Friday, September 16, 2011 3:28 PM
When V-Day founder Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues came to town, I was teaching my first college course and had every intention of announcing the groundbreaking activist play to my class, just as I had with poet Amiri Baraka’s upcoming reading and the new art exhibit at the campus museum. But once I stood in front of my students, I couldn’t bring myself to say the word vagina. I couldn’t even write it on the chalkboard. I choked.
That was 12 years ago, and I was 23—the same age at which my grandfather had begun teaching college half a century earlier. His trick to looking older: “I grew a moustache.” Not having that capability, I resigned myself to looking and feeling young. Apparently too young to say shocking words in front of a classroom full of 18-year-olds. When I eventually saw Ensler’s play, it brilliantly dramatized the inability of our culture—and me—to say vagina, and all the whacky euphemisms we use instead, from hoo-ha to punani to (my personal favorite) coochie snorcher.
Naturally, I was able to announce the next performance of The Vagina Monologues to my class.
And today, we can talk about vaginas anywhere, writes Jezebel: “Marketers have taken a cue from Eve Ensler—that was fifteen years ago, by the way—and decided that they can shout ‘vagina’ all they want.” Still, the internet world was set aflutter after presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has “very dangerous consequences” such as causing mental retardation, prompting novelist Ayelet Waldman (of controversial “I love my husband more than my children” fame) to tweet the dangerous consequences of not being vaccinated for HPV—namely that it caused her cancerous cervical lesions. (A bioethicist has since offered $10,000 to the charity of Bachmann’s choice if she can offer up medical record proof of her retardation claim, reports Slate.) It’s easy to turn Bachmann’s eternally nutty gaffes and misinformation into a joke, but as Feministe says: “[S]ometimes [HPV] causes cancer. And that’s no joke. And putting a real face on an incredibly common, sometimes cancer-causing disease is important.”
Our culture has long been comfortable talking openly about men’s genitalia. From Senator Bob Dole’s memorable Viagra commercial to every semi-crude dad on every family sitcom, personal penis references are old hat. Thanks, Ms. Ensler, for opening the door to important public conversations about the vagina.
Source: Jezebel, Slate, Feministe
Image by M. Johannson,
licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, September 01, 2011 10:21 AM
A ruminative essay on the wonders of walking finds connections between “life, narrative, and bipedalism.”
discovers JC Penney selling a T-shirt for girls that reads: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” (The shirt has since been pulled from shelves due to consumer outrage. The power of the people!)
Doctors turn to driving cabs and waiting tables after immigration. An innovative program helped Somali doctors regain their licenses—until funding was eliminated.
The issue isn’t if Michele Bachmann “judges” gays. The issue is her zealous advocacy of laws that strips individual rights based on her personal religious views of homosexuality.
Incisive, deep-thinking media critic Jack Shafer was recently laid off by Slate—but not before American Journalism Review captured him in a revealing profile.
Could Muammar Qaddafi be hiding in...New Jersey?
Here’s an odd couple: TheKama Sutra and The Adventures of Sherlock Homesare the most popular e-books downloaded from Project Gutenberg.
Dorm room essentials now include a high-tech spitball gun, crazy synth guitar, and self-cooling beer pong table.
Have trouble remembering the difference between a macchiato and a mochaccino? Or an au lait and a latte? This handy infographic clears things up (sort of).
An expectant mother braves the Russian hospital system and lives to tell the tale.
Swiss comedian Ursus Wehrli turns tidiness into art.
Image by o5com, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, August 11, 2011 10:34 AM
For those who strive for inner peace but don’t take themselves too seriously: A list of 20 thoughts to think while pretending to meditate.
What does a real life superhero look like? Photographer Peter Tangen will show you.
Is the story of finding Osama bin Laden a cover for the real story?
Before the EPA was a “Job-Killer,” Michele Bachmann thought it could bring “long-term benefits to…the economy.”
A smart young woman launches an activist website to help her parents’ native country, Yemen, in its grassroots battle to oust 33-year-dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A 417 million-year-old oil deposit is drawing the oil industry to North Dakota, “the only state in the country that had more residents in 1930 than it does today,” Governing reports.
How fast fashion takes a toll on the earth.
High school girls earn ‘A’s for asexuality.
It’s no surprise that Kanye West and Jay-Z would make a collaborative album about how awesome they are. But, Grantland asks, is it any good?
Not to harsh your buzz, but Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is no longer the authoritative work of art on Ken Kesey’s psychedelic school bus ride.
From banjo to violin to blues guitar, street performers offer a primer on the art of busking.
Forget the book of love. Meet the kindly author who wrote the Book of Raunch.
With lots of enticing buttons, flashy animations, pop-ups, and hyperlinks, the Internet can be a pretty distracting place. How is anyone supposed to get any writing done? Answer: Head to QuietWrite, the web’s private writer’s nook.
Image by Drab Makyo, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:49 AM
Would you like to take a ride on the euthanasia coaster?
Slavoj Žižek, “philosophy’s answer to Bob Dylan,” chats with the Guardian about WikiLeaks, Lady Gaga, and a new communist society.
Obvious news, finally quantified: Two sociologists have analyzed 42 years of Rolling Stone covers and determined that women are increasingly presented as sex objects.
In the modern homestead, the woman’s role is a lot like her role in yesteryear’s homestead.
Would a medium-sized bargain be better politically for Obama than the grand bargain he was hoping for?
Even if you think your child has the next Great American Novel in them, they may need a few pointers to actually become a writer.
Gay rights improved by French fries. RIP, Wallace McCain (d. May 13, 2011).
Fun mashup: Sesame Street rock the Sure Shot.
At Denmark’s Roskilde festival, design firm UiWE tested a chic, communal urinal for women.
Star anise, sun-dried tomatoes, and cake sprinkles. Check out these amazing hyper-close-ups of common foods.
A recent Wall Street Journal editorial said that WikiLeaks and News Of The World hacking are “largely the same story.” You can’t make it up.
Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. are getting lambasted for the phone-hacking scandal. Call it eye-for-an-eye, but the hacker collective called LulzSec now has The Sun and News of the World in their crosshairs. As LulzSec’s twitter account says, “expect the lulz to flow in coming days.”
And the most misleading headline of the week award goes to…“Michele Bachmann’s Migraines: Joan Didion Weighs In”.
Paul Ford, writing for New York, mourns the end of endings brought about by social media.
A sad tale about the state of things at Ireland’s National Library.
Christopher Walken reads
The Three Little Pigs. (Just for fun.)
Have changed attitudes toward getting hammered left us with a bland literary landscape?
Renegade artists take over bus shelter ads in Madrid. Long live civil disobedience!
Downsized drama is over. The Germ Project brings back big, complex, messy theater.
This college lecture has been brought to you by the Koch brothers.
If you missed the recent episode of Frontline about the Kill/Capture campaign in Afghanistan, watch it now.
In defense of treating books badly.
Image by iluvcocacola, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, February 24, 2011 9:54 AM
Who could possibly be opposed to the promotion of breastfeeding? Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, of course.
Has Radiohead’s Thom Yorke made the most mashable video ever?
Feel like some light reading, literally? At featherproof books, you can download free mini-books and bind them yourself, following the provided origami instructions.
The rumble of the garbage truck is an audio reminder of how much we throw away each week. Read how one family lives a zero-waste lifestyle.
The Obama administration's decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act may have far-reaching implications.
Talk about breaking a story: The New York Times reported on melting polar ice caps in 1881.
A 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, rattled the city’s churches, infrastructure, and glaciers to the ground on Tuesday. The Atlantic’s In Focus photo-blog documents the devastation.
Upset with your bank? Maybe you should follow this Philadelphia homeowner’s lead and foreclose on it.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 11:28 AM
Yesterday’s rejiggered line-up at the Republican National Convention delivered a meek improvement over the energy level of Monday's kickoff. The attack level, on the other hand, was amped up.
In keeping with the finely honed messaging tack of saying one thing, repeatedly, and doing another, the Republican speakers worked in their patriotic jabs at Barack Obama, despite earlier talking points about ditching partisan attacks at the convention to put on their “American hats” and support those weathering Gustav in the Gulf Coast.
Michele Bachmann—the Minnesota U.S. representative best known for ogling George W. Bush at his 2007 State of the Union and, more recently, explaining that we don’t need to save the environment from global warming because Jesus already saved the world—grinned big as she told the delegates:
Service isn’t a political trait—although some Presidential nominees certainly know more about service than others.
Joe Lieberman woke up from his keynote to call Obama a scaredy cat:
When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, which would have been a disaster for the U.S.A. When colleagues like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the battlefield, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion, advocate the surge, support the surge, and because of that, today, America’s troops are coming home, thousands of them, and they’re coming home in honor.
And, perhaps most indicative of the Republican line of attack to come, former Senator Fred Thompson noted:
It’s pretty clear there are two questions we'll never have to ask ourselves [about John McCain], “Who is this man?” and “Can we trust this man with the presidency?”
Translation: Do we really know who this Barack Hussein Obama character is?
Tonight promises a higher energy level. The Republicans will get their own version of the “What will she do?” moment that buzzed the Democratic convention with dramatic anticipation before Hillary Clinton took the stage. In the Republicans’ rendition, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will step up to the podium amidst a swirl of recently unearthed backstories. How will she address her daughter’s pregnancy? Any word about sitting through a sermon about how Israeli Jews bring terrorist attacks on themselves for not accepting the Christian path? Or her own take that the United State’s escapade in Iraq was “God’s plan”? Or her affiliation with the Alaska Independence Party, whose founder hates America? And then there’s that Bridge to Nowhere she supported before she rejected it... and her status as a crusader against earmarks who brought in $27 million in earmarks for the town of 6,700 she governed?
In his convention speech, Obama plucked off each of the Republican talking points against him in rapid fire succession. But he had the time to craft that strategy. Given Palin’s hasty vetting process, it’s unlikely the Republicans will be able to put together such a comprehensive counter-offense. We’ll see tonight.
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here.
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!