link farm #3: women and children and gays oh my

I like to imagine he's just screaming "BAAAAAAABY!!!"
I like to imagine he’s just screaming “ROYAAAAAAAAAAAAAL… BAAAAAAABY!!!”

So apparently a royal baby was born. I didn’t know Kate Middleton was pregnant until two weeks ago because I have very little interest in monarchy that does not involve Lannisters and Starks, so unless they call the baby Tyrion-Robb-Jon, I’m probably going to forget it exists within a week. Anyway, Kate Middleton apparently did her royal duty in a timely fashion and everyone seems pleased. Also, David Cameron chose this special day to propose a ban on online pornography to protect the innocence of children because children are innocent and porn corrodes their innocence and DEAR GOD WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

Blocking Porn –  A Survivor’s Perspective – (Content note: Discussion of child sex abuse) A really powerful piece on how Cameron’s professed concerns about childhood “innocence” do not address any of the underlying cultural narratives that are actually deeply harmful to children. I really should have included a point about media literacy in my sex ed post.

Dear Daily Mail – Love her or hate her, Amanda Fucking Palmer can subvert a patriarchal norm like nobody’s business. Here she is on BBC’s Newsnight discussing her reaction to the Daily Mail’s photo of her “escaped boob” in more detail.

Oh Texas – Pro-life congressman sponsors bill that would cut funding to a program that stops many children living in poverty from going hungry. Once again, life is only important when it’s contained inside a woman who has the audacity to think she should have a say about what happens to her uterus!

15 Steps to becoming a Gay Male Feminist – (Content note: Discussion of rape, abortion, sexual harassment) A fantastic article about one man’s discovery of feminism, with pit stops at drag, alternative menstrual products and body acceptance along the way.

Your Right To Butt Sex – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is pushing to reinstate a Crimes Against Nature law, which would make oral and anal sex felony offenses. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, you did not fall into a time warp and it is in fact 2013. Fortunately, the bawdy ladies of The View are having none of it.

Jesus Isn’t A Dick So Keep Him Out Of My Vagina – Is this 14 year-old girl probably the best 14 year-old girl in the world? Yes. The answer is yes. 

the vagina post

Your vagina is  a beautiful flower. But it is also mainly just a vagina.
Your vagina is a beautiful flower. But it is also mainly just a vagina.

It is the one-year anniversary of this post, which originally ran on my old blog and brought me much Tumblr-based fame and fortune.

Fellow vagina-bearers.

Too long have our vaginas been living in the Dark Ages. There is technology. Technology that can make your vagina’s life so much richer and more hopeful. Here is a list of must-have accessories for your vagina.

Content note: Here follows detailed discussions of vaginas, periods, sex and peeing in alleys. If you are not okay with these things, do not read. Please do not come back to me and be all EW MARIANNE TMI ABOUT YOUR LADY PARTS. Also, curious penis-wielders are welcome, but bear in mind that we will be delving deep into the Mines of Moria. You have been warned.

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Rally for Trayvon Martin at Grand Circus Park on July 14, 2013, in Detroit - source: huffpo
Rally for Trayvon Martin at Grand Circus Park in Detroit – source: huffpo

I’ve been following the story of the murder of Trayvon Martin since it exploded onto my newsfeed last year. Now it has reached its awful, unjust, but sadly not surprising conclusion. Last week, a court in Florida ruled that George Zimmerman was within his rights as a citizen to shoot an unarmed black teenager, and to shoot to kill. They ruled that no one was to blame Trayvon Martin’s death, except possibly himself.

I am a white woman who grew up in a country that had a vanishingly small black population until recent years. I grew up in a country that is only now discovering its own capacity for racism. I lived in Chicago for a year, in a pre-dominantly white neighbourhood. Black people are a third of the city’s population, but I can count the times I visited or passed through black neighbourhoods on one hand. I am not Trayvon Martin. I am worlds away from Trayvon Martin. But like hundreds of other people who are not Trayvon Martin, I feel sick to my stomach over this verdict, and sicker still over the fact that there are people who continue to insist that race was not a factor in his murder.

I don’t feel qualified, eloquent or calm enough to speak to my own rage. Fortunately, the internet is full of people who are.

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meet my belly

Hi, I'm Marianne, and this is my belly.
Hi, I’m Marianne, and this is my belly.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have my belly, so I’m going to assume it’s been with me my whole life. I was a pudgy child who grew up into a pudgy pre-teen and then abruptly stopped growing but remained pudgy, even when I gave up chocolate and sweets for Lent and didn’t cheat, even once.

My belly and I have a love-hate relationship. For most of my life, it’s been heavy on the hate.

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link farm #2: the tennis edition

Wimbledon 2013 Champion, Marion Bartoli

So this weekend saw the end of a historic Wimbledon tournament. Men’s singles champion Andy Murray made British sports history on the court and was showered with praise and glory and even a possible recommendation for knighthood.

Women’s singles champion Marion Bartoli was showered with tweets suggesting that she’s too fat and ugly to be good at tennis.

But the crude and often violent commentary from these few (hundred) tweets are surely just an aberration, I hear you cry! It’s just the Internet, it’s just assholes trolling! No real people would ever actually suggest that Bartoli’s victory is somehow undermined by her looks!

Unless, of course, they’re John Inverdale and they happen to be doing the BBC radio commentary on the women’s singles final.


Sigh. Here is some stuff that is not tennis!

The Box Trolls – coming in 2014 from Laika, the same studio responsible for Coraline and ParaNorman. It’s stop motion and it shows an awareness of non-traditional non-heteronormative families. I don’t know what more you could want!

So You Want To Compare Something To Slavery? – Well, I’m sure your comparison is completely measured and legitimate and not at all deeply insulting to any historically enslaved group! But maybe you should read this first, just to be sure…

A Woman’s Right To Chores – Over on Feministe, Molly Schoemann writes a light-hearted screed on strangely old-fashioned advertising for cleaning products. Come for the lols, stay for the comments full of “BUT THAT’S NOT SEXISM IT’S MARKETING IT’S NOT SEXIST IF IT SELLS.”

Word War Z, or Something Not Quite Like It – “I’m not sure why Brad Pitt bothered buying the rights to it really, because they essentially took all the things that made World War Z such a compelling and scary and fascinating read in the first place and just fucked it all in the bin.

the sex education I wish I’d had

The banana of sexSo I have had almost zero formal sex education.

When I was ten, our teacher held the girls back at break time and solemnly informed us that we were due to start bleeding out of our vaginas any day now. If this happened while we were in school, we were to tell NO ONE but immediately locate the nearest female teacher, who would provide us with something to soak up THE SHAME OF OUR WOMB. She did not actually say that last bit, but even at ten years-old, I felt it was strongly implied. This was my first introduction to periods.

When I was fourteen, our science teacher skipped over the chapter on the reproductive system. She told us it was very unlikely to come up in our exams next year, and even if it does, you’ll have lots of questions to choose from so you can just skip it. I stared at the diagram of the penis in the book for a while. There was no diagram of the vagina, only the ovaries and uterus.

The same year, a lady from Tampax came to speak to us about periods and gave us heavily branded booklets about growing into our new bodies. At this point, I was wearing a C cup and I’d been using tampons for over two years, so it felt a bit belated. Nobody had any questions at the end of the talk.

When I was seventeen, we had forty minutes of “Health Ed” class every two weeks. There was no syllabus, but our teacher was smart and engaged. He led a lot of interesting discussions – about drinking, drugs, smoking, bullying, about stress and good study habits, depression, body image, more drugs, more bullying – but something was notably missing from the laundry list of things seventeen year-old girls typically worry about.

And that was it. I could definitely blame this on growing up in Ireland, a country so deeply steeped in Catholicism that it’s difficult to find a school where saying prayers in morning assembly is not the norm. But a friend of mine also went to an all-girls convent school, and she did have a sex ed class. Which apparently involved trying to put a condom on a banana with one hand.

I’ve started thinking about the sex education I wish I’d had. I even went as far as drafting a syllabus, because I’m obsessive like that, but I will not inflict it on the Internet because I’m not an educator and also it’s five pages long. But I will show you my wish list. Because maybe it’s just my inner Hermione Granger talking, but I do wish there’d been a class.

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link farm #1

In my spare time, I farm links. Here’s this week crop from faffing around on the Internet! First, watch I Know Girls, an amazingly beautiful song/poem from Mary Lambert (the same lady who sang the refrain for Macklemore’s “Same Love”) and then tell me it did not give you goosebumps. Required watching for anyone who has ever hated their body.

It’s Time – Watch this video from the Equality Network campaign for same-sex marriage in Scotland, it’s really touching and hits all the right notes and has somehow made me like Scotland even more than I already do. A+ Scotland!

I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl Laurie Penny on sexism in storytelling. “Irony is, of course, the last vestige of modern crypto-misogyny: all those lazy stereotypes and hurtful put-downs are definitely a joke, right up until they aren’t, and clearly you need a man to tell you when and if you’re supposed to take sexism seriously.”

I Need Feminism in Cambridge 60 photos of Cambridge University students and the reasons they need feminism in their lives. “… because they told her Harry Potter wouldn’t sell if it was by “Joanne” Rowling.

Everyday Sexism A powerful video charting the meteoric rise of the @EverydaySexism Project and highlighting the importance of women coming together to say “Yes, I believe you and yes, it’s happened to me too.”

“Lawrence” Croft So hey guys, imagine if every strong male protagonist available to you in videogames looked a little something like this super sexy Lara Croft genderbend by Ulysses0302.

Six Fairy Tales for the Modern Woman “Once upon a time a woman never got married, but had many fulfilling relationships, a job that kept her comfortable, an apartment that she got to decorate just for her, and hobbies that stimulated her mind.

Hairy Tights and Taylor Swift Andrea Fox on the weirdest “solution” for avoiding unwanted male attention. Ever.