Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
- Maia is VERY brave and creative. I just love her vulva prints. Who else is brave enough to do that? Not me because my brother reads this blog!
- My favorite quote this week from Maia
"I like doing crafty things related to the vulva because it makes my vulva into a friendly thing, like a cute little animal or a cardboard helicopter. This is good. It helps to counter the years of negative programming we all undergo..."
- Top link: The Vulva museum
- I'm really glad it's not just me being too cynical to accept Bodyform's involvement in anything that is meant to be a charity.
- Isn't it great to think about a part of your body for a week? I really have thought about it a lot. I haven't managed to post all my thoughts because I have two children (Hey, that's vulva related!) and my washing machine chose this week to break down. Great, the week when I'm on! (Hmmm more vulva related stuff) So I have piles of unwashed period pants around the house. Don't pull that face....it happens. ANYWAY...Isn't it great? I think this should go national and not just on a few blogs. Hooray for our vulvas!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Yes, I know it's an old bugbear of the feminists but I feel the need to revisit a particular gripe - hair. What's wrong with it for goodness sake? It's another of those female attributes that is seen as unclean. Lots of men think is it part of a woman's duty, her 'upkeep', to pluck and shave and dilapidate. Hair, particular public hair, is such an unseen entity these days that even the smallest amount will make man and women alike go "ugh!".
The reason I felt the need to go over old, old ground is that I was watching a really stupid program called 'What the fuck' or something like that. It collects lots of world TV and puts it together with a stupid voice over...you know, let's laugh at the Japanese who have game shows where contestants piss themselves, that sort of thing. There is a fair amount of bad porn acting in this program and the had one woman in the bath with wellies on (Laugh at wellie fetishism at the same time as getting to see some soft porn) (Don't ask me why I was watching this, it was late night TV) The camera panned up from the wellies and onto the woman's cunt and the voice over said "Woah! What's with the yeti woman?".
Ok, crap program, but what surprised me was that the woman was a relatively unhairy one. It was just not a normal porno cunt with absolutely no hair or a weird little hedgehog stripe. What I realized is that if men are looking at porn and than looking at women who try really hard to emulate porn; How do they know what a real cunt looks like? Have we, as women, forgotten what we look like?
I worry, that's all.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This is a great term which I am nicking from Maia. What a great way to get over the squeamishness of periods; Blood positive!
Further to Maia's review of the Mooncup I thought I would add my own comments on alternative 'sanitary' wear.
Let's start with that...sanitary wear...urgh! Because we are made to feel as if menstrual blood is somehow different to other blood. It's more smelly and dirty and just...you know...unsanitary. Our job as women is to keep our dirty body's mess down to a minimum, to control it so other people (men presumably) don't have to deal with it. At the same time I live in a society where men piss in the streets all the time, even in broad daylight. Twice this week I have walked passed two men just standing pissing against a wall and was greeted with a turned head and a look of defiance in my direction. Yet think of the horror and terror that women live in that someone will see a tiny drip of blood on their skirt or trousers.
Anyway back to the review:
Anyone tried a sea sponge? I bought one in Glastonbury one year and thought it was the best thing ever. It was a little finger sized piece, you can use one up to six months and you clean it by wringing it out under a tap....easy! Between periods you clean it with cider vinegar and then dry it out for next month. My only trouble is getting some more. I agree with Maia that something like that can make you look forward to your period. There were a few moments in public toilets where I had to wait for them to empty of people before wringing it out but that was easy really.
There is something very soothing about wringing the blood from the sponge. it's really hands-on so not for wimps but just the best thing ever for connecting to your body.
The next thing I've discovered is reusable nappies.....yes! What? Huh? well, we bought a huge amount of pre-fold nappies for the kids which are sitting in the airing cupboard not doing anything. Except once a month they become my night-time companions. They are the perfect size and so soft. A quick wash in the morning and then use something more conventional in the day time and I'm a happy girl. It's the night time that I feel uneasy about with tampons - they just stay in too long for my liking if you sleep a reasonable time and towels are useless; who hasn't woken up in a puddle with a towel stick to their tummy, leg or boyfriend?
Anyway...alternative blood positive stuff is about as empowering as you can get and you get to do it ever month!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Why why why????
Why did it happen???
Earlier this year I had an attack of the 'unspecified vagina pain'. I'd eliminated all the usual suspects, you know, thrush et al but I still had pain with no explanation.
A very good friend of mine suffers from this and has undergone all sorts of treatments and doctor related poking and if it hadn't been for her I don't think I would have got through it - and thank the Goddess I did get through it because she lives with it all the time.
It got so bad at one point that I couldn't get to the end of the road with out crying in agony. All sorts of lotions and potions only made it worse. The only thing that stopped the pain was 2 paracetamol, 2 ibuprofen and a very very hot bath. This isn't the best thing to be doing all day when you have two kids to look after. To top it all this all happened to me whilst the Great Gloucester Floods were making everyone go crazy. I phoned up my doctors to try to get an appointment, than the phones went down and by the time I got to speak with them they were very rude to me. Then a male doctor phoned to see what I wanted and if it was bad enough to make an appointment (If you are still able to talk they want to know why you are wasting their time) I said I wanted to speak to a female doctor. He got cross, then the phones went down again...the upshot of this is that I had to go on a camping festival holiday with a vagina that felt like someone was holding a hot poker to it.
I learnt many things by going through this: Never question a woman as to why she is wearing her pajamas inside out, I'm a complete woss about going to the doctor/herbalist about my 'bits' even though I've assumed a gynecological position with men I've just met and had two kids and most importantly...never take your vagina for granted.
It lasted about 3 months before the pain went away as mysteriously as it came.
After talking to other women I have found out that my friend and I are not alone in experiencing this. She is one exstream in that hers never goes away and I am on the other end of the scale in that this was my first time at the age of 33 and it did go after a while.
Anyway...anybody else had this problem? What did you do? Nobody ever warned me that this could happen, will it happen again to me?
Thank you Maia for giving me this chance to think about that strange place of wonder and creation. Vulva Liberation week is so fab for many reasons. This week I will mostly be moaning about mine...probably. So not very interesting then. Well, I'll try not to moan but I have to warn you that being the-week-before-my-period this is a bad time for me to feel positivity about ANYTHING. there, you see, this moaning is vulva related.
To me this is my magical time where I see through the bull crap and call stuff out on it's general fakeness. I get this every month. It's not that my hormones make me crazy or alter my perception, it's just that I get fed up with having to pretend for other people that all this stuff is normal or sane. Stuff like Top Gear - what a load of shit. It's all so fake; so obviously fake and yet so many people go on about their 'hilarious' race through London on various modes of transport. Oh yes....so funny...SO FAKE! IT'S NOT REAL: IT'S TV!
Stuff like clothes, shoes, people freaking out about their bodies. I'm just so bored of it. I'm just so done with thin pretty young girls hating themselves...if I can shake off that ol' pile of patriarchal crap why can't everybody? (ok, this is not fair getting angry at the women but I'm still done with hearing them moan) You've got all your legs, you can see and breathe and hear, your skin is whole and works...chill the fuck out and start enjoying life. Start saying 'yeah, fuck off' and see the real image in the mirror and stop pretending you can's see how pretty you are.
Ok...sorry...rant over. This goes on for a week. I thank my cycle for letting me see through the bullshit once a month and then when my period comes I can go back to feeling sorry for people (I still don't believe that Top Gear is anything but a pile of steaming fakeness)(sorry IRGxana) and being all caring and nice. Hmmm. Who am I kidding?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Feeding a school child – the reality
As my oldest son went into his classroom for the very first time, instead of the joys and fears that other parents were experiencing, I was thinking Oh my goodness, I’m breastfeeding a school child now.
When he was a tiny, new baby in my arms I couldn’t imagine what he would be like when he was 4, let alone envisage myself still feeding him. I was more concerned with sore nipples, worrying that he was getting enough milk, putting on weight and whether everything was just normal. I felt alone in my decision to breastfeed; all my friends had bottle fed their babies and their experiences and well-meant advice didn’t seem to be relevant to my baby. I needed to find some new friends, some women who were going through the same things as me. I started going to my local breastfeeding group and was relived to meet other mums whose experiences where like mine. I also got to spend some time with a Breastfeeding Counsellor who helped me feed without pain.
The days ticked by and I got used to feeding my child, my initial embarrassment at an accidental exposure ebbed and I was able to comfortably feed in public. I wanted to feed him until the 6 months recommended by the health professionals but when we got to that time he seemed to be showing no interest in stopping. I read that the World Health Organization recommends feeding into the 2nd year so I relaxed about it.
I never really understood what the fuss was about breastfeeding; once I’d cracked it it seemed like I’d taken the easy option, it was almost cheating at childcare! I attended a wedding that went on later than expected and whilst lots of bottle-fed babies were crying with hunger because their mothers had not prepared enough feeds, my child suckled and fell asleep in my arms.
As a toddler he would have a feed if he had fallen over, lost a fight over a toy, felt tired and sad, as if feeding helped him deal with the emotions he was too little to understand. I also never worried about what or how much he ate as I knew he would make it up later with a feed. I watched other mothers struggle with these issues and again thought I was getting an easy ride because of breastfeeding.
The magic age of 2 arrived and people were starting to ask “Are you still breastfeeding?” but as I was surrounded by women who were feeding older children I thought I would let him continue. Indeed, I was worried what I would do to replace it; as the Terrible Twos hit feeding was the only thing that calmed the tantrums. I didn’t think about the months passing, I dealt with the days and every day I met the needs of my child and that included breastfeeding.
I became pregnant with my 2nd child and he carried on feeding throughout. I knew I could feed whilst pregnant because I’d seen other women do it and I knew I could feed two children for the same reason. If I had not had those wonderful women around me I would have felt pressured into doing something I did not feel happy about; denying my child the milk and the comfort he needed.
So...what is it like feeding a school child? Do I push my bosom through the bars at play time? Does he come home for a feed every four hours? Does he have a bottle of expressed milk? No, of course not but you’d be surprised how many people think that’s what it means to feed an older child. Do the other children pick on him? Well, how many of his peers have bottles still, comfort blankets, are picky eaters and wear nappies at night? I don’t know because it is not something they talk about. They are 4, not 14.
In the morning he snuggles up to me and has a little feed; perhaps five minutes then we get up and get ready for school. The next feed he has might not be until the next morning as his father and I take turns in putting him to bed with three story books. When it is my turn he sometimes asks for a feed, sometimes not. It only lasts a few minutes before he is either asleep or I tell him that that is enough. That’s it, that’s all he has but many people think it’s totally outrageous.
Sometimes he tells me that there is no milk in there. I know this is the beginning of him losing his sucking reflex, in a little while he won’t be able to get milk out but it might be a little more time before he accepts it.
We have just had his first school report and he is top of the class! I like to think all that breastmilk had something to do with it.
When the time comes to stop I know I will be a little bit sad but very happy that he has been one of the few children (in this country) to get the maximum benefit that breastfeeding offers.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Let me take you back (if I may) to a time in the dark days of breastfeeding (the 70's) when people started to think that anything a woman could do a man could do better and make women pay him to do it. How did Nestle and an assortment of other companies, manage to persuade women that their free breastmilk that had been working well for millions of years was rubbish and to trust in an artificial product? Well, let me roll out some well-worn phrases: More hygienic, not enough milk, convenient, easy, hungry baby, drugs in breastmilk, superior product, standardized. And the rest is money in the bank and everybody forgets how to breastfeed. Now they needed to conquer a new market, the 'third world'. But they can't afford baby milk, don't worry - we'll send donations for those poor black woman in Africa who are so backward that they still give their babies filthy breastmilk. These 'donations' quickly became the method that the companies used to hook the babies on formula long enough so that their mother's milk had 'dried out' (you can re-lactate but nobody's telling women that). This serves two purposes for the companies; you open up a whole new market that had been unavailable before and you also reinforce the image that a man-made solution is superior to western mums who might think about going back to the old ways.
So now there is a new campaign that is reaching women in this country and touching their hearts, they feel sad for their poor African sisters who have no sanitary towels. Awwww....how terrible...what on earth do they do? They are using leaves and cardboard and are getting terrible cases of thrush and all sorts....poor backward people...no tampons...can you imagine! But luckily kind old Bodyform has come to the rescue and donating lots of products...phew! What a wonderful company to be doing something so selfless.
Hmmm....I'm getting deja vu.
Just a few thoughts:
- NO company does something for nothing.
- Why give women sanitary products when a couple of clean rags and access to clean water can be used again and again? A tampon can be used once.
- What are these leaves women are using? Are they super absorbent leaves that women have been using for thousands of years? I'm thinking about the moss women used in this country not so long ago.
- Are these women circumcised? In all the reports on this I have not come across an answer to this question. Might that be a factor in thrush and infections?
- What did these women use before? Might the real issue be about hygiene and access to clean water? (alright I've made this point already but I need to say it twice)
- What happens when the donations stop and women are left not being able to trust anything that isn't a throw-away item....like the state we have got ourselves into in this country?
- Telling us that women in Zimbabwe need sanitary products so badly to stop them getting terrible infections means that we western women who were thinking about buying a Mooncup or, heaven forbid, sew up some re-usable rags feel afraid; as if we don't really know the implications of what we might do to ourselves.
- Don't tampons cause infections? Oh yeah they do. And if you don't have many doesn't that mean you will use one for longer than you should which means your more likely to get an infection? Same goes for towels.
Monday, November 12, 2007
He has said today that he has been looking at the statistics on rape:
"England and Wales have the lowest conviction rate - 5.7% - among leading European countries, he said.
He pledged longer-term funding for rape crisis centres, to change attitudes towards rape through sex education and announced a Tory review of sentencing."
"He called for "widespread cultural change" and warned that society has become increasingly "sexualised" over the past decade, during which time treating women as sex objects has become viewed as "cool".
He also called for compulsory sex education in schools to drive home the message that sex without consent is a criminal offence."
"He also said the number of rape crisis support centres had fallen from 68 in 1984 to 45, and funding decisions on those that remained were short-term and being made mid-way through the financial year.
"As a result, these centres are forced to survive hand-to-mouth and often face the threat of imminent closure," he said.
"All this has led to an appalling and tragic lack of support for the victims of rape."
Lorks a Lordy!
Here's a link to the whole BBC article.
Well, I'm expecting to hear next that the weather in Hell is a bit nippy and that Lord Lucan has appeared riding on Shergar. I don't know what's more surprising; me nodding in agreement with a Tory (and Cameron too!) or that a politician has raised this issue at all.
All I can think is that this must be product of a Tory minion doing some trawling through statistics and wondering who they can please in a mass gesture. This is an important issue to ALL women so there is a huge part of the voting population sorted out with one speech. This also does not conflict with the 'Family Values' of the old Tory brigade:
"To my mind, this is an example of moral collapse."
He manages to squeeze in nicely. I wonder if this is an issue that is being rolled out now but will not be seen again?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Oooooooooh the cuteness!
First of all I have to give credit to the person who has inspired my new love of things cute and Japanese Ana Paula's Patterns and random cuteness
It's cute and lovely crochet animals and also things that have cute faces on too. I luuuurve the crochet and I have been making blankets and kids clothes for the last 4 years but after a while I started to want to do something a little bit more fun (also the house is FULL of crochet blankets, they are on everything; seriously, everything.) and these cute little patterns have fulfilled me. I am now into a huge crochetathon to try to make all the fab stuff for Christmas presents. The good news is these little gems only take a few hours to put together.
So I'm off to make bunnies while the kids build potato men.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
How many times am I told that the nature/nurture debate will never be settled? Many; that's how. Many times.
Apparently girls will be girls and boys will be boys and it's not how we raise them, it is natural for them to be so terribly different. They like different colours, different toys, boys run around and girls play with dolls. I've always resisted this idea and maintain that we cannot possibly know how much 'femininity' or 'masculinity' is natural and at what point on the sliding scale of gender you would have rested if you had no influence.
At this time of year, coming up to the dreaded Christmas toy-fest, the fact that we influence our children's gender identity cannot be ignored.
Boys can have:- guns, web-slingers, action figures, cars, racing tracks, heros, wrestling, action, action, bang, run, blue and red.
Girls can have:- dolls (with bottles) that wet themselves, pooh themselves, remember your name, have a fake illness, dress up, go to parties, go shopping, have cut-able hair, do-able nails, have jewelry, pets, little and small and even ones that grow over 4 days, pink pink pink pink...there is a girls car set now - it's pink and it's got a doll in.
You can buy some fridge magnets with the 45 words that children are expected to read after their first year, that's good, I thought. There are add-on packs and I thought that logically they should be full of words that they will encounter but NO!!!!!!!!!!! You can get a 'Girl's Words' pack and a 'Boy's Words' pack. Gah!
Girl's words - party, friend, doll, pink, pretty, dress, skirt, smile, like.
Boy's words - Ski, jump, run, play, tree, fun, fight.
Well, you get the picture.
I just want to shout at all these faceless people making these decisions for our children's identity. I want to shout "Leave my children alone, let them make their own minds up".
We can never, never tell what we, or our children could be because the screen of constant defining of gender is too thick to see through.