Archive for July, 2008

July 30, 2008

I fail at objectification

When Shreyas sent me this link this morning I was so amused at Yahoo’s ineptness at player identification…

…that I completely overlooked the state of the front of JT’s shorts.

July 26, 2008

Gratuitous male objectification

What do you do when you have actual work to do and deadlines to do it by and don’t have time to write blogposts you promised a vast and adoring readership?

I rewatch Stage Beauty.

Ever since I first watched the movie, I have always paused it (and with the approval of every woman who has ever watched it with me) on this scene:

And this one, of which I’m afraid I can find no better screencap than this:

And this one:

Oh Billy Crudup.

And as a bonus, some Charles II and Nell Gwyn awesomeness for you:

July 23, 2008

Something Adventure

I’m not sure why no one I’ve asked in the last few days has heard of Willard Price. His books formed a major part of my childhood reading – my best friend had them, as did the local library. Even my school library in Delhi had Underwater Adventure. So it seems weird to me that most people never encountered them.
I’ve been hunting down books from my childhood over the past couple of years, and this month finally decided to get the Willard Price books. And so in the last week or so I’ve read Amazon Adventure, South Sea Adventure, Volcano Adventure, Safari Adventure, Gorilla Adventure, Diving Adventure, Cannibal Adventure and Arctic Adventure. It’s glorious stuff. Some thoughts:

I’m not sure if it ever occurred to me how weird the premise of these books is. In Amazon Adventure, animal collector John Hunt takes his teenaged sons (Hal is 19, Roger is 14) who have little experience in the wild to unexplored parts of the Amazon. When he has to rush back to the USA, he leaves his sons behind to collect animals for him. Said animals include a Boa Constrictor, an Anaconda, and a Jaguar – my father worries when I travel by bus. They also anger some natives (headhunters, obviously) while stealing milk for their pet baby Tapir, and outwit a villain who steals their cargo by attacking him with an electric eel. Of course these successes mean that their father is quite willing to send them off to collect more dangerous animals (thus the rest of the series) .

My first reread this week was South Sea Adventure, the second book in the series. I’d forgotten large portions of the plot, so I winced at the introduction to John Hunt:

He was an animal collector. It was his business to bring them back alive from the ends of the earth, to keep them in his animal farm until called for, then sell them to zoos, menageries, circuses, motion-picture companies – anyone who might have use for any sort of wild creature from an African elephant to a titmouse.

I like to think that most authors writing today would think twice before writing a book about boys who collect animals for their dad to sell to zoos. It didn’t occur to Price, and I think that shift is interesting. Of course, there probably are people writing today as well who wouldn’t consider this aspect, and I suspect they would annoy me greatly. Price, not so much.

Price is a fascinating character himself. He seems to have travelled extensively, wrote lots of books for grown-ups (none of which I’ve ever actually seen, but oh well), knew far more about animals than practically anyone, and may or may not have been a spy. He also does seem to genuinely care about the animals he writes about at points – some of the sections on animals caught in poachers’ traps in Safari Adventure (which I read ysterday) are gut-wrenching.

The race thing. It’s…interesting, and I’ll probably write a separate post about it (and about the Chalet School quote I posted a couple of entries below) tomorrow, so I’m not going into it here.

When I was 7 I thought Hal (who is strong, steady, has obscene amounts of knowledge about animals and is 19) far preferable to Roger (who is 14, impulsive, immature, and loves animals). I have changed my mind. When I was 7 I had terrible taste in men.

Also, when I was 7 I apparently thought it perfectly understandable that Hal and Roger should share a house with a man who had tried to kill them in the past because he said he’d reformed. I also found it perfectly sensible that they would hide the fact that he had attempted to kill them from anyone else because it would be unsporting if he had reformed. Unsurprisingly, the man in question…tries to kill them. Ah youth.

July 18, 2008

The Sixth Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy

First of all, I’m sorry for putting this up so late. It should have been up on the 14th, but it’s been a strange and generally horrendous week. Then again, delaying it by a few days did mean I was able to include some really good posts that were written after Monday. So here it is, and I hope you enjoy it.
(Note: some links are NSFW, but you would expect that, wouldn’t you?)

Women Looking:
In June, this post led a number of feminist bloggers to make it Female Desire Week. Some (Belle did a particularly stellar job) used this as an excuse to post shiny pictures of people we desired. I’m a big fan of objectification.

While guestblogging at Feministe, Natalia Antonova wrote about why she objectifies men:

I do think that because of power differentials, objectification of women more readily becomes a springboard for abuse, and worse. But I do think that there is a genuinely OK way of expressing one’s appreciation for someone else’s physical body and/or persona (and hell, a beautiful mind can be just as sexy). And I want more women to be comfortable with expressing their views on men and women that they find attractive, and even be superficial about it.

Much discussion followed, in the comments and elsewhere.

Then Dw3t-Hthr had this gorgeous post about looking too.

Sex work:

Renegade Evolution posts about her participation in the William & Mary debate, which she describes as one of the most empowering things she’s done in years.

And I’m sure I made some people angry. I know I made some people laugh. I know that before that event a whole lot of people would never think that a porn performer might also play “World of Warcraft”. I’m certain they weren’t expecting me to compare anal sex scenes to yoga. They probably never, when thinking of a woman in porn, figured that I had a husband, a Saturn, and literally lived just a few hours up the road from them. Well, they certainly had to see, as I was sitting there in the same room with them, that there really is a whole lot more to me than a set of implants and a couple of holes, that I was anything but a woman with no other options and a drug habit, that I had, indeed, picked my career, by choice, of my own free will, and that…well, I even like my job.

Here’s Ren again on sex workers’ rights and being an ally.

Kim clarifies her position on porn. One of the things she says –

My biggest concern with porn is how it has the potential to shape our expectations of sex and our expressions of our individual sexuality. I have this concern especially for kids and teenagers. I am concerned that young people could see some of this stuff and think they are “supposed” to do that. That girls will think they are supposed to like getting a wad of secretion in the face, for example. Or that they are supposed to repeat “Oh God, oh God, YES, YES, YES” over and over and over and fucking over — when probably at best they feel nothing, at worst, pain.

is something that worries me too. Here is an older post by Ren on the subject.

Radical Vixen continues her Sex Worker Solidarity series with this interview with Catalina.

Naked Feminist talks about being a feminist sex worker and the double standards she faces.

Grace, on how to be a good customer.

Elizabeth at Sex in the Public Square questions “Stop Porn Culture”‘s violation of porn laws.

It is galling to watch SPC use the work of the people they most claim to despise, and to freely distribute images they think nobody else should be able to distribute. And it is especially galling to watch them talk about the exploitation and humiliation of the women in the images all the while continuing to humiliate those same women by publicly exposing in and then condemning their work.

Renegade Evolution has written extensively about section 2257, and addresses this particular instance here.

Ideologically Impure writes about the state of the industry in New Zealand five years after the Prostitution Reform Act.

What kind of people go to brothels? They’re sleazy, lonely, gross guys who can’t get lucky in normal bar situations. And they’re well-dressed businessmen with platinum Amexes having a fun night out. They’re surprisingly often American tourists, here for work or vacation, checking out what a fabled Legal Sex Industry looks like. They’re young, happening, attractive guys who’d have no trouble with women just coming in for a laugh and a 21st-birthday ritual. They’re obnoxious loud drunks looking for a place that’s still open, quiet reserved guys with really particular tastes, regulars who all the workers know and love. They’re guys I know, who to this day are quite open about having used sex workers; and they’re well-to-do Pillars of the Community who certainly don’t want it known where they’ve spent the occasional Friday night.

Via the
SWOP-East blog, an examination of a news headline that claimed 345 people had been arrested in a child prostitution sting.

Trinity on the “No Porn” pledge.

And if you’re in Chicago, you might be interested in attending the Desiree Alliance conference on “Pulling Back the Sheets: Sex, Work and Social Justice”.

Sex and Relationships:

Sappho at Noli Irritare Leones has had a series of sex and relationships posts recently – here, here, and here, for example.

And a post by Dw3t-Hthr on polyamoury, sexism, and related issues:

And sure, there are people — of all sexes — who like a lot of reasonably casual liasons. But one of the traits of that is that one isn’t marrying them, and thus they’re not “off the market”, if one wants to go all transactional like that. Once one gets into more serious relationships, one starts hitting limited resources — even if one has infinite money, infinite desirability, and infinite sexual stamina, one has limited time.

And finally,
Things that I couldn’t think of a category for but that you should read anyway:

Penelope Friday on being disabled and writing erotica.

Whatsername writes a deeply personal post about rape and false accusations.

…and I think that’s it, for now. I have much love for Lina, who ended up doing more work than I did. The next carnival will be held at Tom Paine‘s on the 4th of August.

July 14, 2008

Random quote, offered with no commentary whatsoever

Josette glanced at Jo and there was mischief in her blue eyes. “What about you, Jo?” she asked. You come from Kenya, so you’re bound to have heard the native music some time or other. What about it?”
Jo opened her mouth to rebuff any idea that she could give a public display of any kind of native song or dance. Then her own eyes gleamed and she said demurely, “Well, I might, but I don’t know if the Head would like it. I’d better show you a sample, hadn’t I, Pat?” And before anyone could say or do anything, she had bounded into the centre of the circle, lifted her voice in a kind of prolonged howl that rose and fell on four notes only and was shivering from head to foot as well as she could. She wound up a show that brought ecstatic yells of laughter from the Gang, with a few wild bounds which sent her pigtails flying and then retired to her chair, remarking to the stunned Pat, “I think that’s the best I can do.”
“Yes; well we’ll excuse you,” retorted Pat, coming to her senses with a jerk. “That isn’t the sort of thing we want, thank you.”
Hilary Bennet thought it well to smooth down the prefect’s ruffled feathers. Choking back her wild giggles she said, “I don’t think the rest of us could do anything more, Pat, though we’ll sing in choruses if you like or do country dances; but did you know that Janet Forster has learnt the ‘Bacca Pipes’ jig? She was doing it for a whole crowd of us last week and it’s lovely to watch; she’s so neat and quick. Her aunt at home taught her in the Easter hols.”
“Sounds all right,” Pat said, too much in earnest to let her own feelings stand in the way. “I’ll go and find her at once. Thanks Hilary.” She departed and the Gang were left to have their giggles out.
“What a nerve you have, Jo!” Christine Vincent said presently. “Is that really what the natives do or were you making it up?”
“Well, I’ve never been to a native shauri, of course,” Jo said. “But I’ve heard the singing at night and it’s more or less like that. And I do know they do lots of shivering in their dancing. I put the leaps in off my own bat.

- Elinor M. Brent Dyer, A Chalet Girl From Kenya (1955)

July 9, 2008

Nameless girls and swayamvars

I was privileged to see Aaj Tak’s coverage of this story today. It was (I suppose this was to be expected) hilariously interspersed with clips from the televised Ramayana.

Around this time last year Aadisht was planning to write a post on swayamvars in general. He spoke at length on how the modern Indian method of arranging marriages was against our culture. Did Draupadi, he asked, travel to Indraprastha and serve chai? She did not! What happened to making the man do all the work – the breaking of bows, the shooting of fish in the eyes? Tragically the post never got written.

Sadly, the IANS report of the event (picked up here, here, and here, among others)could not be bothered to find out the bride’s name (Annapurna), though her father’s and her bridegroom’s names are given to us. Oh well.

July 9, 2008

*Insert pun playing on multiple meanings of "fair" here*

I tried to buy moisturiser last week.
My local chemist shop is part of a large chain, has a good selection of cosmetics, and has one of those schemes where you rack up points over time and eventually have enough to win you a free tube of toothpaste. Buying moisturiser there wouldn’t be too difficult, you’d think.

There was an entire wall of creams of various sorts. This was good. Except that practically every product there promised to “prevent darkening” (to be fair, some of them were sunscreens) and lighten my skin. It was phrased in various ways – “light”, “fair” “fair and glowing”*, and so on.

As I’ve mentioned in comments elsewhere, I like dark skin on myself. I think it suits me. And while I think sunscreen is a good and useful thing despite preferring myself with a tan, I’d rather not be made any fairer. But I don’t generally rant about the obsession with fairness in this country. (I suspect this is because I’m light skinned enough myself not to get any grief for it. It’s not a flattering thought).

But honestly. Even Vaseline has started marketing something called “healthy white”. The only product that seemed to say nothing about my skin tone was some thousand rupee stuff by Vichy. Since I wasn’t going to spend that much, I caved and simply bought the cream that seemed least likely to work.

*”glowing” never seems to come separate from “fair”, for some reason.

July 7, 2008

Feedback: Ur Doin It Rong

I have just had a strange encounter with people doing a customer survey for a major chain of bookstores that I will not name. None of their outlets are near enough to me to make me a frequent visitor, but when I go there I do tend to buy books in huge enough quantities to make up for it.


They called. The woman on the other end of the line asked if I was me. I was. She told me they were doing this survey for the company, they wished to ask me questions, this would take about ten minutes, would this be okay? Always eager to help people who sell books, I said sure.
She asked if I had visited any of their outlets in the last few months. I said yes.
She said “thank you for your valuable time, ma’am”.
Then she hung up.

Perhaps they wish for customer feedback from people who aren’t customers.

July 3, 2008

Call for submissions

Those of you who read what I read will know that a few months ago Caroline at Uncool started the Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy. I will be hosting the sixth edition here on the 14th of this month. So please submit any blog posts you’d like to see in the carnival (including your own) to bluelullaby at gmail dot com.

Previous editions of the carnival can be found here. If you haven’t read them before, I’d recommend taking a look.

Edit: Real life has been hectic this week, so the carnival will probably be a few days late. I promise to have it up by friday night though!