Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Visit from Auntie Flo.

So, it's that time of the month.

You may wonder why I'm posting about that, but it's because it's such a helluva thing to hit my body. It's so significant in my ability to move around, walk, go to places and do things, that it merits an entry, even if it does make someone squeamish.

And if it does make someone squeamish, it'll probably be a bloke and he really should learn to deal with it.

So, my period started this morning. Since then, I have taken plenty of kapake and anti-inflammatories, and been hooked up to a tens machine all day.

I have lost my balance numerous times and properly fallen over three times.

I have cried numerous times and writhed around in pain for longer than anyone should.

I have been in significant pain all day, and felt exhausted, ill, sick, dizzy and drained.

I get some joy from the prettiness and comfort of my washable san pro, which are infinitely preferable to even the most non-chlorine bleached and organic papery things.

I have been unable to stand or walk for several hours of the day.

I know that this is how it is for at least another 2 days, possibly more.

A lot of this is because I have endometriosis. That's a chronic, incurable and immensely painful disease. It bloody wrecks my life several days a cycle.

(Because I also have PCOS, the length of that cycle can be quite variable!)

I track my cycles on cyclespage.com, which helps me keep an eye on what is happening - whether my cycle is getting longer, or shorter, or disappearing altogether. It has been somewhat better in the last year or so than it ever has been in my life, as it has kind of, in the loosest sense, following a monthly-ish pattern. Ish.

I never even had that when I used to take the pill!

I want to love my men/gynstruation.

I want to embrace this beautiful symbol of womanhood and growth and nature and the moon. (Using beautiful, handmade reusable sanitary towels actually does help with this a lot. It's amazing to use such sensitive, gentle fabric in this way, and 'dealing with' the towels is a very grounding way of keeping in touch with my body. Not to mention the good it can do for your houseplants ;)).

I want to love, embrace and celebrate it.

But it really, really, really hurts.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Academy Awards.

I wish they'd shut up on the news about tonight's Oscars.

I've heard so much about them I'm starting to actually care :-S

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Friday, February 23, 2007

In Bits. That's the post (and me).

So, it's been a while. It's been an awful time in my real life and struggle has been the defining word of the last few weeks. I've wanted to post here but have been in that particular state of mind where nothing I could ever say was worth the effort, and certainly I shouldn't imagine that others would want to read it.

I'm here, mainly referencing others' stuff, of which there are some really amazing sights and sites.

I'm trying to be well. I'm trying to feel ok. I'm trying to 'get it together'. I'm trying. And if you say 'yes, very trying' I will probably cry.

Anyway, on to the more interesting bits of this post...

Excitement of the week ---> hippie blog indirectly linked to from Time Magazine - you can read the article in question here: A Time Limit on Rape.

  • Hoohaa in US over Monologues play:
    Stage play The Vagina Monologues has been renamed at a theatre in Florida after a complaint about the title.

    It will be known as The Hoohaa Monologues - a child slang word for the female organ - after a woman in Atlantic Beach complained.

    Bryce Pfanenstiel from The Atlantic Theatre told local TV station Channel 4 the woman said she was "offended" when her niece asked her what a vagina was.

    The TV network claim the play's director is not happy about the change.


    The Vagina Monologues is being staged by a group of law school students who plan to donate all the proceeds to charity.

    Eve Ensler wrote the first draft of the play in 1996 after interviewing 200 women about their views on sex, relationships, and violence against females.

    Each monologue somehow relates to the vagina, through themes including sex, rape, birth and mutilation.

    In 2004 the production was banned from the southern Indian city of Madras, as police there thought some of the script was "objectionable".

    After premiering in the basement of the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York, its popularity has steadily increased.

    It is now performed all over the world with a vast line-up of celebrity participants, such as Sharon Osborne, Trudie Styler, Kate Winslet and Jerry Hall.
    (read more...)

    Newly spotted websites:
  • Enough! - End the Israeli Occupation - Justice for the Palestinians

    Other hippie blog updates:
  • I unfortunately had to remove one of my flickr badges which was in the right sidebar. Something about it has been stalling the rest of the page from loading. I don't know why, and it hasn't been consistent, but for now I've taken it away. You can see my photos anyway though :)

  • Ditto ZoomClouds.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

How to *really* prevent rape.

A while ago, those of us sick of being sent emails about how to not be raped (no ponytails, girls!), posted and emailed a lot about those awful 'rape prevention advice' emails which go round. My response at the time is here.

I was very glad to be sent a link to the following article today. We need more of this stuff.

One violent crime and the female victim by Emily Maguire.

If you're a woman, chances are you've received at least one version of the "how to not get raped" email. Even if you haven't, you will be familiar with the contents, because it's the same stuff you read in the newspaper whenever there's a known sex-attacker on the loose. It's the same stuff the women's magazines publish under headings like "How to stay safe".

Again and again, women are told that we can avoid rape if we don't go out alone, don't get drunk, carry our car keys as a weapon, take self-defence classes, don't dress revealingly, don't talk to strangers, and on and on. We get it. We live it. And we still get raped.

Women get raped sober and drunk. They get raped when they're out and when they're home. They get raped wearing short skirts and wearing burqas. They get raped by men they know and by men they don't know. If one woman avoids rape by using her self-defence skills, a woman unable to defend herself gets raped instead. Whatever women do or don't do, men continue to rape them.

Here's a radical suggestion: direct the rape prevention message to men. Write emails and advice columns that say: don't rape. Don't rape drunk women, solitary women, sleeping women, flirtatious women, any women. Seriously, just don't.

Men who rape may be in the minority, but that's no reason not to direct the message to all men. Not a single woman has caused her own rape, not ever, and yet women are bombarded with advice that can do nothing except cause our would-be rapist to find a different victim.

Rape is a male crime. There are female rapists but they are so rare as to be statistically insignificant. Acknowledging this in no way minimises the suffering of their victims, nor does it excuse the perpetrators. It does, however, stop us from pretending that rape is a gender-neutral crime and thus allows us to confront those responsible for most rapes.

There is a culture of acceptance about the rape of women. This becomes clear when we think about the way male-to-male rape is perceived. Male-to-male rape is seen, rightly, as a horrific, unprovoked crime. The victims are never blamed for putting themselves in harm's way by getting drunk or walking down a street alone. Men are not lectured on how to behave so as not to attract rapists.

Consider why rape is thought to be more serious if the victim is a straight man or a female virgin. The thinking is clearly that a person who has sex with men willingly in other circumstances shouldn't be so upset at "having sex", albeit unwillingly, in another circumstance. The huge misconception here is that rape is just a rougher form of sex. It isn't. Rape is to sex what being beaten unconscious is to peacefully falling asleep. It is an act of violence visited upon a person's body and it is as traumatic for a sexually active woman as it is for a virginal one or a man.

This same misconception about rape-as-sex is evident in discussions over consent. Rape, by definition, cannot be committed with the victim's consent, yet this question comes up again and again. When a woman is raped she must prove she has not consented. What did she do to stop her attacker? Did she fight hard enough, say no often enough, scream loud enough? Wasn't she dressed like she wanted to be violently penetrated? Didn't her drunkenness indicate she was up for anything? The answers to these questions are often used in lieu of evidence to determine that an alleged rape was just a big misunderstanding. If only the woman had been clearer about not wanting to be raped…

Am I arguing that women shouldn't be held responsible for their behaviour? No. If a woman drinks to excess then falls over in the street, loses her wallet and vomits all over herself, she has only herself to blame. But rape is not a consequence of getting drunk. It's a consequence of a man deciding to rape someone.

Likewise, if a woman commits a crime while drunk - driving a car or assaulting someone, say - she should be held responsible. But being raped is not a crime; raping someone is. In no other situation do we hear the victim being told to take responsibility for the criminal's actions.

Telling women they're responsible for rape doesn't keep them safe; it just keeps them scared. It also lets rapists know they can get away with their crime as long as they pick the right victim - one who "makes herself vulnerable" by refusing to live according to the edicts of a rape-tolerant society.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

To Shave or Not To Shave.

Shazia Mirza, a comedian who has long made me giggle, was on Woman's Hour yesterday, talking about her decision to stop removing her body hair. You can listen to the interview here for a few more days at least.

She is not doing this for overtly feminist reasons, she is tired of all the time it takes to maintain unnaturally hair-free legs, underarms, and anywhere else. Not to mention the money - the amount she said she had previously spent on all this was quite obscene!

One of the weirdest arguments against women having body hair is that it is 'not natural' and 'not feminine'. Well, it *is* natural - it's the shaving and waxing and bleaching and dissolving that adds the somewhat unnatural element to things. Similarly as to whether it's 'feminine' or not (whatever that means anyway), if feminine means how women are supposed to be, then, well, read the previous sentence again.

I stopped shaving various bodily areas some years ago. Partly for 'raar' feminist reasons, partly because it seemed an awful lot of effort, partly because having so many razors around me wasn't so wise at that time, and partly because I just wanted to. I had always thought that not shaving underarm hairs was 'unhygienic' which is, of course, bollocks. I haven't shaved for years now, I can't remember the last time I did. I don't feel masculine, nor have I ever done. I feel like I am living in my body as it is supposed to be (at least in terms of having hair, it's hardly a conventional body by any stretch of the imagination...!).

Richard Madeley apparently said that body hair on women makes him feel sick. Well, we know already that RM is an annoying idiot, and anything which might encourage him to go away or shut up, I fully encourage.

I have no need at all to get rid of these leg hairs. They don't worry me. I like to think I'd be as determined if I was a skirt type-of-person, but as I virtually always wear trousers it's not even much of a political statement. How can it be, if noone sees?! But I don't have to do things just to make a feminist statement (I'm growing up, see?!), I can do them because they feel right, they fit in with the rest of my life, philosophy, and body.

I enjoy my Lush baths, and I'm glad that I don't have to waste part of the totally luxurious experience with a razor in hand and, if I remember rightly, always missing some kind of thin streak of hairs up the back of my calves anyway. I don't have to rinse away chopped off hairs. I don't have to have grim accidents with old razors, and I don't have to be subjected to sharp objects every time I go into my bathroom!

I also just have no desire to make any parts of my body look pre-pubescent, yanno? I've been there, done that, when I actually was pre-pubescent. I was so glad when puberty was finally over that there's no way I want to mimic that time again ever. And if I had a partner who desired me to look that way I would be very concerned indeed. So, you want me to look like I'm 9 years old? Fuck off then. Freak.

I'd be very happy if more and more women stopped shaving various parts of their bodies. I've certainly no intention of doing otherwise.

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