“Cliteracy 101” (a Worthy Art Project)

Artist Sophia Wallace Wants You To Know The Truth About The Clitoris

New York artist Sophia Wallace wants you — and everyone you know — to be cliterate.

“It’s appalling and shocking to think that scientifically, the clitoris was only discovered in 1998,” Wallace told The Huffington Post from her Brooklyn studio last week. “But really, it may as well have never been discovered at all because there’s still such ignorance when it comes to the female body.”

The clitoris, described as the only human body part that exists solely for pleasure, is not merely a little “button” hidden between a woman’s legs, but rather a large, mostly internal organ many people don’t know about, Wallace explains….

internal clitoris

According to a 2011 post by Museum of Sex blogger Ms. M, the internal clitoris (highlighted in yellow in the images above) is a complex erectile structure consisting of two corpora cavernosa (that are said to wrap around the vagina when erect), two crura (erectile bodies that branch out from the clitoral body), clitoral vestibules or bulbs, and the clitoral glans (the part that you can see).(more)

Christian Penises

Abby Moss wrote a post for the Huffingpost.UK, that I noticed:

Why the Church of England is Confused About Penises  

(some snips ->

One month ago, the Church of England voted against women bishops. This week, they’ve decided they’re totally fine with gay bishops, even gay bishops in civil partnerships, as long as they refrain from sex. As far as I can see, there is a clear link between these two decisions. Penises. The Church of England has a very complex and troubled outlook on the penis. Mostly, it’s terrified of penises and all their sexy functions. They would prefer for penises, and balls I guess, to go away and for all people to be asexual beings, with crotches that are entirely smoothed over, like a Ken doll (who, now I come to think of it, was pretty camp himself)…

The problem with women, according to the Church, is that they don’t have a penis and Jesus did. Gay bishops have penises, so that’s good. But if they use them for anything but peeing they’d be out of a job faster than you can say “I got so drunk at Mardi Gras, I woke up on the roof of my hotel wearing nothing but my bishop hat”.

It’s vital to the Church’s order of patriarchal power and control that the male stays at the top. Because God is a man and Jesus was a man. Mary was a woman but, oh look, she never had sex. Adam and Eve ate the fruit, realised they were naked and that was bad, apparently. The penis is a vital, central part of the Church’s hierarchy and order as a symbol of maleness. But as a symbol of sex they’re ever so keen to repress it…

Someone who commented (whose comment was deleted) – that penises are an insignificant aspect of the Church delusion –  inspired me to add this comment:

I agree with the writer. It is all about penises. The fact that Christianity is based on the concept of a symbolic GOD with a penis and his offspring GOD with a penis – it’s about the symbolism – and giving men power. The supernatural, the miracles, is just another symbol of power. That HE suffered gives HIM power. That HE supposedly ‘rose’ (like a penis) = more power. That Christians try to pretend that HE is inside them (body & blood) – could also be a sexual reference to the penis ( a revelation I just received thanks to a writer whose comment was dropped). That Christians think they can run things is all part of their perceived penis power (which some women try to link themselves to). As if – the biggest dick wins.

War on Sex & BIrth Control = War on Women

This – mostly Catholic – but also Fundamentalist – idea that women should not have access to birth control as part of their health insurance and that women should be harassed if they want to get an abortion is anti-sex and anti-women. The message is essentially the old Original Sin thing.

The idea that sex is bad and that women are responsible for every ‘bad’ thing  – esp. for men’s “passions” – the temptresses, etc. is so archaic. If the church put it in those terms – and came out and said they thought sex is ‘bad’ – most people wound not accept it. But to say that birth control is evil – even for married people is essentially to say that married people should not be having sex. And here I thought when conservatives wanted to teach abstinence in schools that they were talking about BEFORE marriage – not ones entire life – including marriage.

If couples do the suggested Catholic method – (avoiding sex around the time of ovulation – to avoid pregnancy) then they are not having sex when women are the most likely to enjoy it. For men – it doesn’t matter – they don’t have monthly cycles and ups and downs. So it’s mostly a problem for women – it’s a matter of saying that women shouldn’t expect to enjoy sex. Although men enjoy sex more when women enjoy sex.

It is all so absurd – the idea that sex is bad – that ‘passions’ are sinful. For Pete’s sake – sex is how life continues. I cannot reconcile the idea that sex is bad – but life is good. Life is good and sex is good – or at least sex can be good. Sex is a lot better when women are allowed to have agency and control over their bodies. Sex is bad when men expect to control women and have no sense about women’s feelings. Sex is bad when men think that it is all about them.

It’s odd when priests can’t let go of the idea of controlling women sexually – including being consumed with being anti-abortion & anti-birth-control.

Nobody in their right mind (at least nobody who enjoys sex) could think that it is reasonable for adults who enjoy sex to NOT use birth control…. and/or to think that people are going to spend their entire adult lives only having sex when women are NOT aroused (except for the 2 times when their children are conceived). It’s delusional, non-rational, and basically insane.

So Much Sex!

Charles Blow has an OP-ED in the New York Times (3-2-12),  Santorum and the Sexual Revolution, where he quotes Santorum saying:

“It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex.”   &  …“Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. They prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.” & …” It’s a, in my opinion, a hedonistic, self-focused world that is, in my opinion, anti-American.”

&

“You’re a liberal or a conservative in America if you think the ’60s were a good thing or not. If the ’60s was a good thing, you’re left. If you think it was a bad thing, you’re right. And the confusing thing for a lot of people that gets a lot of Americans is, when they think of the ’60s, they don’t think of just the sexual revolution. But somehow or other — and they’ve been very, very, clever at doing this — they’ve been able to link, I think absolutely incorrectly, the sexual revolution with civil rights.”

Mr. Blow summation of Santorum is this,

“It’s a war on sex beyond the confines of traditional marriage and strict heterosexuality in which women, particularly poor ones, and gays, particularly open ones, are likely to suffer the greatest casualties.”

While that is true – I think it is so much more. And Civil Rights is very much tied to the Women’s movement which allowed more ‘freedom’ and vice-versa (which Santorum denies)/

The rights of women and the rights of blacks have developed in parallel. Starting in the mid 1800s. Harriet Beecher Stowe writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin – women had a lot to do with advocating the freeing of slaves and thinking of blacks as people. Many of the same people were abolitionists and suffragists.

The common denominator was creating a country / world where people besides white males were able to have control over their lives – to vote – to own property.

It seems to me that Republicans would like for all of us to think that our country has arrived – or that we never should have embarked on this journey to begin with. The journey of equality. They are still fighting it. Fighting against affirmative action. Fighting against voting rights – making it more instead of less easy to vote. Fighting against anything that helps to even the playing field.

The acceptance of Blacks, Asians, Latinos into the mainstream of society – a process that continues – has changed our society. Of course it would. And that is not a bad thing. The past was very influenced by a Puritan outlook. Englishmen & Germans. And yes – many came for religious freedom – the Republicans seem to like to forget that. They want to think that there is a particular type of Christianity that we all agree on – that was always agreed on. But it never was so.

Our country will continue to evolve. In the last 100 or so years, ideas about religion and spirituality from India have inspired Thoreau, Emerson, and many others who have been influential. The revolution did not start with Woodstock.

Early in the 20th century, many conservatives were very threatened by Modernism. They were afraid modernism was going to undo Christianity, then. Modernism, was a reaction to many changes. The industrial factory, workplaces – science, wars, trains, cars, planes. The world must have been seen as shrinking and coming together. Feminism was a big thing then, too – with women getting the vote in 1920. Socialism was influential – labor laws were passed.

Compared with Victorianism, even sex probably seemed loose. Women were wearing shorter dresses – showing ankles and arms. In the late 1880s, women were diagnosed by doctors as suffering from “hysteria” and treated with massage (and orgasms – though not recognized as such). VIbrators became a common appliance advertised in women’s craft magazines until it was figured out that there was a sexual association.

What is absurd – what Limbaugh does not seem to understand as he rants about women wanting “So Much Sex” is that our stupid society has been deaf to women’s needs for centuries. At various times, I expect people’s awareness waxed and waned. Some people figured it out, some didn’t.

The society that I grew up in – in the 60s and 70s – outside of the youth movement and feminism – was one where promiscuity was condoned for men and not for women. Men “sowing their oats” and hoping they didn’t have to pay for the oats to grow. White men who could discriminate against blacks and women in hiring. Where the good old boys network had not been broken – and was just starting to break as I was entering college.

Women, on the other have – in the 60s and before – were shamed and sent away if they got stuck with some man’s oats growing inside of her. I know a couple women who were sent away as late as the 70s. Freedom had not arrived everywhere. Freedom from ridicule, and from the fear of what such a thing would “do” to a family, that is.

That is what Limbaugh, Santorum, and Romney would have us return to. Shame for women. As welI as shame for homosexuals and anyone who does not play by the patriarchal rules – rules that are stacked for white men who already have more power than others. I hope to Goddess that that genie cannot get back in that bottle again – now that she has been out for awhile. That is not what is best for our society.

Patrinazis Vs. Feminists

This is how I see the Limbaugh Vs. Fluke rivalry. I expect that this is how Limbaugh, Santorum, Romney, Issa, and the rest would like us to see it (without the the Nazi part) – the restoration and elevation of Patriarchal values. They obviously think that patriarchal values are God’s gift to the world – which is no doubt how they see themselves. They would not dare suggest that this is about obnoxious men who like to see men dominate and control women’s bodies and lives – and to give men an advantage in work and with money.

Limbaugh has worked diligently to put women down – especially women who work to assert their rights. Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to him knows this. He likes to refer to feminists as Feminazis. Feminists are not trying to force their power over others – but merely to claim it for themselves. So the nazi suffix to feminist is simply an absurdity. (Santorum brushed off Limbaugh’s remarks about Fluke as being “absurd”/ “entertainment”.

The thing about Nazis is that they did force their power over others – and it was white, male authoritarian power – based on Christian ideas. Hitler was raised as a Christian and while whether or not he was a Christian later in life is debated – he used Christian ideas to support his case. Hitler’s ideal that he was trying to establish was a Patriarchal, Thomas Kincadian, view of the world. He wanted to get rid of everything and everyone who did not fit his idealized patriarchal ideal. That included liberals, intellectuals, homosexuals, gypsies, Jews and physically handicapped and mentally ill people.

The Nazi regime was against the idea of helping anyone out who needed it such as those persons in nursing homes and asylums. Germans were encouraged to see them as a drag on society. They Nazis started with forced sterilizations and moved on to euthanasia once the war got going. (I included that because that is the attitude of many Republicans I know – the not wanting to help anyone – ignoring the fact that not everyone is self-sufficent).

(I didn’t intend to write about Nazis today, but Limbaugh’s reference to feminazis and my thinking about patriarchalism got me around to it).

The Nazis were also against abortion – but their argument against it was for the male dominated family. (Which is probably what Republicans are mostly after). Steinem noted: “Under Hitler, choosing abortion became sabotage; a crime punishable by hard labor for the woman and a possible death penalty for the abortionist.”

Recently this was quoted in an article on Alternet (and Truth-Out) by Mike Lofgren – A Conservative Explains Why Right-Wingers Have No Compassion

The preservation of the family with many children is a matter of biological concept and national feeling. The family with many children must be preserved … because it is a highly valuable, indispensable part of the … nation. Valuable and indispensable not only because it alone guarantees the maintenance of the population in the future but because it is the strongest basis of national morality and national culture … The preservation of this family form is a necessity of national and cultural politics … This concept is strictly at variance with the demands for an abolition of paragraph 218; it considers unborn life as sacrosanct. For the legalization of abortion is at variance with the function of the family, which is to produce children and would lead to the definite destruction of the family with many children.

So wrote the Völkischer Beobachter of October 14, 1931.

[The Völkischer Beobachter (“Völkisch Observer”) was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party) from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from 8 February 1923. For twenty-five years it formed part of the official public face of the Nazi party.] – note from wikipedia

From uspolitics.about.com:

Abortion has existed in almost every society…Today, almost two-thirds of the women in the world may obtain a legal abortion.When America was founded, abortion was legal. Laws prohibiting abortion were introduced in the mid-1800s, and, by 1900, most had been outlawed….
As it happens – the mid-1800s was when the women’s rights movement was starting up.
Antiabortion legislation was part of an antifeminist backlash to the growing movements for suffrage, voluntary motherhood, and other women’s rights in the 19th century. From Feminist.com
So basically – it should be easy to see that to be anti-abortion is to be for control of women.
ANTI- abortion (and birth-control) = CONTROL of women = Patrinazis
The people who want to control women are the most Patriarchal of Churches and white men (and women) who have grown up with the idea that to control women is normal and they like the privileges and status the Patriarchy awards them. These men (and women) don’t really care about the truth – or in trying to see the world through other’s perspectives – they are happy with things as they are they don’t want changes to the status quo.
Feminists and women like Sandra Fluke who stand up for the rights of women present a challenge to their status quo and so the role of people like Rush Limbaugh is to do what he can to try denigrate, demean and demonize these women and what they stand for.
Sixty-seven percent of the people in the country have accepted that fact that at least in some instances, women should be allowed to choose to have an abortion.
And, of course, it’s not just abortion anymore that is under attack – but contraception in general. It is difficult to believe that as late as 1965 contraception was illegal even for married couples. The Eisenstadt v. Baird case in 1972 opened contraception up to unmarried couples as well.
So essentially, this has been accepted by most people for 40 years – but not by Rush Limbaugh, or Rick Santorum, or Mitt Romney.
Pope Paul VI in 1968 declared birth control to be evil in his Humanae Vitae (the following is from wikipedia):
Paul VI does not allow for arbitrary human decisions, which may limit divine providence…
Every action specifically intended to prevent procreation is forbidden, except in medically necessary circumstances. Therapeutic means necessary to cure diseases are exempted, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result, but only if infertility is not directly intended. This includes both chemical and barrier methods of contraception. All these are held to directly contradict the “moral order which was established by God”. Abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, is absolutely forbidden, as is sterilization, even if temporary.
The acceptance of artificial methods of birth control is then claimed to result in several negative consequences, among them a “general lowering of moral standards” resulting from sex without consequences, and the danger that men may reduce women “to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [their] own desires”; finally, abuse of power by public authorities, and a false sense of autonomy.
One thing that the Pope and others do not allow for is the satisfaction of women’s desires. Women are not expected to enjoy sex. With the rhythm method that the Catholic Church recommends and allows – since they consider it natural  – women have to have sex when they are least aroused – not when they are naturally aroused (when they are ovulating). So it’s not natural at all.
And the thing with Limbaugh and his insults is that he is trying to return women to the dungeons of the Dark Ages when women were supposed to pretend that they did not care for sex. Any woman who suggests that she does enjoy sex has to be roundly ridiculed and denounced. (Do these people have any idea of how ridiculous they sound??? ) Because in the Dark Ages (before 1972) only men could be sexual beings – men were (are) allowed to enjoy and boast about how many partners they have had. Whether the partners were willing or not is not the issue. Whether the partners got any enjoyment out of it or not is not the issue.
Honestly – I think that the Catholic Church, Limbaugh, and the likes of Santorum encourage homosexuality. For men – women are demeaned and thought of as unsexual. For women – men such as these present men as assholes who don’t think that women should have a sexual life (and who would want to control them at best). Plus – with homosexuality – one need not worry about birth control. Problem solved.

Sunrises, Gods & Goddesses, & Sex

Where I live, I have a good view to the east. I usually take a walk first thing in the morning – and it is often around the time the sun is rising. I’ve taken hundreds of sunrise photos. (My header photo is of a sunset I took while on vacation).

My religion has evolved to where it basically involves being happy to be alive and appreciating the awesome world that I find myself in. I count my blessings which include having wonderful parents, husband, & grown children. I try to live simply; I meditate and practice yoga.

My philosophy is partly based on a liberal understanding of Christianity (minus the divinity part), along with some Jungian, feminist, and other readings. I strive for a somewhat Universal understanding – I am interested in ideas from India, China, & Japan – especially as they relate to our relationship with the earth and with each other.

It has taken me awhile – but I have come to appreciate the way that sex is integrated into the religions of India. The idea of sex and especially the yoni (vagina) representing life, is so basic and sensible. Temples have at their core a room that is based on the idea of the womb. Carved, stylized yonis with a lingam (phallas shape) within the yoni – as a symbol of life are normal and everyday artifacts. And of course – what simpler way to represent life? The Egyptian ankh symbol was likely based on the same idea.

The more I have learned about this way of understanding the world, and the more the acceptance and appreciation of the symbols of sex as life become integrated into my mind, the more I see that Christianity and especially Catholicism is messed up.

I have enjoyed reading Elaine Pagels books The Gnostic Gospels (1979), & Adam, Eve and the Serpent (1988), which have helped put into perspective what happened early in Christianity. Basically that while there were people who embraced spirituality and equality with women, the ones who won were the ones who wanted to squash women’s influence. The ones who won were more interested in creating an authoritarian model that demanded obedience as opposed to a more inclusive model based on love and acceptance. Many ‘heretics’ were killed along the way.

To this day we have those who are interested in using religion to dominate and control – to keep men elevated and women subservient. That would include the fundamentalists who demand a ‘literal’ (cough) interpretation of the Bible as well as the Catholics with their Pope who has decided that birth control is evil. While the vast majority of Christian denominations adapted and made women more equal partners, the Catholics remain inflexible.

Many denominations in the 70s and 80s moved to have more inclusive language – such as describing God not as He – but as the creator. Five hundred years ago, various (non-Catholic) Christians began thinking of God as more abstract than physical. The maleness of God has remained important to the Catholic hierarchy – with the Pope saying that it would be a different religion if (the) God(s) were not male.

The fundamentalists and Catholics – while they may be saving the patriarchal nature of their religion – are becoming more and more polarizing as many of the rest of us see that the patriarchy is not the model we wish to follow. I think that where there could have been more liberal Christians, the effect of the extremists is to encourage people such as myself to abandon Christianity altogether and look for something more reasonable and women-friendly.

What women like myself are discovering is that there is a whole world of Goddesses that I, for one, grew up knowing little about. The Greek Goddesses we typically learn about had been made subservient (for the most part) by the Greeks as they imposed patriarchal concepts long ago – as well as in their retelling by an educational system that wanted to promote male power over women.

To find out about the Goddess(es) who were thought of as being the creator(s) of the world, etc. you need to find out about the Goddesses before they were dominated and recast as inferior beings.

Nearly all of the artifacts representing humans prior to about 6000 years ago were of women. It is no coincidence that 4000 BCE marks the time when fundamentalists say that the world began. What happened at the “fall” was that the Earth Mother, Eve (along with a symbol of the earth – the snake) were denigrated and demonized. Men asserted their power over women. Men also began taking credit for life, itself. Many men don’t want to give that up. (Santorum and Limbaugh to name two).

Sandra Fluke’s Statement

The Testimony Chairman Issa (and RL) Doesn’t Want You to Hear

Sandra Fluke was blocked from testifying on the topic of the contraception compromise of the Obama administration.

Basically, the Catholic Bishop Lobby has been working on making Catholic hospitals and other Catholic businesses exempt from covering birth control pills. The essence of the compromise was that it does not cost the Catholic businesses anything if the health insurance plan includes birth control pills because the plans would have to cost more without them (because they would be covering post conception issues).

The Catholic Bishop Lobby, along with the Congressional Republicans are working very hard to limit women’s rights – so the issue here is not about the money but about the control. The Conservative frame is that the poor Catholics are having to fund something that is against their “faith”. But how can they be funding something if it costs less (HA!)

Conservatives would rather twist into pretzels than admit that this issue is about men controlling women. The Catholic church with their all male rulers seem to think that they should control the government like they did in the ‘good old days’. The Church is founded on the disdain for sex and disdain for women. Their leaders don’t have anything to do with women (sexually) – and they seem to like it like that – they seem to think that that gives them power. As if, women, by association would weaken them.

I think that we may need a new church – one that includes the premise that sex is normal (so long as it is between consenting adults). What a concept. Then it would be more obvious an argument to say that the Catholic Church/Republicans are infringing on the women’s religious freedom. The Church/Republicans seem to think that religious freedom trumps even the rights of one’s bodily integrity – one’s actual self.

Props to Sandra Fluke and the group that she is associated with – Law Students for Reproductive Justice. I added the group and their blog to my blogroll.