The Open-Source Boob Project

The Ferret writes:

“This should be a better world,” a friend of mine said. “A more honest one, where sex isn’t shameful or degrading. I wish this was the kind of world where say, ‘Wow, I’d like to touch your breasts,’ and people would understand that it’s not a way of reducing you to a set of nipples and ignoring the rest of you, but rather a way of saying that I may not yet know your mind, but your body is beautiful.”

We were standing in the hallway of ConFusion, about nine of us, and we all nodded. Then another friend spoke up.

“You can touch my boobs,” she said to all of us in the hallway. “It’s no big deal.”

It continues from there, and does so beautifully. Imagine a world in which bodies aren’t by default segregated from one another, where physical experience of one another is a delight, and not an assault.

For the record, my body is generally open for exploration. Just ask nicely and in an appropriate setting.

In celebration of the vulva!

Last week I went to a really wonderful student performance of the Vagina Monologues at put on by LSU’s Women Organizing Women. The women were excellent performers, and really got into their various roles. It was beautiful, and the balance they struck between celebrating bodies and mourning the violence done to them was quite impressive. I enjoyed myself.

That said, there were a few things I had issues with. The first was a quote from the ever-irksome Andrea Dworkin about how equality can never exist alongside (among other things) pornography. As someone who finds a lot of legitimate personal expression in creating (and often viewing/reading) pornography, I was a little annoyed. And being intimately involved with a woman who does the same, and to see her sexuality insulted like that in a venue supposedly dedicated to building it up was rather infuriating.

Also, the head of LAFASA (Louisiana Foundation Against sexual Assault) for whom the event was a fundraiser, mentioned the recent controversy over New York’s Governor Spitzer being discovered to have patronized a prostitute. She said it was nice to finally be holding a man responsible for the “social ill of prostitution.” It seems to me that prostitution itself is not a social ill, but the way it’s generally practiced is a result of the way which we as a society treat sex. Her comments seemed to disregard all of those who choose to become and remain sex workers. Demonization of prostitution seems only a step away from demonization of prostitutes, or better, regarding them as in need of pity, deluded, or abused because of their profession. Work to erase the violence against them, not to eradicate what they do. That’s like attacking agriculture because of abuses of migrant workers.

Finally there was a slide that said “Resist Rape Culture” and gave as examples of this covers of Maxim (or some such magazine), Girls Gone Wild, and what looked like scenes from porn.

But as I said, the performance itself was top notch! The entrance to the International Cultural Center (where the show was held) was decorated with draped red and pink fabric with a pink paper lantern at the apex. I got a chuckle out of that. And I was engrossed enough in the performance that I hardly even cringed when there was a bit about someone shaving her vagina. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against shaving. But trying to shave one’s vagina would probably lead to a trip to the emergency room for some very uncomfortable stitches. I love the play, but I’d love to see some vulva love as well.

There was also a “Vagina Art Show” afterwards with lots of female-genital related pieces of art: paintings, sculptures, fabric arts, collage. It was really amazing. After discovering that I could use my debit card to purchase I piece, I had to go for this reimagining of the Mother of God, entitled “In A New Light”.

I see it as an affirmation of the sacredness of our bodies as well as of the fleshiness of Mary and Jesus. It’s a nice escape from the too-frequent attacks on the body within Christianity.

And I have to say, the play, the art show and the piece I bought inspired me to work at creating some body-positive art of my own. Tonight I went to Hobby Lobby and got some polymer clay and paint and made vulva art!

To show the size, I placed a lighter next to the pre-baked piece and later photographed it after baking and painting.

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Next up? Penis art!

Chipping away at binary thinking

Colin, the No Impact Man recently asked author Juliet Schor if our culture’s fascination with disposable materialism is a sign that “we have become too material and not sufficiently spiritual?” Her response is a thing of beauty.

“It’s a false dichotomy,” she said. “It’s not that we’re too material but that we see materialism as separate from spirituality.” Our mistake is in not embracing the fact that the material is the manifestation of the divine, and that we therefore treat the material as something to be wasted and thrown away.

When you look at it that way, we need to be more rather than less material. We need to see the intrinsic value inherent in material resources. “If we treated the material as sacred,” she said, “we might become more spiritual about the way we consume and that might help us solve some of our problems.”

Emphasis mine. See the full post and following discussion here

Hierarchy, Scarcity, Beauty and Love (from touchyourself.org)

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. My last semester of undergrad work, and probably my last semester of college overall, has just gotten underway and I’ve been getting back into the swing of things with school. I walk a lot, and the past couple of days I’ve been listening to the audio version of Crimethinc‘s manifesto, Days of War, Nights of Love (buy the book or download the audio) and the discussion on capitalism, competition and a scarcity economy sent me off on a tangent. The authors write:

The truth is that there are simply not enough job openings for everyone to be a rock star or a syndicated cartoonist; somebody has to work in the factories to mass produce the records and newspapers. If you don’t become the next world-famous basketball star, and end up selling athletic shoes in a mall instead you must not have tried hard enough… so it’s your fault if you’re bored there, right? … Rather than all competing to be the one at the top of the corporate ladder or the one in a million lottery winner, we should be trying to figure out how to make it possible for all of us to do what we want with our lives… Thus capitalism centers everyone’s values around what the have rather than what they do, by making them spend their lives competing for the things they need to survive and achieve social standing.

In so much we do we take on the mindset that “there’s only so much X to go around, so I have to get the most I can. I have to get as close to the top of the hierarchy as possible, or else someone else will get more and use it against me.” It’s a competition and scarcity-economy based mindset. Living in a capitalist and materialist society where “stuff” is the primary god and “stuff” is finite, it is easy to see why this mindset is in place. When worth is determined by hierarchical status and acquisition of “goods” (how good are they?) then the competitive drive is what pushes you toward survival and beyond to comfort. As much as I dislike it, I can understand why such a view of the world can be beneficial within our system.

But so often we don’t limit the hierarchical/scarcity worldview to the realms of material possessions. It bleeds over into abstract concepts and emotions. You love Jim, so you can’t love Jane. That would displace Jim from his place in the hierarchy and take away the finite amount of love he gets. I don’t think anyone really believes love is finite, but when it comes to sharing love beyond the elevation of the single person to status of lover, then the hierarchical/scarcity mindset automatically kicks in. Fear takes over and there is a scramble to stop this loss of the good of love and maintain the place at the top of the love hierarchy.

It’s asinine.

And of course it doesn’t stop there. I remember telling one of my friends how physically beautiful she was to me, and she was flattered, even though she did not trust in her own beauty. Over time she became aware that I find extraordinary amounts of beauty in extraordinary amounts of people. When we came back to the topic of my finding her beautiful she remarked that it meant very little since I thought so many people were beautiful. By finding X, Y and Z beautiful, I was taking away from the amount of beauty L had, at least in her eyes. Beauty is valued, and since we are so conditioned to think hierarchically then the one who is beautiful is at the top of the beauty pyramid. When the definition of beauty, or rather, the recognition of beauty is expanded, then there is no pyramid to be on top of. In the hierarchical/scarcity mindset, this devalues the beauty of any one person by not making it the pinnacle of beauty. To this way of thinking, something is only valuable because of its rarity.

Love is valuable because it is.

Beauty is valuable because it is.

Neither can be ranked. Neither is finite! As long as we keep applying this pyramid scheme to things outside our economy all we will do is hurt ourselves and damage each others self-worth.

Come to think of it, that’s what we do when we apply it within our economy as well.