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Archive for August, 2009

A friend and reader, gothicfeline, sent me a CNN story about a “John school“–a one day program for men arrested for soliciting a prostitute. They spend a Saturday being scared limp (sorry, couldn’t resist) by “former prostitutes, health experts, psychologists and law enforcement officers” until they understand that prostitution is not a victimless crime. This article pleases me in one way–it’s good to see that men as well as women are getting punished, rather than just the women. But the implicit attitudes about sex made me very sad indeed.

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My excuse this time is that the semester starts in one week and I am NOT prepared. So no time to be witty or thoughtful or insightful. However, I thought people might enjoy this link. When I tell you it is a review of a romance novel, please don’t roll your eyes and refuse to click  through.

The main website, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, is truly smart and also often ridiculously funny. Among other things, they do reviews. If you aren’t a fan of romance novels, the good reviews are probably boring, but this review is of a an amazingly terrible book.  Plan 9 from Outer Space terrible. Possibly written while on LSD.  So the review is correspondingly hilarious. And it comes with bonus free LOL porn.

Go ahead. Click the link. Click it! You know you want to!

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Ever since she was a child looking at her grandfather’s National Geographic, Amit Paley was fascinated by the women of the Padaung, who wear brass rings around their necks, so that their necks appear elongated; she wanted “to see these curious women, who suffer painful disfigurement to emerge as graceful beauties.” Growing up, college, and working as a reporter for The Washington Post couldn’t cure her of her desire, and apparently anorexic fashion models walking the runway in 5 inch stilettos was either not enough painful disfigurement or not graceful and beautiful enough. Not even finding out that most travel agencies won’t book tourists to the Padaung village because the women are virtual prisoners, forced to wear the neck rings to bring in tourist dollars, was enough to stop Paley. Instead, she used the moral dodge of being a reporter: “I ultimately concluded that if the villages really were so deplorable, my ability to write about them might ultimately help the Padaung more than harm them.”

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Okay, I promise I won’t do this often, but not much is happening on the pop culture scene (not much that interests me anyway) and I’ve been spending most of my time crafting an edition of Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 2.  Editing a text means reading it very very closely, and then reading it again, and then writing notes so other people can read it, and in the end, you end up knowing the text exceptionally well, which is fun for Shakespeare geeks like me (especially with plays I don’t know that well). And the more I study this play, the more interested I am in the character of Queen Margaret. (more…)

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This morning, Dana of Mombian sent us this link to an article about a documentary called Orgasm, Inc., which details the pharmaceutical industry’s mission to profit from FSD (female sexual dysfunction).  While I applaud the author for deriding the notion that women who lack sexual desire should be characterized as “dysfunctional,” I think this article (and others on the topic) miss the underlying assumption that makes the FSD phenomenon so troubling. (more…)

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The issues involving Caster Semenya, the gold medal runner who has been asked to undergo genetic testing, are complicated and multi-layered, and lay bare many of the assumptions we hold about gender.

First there is the simple question of why she is suspected of being a man at all, which is apparently simply that she looks “mannish.” Russian runner Mariya Savinova is quoted as saying “Just look at her.” Well, here’s a picture: (more…)

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I thought I’d collect up a few cultural oddities you may or may not have heard.

1. Howard K Stern is suing Rita Cosby for defamation, based on her portrait of him in her book about Anna Nicole Smith. Recently, however, a judge ruled that while the defamation suit could go ahead, it could not include the claim that Stern was gay, because calling someone gay is no longer automatically defamatory, although prejudice still exists. “”I respectfully disagree that the existence of this continued prejudice leads to the conclusion that there is a widespread view of gays and lesbians as contemptible and disgraceful.”

Slate published an excellent article on this point: “Queer Eye for the Libel Guy” I’m certainly pleased to see this step–maybe next we can wipe out the definition of “gay” as “stupid” that grade school boys are so used to using.

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