Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Defective Breasts

I originally had decided not to publish this post, because after all, we don't really need another post on how people in western cultures view breasts. But when I opened today's paper, I saw an article on The Boob Lady, and just lost it. So here goes.

When I got sick this past spring, I joined a Yahoo group for people with chronic illnesses. One of the regular emails consists of a list of links from the Mayo Clinic that provides information on a variety of health concerns, from preventing the flu to dealing with intractable fatigue. So imagine my surprise when a recent link from the the Mayo Clinic covered breast augmentation.

I clicked on the link, because I wanted to know how breast augmentation could possibly be related to health. One of the reasons suggested for breast augmentation was priceless:

* Correct a defect in the development of your breasts, such as having breasts of unequal sizes

So this is how breast implants are related to women's health! Only, I'm confused as to what health problems I'm risking by having uneven breasts. Is the smaller breast more susceptible to cancer? Am I in danger of damaging the larger breast by closing a door on it? I'm afraid to admit this, because clearly I'm a developmental freak, but most parts of my body are uneven. Can medicine come to the rescue? The only thing worse than misogyny is when misogyny enriches the medical industry.

Frankly, my misaligned breasts haven't caused me any problems in life. My mismatched feet, on the other hand, have caused considerable problems, since one foot always has an ill-fitting shoe. Maybe the Mayo Clinic will send me an article about foot implants. But then, I'd have to work my way up my body, undergoing multiple surgeries to even myself out so that I don't exhibit any developmental defects and make other people uncomfortable. Oh, wait, uneven body parts are a health issue. I'm sorry to say I've typed this entire post with uneven hands. How could I have been so reckless?

I think I'll focus on actual health problems, like this intractable fatigue.

The Boob Lady

Thursday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a story on a woman who likes to be called "The Boob Lady". I read the story, hoping against hope that TBL would be preaching a message of self-acceptance, and encouraging girls to challenge the messages that bombard them daily. Imagine how excited I was when I read that she speaks to girls in junior high school, and that her philosophy was that "They should be comfortable in their own skin."

Optimism only leads to disappointment.

She didn't start out as The Boob Lady.

A creative-writing class unearthed her feelings about her breast lift surgery two years ago and the impact it made on her life.

"For most of my life, my breasts would arrive in the room before I did," she said.

After nursing and raising those children and getting into shape, she underwent a breast lift -- a surgery that removes excess flesh and moves the nipples up -- and for the first time, she felt like she had breasts that aligned with her petite body.

"Finally, I'm comfortable with me," she said.

TBL wants girls to be comfortable in their own skin. That phrase, comfortable in your own skin, is important to me. I've been working for a long time to achieve that level of acceptance of myself. The way that I understand the phrase, it means that you accept yourself as you are. It does not mean that you accept yourself once you've had surgery to get rid of the unacceptable parts.

The article just gets worse and worse:
"They're not the end-all be-all but they are the things that define us as women," Squires said. "They're out there all the time. They define our sex, but it isn't who we are."

Silly Boob Lady, our breasts do define who we are. Someone, get this woman a radical feminist analysis of body image, stat! She attempts to preach about the need for a positive body image.

Bodies, she said, change a lot. And so do your breasts, with life-changing events such as pregnancy and birth, or through exercise.

"They're in a constant state of flux," Squires said. "Change is a good thing. If you don't like your breasts today, you may like them in 20 years."

But surgery to "improve" your breasts is acceptable. It's impossible for me to reconcile the idea that bodies are to be accepted as they are, as they change, but plastic surgery is okay.

...What's unnatural are boobs deliberately hiked up by some tits-on-a-platter bra, รก la Victoria's Secret," she wrote.

But breasts subjected to surgery are natural? Restrictive bras are unacceptable, but surgery is fine? Wouldn't it be so much easier to encourage women and girls to accept their bodies as they are? Loving your body, without reservation, without "fixing" it first, should not still be subversive. Unfortunately, it still is.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Bunny Blogging

Bumble lost an entire corner of the living room due to setting up the Christmas tree. He is not happy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

White Americans Giving Thanks

Many Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. The holiday requires people to shift their focus from constantly trying to acquire more things to being thankful for what they have. (Never fear, the culturally-mandated consumption resumes and goes into overdrive on Friday.)

Some white Americans even make an effort to remember how hard things were for the Pilgrims who arrived here wholly unprepared for life in North America. People then eat an enormous meal and fall asleep in front of a football game on tv.

My request is this: would each of you please, at least once tomorrow think: "I sure am thankful I wasn't on the receiving end of genocide"?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Monday Bunny Blogging

How much hay can fit in one mouth?

Sorry for the blurry picture, but his entire head is moving fast.

Post created using Firefox as my browser. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ha! and Help?

I recently announced that I was going to be blogging again. Technology intervened and gave me a big &#@% you! My internet connectivity fails frequently, but it's failing for long stretches of time now.

What's worse is that most of my bookmarks have disappeared! I don't know how this happened, but I'm lost without them (I thought Netscape regularly backed up bookmarks. Silly me.) Does anyone know of a way to retrieve bookmarks? Everything, including the outrages I wanted to write about, is gone. Help!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Monday Bunny Blogging

Bumble was busy playing in the blinds when he remembered he wanted to help his friend Lexi overcome her fear of the camera. He decided the best way to do this would be to shove himself directly against the camera. No rabbit would ever do this if it was even remotely dangerous!

Bumble's straight-on approach

Extreme close-up of nose and front legs

See Lexi, it's fun! But they really freak out if you try to chew the camera.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm Back!

I took a break from blogging due to health problems. After awhile, I realized I didn’t want to come back. I’m crushed by the state of the world, by the way the women are forced to live. The amount of suffering and despair is overwhelming. Fortunately, I’ve been reading blogs, and you’ve all been getting to me.

Amy posted Despair, she wrote. The post is written in response to a question she received via email: “"I am wondering how you deal with despair...How do you stand knowing what you know, seeing what you see, feeling what you feel for womyn???? "

The entire piece got to me, but two things stood out. Her direct and honest answer:

Answer #1: I don’t. I spend quite a lot of time feeling crappy.

Ah. Other women go through this too. There’s no way around the fact that fighting for women hurts. I found this response freeing. It meant my struggles weren’t the product of me being “not tough enough”. (I have a lifetime of people telling me to “toughen up” and “get a thicker skin”.) The pain was part of the process. The work we do for women, for everyone, is critical. It is not, however, free from harm.

Amy also included a quote from Andrea Dworkin:

It is important to understand that we will live with a fair amount of pain for most of our lives. If your first priority is to live a painless life, you will not be able to help yourself or other women. What matters is to be a warrior.

There is no such thing as a painless life, but we seem to seek it out as if it was our natural state. Avoiding pain is arguably the strongest motivator for humans. What we need to learn is that it's okay to be in pain. We don't have to avoid pain at all costs. We do have to learn to find ways to deal with the pain so that it doesn't break our will to fight. Read Amy's whole post to see how she copes.

Sometimes painful situations in life paired with online hate become too much. An excellent and thoughtful writer, Amananta, has decided to stop blogging. I will miss her voice terribly, but I wish her the best, and hope that things improve for her soon. Elaina left a comment on one of Amananta’s posts that really energized me:

We are in a war here, Amananta. We only really lose if we stop fighting. Keep on screaming. Folks are still asleep; we all have to scream to wake them up before the sky falls.

Thank you for writing that, Elaina. Resistance can take many different forms. There will be times when we cannot fight in the way we want. But we must keep fighting, in whatever way we're able. Even small actions can have a big impact.

Finally, this morning I read a post by Biting Beaver, in which she said:

All of our fighting and screaming, all of our defending and begging and frustration, all of our anger and sadness will die, impotent and ineffective for we are battling an army, the likes of which we never could have comprehended. We are, for all intents and purposes, trying to empty oceans with teaspoons.

She’s right. Misogyny will not be overcome in my lifetime. It may never be overcome fully. But we fight so that one day, women will not have to live as we do. The outcome is uncertain. When and how will women be able to live as fully-recognized human beings? We don’t need the answers. We don’t need to know how it will all work out. We just need to keep fighting. We just need to resist.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Please Take Action

First, read Brownfemipower's post, Why feminists must stand against government oppression. Then, see the two posts below it for people to call/mail/email.