me: That's my little agitprop-er!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Boys will be boys and school administrators will be asswipes

A story came out Friday that a girl at Rainier Beach High had been sexually assaulted by another student during school hours and the school neglected to contact the police.

Instead, the rapist boy and the boy who played lookout each got 3 day suspensions.

Huhm, so now the going punishment for sexual assault is not jail time, but school suspension.

"There are things that are in place for discipline," said Gary, "The situation was investigated and dealt with." (That would be Robert Gary Jr., the principal at Rainier Beach).

Someone needs to remind Mr. Gary that rape is a crime, and the only place for discipline in criminal cases is the court system. These are not a couple of boys blowing spitwads or graffiting a bathroom wall. These boys are a rapist and a conspirator to rape.

I feel for this poor girl. She did exactly what she was supposed to do, what we tell our kids to do all the time. She reported the incident immediately to an adult. And then, weeks later, the same adult she reported helped her file a police report when it became clear the the school administration was not going to do it themselves. How much evidence has been lost in that time? How long have the boys had to get their stories straight? How many days did the girl have to continue attending school with her attacker while the principal sat on his hands because he believed enough discipline had been handed out? That one I can actually answer- school got out on Friday, the 22nd. There were 15 school days between June 4th and the 22nd, three of which the boys would have been out on suspension- so 12 fucking days spent in the same building with the rapist and his looky-loo buddy.

I had thought that there was a legal requirement for school professionals to report sexual abuse, but in my very quick research of Washington state rules I found that teachers have a duty to report suspected abuse or neglect to the principal, but it is the principal's discretion to report it to other authorities. And these laws only apply to suspected child abuse, not to rape or threats of violence from other students.

This isn't the first time that Seattle Public School's has had such an issue.

A Ballard High School student threatened to kill another student during a May 11th class. The school knew about the threat, but didn't contact police.

Maybe the schools would have more time for teaching instead of dealing with "social problems" if they left the actual criminal stuff up to the justice system, like say rape and death threats. Maybe Seattle Public Schools needs to have a policy where all criminal acts that present a threat to other students MUST be reported to the police. You know that if the girl had reported a gun in a locker or a someone with a bag of pot- the principal would have been on the phone to the police in minutes instead. But violence directed at a single student, particularly a female student doesn't warrant a fucking phone call.