Category Archives: Feminism

Our Contraception Journey Part 10: How Much Longer?

How Much Longer?

Part 10 of a series. We’ve been through nearly every available contraception method in our efforts to find the right solution for us. Just over a month ago, I asked my GP to refer me for female sterilisation. Today we went to the gynaecology clinic.

A 3D drawing showing the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and upper vaginaThis time, instead of going to the GP’s office or the sexual health clinic, we had to go to the hospital outpatient clinic.

Things went wrong from the start. We forgot things we needed to have with us. Traffic was bad. Parking is terrible there. Even with a disabled parking badge, we were such a long way from the entrance. The ramp was poorly designed and so narrow that I doubt a powered wheelchair could use it. The front doors weren’t available. We had to use a side entrance. The reception desk was so high that from the wheelchair, I could barely look over the top of it to talk to the receptionist. As usual, there was no space set aside in the waiting room for wheelchairs to park. They were running about 30 minutes late. The waiting room was noisy.

Eventually, I was seen. The gynaecologist was male, which no longer bothers me. English was not his first language, which also doesn’t bother me. He talked in a low voice and kept looking down. THAT bothered me. I had such a hard time hearing him. When he was doing the exam and he asked me to cough, his voice was so low that I assumed he was speaking to the nurse. He had to ask three times.

Female sterilisation is a low priority procedure for the NHS. My GP has to approve the funding. Apparently the fact that she referred me there doesn’t count as approval. You can’t make this shit up. The best guess is that it should be done within four months.

Four. Months.

We hardly ever have vaginal sex these days. There are toys, hands, mouths, bottoms… it just seems easier than to try and deal with the condom and the pregnancy risk.

To be continued…

Our Contraception Journey Part 1: Why is Contraception so Hard?
Our Contraception Journey Part 2: Sterilisation
Our Contraception Journey Part 3: Vasectomy Complications
Our Contraception Journey Part 4: Cerazette
Our Contraception Journey Part 5: Further Vasectomy Complications
Our Contraception Journey Part 6: Cerazette Complications
Our Contraception Journey Part 7: Female Sterilisation
Our Contraception Journey Part 8: Mirena IUS
Our Contraception Journey Part 9: Another Failure

 

The female blogger Silverdrop, shown from shoulders to waist, nude, with her long brown hair covering her breasts.

Breaking up with Religion – part 1

If there are Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, there must be just as many ways for a devout person to leave their religion. Some relationships gradually erode over time until one person realizes there’s nothing left. Some have explosive fights and betrayals with a grand storming out.

A painting of a woman, her nudity covered by serpents, standing next to a tree and holding a fruit in her hand. A beam of light from above and behind the woman highlights her face, right arm, and fruit.For me, it was somewhere in between. I remember doubts going all the way back to childhood, when I realized the 6-day creation story didn’t account for dinosaurs. I wondered why God insisted on killing so many people in the Old Testament. I agonized about Hell, imagining all of my friends and teachers and neighbours who didn’t go to the right church suffering for eternity. I had a very vivid imagination. When Jabba the Hutt told his prisoners that they’d be digested in the Sarlaac for 1,000 years, I was terrified. That was far worse than just being killed! But then I remembered that Hell would be worse than that.

The big fights and betrayals though – that didn’t happen until later. Family tragedies, innocent people suffering – I won’t go into detail, except to say there was a child (not mine) and that child died. Everyone knows about grief. Everyone has a story of the first time they discovered that the world isn’t a safe place, that terrible things will happen no matter how good or how careful you are, and no matter who their protectors are.

When you expect an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being to have all the answers, your psyche takes a hit when you discover otherwise. And just like a person in a failed relationship who doesn’t want to admit it, I made excuses for my religion. Maybe God isn’t perfectly omnipotent. Maybe he wanted to prevent this from happening, but something worse would have happened if he did. Maybe this path really is the one with the greatest good. Maybe he isn’t perfectly omniscient. Maybe there are just too many people for him to handle every detail. Even though we’d all prayed so hard and had all the faith possible that the child would survive, he’d somehow looked away at the wrong moment.

Of the triad, the last thing I considered was “What if God isn’t omnibenevolent?” What would it look like to have a creator God who made everything, could see everything, could control everything, but wasn’t good? When tsunamis or hurricanes made the news, I imagined God as a kid with an ant-farm, pouring in water to watch them panic. I thought of gay people being told they were going to Hell for who they loved, and for everyone being told that they have to live by all these crazy strict rules about their own bodies and their own sexuality*. I considered what kind of God would give people the desire to have sex while forbidding them to do it.  I wondered why Adam and Eve would be punished just for wanting to know. They didn’t eat from the Tree of Evil, after all. It was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

I came to believe God was cruel. But somehow, in all my questioning and pain, the one thing I wouldn’t do was admit, “Maybe God doesn’t exist.”

To be continued

* See Shame and Redemption for more of how my upbringing screwed up my sexuality.

 

 

Are we all aware of breast cancer yet?

This is not going to be a very politically correct post. I am fucking sick of being told to be aware of my breasts. You know what? My breasts are fine. You know what’s not fine? The entire rest of my body. I have fibromyalgia.

An image of a woman with words around her describing the symptoms of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS) is characterised by chronic widespread pain and allodynia (a heightened and painful response to pressure).[1] Its exact cause is unknown but is believed to involve psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors.[2][3][4] Fibromyalgia symptoms are not restricted to pain, leading to the use of the alternative term fibromyalgia syndrome for the condition. Other symptoms include debilitating fatigue,sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some patients[5] also report difficulty with swallowing,[6]bowel and bladder abnormalities,[7]numbness and tingling,[8] and cognitive dysfunction.[9]

Like breast cancer, fibromyalgia is a disease that predominantly affects women, at a female:male ratio of about 9:1. The prevalence of fibromyalgia is 2-4%. And yet, there are no big corporate sponsorships for fibromyalgia research. No celebrities wearing our ribbons. No big events to improve awareness.

Worse than that, there is no cure and no treatment beyond trying to treat the symptoms. People who develop fibromyalgia rarely get better on their own. The chances are high that they will experience the symptoms above for the rest of their lives. Many fibromyalgia patients end up having to leave their careers and are even unable to participate fully in the lives of their family and friends. It can strike you down in the prime of your life, and you’re never able to recover.

“But Silverdrop,” I hear you say. “Breast cancer is far more common than fibromyalgia. Why shouldn’t we spend more resources on trying to cure breast cancer?”

The common figure given for lifetime breast cancer risk in women is 1 in 8… if they live to age 95. (This overlooks that most women will not live to age 95 and will generally succumb to something that is not breast cancer. Most often, that is heart disease.)

Even so, it is true that breast cancer is more prevalent than fibromyalgia. If we look at the 2-4% figure above and split it down the middle, then let’s say 3%, compared to 12.5% for breast cancer. I would be very happy if fibromyalgia received one quarter of the research money that breast cancer receives. Does it?

The NIH spent $800,000,000 on breast cancer research in 2012. In that same year, they spent $13,000,000 on fibromyalgia.*

Let that sink in. Fibromyalgia research received 1.6% of the research dollars that breast cancer received. And let’s consider that this is only government funding. This does not include money donated by corporations or raised by activists, which would make the disparity even greater.

I’m not going to deny that it’s important to do regular self-checks of your breasts, but is there anyone in the developed world who is somehow not aware of this?

Guess what? Women are more than a pair of breasts. There are many, many diseases that disproportionately affect women, either in greater incidence or greater severity, and many of these diseases cause severe disability or death.

Alzheimers. Cardiovascular Disease. Celiac disease. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Endometriosis. Fibromyalgia. HIV and other STIs. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Lung Cancer. Lupus. Major Depression. Migraine. Multiple Sclerosis. Sjogrens Syndrome.  Uterine Fibroids.  

This October, how about spreading awareness beyond your breasts?

LoveHoney

Slut-shaming in unexpected places

The White Dragon

Good girls don’t like violent sex.

SilverHubby and I are avid readers. In fact, part of our daily routine is to read aloud to one another before bedtime. Though you might expect it to be erotica, it’s more likely to be fantasy and science fiction.

Currently, we’re reading the Pern books. If you aren’t familiar with them, the premise is that on a world called Pern, dragons exist, and at the moment of hatching, that dragon chooses a person to bond to for life. The dragonriders have special privileges and responsibilities and there’s a really dangerous lifeform known as Thread – and really, you don’t need to know any of this to follow the rest of the post. Suffice it to say, the books are fun and not terribly deep, the first one was published in 1968. The author is female.

In Chapter XII of The White Dragon, a young man named Jaxom is training his dragon when there is a dragon mating flight nearby. Since dragons are telepathic, the mating flights tend to get everyone nearby rather aroused. He goes to visit his lover Coranna, interrupts her at her work, and takes her forcefully on the tilled soil of her family’s farm. The sex is completely consensual, and the scene as it’s written is very hot. SilverHubby and I enjoyed it.

Then a few pages later, this happens:

Jaxom was not pleased with himself. He was thoroughly disgusted and revolted by the way he had used Corana. The fact that she seemed to have matched what he had to admit was a violent lust dismayed him. Their relationship, once innocent pleasure, had somehow been sullied. He wasn’t at all certain that he cared to continue as her lover, an attitude that posed another unpleasant burden of guilt. One point in his favour, he had helped her finish the hoeing his importunity had interrupted. That way, she’d not be in trouble with [her father] for shorting her task. … But he ought not to have taken Corana like that. Doing so was inexcusable.

~The White Dragon, Anne McCaffrey

Bam. And just like that, the hot scene was completely ruined for us. It wasn’t exciting or erotic that he had given into his lust and that she had responded with enthusiasm. It was dirty and wrong. It even makes it sound like he would have been happier if she had been disgusted or traumatised by the event. If she had, would he have kept going? The implication is that he would have.

I’ve gotten used to seeing slut-shaming online, often in a religious or political context. To see it in a novel that I read for the first time when I was in high school stunned me. I had gotten plenty of conditioning from religion to tell me that sex was dirtyfilthydisgusting, but it’s only now that I start to realize that my church wasn’t the only source of it. I was getting it culturally as well. I was getting it from places I don’t even remember getting it from. I’m still getting it.

Fuck that shit.

I love sex. It does not “sully my relationship” to give in to violent (consensual) lust. I’m not burdened with remorse or shame for my desires.

I’m a slut, and I’m proud of it.
Sultry Saturday

 

OMG! Guess what, girls?

Someone is publishing a brand new website, specially designed for women! Exciting stuff, right?

Bryan Goldberg seems to have walked back his original claim that his site was a first, but he still seems to think he’s doing something revolutionary. His innovation is that his site is completely run by women, for women – except for the male CEO of course. You wouldn’t want women thinking they can run things, would you? “My job, as CEO, is to hire the right people. My job is to know a lot of engineers, editors, venture capitalists, and salespeople — and to bring them together. Knowing the difference between mascara, concealer, and eye-liner is not my job.”

The very sexist Dodge La Femme

Pink? Check. Makeup? Check. That’s all women want, right?

As you can see, he has the makeup angle covered. You know, Product + Makeup = Women’s Product. See also, the 1955 Dodge LaFemme, the car that came with its own handbag and makeup accessories.

Listen, Mr Goldberg. I know women can seem so terribly foreign with all that mascara and such, but we’re just people. Really. Truly. You say you’ll know you’re putting up content interesting to women because women are writing it. This may come as a shock to you, but I am a woman, and I read things men have written! The gender of the writer has next to no bearing on whether their writing will interest me.

There’s nothing wrong with tailored marketing, but “50% of humanity” is not exactly tailored. If you want to market to me, market to adults with mobility issues. Childless couples. Dog owners. Sex toy enthusiasts. Any of those more limited categories will be more relevant to me than ‘woman’. You don’t treat men as if they were all one monolithic block of sameness. Why would you treat women that way?

By the way, if any of my female readers are in the market for a new car, Honda’s got you covered.

 

Sex Talk Saturday: Shame and Redemption

I was raised by conservative parents, so of course, I was going to save myself for marriage. I was quite sure of that, right up until the night in college that I found myself in a car with a man, making out. He was a few years older than me, and definitely more experienced, but there was something kind of goofy about the way he asked me if I wanted to “go steady” with him. The moment I said yes, I knew deep down that it would eventually lead to sex. How could it not? He wasn’t a Christian. He wasn’t going to wait until marriage. More importantly, my libido, which had lain quiescent through my adolescence, had suddenly woken up and said, “Yes, please. I’d like some of that.”

Of course, I had to find a way to make it okay with my conscience. I wouldn’t sleep with him until I knew I loved him, and that he loved me. That’s what I decided the night in my dorm room a few weeks later, when he crawled up under my shirt and played with my breasts for the first time. Less than a month after our first date, I told him I was ready. We couldn’t possibly have known each other well enough by then to be in love. But that’s what my mind needed to let my body get what it wanted, so I believed I was in love rather than lust.

That night, I tried to create a sexy outfit, from a wardrobe that belonged to a good Christian girl. I wore the one skirt I owned that wasn’t below the knees, and a top that could be unbuttoned. I daringly undid one button more than usual – not that my tiny A cups created any cleavage. My underwear was, in retrospect, hideous. I cringe just remembering it.

We both had roommates, so we ended up in a cheap motel. There wasn’t much talking, because we were both too nervous. Me, because it was my first time, and him… well, because it was my first time. He had never been with a virgin before. He started by eating me out, and must have been badly disappointed at my lack of response. My mind was racing. “What is he doing? Is that his tongue? Is he really licking me there? Why would he do that?”

“Believe it or not, it tastes good,” he told me, when he had finished. Things improved once we got back to kissing and touching, which felt better to me. I daringly put my hand down to touch his erection. I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I think I was afraid of hurting him, so I only touched it lightly.

We were in missionary style. He tried to be gentle, but it hadn’t occurred to him to bring lube, and I hadn’t known to. It hurt when he broke my hymen, and it continued to hurt with each thrust, but I didn’t mind. Despite the awkwardness, and the fact that the sex was terrible, my body was responding. It wanted what was happening, enough for me to ask for another round of terrible sex the next morning.

We got better at sex, but we were never well suited as partners. We got married when I graduated college, even though I had a sinking feeling that I was making a horrible mistake. But I couldn’t call it off. If I married him, then I had at least saved my virginity for the man I would marry, even if I hadn’t waited for my wedding night.

The same logic kept me married to him for almost ten years. I couldn’t divorce him, because divorce was sinful. I had vowed “Till death do us part”, and I simply could not break that promise.

Meanwhile, the sex, that had been so good for the first few years we were together, started to go downhill. He stopped initiating. Eventually, he started complaining when I initiated. He was always too tired. He said that I was too demanding, that I was trying to wear him out. If he caught me masturbating, he laughed at me. The shame, that I had almost overcome, started to return. He made me feel like there was something wrong with me for wanting sex. He never called me a slut, or any other names like that, but he didn’t have to. The disdainful expression and the mocking laughter was enough.

Still I stayed, because I couldn’t imagine leaving. I became more and more secretive about my masturbation, always afraid of being caught. I bought toys, but rarely used them, because he would hear them and know what I was doing. Most men, if they walked in on their wife playing with a vibrator, would be turned on and join her in bed. He never did. I don’t think he felt threatened by them. I think he was contemptuous of them. He had first been attracted to the innocent, inexperienced girl, and the more I tried to assert my sexuality, the less he was interested. Though my libido never slackened, my insecurities told me that I was unsexy, unattractive. Unwanted.

The internet saved me. I started to flirt with men online, and they flirted back. I started to feel like, just maybe, I might be sexy. I had cybersex – quietly, fully clothed, just reaching my hand inside my clothes to touch myself under the table, so that if he walked in, I could pull my hand free and hide the chat window before he noticed what I was doing.

It’s embarrassing to admit that it took the affirmation of men to rebuild my shattered self-esteem, but it’s the simple truth. Every time I made a man come with my words, typed onto a screen, I felt empowered. Every time a man told me I was hot, I grew stronger. I began to see that my high libido, so long a shameful secret, was a highly valued asset.

And when I was strong enough, I set myself free and ended the marriage that would never have existed except for shame.

I like to think, in another reality, there was a me who made out with the hot man in the car, and had awkward terrible sex with him in the motel room. She let him teach her about sex, and then had an amicable breakup a few months later when it became obvious that a long-term relationship wasn’t going to work. She moved on, dating and fucking men that she wanted to have sex with, whether they were marriage material or not. She wasn’t ashamed of her toys, and if any man was bothered by them, he was soon kicked to the curb.

Maybe the other me met someone and settled down, or maybe she didn’t. I’m sure she had her own set of problems that I’ve not experienced. But one thing she didn’t experience was shame. And for that, I’m envious.

Note: this was originally written a couple of years ago to show to SilverHubby (then my boyfriend).