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“The more time women are compelled to spend fighting their own bodies, the less they have to fight for anything else.” Michelle Goldberg ponders the rise of surgical alterations of women’s bodies during what I guess we’ve decided to term “the aughts,” suggesting that we’re not much further ahead at dispelling the beauty myth than we were in 1991. In fact, we might be much further behind.

“The Bush years may have been one of the worst times for those of us interested in gender equality.” Suzanne Reisman also has some sober reflections about what the past ten years have wraught, along with a few things she’s grateful for (and more reflections promised in January).

“If you don’t want to be accused of indecent exposure and ‘traumatising’ young children, cover up or install curtains.” Carnal Nation reports that a man in Virginia was convicted of “indecent exposure” for being naked in his own home.

“It is inaccurate to view all sexual activity among young people as intrinsically negative.” Carnal Nation reports on a new study from the University of Alberta that suggests a positive relationship between emotional maturity and satisfying sexual experiences. While I have questions about who’s defining “mature” vs. “immature” I appreciate that the researchers are pushing back against the idea that all young people are unprepared to be sexually active.

“I clearly remember the sexual anxiety from my undergraduate days. For one thing, I had no real idea of what my sexual needs were; I knew they weren’t being met, but I tried not to think about it because I didn’t even know where to start, so thinking about how I wasn’t getting what I wanted just made me feel awkward and confused.” Clarisse Thorn writes about BDSM, radical feminism, and sexual availability. She also notes that the post is “a bit feminist-theoretical.” For those whom such words cause hives, you have been warned.

“Birth films tend to be very romantic or absolutely terrifying. I wanted to juxtapose real and fake births and let people make up their own minds, and I wanted to make it funny, because the subject can be so intense.” Film-maker and childbirth educator Vicki Elson discusses Laboring Under An Illusion, which explores the way childbirth is depicted on television in sitcoms, dramas, “reality” television, and documentaries.

“Because seriously, what’s more fun than thinking of virgin/whore visuals?!” Jessica Valenti’s latest book, The Purity Myth is going to be reworked as a documentary.

“Clearly, the objection to strawberries is that they’re so pleasurable, and someone on food stamps is viewed as someone who doesn’t deserve even the smallest pleasures.” Amanda Marcotte writes about economies of pleasure, and the way in which Americans — and social/sexual conservatives more specifically — view pleasure as something to be “earned” and “granted” by some sort of authority, and pleasures which are free and private (sex), or which are viewed as unearned (a marijuana high) are treated with suspicion and folks who engage in them often downright vilified.

“This was a bad policy that had a good point at the heart of it. The loss of troops from vital places is an important point to ponder — but a policy that targets women, whether intended to do so or not, isn’t the way to get the mission accomplished.” Brandann Hill-Mann at the Women’s Rights Blog discusses the recent news story about a General in Iraq who was court-marshaling women who became pregnant serving under him (and, where applicable, their sexual partners).

“Modeling for Playgirl doesn’t make Levi a model for decorous fatherhood, but it’s hardly enough to strip him of his right to help make decisions about his son’s life.” Emily Bazelon discusses why Bristol Palin should not be awarded sole custody of her son Tripp.

“Why, today alone I have endangered my 15-week-old fetus by taking a warm bath, painting my nails green, eating Parmesan cheese that I’m not SURE was pasteurized, and struggling to install a new cable box . . .!” A pregnant woman writes to Lenore at the blog Free Range Kids to ask “How about a companion website: Free-Range Fetus?” as a way of counteracting the culture of perfectionism that currently pervades every aspect of reproduction, from pre-conception through post-college parenting.

And finally, Elyse at Skepchick asks “What information do you wish you had about sex back in the day? What information do you wish you had about sex now?” The comments make great food for New Year’s thought.

*image credit: nude aqua by linda boucher @ Flickr.

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