by Furry Girl

05.21.12

"The Web sites I found, trolling through hundreds of Google hits for 'egg donor' were similar, placing heavy emphasis on the motivation of donors.  They spoke of fulfillment, of 'making a difference,' of 'one of the most loving gifts one woman can give to another.'  The pictures were of babies, clouds, building blocks.  The site I chose was among the most thickly written, its invitation to donate dripping with hyper-feminized expressions of motherhood and generosity.  It was the linguistic equivalent of a doily.

[...]

The application also asked, 'What is the least amount of compensation you will consider accepting for an egg donation?'  Elsewhere, the agency stated that it would not accept requests of more than $10,000.  So I typed in: $10,000.

[...]

When I suggested later that the egg-for-dollars swap is hardly a donation, [the doctor] looked genuinely confused and changed the subject to my egg-producing potential.

[...]

The mainstreaming of fertility treatments contributes to a larger concern among cultural conservatives, who worry egg donation is a step on the way to the much-feared designer baby.  'Do you really want to pick a kid the way you shop for a car?' Reader's Digest asked in 2001.  Feminists, too, find the mixture of capitalistic enterprise and female bodies disturbing.  The Nation's Katha Pollitt has called surrogacy 'reproductive prostitution.'  Sexual anxieties make for strange bedfellows: In 2004 National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote a column slamming egg donation, approvingly quoting Pollitt.

While egg prices range from a few thousand dollars to $30,000 or more, ASRM guidelines recommend donors receive a maximum of $10,000, above which compensation is deemed 'inappropriate.'  Paradoxically, such guidelines are sold as being in the interest of the donor, usually portrayed as cash-strapped and naive.  In the words of the President's Council on Bioethics, such women tend to be from 'financially vulnerable populations,' which implies they need protection from the temptation of incurring bodily risk for profit."

-- Kerry Howley in Ova for Sale on reason.com

I support the consensual selling of organs, bodily fluids, tissue, and eggs/sperm, as well as women renting out their uteruses for surrogacy, or people being paid participants in medical research.  The same arguments hurled at sex workers are also deployed against other "weird" or "possibly dangerous" uses of one's body for income.  (Though very few people will apply that condemnation of occupations with physical injury risk to sports, agriculture, construction, the military, manual labor, or any number of blue collar jobs.)

Also: the euphemisms and bullshit parade that accompany egg-selling remind me of the prostitutes who put on airs about how they are "erotic journey facilitators," "tantric healers," and "sacred goddess practitioners."





by Furry Girl

05.17.12

"...Corporate philanthropy began to replace missionary activity as Capitalism's (and Imperialism's) road opening and systems maintenance patrol.

[...]

The Privatisation of Everything has also meant the NGO-isation of Everything.  As jobs and livelihoods disappeared, NGOs have become an important source of employment, even for those who see them for what they are.  And they are certainly not all bad.  Of the millions of NGOs, some do remarkable, radical work and it would be a travesty to tar all NGOs with the same brush.  However, the corporate or Foundation-endowed NGOs are global finance's way of buying into resistance movements, literally like shareholders buy shares in companies, and then try to control them from within.

[...]

Armed with their billions, these NGOs have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation, ushering them in the direction of multi-culturalism, gender, community development—the discourse couched in the language of identity politics and human rights.

[...]

The NGO-isation of the women's movement has also made western liberal feminism (by virtue of its being the most funded brand) the standard-bearer of what constitutes feminism.  The battles, as usual, have been played out on women's bodies, extruding Botox at one end and burqas at the other.  (And then there are those who suffer the double whammy, Botox and the Burqa.)  When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it's not about liberating her, but about unclothing her.  It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism.  It's not about the burqa.  It's about the coercion.  Coercing a woman out of a burqa is as bad as coercing her into one.  Viewing gender in this way, shorn of social, political and economic context, makes it an issue of identity, a battle of props and costumes.  It is what allowed the US government to use western feminist groups as moral cover when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001.  Afghan women were (and are) in terrible trouble under the Taliban.  But dropping daisy-cutters on them was not going to solve their problems."

-- Arundhati Roy in Capitalism: A Ghost Store on outlookindia.com

Great piece, I recommend reading it.  If you're short on time, feel free to bypass the discussion of Indian politics and corruption (tl;dr: shit's fucked up), and start with the section "What follows...", as a lot of that relates to any country.





by Furry Girl

05.09.12

"The reason I went out on that limb [making anti-drug war comments when speaking at Liberty University] was partly penance for my two great aunts who devoted their lives to the Women's Temperance Union and certainly played a part in creating Prohibition nearly a century ago.  They are both deceased now, but I think it's important to realize that their religious outrage over alcohol created the legal precedent to allow the federal government to come between my lips and my throat.  In essence, to tell me what I could and could not ingest.

That such a precedent would morph in our day into illegal raw milk, homemade pickles, and home cured charcuterie certainly never crossed their minds.  But this is why we must be very careful when we ask for the government to remedy our outrage.  Outrageous behavior, also known as the lunatic fringe, is the seed bed of innovation and creativity.  A government that can take away alcohol can also take away heritage food.

[...]

The moment the government determines that you do not own yourself, that society owns your body, you give up all personal choice and autonomy.  You are no longer a citizen, but a slave.  Not a person, but a pawn.

[...]

Right now, farmers can give away raw milk and home made pickles; the prohibition is on sales.  What is it about taking money for something that suddenly turns it from a wonderful charitable product into a hazardous substance?"

-- An interview with Joel Salatin in Creating Sustainable Agriculture Without Government Subsidies on reason.com

I don't like how Salatin sees veganism and locavorism as opposing ideas (I bet that a greater percentage of vegans support farmer's markets and are concerned about buying local/sustainable than typical American omnivores), or his support of homeopathy and alt "med," but most of the article is pretty awesome.  I found Salatin's anti-GMO stance especially great: the need to fight Monsanto from a property rights perspective, not with more government regulation of GMOs.  (An example of how enforcing existing basic laws is better than creating more red tape and more laws.)  Overall, I enjoy seeing how people from various walks of life can make the same connections about government intrusion on their bodies and their lives - whether a Christian farmer or an atheist ho.





by Furry Girl

05.02.12

"Beach boys and women sex tourists: every journalist's dream topic...

Reporters want to know if the boys are 'really' prostitutes and why the girls are paying; they have trouble figuring out who is exploiting whom.  It's a bias, of course, to insist someone has to be exploiting since money and sex are involved, rather than seeing these as ordinary relationships, the kind that travelling people have been having since human life began."

-- Dr Laura Agustín, in Girls who buy sex from beach boys: Sex tourism in Bali on lauraagustin.com

This article on Bali reminds me of one of my own anecdotes: a few years ago, I spent a couple of nights on the coast of Kenya in a town called Watamu.  It's the only place I've ever been where the sex tourism was about women as purchasers.  It was an amusing dynamic for me to suddenly be the one propositioned by sex workers.  The gorgeous beach boys would come up to the (mostly middle-aged) white women and say something like, "Would you like to go shopping?" or "Would you like company for dinner?"  The guys were not overtly asking for cash for a set time period or a sex act, they seemed to want to stay in an upmarket hotel and be purchased gifts, clothing, and fancy dinners (and hopefully get some "spending money" as well).





by Furry Girl

04.05.12

"I can't count the number of times I've defended figures like Howard Stern and Bill Maher—straight entertainers who 1. fully support gay rights but 2. sometimes tell jokes that sensitivos consider homophobic.  These guys are on our side and they're good for our side.  Yeah, sometimes the tell jokes or do bits that are rooted in what is clearly their own personal discomfort with/fear of gay sex, particularly that man-on-man buttsex they never tire of hearing about, obsessing about, joking about, etc.  But you know what?  There are a lot of people out there who oppose gay rights because they're uncomfortable with gay sex and a lot of these folks—and lots of them are the kinds of guys who listen to Stern—are convinced that their own personal discomfort with gay sex requires them to oppose gay rights.  What the Sterns and Mahers demonstrate is that you can be a little uncomfortable with gay sex—you can even have sense of humor about your discomfort, you can even tell the occasional joke about it—and still support the full civil equality of LGBT people."

-- Dan Savage, in Required Listening: Howard Stern on Ellen, JC Penney, Bullied Gay Kids, Rosie, Santorum, Bachmann, et al on slog.thestranger.com





by Furry Girl

03.12.12

"...let's stop blaming men ('all-male church,' 'mostly-male Congress,' 'male-run Fox News,' etc.) for doing all this bad stuff to women.

Women vote to put anti-sex politicians in office; a majority of women voted for Republicans in the 2010 Congressional election.  Women support the churches that keep anti-sex politicians in office.  Women buy the newspapers and consume the radio and TV programs (like Rush's) that promote moral panics about sexuality.

And let's remember that when women get political power they typically act like men when it comes to sex.  Both Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin are aghast about Rush—not about what he said, but about how he’s been held accountable for it.  And virtually every female Republican governor and Congressmember of the last decade has voted to restrict access to abortion and birth control."

-- Dr Marty Klein, in It’s Not A War On Women—It’s A War On Sex on sexualintelligence.wordpress.com

 





by Furry Girl

02.06.12

"The ["fake"] women are loud, hyper-real versions of the femininity to which we are all supposed to aspire, and the disdain with which our culture drenches them is a telling indictment of its own narratives.

What we have is not a war against fakery, it is a war against that which displays itself as fakery; we're all supposed to be pretending that we're naturally wide-eyed and soft-skinned and blushing and blemish-free. Women are expected to be photorealist portraits of femininity, not expressionist canvasses; lies are tolerated only in so far as they are told convincingly. But when we start being too overt about the fabricated status of natural femininity, there's a lurking danger that we might start to question their absurdity, or realise that we can invent altogether new images in radical moulds.

[...]

Style and beauty are produced, discarded and reinvented with startling rapidity and, in such a climate, the very notion of the natural can be seen for what it really is: just another aesthetic category, its signs every bit as carefully fabricated as the most flamboyant artifice."

-- Shona McCombes, In defence of fake beauty on thefword.org.uk

People are often surprised that I'll be the first person to speak out in defense of makeup, shaving, and cosmetic surgery.  They shouldn't be, though.

It really bothers me when some of my male fans and clients assume that my own unshaved crotch means I must have a pathological hatred of women who choose to shave.  For almost a decade now, I've been greeted at least a dozen times each week with comments like, "Thank god you're not one of those disgusting fake bimbos," with the unthinking assumption I am in complete agreement about said bimbo's supposed disgustingness.

Why don't I shave?  Because I'm kinda fucking lazy.  I'm a tomboy-ish chick who doesn't generally put a ton of work into my appearance, and I personally don't feel like the effort and itchiness and pain and money that goes into removing hair is worth it.  I never advocate that others join me, I'm not out to convert and save follicular souls.

I wish all of my Furry Girl fanbase understood that I don't hate women who shave, and it's always disturbed me that some of them start an interaction with me by assuming we have a shared hatred.  Not a shared fetish or interest, but starting off a conversation or email talking shit on women who are not me, and I don't find this the least bit flattering.  It's totally cool to have whatever body hair preference or fetish, but stop projecting your angry shit onto me.  (I'm angry about plenty of other things, but I don't give the slightest damn as to how other women groom their crotches.)

I realize that it must be frustrating if you have an uncommon sexual interest that most women do not want to cater to, but that doesn't mean those women are low-IQ monsters.  Writing them off with nonsensical personal attacks such as saying they must be "incapable of thinking for themselves" because they won't indulge your kink is not a demonstration of how "sexually liberated" or "appreciative of real beauty" you are.  Sexual empowerment is about everyone making their own choices with their bodies, not pushing for some kind of fascist society where all women are forced against their will to look a certain way for the amusement of a small group of men.  That's everything that I am against, not what I support.





by Furry Girl

01.19.12

"Browsing through the most gorgeous ties I'd ever seen I realized what was bothering me.  Growing up I was taught that the worst thing you could be if you were a man was a queer, and the worst thing you could be if you were a woman was a whore.  Then came my moment of epiphany: It was now my mission to have the time of my life being both.  No one but my closest friends would ever know I was doing this - it's not like I'd ever write a book about it.  And doing something so stigmatized, detested, and illegal, which already described my life as a gay man, also felt like a way to accord my country the same disregard it accorded me.  It wasn't as if being a monogamous gay man in love was seen as any better, so fuck it, I'll be a gigalo.  I took two ties to the cashier and handed the clerk a hundred-dollar bill.  Good riddance to the hungry years."

-- Richard Berkowitz, in his book, Stayin' Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex.





by Furry Girl

01.09.12

"...SCTNow, along with similar anti-trafficking concerns, uses a simplistic language of good and evil in its discussions of trafficking.  In this way, its selling of the anti-trafficking movement closely mirrors the selling of the 'War on Terror' in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.  Instead of untangling the resentment against American imperialism built up globally through centuries of exploitation, many Americans rushed to accept the nonsensical explanation, put forth by politicans and pundits, that terrorists 'hate us because they hate freedom.'  We wanted enemies that we could name and locate so that we might destroy them, not lessons in humility and self-reflection.  Likewise, today’s mainstream anti-trafficking movement appeals to middle-class Americans with the idea that trafficking happens because there are bad people out there just waiting to take your kids away from schools and malls.  Thus, its prevention efforts focus less on the systemic realities of poverty, racism, domestic abuse, and the dire circumstances surrounding runaway and thrownaway youth, and more on installing high-tech security cameras at schools and stationing more security guards at malls.  And it measures the success of its activities by the number of criminal convictions it achieves, rather than by the long-term health and well-being of the women and children who are most at risk."

-- Emi Koyama, in Trade Secrets on bitchmagazine.org





by Furry Girl

12.09.11

"On the subject of ethics in sex work research, we usually think of the insensitivity and careerism of researchers whose interest is in obtaining information they will take credit for.  I want to point to another problematic angle: the issue of whether those being researched are honest with researchers.  Why, after all, should people who are being treated as objects of curiosity tell the truth?

[...]

To put it another way, keeping secrets may help sex workers gain independence or control over projects to help them.  Talking about sexual risks with people who think it's wrong to ever take any risks may cause them to treat you as irresponsible.  Admitting the desire to stay in sex work after getting out of the clutches of abusers can render you ineligible for victim-protection programmes.  The best policy may be to omit certain information from responses or to put on the expected front.

-- Dr Laura Agustín, in Alternate Ethics, or: Telling Lies to Researchers on lauraagustin.com





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