Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Do You have $8.47? Here's A Good Use For It!

I have a good friend, Jena Vincent, who needs helping raising funds to finish her certification in Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal TherapyShe needs $1000 and has raised $85 so far. I have 108 official followers that I'm aware of for this blog. If each of you sends her $8.47, she'll reach her goal.

From her fundraising website:

"I'm bound for New Hampshire again this Fall to complete my certification in ATMAT with some extras along the way! I'll be presenting my talk "Home is where the womb is: Emotional healing through Arvigo Maya Abdominal Therapy" at Empowering Fearless Birth film festival in Provo, Utah on September 21st, then again at the first Birth Without Fear Conference in Dallas-Ft Worth, TX on October 12th. From BWF, I'll fly to New Hampshire for my certification training!"

$8.47 is a small amount and probably feasible for most of us (I've certainly been in a position when even I couldn't spare a cent). To encourage you, here's a baby manatee.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Slut Shaming, Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, And Your Mom

Yesterday, my friends and your mom attended the Seattle Slut Walk event to raise awareness of what consent truly means when it comes to sex. 

These are the news headlines this afternoon about the event:

Hello? Anyone? BUELLER? 

However, everyone is talking about how slutty it is that Miley Cyrus wore next to nothing and "twerked" up against Robin Thicke. Because, clearly Slut Walk and Slut Shaming are irrelevant. 

Meanwhile, these are some of the lyrics to Robin's song from last night's VMA performance.

"One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo
Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain't bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it's almost unbearable
In a hundred years not dare, would I
Pull a Pharside let you pass me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don't smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn't pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin'
I'm a nice guy, but don't get it if you get with me"

And here's a screen shot from his video for the song.

But Miley, even though her costume looks a lot like the ones these girls are wearing in Robin's rapey video, is the one getting ripped up as trashy.

Watching VMAs. Haven't been in a strip club in a while, but good to see nothing has changed - Bill Maher

"I was Hannah Montana's mother. I do not approve. Where did I go wrong? I just want to know who's advising her, and why it's necessary." - Brooke Shields

"Miley better get a ... pregnancy test after all of that grinding." - Kevin Hart

"(J)ust watched that Miley Cyrus / teddy bear performance and I think I'm now legally required to put myself on some kind of registry." - James Poniewozik.

We have a long way to go.

My dear friends, Dana and Crystina, at Slut Walk Seattle 2013

Slut Walk Seattle 2013, From Seattle PI
It is a woman's right to cover or uncover her body and not be shamed or violently abused for either one.

Now - some people have asked how a woman can dress slutty but get mad about being objectified. Here's how. there is a difference between sexual and exploitative. Slutty and sexy are not the problem. I've seen memes online complaining about how women say to end slut shaming but at the same time get upset about how women are drawn on comic books or about how Halloween costumes are always slutty. If a woman is sexual, uses her own body for whatever she wants, that's her right. Exploitation and sexualization reduce women to JUST their bodies, such as when comic artists draw women in positions that are almost impossible for human beings just to get that boob-ass shot, or when there is ONLY the slutty version of Freddy Krueger as an option for women's costumes, or when little girls are displayed in sexual positions to sell a product unrelated to sex. 

"Sexual empowerment is active. It’s ownership. Autonomous. Self-serving.
Objectification, on the other hand, is a passive relenting of control. It’s powerless. Self-sacrificial.
And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with power play and feeling objectified, it is another thing entirely to be actually thought of as a sexual object.
It’s the difference between the delicious hunger in my partner’s eyes when my bra comes off and the disgusted, dejected way that I feel when a construction worker tells me that he wants a piece.
The problem with the conflation of “owner” and “object” is that it perpetuates the idea that female sexuality is for everyone except the woman in question. It gives cadence to the bullsh*t social myth that powerful female sexuality equals pleasing partners, rather than knowing and pleasing oneself.

Lacking Liberation: On Conflating ‘Sexual Objectification’ with ‘Sexual Empowerment’

That is why people should be a lot more pissed about Robin Thicke's video than Miley Cyrus' performance. One is a man surrounded by women strictly for his pleasure, and his song is about convincing a good girl to give up her own decision to not be sexual because he's so hot she can't take it. 

It's a conversation we have to keep having. And keep having. And keep having. A woman who likes sex, consents to lots of it, and dresses sexy still does not deserve to be reduced to and used as a sex object. It is still about choice. Everyone knows the difference between erotica and porn. It's harder to explain, but we know it when we see it. There IS a difference. And people who fail to see the difference still blame women as "asking for it," still blames victims, and still tears apart a stage performer for her choice of choreography and acts shocked that entertainers are trying to be memorable. 

Rosey Posey's "Judgments"

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"I Hate My Body, So Naturally, I Posed Nude"

Don't worry, no nudity here. I understand this blog attracts more humble and family-friendly audience, despite the occasional cursing.

I recently volunteered as a nude model for a photographer friend who wanted to explore her new camera lens. The experience was emotionally overwhelming and amazing. I wrote about the experience over on my more irreverent blog, The Blasphemous Homemaker. I have been amazed at the responses I am getting on the post, on Facebook, and on Pinterest. This article really hit on something. It's had well over 1000 views already in just 3 days.

If you would like to read about it, click here. There is only one photograph, of me holding a few daisies over my butt crack. I know, it sounds goofy. It was supposed to be a silly pose. It ended up being my absolute favorite. It's a stunning photograph. The article includes a link to 12 more photos. They are very artistically done. I both love and hate and love them again.

It turns out, a Mormon acquaintance of mine, Katrina Barker Anderson, also has a project going where she photographed several Mormon women in the nude and shared their stories about overcoming body hatred or shame and embracing the skin they're in. It's remarkable timing. Their stories are remarkable. CLICK HERE to see her project.

She will also be speaking at a Sunstone symposium on August 1 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her presentation is titled "BARING ALL: STRIPPING MODESTY NORMS THROUGH NUDE PHOTOGRAPHY." You can read more about it by CLICKING HERE.

The description:
Abstract: Mormon women bear a heavy burden: while

being warned against becoming “walking pornography,” they also face immense pressure to be attractive and fit. They must both attract and protect against male desire. This hyper-focus on modesty leaves many girls and women feeling disconnected and ambivalent about their bodies. The Mormon Women Bare project seeks to empower women to reclaim their bodies. Through tasteful nude photography and personal narratives, women are seen as beautiful, flawed, real, and exposed. Women of different shapes, sizes, and ages demonstrate that bodies need not bring shame but can be owned, celebrated, and honored."

If you will be in Salt Lake at the time, you might want to stop by. I bet ti will be an emotional and powerful presentation.

by Afsaneh Tajvidi. Found the artist of this on Flickr! Click on the pic to see more of her work!
By Afsaneh Tajvidi, via Flickr

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Naked Kids, That Gray Area Between Adorable and Indecent

NOTE: If you are one of the hundreds of views who have apparently found this blog post by using the search terms "nude child," "naked child," "naked kid," or "naked children," you should know that one, there are no pictures of my naked children here, and two, you have a serious illness that needs to be addressed before you hurt a child by acting on your depravity. Get help and stop making the world worse by being disgusting.

Recently, my seven year old son experienced his first shame for being naked. It's a rite of passage I've been dreading.

My kids swim naked in the ocean, and sometimes at lakes. Generally it's due to a lack of planning on my part, but sometimes they just don't want to wear clothes in the water. Our naturally-minded friends have similarly un-appareled children, so it's been a normal part of our social experience to visit someone else's house and have their kids already running around in nothing but super hero capes or cowboy hats. At home, we lounge about in our underwear or nothing at all. At the water, it's naked butts as far as the eye can see.

Last week, the kids made friends with strangers at a playground on the beach. The visitors from Nevada had never been to the ocean before, and were collecting shells. My two year old was already naked and building sand castles. Since one tends to find more intact shells in the water, Connor stripped down and jumped in. The girls immediately hid behind their mother. When he tried to hand them a shell, they didn't want it.

As a family of all girls, I'm certain seeing a real live penis was unusual, if it had ever happened at all. I was hoping the mother would take the opportunity to help them feel more comfortable, but instead she watched him like he was a seven year old sexual predator out to molest her daughters in broad daylight. I pointed out to him that they probably weren't used to seeing boys, but it was too late. He wanted to put his clothes back on. And now he won't go swimming naked anymore.

Our public pool allows children of the opposite sex into group changing rooms with their parents until age 8. I figured that was the universal age, or maybe puberty, when naked butts stop being adorable, and start falling under the legal definition of indecent exposure.

I suppose that age starts much lower for people who believe bodies are inherently sexual, even in groups that veil it as "sacred" instead. We don't wear much clothes around our house and my kids see all bodies as normal, breast as normal for feeding babies, vulva and penises are normal, functional body parts. I have created this neat little bubble where things operate differently than they do out in the people world. Then we have to go out into that people world and I am reminded that, oh right, people are going to look at my kids differently because my son has long hair, or look at me differently if one of them uses a curse word, or be horrified that I let my two year old climb on rocks at the beach, or shun us if our obviously-not-a-baby 7 year old gets naked at the beach. My playgroup is one culture and the people world is another.

Well...welcome to young adulthood, my son. If it's any consolation, I'm not allowed to walk around naked in public, either.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two Major Problems With President Obama's Climate Plan

I submitted a short political commentary to Yahoo! voices that was published yesterday AT THIS LINK RIGHT HERE. Since you know how much I love to hear myself talk, or take a page to write something I could have said in a few sentences, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to summarize my concerns with President Barack Obama's entire climate speech in 250 words. IT WAS TORTURE. But I did it, and there it is.

I will now expand on this in my own blog, because that's what this blog is for - long winded pontificating about my opinions sprinkled with peer reviewed citations and some non-profit organizations for good measure. 

My first bone to pick is this statement early on in the speech:

"We're building the first nuclear power plants in more than three decades -- in Georgia and South Carolina."

The generation of nuclear power requires a radioactive metal called uranium. Uranium is not renewable. Like coal and oil, we're going to eventually run out of it. Also like coal and oil, we have to get it out of the earth in order to use it. This generally leaves and environmental mess behind that interferes wit some major things, like drinking water.

"In terms of both short and long term environmental impact, uranium mining is by far the most environmentally problematic of any mining activity because radioactivity of the ore presents an intangible that cannot be chemically mitigated. Even after the mining activities ceased on the Navajo Nation, the legacy of environmental harm continued from events such as what happened in 1979 at Church Rock. The Church Rock disaster is the largest accidental release of radioactive material in U.S. history. A tailing dam burst, sending eleven hundred tons of radioactive mill wastes and ninety million gallons of contaminated liquid pouring toward Arizona into the Rio Puerco River. The Navajo still cannot use this water."  (Source Link)

"There are some 4,000 abandoned uranium mines scattered across the landscape of the West. Decades after the closure of operations, a significant number remain to be cleaned up. 

A full accounting of the costs has only just started after decades of neglect. The costs of what cleanup has been done—a price-tag that is certainly in the hundreds of millions of dollars—has been borne in large part by taxpayers rather than the mining companies and downstream customers.
Looking forward – and, fundamentally, a key reason we brought this case – if we don’t reform the regulatory system we risk creating a whole new set of expensive, damaging problems." (Source Link)
"The Interior Department has highlighted risks to the canyon and area water supplies from uranium mining. The BLM draft environmental impact statement found that “springs could dry up” near the Grand Canyon as a result of uranium mining and that pollution in groundwater could be “major.” It urged “a more thorough investigation of water chemistry in the Grand Canyon region … to better understand groundwater flow paths, travel times, and contributions from mining activities, particularly on the north side of the Colorado River” where most uranium mining would occur." (Source Link, bottom of Pg 11)
Furthermore, everything else that is wrong with investing in nuclear power.
Vegetable mutation, Saitama (2012-01-04 14.05.46)
Mutated tomato from Fukushima, Japan

And my second, more immediate concern with President Obama's climate speech:

"[W]e'll need farmers to grow new fuels."

Using food for fuel has already been hugely devastating on both food prices and food availability, and it isn't necessarily a greener fuel. Food crops require processing to become fuel for vehicles, and that process in itself uses up resources. The more crops such as corn are dedicated for fuel, the less is available for direct consumption and as feed for animals, which means that not only is the price of soy or corn increased, but so are the costs of meat and dairy products. 

"In 2008 food prices soared, pushing a further 100 million people below the poverty line and driving 30 million more into hunger. There is wide agreement that diverting food into fuel use was responsible for at least 30% of the price rises...

...In fact, many types of biofuels actually cause more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. Heavy use of fertilizers on the crops releases huge amounts of nitrous oxide, a gas 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, the demand for new land for biofuels is causing thousands of hectares of forests to be torn down, causing a huge release of carbon into the atmosphere – not to mention the ethical implications of the continued destruction of the world’s forests." (Source Link)

"When corn prices rise, so do the prices of products that rely on corn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicts increases in domestic prices of beef, dairy products and eggs ranging from 3 to 5 percent through 2013. Globally, the U.S. is the largest exporter of corn. Rising food prices will hit people in developing countries that rely on imports of our grains most severely. Higher grain prices in the U.S. are already triggering global food price spikes that parallel those seen in the 2008 global food crisis.
By shrinking the supply of corn for our food system, the Renewable Fuel Standard will continue to push corn prices higher. After the global food crisis of 2008, the World Bank pinned expanded biofuels production as one of the single biggest factors in pushing up food prices. Institutions from the World Trade Organization to the National Academy of Sciences have similarly criticized ethanol expansion for contributing to food price volatility." (Source Link)

I did laugh - like a LOT - when President Obama referred to climate change deniers as the flat earth society. He's right, we don't have time for that.
Unfortunately, on a global scale, I am skeptical that there's much we can do to reverse the damage that our denial and negligence have done over the last century. 
I am most concerned with the basics - air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat. My husband and I have asthma, so air quality is a huge concern, and of course we all like need water and stuff in order to do things like live, guys. So I am glad that as an influential leader of one of the most important and stubborn nations on earth, Barack Obama has admitted that putting jobs and profits before actual health and life is really dumb. It is dumb. 
So, I'm bothered that some parts of his plan put jobs and profits before air, water, and food. Having electricity is nice, but so is affording to eat a nutritionally sound diet, and not drinking water that might be contaminated with radioactive substances. Harvesting sunlight for power is still expensive compared to the alternatives, but when your solar panel breaks down, children don't get cancer. I would like to see a plan that first promises to do no harm.