Archive for the 'Sexuality' Category

Spread ’em

There may be too much information here but just know that you’ve been warned…

I’ve been having irregular, unexplained pain in and around the area of my ovaries and uterus – completely incapacitating pain to the point of tears – for the past ten months or so. It used to only last a few hours so I’ve managed it with ibuprofen and ice and sleep. I talked to my nurse practitioner (NP) and we were both willing to call it dysmenorrhea – painful periods – and I was just going to eat better, sleep better, and get more exercise and it would go away. This month it came two days after my period ended so I can’t call it dysmenorrhea anymore.

I went for a pelvic exam last week and the nurse practitioner really blew it. It didn’t start well from the time I got to the clinic, where I’ve been going for six or seven years; I wasn’t on the day’s schedule. Then they couldn’t find my chart. Then they couldn’t find the NP. Finally I was called and while the registered nurse was bringing me back to the exam rooms and starting to steer me into the first empty one the NP says, “No – we need #4 [room] – we need to do a [in a Very LouD WhisPER] PAP SMEAR And EverYThING.” Good grief. Why announce this in this way? Surely the NP does them all the time, the reg. nurse has certainly seen them, I’ve had babies, the staff in the office all know they happen there regularly – what’s the big deal? It’s not like the NP was keeping it confidential to protect my privacy – a loud whisper attracts a lot of looks – everyone in the office this time as a matter of fact. I just thought, ‘whatever’ and proceeded to say no thank you to a weigh-in and also declined the yucky gown since I’d worn a skirt just for the occasion. I remember reading this waaaay long ago, probably in Our Bodies, Our Selves and think keeping on her own clothes is the least a woman needs when she’s going to be in such a powerless situation.

So it wasn’t long before I was opening wide for the exam (no stirrups at least) and the NP is getting ready for the pap. I am covered from waist to thighs with a white sheet and have a pretty good view of what’s going on – including the look of disgust on the NP’s face. If ever a woman has been sensitive or insecure of her sexuality, or the ‘normalcy’ of her genitals, or the skid marks from childbirth three times over, a look of disgust on the face of the NP is not what she needs. I asked what the face was for and the response was “Some women have more mucous than others.” Then I see the swab come out of me (indeed covered with what I recognize as egg whitey highly fertile mucous – not yeasty or anything) and the NP drops it in the waste basket with a shudder.

Honestly, a NP shouldn’t be doing pelvic exams if they can’t do it neutrally. Wanna know how sexual/desirable I feel these days? Besides the worry of what’s wrong with me, which is tied to the whole aging fear, which is tied to the ‘what do I want to do when I grow up’ anxiety now I’m having flashbacks to how ‘gross’ I am.

The rest of the exam was uneventful except that there were some areas of concern from the visible exam. The NP told me this after I sat waiting for 30 minutes in the exam room – I’d been forgotten. Luckily I had Feminism in Twentieth-Century Science, Technology, and Medicine to study for school while I was waiting. How completely ironic. Another nurse found me and asked why I was there, then went to find the NP again. It’s a busy place and I don’t begrudge anyone this but the combination of circumstances of the afternoon left me feeling kind of worthless.

I’ll definitely be talking to the NP for the sake of the women who might follow me, and I’ll request a different NP for next time. And maybe I’ve happened upon a project for my research class – improving conditions for pelvic exams.

New site: Heroine Content

I added the feed from Heroine Content to my collection recently. This is from the site’s first post and welcome:

Heroine Content is a feminist and anti-racist blog about women kicking ass. More specifically, we write about women kicking ass in action films, with a side order of television and video game commentary as things catch our eye.

I’m not a frequent watcher of action films or tv (though I do play video games). I’m reading this site in preparation for a new course I’m taking this fall called “Tough Chicks” which is supposed to be about women, media representations, anger, power, etc – but I’m not really sure I have the background for it. I blunder through anything remotely referencing pop culture, haven’t seen much television or many films since the 80s. Generally I gravitate towards books about history – not shows about super heroes or assassins. I think I’m going to be at a supreme disadvantage. Last semester I ended up renting a season’s worth of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I could participate in the Third Wave Feminisms class discussion about whether or not BVS is a feminist character/show. Many people found it shocking that I had made it this far without ever having seen Buffy or Xena (or anything much since Green Acres– definitely not a feminist show).

I appreciate that Heroine Content’s rating system include a category for pieces that are “setting us back 20 years”. ooooh yeah. I’m going to find this site very very helpful when I’m trying to sort through which (if any) films are worth watching and which ones I can just skip right over. Thank you so very much.

I don’t know if I agree with the quote from Amira Sa’id on today’s entry that the Princess Leia costume from Return of the Jedi could be empowering to women. I did some surfing around looking for more info about the costume and found (but have since lost) a convention that encouraged female attendees to wear the “slave costume” to increase their chances of photo opps. The conference was hoping to snag some photos to put on their website, not likely for a gallery of empowered women – methinks they wanted a flesh gallery of unpaid models. Note that the request wasn’t to wear a “Princess Leia Bikini of Power” – I doubt the person who posted this was thinking there main audience would be a whole lot of empowered female attendees. I think that what they were hoping for was a whole lotta flesh. Something like E3’s booth babes, only the scantilly clad women are paying to be there. How is this empowering????

I don’t know a whole lot about Star Wars but I’m pretty sure that Princess Leia was the main female character and that there weren’t a whole lot of other female characters in the series. It’s not surprising then that Amira Sa’id was thrilled by her! Given the choice of robots, blobs, monsters, and Darth Vader, I’m sure that it was a joy to identify with Leia! That alone doesn’t make her an empowering or empowered female character, but I’m not eager to sit through the hours and hours and hours of Star Wars movies that have been made since 1977 to find out (unless I have to for this course.)
This comment at the end of the Leia post:

the costume designer who created the bikini was a woman!

has me confused. What are they saying? I just keep thinking that women have created and perpetuated all sorts of cruel tortures for each other (genital cutting and foot binding are two examples). Just because the costume was designed by a woman doesn’t change what it is: objectifying. That the designer was a woman seems a betrayal even! This is a slave costume, intended to represent women as submissive and as property. The women dressed in the costume for ‘fun’, with lengths of chain around their neck makes me sad that this is the best we have for role models and female representation in film.
I really hope Heroine Content helps me learn more about action films and television. So far I’m happy just to read the feed.  I have no desire to see any movies yet but my interest is definitely piqued. It’s great to have a feminist reviewer going ahead of me.

More about Booth Babes

So Noah wants to bring back the booth babes. He’s a 17 year old high school student (technically not even old enough to get in to E3) and he’s crying that taking booth babes out of E3 is a travesty.


There is more to life than booth babes. I don’t go to E3 for the booth babes. This will be my 3rd year going and I go to play games, try new toys, get warm, be a tourist, hang out with geeks, do some research, and of course, collect swag. I am thrilled with the decision to put an end to booth babes. It’s sickening to watch the geeks line up, with their state-of-the-art digital cameras no less, and take turns taking pictures of each other with their arms wrapped around one of the models. It’s sad to watch the wanna-be starlets pimped into this sort of role. According to Robin in 2004 there were women who “were also inserting candy between their butt cheeks (while clothed, but still) and asking developers to BEND OVER AND TAKE IT OUT WITH THEIR TEETH.” Barf.

It’s about time this conference applies the same standards of sexual responsibility that we apply everywhere else. Don’t like it? Don’t come. All the more swag for me.

A recurring suggestion is that we add some boothdudes to the mix to appease the women attendees.

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Here’s a pic of a booth dude that I snapped last year, in front of the display for Gods & Heroes. Notice that he’s promoting this game without any problem and he doesn’t have to sell his body to do it. Go figure. I don’t need naked men at my gaming conference and I doubt I’d be seeing any. I’m all for a clothing optional lifestyle, but this is exploitation and that’s demeaning. I want to talk to the developers, try the latest stuff, learn something and have some fun. Isn’t anyone else there for that?

I’m really curious if there were more women attending last year as gamers/developers/industry pros or as boothbabes. I’d like to believe that the number of female attendees are rising and I’m hoping that this year with the new policy there will be even more women attending. I’m also hoping that the men who value women for who they are as individuals, fully complete with brains, personalities, ideas, thoughts, etc. will speak up and say they’ve had enough of this exploitation too. I’m hoping for the day when I can walk through the expo without having to see games like 3feel on larger than life screens.

Boothbabes are more proof of a patriarchal gender-power imbalance that is pervasive in our culture. Women’s bodies are exploited – discussion of it is all through this blog and many others. Evidence to see for yourself is easy to find in the media around you. Truth is, there’s a dominant group of men who have power, and they’ll do what they want. If they want bodies up there they’ll buy some. And if you’re into boothbabes then you fit with this group. If you support it you are condoning the subordination of women. No way around it. If women had other options do you think they’d honestly choose to be a booth babe? Like Wendy said in a comment of another post, also about exploiting women’s bodies, “is it that people really want to cook fries or is it that they would live in poverty if they didn’t otherwise”? There’s choice and then there’s choice. I applaud this progress. Now if only they could do something about the ERA.

I know Rob is going to say that taking the boothbabes out of E3 takes the fun out of the conference – but is that what you really think? Really really? Do you really believe it’s justified to use a woman’s body to sell a game? Would you want your daughter working there?

Masculinity and 40 year old virgins

Download the audio:

I saw the movie. And while I was also in shock at the way women were discussed and treated, I laughed at the main character Andy while he tried to navigate the pressures to be what a man is ‘supposed’ to be and do what a man is ‘supposed’ to do.

Just as women face stereotypes to behave a certain way, so do men. Men are somehow supposed to be sexual experts, responsible for their own pleasure as well as somehow reading the minds of their partners in order to provide their pleasure as well. Stereotypes prescribing male behaviour are just as damaging as those proscribing that for females. Read more »


Tara McKee is a sex educator from Toronto, Ontario. In this audiocast she addresses issues surrounding the need for accurate education surrounding sexuality. She makes suggestions regarding negotiating sexual boundaries, and finding woman positive information about sex and also talks about the sexual pressures women face. In the true nature of third wave feminism, she recognizes the diversity of experience among women and encourages women to discover what gives them pleasure and to use this information when playing with a partner.

You can download the audio here:

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