As a feminist, kinky person and sex commentator, I am the target audience for Jillian Horowitz’s xoJane essay “I’m a Sex-Negative Feminist” — and that’s exactly the point. Part of the site’s “Unpopular Opinion” series, I can only surmise that the essay, like others before it, was written largely with the intention of riling up its supposed targets rather than fostering a nuanced debate.
I’d also quibble with her quickie history lesson—yes, sex-positive feminism in part emerged as a response to anti-porn feminist activism, but it also sprang from the anti-BDSM and anti-lesbian bent of much of mainstream 1970’s and ’80’s feminism. My understanding is that sex-positive feminism was about embracing feminist ideals and furthering sexual freedom—for everyone, not just women. Keep reading »
Hello Kitty was born in 1974, and since then, the beloved Sanrio character has only grown in popularity, as evidenced by the plethora of travel options that will fulfill every Hello Kitty lover’s fantasy. To read while you travel: Christine R. Yano’s cultural exploration Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek across the Pacific and to bookmark: Hello Kitty Hell, where you will find the most bizarre Hello Kitty items you can imagine (out of more than 50,000!), from ice cubes to bullets to tooth crowns. New products abound, though; my Google Alert for Hello Kitty is constantly pinging with items like a Hello Kitty surge protector. Can’t get away? You can create your own Hello Kitty home decor with these rub-on Hello Kitty wall graphics. Note: these tips are not necessarily listed in geographic proximity, but are some ideas for how to get your Hello Kitty on around the world. Keep reading »
I didn’t think I was ashamed of the number of sexual partners I’ve had in the 20 years I’ve been getting it on until I found myself filling in a number half the true total at a recent gynecologist appointment. Although I know doctors are trained not to judge, and this doctor in particular had been particularly kind, helpful and professional when I’d seen her previously, in my head, all of a sudden the number (at best an approximation as I haven’t kept an exact count in year) seemed like cause for alarm. Even if I never had to say it out loud and its size was simply one more piece of data for her to use in evaluating me, something about it made me erase what I’d typed in the online form and halve it. As it turned out, she didn’t even ask me a single thing about my number, so that fretting was for naught—except that it taught me a lesson: slut shaming isn’t just something other people do to us, but something we can do to ourselves. Keep reading »
Dara-Lynn Weiss, the woman who became infamous for writing in Vogue about putting her daughter on a diet, wants it both ways: she repeats over and over in her new memoir The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet, how much she loves every inch of her daughter, including her pesky belly, but then painstakingly details the lengths she went to in order to shrink it. That dichotomy surely wasn’t lost on her daughter, and there’s no telling how that will affect her in later years. Weiss’s attitude is that she had to take extreme measures to combat the extreme problem of childhood obesity, but it’s the very extremity that concerned me. I felt anxious reading it as Weiss panicked and seemed completely consumed by this project when her four foot four, 93-pound daughter was pronounced obese by her pediatrician. Keep reading »
The first time I bought a pregnancy test I was 17. I’d gotten my period but was so new at the whole sex thing, not to mention paranoid, that I wanted to be sure. We hadn’t used condoms, but instead a small, see-through film that hardly seemed like it was going to do its job. I used it anyway because I was 17, and he was hot, not to mention 31, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. I wasn’t pregnant, but taking that test set the tone for every other pregnancy test I’ve taken, including one last weekend.
The biggest difference for me between taking a pregnancy test at 17 and 36 wasn’t so much the technology as the fact that I’m in a vastly different place than I was then. I know more about sex, relationships and myself, and while at 17, I was pretty sure I would get an abortion if a test were positive, now I’m almost certain I wouldn’t. I was scared, but not as scared as I’d been at 17. Another difference is that at the moment, I don’t have health insurance—bad, I know, and after this scare I’m joining the Freelancer’s Union and getting health insurance ASAP. Keep reading »
In the preview for Bravo’s upcoming reality show “Miss Advised,” internet personality Julia Allison boldly exclaims that she’s looking for a husband and has a 73-point checklist. When I heard that, my immediate thought was that I’ve never had a checklist, and even when I’ve set vague goals for the types of people I wanted to date, I’ve found that the universe tends to throw people in my path who are explicitly not the types I’d have said I was looking for, as if it’s testing me. Keep reading »
I have to respectfully disagree with Alexandra Gekas’ recent Soapbox excoriating Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones for considering her virginity “a gift I want to give my husband.” Taking Jones to task for how she’s decided to pursue her sexuality strikes me as yet another way to be holier-than-thou, through a feminist lens, almost the opposite of slut-shaming (conservative-shaming? virgin-shaming?). There are a seemingly infinite number of ways women are told we are expressing ourselves, sexually and otherwise, incorrectly. Are we showing too much cleavage? Putting out too soon? Living in sin? It’s like we can’t win, and while I’m not in Jones’ position, I’d like to think anyone who’s been judged for being “slutty” can empathize with being judged in this way. Keep reading »
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my boyfriend’s living room table, alone, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, my laptop open, trying to fend off both a cold and a bad mood. I was frustrated that I couldn’t pick amongst the multiple documents I had open that required my urgent attention, and angry at myself for feeling tired and frustrated, a vicious cycle of inertia and self-hatred. Rationally, I know that I’m lucky to be able to be my own boss and make my own schedule, so when I fall down on the job, I get upset. I was also antsy because I was in suburbia; I live in New York City, and right outside my door, within a one-block walk, are a bagel shop, a diner, three 24-hour delis, a nail salon, a dry cleaner and more. Where he lives, I can walk for coffee in just five minutes, but I’m pretty much the only one walking. I felt trapped, and stressed, and cranky, and turned to something I thought would soothe those feelings: food. Keep reading »
Some women shy away from divorced guys, but I’m grateful my new boyfriend is divorced—or at least, on the way there (he is at the end of the process, in the final stages of paperwork). This is not a situation where someone says they’re getting divorced but is really just having an affair. They’ve been living apart for two years, and I would barely know he’s divorced except that it came up on our first date, one that neither of us knew was a date until the end. “Never get married,” he told me half-jokingly as he described the saga of the paperwork, and I smiled, because I have no plans to. When we started dating more seriously, I realized pretty quickly that I had nothing to feel threatened about, and that in fact, I was reaping the benefits of his divorce. Keep reading »