Real Men Have Curves Too

The busy continues, so I hope you’ll forgive the recent Vagina News trend toward shorter, less frequent posts. They’ll get longer and more frequent sooner or later. (Pun away!)

In the last 24 hours, I’ve been informed about a book by a Real Housewife of whogivesashit that advocates marital rape, and a food blog written by a NY gossip columnists about how she makes sandwiches for her boyfriend as often as possible because he once said if she made him 300 sandwiches, he’d get her an engagement ring. (I refuse to post links to either because they don’t deserve the linkjuice, but if you’re desperate for outrage or to judge someone, they’re on Jezebel.)

Instead, I’m posting this – the male version of Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ (which was problematic for all kinds of reasons that I’m not gonna get into now.)

Obviously we as a culture don’t sexualize men’s bodies the way we do women’s, and men enjoy a MUCH broader cultural definition of attractiveness than women do… But since the first Calvin Klein boxer-briefs billboard went up in Times Square in 1983, men have been increasingly bombarded by unattainable physical ideas through advertising and media. So let’s spread the ‘real beauty’ love around.

Master Basters

We love men here at Vagina News, and think gender-based employment discrimination shouldn’t happen to them either.

So we’re thrilled (we think) to report that one company division is loosening it’s defacto ladies-only employment policy…

The Butterball Turkey Talk Line.

Bust out your basters, boys.

Vagina News Boob Flash-Flash

Today’s Vagina News is one of those topics that digs up deep, often subconscious, culturally learned sexism, which for me is is akin to the feeling of yanking up a weed’s deepest roots from the garden. (For you non-gardeners, it’s REALLY satisfying.)

Toplessness. When I first saw this article, I admit I thought, ‘don’t we have bigger feminist fish to fry?’ But it turns out you only have to spend a few minutes talking about laws and practices regarding toplessness before you arrive at some pretty fundamental questions; What public interest is served by the government enforcing different legal standards for male and female toplessness? Who is the government allegedly protecting, and from what? (Women from men? Children from… Breasts?) Doesn’t a main argument in support of public breastfeeding – that there’s nothing inherently indecent about female breasts – apply equally to the matter of female toplessness? And if ‘cultural norms’ dictate that female breasts are somehow dangerous or indecent, isn’t it time to change those norms rather than grudgingly capitulate to them?

While reading the Atlantic article, I realized that on some level, my gut reaction is to think, ‘yes, duh, women have boobs, men don’t, there’s a difference.’ But when I bring some awareness to it, obviously there are lots of men who could fill a ‘C’ cup, and lots of women who barely need an ‘AA’… It’s not a size thing. So what’s the difference? As far as I can tell, it’s a) milk production capability, and b) cultural hypersexualization. Neither of which is a sound basis for making something illegal.

A ‘Better Late than Never’ Round of Applause for California

Long-time readers (I mean, it’s only been a little over a year) might remember the 2009 case of an 18-year-old California woman who woke up to someone having sex with her, thought momentarily it was her boyfriend, and quickly realized it wasn’t. The rapist was caught and tried, and was convicted of rape based on a state law that says knowingly having sex with a sleeping person is rape because a sleeping person cannot consent. But an appeals court overturned that ruling based on a standing 1872 law that said acquiring sexual consent by impersonating a woman’s husband is rape, but fails to set the same standard for impersonating a known sexual partner of an unmarried woman.

There was an effort to change the law in 2011, but it stalled in committee. This week, California Governor Jerry Brown fixed the problem, and the appeals court has granted a retrial.

Baby steps.

Remember The Heroines Too

The word “brotherhood” gets misused a lot to describe the people who risked their lives to help in the wake of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. So today, Vagina News pays tribute to the women who are too often forgotten in remembrances of 9/11.

One of those women was Captain Brenda Berkman, who joined the New York Fire Department in 1982 after leading and winning a landmark class action gender discrimination case against the department.

So while we remember that terrible day, let’s remember ALL of the people who helped, and suffered, and made a difference.

More information:

Taking the Heat – Documentary about the first female New York firefighters

Beyond Bravery – Soledad O’Brien’s 2011 documentary about the women of 9/11


The Kiddie Wage Gap

We all (hopefully) know that women earn less than men for doing equivalent work. (There are debates about how much less, but that’s a digression.)

But did you know the same goes for little kids?

As this excellent article explains, numerous studies have shown that:

  1. Little girls spend an average of two more hours per week doing chores than little boys do; little boys spend those two hours playing.
  2. In households where children are financially compensated for doing chores, little girls are paid less than little boys, and traditionally female chores are given lower monetary value than traditionally male chores.
  3. 75% of little girls are expected to complete housework chores, versus 65% of little boys.

Compounding the issue, as traditionally female chores tend to take place inside home (like folding and dishwashing) whereas traditionally male chores take place outside the home (like mowing the lawn and taking out the trash,) work done by women is often unseen, and consequently undervalued.

Those disparities carry into adulthood all over the world.

Diana, Huntress of Bus Drivers

Vagina News usually covers the United States, simply because that’s where your host lives, and the US provides more than enough that warrants attention. But we’re breaking that rule today.

I’ve been watching The Bridge, a drama about US and Mexico police working together to solve cases involving the disappearance and murder of several women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It’s based in truth; Ciudad Juarez has been known for years as the “capital of murdered women”; home to the disappearance, rape, torture, and/or murder of hundreds of women since 1993, with little effort by law enforcement to catch the perpetrators. Many activists and others believe the Juarez murders are an example of femicide, or the killing of females by males because they are females. (The term is also used to refer to the impunity with with perpetrators are allowed to operate.)

The area is home to dozens of factories and assembly plants – of maquilas – owned and operated by multinational corporations, that draw women from all over Mexico who are looking for work; many of the victims were employees. The maquilas often operate 24 hours a day, and the women employed there live in remote areas with no electricity or public transportation, so they often wait in dark, isolated areas for a factory bus.  There have been several theories and arrests over the years, one of the most recent being that the women of Juarez are being preyed upon by factory bus drivers. Which brings us to last week.

Continue reading

Los Angeles Premiere of ‘After Tiller’

Here’s some important event info for Vagina News readers in Los Angeles:

The LA Premiere of ‘After Tiller,’ a documentary about the four doctors in the US who provide late-term abortions, and the mortal danger they face every day, evidenced by the 2009 murder of one of their colleagues, Dr. George Tiller.

Friday 10/4, 7:30 PM at the Landmark NuArt Theater, tickets are $20. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, and proceeds benefit the wonderful Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP).

Tickets and information at

The Limits of (My) Compassion

Forgive my venom, but I’m having trouble being equanimous at the moment.

Piece-of-human-garbage Ariel Castro – who held Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight captive for over a decade – committed suicide in his prison cell tonight.

Even in circumstances more humane than he granted them on their least tortured day, he couldn’t bear captivity 1/120th as long as they did. Such an easy escape for someone who deserved to live through every day of his 1000-year sentence.

I’m all the more moved by his victims’ bravery in the face of his abject cowardice. And that’s about the best face I can put on how I feel.