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Sunday rolls around once more, and with it fun stuff on sex and gender for your weekend leisure reading!

As I catch up on my reading and put this list together, mostly supervising the reading room at work, the MHS is hosting a conference, Margaret Fuller and Her Circles, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Margaret Fuller’s birth (23 May 1810). In conjunction, we have also mounted an exhibit, “A More Interior Revolution”: Elizabeth Peabody, Margaret Fuller, and the Women of the American Renaissance, open to the public Monday-Saturday, 1-4pm through June 30th. If you’re in the Boston area, come on by and check it out!

Lori @ Feministing offers us an alternate advice column in response to a young woman in Vermont who wrote to Dear Wendy asking what to do about the fact that everyone calls her a slut, and on the way by links to a recent piece by Chloe Angyal @ The Huffington Post reflecting on why media literacy won’t solve the problem of women and girls’ negative body image: “Fashion models, [the girls surveyed believe], are too skinny, unrealistic, and look unhealthy and sick. And yet 48% wish they could look just like them. This is, to state the obvious, a serious problem. It’s one thing to want to be beautiful for beauty’s sake. It’s quite another to want to be unhealthy for beauty’s sake.”

Teen mom celebrity Bristol Palin has recorded an anti-teen-parenthood PSA message that has been criticized by many feminist bloggers (among them Roxann MtJoy @ Women’s Rights Blog) as a message that basically comes across as “only rich, privileged kids like me should have sex.” What I think is fascinating is that Palin is voicing (though in a bizarre, through-the-looking-glass way) what many feminist bloggers have pointed out: that she had a robust support system that enabled her to carry her pregnancy to term and become a teen parent without many of the long-term negative effects that her less-privileged peers can suffer. Yet she rather than speak out for reproductive justice so that all girls and women have the same ability to choose parenthood she did (if they want to), she shames less-privileged girls for having sexual desires and acting on them. No points.

Anat Shenker-Osorio @ RhRealityCheck reflects on the problem with understanding sex (“what bodies are”) and gender (“what bodies do”) as distinct and oppositional categories (male/female) when in reality — biologically as well as culturally — they are often somewhere in the muddled middle. “It’s too long been standard practice to enforce a one-to-one relationship, to dismiss any divergence between sex, gender identity and even sexual orientation as some kind of problematic aberration. In fact, deviation from the mean is an interesting, useful and common aspect of humans in our forms and functions.”

Amy Romano @ Our Bodies, Our Blog writes about the unequal treatment meted out by professional associations, the legal system, and the general public towards midwives and OB/GYNs. While midwives live under constant threat of having their ability to practice curtailed or revoked with the slightest whiff of malpractice, doctors who performed a c-section on a woman who was not pregnant have faced little in the way of professional consequences.

On a similar note, Miriam @ Radical Doula calls our attention to the website “My OB Said WHAT?!?” which encourages women whose care providers (whether nurses, OB/GYNS, or midwives) has said off-the-wall shit to them during prenatal care, labor and delivery, and post-partum care. For example

The baby can’t do that. You haven’t had a cervix check.” -L&D nurse absentmindedly while reviewing papers, to mother with a history of fast labors, when the mother stated “The baby is coming” 20 minutes after arriving in the hospital. The baby was crowning.

I particularly enjoyed this one because the exact same thing happened to my mother (who also had fast labors) when she went to the hospital to give birth to my brother twenty-six years ago. Like babies and mothers’ bodies somehow wait for the nurses to check all the little boxes in the appropriate order before getting on with things!

Harriet Jacobs @ Fugitivus has a brief post up on what it means to be a “fat acceptance” blog, and I appreciated the way she articulates the difference between telling your own story and judging others.

Do you want to talk about your own body image issues? That is awesome. Do you want to talk about the “obesity epidemic” and how if people would just eat X while dancing in a circle with Y and clapping their hands for Tinkerbell they would win the anti-gravity BMI trophy of HAPPINESS? You don’t get to do that here. Everybody gets to be the size and shape they are, everybody gets to eat how they want here, and nobody here gets to tell them they have to change, or there’s something wrong with them.

I still haven’t formulated a comment policy for my own blog, mostly out of laziness (too little traffic to make it an issue 99% of the time), but when I see stuff like this I realize I should sit down one of these days and really articulate what I believe to be civil discourse. Not pushing your own shit onto others, even (most especially?) strangers on the internet, is definitely one such criteria.

Feminist bloggers the blogosphere over squealed with glee over the news that a group of scholars disappointed in the multifaceted, intersectional gender analysis that is women’s studies, men’s studies, and gender studies, have established a new discipline that they call “male studies.” Tracy Clark-Flory @ Salon describes the group’s position and expresses sadness that their oppositional stance toward feminism could prove counterproductive for thoughtful gender analysis. Sady & Amanda @ Sexist/Tiger Beatdown rap about what this says about the state of gender politics and Amanda Hess (who can’t seem to stop giggling about this) offers some possible names for consideration as appointments to future male studies departments.

In a similar vein, figleaf @ Figleaf’s Real Adult Sex reflects on why anti-feminists are so worried that women’s advancement means men’s downfall. “Summary: A highly-exasperated reflection on the embarrassing, sometimes embarrassingly earnest, anti-feminist belief that if the playing field is leveled men can can’t compete with women.”

And finally, this week, on a thoughtful note, this column passed along to me by Hanna from The Guardian in which Denis Campbell @ The Guardian discusses the complicated ethics of transatlantic surrogacy and adoption. In the words of one couple, “I resent people saying that British couples who resort to surrogacy are buying babies abroad. We didn’t buy Harriet: she’s not picked off a shelf. She’s not a ‘designer baby’.”

*image credit: Snake on a Naked Woman made available by lucy10 @ Flickr.com.

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