by Nicole Lock
I didn’t discover my clitoris until I was a freshman in high school. It may have been mentioned in some measly sexual education class, but it definitely failed to register as the only organ with a purely pleasurable function. If the teacher had mentioned that over 8,000 nerve endings exist on the clitoral glands alone, while the internal structure had bulbs and legs that were also sources of pleasure, my ears definitely would have perked up. The clitoris has a history of being glossed over, not just in sexual education courses, but also in medical research. It wasn’t until 1998, when urologist Helen O’Connell published her findings regarding the internal structure of the clitoris, that the medical world finally had a true understanding of its size and scope. The organ, so central to female pleasure, has endured a long history of cultural and social norms that have hindered its appreciation and understanding. The Western history of the clitoris has many lessons to teach us about the ways female sexuality has been misled, discounted, oppressed, and even enjoyed.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
We don’t have water. The pipes running through our walls are dry. I discovered this situation nine mornings ago. I woke to visit Aunt Nellie, as my great aunt would say, and, after contemplating the meaning of life, I rose, I flushed, and I washed my hands. Except where water once flowed at my beck and call, now there was none. By the end of the day, the plumbers would deliver the verdict: no water was reaching our meter, and there was no break in any of the lines. After two bouts with the polar vortex, the temps of the previous few days, hovering right around the zero mark, had allowed the frost layer to reach deeper than it had ever been. Roughly three times deeper, in the estimation of the local farmers. Somewhere along the eighty feet of pipe running between our meter and the city main (most probably the section that had been repaired last summer and thus is now sitting in disturbed earth, but no one can say for sure without exploratory digging), there is a freeze. All we can do is hope for a thaw.
By Carrie Adkins
Last Tuesday, February 11, the German athlete Carina Vogt became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the women’s ski jump event. The sport itself is not new; ski jumping dates back to the early twentieth century, and men have been competing in the event at the Olympics since 1924. But until these 2014 games in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee refused again and again to allow women to participate – even when faced with mounting pressure from female skiers who wanted to compete in the 2006 and 2010 games.
And their rationale for denying women entry was incredibly stupid.
By Heather Munro Prescott
Every year the New York Times magazine publishes a special issue “The Lives They Lived” honoring the lives of prominent persons who died in the past year. This year’s list included a number of notable women, including Abigail van Buren (aka Dear Abby), Esther Williams, and Maria Tallchief. This inspired me to create my own list of female role models who died in 2013 and whose life and work influenced my own.
By Cheryl Lemus
A few months ago, I decided to stop dyeing my hair. There were a couple of reasons behind this decision. In March, I started my new job as assistant professor of history for an online university, which means I work from home. One of the advantages of this position is that I don’t have to get dressed. Working in yoga apparel and/or PJs is oddly liberating, although I have to remind myself to wash my face and brush my teeth. There is a freedom in forgoing a professional wardrobe, but I began to wonder if I still needed to color my hair, which I’ve done in one way (Sun In) or another (Clairol #108) since I was 13. Now that I work from home, the box of dye is sitting in the bathroom. I think laziness is driving my decision more than wanting to make some sort of statement about embracing middle age.
by Rachel Epp Buller
I had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles over the weekend and facilitate a panel discussion about breastfeeding. The audience consisted of mothers of infants and toddlers as well as expectant mothers, who came for a “Mom’s Night Out” to hear from a panel of “experts” that included Elaine Stuart (childbirth educator and doula), Dr. Tanya Altmann (LA pediatrician), Corky Harvey (long-time lactation consultant and co-founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury), and Jamie Lynne Grumet (the mom at the center of last year’s controversial TIME magazine story about extended breastfeeding). After hearing some of the audience questions I was reminded once again why these discussions are so important, why lactation consultation is on the rise, and why there is a constant demand for breastfeeding classes and breastfeeding support groups: because breastfeeding is not always the easy relationship that most of us expect it to be, and mothers need this information.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
Sixty years ago, a great many Americans spent the final weeks of the summer of 1953 thinking about sex. Five years earlier, a hefty scientific volume on the sexual experiences of men had become a surprise bestseller. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male detailed the sex lives of 12,000 American men, revealing incidences of masturbation, premarital and same-sex encounters, and sundry secrets that shocked, intrigued, reassured, and infuriated the nation. Now, it was the ladies’ turn.
By Andrea Lowgren
The news media love to ask the question: is feminism dead? A quick google search finds literally millions of hits for the phrase. Yet despite the supposed death of feminism, gender equality has become strangely mainstream even while misogyny continues. Today’s sexism is sneaky AND overt; while violence against women continues and people ask female presidential candidates for cookie recipes, one is also hard-pressed to find someone respectable who will go on record arguing that women should not be given equal pay or have the right to run for office. Honestly, feminism has an image problem. Though many people agree with its tenets, relatively few embrace the label and the identity. The conservative Washington Times recently reported that “among women, 38 percent consider themselves feminists.”
In 1963, Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven, turned on the gas, and committed suicide as her children slept. Her friend and fellow poet, Anne Sexton, memorialized Plath with a poem that linked them as suffering women who both had “the suicide inside” them: Ten years later, after a number of failed attempts, Sexton… Read more →
By Helen McBride
Last week the British newspaper, The Guardian, reported on a young woman named Jinan Younis, who started a feminist society in her high school in response to a personal experience of street harassment. By rightfully acknowledging how this harassment was part of a wider culture of sexism, she was determined to do something about it: “After returning from this school trip I started to notice how much the girls at my school suffer because of the pressures associated with our gender. Many of the girls have eating disorders, some have had peers heavily pressure them into sexual acts, others suffer in emotionally abusive relationships where they are constantly told they are worthless.” This quote is horrifying.