The 42nd Down Under Feminists Carnival is up at Pondering Postfeminism. Lots of good reading for your Sunday morning.

And I’ll be hosting the next one in early December! So when you have read the 42nd carnival, send me some links for the next one. Carnival co-ordinator Chally is keen for us to work on highlighting work from new and not-so-prolific down under feminist bloggers, which I thin is a great thing to do. So even if you’ve just started out in this blogging game, or *especially* if you have just started out, send me some links to your work, either through the carnival submission form – Down Under Feminists Carnival submission form – or if the form won’t work for you, then send them directly to my hotmail address, where I use dfr141 as my handle. Any feminist post (broadly interpreted) by any down under writer (broadly interpreted) is eligible for the carnival. Per the carnival rules, I’ll be limiting selections to two post per blogger, and yes, that does mean two per person, not two per blog, for group blogs.

Friday Feminist – Cordelia Fine

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You have heard, no doubt, the saying that the personal is the political. Based on his own experiences within a marriage in which we struggle against convention to split things equally, my husband has developed his own, expanded version of this motto. As he would state it, “The school drop-off is the political, the staying home when the kids are sick is the political, the writing of the shopping list is the political, the buying of the birthday presents is the political, the arranging of the baby-sitter is the political, the packing of the lunch boxes is the political, the thinking about what to have for supper is the political, the remembering of the need to cut the children’s toenails is the political…”

Cordelia Fine (2010), Delusions of Gender, New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., pp. 79 – 80.

Friday Feminist – Astrid Lindgren

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What does the sign say?” asked Pippi. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.

It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?’” said Annika.

Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”

She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly.

What is it you want?” asked the lady.

No,” said Pippi once more.

I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.

No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi.

Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”

I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”

Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking, 1945

Friday Feminist – Anne Fausto-Sterling

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The intersexual or transgendered person who projects a social gender – what Kessler calls “cultural genitals” – that conflicts with his or her physical genitals still may die for the transgression. Hence legal protection for people whose cultural and physical genitals do not match is needed during the current transition to a more gender-diverse world. One easy step would be to eliminate the category of “gender” from official documents, such as driver’s licenses and passports. Surely attributes both more visible (such as height, build and eye color) and less visible (fingerprints and genetic profiles) would be more expedient.

Anne Fausto-Sterling, , “The Five Sexes, Revisted”, in Althea Prince and Susan Silva-Wayne, with Christian Vernon (eds), Feminisms and Womanisms, Toronto: Women’s Press, 2004, pp. 133 – 138, first published 2000.

Friday Feminist – Gloria Steinem

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Since history was recorded, male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis-envy is “natural” to women – though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men more vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb-envy at least logical. In short, logic has nothing to do with it. What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? The answer is clear – menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:

Men would brag about how long and how much.

Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties.

The US Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.

Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne Tampons, Muhammed Ali’s Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields – “For Those Light Bachelor Days,” and Robert “Baretta” Blake Maxi-Pads.)

Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“MENstruation”) as proof that only men could serve in the army (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy political office (“Can women be aggresive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests and ministers (“how could a woman give her blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean”).

Male radicals, left-wing politicians, and mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could enter their ranks if only she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month (“You must give blood for the revolution”), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment.

Street guys would brag (“I’m a three-pad man”) or answer praise from a buddy (” Man, you are lookin’ good”) by giving fives and saying, “Yeah, man, I’m on the rag!”

TV shows would treat the subject at length. (“Happy Days”: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still “The Fonz,” though he has missed two periods in a row.)


And movies. (Newman and Redford in “Blood Brothers”!)

Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at “that time of the month.” Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself – though probably only because they needed a good menstruating man.

Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets – and thus for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month?

A classic from Gloria Steinem, written sometime in the 1970s. It seems particularly apposite this week.

Friday Feminist – Elisabeth A. Lloyd

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I was surprised … when I spoke with a researcher who was working on the evolution of female orgasm in stumptail macaques. He described his experimental set-up to me with some enthusiasm: the females are radio-wired to record orgasmic muscle contractions and increased heartrate, etc. This sounds like the ideal experiment, because it can record the sex lives of the females mechanically, without needing a human observer. In fact, the project had been funded by the NIH, and had presumably gone through the outside referee and panel reviews necessary for funding. But then the researcher described to me the clever way he had set up his equipment to record the female orgasms – he wired up the heart rate of male macaques as the signal to start recording the female orgasms. When I pointed out that the vast majority of female stumptail orgasms occurred during sex among the females alone, he replied that yes, he knew that, but he was only interested in the important orgasms.

Elisabeth A. Lloyd, “Pre-theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality,” Philosophical Studies 69: 1993, pp. 139 – 153.