Sunday, January 30, 2011

The resurgence of Instead Softcups

Only in Bust magazine would an advertisement get right to the point like this:

It seems like I've seen a few ads for Softcups lately. I noticed that they've changed not only their name (marketing it more on Softcup than on Instead), but that the packaging also looks different from when I bought them three years ago. I'd still like to see them catch on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Menstrual intercourse

I have this article here. I can't decide if I like it or not. It's a guy writing about having sex during a woman's period. I like it and don't like it at the same time.

Now, I know which side of the fence I fall on on this topic. I do not like having sex during my period. Not only do I feel completely gross (my oil glands go into overtime), I also find that my vagina is much less receptive to any kind of stimulation during that time. However, I think it's great if couple's decide to engage in this act. I can see it as a very bonding kind of act.

The guy writing this article seems to be all for it, and I like that he supports whatever decision a couple decides to make, and even offers alternatives to actual intercourse. I like some of the euphemisms he uses like "closed for maintenance" and "seducing vampires". I like his general attitude toward this whole taboo act.

However, some of the points he makes seem to be towing the line between being awesome, and being a closet misogynist, like this sentence here about blow-jobs "The fact that she completes this act of lovemaking and accepts a part of her man into her body makes her a woman worth keeping (of course, not if you're paying her by the hour)." or this gem "or are engaging in casual sex with the bucktoothed girl that helps you get rid of a load or two every now and again"

Even with these little jabs at womanhood though, I feel like he has a pretty good attitude toward the taboo menstrual intercourse. Most people aren't even willing to talk about it, much less give you tips (I like the diaphragm tip, anybody know if you can have sex with a Divacup in?) on how to enjoy it, even if you think it's a little gross.

So keep on keeping on, Mr. Strovney, but watch how you speak about women a little more carefully.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Call for papers!!

I just saw that the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research is having a call for papers for their conference in Pittsburgh. I thought that those of us who are academically inclined (either our contributors or our readers) might be interested in this. It's not really my field of study, but I thought I would let you all know.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Likelihood for rape tied to menstrual cycle?

I think we can all agree that rape is bad. But apparently according to evolutionary biologists, a woman's reaction to rape depends on where she is in her menstrual cycle. Really?

Take that in for a minute.

Apparently women are genetically disposed to fighting back more against rape when they are ovulating, and less likely when they are at other times in their cycle. This seems like a slippery slope to me, and a justification for rape rather than what it is claiming to be, and evolutionary study. If we believe that rape happens for reasons other than the rapist being a rapist then how can we blame rapists that rape when a woman is ovulating. She is just in her most fertile period, and so he is just following his evolution, right?


 As human beings we have evolved a little something called reason. This means that unlike our ancestors, who probably did forcibly mate with their female counterparts we can CHOOSE NOT TO. That's right folks, rape is not a product of evolution at this point, but a choice that human beings make. There are lots of different reasons that people choose to rape other people (women do some raping too), but they all come down to a choice that a person makes. We have the ability, unlike other animals, to rise above our biology and instinct and make decisions. That is what makes us human. That is what makes us civilized. That is why we can exist. Human beings have by far the highest capacity for reason, and jugement.

All in all, I think we need to stop looking at weird biological reasons people rape, and instead look at the people themselves, and perhaps the culture surrounding them. I am not an expert on rape, but I do know that even though our cycles DO put off different pheremones, and DO (to a certain extent) change our physiology, biological processes probably have little to do with the act of rape, and certainly can't be used as a justification.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vitamin E Pill Cures PMS?

I found a link to this article on Twitter about Vitamin E helping ease symptoms of PMS. I've been fortunate in that I have never experienced any really painful physical symptoms around my period, but I know a few of my friends who struggle with it.

Vitamin E pill 'eases pain of PMS by up to two-thirds'

What do we do with the c-word?

I can't say that I'm really a huge fan of reclaiming words. For me personally, there are always three that come right to mind: bitch, slut, and cunt. (Whore's also a close fourth.) My level of comfort with each word seems kind of arbitrary and based more on gut reaction to the overall aural aesthetic of the word than its semantics and history. "Bitch" usually makes me bristle, even when coming from the friendliest of allies in (at least what they feel is) a genuine attempt at reclamation. "Slut" is okay in very specific circumstances, and even then, only with people who have a very clear, intentional understanding of how the word can be interpreted in feminist circles (for example, in regard to the concept of slut-shaming).

So right off the bat, for better or worse, you can see I have some pretty complicated pre-requisites for certain words. Reclaiming them sounds like a lot of unnecessary work to me personally, since my feelings are so negative to begin with.

But "cunt" is a whole other ball game to me. I like it. I'd never heard of the word except for when hearing that it was the worst insult ever, to be used even more rarely than the [formerly] taboo eff-dash-dash-dash word. (Which, incidentally, is a word that was used much less frequently at the time, but that's a different story.) Cunt was the word you should simply never say. Uh, okay, I guess. There was no explanation why.

The next time I ever heard of it was in porn, then in the Vagina Monologues. When I saw/read/heard it in porn, it was pretty much another synonym for vagina--I never felt like there was any extraneous negative connotation to it (except, arguably, the context of pornography itself, but that's again a different story). And then in the Vagina Monologues, it was back to Reclaiming Cunt, but I still didn't understand who or what exactly we were supposed to be reclaiming it from.

Perhaps it's worth noting here that I've only been called a cunt one time. In a way, it was a little like being insulted with the worst word in a foreign language. I had to stop and interpret, like: "Hmm, okay, he said this because he wanted to say the worst thing ever. I should probably react accordingly." It didn't switch on any anger inside of me the way being called a bitch does.

All that said, I like the word. I like how it sounds. In my opinion, it sounds much better than other words out there for a person's vagina. (Snatch? Ughhhhhh...)

At the same time, I'm well-aware that, even if it is for reasons I don't completely understand, it's a loaded term. It can bring out a lot of negative feelings (not unlike bitch or slut or whore) I think that's important to keep in mind. I like what Sara Gwin is quoted as saying in this essay:

"Women have every right to reclaim the word for themselves or for a particular group. However, there has to be the acknowledgement that this word is still incredibly insulting to many and we have to respect that"
Recently, I've been doing some thinking about the ways I take control in a conversation. I'm a fairly shy person--quite often I've felt like I'm being talked over or blown off--and so I think one of the ways I sometimes gain power or control in a conversation is by talking about topics that tend to make others uncomfortable, and thus shutting them up to give me some space to talk. This would include subjects like menstruation, sexual assault, most things related to women's sexualities, or jokes considered over-the-line gross--things that deliberately make others uncomfortable. I hadn't been aware of this behavior as a tool for conversation domination until the past few months, and I think the catalyst for that realization came from when other people did it to me.

All this came to mind when I read a blog post from one of my favorite zinesters, venting about complaints generated by the jewelry she makes bearing the word cunt. I agree with Amber on most things, and her zines are by far some of my favorites (do yourself a favor and read as much Culture Slut as you can), but I was kind of put off by the way she chose to respond to those who were offended, opening with: "The title of this listing is 'Reclaim The Words That People Use To Put You Down'. I guess it went over your head." Eek. It's made me think more critically about what it means to actually reclaim a word, and if it's even possible on a large scale.

As I mentioned before, cunt is a loaded term, and not everyone's interested in turning around into a positive. (It could perhaps even be argued that most people are uninterested in reclamation? I'm not sure.) So what does that mean when you're wearing cunt jewelry or preaching about pussy power? I really feel like it puts you in a tight spot (ha), because you're very much in the danger zone of making people too uncomfortable and shutting them down to any type of message you might have, controversial or otherwise. But, like Amber also says, if this is a word that's being used to put you down, there's something to be said about being bold enough to turn it around. I guess my question is, how do you balance boldness with tastefulness, that is, how do we achieve reclamation without alienation?

Friday, January 14, 2011


While messing around on the internet, I came across this.

With all the hubbub about the astrological signs changing I guess there's been a push toward other ways of predicting your day, and this is one that I found.

Unlike astrology, however, this one actually makes sense to a certain extent. Now I'm not saying (as this woman seems to) that our hormones account for every aspect of our behavior. Sometimes I feel like crap during my period, but other times I feel very productive and happy. It just depends. I do think that it's probably more reliable than looking at the stars and using those.

Everyone's body does go through a cycle though. I think that in lieu of this kind of generalization, it might be better to pay more attention to the cycles of our own bodies. I have always had to pay very close attention to my body in general (due to some medical issues) and there are things that are more likely to happen, though not for sure in any way.

However, I like this site if for no other reason than it seems to me that if you want to predict how your day is going to go it makes more sense to look inward rather than to the stars. Though it walks the line between useful, and being a gross generalization of the kind that I feel like women have to fight about their periods all the time. And it seems to me that this is only acceptable because a woman put it together rather than a man.

The lesson? Pay more attention to your body, and less attention to the movements of the heavens if you want to predict how you may react to things.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baby Not On The Way blog

I'm interested in how women interpret their periods differently. It can be an annoyance, a relief, a surprise, and it can also be a disappointment.

One of my friends has kept a blog over the past year or so about coping with infertility. I just met her a few months ago, so learning about the ups and downs she's had with trying to conceive as well as trying to adopt has been really eye-opening for me. While reading, there was one post in particular that stood out, titled The Monthly Reminder of My Failure:

I think any woman who has dealt with, or is dealing with, infertility can agree that the day your period comes is one of the hardest days of the month.  Not because of the bloating, the cramps, or the crabbiness; but because of what it symbolizes--another month gone by without the prospect of a baby.  For me, it also serves as a reminder of my failure.  And, while I know that my ability to get pregnant isn't in my control, I still feel as though I have somehow failed.  
Even now, when we are no longer receiving infertility treatments, and we are moving towards adoption, I still feel a bit crushed when my "monthly visitor" arrives.  It's like somehow there's a part of me that's still holding out hope--believing that maybe my body will decide to begin working properly and "Aunt Flo" won't come for a visit again.  Logically, I know how unrealistic this is--I know you can't get pregnant when you don't ovulate--but still, once a month, I am crushed.

I had never ever even thought of this before. Actually, Megan's blog has made me think more carefully about a lot of topics about babies. In another post, she lists some of the best and worst things you can say to a couple who is dealing with infertility. She also writes about the anxiety she's felt surrounding other people's baby showers.

What I personally am reminded of through reading Baby Not On The Way is 1.not to jump to conclusions about others, and 2.there are always new things to learn.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Potatoes!!

So, this is more a personal anecdote.

When I was about twelve or so I came across (or possibly dreamed since I have not been able to EVER find the information again) some piece of something informing me that Russians (at least in my mind, maybe the Irish or the Swedes, again, remember I can not find this information again) used to use potatoes as tampons. At this impressionable age I thought "If this was effective at one point why not go back to it?", and my little brain started to run with the idea.

I drew diagrams for a thing that ultimately looked like the end of a pasta maker that's purpose was for easily cutting potatoes into a shape that would easily fit in someone's vagina. And I spent a lot of time thinking about the project. Marketing, production, advertising. Sadly for me, I had none of the tools necessary to make this product for myself much less market it, and so the idea died.

After being asked to work with my blog the idea resurfaced, though now I think that that would be silly. I don't know that vegetables would make the best tampons because of their instance on rotting.  But we do need to keep our minds open to new alternatives. Anyone else ever come up with crazy ideas for menstrual products?

Live Long and Prosper

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Koit, "man of many faces", made a short flash animation that I meant to post a long long time ago.

Screen cap

Happy new year--please enjoy this small chorus of uterine droplets. (FYI, you have to scroll down past the ads at the bottom.)


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