Calling it a “va-jay-jay” is being frank and honest?

Posted in fail, Uncategorized on September 15th, 2011 by steph – 4 Comments

Apparently people these days are more laid back about their bodies, so now the ads used to sell us stuff to fix what’s wrong with our horrible bodies are now more “frank” and “downright shocking”.

This article describes the business of selling vagina-related products: no longer do we have tampon ads with women in white skirts twirling on the beach- now the ads make fun of that! Feminism has won the war, everyone!

The problem is, apparently this trend is great because we’re all talking openly about our you-know-what’s, and people aren’t embarrassed about it anymore; however, these products that are being touted often rely on shame and misinformation to get women to buy them. Summer’s Eve, one of the products mentioned, not only have they used terrible ads full of racial stereotypes, but what their product boils down to is something to sort out your stinky vagina because it’s gross and also needs a little help to do that. So, preying on the shame someone feels about their vagina: check. Misleadingly suggesting that the body doesn’t actually do this job itself (which it does) and might need help: check. A woman who helped create the “talking hand” ads said in the source article

“We’re really excited about having that kind of publicity and coverage. A month ago nobody was talking about feminine hygiene,” says Zahnen, who added that Summer’s Eve learned through research that women were ready to have frank discussions about their bodies.

“We just wanted to be sure that the conversation is focused on celebrating and empowering women.”

That shit is not empowering. You could argue that the choice to give your vagina some “extra help” or not is personal, which it is. But it also doesn’t occur in a vaccuum; it occurs in a world where women are conditioned to worry about whether their junk smells weird or not, and be afraid that someone (a sexual partner, for example), might be grossed out be their body and smell. So don’t give me this “empowering” bullshit. More like empowering women to spend more money trying to ‘fix’ themselves. You can’t just throw the buzzword “empowering” into a statement and actually make the product something that empowers people. Also, the idea that people never really used to talk about feminine hygiene? Well, I don’t know if it was talked about or not (given that I wasn’t alive), but there are a fuckload of vintage douche ads that suggest we have always been pretty preoccupied with touting this stuff to women. Vag shame isn’t new.


And seriously, the idea that we’re all so open and honest now, and not scared of calling a spade a spade when it come to vagina-related stuff, is kind of ridiculous when in the same breath you talk about “va-jay-jays”,  a celebrity’s favourite “vagina tattoo” (ouch! How do you get a tattoo needle up in there?), and also at one point call it “the area” (yes, I’m sure they got sick of writing “vagina”, but “the area” is so damn vague – are we talking about a body part, or a location on a map?). If we still don’t call things what they are, are we really so hugely empowered and free of our embarrassment?

Blame the rapists

Posted in rape, rape culture, Uncategorized on May 26th, 2011 by steph – 4 Comments

Now that Slutwalk Aotearoa is drawing near, there has been a fair bit of discussion going on about it and the issues it aims to address, including coverage on Backbenches where Paul Quinn failed big-time totally misheard the question, you guys. And apparently people still haven’t gotten the memo that rapists are actually to blame for rape, not drunk women, or being out at 1am or 3am or 6am, and or short skirts. Funny that, because it seems like it would be fairly easy to comprehend. I feel like reiterating the point: rapists are to blame for rape, nothing else.

Not a rapist, as far as I know.

Mini-skirts don’t rape people; rapists do. So please stop talking about them in the context of rape.


Also not a rapist.

Alcohol doesn’t rape people; rapists do.


This deserted alleyway has never raped anyone.

Dark streets at night don’t rape people; rapists do.

If that’s still to difficult to accept, think about this: take all those things – a short skirt, alcohol, a poorly-lit street late at night- and add them together. Drunken woman+miniskirt+alleyway =/= rape. You might think that sounds like the perfect equation for rape, but you’d be wrong because there’s one crucial element missing: A RAPIST. Without a rapist in the equation – this equation or any equation- there wont be a rape. It seems like such a simple idea to grasp, and yet we’re still swimming against the tide of a victim-blaming rape culture, desperately trying to get people to understand.


*if at least one person isn’t thinking about Goldie Lookin Chain after this post, I have failed miserably

Whore pills

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19th, 2011 by steph – 2 Comments

To meet a need (the need to store my pills in something other than the cardboard box they come in) and to pay tribute to this excellent pie chart explaining why feminists go to Planned Parenthood, I whipped this up the other day



Feminism and crafts, two of my favourite things.


Posted in Uncategorized on May 18th, 2011 by steph – 5 Comments

I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon a bit as of late, but I have been reading a lot and checking out the links provided by other feminist bloggers. So, in ths spirit of things:


There’s been a hoopla over omg secret underground school abortion rings!11!!!! and other bloggers have issued some fierce takedowns. I was reminded of what a weaselly, lying, scumbag Bob McCoskrie is when I read this by ALRANZ

And just one more thing. In its April press release and again in December, Family First National Director Bob McCoskrie argued that bringing in a parental notification law was “especially relevant when almost 80 teenagers a week have an abortion in NZ.”  It is disingenuous to cite this figure in a discussion of mandatory notification for under 16s because it includes all 11 to 19-year-olds, many of whom a parental notification law would not affect.

According to Statistics NZ, in the 11-14 age group, there were 79 abortions in 2009, (1.5 a week) and in the 15-19 year group, 3,871 (around 74 a week). The figures do not offer a 15-years and under breakdown, but it’s clear that would fall far far short of 80 abortions a week.

(Bob is again quoted here, on May 17th 2011, as making the 80 abortions a week claim).


An interview with SlutWalk Aotearoa organiser Maria-Jane Scannell is here.

I think it’s a really important thing to note – as this seems to be getting glossed over quite a lot – is that SlutWalk is ‘come as you are’. If you want to throw on your short shorts, your fishnets, your corsets, or any other clothing that could be seen as stereotypically ‘slutty’, you are more than welcome to (I know I’ll be rocking my corset dress!). But by the same measure, the idea of the march is that NO ONE is to blame for sexual assault. Not to mention, these marches are being held in the middle of June!! So wearing jeans, merino or a jacket makes you no more or less a SlutWalker than miniskirts do.

I’d also probably point out that there has been a lot of misunderstanding around the SlutWalk and what it is all about. We are not encouraging all women to be sluts, and we do not believe that you have to reclaim the word slut in order to empower yourself. The SlutWalk is for everyone – whether you can, or want to, identify as a ‘slut’ or not – who believes that there is nothing we can do that will cause someone to rape us.



A little bit old, but an interesting read about sexual assault and rape of men in the military services in the US.  (Discusses details about victimization, assault, rape, and rape culture).


Lady Journos!, where I have been finding lots of articles on all kinds of topics.


And I finally managed to keep a film committment and saw Operation 8, which was showing as part of the World Cinema Showcase. Sadly, I think the screening of it in the showcase is now over, but I would recommend it to anyone when it (hopefully) later becomes available in a more general release. UPDATED: Here is the general release screening info for Operation 8 (down the righthand side): it’s on now in some cinemas and coming soon to more.

My Map of Tasmania

Posted in bodies, Uncategorized on January 23rd, 2011 by steph – 5 Comments

Musically, I’m pretty neutral about Amanda Palmer. Not a fan, don’t hate her music; just chilling here in Switzerland. But for someone who has no real opinion about her music, I sure do have a lot to say about the views she expresses in public and the “boundary pushing” she’s also well-known for.

Some things I like about her:


Essentially, execs at Palmer’s record company (Roadrunner) asked to cut shots of her bare stomach from a video for her single “Leeds United”, and this inspired a “ReBellyon”, with Palmer refusing and fans creating a blog where they posted pictures of their own bellies and commentary. I am all for people refusing to fold under shitty and harmful ideas about how women should look and what an “acceptable body” is.

-The OMGArmpitHair!!11!! scandal.

Pit hair is natural. Don’t get it twisted, disgusted dude bloggers of the internet. I am very cool with someone making whatever grooming choice they want and then saying fuck you to expectations of what women should do- once again, the body police was out in force, and I’m happy to see a middle finger raised to them.

And now, the flipside: some things I do not like about Amanda Palmer:

Evelyn Evelyn. (and here, for extra TigerBeatdown love)

-Her response to the Evelyn Evelyn controversy, which is quite a good “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by this”

-Her lolz at the expense of disabled feminists, and how she was crucified by them on the interwebs. Which, to be fair, was a real group effort.

And now a new thing that I feel conflicted about (maybe NSFW based on merkins and general pubic area shots!)- where does this belong in terms of those two lists?:

This is the video for a song that started as a one-off in-joke written by Palmer for a Tasmanian tour; “Map of Tasmania” referring to female pubic hair (a euphemism I hadn’t heard before but am quite fond of now!). A fan got some video, requests rolled in, and Palmer expressed her hope for a sweet remix. More backstory is here. Although meant to be fun and jokey, Palmer says it also speaks to a deeper issue

“I’ve been really shocked and distressed to find out that 8- and 9-year-old girls are getting all their pubic hairs waxed off by their mothers,” she says. “I think if I have any purpose at all, it’s to stand up there and say, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, girls. You totally have a choice. You can wax it, you can shave it, you can grow it out, and this really is up to you.’ That’s the way that I feel about everything, that you just need to know there’s a choice out there.”

Well, awesome. I love choice! (I am a feminist, after all…hahaha…). And I’m certainly pleased that people are speaking out and saying that rigid beauty standards and expectations are damaging. And I can’t not be a fan of glitter merkins. The merkins in this video are the bomb.

But……..this is a song about telling women they have choices, right? And that however they want to groom (or not groom) their pubes is totally 100% fine, right? Because these are some of the lyrics

Soft and sweet and shaped like a triangle
Some girls want no shape and they shave it all
That’s so whack, it hurts with the stubble
Walking ’round and look like an eight-year-old

Sorry, my bad. It’s really up to you, ladies. But you know, waxing it all off does mean that you’ll be walking around looking like an 8 year old.

Right now I might seem like the nit-picking spoilsport trying to ruin everything for everyone. But the thing is, every article or discussion I’ve ever read about the “to groom or not to groom” debate has turned from people discussing how they’ve felt shamed for not waxing it all off to people shaming women who do wax it all off. And I get it, I really do. When you feel as if a choice you make puts you in the outsider or “abnormal” category (such as being a full-bush lady in a society that sees pubes as disgusting things to be gotten rid of), you push for ideas of acceptability to be broadened so that more diversity can be portrayed and celebrated. But it can be easy for that goal to turn from “accepting everything” to “making the old norm unacceptable”, and just reversing the status quo. This happens when people talk about bodies too: people want the celebrated ideal of the supermodel body to not be the only acceptable body, but end up ripping into thin women (“eat a sandwich!”, “do you ever eat??”). So, rather than adding more types to the “acceptable” category, it ends up being just a restrictive as before but in the opposite direction or with an alternative ideal held up as the gold standard.

It makes me feel bad to read comments from women saying “ew, why would you shave it all off, you’d look like an little kid!” and “your boyfriend must be some kind of child-loving perv to like it bare”. Maybe these people have been hurt by comments about how dudes wouldn’t want to be with a woman who has pubic hair, and I can see how hurt can provoke that reaction. I don’t want any woman to feel shamed for her choice, be it all-on, all-off, pubes sculpted into a lightening bolt, or anything else.

This is why I’m a bit conflicted about Map of Tasmania: on the one hand, big ups for saying there’s nothing wrong with not waxing your pubic hair (and flouting some oppressive ideas of what women have to do). On the other hand, the same song that’s meant to make women feel empowered with choice is still shaming some kinds of choice. So it’s just a reversal of the norms, it isn’t really about diversity at all. If that line about looking like an 8 year old wasn’t there, I think I would love this song. It would be funny and cute and the comment about painful stubble is more of a personal preference comment. A light, semi-raunchy song about pubes and how there’s nothing wrong with them would be very welcome.


Posted in Uncategorized on September 1st, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Self-defense

Next time someone tries to attack me I’ll just reach for the floppy disk

Tips on how to make improvised weapons to defend oneself with are probably always going to be offered by various people. I remember being told to use my aerosol body spray to spray in someone’s eyes (as some sort of pseudo-Mace). The floppy disk advice comes from a book called ‘101 Weapons for Women’.


Posted in Uncategorized on August 30th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Raffle

Breast implants for a raffle prize? Whatever happened to the good ol’ meat tray?

“Dude, did you see that chick’s 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio?”

Posted in Allie Brosh, bodies, diets, exercise, Uncategorized on August 30th, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

Ladies, have you been kidding yourself that the man in your life (surely you have one?) actually finds you attractive? Well, you’ll be shocked to know that he would actually find you more attractive if you looked like Jessica Alba or Kate Moss. Reality hurts, huh? It’s cool, this situation is fixable. Like the article says,

you don’t have to be a size zero to achieve this scientific definition of sexiness, it is after all, all about the ratio, so you could be a few sizes bigger than Alba and Moss but still achieve the desirable ratio, with 60s siren Marilyn Monroe an example.

You don’t have to be super thin; all you need is the ideal waist-to-hip ratio! No more struggling in vain to lose weight all over; now you can attempt to selectively increase or decrease specific separate areas of your body! Thanks for replacing an unattainable goal with another, different unattainable goal. Now,  if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get myself a Weasel Belt so I can trim my waist and transform into a hottie that my boyfriend is actually attracted to instead being someone he feels kinda dissatisfied with.


Posted in Uncategorized on August 13th, 2010 by steph – 3 Comments

Shirt for sale on Etsy, via Feministing

Guess the sluzza

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Guess the sluzza

Melissa over at Shakesville has a good point about this article from The Daily Mail, “One’s a virgin, another has slept with 50 men…can you guess how many lovers these women have had? You may be surprised…”.

Why would I be surprised? Because, last time I checked, there was no actual way to tell how many people a women has had sex with just by looking at her. Oh wait… i forgot, you totally can.

So yeah, the headline that I may be surprised? I was not surprised by any of it. Because how would I be able to make any kind of guess just be looking at them/hearing brief background info that wasn’t about their sexual history. So, when you have no predetermined expectations, surprise really doesn’t come into  it.

As Melissa said, though, the premise of this apparent surprise is built on stereotypes. So, I guess not buying into those stereotypes is where I went wrong.

I have mixed feelings about this article. Overall, it is stupid. Plain stupid. Who cares how many people these women have slept with? Is there a lesson to be learned; like, don’t judge a book by baseless stereotypes it’s cover? Because it really is just a simple report of how many people these women have boned, and that isn’t even interesting (I guess unless you know them personally and are weirdly curious for some reason). And there is no male equivalent to this. I see it is in the ‘Femail’ (I see what you did there, Daily Mail!) section, but surely they could at least pretend to be judging/exposing men and women equally and have a dude equivalent. I wanna see a nerdy Asian man reveal he has boffed 100 women, and a blonde male model that all the ladies want to fuck reveal that his single sexual partner is his high-school sweetheart. Come on, Daily Mail, blow my mind with crazy contradictions!

I do like that they presented a wide variety of experiences, and generally present them all as being positive as well as nuanced. Nellie is waiting until she’s married, but acknowledges she feels desire. Shelly talking about her experiences being consensual and safe.

However: all the women’s stories have “and now I am in a long-term relationship” endings, and it would be nice to have some single ladies thrown in the mix. I suppose it is easier and makes women’s choices seem safer when they are couched in the language of ‘ and now I’m settled’/my choices have worked out.

Also, despite the general positivity of the article, the captions of the photos strike me as kind of snarky. Instead of just the women’s names, it also adds a descriptor of their status: “One-night stands”, “Numerous short relationships”, “Teenage pregnancy”, “Catholic upbringing”, and “Waiting until she’s married”. How about using something positive that they themselves have said, like “I’m not regretful” (not much better, but better than “One-night stands)?

And, even though the article itself doesn’t really present one choice/sexual lifestyle as being better than another, their is the overall tone that sex is special and having lots of parters isn’t that great, which is seen in quotes by some of the women

Those who have sex so young or who have lots of sexual partners should have more self-respect.


I’m rather glad I haven’t had lots of sexual partners, because I think sex is so special and shouldn’t be cheapened.


I’m grateful that I’m in a loving relationship. Sex is more special when you have strong feelings for each other.

I understand that these are individual women’s views, and I respect that. But it doesn’t really provide a balanced perspective; where is the ‘sex is sex’, and ‘sex can be awesome without committment’, and ‘even thought I’ve only had a few partners, it isn’t because I think having lots is wrong’ ? At least they have Shelly’s story to feign some sort of balance, where sex can be special and and magical and awesome in a relationship, but doesn’t necessarily have to be any of those things.

It’s hard to have a long-term relationship when you’re focused on your career. You’re working such long hours that you don’t have the capacity for a serious relationship. But you still have basic human desires and a need for sex.

And nowhere does she pass any judgement on women who have only had one or two or five sexual partners.

Overall, my feeling about this is the same as Melissa’s; pretty much a giant ‘say whaaaa?’