Thursday, March 31, 2011

knives and needles

"humans will continue to reshape and redefine themselves by modifying their bodies."

Little Sis just got a boob job. I'm thinking about getting her this tshirt. Also, I am contemplating getting my nipple pierced when she comes to town. Sort of a solidarity thing (BOOBS: she gets a new cup size, I get a sparkly ;). I was planning on doing it anyways (shiny!)

It has body modification back on my mind.

I was going to try and to write up some introspective piece about body modification, social acceptance, class distinction, aging, self image, hypocrisy in the various demographic groups that look down their nose at certain forms of modification while embracing others... etc etc etc...

but... my brain is not working so smoothly and I am short on time. So, in stead, an odd assortment of links on the subject.

Lori St. Leone's essay on the history of body modification (see quote at the of this post) is a MUST READ. Then follow that up with these rather extreme forms of body modifications. While you are at it, here's video footage of breast augmentation surgery and a post I wrote a while back regarding some dinner time conversations about boobs. Then over to Doves and Serpents where Heather admits to being judgmental towards people who have elective cosmetic surgery (and those who dye their hair; "Just accept yourself the way you are") and Heidi's exceptional follow-up post regarding the individual nature of how we choose to accessorize/alter our bodies to express who we are. Oh! Oh! and you MUST read this powerful poem, How To Make Love To A Trans Person! ("[bodies are] just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts." I love that.) On a different note, I love how prostheses are getting a make-over and becoming fashion statements (and... Aimee Mullins... /SWOON!)

But one last thing I wanted to note... these things really aren't just a matter of personal decision making. Every one of them is a luxury that requires expendable income. My nipple piercing will cost considerably less than little sister's implants, but still no free lunch.
It's another factor in how we express our individuality; what we do with our expendable income (assuming you happen to be part of that small global minority that happens to have an expendable income.)

Anyhow, for your entertainment, I leave you with Amanda Palmer's Map of Tasmania, because self expression through pubic hair freedom must never be underestimated!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Hills and Mountains

(also posted at The Exponent)

The other morning I ran up Tumamoc hill. First time I've ever been able to run up the whole thing: It's short, 1.5 miles to the top for a quick 3 mile round trip; but brutal steep: you climb up 730 ft in that 1.5 miles. I've jogged parts of it before but always had to stop and walk those last few switchbacks. This was was an invigorating first for me and Tumamoc.

I like my hills all in one gulp, straight up, the condensed version. There are plenty of trails and roads where I can get nice rolling, gentle-up-gentle-down routes depending on my hiking, running and biking needs. But I really find myself attracted to the intense all or nothing versions: Tumamoc, Blacketts Ridge, Saguaro National Monument, Mt Lemmon highway, Josephine Saddle (or, when I have the whole day, continuing on from Josephine Saddle up to the peak of Mt Wrightson). Etc.

I love hills and mountains. I broke my belief system wide open on these hills and mountains. It's no wonder to me that many religions hold journeys to mountains for spiritual enlightenment as part of their mythos. I've queried and cursed and argued with God on these hills and mountains. Halfway up Mt Wrightson, muscles shaking and drenched in sweat, I broke with God and offered some of my first prayers to the Goddess (a terrifying step for one raised on stories of women excommunicated for such blasphemy). Eventually, I broke with divinities all together and these hills and mountains became the place for just processing whatever needs processing in my life.

It is amazing the ideas and possibilities that open up to a heart pumping faster and a mind flooded with endorphins. (I have to be careful, I have shot off dangerous emails while still high on a good hill.)

It is something I believe in: blood and body fluids. In heart and mind. In always looking for new ideas, new paths, new heights to reach.

And hills and mountains,
I believe in hills and mountains.


Now, In a similar vein, you must go and read xJane's exquisite posts Worship and Creation, and ALSO Sandra Wickham's Functional Nerds post Brains need Brawn, and ALSO mfranti's post Paradox.

Not a Tucson mountain, but still love to climb it: Mt Timpanogos in Ut.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

created to please

[finally got around to writing this post.]

[Posted at The Exponent]

I read two fascinating novels this past month, both of them very different (The Fox Woman set in an ancient magical Japan and The Windup Girl set in a future dystopian Thailand) but they had a similar refrain in one aspect: they both contained female characters that had been constructed to please men.

In "The Fox Woman" Kitsune is a young fox who falls in love with a man, so she creates magic that will turn her into the woman she thinks he wants. (Which, apparently, is a girl barely into puberty.) In "The Windup girl" Emiko is a manufactured new person, created by geneticists to be a pleasing companion to men. (Later in the book, a scientist muses if Labrador genes were spliced into her DNA, imbuing her with an extraordinary urge to obey.)

It has me mining my own map of social gender relations. For a long time, I wasn't sure who I was, because all my effort went into being what others wanted me to be. And by "others" I mean mostly men. A long string of male authority figures, church leaders, bosses, family members, and peers who I was desperately trying to please. (I find myself wondering about how few female role models I had.)

It's embarrassing to write this. But admitting it is the first step, right?

I understood Kitsune's need for love, the hope that the illusion of beauty would win that love.

I understood Emiko's internal schisms when her training and genetic engineering cause her to be 'pleasing' in the face of insult, to accept humiliation and abuse.

It got me thinking.
And remembering creation stories that have woman being created out of a piece of man's bone so that he'd have a nice pleasing companion.

BTW, both Kitsune and Emiko had to go through excruciating, brutal (and bloody) transitions as part of their journey from 'created object' to self-hood. (Why must these things hurt so much?)

[An interesting aside; a friend of mine read this and made the observation that both of these books are examples of Westerners portraying Asian women as subservient. Different topic, but something to think about.]

On the flip side, I just started My Horizontal Life; a collection of one-night stands (a birthday gift from my sister). And wow: Author Chelsea Handler is a woman who knows what she wants, how to get it, and has no qualms about immediately jettisoning the offending party if it becomes apparent that he is NOT what she wants. (I am enjoying this book with a mix of admiration and horror.)

Furthermore; I may pull out my old copies of Chicks in Chainmail, Parable of the Sower, Dealing with Dragons, etc, for more stories of women who know what they want, how to get it, with no striving to please or pining for approval.

But meanwhile,

~any thoughts on the problems/solutions/complications of seeking for approval?
~read any good books lately?