August 17th, 2004

you think you know...

menstruation (and suppression thereof); papal ("difference?") feminism

I think i figured out why my gut hurt on Friday night, ‘cause i started bleeding on Saturday. Ow, cramps. I don’t get particularly bad ones, but while i may be a Yankee stoic i still do not like pain. (And the cramps seem to be getting worse as i get older, which is no good, though i rather expect they’ll plateau within the next few years.) Plus there’s the whole inconvenience of bleeding constantly for a week straight.

A number of feminists have recently expressed concern about the new menstrual suppression literature/medication ‘cause it’s oppressive and demeaning and whathaveyou to say that this natural part of being a woman is something that should be suppressed. Of course, this ignores all the women who don’t particularly like bleeding every month and don’t find fulfillment and wholeness in this communing with the moon or whathaveyou (clearly they have been brainwashed by the patriarchy). And then of course there’s the fact that the whole “natural” argument is crap. For most of human history, women spent a lot of time pregnant or nursing and thus not menstruating. Many women died in childbirth and even those that didn’t rarely made it past what, 40? since, well, almost no one lived to be that old. It’s “unnatural” for women to have frequent penis-vagina sex with fertile males and not get pregnant. Rather tacky to laud this suppression of the natural order of things and then jump all over people who laud another natural suppression, given that both suppressions are things many women want and neither suppression is forced on women.

hedy and i had talked briefly about what would be involved in getting a hysterectomy just that one didn’t menstruate anymore, so being a dork i researched. Basically, ovaries are responsible for the hormonal stuff, so as long as you don’t get those removed you’re fine. And removing the cervix can diminish pleasure in penetrative sex, but you can get a subtotal hysterectomy that doesn’t remove the cervix. Collapse )

The first i heard of the recent papal statement on men and women was when hedy linked to this and said: "The pope is an essentialist.. I am irked. We are shocked." Then my father e-mailed:
Has the Pope become a "difference feminist"?

No, difference feminism is just a variation on an old, old theme: women are different than men--and better. Less selfish, more concerned with others, oriented to people rather than things, not so lost in abstractions. Why, if women ran the world, there would be no more war, no rich hurting the poor, no ....

Of course, that's not quite the conclusion the Vatican draws. Rather, it says that men should emulate women in this way. At least, that's how Roderick Long seems to read "LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE COLLABORATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD."

He is appalled, which is what one would expect from someone who comes from an Ayn Rand hyper-individualist perspective (one of her books was titled The Virtue of Sefishness).

An Associated Press story with a different focus:

The actual letter, "from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 31, 2004, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
hermione by oatmilk

"You have every right to say no. I can’t guarantee absolute equality of experience."

So, this morning i got off the train at South Station and debated getting a hot chocolate and a cinnamon roll because i was still hungry even though i’d just had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I decided against it and went to work. I found Carole on the stairs outside the darkened office talking on her cell phone. She didn’t have her keys. Saun arrived shortly thereafter, also sans keys. Shani doesn’t come in on Tuesdays, Ellyn’s on vacation this week, and Jenny (grownupJenny, not internJenny) wasn’t coming in until later. Carole called Tori (who apparently always has her keys) and left a voicemail on her cellphone. So we went out to breakfast and i got my Au Bon Pain food after all.

Later in the day, Georgette brought in this astrology book she had been talking about, which discusses your personal characteristics for two pages based on what day you were born on. Jenny was all into it because it was so very very accurate for her. I’m very skeptical about all this stuff, so i wanted to check out my birthdate. Apparently my birthday is a “day of wonder.” The emphasis was on how i’m fascinated by coincidence and suchlike. Um, no. But there was also stuff about how i want to take things apart and find out how they work. Sometimes i definitely thought the writers were hedging their bets. “You will be rejected a lot. For some people born on this day, this will send them into a spiral of depression. Others will be resilient and become tremendously successful.” (paraphrased) And there was talk about being a big traveler and stuff which i thought was interesting since my astrological sign is supposed to be a big homebody. Tori thought some of hers applied and some not, generally felt that the stuff the book emphasized she didn’t find dominant in her personality. Saun thought all the dominant themes of hers were right on, as well as a lot of the more specific, though some of the more specific stuff that was heavily emphasized was definitely not her. I skimmed my parents’ birthdates and the dominant themes didn’t particularly fit.

Personal dream analysis i enjoy because i find it interesting tracing dream stuff to what i’ve recently experienced or been thinking about.

I’ve been having a lot of odd dreams, lots of realistic stuff, largely interaction with people from high school. I specifically remember two of last night’s ones. The first was somewhat distressing, but the last one will keep me grinning for days, because i am so bad.

The set-up was some school-organized function that involved us all standing in line to meet some famous guy. There was a whole lot of lead-in, but i can’t remember it. Anyway, GW was telling DH (they were in front of me in line) about how women can get away with crazier stuff than guys or something, and says for example, two girls but not two guys could do this, and leans over and kisses him full on the mouth, and then returns to his original position nonchalant because it didn’t actually mean anything, was just a demonstration. DH stares at him totally shocked, as does some other guy who had been standing off to the side, and i clap.

I have decided this dream was due to the semi-obnoxious “conversation” i had with EM on Friday night about how girls will go to greater lengths than guys to mess with people and about sexual experimentation in single-sex environments as well as phineasjones and starbuckle’s recent fun with gay cowboys.

I’m not with Ashley on The House of Yes and Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love, but i read Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, and other plays and the first one (Uncommon Women and Others) is women’s college fic (and they mention The Group :) ) which apparently i have a fondness for, and the title play reminds me of Spinning into Butter (Rebecca Gilman) -- gems like the gay man telling the feminist: “I know somewhere you think my world view is small and personal and that yours resonates for generations to come.” (It continues with him mock beating himself up: “That’s for my having distorted sexual politics. And that’s because your liberation is better than mine.”) I should check out the rest of her oeuvre.

I was checking out a stack of items for a woman on Monday night and one of them was a Harry and the Potters CD and i said “Oh how neat -- these are kids my brother knows.” “But it’s music from the movie, right?” “Um, no, sorry.” (Though looking at the tracklist, the songs are actually about events in the books.) “Oh, okay, I don’t want it then.” Which i was fine with, as i was curious to listen to it. Joanne told me the kids gave a performance in the library last summer.

Also: i don’t understand why patrons get so bent out of shape over this whole “You have to present a library card, preferably your own, in order to check out any items” rule. But i’ll spare you that diatribe.

That same night, someone returned Sweetblood (Pete Hautman) and i was intrigued. (And any author who writes: “I must also acknowledge the three pillars of modern vampire fiction: Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, and Joss Whedon” wins points from me.) The novel ends up being rather typical, but the concept is brill -- about diabetics being the original vampires. I was reminded of the werewolf chapter in Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked.