self

arvan's picture

Taslima Nasrin: Speech from Women's Forum

This speech was given by Taslima Nasrin in France, on October 15, 2005 at The Women's Forum.  Little has changed for herself or women around the world, since then.

          I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for having been invited to the first International Conference by   Women's Forum.  Today I would tell you a little bit about my life. 
          I was born in 1962 to a Muslim family in a small town called Mymensingh  in what then was East Pakistan. Now, after it gained its independence in 1971, the country is called Bangladesh
          Bangladesh, where I was born, is a nation of more than 140 million people, one of the most populous countries in the world. It is a country where 70 per cent of the people live below the poverty line, where more than half the population cannot read and write, a country where there is insufficient health care, and where infant mortality is high. Nearly 40 million women have no access to education nor do they have the possibility of
becoming independent. 
        In my country, my childhood was not much different from that of other girls of my generation. Like other girls of a middle-class family, I was sent to a  school. Girls frequently dropped out of school when they were fifteen or sixteen, ages at which they often were given into marriage by their parents. Few girls had a chance to continue their studies, for after an arranged marriage they were not allowed to continue studying in school or college or university nor could they take a job. They became totally dependent upon their husbands, in other words.

arvan's picture

Who am I, if I'm not me anymore?

We get older.  We all do.  If we're really lucky, we get a lot older.  Sooner or later, we die.  That is the way of things.  As I rise this morning, eating my breakfast, I turn my attention to this aspect of sex, gender, body that I was kind of avoiding: getting old. 

Age is just as much of a conversation about sex, gender, body as anything else.  It could be argued that no conversation about sgb, or identity can exist without the conversation of age being included.  One of the site rules at sexgenderbody.com is that no sex with minors is condoned or supported on this site.

As we age, we identify ourselves in different terms.  We shift how we view ourselves, how we wish others to see us and how we see others.  Age prejudice and labels are just as common as any other form of discrimination.  I don't know if any one form of discrimination gets more assistance or license than any other form, but age discrimination does seem to benefit greatly from a youth-worshiping society and many people's fear of dying.  Aging and the approach of death is uncomfortable for many to deal with.  It's why I was in no hurry to look at it myself.

Whether or not I include and embrace aging into the conversations of sex, gender, body - age is part of how each of us identify ourselves and are identified by others.  Plain and simple.

So, I took off looking for links on age, identity, sex, gender, body.  This is what I found for different search terms on Google.

arvan's picture

FAT SEX: About Positions and Attitudes

I found this post at Dimensions Magazine.  It is frank and somewhat irreverent, written with a flippant usage of the word 'fat', which may be a trigger.  Nevertheless, if you read along, you will find that the position is to dispel, shatter and assault the negative myths and stereotypes about the sexual experience of large people.

The Mythology of Obesity tells us that sex with a fat partner is either fruitless or impossible. It's a prejudice that crosses all boundaries of race, class, education, and physique: you're as likely to encounter it in a gynecologist's office as in the pages of The National Lampoon.

In the real world, sex is more likely to be impeded by anxiety than adiposity. Fear of rejection, fear of not meeting the partner's expectations, and fear of not being able to perform are among the most common emotional barriers to intercourse. Some dysfunctional people harbor feelings of guilt over their sexual needs, or lack the skill or desire to stimulate their partner. Even mild anxiety can impede or disable sexual performance. Ignorance and inexperience contribute their own problems. "Frequently, for instance" reveals Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan in Psychology Today, "neither spouse knows where the clitoris is or recognizes its potential for eliciting erotic pleasure. They have intercourse as soon as the husband has an erection, and he ejaculates without considering whether his partner is ready. Such couples genuinely wonder why the wife does not reach orgasm."

Fat people suffer all these problems in spades. The social pressures they endure create numerous obstacles to sexual interaction. The most direct effect comes from dieting: prolonged semistarvation can seriously dampen the libido, and a woman who is losing weight can experience a disruption of her normal menstrual cycle. Indirect effects of prejudice include a lack of opportunity, a history of rejection, and a negative body image. "Some obese woman, fearful of competing for a man's interest, avoid interpersonal encounters and disparage males in general," writes Dr. Barbara E. Bess in the journal Consultant. "Once involved in a relationship, they doubt the partner's sincerity." Self-hatred manifests itself in a number of anti-erotic behaviors. "Some women are reluctant to act seductively for fear of rejection and ridicule. Young women ... express the desire to look 'sexy' and wear seductive clothes, but fear that men in particular will think them grotesque. ... Many obese persons attempt to hide their bodies under cover of darkness, or keep their clothes on during sexual intimacy."

lovemagician's picture

Response Ability For Wellness

(Image courtesy of www.health2love.info)

Something For Every Body

By Millie Jackson


Despite our diversity, that we all have a physical body is an indisputable component of our shared humanity.  Our bodies are the amazing vehicles with which we experience life on this beautiful planet.  The state of our wellness greatly determines how enjoyable and productive our journey can be.  When I talk about wellness, I am referring to the totality of our being—our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.  I share from my 22 years of experience doing Massage Therapy, Wellness Consulting, and Reiki.  I draw upon my own journey of improving my health, shedding over 55 excess pounds and from my on-going recovery from a car accident just over 2 years ago.   I also offer insight from an empathic and intuitive perspective.

I have a genuine passion for teaching others how to achieve greater states of wellness.  My strategies are simple and can be done by anyone.  I have taken an approach that not only addresses my body’s physical needs but also explores thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors that underlie my physicality.  I see our body and its physical symptoms as metaphors for who we are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well as physically.

arvan's picture

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

You know the deal: Tell us what you've done this week. 

We want to know...we really do. 

arvan's picture

"Modern Primitives": The Accelerating Collision of Past and Future in the Postmodern Era

The idea of "Modern Primitives" is an interesting one.  I will not attempt to define it with any authority whatsoever.  To my eyes and limited exposure, it seems to intersect the notion of technology and body in a way that encompasses ritual, experience, definition, display and spirit.  I looked it up this morning, to see where I can bring this conversation into sexgenderbody.com and found this piece over at a Dr. Steven Mizrach's page at FIU.

Modern primitive

Today, largely thanks to publishers such as Re/Search and Loompanics, Autonomedia, and Amok Press, many people are familiar today with the "modern primitive" movement. They know that it involves some sort of strange juxtaposition of high technology and "low" tribalism, animism, and body modification - a kind of 'Technoshamanism,' if you will, at once possession trance and kinetic dance. In books like William Gibson's Count Zero , ultracomplex Artificial Intelligences (AIs) take on the personality of Haitian Voudoun deities, seizing the minds of initiates through neural networks, creating an ersatz technoreligion.

The idea of the "primitive" is of course one from anthropology's abandoned socioevolutionary past. While invented to simply function as a descriptive for temporal phases, it inevitably also functioned as an evaluative term, suggesting that those societies to which it was applied were inferior in terms of literacy, knowledge, technology, social organization, or moral judgement - in a word, they lacked 'civilization.' The notion was of course inescapably ethnocentric, since it assumed that all societies on the planet were on an undeviating climb toward the standards of Western culture with regards to religion (monotheism), marriage practices (monogramy), economics (the free market), governance (representative democracy), etc. The 'primitive' was at once reviled and romanticized, especially by Romantic artists fascinated with the taboo and the exotic, and philosophers swayed by the image of the unfettered Noble Savage.

arvan's picture

Body Image

Image courtesy of All Posters.com

(I went looking for content on "Body Image" today and found mostly information related to how the media tell women to be skinny, neurotic and attractive.  While I agree that this occurs en masse, I also wanted some information that applied to all gender assignments.  Luckily, I stumbled across this nifty post from the UCLA Student Health & Wellness Center)

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Your perception of how your body looks forms your body image.  Interestingly, a perfectly-toned 20 year old fitness model could have a very poor body image, while an average-shaped 50 year old man or woman could have a great body image.  Regardless of how closely your actual figure resembles your perception, your body image can affect your self-esteem, your eating and exercise behaviors, and your relationships with others.

Read on to learn…

·        What factors influence your body image.

·        Whether or not it’s possible to achieve the “ideal body.”

·        Is the “ideal body” really your key to health, success, beauty, & happiness?

·        What can you do to improve your body image.

Why are so many people unhappy with their bodies?

Size Prejudice

In American culture (and particularly in southern California), there is a lot of emphasis placed on body weight, size, and appearance.  And, we are conditioned from a very young age to believe that self-worth is derived from these external characteristics.  For example, being thin and/or muscular is associated with being “hard-working, successful, popular, beautiful, strong, and self-disciplined.”  On the other hand, being “fat” is associated with being “lazy, ignorant, hated, ugly, weak, and lacking will-power.” These stereotypes are prevalent in our society; and they are reinforced by the media, our family and friends, and even well-respected health professionals.  As a result, we often unfairly judge others and label them based on their weight and size alone.  We feel great anxiety and pressure to achieve and/or maintain a very lean physique.  And, we believe that if we can just be thinner or more muscular, we can be happier, more successful, and more accepted by society. 

The Media

The media sets unrealistic standards for what body weight and appearance is considered “normal.”  Girls are indoctrinated at a very young age that Barbie is how a woman is supposed to look (i.e. no fat anywhere on your body, but huge breasts).  NOTE:  If Barbie were life-size, she would stand 5’9” and weigh 110 lb. (only 76% of what is considered a healthy weight for her height).  Her measurements would be 39-18-33, and she would not menstruate due to inadequate levels of fat on her body.  Similarly, boys are given the impression that men naturally have muscles bulging all over their bodies.  Take a look at their plastic action-figures (like GI Joe Extreme) in toy stores.  If GI Joe Extreme were life-size, he would have a 55-inch chest and a 27-inch bicep.  In other words, his bicep would be almost as big as his waist and bigger than most competitive body builders’. These body ideals are reinforced every day on TV shows, movies, magazine covers, and even video games. At UCLA, where the crowd is young and the warm climate promotes use of revealing clothing, the exaltation and expectation of extreme leanness is even more exaggerated.

And the media’s portrayal of what is “normal” keeps getting thinner and thinner for women and more muscular and ripped for men.  Twenty-five years ago, the average female model weighed 8% less than the average American woman.  Currently, the average female model weighs 23% below her average weight.  Similar trends are seen with men.  The average Playgirl centerfold man has shed about 12 lbs. of fat, while putting on approximately 27 lb. of muscle over the past 25 years.

With these media images and body ideals, it’s little wonder that women and men feel inadequate, ashamed, and dissatisfied with how they look.  Only about 5% of women have the genetic make up to ever achieve the ultra-long and thin model body type so pervasive in the media.  Yet that is the only body type that women see and can compare themselves to.  Similarly, all boys see is a body ideal that for most men is impossible to achieve without illegal anabolic steroids.  There is a physiological limit to how much muscle a man can attain naturally, given his height, frame, and body fat percentage.  Unfortunately, however, the action figure heroes on toy store shelves and male fitness models on magazine covers and ads suggest otherwise.

arvan's picture

SexGenderBody: Home-field Advantage

I recently cross-posted over at my favorite political blog, The Motley Moose.  In the comments, a discussion developed with one or two people lamenting their perception that the topics of sex, gender, body were being 'walled away' here in a separate space, distinct from 'mainstream' conversations.  The concern was that by 'segregating' or distinguishing SGB as separate conversations, a separate space, a separate people, then stereotypes would be strengthened and both the sgb communities and the non-sgb communities would suffer a loss of relatedness.  The commenters did not see any difference between personal identity politics and larger, group identity politics - both are part of the same human experience.

I agree with their concerns completely.  It is their assessment of this site that I wish to clarify.

sexgenderbody.com is not a walled community for people to either isolate within or be in any way segregated.  That model is a traditional example of how a community is formed and supported in creating an identity.  This site aims to promote the community of our shared humanity.  Everyone on this planet has a self-definition of their own sex, gender, body.  There is no sub-set, no partition, no 'minority' culture.  We are all human and we all are individual & unique.

arvan's picture

Politics with a small 'p' as in 'personal'

(I have been neglecting my first blog, The National Gadfly for the last month.  The effort to launch and configure sexgenderbody had consumed my pea-brain.  Tonight, I posted my thoughts on why and how I distinguish the politics of the individual and those of society.  Cross posted here, by me with love for you.)

(Image courtesy of digado)

As many of you may already know, I have recently launched a community, collaborative blog: sexgenderbody.com.  In the last couple months, my content here had become a bit too higgledy-piggledy even for myself.  I found that I had a great deal to say on personal politics, the politics of self-definition.  This is not a conflict with the conversations I have been having here in the realm of Politics with a capital P, the politics of institutions and society at large or simply - groups.

Politics with a P are the more commonplace discussions that we all know and 'love': conservative vs. liberal, right-wing vs. left-wing, labor vs. management, class vs. class, race vs. race and so on.  Inside the myriad of daily Politic-speak are notions of the rights of the individual.  The terms of these conversations are subtly couched in a model where governments and institutions are defining the individual.  Rights, protections, entitlements, values, uses, and many other terms that all serve to reinforce the model that the individual exists in terms given by the society, or Political party affiliation.  A person's rights as given by the Constitution, a Political affiliation or membership in a religious sect.

book of blue's picture

Beltane in New England

My altar, dressed for Beltane. Photo by Eric, created around April 30, 2009.

My altar, dressed for Beltane. Photo by Eric, created around April 30, 2009.

Beltane was a time marker for me, the conclusion of my fourth consecutive 45 day experiment in choosing not to have sex with other people. In other words, not being refused sex or experiencing the challenges of negotiating fair, loving sex—but rather setting the matter aside and having sex only with myself.

It happened that the last woman I was sexual with was in November, during Sahwen time (around Nov. 2). I knew then that there were certain things from that experience that I didn’t want to repeat (I haven’t told any of those stories here yet), so I took over my erotic journey and decided that I would be the one setting the terms. I decided to go in 45-day phases because they seemed manageable and short enough to endure, but long enough to be meaningful. They are also convenient points along the calendar—going from quarter-day [solstice or equinox] to cross-quarter day [Beltane, Sahwen, etc.].

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