Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The eccentricities of the Beale duo and Palisades twins


I had been anticipating the release of the film Grey Gardens featuring Jessica Lang as Edith "Big Edie" Beale and Drew Barrymore as Edith "Little Edie" Beale. Two actresses I greatly admire. I alas do not have HBO and didn't have access to the HBO released film. A friend recorded the film for me and wow was it amazing. The film is scheduled for dvd release on July 14th. I can hardly wait! I also plan on purchasing the original documentary which the film was based on.


The women did an outstanding job portraying two eccentric women dreaming of careers in the limelight without ever really pursuing it. Two charming ladies who chose to live together for decades in a 28 room mansion, indulging each other's ideas, charms an idiosyncracies.

"Little Edie" (lestercat.net)

Grey Gardens is a 1975 Albert and David Mayseles documentary film. The film depicts the lives of socialite mother Edith Beales, and daughter of the same name. The two lived in a mansion at the wealthy neighborhood of East Hampton, New York. The film went on to screen at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, but was never entered into the main competition.

"Big Edie"

Edith "Big Edie" Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale were the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

The house they lived in was purchased in 1923 by
Phelan Beale and his wife Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale. After Phelan Beale left his wife, Edith and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale lived there for decades.

From 1971 to 1972, the mother and daughter pair allowed their living conditions to become deplorable. When Phelan Beale left his wife she was left with an alloted amount of funds which ran out. Their home was infested with fleas, multiple cats and raccoons, had no running water, and was full of garbage and decay. The National Enquirer and New York Magazine ran stories and photos of their home bringing media attention to their circumstances. A series of inspections or "raids" as the Beales called them by the Suffolk County Health Department. The Beale women faced eviction but were saved by Jacqueline Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill. They provided the necessary funds to repair the house.

Albert and David Mayseles came interested in their story and received permission to film a documentary about the women. In addition to the 1975 film, In 2006, Albert Maysles made available previously unreleased footage for a special 2-disc edition for the Criterion Collection. It included a new feature titled The Beales of Grey Gardens, which also received a limited theatrical release.

Lois Wright, one of the two birthday party guests in the film stayed with the Beales for a time and wrote a book about her experiences.

The original documentary and HBO film both share the story of two women who in my opinion are invested in a co-dependent relationship. I think this is actually part of the reason that the Beales story is has developed such a cult following. I had no idea just how popular these woman have been. I have found websites dedicated to the two and official scrapbooks sold in stores.

The women chose to remain at Grey Gardens when they had the opportunity to leave. Little Edie chose to remain with her mother rather than live elsewhere or pursue her ambitions. Both women appeared to feel the weight of living in a man's world and for whatever reasons let fear prevent them from flourishing.

As a clinical social worker (and advocate of those with mental illness) I am often so intrigued with human behavior. This is what draws me to these women. It lead me to a larger question. What exactly is eccentricity? No, one is diagnosed as an eccentric. You won't find it in the DSM-IV-TR (diagnostic statistical manual - of mental disorders). It is my opinion however, that it is possible to have characteristics of mental illness within some eccentricities. At times perhaps just a lack of awareness. Or even a daring uniqueness. Sometimes a delightful uniqueness that can be admired and learned from. I can certainly tell you that throughout my own experiences in working with mentally ill individuals....they are my heroes. Such troopers. And there have been several occasions where I have considered myself lucky to be in the presence of such brave people. Several occasions where in particular I've felt grateful for little old manic ladies (I'm am not making suggestions or diagnosing these women in any way).

When I watched the HBO film I was reminded of a story I read in LA Weekly magazine late last year. I continued to think of this story at various spots in the film. Although, the tales are very different, I found it quite interesting to compare and contrast their circumstances and seeming personalities.

(drawing by Chris Rahn)

This is the story of two 78 year old mentally ill identical twins living in the Palisades in southern CA. The Palisades is a beachside town west of Los Angeles. Residents of the cozy suburb rank in approximately $200,000 a year. The chamber of commerce even sports a t-shirt in their window with wording that boasts, "If you're rich, you live in Beverly Hills; if you're famous, you live in Malibu; and if you're lucky, you live in Pacific Palisades."

It turns out that the twins, Marjorie and Margaret Barthel are being sued for rat infestation of the neighborhood. The women were purposefully feeding the rats, causing approximately, tens of thousands of new rats to the Los Angeles westside.

It is reported that the women rarely left the house and never at the same time. When one of them did go out, she wore heavy clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and large glasses and carried shopping bags filled with dog food. This confused some as they hadn't owned dogs in years. At one point they did own dogs - dozens of them - and cats. Eventually the rat exterminator discovered the rat population eating and drinking from pie tins full of dog food and milk.

Inspectors warned the sisters of their violations only to be met with excuses. The sister would often state that they were either selling the house and moving or had already called pest control.

Reports state that the sisters were sometimes difficult to converse with. They'd make statements like, "Your children will rise up and kill you!" Or when asked whether the sisters were afraid of being attacked by rats, Marjorie replied, “No, I have the blood of Jesus on my house every night.” Due to their religious beliefs the women felt that ridding themselves (and the neighborhood) of the rats would be sinful.

“Since 1958, we’ve had rats,” Marjorie said, during her deposition in May. “I’ve lived with rats since 1958, honey.... When I got the house in [1958], that’s the day I started feeding all the animals. And I fed them as long as I lived there.”

While it is clear that these women should not have been feeding their rats, they felt they were doing God's work. They also appeared (though I have no way of knowing) to be content. Content to live the remainder of their lives together and to live in a decrepit home. I do not know what became of them in the end.

The Beales women also lived together in squalor. Due to mental illness, or lack of awareness or even daring uniqueness they lived together till the end.

In 1977 "Big Edie" died and in 1979 "Little Edie" sold the house to former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn. "Little Edie" died in 2002 at the age of 84.
After their purchase, Bradlee and Quinn had the house and grounds completely restored. Philanthropist Frances Hayward currently rents the home 11 months out of the year from the Bradlees.

I will continue to be interested in the Beales women. I may be posting more thoughts and information on them in the future. It is my hope that anyone who watches the film will ponder their own notions of what mental illness, eccentricity, and individuality can be.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Negating the stigma against childfree women

I'm at the age now where many around me are getting married and/or having children. I also have many female friends who do not currently have children but badly want them.
I ask my male friends if they want kids and they all say the same thing..."someday".

I do not want children. I used to feel somewhat guilty about this but I no longer do. I suppose I once felt I would be judged by those who know me. I do like children. During college and my pre-grad school years I worked with kids quite a bit. I've worked in behavioral agencies, shelters and group homes. I think children are brilliant little people but I do not want any of my own.

I have heard time and time again that when one becomes a parent they must give up selfishness. I used to tell myself that I was practicing what I referred to as a healthy selfishness. This is not something I said to justify my feelings. The desire simply isn't there.

I no longer consider a childfree live to be a healthy selfishness. There is nothing selfish about it. The only way I could understand a childfree life to be a form of selfishness is if I was SUPPOSED to have children but was rebelling against it.

In addition to a lack of supposed natural desire for children, I very much want my time to be my own. Time to for relaxation, time for learning to love myself more than I do, time to give to my friends, a partner, my patients (i'm a clinical social worker) and life in general. This can be achieved through parenthood of course but I am content without.

To be honest there are moments when I sincerely wonder why some want children to begin with. If there is a biological pull I'm not feeling it. Others seem to feel it greatly. I remember speaking to a friend who told me that when her bio clock finally started ticking, all she could think about was babies. It left me scratching my head. I remember another occasion when I was watching TV with a pal and some commercial featuring a baby flashed across the screen. She put her hands to her face and squealed, "oh he's so cute I want to eat him up like a marshmallow!" I sat there bewildered and a bit uncomfortable. I didn't know what to say. I just didn't feel the same.

Intellectually I can understand why people want babies. They fall in love and perhaps that child is an extension of their love. The mother grows to love a child inside of her because she bonds with this essence. Men in my life thus far haven't really been able to tell me why they want kids. I just get a general sense of "someday".

What concerns me is that it seems there is a stigma against those who do not want children. The stigma seems to be aimed more towards women than men. I think that this is actually due to the patriarchal thought that women are more prone to wanting children and more prone to love in general. As if love and children are a woman's territory. 

Let me clarify. I believe that women who do not want children can still be incredibly loving human beings. However, I think that there is a unfair expectancy that if a woman does not want a child of her own she must be insensitive, loving, and wrongfully selfish.

I've read Childfree websites that make bold mention of various reasons as why refraining from having children is positive and selfless. I've read statistics regarding over population and complaints regarding personal loss of identity. Some statements have proven to be quite interesting.  

But ultimately, I am not not having children because I think it is a risk to the environment.

Even though the world is indeed overpopulated I think that creating a life can be quite a gift. Do people want children because they want to give someone the chance to live? The chance to have hopes and goals, happiness and triumph? The chance to encounter sadness and pain and to learn and grow and overcome? Is that what is in the forefront when people decide to make a baby? Or do some want a child to love them in return? Do some want to continue their family line? Do some simply want something else to love? I suppose it is different from everyone.


Some trivia. What does golf mean? Stand for? It's something I never questioned. A friend of mine randomly informed me that she heard that Golf is actually an acronym that stands for Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.

My first response was shock. I decided to look into this. According to the Encyclopedia of Word Origins, one theory suggests that golf derives from the Dutch word kolf, which translates to club or mallet used in games similar to tennis and croquet.

The Encyclopedia of Word Origins states that

Another theory suggests golf is from the Scottish word goulf or gowlf which means "to strike or cuff."

Games similar to the game of golf have been reported since approximately 1552.


As we know there are many many women who play the game of golf. Although, it appears that the word Golf was never intended to be read as a sexist acronym, through my search I have found websites that currently embrace it. I found websites that encourage men to leave the "battle axe" at home and join Gentlemen Only golf clubs or events. Well, sexism exists my friends. We all know it. Our job is to discourage it. I am hoping that the majority of us agree that sentiments like this are just plain ridiculous. All I can do is roll my eyes.

Farrah and Michael remembered in cupcakes



Sexist Kitchen Ware

As I was perusing the UrbanOutfitters online website I found some quirky and comical products. This Pimp cup was not one of them. The "Pimp" cup also came paired with a "Ho" cup.

In addition to the tumbler cups I spotted this "Slut" flask. If slut isn't how you prefer to be addressed "Bitch" is also available.

I'm sure that these novelty items are purchesed with a comedic purpose. Never the less I am bothered by the fact that Slut, Pimp, Ho and Bitch are labels that are considered humorous or mainstream. Companies have moved beyond slapping these labels on t-shirts. I guess that is so 10 years ago.

Makes me wanna munch and scrape my knee..

So random which makes these great...and a couple are a little scary.

Bubble Gum Floss

Bacon Floss

Bacon and Eggs Band-Aids

Steak Band-Aids

Breakfast Floss

Cupcakes for boo boos and sweet tooth..s

Cupcake Band-Aids
So, excited about this. I think bandaids are fun. Luckily I don't need them very often (hope I'm not jinxing it here). These little things fit in nicely with my love of cupcakes and randomness. These are from Urban Outfitters and can be purchased online.

Cupcake Dental Floss
Sweet tooth? I'm curious as to how cupcake dental floss will taste. This item can also be found on UrbanOutfitters.com.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Curious Case of Brooke Greenberg

(photo from nextbigfuture.com)
Take a look at the child cradled in her mother's arms. How old would you say she is? 8 months? 12 months? Nope. She is 16 years old. I'll let this sink in for a minute.....
Brooke Greenberg has the mentality of a toddler but she is actually much older. Why doesn't she grow? Doctors have yet to diagnose her with any type of chromosomal abnormality.

Brooke weighs 16 pounds and is 30 inches tall. She does not speak but she does laugh and responds to others. Her mother Melanie Greenberg, pushes her in a stroller when they go out and has learned how to handle potential awkward social situations. When a stranger asks how old Brooke is, her mother just turns years into months. When Brooke was 8, Melanie told others she was 8 months. So now at 16 years old, Melanie reports that she is 16 months.

When Brooke turned 4 years old she fell into a sleep for 2 weeks. At that time doctors discovered a brain tumor. Her family began preparing for her death. Later Brooke's doctors felt that there was no brain tumor but had no idea as to why the sudden lethargy.

Initially hormone treatment was recommended to the family but it didn't work. According to ABC news, Doctors have researached and studied Brooke's DNA cells in search for new information about genetics and why we age and die. If the gene or genes can be properly identified there are future plans for testing in order to discover whether the gene can be "switched on and off". It will be tested in animals to see whether their aging slows.

While there is much mystery surrounding Brooke, one thing is clear. Her family loves her and this touches me very much. Michelle Brooke says to ABC reporters, "We love her just the way she is. We don't want to change her."

History of the Moon Walk

Well, no doubt we've all been seeing clip after clip of Michael Jackson dancing the Moon Walk on tv lately. His death has sparked tribute specials from various networks. As I was watching a 20/20 special tonight I realized that even though I love Michael's work, I never learned how he came upon the moon walk. He first performed the Moon Walk on Motown's 25th anniversery special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever. As I reminiced with America I had a thought. I figured he wasn't the first one to perform the Moon Walk. I was right. I did a little digging and this is what I came up with.

The Moon Walk was first named "The Backslide" or "Walking On Your Toes".

The great Cab Calloway actually performed the moon walk in the 1932 film Minnie the Moocher.

French mime Marcel Marceau performed the moon walk in the 1940s and throughout his career.

Here Michael poses with the late Marcel Marceau. It is reported that Marcel was an inspiratonal influence for Michael.

In 1955 tap dancer Bill Bailey performed the dance.

In 1980 James Brown performed the dance in the film The Blues Brothers.

Jeffrey Daniel (on far left) from the former band Shalamar performed the dance for the song "A Night To Remember" on Top of the Pops in 1982.

Around the same time Electric Boogaloos member Timothy "poppin' pete" Solomon performed the move in the Talking Heads music video "Crosseyed and Painless."

So, how did MJ come to learn this dance? I've read different stories. Some report that Michael learned by watching Marcel Marceau. Others report that Jeffrey Daniel from Shalamar taught him the move.

Regardless of who started it, I must say I am most impressed with Michael's interpretation and variances.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

King of Pop dies at age 50

So, where were YOU when you heard the news? I was in my car. I turned on the radio as I hadn't brought any cds with me. A radio DJ announced the news rather matter of factly (as I am sure he had been repeating the news for quite some time) ...so matter of factly that it thought what I heard was inaccurate. My mouth gaped wide and I listened to what was apparently the truth. I'm sure we are all saying many of the same things. He was so young, so talented.

Michael Jackson's music was so transcendent. What is it about HIS pop music that influenced so many?

Michael has been one of my favorite artist since childhood and I have continued to listen to his music throughout my life. But what is it about an artist's death that has people suddenly listening to his music?

Tonight my favorite music store Ameoba Records in Hollywood has sold out their inventory of Michael's music. I understand how a person might want to listen to his music at this time. It is a reminder of his talent, it is a form of greiving, it is a form of celebration.

Here is my question. Are the people that are just now purchasing Michael cds, have other Michael albums in their collection? Or are these people purchasing his music because the news of his death is the current buzz? I think is a real attention getter and different folks react in a myriad of ways. I find it quite interesting.

I remember when Johnny Cash passed away I felt sadder than I had expected to feel. People flooded to music stores to purchase his albums. My first thought was....where was your interest when he was alive? But again, I do think that death uproots all kinds of emotions.

I've found that his death has brought up various discussions about the singer. I've spoken with friends about what we've witnessed throughout his life. From the Jackson 5, to his solo career, to his quirkiness, to the scandals (and yes I still question whether or not he committed those crimes).

I think Michael was lonely and pained. I have always had empathy and sympathy for him. Unfortunately, I think he died a very sad man.

I will remember him for a variety of reasons but mostly I will be greatful for this contributions. His music and his humanitarian contributions.

MJ Forever


Michael Jackson

August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Burger Babes

It is obvious what this advertisement is insinuating. In the good ol' days (sarcasm of course) advertisements used to focus their exploitative energies by planting the scantily clad women on car ads. Although sex has a long extensive history of selling product. To be honest I can't quite remember when corporations sparked the idea to hock food product by means of female exploitation. But it does seem that lately it is happening with intensity.

This advertisement is obviously attempting to resemble an act of fellacio. It also appears to be aimed at the straight male. Even though there are men who do perform fellacio, I don't think this ad would gather as much appeal if a man were to be performing the same act in the ad.

It seems that corporations are "pushing the envelope" aka attempting to see just how much they can get away with. As the years go by, they are getting away with quite a lot. But in our culture our children will see this as the norm just as many adults do.

It wasn't that long ago that Burger King put out commercial featuring rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot rapping that he likes "square butts". Sir Mix-a-Lot's claim to fame was back in 1992 when he came out with the song "Baby Got Back". The misogynistic (and ridiculous) song that spouted lyrics such as "my anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hon" and "I like big butts that you can't deny" was modified for the kiddies by adding a SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon theme and featuring women with square bottoms.

Not only did I think that Sir Mix-a-Lot had hit and all time low by exploiting women in such a way, so that kids can take advantage..but I also thought wow...talk about selling out! Is he desperate? Only he knows.

Remember this? Paris Hilton encorporated three elements that sexist ads so often love to use. A car, water and now food. Slithering all over a car and hosing herself down in a bathing suit, and then taking a big bite out of a sloppy messy burger. Geez, I wonder how a woman as slender as her is able to gobble these Carl's Jr burgers up and maintain her girlish figure? Hmm..

Just today I spotted a new Carls Jr commercial featuring Audrina Patridge from the reality show, The Hills. In the commercial she says she keeps her figure by eating fruit...pineapple to be exact. The pineapple that comes in the burger she is eating.

As I was searching for these photos to upload I came across a great disappointment. A blog site dedicated to these ads. "Hot Chicks with Burgers" posts photo after photo of women chomping burgers. I think the creator must have a lot of time on his hands.

Advertisements like the above often receive complaints from various individuals and groups. I don't see them disappearing any time soon. We can however listen to our consciences and ask...what is that about? That little tug that I'm sure many feel is a door to a new perspective. It's not just a "boys will be boys" phenomenon. It's a larger socio-political issue. So many choose to ignore it. Will you?

Friday, June 19, 2009

World's Largest Cupcake gets media attention

Paris Hilton has a new reality show (ugh..I won't even get into how vain this is). She claims to be searching for a new BFF. The show features contestants that compete for Paris' friendship. One of the events required the potential BFFs to jump into "the world's largest cupcake" in order to search for three plastic easter eggs. The eggs held information that pertained to the competition.

This event caught my eye as I am obsessed with cupcakes. Believe it or not I would LOVE the chance to jump into a giant cupcake.

How fun is this?!

The cupcake was created by Merengue Bakery & Cafe located in Monorvia California. The cupcake measured 7 feet tall by 7 feet wide and weighed approximately 8,000 lbs. The creation required 8,000 eggs, 4,000 lbs of flour, and 150 gallons of frosting!

If that is too much cupcake for you, Merengue Bakery & Cafe offers smaller versions. The above cupcake costs $250 and is meant to be shared with 75 people.
The bakery also provides larger and smaller sizes and different variations. More info at MerengueBakery.com

Thursday, June 18, 2009

HIV break in the L.A. porn industry

Yesterday the AIDS Healthcare Foundation held a news conference to demand that the Los Angeles County health department require condom use within the L.A. porn industry. This meeting comes in light of last week's news release that a female porn actress tested positive for HIV. According to the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, the actress was tested for HIV June 4th and worked June 5th. She was found positive for HIV June 6th.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation put out a statement saying that,
"L.A. County Public Health officials have been asleep at the switch with regard to monitoring HIV and STD prevention and testing in the region's porn industry," Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said, "Under the auspices of California Code that is enacted into law and already on the books, we are calling on country health officials to immediately instutute a requirement for condom usage in the production of adult films -- something already far more widespread voluntarily in adult gay films. If not, county health officials should shut down production sets that refuse to comply with the California code."

It is reported that this is the first real HIV outbreak since 2004. A then 18 year old porn actress "Laura Roxx" contracted HIV through unprotected anal sex with two men during a film shoot. She had only been in the industry three months.

Adult film actors who decide not to use protection are obviously at high risk for STDs. When they catch a disease they certainly aren't blameless. However, as "independent contractors", porn actors are not provided with workplace safety protections. How sick is this?

As a anti-porn feminist I can think of many harms brought forth by the porn industry. One being that, when men and women climax to the image of porn actors it is impossible to know what harm is occuring within the lives of those involved. Those who masturbate to pornography do not see the person behind the image. The image of someone who more than likely has been brutalized within the porn industry, more than likely has contracted various STDs, and is paying the consequeces of poor choices.

Although, I am not an advocate of the porn industry, I believe that its actors must take responsibility to protect themselves. I believe government agencies, porn producers, directors and others behind the scenes must encourage protection for the ones that are making them so much money. They are indeed valuable human beings even though their jobs do not display them as such.

Obama pisses off PETA

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is upset with President Obama. Why? ...wait for it....
Because he killed a fly. That's right. During a televised CNBC interview Obama swatted a fly on his hand; with great precision I might add. Bruce Fredrich, the PETA spokesman said, "We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic nimals. We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals". At this point the White House has no comment. I'm hoping they'll ignore it all together. I think PETA does a great many things for the animals of the earth. However, THIS is ridiculous.

Turns out that PETA sent the President some sort of devise that allows one to capture a fly without injuring it. Let us roll our eyes in unison here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DD? OMG! - Domestic Discipline Relationships and their growing communities

I was perusing the internet for various feminist websites and some how landed on a blog site authored by a feminist woman who promotes Domestic Discipline relationships. I don't know if I've been living under a rock or not, but I had never heard of this concept until now. The simple definition of DD relationships is that it is a submissive marriage lifestyle that encourages husbands to spank their wives for mistakes or misbehavior.

The author of disciplinedfeminist.blogspot.com states that she understands that DD relationships are not abusive relationships because she has experienced abuse in former relationsihps and the violence was something she did not wish for. My first thought was...well, perhaps she craves violence now as that is what she experienced in the past. I imagine many a psychotherapist would agree that this theory is not far fetched.

The author of the DF blog site states that "the sad truth is that, like any relationship, a DD relationship can turn abusive. I say "turn" rather than "be" becauase once a relationship becomes abusive, it is definitionally not DD." I am glad that she recognizes that a DD relationship can become quite violent. However, she fails to recognize that a DD relationship begins with violence. In my opinion it is something that has the potential to go from bad to worse.

"The man I'm with now is a big part of why I now understand that no woman deserves to be beaten or humiliated. And the man I'm with now practices DD with me only after many, many, (many!) hours of discussion in which he gently, patiently, respectfully helped me to articulate my needs and wishes in this area."

I am a person who has worked in various behavioral health facilities for children, teens and parents alike. I understand how discipline and structure can be administered without the strike of a hand. The idea that a grown woman is desiring physical discipline concerns me.

How many "mistakes" is this woman making that she feels she needs a spanking? And what is she considering mistakes? Why is it her husband's job to attempt to correct her? As an adult I'd think this woman would have the ability to reflect on her mistakes and make corrections on her own. That is called independence, autonomy and self love.

Partners consult each other all the time, in times of need. But the desire for physical discipline strikes me as a situation in which the woman either has truly regressed or finds a DD relationship erotic. That in itself concerns me as I consider BDSM relationships to be abusive, especially as there is a hierarchy involved.

I do not condone a man abusing his wife any more than I would condone a woman abusing her husband. But I am surprised that this "feminist" author doesn't see the hierarchy in that the "domestic discipline" is only carried out by her husband. I conducted some research and have yet to find any information about women spanking their male partners, although I wouldn't be surprised if this phenomenon exists. Whether one is dominant and the other is submissive or both take turns, I think that any relationship that practices hierarchy is sexist and dangerous.

In my research I found a "Christian" site that promotes DD. Christiandomesticdiscipline.com states that, "A Domestic Discipline (DD) marriage is one in which one partner is given authority over the other , and has the means to back up that authority, usually by spanking. The application and practise of DD in each marriage is as unique as the individuals who make up that marriage. There is no "One Ring of Power" in the Domestic Discipline world, to which all DD couples must bow; no singular path to "true DD enlightenment." What works well for one DD couple may not be a good fit for another marriage. Therefore, you may see many different suggestions espoused on this site and elsehwhere. A Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) marriage is simply a traditional, male-led, Christian marriage which utilises aspects of Domestic Discipline. It is set up according to Biblical standards."

As a Christian woman this offends me greatly. No doubt Christian DD promoters refer to the bible verse that says, "The wife is to submit to her husband, and the husband is to love his wife." Ephesians 5:22.

I think so many Christians get tied up in this verse. Jesus was actually a being that went against conventional ideas about gender roles. Many spout Paul's words in Eph 5:22 without acknowledging 5:21 which states "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." In addition, I rarely hear adament traditional Christian men who acknowledge Corinthians 7:4 which states, "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife."

When men and women "submit" to each other they are not slaves and nor do they obey blindly. They repsect and acknowledge each other. It is indeed possible for a person of Christian faith to practice feminism and understand that God values the voice and presence of women.

Many who favor the view that a man is the head of the household and should be submitted to are fans of the New International Version (NIV). Many conservatives prefer this version as it denies the concept of mutual submission between partners.

Ultimately, I do not consider the views of the author of disciplinedfeminist.blogspot.com to be feminist, nor do I consider the views of the author(s) of christiandomesticdiscipline.com to be of Christian virtue.

As I was surfing the web I found several sites on the topic of DD relationships. I will mention one more (I am posting the websites here not to promote their views rather for my blog readers to have the opportunity to view, read and compose their own opinions.) The author mcblog.blogspot.com states that "C must be obedient, respectful and honest or she will get a firmly spanked bottom. "Firm" but "fair" discipline spankings helps C retain her femininity, as a dutiful loving wife and mother."

She goes on to say
"I have been aware of my submissive urges since an early age, where I craved for a strong authoritative leader whom I could follow and obey. I desired a man who would hold me accountable for my misbehaviours and correct, teach and guide me with loving discipline. I felt incredibly guilty for having these natural instincts and my guilt continued throughout my DD marriage of 22 years. I felt socially excluded for being an intelligent nad independent woman, yet striving to yield to my man in obedience and submission. We married in our early teens and embraced DD from the start because it instinctively felt normal and natural. But s ociety at large did a good job in condemning our lifestyle, making us shamefully question the validity of our relationshp. Two years ago I came across the Loving Domestic Discipline site and many wonderful people in the LDD community. My life changed and I no longer felt isolated or condemed."

She also says,

"Loving Domestic Discipline is natural but it is not normal. If we compare this to other practices like, men spanking men, women spanking men, or some BDSM practices, we would find the reverse true - practices suche as these are gernerally considered normal, but unnatural. In fact, any spanking coupled with sex and pornography is classed as normal. But, if we consider the practice of obedience and respect, it is not considered normal at all. Although it is instinctual for a woman to want to respect and obey her man as a natural expression of her femininity, submission and love, it is considered very abnormal indeed!
Loving Domestic Discipline is natural since it is an innate instinct. Countless couples have practiced Domenstic Discipline since the dawn of human civilisation. LDD is not normal, however (in the Western World) because normality is a constrained set of rules governed by society. Homosexuality, for example, is normal - society has now accepted it, but it will never be natural. It goes against nature and the natural order - it goes against Darwin's theory evolution. Two men or two women will never be able to procreate, the human species are not hermaphrodite like snails or other molluscs."

In the above statements the author who calls herself "C" argues that pornography is considered "normal" but not "natural". She feels that DD relationships should be considered normal or rather should be accepted just as spanking in the pornography is. Well C, I do not consider ponrography normal or natural. Yes, pornography is accepted by many in our mainstream patriarchal culture. But I do not accept it with respect as others do.

I also do not see how submitting to another person be they a man or woman is an expression of femininity. In fact I think most constructs of femininity and maculinity are myths. C, also suggests that DD is an innate instinct. Why isn't it an innate instinct for men? And what about gat relationships? How does DD come into play there? Although, I haven't gone through every post on C's blog, I imagine taht she does not concern herself much with the LGBTQ community as she believes that homosexuality is not natural.

Dominance and submission is a concept that exists in many relationships regardless of whether or not the couple engages in DD or BDSM. When one partner wants the other to call out their name in bed? Dominance. A man wants his partner to marvel at the size of his penis? Dominance. Often there is a perceived notion that whatever body part enters or penetrates is dominant and whatever envelopes is submissive. In the gay community there is often a distinction between a "bottom" or a "top." This is another example of dominence. Yes, these examples are sexual in nature. I use these as I feel that DD relationships are most likely a combination of sexual gratification and perhaps low self-esteem. But the main point is that the woman in the relationship wishes to be dominated.

DD relationships are apparently growing and not going away anytime soon. Communities are networking to embrace this lifestyle but are neglecting to see that consentual violence still violence.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Renegade Evolution and her unconvincing revolution..

This is an old post from earlier this year that I am transfering from an old blog site.

As a feminist in the anti-pornography camp, I continue to educate myself about the harms of pornography. I find it important to not just seek information that echos my beliefs but information that opposes them.

Lately, I have been exploring a couple pro-porn blog sites that offer their take on what they perceive to be positive attributes of the porn industry.

These sites are..

Renegade Evolution


Pro-Porn Activism

I admit it has been difficult and uncomfortable to read the musings of these sites but I find it important to take a look at the other side. I'm sure I will find more sites, books, documentaries, etc that explain views that are different from my own. Admittedly, I don't expect my views to change but I hope to broaden the knowledge I already posses and most likely strengthen my current perspective. Of course if I come across something convincing from the other side, it will be important to explore that.

I have tried adamently to gain some perspective as to why some people are such strong advocates of porn. I especially do not understand men and women who claim that porn is a feminist issue. For the record I do not think that porn stars, strippers, sex workers of any kind are bad people. I actually do feel that sex workers should be protected from physical and medical endangerment by their employers. I do not believe that ALL Sex workers have been exposed to sex at a young age and/or have been sexually abused. Although statistically (and I wouldn't doubt that some of you our there might disagree with stats for various reasons) many are products of such things. I do have some strong theories as to why some are so supportive of porn. I will be discussing them throughout this post.

In viewing many blog posts from both the Renegade Evolution and Pro-Porn Activism sites, I noticed the theme was how great and wonderful porn and stripping are for these ladies. For example. The author of RE states that she knows that there are indeed many women that hate stripping and hate men because of what they have to go through physically and emotionally. That they mentally detach as much as they can just to get through. I'm glad she acknowledges this. I think the fact that so many women experience this is reason enough to have serious concerns. She however, feels quite empowered. This type of story is not anything new. There are sooo many women out there that claim to feel empowered as they spread their thighs, and toss their hair and swing round' a pole. To put it simply and bluntly, (although being blunt may turn some readers off immediately) I think those particular women are brainwashed by our patriarchal society.

This woman in particular separates herself from other strippers because she is supposedly more muscular than the average stripper, refuses to dye her hair blonde and has more tattoos than the average stripper. She says she doesn't receive vulgar comments on her breasts or butt (that she knows of) but rather questions about how she keeps in shape.

I feel that this woman isn't hearing herself. I don't think a woman has to be blonde to perpetuate stereotypes of women. Just as I don't think that "alternative porn" that is supposedly "made by women for women" or Suicide Girls models etc, equates to "healthy" or "sex positive" porn. She admits to the fact that she does not respect her audience. I am not impressed. The fact of the matter is, the audience and performers are using each other. So, there is disrespect all around. So, as a stripper you get to forget how these men view you simply because you don't like them?! It doesn't erase the perpetuation of misogyny. It doesn't erase the fact that sex is being sold. I personally cannot put a price on my body and do not want anyone to perceive that my sexuality comes in a comodified, stereotyped, boxed in package. Apparently, Renegade Evolution CAN put a prive on her body as she says that "When I can be doing my thing, and the money is landing at my feet, that is a power trip."

In her blog posts Renegade Evolution talks about the 3 types of men that she encounters when she is stripping.
The 1st is "The Lonely Guy" who feels he is not appreciated by his wife or girlfriend at home, so he attends a strip club. She is not doing this man a service (although I'm sure he feels she is) but rather encouraging him to escape through objectifying other women. He is not attempting to heal himself, heal his relationship, seek other relationships or other healthy views.

The 2nd type is "The Regular Joes". She describes these men as those who do not proposition her and follow the rules. She goes on to say that, to "get complimented on how well you do it, that's the power trip". Of course they are going to like what she does! She is exploiting herself and these particular men are very grateful. Just because these men aren't trying to cross boundaries doesn't mean they aren't appreciative of the fact that she finds her job empowering. If women find stripping empowering then they are more likely to continue doing what they are doing.

Lastly, she describes, "The Assholes." She says, "Yep. There are assholes out there; men who assume that because you are willing to get naked and grind on dude's laps for money that you are in fact the worst possible definition of worthless whore." Is this really surprising?

If you are interested in the blog post I am reviewing click the link below.

Renegade Evolution also appears in porn films.

"And what I do is not the nice stuff, it ain't woman freindly, it is degrading and well, most of you all would not like it I am willing to wager. So why do I do it? Because I do like it. Those kinds of fantasies? Um, living proof right here that men are not the only ones who have em. And I have discussed my affection for rough, degrading sex, both giving and receiving at length previously, so I am not going to delve into that agian here..but let's talk about pwoer, and what I might find empowering or power trip worth about it."

First I'd like to say that whether a person involves herself in "the nice stuff" (softcore porn) or hardcore porn, exploitation still takes place. There is still a theme of domination and submission. It is still most likely geared towards the straight male gaze. The point of porn (straight porn) is to show women loving, needing sex and domination from a man.

RE goes on to say, "To put it bluntly, fucking makes me feel like a god. A god of what, I do't know but a god nonetheless (probably something primal and politically incorrect...do they have a god for that?) So yeah, sex is an automatic power trip for me."

This sentiment is nothing I haven't heard before. Many men feel this way as well. I've met men who speak bluntly about this. The penis is often used as a power tool. And rather than perceive sex as an act of mutual giving, it is about one person or both feeling like they are controlling the other. A "FUCK" is just that. It isn't surprising to me that a woman might feel this way at all. Perhaps she is taking her cue from men she's worked with and certainly our patriarchal culture. One doesn't have to go far to find this attitude and perspective. I however, wouldn't want to have sex with someone who wants only to inflate their ego and feel a power trip. I would feel violated.

"So yes this is all find and good, but Ren, why the hell do it on film for the viewing of others? Be a freak in bed as much as you like and all, but why film and sell it? And this is where it get's weird, y'all. I've mentioned that I don't mind being an object, and that I find sex and sexuality, all of it, fascinating and all that in mind, I do get off from the idea of other people getting off to me getting off. Exhibitionism at its finest and mot honest. And getting paid for it is nice too. However, I am not going to pretend to get off to the stuff that does not get me off for the viewing pleasure of others, so I do and film what gets me off. Which is not nice, respectiful, loving, romantic vanilla sex. In fact, that shit makes nme nauseous."

How is respectful sex "vanilla?" I can't help but think that this is a very narrow minded, limited, conservative view. I do not know this woman personally, but I can't help but wonder what her relationships are like. Perhaps that's an arrogant statement. But why do so many women feel that in order to express themselves sexually they need to show themselves off to the public? Whether it's a girl in a revealing skirt at a club that barely covers her butt, or a stripper/porn actress such as Renegade Evolution.

There are so many ways to learn to be in touch with one's sexuality. I am quick to say that women are not encouraged to discover what their own sexuality means to them (OR MEN FOR THAT MATTER!). I am soo tired of hearing (straight) women (sex workers, pop singers, actresses, models) insist that the road to expressing femininity and sexuality can be achieved by exposing their bodies to some degree. Really, it makes me ache. I feel it is so limited. There's nothing wrong with wanting to feel attractive. But does anyone notice that feeling attractive is often based on what OTHERS think? Particularly men? So, essentially these people are expressing themselves FOR men.

It is my firm belief that any woman who feels glorified through porn is brainwashed by our patriarchal society. To be willingly used up by men (and women alike) and to view it as an esteem booster is scewed. It makes me wonder if some women feel that there is no other avenue in which to feel less oppressed by men. If women want to feel heard and valued in a culture where men feel the need to be macho and competitive, perhaps some women feel that taking their clothes off will not only make them even with men but above them as well.

I recently read a book entitled Pornography: The Prodution and Consumption of Inequality by Gail Dines, Robert Jensen and Ann Russo.

Professor, author, activist, Robert Jensen spoke about his own battles with pornography. That even as an anti-porn activist he finds that he can still succumb to the trappings of patriarchy and all it has taught him as he grew up. For instance, he spoke about an occasion where he was researching/watching pornographic videos with his collegue Gail Dines. During the film Dines spoke about her discomfort with what she was seeing. Jensen agreed with everything she had to say but at the same time felt an erection in his pants. He felt disgusted with himself but saw it as an opportunity to explore just why this was happening. That the experience could not be reduced to some biological reaction but rather a conditioning of patriarchy.

Here are some important excerpts that I highlighted when I read the book...

Opponents of feminist critique of porn often frame the issue as a question of offensiveness, suggesting that the critique is based on the subjective experience of feeling repulsed by porn. This is either a fundamental misunderstanding of the critique or a deliberate attempt to distort it. The feminist critique is an analysis of power and harm that focuses on oppression, not offensiveness.

So, in the one sense the charge that anti-pornography feminists fear sex is simply false, but in another sense, perhaps we all should fear the way in which a patriarchal culture defines and practices sex.

There is another level of fear at work in the porn debate. It is not a fear of sexuality, but rather an more pervasive fear within the culture that if we tell the truth about just how deeply many of us have been affected by a pervasive patriarchal sexual system, we may be left for a moment with nothing to take its place.

We face the challenge of reconstructing sexuality, which implies that for some time we might have to face great uncertainty about who we are as sexual beings and what kind of sex we want to have. In a hypersexualized, pornographic culture a world in which to not have sex is a sign of deviancy - such a process can seem frightening. But we could also see it as an opportunity for invention.

From the start Hefner was clear about his targeted audience. He wrote in the first issue of Playboy published in 1953:

"If you are a man between 18-80, Playboy is meant for you.....We want to make it clear from the start, we aren't a 'family' magazine. If you are somebody's sister, wife, or mother-in-law and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to the Ladies' Home Companion.

A more common scenario in pornographic novels involved women who were initially hesitant. The women did not at first understand her need to submit and learned along the way to crave sex and domination. The man's job was to force the sex on the woman until she realized her proper role.

For me, pornography intensified that tendency to see women first and foremost not so much as sexual beings but as sexual objects for men to view and use. For me, the immediate "sizing up" of a woman is institutionalized; that is, it takes active effort on my part to interrupt the process and refuse to objectify. The reality is, of course, that I often let the process continue, even though I am aware of what I am doing. that is one of the most basic privileges of being a man; I always have the option of ingnoring my own convictions and using a woman for my own fantasy.

Do the desires exist independently and then get represented in pornography, or does pornography help create the desires? One convention of pornography that we discussed in the previous chapter leads me to think that in some ways, pornography can construct desire. Since the mid 1970s the cum shot - showing the man ejaculating onto the woman's body - has been standard of explicit pornography to provide visual proof of men's pleasure.

Did that desire arise from some 'natural' source? From a social construction view of sexuality, the concept of authentic sexual desire is problematic; there is no pure, natural sexuality that isn't mediated by culture.

Pornography does no need to be overtly violent to be a part of a process by which violence is eroticized.

The SG Empire

Suicide Girls have been around for quite a while. Since 2001 to be exact. As I'm sure most of us know, it began as a alternative porn site for those who admire girls with tattoos, piercings, and a broader spectrum of body types. The women keep up their own profiles, photos and journals on the site. The SGs have been marketed as edgy and feminist. The company states that they are "founded on the belief that creativity, personality, and intelligence are not incompatible with sexy, compelling entertainment and millions of people agree. The site mixes the smarts, enthusiasm and DIY attitude of the best music and alternative culture sites with an unapologetic, grassroots approach to sexuality."

When SG was in it it's beginning states SG promoted itself a company that was run by women. At this point and time it is pretty well known that SG has always been run by a man. In 2005 President of the company, Sean Suhl had been reported to verbally sexually harass suicide girls that worked with him. The company has been reported to have a history of paying their models and photographers low wage. Many SG models quit the company however their photos remained on the website. In addition, many photos were released to other porn websites which upset many of the models.

I'm sure it is quite possible that I am not aware of all of the details. However, what disturbs me most about SG is that it attempts to pass off as empowering and feminist. I understand that there is a sect of feminist women and men who are pro-pornography. I am not one of those people. Sean Suhl is making money off of women's bodies just as any other pornographer does. Labret rings and sleeve tattoos don't change that.

I don't doubt there are many SG models that indeed feel empowered, sexy, and desired when they pose. Not only is it difficult for me to understand how empowerment must include taking one's clothes off, it is difficult for me to believe that the men and women that are masturbating to these photos are concerned with the empowerment of the models. Playboy, Hustler, Suicide Girls, it's all the same.

I understand that women enter the porn industry for a myriad of reasons. One of the most complex and difficult reasons is due to severe financial strain. I believe however, that true feminism requires that we all consider how our behaviors impact others.
I invite those who have invested interest in SG or any other form of pornography, to see beyond the instant gratification. If porn serves it's purpose with you that does not necessarily mean that it is healthy or truly helpful. Understand that your orgasms come at a price. It is impossible to decipher which women are in the business to support their families, or the ones that are simply manipulated by our patriarchal society to believe that porn doesn't offer a scewed view of sexuality. There isn't much that is honest about porn.

The Implicit Association Test (IAT)

Are you a racist?
most people would deny they have prejudices, but author Malcom Gladwell's book, "Blink", discusses a fascinating test that uncovers a person's hidden biases.

The Implicit Association Test (IAT), was developed by professors at Harvard, the Univesity of Virginia and the University of Washington. The test measures the conscious and unconscious.

I discovered this test though a very old episode of Oprah. On that particular shop Gladwell put himself to the test about his feelings towards African Americans. He was shocked by his results as the test told him he had a moderate preference for white people. "In other words, I was biased - slightly biased-against black people...which horrified me because my mom's Jamaican," he says. "The person in my life who I love almost more than anyone else is black, and here I was taking a test, which said, frankly, I wasn't too crazy about black people."

Gladwell took the test again, He found he couldn't "cheat the test" and got the same results. "Those kinds of snap decisions that make up so much discrimination or...our thoughts and feelings, they're a product of the worlds we live in. And if you live in a world, as we do, where you...turn on the television and you see a TV show and the crack dealer's always a black guy and the judge is always a white person...those images start to matter. They start to change the way the software in your head works. And that's regardless of what race you are."

Tak the test in the privacy of your own home!
It's brief.

Um...there are no words...


A poem for men who don't understand what we mean when we say they have it
By D.A. Clarke
reprinted from Banshee, Peregrine Press
C0pyright (c) 1981 D.A. Clarke. All Rights Reserved

Privilege is simple:
Going for a pleasant stroll after dark,
not checking the back of your car as you get in,
sleeping soundly,
speaking without interruption, and not remembering dreams of rape, that follow you all day, that woke you crying,
and privilege is not seeing your stripped, humiliated body plastered in celebration across every magazine rack,
privilege is going to the movies and not seeing yourself terroized, defamed, battered, butchered seeing something else

Privilege is riding your bicycle across town without being screamed at or run off the road,
not needing an abortion,
taking off your shirt on a hot day, in a crowd,
not wishing you could type better just in case,
not shaving your legs,
having a decent job and expecting to keep it,
not feeling the boss's hand up your crotch,
dozing off on a late-night busses,
priviledge is being the hero in the TV show not the dumb broad,
living where your genitals are totemized not denied,
knowing your doctor won't rape you.

Privilege is being smiled at all day by nice helpful women,
it is the way you pass judgement on their appearance with magisterial authority,
the way you face a judge of your own sex in court and are over-represented in Congress
and are not strip searched for a traffic ticket
or used as a dart board by your friendly mechanic,
privilege is seeing your bearded face reflected through the history texts
not only of your high school days but all your life, not being relegated to a paragraph every other chapter,
the way you occupy entire volumes of poetry and more than your share of the couch unchallenged,
it is your mouthing smug,
atrocious insults at women who blink and change the subject -- politely --
privilege is how seldom the rapist's name appears in the papers
and the way you smirk over your PLAYBOY

it's simple really,
privilege means someone else's pain,
your wealth is my terror,
your uniform is a woman raped to death here,
or in Cambodia or whenever,
wherever your obscene privilege writes your name in my blood,
it's that simple,
you've always had it,
that's why it doesn't seem to make you sick to your stomach,
you have it,
we pay for it,
now do you understand?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Hug and Green Tea Ice Cream

Apparently June is Iced Tea Month. This is something that came to my attention today as I was sipping some iced green tea and surfing the internet.

I am a huge fan of tea and green tea is quite special for me. Not just because of its taste and health benefits but because it can be used in so many creative ways.

When I'm down or have had a hard day, sometimes I find that all I need to heal my little pink hamster heart is a hug and some green tea ice cream!

Green tea has been my favorite flavor ice cream for years. Not a traditional flavor but I think more and more are catching on to it's uniqueness.

I find that Mochi Ice Cream from Trader Joes Market does me just fine. I love it because I often find that one Mochi ball is just the perfect amount of ice cream.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, mochi is a sweet, short grained glutinous rice and commonly used to make rice cakes.

Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream Balls

I've tried different mochi ice cream balls and I personally enjoy the Mikawaya brand the best.

I have tried other mochi brands found at traditional Japanese markets and could not stomach them. The mochi tasted too bland and the texture and consistancy was thin and too grainy.


I think at some point I may have the hit the kitchen with some green tea recipes. I am not the fanciest chef but the recipes below seem nummy! Might have to be bold and go for it.

Green Tea Tiramisu

Green Tea Tiramisu in a cup

Green Tea Muffins

Green Tea Latte

Macha Green Tea Powder and Chocolate

Green Tea Pinkberry
Like so many I became addicted to Pinkberry aka Crackberry. But one day the cravings just stopped. Maybe one day they'll come back. Still looks good ay?

Matcha Green Tea Cupcake

Green Tea Ice Cream Cupcake

Green Tea Cupcake