Thursday, December 4, 2008

Funny or Die Proposition 8 Video

Even Jesus makes an appearance.
See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fast Food in London and South Central L.A.

According to Jennifer Whitehead's article at Brand Republic, in the United Kingdom, several fast food restaurants, including McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC are about to create healthier products. See Article Here
They are not doing this just out of the kindness of their hearts, however, but in cooperation with the British Food Standards Agency.

For residents in South Central LA, there is a different story:

Do you think the state and federal government should also increase the protections of these citizens as the city council and Jan Perry have in the 9th District?

The Kinsey Institute

On a recent trip to visit Indiana University(my top choice school), I had the pleasure of touring the gallery at The Kinsey Institute which was founded in 1947.

Photos are not allowed inside but they kindly offered to take a photo of me next to the sign.
The Kinsey Institute's mission is to "to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship in the fields of human sexuality, gender, and reproduction." I saw the two exhibits Sex and Presidential Politics and Pre-Revolutionary Queer: Gay Art and Culture Before Stonewall. See more about these two exhibits here.

I also see that they have online galleries of previous exhibits, including the fascinating Kinsey Confidential which features 33 images of the featured artwork and 33 questions and answers about sex. To see the questions and answers, you just click on the thumbnail a second time.

Keep in mind this is not safe for work and could be considered obscene by some standards.

Betty Dodson Blogs and YouTubes!

I just discovered that Betty Dodson is a blogger and you tuber now! The following video was just posted on November 21st and addresses several of the issues we have dealt with in class, including "sluts" and pornography. Keep in mind before viewing it that it does contain a candid discussion of erotic topics from the "sex positive" position. In the video, Dodson and Ross define a slut as, "a woman who breaks sexual rules. And given the rules that we are raised on how can you not break them? You have to in order to be a sexual person. So if somebody calls you a slut, I would suggest thanking them. It's a compliment."

Her book, Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving could be very helpful for those with insecurities about the appearance of their genitalia. There are line drawings of many different genitalia, both male and female. I think these images help people realize that we come in all shapes and sizes, even down under.

I found that she now has a website. Instead of the black and white line drawings from the old book, there are 11 pages of photographs of male and female genitalia to illustrate the many shapes that they can have. If you want to see them, click on "Galleries" near the center at the top of the page. Dodson works in cooperation with Carlin Ross, a former attorney turned sexpert and they both have You Tube videos as well.


An important video from Betty Dodson...

I originally learned about the inner clitoris in the film The clitoris: forbidden pleasure, that is available here at our own EWU library. I think every woman and most men should see this film. I'm considering showing it on campus.

Dodson's illustration is a very abbreviated but accurate version of some of the wonderful information in the film. I was blown away by the structure of the clitoris and how far it extends. The film also explains how throughout history the clitoris has been discovered, then hidden from the public, rediscovered, then hidden from the public again. Yet another example of the power and politics of sex and sexuality.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I love this video related to the UDHR. Read more here:

Friday, November 14, 2008

The New Four Star General

I don't have much time to blog about this at the moment but I am so excited I have to share. This is very moving.

One step closer to equality.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Labels, Labels, Labels

I wrote this in response to a blogger in my class who is concerned that Lindsay Lohan won't say whether she is straight, lesbian, or bisexual and think she is just doing it for some press.

I don’t blame Lindsay Lohan for not wanting to label her sexuality. Even if she does eventually end up with a man, we cannot assume that she was a fauxmosexual and she was really always straight, or even that she is bisexual. When do heterosexuals have to claim a label for their heterosexual identities? In fact, many people defy the binary straight/gay sexuality and still do not identify as bisexual.

Alfred Kinsey found in his research between the late 1930’s and early 1950’s that all people are not either heterosexual or homosexual but that many fall somewhere in the middle. In the late 1970’s, Fritz Klein developed the Klein grid which further expanded on Kinsey’s work and took into account fantasy life, sexual attraction, sexual behavior, emotional connection, community preference, and most importantly, self labeling as well as how these things have changed over one’s lifetime. There are many reasons that people might fall somewhere in between hetero and bi or between bi and gay/lesbian. These people might not want to claim and identity and shouldn’t have to just to make the straight, gay, and lesbian people more comfortable.

Labels of sexuality should not be applied to people by anyone but themselves, and they are changeable or fluid. In fact, according to this longitudinal study by Lisa M. Diamond, “unlabeled” was “the most commonly adopted identity” claimed over time by the 79 lesbian, bisexual, and unlabeled women involved. This is a relatively small sample but makes an important point: it is common not to claim lesbian, bisexual, or straight as a label.

In the bisexual, heterosexual, and gay and lesbian populations, people have sex with both sexes. Google “msm” or “downlow” for more info about how this works for many men who identify as straight. Read more here about Robin Ochs to find out about women in long term same-sex relationships who maintain a bisexual identity. Many married women with children identify as bisexual. Some of them have female partners as well and many are monogamous. Many polyamorous relationships exist successfully too. Read more about polyamory here . The main point that I hope you take away from this is that there is a huge variety of sexualities. Dichotomous thinking about sexuality does no good because it is not real. I am glad that Lindsay Lohan is making her decision not to identify publicly. If in doing this she gives some press to the idea that not everyone will identify, I say, "Thank you Lindsay!" It's about time people got more pragmatic about the many colors of the sexuality rainbow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guess What Grist Used This Picture For

In the November 7th release of Grist, "The Red Vadge of Courage" by Sarah van Schagen, gives a review of eco friendly feminine hygiene products. According to van Schagen, "The average woman will menstruate for about four decades and use an estimated 16,800 sanitary pads or tampons in the process -- that's 250 to 300 pounds of waste. In the U.S. alone, some 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are disposed of annually. Add to that the questionable contents of said items -- synthetic fibers and chemical-soaked cotton -- and it's no wonder that time of the month isn't a pleasant one."

She reviews GladRags, Natracare, Lunapads, and Seventh Generation pads. This is part one of a two part series. I just hope that in Part 2, due out November 18th, they cover my favorite product, the Diva Cup .

See here for the full product review article.

Transgender Questions Answered

I used to think that transvestite, transgender, and transsexual were three different things. Recently, I learned that transgender is an umbrella term for several different sex/gender presentations. The recent blog post about the first transgender mayor in the U.S. brought this back to the forefront of my mind and I thought this would be a great place to discuss it. I think someone commented that the mayor was not a true transgender person but he is, according to the APA. This is an important thing for us to know about as students in a Sex, Sexuality, and Communication class.

According to the American Psychological Association, "Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity (sense of themselves as male or female) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. Many transgender people live part-time or full-time as members of the other gender. Broadly speaking, anyone whose identity, appearance, or behavior falls outside of conventional gender norms can be described as transgender. However, not everyone whose appearance or behavior is gender-atypical will identify as a transgender person."

They also discuss several types of transgender people on their website.
In summary, they say that Female to Male and Male to Female transexuals are transgender, whether they transition to the other sex or not. What I used to call cross-dressers or transvestites are also considered transgender. included in the transgender group. People who dress in drag for performance purposes may or may not consider themselves transgender. The term is used in many ways by many people and does not have a fixed definition.

I have also heard recently that being transgender is considered a disease by the APA. In reading their statement, I found out that they do not consider it a mental disorder in and of itself unless it causes "distress or disability" for the person. Gender Identity Disorder is controversially still listed in the DSM. Some say that this is good because it enables transgender people to access healthcare. Others see this as labeling transgender folks with a mental disorder.

The APA suggests ways that people can be supportive of transgender people, including education, awareness, considering your own attitudes, using the preferred pronoun for the person, don't assume transgender people are gay, lesbian, or straight, be willing to communicate with them about it, and get support for yourself.

They also list the following websites as resources for more information:

Source for this blog:

Creature Comforts

Thanks again to Dr. Kissling for bringing this to my attention! Thought I would share. This video is set to audio of real people discussing their body image.

Socialization of Little Boys

I so appreciate the strides the feminist movement has made for girls, even though we have a long way to go. It is time for men to have the opportunities to change that we have. Jackson Katz is another filmmaker to turn the focus to males' socialization, especially at adolescence in "Tough Guise." I hadn't seen one that focuses on Disney and younger boys and put the scenes back to back. Disney films aren't watched at my house for many reasons. This film really validates my choice.

Palin Objectified

Dr. Kissling blogged: Reuters news service released this photo October 8, with the following caption, "A supporter listens to Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin during a rally in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on October 8."

And I replied:
The blur of her legs further removes Palin as the subject of the photograph and completely objectifies her. The subject is not the Vice Presidential candidate but the young man's reaction to her. If McCain doesn't win, that may just be the story we remember long after the election is over. We'll remember her as the VP candidate that came from nowhere and became eye candy for conservative men around the country. I hope as a nation of women we learn something from the lessons this campaign season teaches us about sexism in the U.S. From Hillary's "cankles" to Sarah the MILF, clearly many are not yet ready to take a female candidate for the White House seriously.

Lebron the Mad Brute and Giselle the Helpless Beauty?

I just thought I would post the images of Lebron and Gisele that we saw in class for further discussion here. Note for clarification: It isn't an anti war poster, it's a World War I propaganda poster that encourages enlisting in the Army.

I definitely understand how this has been interpreted as a racist image. I also suspect that Annie Leibovitz was aware of the World War I poster. I wish she would talk about it publicly. Maybe she will address it in her upcoming book, "Annie Leibovitz at Work," which will be released in November.

Find it here:

Marketing to Women

Professor Elizabeth Kissling posted this video on our Images, Messages, and Meanings class blog:

Then I found this:
This marketing firm has posted some statistics on the shopping habits of women and families that I found surprising. My husband does most of the cooking and cleaning in our house so I always try to picture men in these ads and laugh.

And some more about marketing to women:

Now they are marketing the Chevy Traverse to women using men as sex objects and house husbands? Do we really get excited enough to buy a car when a man irons and scrubs the toilet topless while talking about celebrating our six month anniversary?

Presidential Election and Fashion

Blogs went wild during the last few weeks of the Presidential election because it was found that the Republican National Committee has spent about $150,000 at Macy’s, Saks Fifth Ave., Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Atelier, Gaviidae Pacifier, The Gap, Steinlauf & Stoller, and Lord & Taylor for Sarah Palin’s clothes in September and an additional $13,200 on hair and makeup. While I wholly disagree with that decision, there is a bigger issue. Male candidates’ fashion choices would not be put under the microscope in the same way as candidates’ Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have, or even candidates’ wives’ Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain have been.

How is this important to the election, or is it? I see this as important for two reasons. First, Sarah Palin has been touting herself as the down home hockey mom and small town mayor in order to appeal to the “real Americans” and portrays Barack Obama as an elitist. Much of the discussion surrounding this issue has been related to whether the RNC should have done this or not. The questions being asked involve this line of thinking. Who is elitist? Who can relate more to the common man? How would the public react if the DNC had bought Michelle Obama or Joe Biden clothes?
More importantly though, women are held to a higher standard and sexist candidate John McCain is willing to take advantage of Sarah Palin’s appearance in order to get votes. What we should be discussing is how to make this shopping spree mentality completely unnecessary for future female candidates. Who decides that image is so important to the presidential race?Why is the appearance of women so much more important than the appearance of men? Inequality between the sexes is the reason for this being necessary and the only solution is to create equality.
Below are related videos and links so you can see for yourself if you like.

Washington Post Article

The Atlantic Article
Campbell Brown says that the RNC should help pay for Palin’s clothes, hair and makeup simply because of the double standard. See what she thinks here

Health at any Size

Time for some honesty here. I have been ignorant and judgmental about fat people. I have been friends with many overweight people and I never thought they were lazy or particularly unhealthy. I even thought of their fat as beautiful. However, I did stereotype "other" fat people in general and actually thought, "Oh, my friend isn't like most fat people." Sounds a lot like racist talk from the past doesn't it? It is time for us sizists to get real and start challenging our beliefs with a healthy dose of reality.

In fact, I am the lazy one. I am not overweight but I do NO deliberate excercise, literally, NONE, ZERO. I needed to be honest about my stereotypical attitude and make this into a learning experience. I think that stereotyping fat people might be one of the most difficult things to overcome in our thinness obsessed culture.

I found the Leonard Nimoy photographs beautiful and I thought the BMI photographs were enlightening about how skewed the scale is. Mostly though, Linda Bacon, Ph.D.'s "HAES Manifesto" and Jon Robison, PhD's "Health At Every Size: Antidote for The Obesity Epidemic” provided the facts backed up by research to help eliminate the false knowledge that we have about fat. These two articles are useful tools. Spreading this knowledge will be an uphill battle with so much media coverage about how deadly fat is.

Linda Bacon's website referred me to the article "Fat! Fit? Fabulous!" which referred me to "Voluptuart" which sells gifts that celebrate normal bodies. These are the sorts of images that we should be surrounded by in order to shape our beliefs about reality to reflect actual reality instead of super thin model ads.

At The F, which is an eating disorders awareness and education blog, I found many more helpful links about "Fat Activism" and eating disorders.
My favorite sculpture at the Art Institue of Chicago is this one because while I was there in front of it, I took a moment to reflect on the lessons I had been presented by Dr. Kissling in this class. It is "Woman (Elevation)" by Gaston Lachaise. This American sculptor was born in France. The sculpture was modeled from 1912-15 and was cast in 1927.

I encourage everyone with the same prejudices that I had to examine them and choose to expose themselves to reality by looking around in the world and by taking advantage of the lessons in this class.

Here is another tool to challenge the myths. Thanks to Dr. Kissling for showing this in class.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Silverton, Oregon's New Mayor...

Huffington Post reports here: that Stu Rasmussen has become the United States' first trangender mayor. He has been involved in local politics for 20+ years and has already served two terms as mayor in Silverton. He won by a margin of 476 votes out of 3500 votes, according to Huffington Post.

In the video below from the website, Rasmussen says, "I've blackmail-proofed myself," when he discusses being out as a man who dresses in women's clothes and has breast implants.

At the same time that California was passing Proposition 8, this small town in Oregon has elected a trans man as Mayor. I am impressed. I appreciate Stu's challenge to gender performance that we have been learning about in class. While Prop 8's passage makes me lose some hope, this man's election reminds me how far LGBT people have come.

The Beauty I Saw at the Art Institute of Chicago

What is beautiful? This is a small sampling of what I saw last week at the Art Institute of Chicago. See more at:

What is so threatening about same sex marriage?

I have been in an outerspace time warp for the past two weeks and landed back on our planet ecstatic to find that we will have our first African American president. This joy became bittersweet upon learning that Prop 8 passed in California!?! I am in an "opposite" sex marriage and I don't find same sex marriage threatening to me or my family in the least. Perhaps this is because of biases that I hold. However, I am having real problems understanding why the possibility of people of the same sex marrying is so difficult for 52% of Californians. Same sex marriage does not threaten opposite sex marriage or the future of our nation.

After the passage of proposition 8, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese wrote, "In recent years, I’ve been delivering this positive message: tell your story. Share who you are. And in fact, as our families become more familiar, support for us increases."
Read more here

With hope that familiarity with same sex marriage will help to create support, here are some non threatening images of same sex marriage, a funny comic, a collage of images from a heterosexual wedding that I find much more threatening than any of the others, an interracial wedding photo, and an Indian wedding.

This is a photo from Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon on their wedding day in June of 2008. This was the second time they had married. Their first marriage was overruled by the California courts. They were together from the early 1950's until Del's death in August. They were activists for many years and helped found the Daughters of Bilitis.
Lyon-Martin Marriage Pictures, Images and Photos

The rest are my found image commentary on a variety of types of weddings and marriages.

same sex marriage Pictures, Images and Photos

The Wedding Pictures, Images and Photos

Marriage Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just Say "No" - to McCain

Where her dreams have room to grow and he can be a rugged adventurer?

Little girls dreams can come true with this product?

Here is one that both boys and girls can play with:

If you consider him riding the dino while she squeals next to it "both" playing.

Boys are tough, rugged, and adventurous!See:

These are teething rings marketed toward 3 month old boys:

When does the socialization begin? I think it actually begins during pregnancy when we start buying pink and blue nursery paint, blankets, toys, and more. Perhaps even when we first contemplate how we will treat our babies. When many Americans are expecting a child, they want to know what sex the baby will be before it is ever born. Why is this? I think we need to know how to expect to treat the child. Imagining the sex of a baby before it is born helps us decide. Kitchens and laundry or trucks and paleontology?

Angelina Promotes Breastfeeding on "W" Cover

I am not normally an Angelina fan. However, I do appreciate her activism and the way she sometimes uses her celebrity to help people in third world countries. I am also not one to follow celebrity gossip, nor do I read W magazine. However, breastfeeding is important to me. It has been socialized right out of many North American women and I am impressed by Angelina's latest publicity move. This W cover is GREAT! It is subtle and natural and doesn't seem to make her into a sex object the way that many images of her have in the past. Breastfeeding benefits mothers, babies, and society as a whole and not breastfeeding is risky, contrary to formula company ads.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, not only babies and moms benefit from breastfeeding, but society as a whole benefits. First, the benefits to babies are due to the fact that the fat, sugar, water, and protein are balanced perfectly for human babies. It is also more easily digested. Breastfeeding as an infant may help prevent obesity later in life and IQ test scores are higher in people who were breastfed. Moms benefit from breastfeeding because they lose the “baby weight” more quickly, the uterus shrinks more quickly, bleed less after delivery, and have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The time and money saved by breastfeeding can also be a great benefit, in addition to the bonding that occurs. The benefits to society as a whole include lower health care costs, less sick time taken by breastfeeding moms and less of a toll on the environment from bottles, formula production, and garbage.

There are also many risks associated with not breastfeeding, including health risks for new babies and long term health risks for mothers. The Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles explains that the phosphate load in formula is too high and that because of this, “formula fed infants face a 30 fold risk of neonatal hypocalcemic tetany (convulsions, seizures, twitching) during the first 10 days of life.” They also state that “formula fed infants are at a high risk of exposure to life-threatening bacterial contamination. Enterobacter sakazakii is a frequent contaminant in powdered formula and can cause sepsis and meningitis in newborns.” With the recent findings of melamine in milk products from China, the risks of formula feeding become even more apparent.
Infant formula is a $3 billion per year industry in the U.S. alone. We must also remember that infant formula is heavily marketed in third world countries where water supplies are not safe or reliable. While a mother’s body can process many bacteria in the water, a baby cannot. According to the World Health Organization, “1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhea than a breastfed child.”

Some of the barriers to breastfeeding, according to the Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles, are “misinformation and lack of knowledge, personal attitudes, cultural norm, lack of support – by family, partner, hospital, and workplace, hospital practices and policies, formula companies’ advertising and hospital practices, and rare maternal or infant medical conditions.”

Angelina Jolie’s choice to appear on the cover of W magazine breastfeeding is a step in the right direction for the media to counteract the advertising of the formula industry. Perhaps some people will consider public breastfeeding more acceptable because of it, or maybe even a good option for their baby. Unfortunately, it will take a lot more public support of breastfeeding to make an impact on global health. Images like this one can create public awareness, acceptance, and promote activism.


Language used in sexuality education should meet teens where they are…

Successful sexuality education curriculums reflect the common language of the young students, according to this report by Associate Research Scientist, Chi-Chi Undie, Research Officer, Joanna Crichton, and Deputy Director/Director of Research, Eliya Zulu, all of the African Population and Health Research Center. The report focuses on a 2006 study of Malawi youth. The Malawi data was culled from an international project that held focus groups and interviewed 12 to 19 year olds and adults involved in the lives of youth. The research revealed that “youth-only language” was an important aspect of teenager’s interpersonal communication about sexuality and was used as a way to keep “their sexual knowledge hidden from parents, other adults, and younger children.” The youth had specific terminology for many aspects of sexuality, including sexual acts, genitalia, and partnership arrangements.

Specific findings about their language use revealed three main ideas that many youth share about sex: “sex is utilitarian,” “sex is pleasurable,” and “sex is passionate.” Emotional connection was not focused on by the youth in their conversations. The researchers found that youth open up about sexuality more as part of a focus group than as an interview subject and thus recommended small group discussion settings for sexuality education.

Undie, Crichton, and Zulu recommend including the use of metaphors related to sexuality as part of lesson plans to effectively teach good decision making, equality of the sexes, and improve the “sexual agency” of female youth. They also recommend that pleasure, passion and utility are included in the lessons in order to keep sexuality education relevant to the students. They point out that the subjects that youth leave out of their day to day discussions of sex must also be broached during the classes in order to challenge the students and broaden their knowledge of things like rape and condom use.

While this study brings to mind some embarrassing memories of my first sex-ed class in the late 80’s, more urgently, it causes me even more concern about the current state of sex-ed in the U.S. than I was already experiencing. My three little sons will soon begin learning about sexuality, in fact, my seven year old already has. We are teaching him about appropriate and inappropriate touch and boundaries. He has discovered on his own that a person can derive pleasure from genital stimulation. All three of them are also learning the social skills that will (hopefully) lead them to respect eventual sex partners.

The current rise of abstinence only education is frightening and unrealistic on so many levels that have been discussed in depth here, here, and many many other places. This study reveals yet another way that the trend is doomed to fail at preventing sex, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, rape, or abortion. I suspect that abstinence only education doesn’t draw the language used by youth to discuss sexuality into its curriculum. In fact, I bet the proponents of abstinence only are often oblivious to the coded sexual metaphors youth use and have the wool pulled way over their eyes.

"That's So Gay"

It has bothered me for a long time when I hear people call things "gay" that they think are bad in some way. I hear people on campus using this phrase all the time. I actually have even heard kids at my sons' elementary school saying it too. The Ad Council has released three videos that examine the use of the phrase "That's so gay" as a pejorative. Wanda Sykes and Hillary Duff have joined the effort to end it's use. The campaign can be found at

The campaign also defines other words related to sexuality, including nuts, tranny, lesbos, dick, fruit, fag, queer, cherry, bad, dick, dyke, beard, cougar, prick, balls, gay, and geek.

All the videos can be seen on youtube's Ad Council site here

Wanda Sykes' version is my personal favorite:

According to the campaign, this type of damaging language is commonly used among students and more than 50% of students said they commonly hear homophobia. “9 out of 10 LGBT students report being harassed at school in the last year.” More than 1/3 have suffered physical harm due to their orientation or defying gender norms. These students commonly “feel unsafe, miss school, get low grades“ and often don’t continue on to attend university. Let's do what Wanda says and "Knock it off!"