I never know what to make of Betsey Johnson. She’s kinda like your great Aunt that’s a total wild card, who curiously resembles your thirteen year old niece, who’s currently finding herself by defying convention. When it comes to fashion, she’s a great reminder of how far fashion can go and how much you don’t have to give a hoot about other people’s opinions so long as you’re happy.
Originally published on In the Powder Room. Reprinted with permission.
It’s not often that penises are appropriate outerwear. They’re weather sensitive, you never know if you’re going to pull out a turtle or v-neck, and they shrink in the wash. Occasionally, they create a pearl necklace.
For bachelorettes though, the dick diadem is standard ware for one night. When asked by a bachelorette (who opted out) why brides wear them and why they attract so much attention, I thought, “What a sizable question!”
When Joanna Shu and I first saw The Devil Wears Prada, we agreed Anne Hathaway had it much easier than us. Our first jobs out of college were far worse, there was no free designer clothing and plenty of modern sexism to endure as two of the few women in the office. Without getting into specifics, our boss’s daily mistreatment made Meryl Streep’s character look like a sweet puppy. It’s no wonder that we forged a deep friendship as a result, and it’s definitely no wonder that both of us, almost a decade later, have set out to work for ourselves; myself as a visual artist and writer, and Shu as the founder and COO of Refresh Skin Therapy.
As The Feminist Bride, I’m always on the look out for companies that meet fiancé’s wedding needs without sucking them down the deep, dark consumerist hole that is the wedding industrial complex. I’m also interested in featuring companies that promote and support women either socially or professionally (e.g. there are way too few companies with women in leadership positions). Shu, a divorced single-mom of two and leader of this vegan skincare line, fit the bill perfectly. So I wanted to ask Ms. Shu how Refresh Skin Therapy fits into the bridal beauty industry and what sets her and her company apart from the others.
Most brides would not consider anything other than a white wedding dress.; alternatives like cream, beige or winter winter doesn’t really count as breaking with tradition. While the connection between a white wedding dress and virginity is dying a slow (but rightful) death in bridal culture, there’s still plenty of people who will make making passive side remarks about the bride and her vagina like, “Looks like she decided to wear white after all.” Gone should be the days when wearing white or any other color for that matter should indicate what the bride’s sexual status is, but there’s plenty of bridal culture precedent to still work against. The politics of a white wedding dress was firmly shaped by religion, class and consumerism, though weirdly enough one of the big enforcers on such bogus color politics was poetry…which, might explain why brides stick with the white wedding dress.
Next to my tattoo of Notorious RBG will go my tattoo of Tina Fey. Though maybe I’m thinking too small and these broads need their own Mount Rushmore. Tina Fey visited David Letterman for the last time (it was her 20th appearance). (By the way, the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You has a really eye-opening episode about late night television and women. It talks about the scandal where Letterman inappropriately slept with a number of women staffers, which gives Fey’s clothing message of “Bye Dave” new meaning.) She wanted to show to him what the underworld of undergarments looks like and how she “will no longer conform to gender norms” in this way with the message #LastDressEver. And so the saucy lady from 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stripped down to her Spanx on national television to show the world the absurd lengths women go to look a certain way. It got me thinking about the ridiculous contraptions brides often wear to look “perfect” too, which is silly because the wedding dress probably already comes with corset bone ribbing…Thanks Tina Fey for bearing all and calling out the ridiculousness of women’s clothing, more like #LastCorsetEver.
Nothing is better and sexier than a feminist burlesque dance. Here’s why…
UK comedian, Nadia Kamil does a perfect job of showing how awesome a feminist burlesque can be. Her routine is inspired by a Margaret Thatcher burlesque act, and thought she could one-up the Iron Lady and her patriot pubes. (By the way, doesn’t Kamil look like Tina Fey and Molly Shannon’s long lost British sister?) So next time you’re looking to book a bachelor or bachelorette party think about tracking down a feminist burlesque show, you will never regret it.
The whole concept of the “wedding diet” is to bust your ass in the gym over a short period of time so you can look “perfect” for an even shorter period, one day. The thing is, what is perfect? Who defines at what point you can stop sweating at the gym because you’ve reached “perfection?” And why is anyone working so hard for just one day? This is why the “wedding diet” is an absurd exercise plan. It’s a Quixote quest invented by the delusions of someone else and projected onto you. It’s maddening.
Happy Feminist Fashion Friday! You are about to discover the wonderful and edgy web-comedy, Modern Women by Chelsea Devantez and Emily Walker! Coming to us via The Second City Network, Chelsea and Emily navigate how complicated it is to dress whatever way you want – while not getting street harassed – while honoring that feminist class from college you took. Watch and enjoy!
This short animation, Sidewalk (2013) by filmmaker, Celia Bullwinkel will touch the hearts of all the ladies out there. I thought this animation did a great job depicting the often too public stages of personal change, both physical and mental that women experience throughout their lives. And it even put its two cents in regarding street harassment. There’s a happy ending though as the heroine passes on her own life lessons of loving yourself!
Check out my article on Bitch Media about how Tig Notaro went
topless, post mastectomy with no reconstructive surgery on stage at New York Comedy Festival. In my personal opinion, it was a bit that rivaled her now-legendary 2012 performance at Largo and sent a powerful message about body images and acceptance. Go Tig!
Comedian Eliza Skinner has some wickedly awesome sage advice about how to tell the different between a sexy halloween costume and a slutty one. So as you ponder this year’s halloween costume, consider that it’s the women underneath that makes a difference and the person who calls her slutty – is probably going home alone on October 31st. #BanSlutoween
An awesome group of Hollywood women gathered at a roundtable discussion with The Hollywood Reporter. Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Emmy Rossum (Shameless), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Taylor Schilling (OITNB) and Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) spoke openly about the backhanded compliments people often give to actresses. Though I will argue that every day folk hear similar things all the time. So kudos to these women for putting it out there and calling BS.
Playboy, an unlikely ally in women’s quest to end street harassment, especially because they’ve made millions and millions off encouraging men to ogle at women, has done something wonderfully feminist. Hugh Hefner has even claimed we are living in a post-feminist world before, meaning that a chart like this shouldn’t even be necessary. But here we, feminists, are in agreement with Playboy’s work for once. Hell just froze over.
Playboy and graphic designer Shea Strauss have designed an excellent explanatory flowchart (click to see full chart) that answers when it’s okay to catcall a woman. In a sort of choose-your-own adventure game, guys can follow the line that represents his libido and male entitlement the best with options like, “Are you sexually frustrated?” if yes, proceed to “Yeah, I wanna yell sex stuff at people.” It eventually all flows down to “Nope, don’t do it,” and “Yeah, go for it.” There’s a real educative twist to help folks understand that the only case where it’s okay to catcall is when there’s mutual consent (and even then they make clear heckling is an equal opportunity for both sexes) and when it’s an actually kitty. For everyone other instance, it’s not cool.
This chart comes in the wake of other great devices to battle street harassment. There’s the bell Hooks hotline, which provides women a fake number to give to strangers who ask for it. The idea (unfortunately, this reasoning exists) is to safeguard women “because we’re [women] raised to know it’s safer to give a fake phone number than to directly reject an aggressive guy.”
There’s also the Cards Against Harassment, which are business cards that anyone can get and hand out to street harassers to explain how their actions negatively affect women. And Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art project, Stop Telling Women to Smile attempts to combat harassment directly on the streets too.
While this great flowchart doesn’t get Playboy out of the doghouse for its years of misogyny, objectification, exploitation and body issues, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
I looked up “mooning,” “photography,” and “wedding” in my Miss Manners book in the hopes that Miss M would provide some civil insight into the recent wedding trend of the bridal party baring their derrières for a photo op. Surprisingly, she had no personal opinions on the matter.
Now Pantene has joined the list of for-profit companies that are creating ads that not only empower women but address some very real inherent issues in female culture. Joining GoldieBlox, Aunt Flo, Verizon and Always, Pantene is tackling women’s overuse of the phrase, “I’m sorry.” It’s pretty amazing to see how Sheryl Sandberg’s #BanBossy Campaign has filtered down into other areas. After all the controversy it received, it’s clear that a lot of important people at big women-focused companies were all change, which is why we’re seeing so many of these types of ads. I don’t know about you, but I hope to see many more and in MEN’S advertising too!
For your fun feminist Friday frills, here’s a hilarious Durex condom ad that only made it so far as Down Under (which given the ad is kinda perfect). You’ll never look at balloon animals the same way ever again. Or at least, kids parties will be a lot funnier now. Remember guys to always use protection!
In case you’re putting the bump before the bouquet or getting pregnant after the party, here’s a cathartic and funny video about the frustrations of finding out if you’re pregnant.
During a medieval tradition called the bedding ceremony, the bride and groom were escorted by the groomsmen to the newlywed bedchamber. Since any piece of the bride’s garment was considered lucky with the garter as the crème de le crème, the men would subsequently scuffle with the bride to remove the garter. As a result, the bride started preemptively throwing it away. And thus the garter toss tradition was born because who doesn’t like a good ‘ole medieval groping?
Obviously, the garter is an erotic symbol, yet women throw asexual flowers. During the wedding game, brides shyly laugh and try to push the groom out of her undergarments, whereas the groom seeks the treasured garter using his sexual prowess. Imagine reversing the roles, with the bride sexually aggressive and tossing some tighty whities. Seems raunchy right? It’s a complete double standard to how men and women are allowed to treat sex, yet it’s accepted and practiced at nearly every wedding without a second thought.
Many a fair maiden has pranced around in a garter. It’s a fun, frilly piece of lace meant to be sexy and flirtatious. Other than Victoria Secret models, no one really wears them for functional reasons like holding up your pantyhose and knickers. It serves no practical purpose anymore; instead, promoting the notion that purity and virginity are present, but that the wearer has a friskier side. A perfect cat and mouse chase. Removable chastity.
There are creative possibilities to rethink the tradition more fairly and appropriately without abandoning the garter completely. Consider keeping it private and solely for the wedding night. Removing the garter can be quite the sensual act and will definitely be more fun to keep going without an audience waiting to dance the funky chicken. It could be relegated to a Jack and Jill party where guests will be close friends from the same generation who accept the sexuality of the garter removal and toss. Or for the couple who decides to keep the tradition, think about incorporating something equally sexual for the bride; say, removing her husband’s bow tie with her teeth – that would be talent – or if the couple is very bold, reverse the roles completely now that would be an evocative and witty message.
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There’s a lot of things I’d ask Jesus if I met the guy in person, like why curse some people with not liking cilantro, what would his Cliff game choices be if I gave him Oprah, Psy and Steve Buscemi and what are his thoughts on Lena Dunham’s constant nudity in Girls? But kudos to Sarah Silverman who dared to ask, “Jesus, when does life begin?”
In a random late night
bootie call visit, Jesus approached Sarah to be his spokesperson. He was feeling pretty bummed about how people use his name for intolerance and oppression. After a NCIS marathon, seems Silverman took J-Bones up on his request and started to share the harsh reality of women’s access to reproductive rights, i.e. abortion. “Comedy-expert,” Laura Ingraham may not have appreciated the banter with Jesus, but I found Silverman’s straightforward historical context and tell-it-like it is storytelling refreshing and captivating. I also loved how she showed what a double standard it was to legislate vaginas but not penises. And to give our own fun fact, Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson (D) actually tried to get this penis probe added to the “personhood” movement, which gave all eggs and semen the same rights as American citizens to make a point about how skewed legislature controls women’s bodies but not men’s.
What’s even better is that Silverman also asks you to carry on the word of Jesus by signing up with www.LadyPartsJustice.com to keep up to date on the level of personal pussy power in the US. There will even be a series of events through “V To Shining V” throughout the country where women can come together on these issues. So thanks for setting the record straight Sarah, oh and by the way – awesome shirt.
In the saccharine land of rom coms, plots can be trite, characters undefined and sappy sweet endings all too predictable for most movie goers. And the worst part is that they are usually geared towards women. No one wants to watch the same movies with the same formulas. If you’re like me, you’ve been looking for something different, endearing and more in touch with reality.
That’s where Obvious Child (2014) comes in by writer and director, Gillian Robespierre. Unlike rom coms being about getting the boy or choosing love, Obvious Child is about what a woman chooses for herself – in this case, an abortion. It follows Brooklyn comedian Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) who gets dumped, fired and pregnant just in time for the worst/best Valentine’s Day of her life. The best part about the film’s description is that it focuses on the nature of the Donna’s choice and how after everything, she ends up all right.
Strong. Confident. And accurately informed. Hillary 2016. Need The Feminist Bride say more?
Stephen Colbert is once again challenging politicians on the state of marriage. Here’s how it goes down (get to the 5.05 mark):
The Colbert Report
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“You’ve got these 15 states (Illinois was just added as the 16th state) plus the District of Columbia that are riding the rainbow train to helltown right now,” Colbert said, “Hasn’t this one slipped away from us?”
“I think the real problem here is marriage has slipped away from us,” Santorum said. “Marriage has devolved into just a romantic relationship between two people. And that’s not what marriage is.”
“No, it’s for transferring property,” Colbert joked.
Santorum went on to defend that its purpose was to procreate essentially…I had no clue that romance was bad for procreating. I guess I’ll have to put away my candles, bottle of bubbly and The Notebook for the next date night. Apparently, Santorum doesn’t know what foreplay is. He just gets down to business.
Santorum seems to be forgetting that heterosexual procreation in marriage is religious dogma and that there is now, luckily, a separation of church and state. I’m currently reading All Dressed in White by Carol McD. Wallace and she states how in the early to mid 20th century divorce was as high as 1 in 4 marriages (1946). A good explanation for this is that couples adhering to the traditional family gender roles of male breadwinner and female mother and housewife were not enough for a successful marriage. Before that divorce wasn’t an option and the unlimited production of children put great physical and financial strain on a marriage and the mother (that is until birth control became accessible). History tells us marriage for procreation alone was not enough to have a good marriage, nor a fulfilling life. If you ask me, successful modern marriage is about the union of two people who love each other regardless of demographics, who bring dynamic and supportive characteristics to their new family in order to make it stronger and whole. That foundation, and the decisions made within in, are what advance society and that includes children both adopted and biological of gay parents. Producing children in a linear [heterosexual] model for the sake of marriage is not enough to advance a healthy society, Santorum.
On children with same-sex parents Santorum replied, “Every child has the right to their natural mother and father. Every child has a natural mother and father and they have a right to that mother and father to give them what only a mother and only a father can give.”
Colbert, “Wouldn’t it be better for them to have no parents than to be loved by two gay people?”
“The point of the law is to encourage what is best,” Santorum replied. “It’s to set a standard for what is best, not to set a standard short of what is best, because when you do that you get less of what is necessary.”
His parenting argument is about as weak as his romantic skills. Technically, under this rhetoric he’s even challenging the legitimacy of heterosexual adoptive parents. I’ve had the fortune of getting to know a lot of gay parents and the love I see them give to their children is unmatched and amazing. And if you don’t believe me check out the speech by Zach Wahls of Iowa. Santorum seems to miss that a successful marriage and a parent starts with the quality of character of that individual, not who they choose to watch The Notebook with.
A stag (bachelor) and hen (bachelorette) party are something to behold, but in feminist bride fashion first: Why do men get to call their parties after a noble animal, and women get to name theirs after one that poops eggs? Better than naming a group of women after a brood of cackling hens, let’s rename them lioness parties.
On a 2011 summer trip to Edinburg, Scotland, my spouse and I celebrated our one-year anniversary. What we thought would be a magical weekend full of castles and becoming famous by discovering the Loch Ness monster, ended up being caught in an endless sea of stag and hen parties. Little did we know, Edinburg was party central for them, and little did we know, the romantic room we booked over a pub would be on top of were they all congregated from 10am till 2am (Yes, 10 AM).
What is unique about stag and hen parties is that one; they seem to include people of all ages – your mom’s mom, your aunt, you, all the way to your local librarian it seems. Wondering what all the ruckus was that made our anniversary bed vibrate (it wasn’t us), we wandered into an underground club blasting Katie Perry to Lady Gaga while grandpa got jiggy with it next to some bride-to-be in her 1.99£ tiara, veil and sash.
The second amazing thing is the dedication to costume these groups have: from sexy sailors to sexy witches to something else sexy. Every hen party is decked out in an outrageous costume. Equally amazing is that while, the stag parties don’t seem to dress up as much there were a lot of men who looked liked they had found an equally drunk girl to pull a phone booth clothing swap. There was always a barely coherent guy in a tilted wig, a mini skirt, trying to balance in high heels on cobblestones while trying not to spill his ale. The next blight, post plague, for this little medieval part of Edinburg seems to be hen and stag parties because many pub doors had written warnings on them reading, “No fancy dress allowed.” For an international b-party, dust off a Halloween costume and head to Edinburg. It was such a sight that on our one-year anniversary, my spouse and I starred at others more than at each other, but we made wonderful memories anyway.
For my bachelorette party in Las Vegas, we participated in some typical bachelorette events. Some of us went to see The Thunder Down Under at the Excalibur and some instead went to go see…John Stewart. Whatever floats your sexy boat. Another night many of us went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. Here is my best way to describe Zumanity – half Vaudeville humor, half erotica show with the typical Cirque du Soleil acrobatics but with stripper poles. We all enjoyed the show, it was tastefully, well balanced between the love scenes, the star crossed lover story lines, the flying trapeze boobies and the sexy cheerleader who was twirled around by the grip of her teeth. However, we were most impressed with the pole dancing moves. They literally defied gravity.
So full disclosure, I’m a little jealous of this commercial. Not only was getting your period in your ‘tweens in the mid ’90s not considered a “red badge of courage,” but revealing the secret that you had met your Aunt Flo meant getting snickered at and teased. No one wanted to be the first one among your friends back then.
Apparently not in this day and age though! HelloFlo, a company that distributes period care packages at the time of your cycle, produced a company commercial that not only makes your period public knowledge, but makes it cool to do so (and they’re directing a good lesson to a young audience with adult appeal!) Talk about Mensa for your menses.
Having gone to a college where my freshman year it was only 30% women and then into finance where I was lucky to even see another woman during my work day, it’s really refreshing to see (even if it’s a commercial) something be forthright in our daily lives about our periods. No more sneaking tampons up your sleeves or explaining that you’re taking your entire purse to the bathroom – “just cuz.” Periods stink, but as the commercial poignantly points out to “Suck it up and deal with it!”
I’m happy that a feminine hygiene company finally decided to not add to our suffering with anemic commercials. Guys get cool commercials like with Axe Body Spray, DollarShaveClub.com and Dos Equis’s Most Interesting Man in the World. Girls need that type of (bra)vado and her-chismo in their every day media in order to build strong, confident women too! Kraft recently stepped up their funny-game and sex appeal with their Zesty guy. Then there’s a Russian Tampax commercial, which while crassly comedic; might not help women in the long run. It did take a long time for women to shake off the stereotype that it was unhealthy to ride a horse, go on a lion safari or swim in the open sea during your moon cycle. The other plus side to commercials like Camp Gyno is that it allows us to laugh and commiserate together. Plus there’s candy.
The funny thing about wedding book guides is that it suggests the bridesmaid and Maid of Honor plan and pay for the shower and bachelorette party. The question is – is that really good and fair advice? Fiances are now financially independent, living on their own or cohabitating; gone are the days when brides had to ask mom and dad for a loan or an allowance. If brides have more financial autonomy, if they expect a party in their honor and want to dictate the details of it, shouldn’t they step up as party leader and payer?
If the party is given as a surprise with the bride sitting in the passenger planning seat, then it seems more reasonable for the cost to be covered by others. In the grand scheme of things though, at what point does another financial burden begin to break a bridesmaid’s back? She is already paying for a dress, shoes, alterations, gifts, maybe make up and hair and overnight or travel accommodations. Her hangover after a bachelorette party might be the least of her concerns after she gets her credit card bill.
The difficulty, as a bridesmaid, if knowing when and how to say, ‘enough spending’; and as a bride, to understand that there are limitations to everyone’s budget and that her own expectations can’t be met by everyone’s balance sheet. This current wedding party financial etiquette leaves brides and bridesmaids open to awkwardness and trouble. The tradition stems from times when women didn’t have their own cash influx, but this is not the case for modern women. It’s time to update this tradition – to accommodate different budgets, expectations, responsibilities and be open and nonjudgmental about it all.
If the bride is really running the show, she should be open to paying her way. Party guests can also choose to chip in for something special and fun like that lap dance, a nice bottle of champagne or a massage with Sven. Bridesmaids should not have to worry about forgoing certain events or services at the expense of not feeling a part of the group or worry about subsequent ostracism. The party will be much more enjoyable when people aren’t obsessing over whether or not they can afford the next round of shots they feel pressured into reciprocally buying. Bridemaids will feel better knowing they can share their feelings that buying matching penis hats for the bachelorette party is a waste of money, instead of knowing such opinions will only get them dirty looks from other bridesmaids who feel it’s a good investment.
At the end of party, it’s not about who pays that makes a good bridesmaid or bride, but the sincerity given in toasts, the genuine happy smiles captured in pictures and the honest effort executed in making everyone happy. It’s true that it’s the thought that counts, but everyone has different ideas on what’s thoughtful. The problem is current wedding etiquette entangles party expectations and friendship support with financial obligations and that is not a healthy mix.
 I hear massages by guy’s name Sven are always good…
Bachelorette (2012): The Hangover and Bridesmaids, this movie, is not (but it tries really hard to be). Despite featuring actresses and actors I really enjoy and my doppleganger, K. Dunst, there’s little brilliance they could bring to this script. To start, this is a good example of how good-hearted humor goes much farther than mean-spirited humor and there was a lot of the later in the movie. From making fun of the bride for being fat, calling strippers skanks, and calling bulimics messed up in the head just to name a few feel-good gems, it got really good with the profuse use of calling just about everyone the C-word. Then there was the scene that pretty much encouraged one groomsmen to take advantage of an inebriated bridesmaid. And he should get over his moral anxiety by taking a Xanax so he can take advantage of the drunk girl who was G.T.G. (good to go). There was one redeeming moment when the bridesmaids start arguing with a strip club doorman about how misogynistic it is for women to need a male escort in order to enter the premises, but that was short-lived. I’m all for raunchy comedy, but the degenerate humor just came off as…degenerate, unlike its predecessor movies that managed to take off-color comedy and make it fun and clever. Director: Leslye Headland
Blurg! Everyone’s favorite fictional feminist got married last night on NBC’s 30 Rock. What kind of wedding does career-oriented Liz Lemon have? Well, it did not involve ham and other delicatessen treats, jorts or sun pee to toast the newlyweds. What it did involve was awesomeness served up with some midnight cheese on top and some sweet Tony Bennett on the side.
Laws preventing consanguineous marriages still exist, but more-than-friendly brother-sister relations still occur like out of a V.C. Andrews novel. The latest international news story was about a German couple in 2001: As a result of their amorous affection, they bore a child, did hard time, and love still survived. The idea of it still captures the distorted fears of moviegoers today with movies like The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003, 1986, 1974), Deliverance (1972) and Wrong Turn (2003). In less horrifying film, who can forget in The Godfather III when Mary Corleone ignited a fire with her cousin Vinnie Mancini, but her father, Michael Corleone, forbade it.
While today sibling relationships are both taboo and illegal, there was a time when it was widely practiced, and even encouraged in order to prevent the tainting of royal bloodlines. Before Mark Anthony, Cleopatra VII was married to her brother Ptolemy XIII, and she was the offspring of a sibling marriage as well. While technically illegal during Roman times, it is said that Roman Emperor Caligula did the deed with all three of his sisters, Julia Livilla,Drusilla, and Agrippina the Younger. And no story of incest would be complete without the tale of Oedipus, who brought shame and ruin to himself and his city for marrying his mother. These tales were (and still are) told to children to impart lessons on morality, civility and health. The moral of these stories is that it is wrong to bang your sister and have children with her, but unsurprisingly, nature has a hand in promoting or preventing this kind of attraction.
The Westermarck effect is a process by which two people become sexually desensitized to each other during their first couple years of life, which is thought to be a natural selection process promoting gene diversity. For example, when a sister’s friend finds her older brother attractive, the sister fails to relate to the attraction. On the other hand, there is a theory of a “genetic sexual attraction,” whereby relatives kept apart during their formative years might be more inclined towards mutual sexual attraction. Finally, it’s well known that the risk of congenital diseases and birth defects rises with each inbred generation, a risk factor that can be determined by an “inbreeding coefficient.” An Ohio State studyresearched Charles Darwin’s genealogy. Ironically, Darwin himself was a product of consanguineous marriages; and after marrying his cousin; their 10 children faced severe health problems and infertility. Three of them died prematurely. It is thought that Darwin’s children suffered from inbreeding effects.
Over hundreds of years, marriages between cousins frequently occurred for a variety of reasons. Like ancient Egyptian royalty, European royalty encouraged marriage between cousins as a political strategy to unite kingdoms and forge alliances. The Hasburg family of Austria was most famous for interfamilial marriages, so much so that Charles II of Spain exhibited signs of genetic disorders. Ultimately, his infertility led to the extinction of the Hasburg family line. Survival and companionship was another motivation, which was especially useful in pioneering communities. For small religious groups at risk of extinction, faith survived better by marrying those within the community – namely relatives. Retaining wealth, assets and titles was a huge driver in uniting relatives. Laws prior to the 1900s forbade women from retaining property and turned all assets over to her husband’s control. So to keep it in the family, families literally kept it all in the family. But in today’s more modern times, love may just naturally bud at family reunions, maybe as a result of that “genetic sexual attraction” theory. Pass the potatoes please.
Despite the dangers of inbreeding, along with the social and religious ramifications, there are an amazing amount of geniuses and leaders associated with this consanguineous practice. Johann Sebastian Bach married his cousin and they had seven children together. Albert Einstein thought it a smart idea too. Jessie James was not so much of a tough-guy to say no to his cousin, and perhaps writers Edgar Allen Poe and H.G. Wells both found inspiration in their aunt and uncle’s children. Queen Victoria, who set in motion the Victorian model of a modest bride, married her cousin, Prince Albert. Jerry Lee Lewis married his second cousin, an improvement over firsts, but he loses points because she was allegedly only 13. And while FDR bravely battled the Depression and Nazis, and while Rudy Giuliani fought against the destructive efforts of terrorists in 2001, both succumbed to the feminine wiles of their cousin-wives as well. (Giuliani anulled his marriage after 14 years with the Catholic church on the grounds the cousin-thing made it illegal in the first place.)
Affinity marriages are ones of indirect blood relations and can be defined as “in-laws,” which are still too close for comfort in certain jurisdictions and religions. One of the most famous affinity marriages is that of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, daughter to Spain’s Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II. Catherine had been married to Henry’s brother, Arthur, who died suddenly. To keep relations between Spain and England strong, Henry married Catherine after she promised the first marriage had never been consummated, and the Pope granted dispensation from affinity. Eventually, Henry, lusting after one of the Boleyns, justified his divorce from Catherine on the grounds that she had, in fact, consummated the marriage with Henry’s brother. And then he accused Anne Boleyn of sleeping with her brother in order to get rid of her.
Despite religious condemnation, legal disapproval and social discontent, history has shown that the practice was generally accepted among some of the world’s greatest leaders, thinkers and poets. While Thomas Jefferson marrying his third cousin seems too long ago to matter in the present day, the taboo itself has widely shaped and influenced history and culture. The question of its morality is not what’s being debated here, this dialogue is to bring attention to the fact that by treating consanguineous marriage as abnormal and taboo, we fail to recognize it as a pervasive component in history and in doing so only half the story will ever be heard.
Muriel’s Wedding (1994): Yet another movie that revolves around Abba (someone please explain the Abba/Wedding phenomenon) but set in Australia. This movie is what one would expect the adult follow up to Welcome to the Dollhouse would be like. Muriel is awkward, talentless, painfully unfashionable and dateless. As the movie unfolds it becomes apparent that Muriel’s obsession with weddings and marriage stems from being surrounded by an unsupportive network of friends and family. Until she breaks away from her hometown via theft, does her life begin to change for the better when she meets Rhonda Epinstock. As Muriel pulls her life together she begins to relinquish her attachment to Abba and weddings, though when things sour it all goes terribly wrong. In the end she learns that marriage and a wedding is not the solution to her problems nor will give her value. Despite the painfulness and awkwardness of its characters and storyline, there are some really good lessons about our obsession with weddings and marriage worth paying attention to. Subject: Wedding, Marriage, Abba. Director P.J. Hogan.
Represent yourself and the ne0-traditional, feminist bride that you are (or a friend you may know) with a Feminist Bride t-shirt! Wear it on your bachelorette party, to the Post Office, a feminist rally, to your Jack n’ Jill shower, maybe to go get coffee, who knows. I say wear it all the time.
Current colors are cerulean blue, pink, purple and black! Don’t see a size or a color you like, just ask! Custom orders can be made too.
I hand printed these in a screen print shop, so there’s feminist sweat that went into them. Proceeds go to supporting website costs. Your support is much appreciated (and needed…)
To make your purchase click here.
Between the ongoing debate about sex education programs in school, birth control, teen moms, celebrity shotgun weddings, abortion, cohabitation before marriage and the plethora of conflicting opinions on sex, the one thing we can all agree on is that we all have sex on the brain.
Introducing The Feminist Bride merchandise! Know a bride that wants to celebrate her upcoming nuptials but wants to make a statement that she’s a lady that stands strong and proud? I hand-printed these 100% cotton t-shirts with that type of bride in mind (not to mention support website costs and maybe some wine therapy…)
Sales go through Etsy, so click on this link to get a t-shirt that shows your strength as a woman and a bride!
Size: Small Petite & Large Available (other sizes and colors are available. Please email shop owner for personalized request!)
Color: Black with White Lettering
Washing Machine Safe
Funny videos of the birth control Congressional hearing debacle. Thought it would be worth a share, a chuckle and a tisk-tisk over the whole birth control debate issue.
SNL’s Amy Pohler and Seth Meyer in “REALLY?!”
Stephen Colbert’s Catholics and Birth Control
Between Republican Presidential Candidate’s Newt Gingrich’s delightful views and treatment of women, people attacking Obama on his legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights, the Susan G Komen vs. Planned Parenthood debacle, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and now the blatant exclusive male debate over women’s birth control, I get a really warm, fuzzy and inviting feeling when it comes to women’s place in politics.
So when I see the countless people celebrating this President’s Day weekend, I’m only compelled to celebrate the Monday I’ve been given off. There’s little cause for me to celebrate. Out of 44 presidents (and 55 available terms), not one has been a woman. A few have come (sorta) close though. In 1872, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president. Back then women did not even have the right to vote in federal elections yet and wouldn’t until 1920 – 52 years later. The female candidates between now and then have been few and far in between with no successful ones. A 2009 poll revealed only 55 percent think America is now ready for a woman president. Despite Americans seeing themselves as a world leader, we actually rank 90th in the number of women in our national legislature. And given the US’s history of world politics we’d be embarrassed to realize what other countries are ahead of us such as Cuba (ranked 6th) and Afghanistan (30th). The figures are no more encouraging for other political positions. Overall, for dominating 51% of the total US population, women only account for 17% of the seats in Congress. And our numbers are declining. At this rate women will not reach parity for 500 years!
I’m happy to think that a lot of this birth control debate and the blatant misogyny we see occurring in our reproductive fate is encouraging women to speak up after too much silence. I haven’t seen such overwhelming support for women since the 1990s. The personal may be political, but in the public realm most of us have been keeping the personal private and that is clearly dangerous. We’ve naively assumed that the personal will be protected. Without our direct involvement in our own fate we can’t assume the progress of women will continue. Below is a list of where women in positions of political leadership currently stand. The statistics are scary.
On this President’s weekend, I encourage women to think about their own involvement in the political process. Are you voting for candidates that believe in women, that will fight for ALL women and include women on their own offices? What is your own involvement in politics – instead of being disgruntled at the our current state of affairs, why aren’t you throwing your hat into the ring? Many of us grew up in a generation that taught women can be anything they put their minds too, yet few of us have followed up on that idea. We should recognize we hold all the same skill sets, will and strength to run and hold positions of leadership as any other candidate. Why aren’t we more involved then?
Sorry to copy straight from the pages of the WCF Foundation, but I found the statistics so compelling, eye opening and straight forward that it just seemed better to give them a tip of the hat on their work and a little plug for their non-profit (Click here to donate to their “She Should Run” Campaign). Here is their mission statement: “WCF is dedicated to helping women build the skills and infrastructure they need to become more effective leaders in public life. WCF Foundation conducts action-oriented research and pilots targeted programs that prepare women to become more politically active, increase their engagement in key democratic processes, and ready them for public leadership roles. At WCF Foundation, we not only identify barriers to women’s political equality – we find solutions.” I would also like to point out The White House Project that encourages women’s leadership in all sectors. Their mantra of “Add Women, Change Everything,” speaks exactly to the power of including women.
FAST FACTS ABOUT WOMEN IN POLITICS
Where We Are: 2010 Election Update
For the first time since 1987, the United States made no progress in electing more women to Congress.
A few pieces of good news in an otherwise dreary election cycle for women:
Women are still under-represented at all levels of government.
Facts on women of color in elective office
Why We’re Here
Parties can make or break a woman candidate:
Gender Stereotypes still play a role:
This news of a Republican panel of five men and NO women convening to discuss denying birth control coverage struck a sour chord. It saddens me because I don’t want men dictating how I treat my body, and we women are not second-class citizens who are unable to think for ourselves. (One woman did show up to testify, but was shown the door.) But it also saddens me because denying this coverage commits an entire sector of our population to an endless cycle of poverty. It’s amazing how making a little pill (or other more reliable options) available to all, regardless of income, can make a difference in the educational level and the standard of living of our entire country.
When it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, we seek to spend it with those we love and shower them with all the accoutrements a Hallmark Valentine’s can bestow. What about spending Valentine’s Day in a non-commercial way? What if you could honor the women in your life by participating in something that seeks to support and empower them? What if you spent this Valentine’s Day learning how to appreciate yourself?
As an artist, I’m usually caught in a conversation with patrons over the stories related to specific pieces of work. A few years ago, I found myself talking to a 50 or so year-old woman about my photo of Havana, Cuba. Both having traveled there we positively swapped stories of the people, the climate and the culture. Any American in Havana is rare these days, I was lucky enough to travel down there legally in 2002 on an academic visa while studying abroad (Fidel even spoke to us at an assembly and then he threw a party for us at a compound). So I was curious why this other American was there.
“Oh,” she nonchalantly replied, “I was there in the 60s to get an abortion.”
Having spent all but five minutes with this woman, I was taken aback by her candidness. I didn’t press the story much further, but it told me 1. at the time abortion was illegal in the US and 2. her presence in Cuba was probably even more illegal. So dire her need for an abortion, she sought the help from one of our countries most notorious enemies because the service was legal there and because it would be performed safely by a surgeon (they do have excellent healthcare there). Making abortion illegal creates a lot of unsafe procedures that put women’s lives at risk. And I have to admit I had no clue about home-abortion kits until I watched Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet. Hollywood drama aside, no health class or any other source had bothered to inform me as to what life was like before Roe vs. Wade. (Read Mother Jones 2004 “The Way It Was” by Eleanor Cooney for a really good account of pre-Roe).To get an idea on current global statistics when abortions are illegal, “Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries. In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with 6% in the developed world,” [Guttmacher Institure].
Roe vs. Wade just celebrated its 39th birthday but it’s still under contention. As the 2012 presidential elections come closer, the politicians’ stances on topics such as abortion come into the spotlight. GOP candidate Rick Santorum opposes abortion in the strictest sense, even in cases of rape and incest. He claims his stance is not religious based, but in a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan he eventually mentioned the big “G.” He argued a woman should, ” ‘accept this horribly created’ baby, because it was still a gift from God, even if given in a “broken” way.” Santorum was also part of the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban bill” passed by Bush #2 in 2003. Characterized as almost zealous in his anti-abortion lobbying and protection of human life, he somehow finds it reasonable to support the death penalty in absolute cases of guilt. Seems his belief in the value of life is conditional. He is just one of the hour GOP candidates that believe Roe vs. Wade should be reversed. Even Michelle Bachmann is claiming that abortion will be made illegal after the 2012 elections.
While it is not hard to understand how religion has influenced these politicians’ abortion views, the Guttmacher Institute release worldwide abortion statistics that suggests that making abortion illegal actually increases the rate of abortions. If the GOP candidates using reasonable deduction skills, fulfilling their goal of making abortion illegal would not solve their problem at all. In fact, between 1995 and 2008 abortion rates have lowered in developed nations, which can be explained by better access to sex education, general education and access to healthcare. And countries with more liberal laws on abortion actually have lower abortion rates.
Obama had this to opposing view to share, “As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.” Santorum accused Obama of being “radical and extreme” when it came to women’s reproductive births.
I remember an interview with Sarah Palin around the 2008 elections talking about how she was so happy that Bristol chose to keep her baby and made the right decision in her book. The reporter nailed Ms. Palin, anti-abortion supporter, on her choice of words, i.e. “chose.” The irony of the comment was not surprisingly lost on Palin, which goes to show that no matter what your view is, it’s the right to choose that makes a difference. It’s not a really happy birthday for Roe vs. Wade if people are at great odds almost 40 years later on the morality of the issue. We have yet to understand that personal beliefs should not dictate public direction. My personal choice when it comes to my body is my own, but I should have the right to have access to any possible options and not have someone predetermine what they think is the right course for me. Only I can decide that.
Rick Santorum On Opposition To Abortion In Cases Of Rape: ‘Make The Best Out Of A Bad Situation’.
Who doesn’t want to look and feel their best? Knock ‘em dead as they walk down the aisle? Fit into that dream dress which just happens to be three sizes too small? Make their partner melt on the wedding night? The truth is we all do – groom, bride…even the bridal party. Young adults receive countless lessons to protect themselves against body image issues that can cause eating disorders or low self-esteem; yet as adults, the wedding diet always seems to be the one condoned exception to the rule. If a couple wants to spend every day of the rest of their lives together, why is it that we decide our bodies aren’t good enough for just one day?
The People I’ve Slept With (2009) – We’ve seen many a male character own the spoils of an active sex life, and when the main character Juliet pulls a Samantha Jones it’s exciting to see a female character finally own her sexuality on par with a man and without social ramifications. Except then she gets pregnant and has no clue who the baby-daddy is. Suddenly, Juliet tailspins into an emotionally abusive, self-reflective state of how could she have been so slutty and irresponsible? Not once does the movie turn the table onto the men who are equally responsible for the embryo and it reverts to a pro-life stance and the age mindset that a woman can’t be sexually free without being promiscuous and irresponsible. BS. (Subject: Sex, Pregnancy, Double Standards, Relationships) Director: Quentin Lee
If you find yourself near Tufts University in Medford, MA this Friday, COME HEAR ME SPEAK at 4pm! Admission is free and there’s food afterwards. I’ll be speaking at the 2nd Annual Women’s Center Symposium on “the sex and sexist layers of the wedding cake” and giving a small performance after the event but before the reception. See below for details! If you can’t make it no worries, I’ll be posting the video of it later.
So I found this through a Facebook site called “A Girl’s Guide to Taking over The World.” They post a lot of images of women, art, feminist issues, etc. It’s very pop, a little punk, and certainly saucy! I found a recent picture they posted hilarious and I just had to share! It bugs me that people use the saying, “You throw like a girl,” as an insult. When some girls can throw just as well as anyone. We should be proud of what we got, per Betty’s quote she seems to know that too!
And if you didn’t like Betty White enough already, the golden gal is also in favor of gay marriage as she mentioned in a Parade Magazine Interview: “I don’t care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time—and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones—I think it’s fine if they want to get married. I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.” Go Betty!
It’s important to think about how women in relationships and in marriage are portrayed too! Wives are often pitched as nags and ragged or sexy trophies. Brides are crazy, weight obsessed, vain control freaks. Miss Representation – OFFICIAL MOVIE TRAILER – Sundance Film Festival 2011 – YouTube.
From Frans Kahn to now a tired middle-aged man, the French are having their own sexual revolution as of late. The question is which way is it going?
Ah, I can’t wait to see this! And I can’t wait to write all about it, stay tuned.
Bridalplasty (TV Series 2010) – I’m a little behind my wedding TV, but I don’t think I’m missing out on too much with E!’s 2010 show, Bridalplasty. In this reality show competition, brides create a “wish list” of physical things they dislike about themselves and want to change. They then compete in order to win that plastic surgery. The last bridalplasty contestant standing wins their dream wedding and a whole new look.
It seems Facebook is causing a stir amongst Indonesia’s youth
, by facilitating liasons between very young users, which result in unplanned pregnancies and therefore marriages. Officials from the Gunung Kidul region are claiming the increase in teenage pregnancies align with Facebook’s inception in the country. Interestingly, 66% of divorces caused by social networking, specifically blame Facebook too.
“Facebook is easy access, even in rural areas, and leads to teenage girls getting pregnant outside of marriage,” Gunung Kidul Religious Court junior legal secretary Siti Haryanti told The Jakarta Post.
via Facebook Blamed For Underage Marriage And Teen Pregnancies.
Everyone’s got an opinion on how us women should treat our uteruses. With a recent push by the fed to make insurers to cover birth control, the most widely used prescription drug by women 18 -44, most women are pretty happy. Catholic institutions and other conservative religious groups that provide health insurance, however, are not. They are looking for religious exemption, except the concern is that this would exclude female non-followers who work or access benefits under these institutions. An umbrella approach to religious exemption doesn’t work for the fed and Department of Health & Human Services who want to make sure all women get the fair services they need and want, especially since some of the free services are not just pregnancy prevention medication. For now though, it’s a step in the right direction and further away from the legacy Comstock laws women have been plagued by for over a century.
For More: Feds Order Insurers To Cover Birth Control Free Of Charge To Women : Shots – Health Blog : NPR.
A recent study revealing that skinny wives, or wives with a lower BMI (Body Mass Index: a person’s height to weight ratio) enjoy happier marriages. Funny thing is there’s an increase in women who marry shorter men… So before you start handing your bowl of ice cream over to hubby, the University of Tennessee study only used a sample group of 169 married couples under 35, which is not much of a study to make serious conclusions. But thanks for putting it out anyway, your inadequate findings should really help wives feel better about their body image and state of their marriage.
To read more: Thin wife key to happy marriage! – Times Of India.