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Because who could possibly resist gaudy patriotism like this on the 4th of July weekend? Not me!

In other, much more serious news (*ahem*), Amanda Hess & Courtney Stoker @ The Sexist talk about the highs and lows of being a feminist geek, and how to make dudely subcultures more inclusive, while Julia (also @ The Sexist) discusses how fanfic can serve as the gateway to kink (third video from the top).

The Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative @ Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard University) offer up a paper (available in PDF) on “addresses legal and practical issues related to the practice colloquially known as sexting.” You can read a press release and download the paper at their website. I haven’t had a chance to peruse it, but it looks to be a good resource for folks doing research and/or advocacy in this area.

Thomas @ Yes Means Yes wrote a short post this week reminding us all that physical response to sexual stimulation does not equal consent: our bodies respond with arousal whether we desire the contact or not. What does this mean? Only enthusiastic participation can really equal consent, and that’s the golden standard we all need to be looking for in our partners.

Everyone, it seems, has opinions on whether women should breastfeed their children, for how long, under what circumstances, and the depths of “bad mother”-dome they will sink if they push the envelope on any of these parameters. Rowan Pelling @ The Telegraph (UK) describes the no-win situation

The last time I wrote on the topic, saying in the mildest terms that while I subscribed to the view that breast was best it was counter-productive to bully women on the topic, I received a torrent of abusive mail. Several people suggested that I should not have reproduced if I “couldn’t be bothered” to feed the baby myself, while one New Man denounced my laziness, saying piously that he had “made sure my wife persevered for our child’s good”. I had a vision of his poor spouse weeping with cracked nipples, while he chained her to the nursing chair.

Over @ first the egg, Molly shares her toddler’s expertise on childbirth, as well as he boundless curiousity for how babies are grown and birthed. “In the car later he was annoyed with himself because he knew that the cord provides food through the blood but couldn’t remember about oxygen: ‘What else does it do?,’ he asked urgently. Then he said he’d tell [his teacher] about the oxygen thing the next day. This child takes his duties as childbirth educator seriously, people.”

Endocrinologist Dr. Marian New is experimenting with the use of hormone therapy for pregnant women to reduce incidences of congenital adrenal hyperplasia(CAH) in female fetuses. CAH has been linked by some to a greater incidence of infertility, intersexuality, “masculine” behaviors, bisexuality, and even (gasp!) lesbianism. Kelsey Wallace @ Bitch Blogs feels this warrants the latest proclaimation of a douchebag decree for en utero gender norm enforcement! For those interested the more science-heavy details of New’s experimental treatments see: Alice Dreger, Ellen K. Feder, Anne Tamar-Mattis @ Bioethics Forum, Preventing Homosexuality (and Uppity Women) in the Womb? and an update by the same authors: Prenatal Dex.

In other drug-related news, the FDA recently declined to approve Flibanserin, a drug that is supposed to increase sexual desire in pre-menopausal women. While a number of feminists have vocally opposed the medicalization of sexual desire, Dr. Marty Klein @ Sexual Intelligence asks what is accomplished by denying the drug to women for whom a medical fix might improve their quality of life. “There’s something unseemly about activists — self-described feminists, sexual health advocates, whatever –working so hard to prevent a drug from coming to market because its creators might manipulate and confuse possible consumers.”

We might say we believe in gender equality, but do our values and our actions really reflect such a claim? As SarahMC @ The Pursuit of Harpyness, equality in theory but not in practice seems to be the order of the day according to a recently-released Pew Research survey of twenty-two nations worldwide.

Elena Kagan refused to backpedal her opposition to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” according to Michael Jones @ The Gay Rights Blog, and the always-worth-reading Dahlia Lithwick @ Slate offers her take on Kagan’s nomination process, reporting how senators worried that the Court might impose a Communist regime of forced vegetables for all if Kagan is approved, while Kagan herself woos her audience with her wit and wisdom as all the justices who’ve gone before her haunt the Senate floor. Which, in the end, turned out to be a poor tactic for the opposition, since most Americans are pretty happy with what Thurgood Marshall accomplished for civil rights.

In other Supreme Court-related news, SCOTUS handed down a ruling at the end of the 2009-2010 term supporting schools’ rights to require all school-endorsed student groups to be open to all. The specific case argued involved a law school that refused official recognition to a Christian student group because they required all members to sign a statement of faith upon joining, the articles of which included condemning non-straight sexuality as sinful.

Speaking of sinful behavior, Sinclair @ Sugarbutch Chronicles tackles the question of whether enjoying porn that features sexual orientations other than your own is exploitative. Short answer: No. Slightly longer answer: It’s not the consumption of pornography or erotica that is a measure of your exploitative behavior, it’s how you actually treat actual people whose sexual orientations and predilections differ from yours.

In other words: Let that erotica increase your reserve of lovingkindness toward all beings!

And with that, I’m going to sign off and go enjoy me some fireworks. Or maybe just an episode of two of American Dad!

Happy 4th everyone!

image credit: _MG_0880.JPG by DINO212 @ Flickr.com.

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