Apparently mentioning the word “vagina” — even in the not-sexual context of an art class — is a violation of one Michigan middle school’s antiquated sex education policy. ThinkProgress reports:
A Michigan art teacher said she was fired Friday for addressing a controversial symbol art historians have studied for centuries: the vagina.
Allison Wint, a substitute art teacher at Harper Creek Middle School in Battle Creek, Michigan, said she was hoping to spark a thoughtful classroom discussion on controversy in art. But her description of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting apparently went too far. The next day, the school’s principal told her she had violated its policy.
Wint told the Detroit Free Press that she had asked her students: “Imagine walking into a gallery when [O’Keefe] was first showing her pieces, and thinking, ‘Am I actually seeing vaginas here?’” Surrounded by middle school students, Wint said she expected giggles — but told the Free Press she thought the discussion remained educational and productive. She had no idea it was against school policy to “get advanced approval when discussing any form of reproductive health.”
I’m really not sure how discussing vaginas in the context of Georgia O’Keefe’s work has anything to do with “reproductive health.” (In fact, O’Keefe herself actually adamantly resisted the interpretation of her work as vulva symbolism, including by feminists, so no doubt she’d be particularly pissed about this whole vagina “controversy.”) As the half of the population that has one well knows, the vast majority of the time, vaginas are not doing anything particularly “reproductive” — they’re just hanging out. Hopefully, they’re in good health, though given the criminally negligent state of sex education in this country, if they are, it’s probably no thanks to the school system.
In Michigan, it’s not just students who supposedly can’t handle hearing about vaginas. A few years ago, the state made headlines when a state lawmaker was banned from speaking on the House floor after she said the word in her speech in opposition to an anti-choice bill. A male colleague explained, “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.” Because obviously the people who mostly have vaginas are especially too delicate to hear them named — that makes sense.
What does it do to girls and young women to have a part of their bodies — one as inseparable from their being as their hands or ears — equated with sex so automatically, reflexively, that it’s apparently impossible for the word to simply be a non-sexualized noun describing a part of human anatomy? And what does it do to them to have it treated as shameful, “controversial,” something that even the adults in their world are not allowed to say?
I read this article right after reading this one about how the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is warning of growing demand from teen girls for cosmetic labiaplasty surgeries. Kids are risking nerve damage that could affect their sexual responsiveness to trim their labia minora into some idealized version of how a vulva is “supposed” to be. You can blame mainstream porn, of course, and, more generally, the photoshopped media world we live in, feeding us a warped, narrow vision of what bodies look like. But I’d argue those more immediate causes rely on a more foundational bedrock of shame: A sense, reinforced since childhood, that your vagina exists for one purpose and that it has always been, in some essential, implicit way, wrong.
Header image: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Iris Series 1926
The American Dental Association (ADA) says it may have inadvertently mailed malware-laced USB thumb drives to thousands of dental offices nationwide.
The problem first came to light in a post on the DSL Reports Security Forum. DSLR member “Mike” from Pittsburgh got curious about the integrity of a USB drive that the ADA mailed to members to share updated “dental procedure codes” — codes that dental offices use to track procedures for billing and insurance purposes.
“Oh wow the usually inept ADA just sent me new codes,” Mike wrote. “I bet some marketing genius had this wonderful idea instead of making it downloadable. I can’t wait to plug an unknown USB into my computer that has PHI/HIPAA on it…” [link added].
The ADA says some flash drives mailed to members contained malware. Image: Mike
Sure enough, Mike looked at the code inside one of the files on the flash drive and found it tries to open a Web page that has long been tied to malware distribution. The domain is used by crooks to infect visitors with malware that lets the attackers gain full control of the infected Windows computer.
Reached by KrebsOnSecurity, the ADA said it sent the following email to members who have shared their email address with the organization:
“We have received a handful of reports that malware has been detected on some flash drives included with the 2016 CDT manual,” the ADA said. “The ‘flash drive’ is the credit card sized USB storage device that contains an electronic copy of the CDT 2016 manual. It is located in a pocket on the inside back cover of the manual. Your anti-virus software should detect the malware if it is present. However, if you haven’t used your CDT 2016 flash drive, please throw it away.
To give you access to an electronic version of the 2016 CDT manual, we are offering you the ability to download the PDF version of the 2016 CDT manual that was included on the flash drive.
To download the PDF version of the CDT manual:
1. Click on the link »ebusiness.ada.org/login/ ··· ion.aspx
2. Log in with your ADA.org user ID and password
3. After you log in you will automatically be directed to a page showing CDT 2016 Digital Edition.
4. Click on the “Download” button to save the file to your computer for use.
If you have difficulty accessing or downloading the file, please call 1.800.947.4746 and a Member Service Advisor will be happy to assist you.
Many of the flash drives do not contain the Malware. If you have already used your flash drive and it worked as expected (it displayed a menu linking to chapters of the 2016 CDT manual), you may continue using it.
We apologize if this issue has caused you any inconvenience and thank you for being a valued ADA customer.”
This incident could give new meaning to the term “root canal.” It’s not clear how the ADA could make a statement that anti-virus should detect the malware, since presently only some of the many antivirus tools out there will flag the malware link as malicious.
In response to questions from this author, the ADA said the USB media was manufactured in China by a subcontractor of an ADA vendor, and that some 37,000 of the devices have been distributed. The not-for-profit ADA is the nation’s largest dental association, with more than 159,000 members.
“Upon investigation, the ADA concluded that only a small percentage of the manufactured USB devices were infected,” the organization wrote in an emailed statement. “Of note it is speculated that one of several duplicating machines in use at the manufacturer had become infected during a production run for another customer. That infected machine infected our clean image during one of our three production runs. Our random quality assurance testing did not catch any infected devices. Since this incident, the ADA has begun to review whether to continue to use physical media to distribute products.”
let's do the riddle room
miss u japanese waffles :(
Be My Husband
by DICK CHENEY
creator Ronald D. Moore
This weekend's premiere of Outlander was the most fun I have had in years. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) returned from her time in Scotland during the mid-18th century and she was cranky as hell. The noise of airplanes and cars was absolutely disgusting to her, and she was astonished by the fashions of the 1948 season. After showing up in the middle of the street, she screamed at a passerby in order to find out who won World War II. Perhaps not surprisingly, she was left unsatisfied by the answer.
It got better from here. The husband she left behind in 1743 had a big penis (shockingly large IIRC) and impregnated her. So she tells her 1948 husband this, and at first he is all happy. Then you see his visage crumple as he realizes a number of key things: (1) he is sterile and (2) he is not the father of this child. His next move was most amusing: he balled up his fist like he was going to smash Claire's face in and looms over her. He backed off, but what a moment! I love this show.
It got better from here. Frank, her 1948 husband who is this douchy professor apparently prone to striking pregnant women heads into this old workshop that his buddy, a Scottish priest, has handy, and he's so angry that he smashes the entire place up. God Outlander is incredible; he was like this deranged guy feebly smashing boxes, and it went on for what felt like five whole minutes of just agony because his wife hadn't recovered from her ordeal in the few days he gave her to recuperate and acknowledge he was the most important individual in the world to her.
He gets with God and then returns to his wife for more tawking. It's obvious that she no longer cares for him. He tells her that he can give her time, but that they have to pretend the child is his. She agrees, and he burns all her old clothes. He asks her to move to Boston and she says yes to that too.
At that moment I knew this whole thing was bullshit or some kind of setup because a woman would never agree to move to Boston unless she had no other option. It got better from here. The setting shifts to France in the 1740s. Claire and her fertile ginger husband Jamie observe a man with smallpox coming in on a ship. Claire loudly shouts that she is a healer even though the man is already dead. They end up burning the entire vessel and its cargo, even though that seemed maybe somewhat excessive for one case of smallpox.
Claire is from the future, but unfortunately she knows very little about how to aid Jamie. She wants to prevent his people from being wiped out by the British, but she maybe glanced at a history textbook once ten years ago and forgot the rest. This is all well and good, but she could have aimed higher and stopped the Holocaust or the First World War. If you start actually thinking about this show it will make your head hurt.
There's actually a lot wrong with Outlander – the performances are not the best, and the soft lens they shoot everything with makes it look like Skinemax. But who cares, the B-movie feel to the proceedings just adds a certain flair missed from other dramas. The reason Outlander is so fucking great is because it does not shy away from going hard, verging on completely silly and overwrought. Most people would say a scene where a grown man flails about like a five year old just isn't realistic, but that is the brilliance of this entire endeavor. Outlander remains unafraid.
The world is likely flush with time travelers at this very moment. Most of them are trying to prevent Trump from becoming president; a select few were sent back to blackmail the press into giving Batman v. Superman bad reviews. This was a brilliant movie with a lot of subtext, and if you did not see it, at least google the scene where Superman slips it in Lois Lane (Amy Adams) while she's in the tub. I haven't been that turned on since I watched two lawyers who work for Paul Giamatti have really intense sex on Billions.
Someone once asked me whether or not all the things I write in my reviews are things I really believe, or if I am just exaggerating for pageviews. Hah hah. I am always serious unless I am talking about how Shonda Rimes' characters all talk and fuck the same. Then I am slightly tongue-in-cheek, but then again that is annoying. Especially the latter.
Outlander is my jam, but come April 24th I will be returning with my Game of Thrones reviews. I say reviews, but they will really be essais which weave in all the major events of our time: police brutality, my feelings on Ted Cruz's wonderful wife Heidi, the troubling rise of Russia, the anti-human rights legislation passed in the state of North Carolina, how I can't wait for Uncharted 4, and other such major news stories. I have gone on media blackout, since I want to experience it all fresh, knowing nothing, just like Terence Winter when he watches season two of Vinyl.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.
I should begin as the author does, with the accident: “On October 1, 2003, I caught a branch in the spokes of the front wheel of my bicycle, and hurtled toward the pavement.” Christina Crosby was paralyzed upon impact. Fifty years into an exceptionally active life, she was thrown into a radically uncertain future of limited mobility and dependency on others. Crosby’s new memoir, A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain (NYU Press), begins at the onset of that after not simply because of the irreparable rift it opened between old life and new, but because of the trial it poses to both writer and reader: “to put into words a body that seemed beyond the reach of language.”
Crosby was already an accomplished scholar at the time of her accident and remains Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, her institutional home for decades. Her training as a close reader is evident in the precision and care with which she guides us through the book’s varied materials—many of her short chapters juxtapose childhood memories, present-tense sensations, and snippets of poetry to illuminating effect. In a particularly instructive pairing, Crosby brings her knowledge of Victorian realist fiction to bear on the genre of disability memoir to which her book ambivalently belongs. Revisiting George Eliot helps Crosby identify a formula: conventional disability narratives begin with a moment of diagnosis or impairment—Crosby’s one point of compliance—proceed chronologically through hardship, and culminate in “a satisfying conclusion of lessons learned and life recalibrated” toward a healthy future. The desires motivating such an arc and the reassurances it afford are powerful and real, but Crosby insists against their promise, “Even the most accomplished cripple you can imagine is undone, and living some part of her life in another dimension, under a different dispensation than that of realist representation.”
Though she recognizes the risk of pathologizing disability by dwelling in grief and loss, Crosby also protests the “strategic elision” of these affects in disability narratives. “I find myself repeatedly, daily, relentlessly, and wearyingly horrified by the elsewhere of spinal cord injury,” an elsewhere that she maps with remarkable clarity. To do so her book refuses linear progression, instead presenting the reader with a tight skein of passionately interrogated subjects: family, athleticism, gender performance, reading, and sex all bleed into one another, despite the memoir’s division into brief and focused chapters.
Though the book is organized around a violent moment of rupture, Crosby’s moving reflections on her new experiences of embodiment, gender, and sexuality in the years since being paralyzed prove the depth and consistency of her lifelong intellectual commitments as a lesbian and a feminist. Her hard-won convictions help Crosby weather the unabated “neurological storm” of quadriplegia and her dramatically curtailed mobility, but it is a testament to her flexibility as a writer that she remains eager to reconsider, tweak, and think them anew in light of what her present life makes perceptible.
Given how thoroughly disability has restructured her daily life, Crosby’s prose on the subject can be disarmingly direct. “I needed so much help,” she admits; her lover “Janet needed so much help helping me.” It is clear from the earliest pages of her memoir that these admissions of need are also political interventions, laying bare the obscured networks of interdependence through which all of us are kept alive, no matter how self-sufficient we feel ourselves to be. In describing her rehabilitation and new domestic routines, Crosby folds the specialized activity of EMTs and CNAs into the same category of mutual obligation—help—as domestic labor, intimate care, and small gestures of kindness between friends, strangers, and “all who in some way touched me.”
A Body, Undone is particularly moving in its account of Crosby’s relationship with her home aide, Donna, with whose life her own becomes intimately entangled even as certain boundaries remain unbridgeable. We learn much through Crosby of Donna’s poverty, her religious faith, and her own ongoing physical pain resulting from the strenuous and underpaid labor of nursing. But Crosby is also careful to stress that the intimacy between them and the kinds of interdependency it cultivates are in no way equal or redemptive: Donna remains, “in many regards, unknown to me and unknowable… our intimacy is very real, but it’s [Janet and I] who have the money.” The deeply felt love that Crosby develops for her caretaker intensifies rather than placates her political commitments; Crosby now teaches about domestic work in her courses, and she’s careful in the book to cite resources that readers can refer to themselves. While she acknowledges that teaching is no substitute for activism, doing so has become “a way to name social reproduction as an object of knowledge consequential to feminist thought, and to link my dependency to a broader vision of caring labor and reproductive work.”
The interdependency that Crosby values is realized in the broad cast of characters she makes room for in her writing. Her book lovingly testifies to the precious network of thinkers, activists, and friends that she has cultivated throughout her career, and some of the figures that float in and out of her narrative may be familiar to Feministing readers. Janet Jakobsen, a brilliant scholar and Barnard professor who has been Crosby’s lover since six years before her accident, features prominently, as does Maggie Nelson, a former student and longtime friend of Crosby’s. (Attentive readers of Nelson’s may in turn know Crosby from her appearances in Nelson’s own writings.) In its intellectual generosity, its frankness, and its dexterous deployment of the resources of scholarship toward the ends of life writing, A Body, Undone recalls other invaluable memoirs of illness and disability by feminist academics like Susan Gubar’s Memoir of a Debulked Woman and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s A Dialogue on Love, though unlike those antecedents Crosby engages explicitly with the now-robust field of disability studies.
Crosby writes just as insightfully about her commitment to embodied pleasure, the thrill of bicycle racing, the nuances of gender performance in lesbian community, and a range of friends and family members whose lives have shaped her own. She shares her passions eagerly, and her prose is often boldly emphatic. Even so, honoring our necessary interdependence is not the same as romanticizing it, or pretending that it leads invariably to joy: In a poignant chapter about Crosby’s inability to take on home improvement projects as she used to, she recounts, “Janet told me, very truly and not in wrath, but with a terrible finality, ‘You can’t have what you want. You just can’t.’”
Paid care work can satisfy many needs, though of course not all of them. There are some desires and experiences that Crosby will never be able to recoup through others, no matter how generous or competent. To pretend otherwise would be to misrepresent both the coordinates of her current life and her intense appreciation for the life she used to lead: “I knew what I had. I know what I’ve lost.”
The great pain persists, but so does the work of living. Rather than fixing, resolving, or protecting against further suffering, Crosby accepts the task her friend Maggie Nelson poses in a poem written in the immediate wake of Crosby’s accident: “Live with your puny, vulnerable self / Live with her.” Crosby can only approach this task through writing, which “offers, not a way out, but a way into the impossible dilemmas of not-knowing.” It’s a beautiful gift to have given us as readers, and a remarkable challenge: “how else will I understand? How will you?”
Everyone real mad about Star Wars women tho
The site Polygraph has undertaken a massive screenplay analysis — the largest ever — of over 2,000 movies, breaking down each word of dialogue by gender and age. The results offer a number of striking ways to visualize how Hollywood’s sexism and ageism shape the worlds we see on the big screen.
The researchers found that women were the lead — i.e. they had the most dialogue — in just 22 percent of the films. They had the second place speaking role in about a third. But God forbid there be two women with major speaking roles — that only happened in 18 percent of the films. In over 80 percent of the films, two out of the top three characters with the most lines were men.
Of course, even if there’s a woman lead, that’s no guarantee that the overall dialogue will be more gender balanced. For example, Mulan ends up with majority male lines because the lead’s supporting character, Mushu, had 50 percent more lines than she did. Men speak more in pretty much every genre: 22 of 30 Disney films have a male majority of dialogue, as do 58 percent of rom coms. Can’t even let women speak more in so-called “chick flicks” that are supposedly “female-driven” and geared toward us.
Here, for example, is what the spread looks like for films in the drama genre:
Meanwhile, the analysis by gender and age backs up what every older actress ever has always said: as women in Hollywood age, they can’t find parts, while men actually get more speaking roles over age 40.
If you head over to Polygraph, you can search by different subcategories and also see how your favorite movie stacks up. And they made enough of the raw data publicly available that some enterprising data geek could probably add in race as a variable to make things even more depressing.
NQN hanging out in Merrylands
by TAYLOR HINE
A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara
Doubleday, 720 pp.
I read the first few pages of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life on Sunday afternoon. I remember the day being overcast, but that may be just an after-effect of reading the novel. The cover beckoned me over to the “staff picks” table – was the man about to cry from pain or from having an orgasm? Will this book really be as wonderful as everyone says it is?
This is what A Little Life is about: four friends, but mostly just one of those friends – the one, we’re supposed to think, whose experiences matter most in the group. Jude St. Francis is an orphan of unknown ethnic origin who was found either in or next to a trash can in an alleyway as a baby and raised by a coterie of monks who all happen to be terrible people. The other three have their own problems: drug addiction, struggling for art, working jobs that don’t pay enough, finding a halfway decent roommate. The novel opens with two of the friends, Willem and the aforementioned Jude, being chastised by an apartment agent for not being able to afford the place she’s showing them. A Little Life, then, is a novel like many others: it’s about going home. In Jude’s case, it’s about finding a home: the first sentence reads, “The eleventh apartment had only one closet, but it did have a sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony, from which he could see a man sitting across the way, outdoors in only a T-shirt and shorts even though it was October, smoking.”
A Little Life is probably supposed to appeal to me – after all, it’s about a group of twenty-somethings precariously navigating the post-college adult world. It’s a very New York novel, which suits, naturally, most of its reviewers and friends of mine who live there. There are no references, however, to 9/11 or any current events or political movements that might set the novel in a given time period. One reviewer argued that this is to make the novel timeless, but I’m more inclined to think that the characters in the novel just don’t have much time to think about it.
The first third of the novel is spent explaining the stories of how each of the four friends – JB, Malcolm, Willem, and Jude – ended up in New York City. There are arguments about race and homosexuality and other categories and labels. As it turns out, Jude can’t be categorized. His friends call him “The Postman” because he’s uncomfortable with divulging his life story, which is what really sets him apart from his three friends: “We never see him with anyone, we don’t know what race he is, we don’t know anything about him…[He’s] post-sexual, post-racial, post-identity, post-past.” They find him fascinating. The more anyone finds out about him throughout the novel, though, he becomes someone to feel sorry for rather than an intriguing, mysterious person: someone they try desperately to help in whatever ways they can.
The rest of the novel is deeply troubling. Jude’s story is nothing more and nothing less of abuse. He defines his life by it; his suffering is the beginning and end of his character. A new maxim is presented: things only get worse; they don’t get better. It’s like the film version of The Shining: “All [Jack Torrance] does is get crazier,” King said in a recent interview. “In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change.” Peppered with flashbacks to Jude’s sexual and physical abuse in childhood and adolescence are depictions of the various ways he tries to cope: he maims himself, avoids the questions and concerns of his friends, and balks at the idea of anyone being able to love a man in a wheelchair.
Jude gives up on his life by the end of the novel. After one suicide attempt earlier on, Willem moves in with Jude – after a short while, they begin a romantic relationship. It’s a troublesome relationship for Jude, despite finally being with someone who treats him well. The one aspect of it he can’t handle is sexual intimacy. Instead of telling Willem as much and to avoid hurting his feelings (in other words, to avoid confrontation of any sort, even though Willem would be just as understanding and as sympathetic as he’s always been), he maims himself more than ever.
Before picking up A Little Life, I thought the saddest story ever told was that of Job’s inexplicable suffering. Job’s story, however, has a message that can be taken away from it: Sometimes we suffer, and we don’t know why. Nobody earns whatever suffering befalls them – justice isn’t that simple. The punishment doesn’t always fit the crime; there doesn’t even have to be a crime. Despite this meager ultimatum, or because of it – whichever you prefer – what matters, I think, is how we carry ourselves during those times of suffering. We can choose to give up, or we can try not to. A Little Life is a depiction of what the limits of that suffering can look like, a treatise on just how much one person can take. At one point, Jude “prays to a god he doesn’t believe in,” indicating that the blame in fact could lie outside of himself, even though he never says so outright. In fact, he spends most of the novel believing he brought all of his suffering upon himself, with increased paranoia and regression over time as a result.
A Little Life left me with little more than frustration when I finished it. It’s an utterly hopeless novel, unlike any other I’ve ever read. They were right in saying that you shouldn’t pick up A Little Life if you’re feeling sad, that it would only make you feel sadder. Now to that, I agree.
Taylor Hine is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Asheville.
"I Want You" - Anthony Hamilton (mp3)
One thing Buzzfeed is known for is their collection of videos highlighting specific affinity groups and their experiences. Many of their videos are so powerful that they remain relevant long after they are published, and go through multiple sharing waves on social media. Their video on what it’s like to be intersex is one of those, and worth a revisit if you haven’t already seen it.
Buzzfeed videos can range from hilariously sarcastic to deeply touching, and sometimes do both. Often though, they provide an opportunity for members of marginalized groups to explain, discuss, challenge, or reflect on their own experiences. The videos offer a perspective in a way that privileges the agency and authority that marginalized people have always deserved–but rarely gotten–with regards to telling their own stories.
This video from a group of intersex people presents a generously thoughtful, educational and honest take on a community too-often forgotten in our discourse about gender, sexuality, health care, and more.
When I was a child a neighbour worked here and his work shirt said BIG MEAT on the back
I am v good at colouring in
I love how grumpy Maru is all the time