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My first "real" job I had (made all the more real by its lack of polyester uniform and matching visor and sturdy, black work shoes with heavy traction) was at a local bookstore owned by two pioneering women, one of whom was a graduate of women's studies. The shelves were stocked to well-over capacity with women's history, feminist, multi-cultural, and self-help books, along with our meat-and -potatoes, mass market trade fictions. In our small town, there wasn't a high calling for anything outside top-fiction and children's genres, but we made a go of it. I had all the books on women's issues I could eat, and could recite by the page sections from The Boston Women's Health Collective's famous book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, in addition to being inordinately well-versed in Ina May Gatskin's Spiritual Midwifery. I read Clarrisa Pinkola Estez' Women Who Run With the Wolves when we had a backlog of special orders for the title, and spent my down-time with my nose in Susan Fauldi's Backlash. I was so, so poor in those days, but was surrounded with a wealth of books to feed my early feminist ideals. Ahh, those were the days.  

The one drawback to my bookstore job was a regular customer who made the Women's Special Interest isles his own personal meat-market. Don't get me wrong; he did buy books; stacks upon stacks of books pertaining to women's issues, books he'd pull from our shelves and books he'd special order. Its just that if (and that's a pretty big if) he read any of the books he purchased, he certainly didn't apply any of the feminist messages to his own interactions with women.



 
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Women at Adolf Koch’s socialist body culture school, which drew on Reich’s ideas.
As a child of the 70's, I grew up right along-side the feminist movement. Feminism was in its second wave at that time, a new enthusiasm for the politics of that generation's grandmothers. In the early sixties, however,  
activists supporting women's rights were not so much standing on the shoulders suffragettes, who overturned legal obstacles making women's voting rights and property rights, as they were radicalizing their own ideals; namely reproductive rights and wage-equality in the workplace.  In 1967, San Fransisco's Haight-Ashbury district was rushed by 100,000 hippies during what was referred to as, "The Summer of Love," a period of time that can only truly be measured by the amount of LSD-25 dissolved under the tongue and the number of sexual encounters enjoyed during the season of free love. Occurring alongside the hippie movement of the sixties, new attitudes towards sexuality created a climate of accepted sexual freedom within the overlap of the two groups, and many women and men entered into a new-found open-market for satiating the senses. Ahhhh, orgies. In for a penny, in for a pound, I always say. 

My parents didn't meet in a joint-circle on the Haight, nor did either dance to keep the music out of their eyes at Woodstock. They met in small-town Kelso, Washington, right across the street from the old west Kelso brothel, where my father was protesting. He'd had his fill of filling his sexual appetites and of hallucinagens, and at that time was filled with a new high, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Every day, he'd march, blazing a sign that read, "Where are YOU going to spend ETERNITY?" My mother tells me that every day when she drove past his one-man march, she'd roll her eyes and think, "God! I f***ing hate that guy!"  At some point, they must have found common ground, because (as my mother tells it) the next thing she knew, she was pregnant with twin babies and married to my father and a living with a bunch of crazy Holy Roller in a Jesus Commune.


 
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I can't imagine that Fifty Shades of Grey, could possibly need another review, but as the filming began last week in Vancouver, Washington for the film adaptation of the book, I find myself doing precisely that.

E.L. James' erotic novel has drawn an impressive following, creating a rush on riding crops and blindfolds in every adult toy and book store in the nation. Adult toy sales must have gone through the roof, and companies fortunate enough to have contracted the rights to use the phrase, "as seen in Fifty Shades of Grey" have to be rolling in the green, thanking their lucky stars for author, E.L. James' ability to draw in newbies to the BDSM scene. Frankly, it gives me a little giggle to imagine soccer moms paired up to encourage one another on, tentatively fingering a plastic, shell-packed set of ben wa balls, whispering together, "Are THESE the right ones? They must be.. They say, 'Fifty Shades,' right here!" In my imaginings, I'm the twenty year old store clerk with pink hair and a bad attitude, snapping my gum and bored with the whole scene. "Dude." I'd say. "They're BEN WA BALLS. Ya look like you've dropped a couple of puppies, so just take the big, ugly, metal ones. They'll tighten you right up. Trust me, ladies... Your husbands will thank me" 

Uh... did I just take that too far?


 
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Microsoft Smart Bra image from the Microsoft research paper, "Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating" http://www.cs.rochester.edu/hci/pubs/pdfs/FoodMood.pdf
Microsoft's latest offering has me cringing. 

As if women aren't assaulted enough throughout the day with sexualy objectifying media images "representing" them (statistics show over 3000 times daily in advertisements ALONE), distorting our perceptions of realistic body images and leaving us with the distinct feeling that we are in some way inadequate, Microsoft has found a way to capitalize on our insecurities giving us with a false sense of control over our bodies. 


 
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New Moon Waxing Crescent

I'm feeling really not-so-goodish right now. When the moon drains of its light, she takes me right down with her, every time. I'm damn near ready to start leaving her little offerings of sweets and trinkets and song, just to appease her. She shakes me to the core until I bleed with her, emptying myself of built up negative energies that fester like a wound.  
Living in sync with the moon creates a spiritual aspect to our cycles as women, and creates the basis for understanding ourselves outside the biology of our bodies.  Focusing solely on the physical realm, we amputate the most central part of ourselves; our sacred beauty, our light, our femininity. The Holy Spirit, in traditional Judaic teachings, is refered to as YHVH's Goddess nature, and the only part of the Holy Trinity described in the feminine form. 

Culturally, so much heat is put on our gender during times of menstruation, and historically the belief that a woman's menstrual blood is dangerous; deadly even, and spans across otherwise unbreakable barriers between religions. And we are dangerous. We become very thin in our connection with the physical, and our thoughts turn inward. We are easily agitated when roused from our introverted state. We can turn waspish, snapping at anyone who interferes with our sacred meditation.



 
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The precise moment last summer when an Italian nationalst visiting England became a mother for the third time was the same moment her infant child disappeared from her womb.

The unnamed woman had been in Britain attending an airline training course at Stansted Airport in Essex when the strange string of events began to unfold; the woman, unable to the passports belonging to her children experienced a panic attack. The police were summoned (the police? Really?!), who then contacted the young woman’s mother back in Italy. The woman’s mother detailed her assumption that her daughter, who had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was currently under a doctor’s care, surmised that she may not have been taking her prescription. The police claiming that her unborn baby might be in danger, escorted her to the mental hospital, where she was restrained by orderlies and held against her will sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Take a deep breath; things are about to go from bad to (Holy-Christ-I-can’t-believe-this-shit) WORSE.