Friday, June 22, 2007

Just how many things are wrong with this?

Here's a disgusting ad for Vagisil.


If you've answered that:
  1. It actually compares the smell of one's vagina to that of a skunk or a lobster;
  2. It says "down there" instead of "vagina", despite the obvious clue from the product's very name;
  3. It associates vaginas with animal, subhuman and unpleasant creatures;
  4. It suggests that unless you have a plastic-like and perfectly sanitized and germ-free vagina, you can't call yourself a "real" woman;
  5. It suggests that vaginal infections are a valid reason for feeling ashamed of your body;
  6. All of the above've got it right. Have a cookie.

This is just irresponsible marketing. How many of us women already feel ashamed and uncomfortable with their normal bodily functions? How many women can't say the V-word without blushing - let alone say it at all in public?

I just hate the whole "feminine hygiene" products thing. The whole aisle. As if one's period was inherently dirty. As if having a vaginal infection is necessarily attributable to one's lack of hygiene. To me, it just seems that this industry aims at - or at the very least, is complicit in - perpetuating outdated shame-inducing ideas about the female body.


It's interesting to look at anthropological data, namely with respect to First Peoples, to get different perspectives. Take the Innu, for instance, a traditionally matriarcal society. In the Innu culture, menses were considered as a time of rest and meditation. A menstruating woman would be left alone in a special tent, and would be discharged from her daily chores and activities. Other people would cook for her, as she was expected to meditate and to thereby facilitate the purification of her body. It was believed that if a man were to touch her, he would instantly go blind.

When the Innu were christianized, mainly by Catholic missionaries, those traditional beliefs started to change. Women stopped teaching girls about their bodies, and instructed them that they were to consider sex outside marriage as sinful and menstruation, as a time of impurity.


Why the vagina-hating? It's the patriarchy, stupid!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

*sigh* Here she goes again!

A little while ago, Sarah Hampson, from the Globe and Mail, attempted to convince her readers that married women are responsible to meet their husband's sexual demands, regardless of their own preferences, desires or state of mind, because otherwise, they would essentially be pushing their spouse into the arms of another - and arguably more "responsible", i.e. sexually submissive - woman.

I was therefore a little sceptical when I started reading her newest article: "Good sex, or she's an ex". Nevertheless, I figured that I would read the whole thing first, and give the woman a chance to redeem herself.

At best, I was hoping that Ms. Hampson would write equivalent "advice" for married men who are not able to keep up with their wife's sexual needs. A very legitimate expectation. I mean, isn't that what the title of the article suggests in the first place?

Well guess what? She did not.

Unlike her previous opus, she starts with a relatively neutral tone:

It is not just the male need for sex that is misunderstood, as I wrote in my previous column (Sex, or he's your ex, June 7). In the interest of sexual reciprocity - hey, what's good for him needs to be good for her, too - I should explain the other half. And that is simple: Women's expectation for sex in marriage has changed.

But then Ms. Hampson continues:

Make way for the CEO of Pleasure. Female empowerment has reached a climax in the bedroom. She wants what she considers her right: good and frequent sex.

"It's a real role shift," says Betty Stockley, a veteran marriage and sex therapist in Toronto. "Women are calling the shots in the bedroom. Power has shifted."

*sigh* Here we go again with some classic "female empowerment" crap and the "pussy power" myth (with respect to the latter, please check out what the Happy Feminist has to say about it).
Anyhow, I fail to understand how this assertion is supposed to support her ramblings about the sacro-sanct duty of married women to be sexually accessible to their husband on a 24/7 basis. I'm sure such women view themselves as "CEOs of Pleasure"...

Others complain about poor sexual technique. "I was 18 when I met my first husband," a 40-year-old professional woman tells me. "He was not my first sexual partner. I had had maybe two lovers before him. But I was his first. He didn't know what to do. He really wasn't able to satisfy me, and he wouldn't talk about it."

They remained married for four years. "I tried for about two or three years, but it got to the point that when he expressed interest in sex, I just said, 'No thanks. Unless you're going to help me out and not just roll over, then forget it.' Oral sex was distasteful to him. He wasn't into masturbating me. I could do anything to him. There were no limits there. Finally, I told him, 'You're not good in bed.' It was a huge blow to his ego. I regret saying those words," she offers. "But I don't regret how I felt. It was completely valid."

So? That's it? I mean: that's just it? How come this woman remained married to this guy? Did she not ran into the arms of younger, hotter studs? She stayed with the guy for four fucking years? And only then did she tell him how she felt about their intimacy? And she regretted telling him?

That "CEO" obviously needs to attend some leadership seminars or something...

Back to the main issue. How come is it that women are dissatisfied in bed? I mean, besides incompetent sexual partners?

Apparently, it's a question of geography.

It's just that men are a continent and women are an ancient civilization. A woman has to explore his topography, which is very exciting, but all rather easily discovered. There are flat plains, some lovely undulating ones, and then there's Mount Vesuvius.

Women, on the other hand, have to be unearthed. In the past 40 years or so, since the Pill liberated women from sex as merely reproduction, much energy has been devoted to this emotional archaeology, with female orgasm as the coveted treasure in the deep, dark womb-tomb place.

Uh... wtf? What better argument to convince a woman of her innate sexual inadequacy than to compare her vagina to a "dark womb-tomb place"? Isn't it sweet to be compared to something dead, cold, rotten and potentially hazardous, and that needs to be unearthed by a third party? Now that's empowerment.

Silly me. For all those years, I had believed for some wacky reason that a vagina and a uterus were two separate organs. But I must have been wrong. After all, how is a woman supposed to know anything at all about her own bodily functions?

But constant compromise rubs against the feminist grain. "It's not like compromising on other things, like when to go out for dinner," says Joan Sewell, author of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido, published earlier this year. "This is your body. There is nothing more personal. When you don't have desire, it's not merely sexual, it's invasive. Continual compromising like that is going to poison you. Men might be clueless, but the resentment in the woman will eventually pop."

She almost gets it right. But she forgot to point out that sex without willingness is, if not full-fledge sexual assault, at the very least, sexual exploitation. At worse, a criminal offence. At best, mental or physical cruelty, i.e. a cause for divorce.

Ms. Sewell asserted her power by defining the limits of her willingness to service his sexual needs. On the brink of divorce, she wanted to save her marriage by satisfying her husband, Kip, in ways that didn't fuel her resentment. He wanted sex five or six times a week, whereas her preference was once or twice a month.

"Servicing" someone else's sexual needs is NOT a good reason to engage in any form of sexual activity. No one should have to ask herself what are the limits of her willingness to do so.

Finally, they reached a sex agreement. Male orgasm became optional. She could take breaks. Plus: "When I know Kip wants sex, and I'm not that keen, we know what sex acts are neutral for me, but there are conditions on those, too. Oral sex, for example. Well, what if it goes on for 15 minutes? If it does, well, I'm out," Ms. Sewell says. "And there are days when I don't care what you're doing down there to me, I am not going to play."

"She could take breaks." Whoa. What a gentleman, ladies. You know, it's not as if, like, women had a legally protected right to withdraw their consent to sexual activity at any point in time. Shit. It's really too bad that Kip dude is already taken...

She has been called "anti-feminist and pre-Victorian," she confesses, but she believes that women are fed unrealistic images of abundant female libido. Lack of desire may be the new taboo in today's sexually explicit culture, but Ms. Sewell maintains that a lack of libido is just as important to take power of, if that's what women feel.

Du-uh! Anti-feminist? Right you are! A healthy sex-drive and the idea that (1) you should not have to submit to sex when you don't feel like it, and that (2) when you feel like it, you expect your partner to make a genuine effort to please you, do not constitute in my mind "unrealistic images of abundant female libido."

And seriously, is it just me or the idea of using one's "lack of libido" (that is, in Ms. Hampson's language, a woman's preference not to have sex at a given point in time) as "power" has no merit at all?

Absolute control in the bedroom is never healthy, Ms. Stockley says. The skill, which a therapist can help develop in couples, is how to talk about sexual compatibility without hurting either partner's feelings.

"I do think many women abuse the power in the bedroom," she cautions. ... But I tell them [women] that having power should not be about being overpowering."

So, to sum up the last couple of points, and the whole of Ms. Hampson's article, it's not as much "Sex, or she's your ex" as "Sex: it can be lousy and she might not want to, but you my male friend are gonna get some anyways." If sex is unsatisfying, your husband need not chastise himself and force himself to "sexually service" you, because you're not expected to just dump him for that. Again, it's all about the women. It's women who, once again, are expected to be "responsible" and solve the problem by compromising their own desires and needs.

Moreover, by refusing - again, not completely, but only to the extent that the guy doesn't get exactly what he demands - to engage in sexual activity, women are supposed to feel empowered. But on the other hand, they are warned that by so doing, they might be abusing their so-called power, or be *gasp!* overpowered.

Different articles, same conclusion. If you're a woman, whatever you do, it's always your fault.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Gorno"?!? (aka the WTF highlight of the day)

Some genius has coined this term to designate those horror films about attractive women who get tortured in a sexual manner (e.g. Hostel, the Saw series, or the newly released Captivity).

Apparently, though, the popularity of this genre is decreasing.

According to the L.A. Times:

The reason? Gore burnout.


"There's nothing you can do to a human being on screen that is taboo anymore," says Oscar-winning writer-producer Akiva Goldsman. "Over and over again, people are breaking the boundaries of the body, hurting people, chopping people up, ravaging people…. For things to be truly scary, we're going to have to find new boundaries to tread on."


People are not staying home because they're disgusted that torturing women in a sexual manner is being marketed as bona fide entertainment. They're staying home because they've become indifferent to that type and degree of gratuitous violence.

Hollywood makes me sick.

"The three year-old whore was asking for it"

According to a news report from Radio-Canada and a survey from the Fondation Marie-Vincent, adults in Québec still carry a lot of harmful prejudices with respect to sexual violence to children.

As a matter of fact, Radio-Canada reported that 1 out of 4 adults believe that a child may provoke a sexual assault through his or her behaviour, that sexual assaults on children generally occur in the streets or at school rather than in a domestic context, and that a child who is sexually assaulted will physically resist or attempt to flee his or her assailant.

The study also reveals that 1 out of 2 adults believe that sexual assaults necessarily involve anal or vaginal penetration.

The Fondation Marie-Vincent emphasized the fact that merely 1 out of 10 incident of sexual assault on a child is actually reported to the authorities.


This report remembers me of a sad case where a father was accused of sexually assaulting his three year-old daughter. When he testified at trial, he mortified the Court when he explained how it was really his daughter who had been initiating the sexual contacts, and described her as "very cuddly" and compared her to a "pussycat in heat" ("une p'tite chatte en chaleur").

The man was eventually found guilty.

Bill Watch - Wacky Conservatives (and Liberals) Edition

Here is a brief list of wacky and/or anti-women Bills currently under consideration before the House of Commons or the Senate.

  • Bill C-206 (Liberals): A Bill to allow for 2 years of parental leave, under the Employment Insurance Act;
  • Bill C-22 (Conservatives): This Bill would raise from 14 to 16 years old the age of consent to sexual contacts with an adult (while keeping a 5 year difference rule that will avoid criminalizing bona fide dating relationships between teenagers). Though I generally agree with this measure, there are a few details with this Bill that make me tick. First, it's called the Age of Protection Act. Give me a break. Please. Let's be honest: the real issue here is not to protect teenagers from themselves, but rather to criminalize the exploitative behaviour of adults who prey on vulnerable children. I know it's a shaky argument, but I can see a nuance here. Secondly, there is still a marriage exception. After all, I guess it's not as if marriage had been in and of itself an exploitative social structure for the few past thousand years or so... By the way, this Bill as yet to receive Royal assent;
  • Bill C-338 (Liberals - surprise!): This Bill purports to make a criminal offence the fact of "procuring a miscarriage of a female person who he or she knows or ought to know is past her twentieth week of gestation." This offence would be punishable by a maximum term of five years' imprisonment or a $100,000 fine. Well. Ain't that swell. 'Seems now you can't trust the Liberals to protect women's right to choose. But it's not as if it was arbitrary or anything. There is a health exception. If you've been raped, you're still screwed, but they'll sure show you a little compassion if you're dying... *sigh* Don't we all love this great, grand "Americanization" of Canadian politics?

To be fair, here are the Bills that represent a laudable effort in the right direction:

  • Bill C-235 (Conservatives): A Bill to amend s. 742.1 Criminal Code, so as to preclude a sentencing judge to impose a conditional sentence where the offender has committed an offence carrying a minimum term of imprisonment, an offence punishable by ten years or more of imprisonment, and/or a violent offence. That would mean, in practice, that offenders convicted of sexual assault would not be eligible to a sentence of "imprisonment" in the community. Now Bill C-9, it has just received Royal assent;
  • Bill C-254 (Liberals): A Bill that would have the effect of including "women" in the definition of identifiable groups that can be targeted by hate propaganda. This Bill is apparently still in limbo;
  • Bill C-326 (NDP): This Bill would add "gender identity" as a basis for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Because your wedding vows didn’t make you a housecleaning sex-bot

Being interested in women’s issues often means that you have to read unpleasant, backwards statements written by stupid – or just careless – people. Sometimes, such anti-feminist articles are so egregiously misogynistic and so crazy that they’re almost hilarious. Hey, in another context, the whole “feminists are turned on by murdering babies” affair could have been a brilliant piece of satire. Such assertions are so fucked up, you really need to be a crazy phallocrat to endorse them.

But what frustrates me and freaks me out the most are those articles that are equally egregiously misogynistic but which, by some sort of pop psychology smoke and mirrors, are afforded credibility and are hailed as thoughtful and needed reflections on human experience.

Such as this one.

When Globe and Mail’s columnist Sarah Hampson named her article about men’s sexual needs in marriage “Sex, or he’s your ex”, boy did she mean it.

The penis rules.

This, people, is actually the first sentence of her piece. You can already guess where she is going.
A few lines below, she reaffirms the point:

The penis rules. Or should, anyway.

By which she means that:

1) Men have a HUGE sex drive, and thus typically feel horny all the time;
2) Men have a huge sex drive because their masculinity and ego depends on it;
3) Women don’t understand their husbands’ sex drive, because they’re emotional beings.
4) Women unjustifiably deny their husbands’ required dose of sex, on flimsy grounds, e.g. all they want to do is talk about their day, they want to share feelings, they’re physically exhausted after having taken care of the kids all day, cleaned the house, done the laundry and fixed dinner, they’re pregnant, have just given birth or are nursing, they simply don’t want to;
5) When you’re a man, being denied sex by your WIFE is “emasculating”;
6) Men who are not getting any from their wives and who cannot get the same egotistical fulfilment “through sports” or “through work by the accumulation of money” will get on their wives;
7) It’s a wife’s duty to service her husband and submit to his sexual demands, even though she doesn’t want to, if she wants to keep her marriage on the rails.

Got that ladies? YOU, and only you (that means, not that jerk you’re married to) are responsible if he cheats on you and/or leaves you for a sexier model. If entirely your fault if the marriage isn’t working. So stop being that selfish and frigid and follow Ms. Hampson’s thoughtful advice.

I remember an acquaintance of mine complaining about her husband's expectation of sex. She had two young sons at the time, and she was a wonderful hands-on and attentive mother. There were lunches to be made, laundry to finish, dinner to make, homework to help with, errands to run, and just before she passed out from exhaustion, a husband to do. And she did, because if nothing else, she is highly responsible. (And still married, by the way.) [emphasis added]

Wow. Are wee still in the 50’s? I don’t remember ever getting that memo.

Seriously, how is the fact that you’re still married at this point supposed to show that you’re “responsible”? If you get to do all the domestic work, in addition to working a full-time job, and your husband keeps whining about how you’re not properly taking care of him, then the wise thing to do is undoubtedly to just dump the ungrateful bastard.

But I guess in Ms. Hampson’s world, female “selfishness” is way worse than male utter lack of empathy:

“It's not healthy for men to feel pathetic about their urges and shame about their desire. It's not just their masculinity they are expressing through sex but also their lesser masculine qualities, their tenderness, their vulnerability, their desire to give pleasure and receive it,” she explains.

So, to summarize her point, men need to be fucked by their wives to feel manlier, so that they can express non-manly qualities? Uh?!? And please, let’s reflect on the alleged “desire to give pleasure and receive it”. What a hypocrisy! The part about giving pleasure is merely an attempt to comfort themselves. How much pleasure can one give to a partner who’d rather not have sex at all?

(Also note that this statement presupposes that such men are actually able to please their wives in bed. This has yet to be established.)

It's easy for the women to just brush it off, and say, ‘All he wants is sex.' What they should be asking is, ‘Why am I never interested? What happened to my own desires?'

Here you go. If you’re so exhausted after working two jobs (i.e. your real job and the part of the domestic work that your husband is too cheap to do himself) that you’re simply not interested in “taking care” of him by sexually servicing him, then there’s OBVIOUSLY something wrong with you, honey. YOU are the one who should feel responsible for the problem, and YOU are the one who should be working to “solve” it.

And here comes the scary part, shortly followed by the mandatory sexual objectification of women part.

Many men, not being the greatest communicators, resort to anger when they're not getting the intimacy they crave. They will say lack of sex makes them feel “they were sold a bill of goods,” as one guy explains, since “women are much more sexually aggressive and suggestive during the courting stage, and inexperienced men can be fooled by that.

Excuse me? “Bill of goods”? “Fooled by that”? Is it just me or is she actually a wacky version of the caveat emptor rule to heterosexual relationships? WTF?!?

For men, on the other hand, a romp in bed is stress therapy. “For us, it can be like golf or watching television,” admits a source from the world of men.

Awnnn. How flattering. Nothing turns me on like having my feminine charms compared to a wide-screen plasma TV.

You also gotta love the “for us, men” tone. Because, you know, it’s not as if women actually enjoyed sex, or actually knew that it’s not just for making babies.


Of course, for women, talking is like golf. (Confused yet?) “Women want to emotionally share and talk about their day,” the man continues.

Still married to his wife of 21 years, with whom he has two children, he should be called Mr. Highly Evolved. But he didn't get there on his own. All that wisdom about how women and men think differently comes from years of couples therapy.

“For men, it's like Chinese water torture to be talking about something endlessly,” he says. “Guys think, ‘Just fix it.' So when the wife says she wants to be asked how she is, the man goes, ‘What? We've got to have an hour and a half discussion about emotional connection before you feel like having sex? What happened to sex on the kitchen floor?'

Poor thing. Forced to communicate for a whole hour and a half with the person he chose to spend the rest of his life with. What a torture indeed. Someone please send this poor guy a check or something. ‘Really breaks my heart.

But if interacting with another (yet female, thus uninteresting) human being is such a pain in the ass, why do such men marry at all?

Silly goose! Here’s why!

“Men marry for two reasons,” she states. “They're proud to be with that woman socially. Look,” she adds in best-girlfriend whisper, “we both know women who have sex with men who aren't seen with them publicly. The second reason men marry is sexual compatibility.”

Bravo! Now, at last, our crazy acid trip into the 50’s is complete with the trophy wife truth! Bravo I say!

And now for the great finale:

Which brings me to a final bit of good advice. Be a lady in public and a whore in the bedroom. And help him understand that before talking dirty, the whore sometimes needs to have a cuddly chat about her day.

So, to wrap up, women need to be dirty whores in the bedroom in order not to be evil ball-crushers. On the other hand, the same women, in order not to bring eternal shame to their husbands, need to be all virginal and sexless.

I guess Ms. Hampson really meant that only men should not feel ashamed of their sexual urges and desires…

With the Whore-Madonna dichotomy, Ms. Hampson brilliantly completes the exercise of compiling in a single hateful piece a sample of practically all the existing stereotypes on heterosexual relationships and sexual behaviour.

You’ve got to admire the effort. I could not possibly have done any better.


If you’re not too pissed/depressed about this article already, have a look at the comments following the article online.

Your friendly neighbourhood housecleaning sex-bots, i.e. "responsible" wives...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dog walking thoughts

The strangest things happen to me when I take my dog for a walk.

This probably has to do with the fact that she's still just a puppy, that she is impossibly cute and tiny, and that as a result, strangers often stop us on our way to ask me all sorts of questions about her, or just to pet her or comment on her appearance. Usually, the conversation sticks to mundane, dog-related topics. But sometimes, it seems that my wonderful pup acts as a catalyst for unsollicited, inappropriate comments.

For example, I once came across an older man whose judicious comments were to the effect that my seven-pounder would not be very helpful if I ever needed protection.

*rolls eyes in disbelief*

I forgot to thank him for reminding me never to go out of my house, even in broad daylight, without a male escort.

It truly amazes me how some people feel entitled to tell individual (and often, younger) women how they should act, think or behave, as if they tacitly assumed that adult women always remained superficial, childlike creatures in constant need of advice and guidance.

It also amazes me how such people remain unaware of the fact that their comments or interventions, even when they are purportedly uttered in a humourous way, are deeply insulting and demeaning to all women.

They did NOT just do that...

I guess it was bound to happen, sooner or later. Brace yourselves folks, because there's apparently a Bratz movie coming up.

From the trailer, it looks and sounds pretty daunting. Four "best friends" who are separated by an evil classmate and equally evil high school cliques, but who ultimately get (1) revenge over their bitchy classmates and (2) the guy.

I mean, the trailer contains spoilers. Talk about an intellectually challenging films for girls...


For those who have been living on another, non-oversexed planet for the past fews years, the Bratz in question are a line of raunchy dolls, who wear too much make uk, strike porn-inspired poses, dress up as hookers, and yet are - du-uh! - marketed at grade-school girls.

Why the shock and outrage? After all, dolls have been used to dumb down little girls for ages and to indoctrinate them into accepting patriarchal norms of female sexual behaviour. (After all, Barbie's ancestor Lili was a pin-up cartoon character/sex toy.

But the Bratz go way beyond that. We live in a world where we are just starting to realize the adverse effect of an oversexed culture on children and teenagers - and particularly, girls. Yet, Bratz maker MGA Entertainment somehow figured that it was cool and advisable to sell, pornified toys to little girls, like say, a thong-wearing baby, or a doll sold with a "secret date", glasses and a bottle of champagne.