One of the things that's kept me from blogging recently - aside from family concerns, work, and all the ordinary stuff that keeps people from blogging - is this paralysis that comes when I find a story I want to blog about and then think "oh but there've been SO MANY I've missed, and some have been WAY more important than this..." and then this one gets missed as well.
Not today. Today a story got me angry me and I'm going to blog about it despite the fact that many other much more important stories have happened. I'm going to blog about this one because it grabbed me and if I don't dive in I might never blog again.
I learned it from Dr. Petra Boynton and as I read her post I heard Garrison Keillor's voice in my head and instead of being soothed I was outraged, and so now I'm blogging.
What I heard in my head: That's the news from Dallas/Fort Worth, where the breasts are too droopy, the faces are too wrinkly, and all the labia are above average.
The real story: A news anchor at the Dallas/Fort Worth CB 33 tv station read a story featuring a local woman and a local plastic surgeon. Here is a link to the video and story.
My sweetie writes about boats. I write about sex. Tonight we were fortunate to find an entertaining intersection between the two: Cabaret Red Light's "Seven Deadly Seas" performed on the schooner Gazela, docked for the next few nights in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn, sponsored by PortSide New York.
If you're looking for something to do check them out. It's an intimate setting - only about 80 seats per show - the second row is about as far away as you can get from the action!
The performers are fabulous and the writing is witty. The costumes are lovely, and the shedding of them is lovelier still. Gazela is a beautiful ship, and with the skyline of Lower Manhattan in the background it's hard to imagine a more fitting setting for a show about debauchery and plunder.
Check them out. They're only there for this one weekend. For more information or to by tickets:
From Leonore Tiefer, via the NYU Gender Studies listserv:
THE NEW VIEW CAMPAIGN announces its THIRD Conference, to be held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on Sunday, September 26, 2010.
FRAMING THE VULVA: GENITAL COSMETIC SURGERY AND GENITAL DIVERSITY
While the vulva surgeons are holding a conference on the Las Vegas strip, the New View, in collaboration with the UNLV Women's Studies Department and Petals, will hold a counter-symposium to examine the personal and political complexities of the new female genital cosmetic surgeries.
Fragments of Evolving Manhood: Do You Like Your Body 3 (Preliminary Notes On the Expendability of the Foreskin)Submitted by richnewman on 12 August 2010 - 5:48pm
In 1834, Sylvester Graham—inventor of the cracker that continues to bear his name—published a book called A Lecture to Young Men, in which he warned that masturbation would transform a boy who practiced it regularly into:
a wretched transgressor [who] sinks into a miserable fatuity, and finally becomes a confirmed and degraded idiot, whose deeply sunken and vacant, glossy eye, and livid shrivelled [sic] countenance, and ulcerous, toothless gums, and fetid breath, and feeble broken voice, and emaciated and dwarfish and crooked body, and almost hairless head—covered perhaps with suppurating blisters and running sores—denote a premature old age, a blighted body—and a ruined soul! (Quoted in Kimmel)
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with my male friends about them being called “safe,” or in one case, a “safety blanket.” Don’t know what I’m talking about? Celebrate.
This is the phenomenon in which a (generally young) woman dismisses her behavior around a guy as “Oh, that’s just so-and-so. He’s safe.” It always sounds like it’s meant to be a compliment, but there’s very little like it to bring out the bitter in a guy even decades after the fact. It took explaining the concept of “safe” to the wife of one of these friends for me to really figure out why.
Safe is better than not safe, right?
Well, of course none of my guy friends want to threaten any women, so being very not safe is right out of the question. However, being this sort of safe is far beyond not being a rapist in potentia, far more than just what’s left when that worry is removed. This safe means out of the running for any kind of sexual consideration whatsoever. This is gay-best-friend safe without the gay or necessarily the best friend. There are more options to be found in the real world than just this kind of safe and not safe.
At eleven, I am the youngest of eight boys lined up along one row of lockers in the otherwise empty men’s room at the swimming pool to which the day camp we are attending takes us every other day. Normally, I’d be changing with boys my own age, but a mix-up back at the camp grounds landed me on the bus with these guys, who are all twelve and thirteen. I turn my back to them to hide the erection that has taken hold of my body and which I am having difficulty fitting into my bathing suit. Despite my best efforts to remain inconspicuous, however, my movements attract their attention and one of them sneaks up behind me and looks over my shoulder. “Hey,” his voice rings out metallically, “look at the size of Newman’s boner!”
Like a pack of dogs that has been thrown a single piece of meat, the group surrounds me in a tight circle, while I stand there not moving, body pointing me into the air above the middle of the room, wishing I could vanish, that it would vanish, but no matter how much I will it, the damned thing will not go down.
“What are you, a homo!?”
As a Jewish man, like it or not, my identity within the Jewish community as both a man and a Jew is defined by the fact of my circumcision. Even though I am Jewish first because my mother is Jewish, at least according to the tradition accepted by most of the Jewish communities in the world, I entered God’s covenant with Abraham, became fully a member of my own people, only after my foreskin was removed, and for the first fifteen or so years of my life, I romanticized the moment of that cutting. Imagining a bloodless ceremony saturated with self-conscious majesty, I saw my boy’s body wrapped warmly and securely in a blanket, held peacefully at ease in the lap of my Uncle Max, smiling drunk on the wine-soaked cloth I’d been given to suck on to dull the (as it was explained to me by my grandmother) very small pain I would feel. Prayers were uttered over my flesh, and after the cutting was done, my membership in the covenant, not to mention into the community of Jewish manhood, was celebrated with food and drink. I pictured myself being passed lovingly among the guests, cuddled and coddled as they talked about the man I would grow up to be.
I just read a story in the New York Times, written by Tamar Lewin, that was both touching and infuriating. It concerned a change noted recently by staffers at the GI Rights Hotline, a number for people to call if they want help becoming conscientious objectors.
The touching part of the story came in the descriptions of the work done by those who staff the hotline. Since conscientious objector status is decided based on a person's beliefs, and since a caller's beliefs and a staffer's beliefs might be quite different, it can be a challenging job and these workers come across as very dedicated to helping people despite conflicting belief systems. It was also touching to read the concerns they shared about those who never make it to the hotline, speculating that many of those who desert or who kill themselves are people who are "struggling with their conscience."
The infuriating part comes in when people apply their beliefs in illogical ways. Specifically, the change on which the article reports is the new growth in calls by people who want conscientious objector status because they cannot in good conscience serve in the military with people who are gay. Lewin explains in her article that this objection on the face of it fails the conscienctious objector test, in which a person must clearly object to participating in all war as a result of some deeply held moral, ethical, or religious belief. She quotes J. E. McNeil, a long-time staffer of the hotline, who explains that “In the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situation, they’re not opposed to participating in war, they’re opposed to who they’re participating with”.
Serious domestic/intimate partner violence trigger in the first few paragraphs.
Sitting on my bed with her back against the wall, my lover—who’s come to visit during my first year of graduate school—tells me that she’s at last made her decision: she’s going to study fine art. I should be happy for her, but I’m suddenly listening from a place so deep inside myself that the sounds leaving her mouth no longer coalesce into meaningful units. There is a moment of blankness, and then, as if someone else has taken control of my brain, I am forced to watch a vision of myself getting up from the chair where I’ve been sitting, putting one hand around my lover’s throat, holding her against the wall, and slapping her face back and forth with my other hand until she is senseless and bloody. I see myself screaming in her ear, letting her drop to the floor, and kicking her in the stomach as hard as I can. In the vision, my mouth moves but no words come out.
Hi everyone! My name is Richard Jeffrey Newman, and I am a friend and colleague of Elizabeth's. She and I talked about my blogging here on SitPS some time ago, but it's only recently that I have turned my attention (actually, returned my attention is more accurate) to material that would be appropriate to post here. Before I start doing so, though, I thought I should tell you a little bit about myself and my work. Pretty much everything I write about gender and sexuality is rooted in some way in my experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, by two different men, at two very different points in my life. At the time, this is more than 30 years ago, the only people who were talking at all about child sexual abuse, or pretty much any kind of sexual abuse, were feminists; and so it was through feminism that I found a vocabulary to name not only what had happened to me, but also how I wanted to live in my body in response to what those men had done to me.