Author: has written 5285 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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352 Responses

  1. groggette
    groggette September 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    So I’m pretty much just copying myself from twitter, but seriously!

    Anyone who judges another person for the size/shape of their labia (or penis for that matter) needs to have their proximity-to-other-people’s-genitalia privileges revoked.

  2. Me
    Me September 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm |

    Labia means lips. I like thinking of the vulva as a mouth. Also, my outer nether-lips feel kind of the same as my face-lips, so I think it works.

    Plus I can labia with a straight face. Alternate names like “vajayjay” now “vipis” give me the giggles. I also like the word vulva (makes me think of velvet, which is inexorably linked with chocolate in my brain – they’re all on the same level of loveliness) so I might be weird.

  3. Natasha
    Natasha September 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    The thought of it makes me cross my legs. YOWCH and HELL NO.

    I remember in my naive adolescent years coming across friends’ fathers’ Playboy mags, looking through the pics and thinking something was wrong with my vaj. If I hadn’t given myself permission to think, and if I slept with people who criticized my vaj, then who knows, I coulda been a women of many submitting myself to the savage techno-colonizing medical/cosmetic industry. *shudder*

  4. figleaf
    figleaf September 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    The weird thing is that generally when you see these comparisons the difference between “whore” and “virginal” labia is actually the just the difference between aroused and uninterested.

    Which strongly implies what about those who make such comparisons? Either complete lack of sexual experience, period, or complete inability to arouse one’s partner.

    Also, did you check out the lead paragraph of Christa Faust’s post? “Ladies, here’s an important tip to help you determine if your man is serious husband material: If he has large, dangling genitals, then you can tell that those parts have been overused and stretched out, and he’s obviously dirty, diseased and slutty. But if he has tiny, barely visible genitals that don’t hang down too far, that means he is clean, healthy, virginal, and worthy of marriage.”

    Cracked me up. Although, again, given the usual confusion between aroused labia and “diseased” ones, an even better analogy would go something like “But if he has tiny, barely visible genitals that always hang flaccidly hang down and never swell or point upwards, that means he is clean, healthy, virginal, and worthy of marriage.”

    And finally, while it’s always possible, I guess, for someone’s labia to be “unattractive” it’s going to be in the same way someone’s tongue could be unattractive. In other words it probably happens all the time but who either notices or cares? But even if you could find someone who actually cared that your tongue was “ugly” would you run out to a plastic surgeon and get it “trimmed?” Or would you DTMFA?

    Also, clue, even if its your only experience with the opposite sex, or even your own, never get your ideas about anatomy from porn. (Hello? Photoshopped “solutions” to very weird censorship laws.)

    figleaf

  5. mad the swine
    mad the swine September 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm |

    Point one: their body, their choice. Perhaps I’m a little sensitive, but I dislike it when people declare that this body modification is acceptable, but that one is off limits because you think it’s icky.

    Point two: the site you link to “defends” large labia by linking to a fetish site. Girls – and everyone else! – need to hear that their bodies are wonderful because they are, per se, a priori. They don’t need to be told that their validation depends on submitting themselves to objectification by fat hairy filthy acne-ridden men pawing at themselves in their parents’ basements.

  6. Andrea
    Andrea September 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm |

    If someone says something bad about your labia, that wouldn’t be very smart of them. After all, they would most likely be within easy access to a swift kneeing of the face.

  7. Ashley
    Ashley September 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm |

    I think people should do whatever they want to do but I agree with your reasons against surgery. Yes labia is a funny word. Vulva isn’t too pretty of a word either.

  8. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm |

    This newfound labia-criticism seems like a male projection of our anxiety about penis size. Of course males want to have large penises and want females to have small labia. It’s just another tired gender binary.

  9. igglanova
    igglanova September 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm |

    I for one am appalled that Jill’s outside link to a non-feminist site contains content that is not 100% feminist. Why would you even think about linking to an author with different opinions from your own?? HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT TO THINK???

  10. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm |

    Ugh, when i saw someone else named matt commented on here i was like, am i losing my memory? then i read the comment and knew i wouldnt say that so then i told my mom off for giving me such a common first name.

    anyways, people don’t make choices. so no one chooses anything. if you mean that choices are results of a thought process, well, then arguing that someone didn’t make their choice freely since no thought process exists a priori.

    FYI person who said people should think they are wonderful a priori, if you have ever seen the results of extended self esteem classes in public education you would understand that that is not a good idea.

    further when a person gets out of self esteem land and into the real world they will quickly be disillusioned anyways.

  11. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit September 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm |

    This seems like a great place to link to the Everyday Bodies Project. I’m not affiliated with the site or the project, but I love the VaginaPagina community and I think the project is an admirable one.

  12. andie
    andie September 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm |

    Good lord. I for one have never seen a penis or a labia that I found particularly pretty. ‘taint no such animal, son. The charm is in the function, not the form.

    And as far as choice.. choices aren’t made in a vaccuum. I’m pretty willing to bet that without media intervention, then aside from the occasional asshole (or complimentary) comment from a lover, very few women would give more than a passing thought to the aesthetics of their labia.

  13. zuzu
    zuzu September 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm |

    Well, it didn’t take long for the “I choose my choice” crowd to come out and demand that we all stop THINKING so much about shit like context and using shame and fears of inadequacy to control women and how men never seem to have anyone trying to profit from the differences in their junk.

  14. Bess
    Bess September 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm |

    “Is there are a part of your body that you don’t feel self-conscious about yet? Well, we can’t have that! Your labia are wrong! And incidentally, have you seen the color of your anus? Yikes!”

  15. Natasha
    Natasha September 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm |

    mad the swine: Point one: their body, their choice. Perhaps I’m a little sensitive, but I dislike it when people declare that this body modification is acceptable, but that one is off limits because you think it’s icky.

    Agreed. I’m into tattoos and piercings on my body, but not much else unless I’m at death’s door. Body modification is a very long and colorful continuum, as are the reasons behind it.

  16. K__
    K__ September 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm |

    Oops.
    Too late.

    Just kidding!
    Actually, I did something potentially worse, and went and got vaginal surgery instead. To make matters worse it was performed at a plastic surgery facility.

    Oops.
    Too late.
    Am I kicked out of the feminist club now? Can I stay in if I fall under the medical exemption?

    But seriously, I groan when I see yet another post about labiaplasty, vulvar surgery, vaginoplasty or those g-spot injections or whatever. I went through something similar, but apparently I’m supposed to have a free pass since my reasons were in fact medical in nature. Even then I don’t particularly enjoy receiving the exemption, because medical or health reasons for seeking surgeries are just thrown in there as a token. I don’t usually see nuanced discussion of medical reasons for surgeries down there, so I’m still not 100% clear on why, exactly, it’s somehow so different. Don’t know how to feel about that. Even the Hairpin article pooh-poohs one girl’s complaint of physical discomfort as incentive to seek the surgery in the first place. I guess some kinds of medical & discomfort reasons are more valid than others.

    I also groan because, sometimes in the articles and comments about the plastic surgeries. People will say stuff like, “My vagina is perfect the way it is. Vulvas and vaginas come in different shapes & sizes & it’s all normal. Mine’s perfect, so is yours.”
    Well, I’m happy for you that your vulva & vagina are perfect.
    Unfortunately, mine is not.
    See, the body-positive comments about acceptance of diversity and stuff, it’s all meant to be helpful. And I’m sure for the vast, vast majority of people, that works fine and is 100% accurate. But it backfires on me, because I never fit in with all the rest of the perfect, diverse bodies.
    Basically the only way my vulva was normal is if we’re willing to normalize vulvas that react with pain to every touch. Personally, I’d rather be weird than normalize pain.

    Not that I think all cosmetic & vulvar surgery everywhere is awesome and beyond reproach. I don’t think it should be illegal or that we should set up women who’ve done it as objects of ridicule. I’m actually highly disturbed by one activist group’s activity protesting outside of plastic surgery clinics, because I keep thinking that could have been me getting humiliated in public.
    I would prefer to leave the individual women who’ve gone through the procedure or who are considering it out of the criticism of the procedure itself. I’d rather examine the marketing of the procedures itself & censorship laws that lead to an over-representation of certain configurations of labia. Like there’s censorship laws in Australia where you’re not supposed to show large labia even in adult media, because for some reason such labia are considered obscene.

  17. saurus
    saurus September 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm |

    mad the swine:
    They don’t need to be told that their validation depends on submitting themselves to objectification by fat hairy filthy acne-ridden men pawing at themselves in their parents’ basements.

    Uh, I guess “filthy” is one thing, but I don’t see what’s derogatory about being a fat, hairy, acne-ridden man in his parent’s basement, nor do fat, hairy, acne-ridden men in their parent’s basements account for all (or even most!) porn consumers, nor are they any more likely than the general population to have a large labia fetish. Can we not trot out this stereotype, especially by body-snarking? I’m totally with you on how it’s a problem if our primary source of body-esteem comes from the porn industry, but there’s nothing wrong with a body having fat or hair or acne and I hope we can invest more class analysis and cultural awareness than just buying into the assumption that it’s pathetic for anyone over the age of 18 to live with their parents, not to mention that consumers of porn are diverse and plenty.

  18. Natasha
    Natasha September 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm |

    zuzu: Well, it didn’t take long for the “I choose my choice” crowd to come out and demand that we all stop THINKING so much about shit like context and using shame and fears of inadequacy to control women and how men never seem to have anyone trying to profit from the differences in their junk.

    LOL well said zuzu. There is so much to the word “choice”, it’s such a loaded concept; probably deserves its own thread, or has one already, dunno, I’m a newbie to Feministe.

  19. andie
    andie September 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm |

    zuzu:
    men never seem to have anyone trying to profit from the differences in their junk.

    In fairness, I have about six thousand emails in my junkmail folder for penis enlargement that would beg to differ on that point.

  20. Natasha
    Natasha September 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm |

    K__: Basically the only way my vulva was normal is if we’re willing to normalize vulvas that react with pain to every touch. Personally, I’d rather be weird than normalize pain.

    I’m not willing to normalize unwanted pain. Thank you for this very important perspective, it is one too often forgotten/ignored/dismissed.

  21. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm |

    Remember though, this is the same argument used by the “normies” of a particular nature to silence opposition.
    “Don’t be so sensitive!”
    Sound familiar?

    Choice language is problematic because in the standard context it presupposes conscious a priori will. However even for people like me who disbelieve in any type of free will, much less people like, I’m presuming you and everyone else on this site(and yes my presupposition is based on my personal lack of experience in encountering other people who believe as i do, ie anecdotal evidence), who believe in a combination of free will and external influences. when you believe that those two things exist in the same world, you have to deal with arguments about why this is a choice and that isn’t.

    Debating issues rarely results in a change of either parties opinion. The most effective method of changing society is brainwashing children in environments where they can’t easily avoid you. An adult can just walk away if you try to enforce your beliefs on them, but a child just has to take it. This is how Christians are created.
    Parents have a right to do as they please with their child, and the child has minimal recourse and only in extreme circumstances.
    This is why school policy causes so much drama, because both sides of a particular ideological divide know that, control the school, control the children, control the future.

    Jill:
    Is anyone suggesting that labia surgery be illegal, or that we ridicule women who get it? No. But come on. Again, just because women make a choice doesn’t mean that we can’t critique the culture that leads women towards particular choices. Lots of women also chose to let their husbands cast the family vote, and chose to advocate against female suffrage. So should we all just shut up and not critique laws against women voting? Because it might make someone feel bad?

    These conversations make me want to abandon “choice” language all together. I’m a big fan of freedom to legally choose one’s path, but that’s somehow been perverted in some (in my opinion, shallow and not particularly thoughtful) feminist circles to mean “anything a woman chooses is beyond reproach, because criticism makes some people feel sad.” Fuck that.

  22. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm |

    I could say the same about you, yay subjective experience.

    Jill:
    Matt, you seem like you have some… issues… which cannot be resolved in blog comments.

  23. Bridget
    Bridget September 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm |

    Years ago I saw something online which was basically drawings of female anatomy, and it showed how diverse everything could look. I have no idea where it was…I think I was in college at the time and one of my friends showed it to me. Anyway, I thought it was great and never stressed about “do I look strange?” since I saw it.

  24. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm |

    Some friends of mine found something similar to this in school and asked if it could used in our sex ed class. Teachers faces got super red. And some parents complained. And we don’t even live in the super religious rural hick part of Missouri. Sad times.

    Bridget:
    Years ago I saw something online which was basically drawings of female anatomy, and it showed how diverse everything could look.I have no idea where it was…I think I was in college at the time and one of my friends showed it to me.Anyway, I thought it was great and never stressed about “do I look strange?” since I saw it.

  25. Tracy
    Tracy September 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    labia = ladybugs…DONE

  26. llama
    llama September 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm |

    “I’ve just wasted five minutes of my life considering.”

    @Jill yes you did :P

    But for what its worth I believe you are 100% correct.

    zuzu: men never seem to have anyone trying to profit from the differences in their junk.

    I did not realise penis enlargement offers came from not for profit organisations.

  27. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 10:19 pm |

    I know right! Amusingly enough I used my mom’s name on my first paypal account because I was using her credit card, but i used my email. So my penis enlargement ads are right next to the one for laser hair removal and breast augmentation. And christian dating, which is weird since I’m atheist and my mom is married and lapsed methodist.

    llama:
    “I’ve just wasted five minutes of my life considering.”

    @Jill yes you did :P

    But for what its worth I believe you are 100% correct.

    I did not realise penis enlargement offers came from not for profit organisations.

  28. Azalea
    Azalea September 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm |

    zuzu:
    Well, it didn’t take long for the “I choose my choice” crowd to come out and demand that we all stop THINKING so much about shit like context and using shame and fears of inadequacy to control women and how men never seem to have anyone trying to profit from the differences in their junk.

    You’re joking right? Have you not heard of extenze et al?

    Look, some people prefer bigger penises, some men prefer smaller looking vaginas. And some people in their insecurities or desire to make what they think is perfect, become perfect to “everyone” change things surgically or “medically” to fit these ideals.

    I dont think a man would have to be told his junk is smaller if he had ever seen larger penises. I dont think a woman would have to be told her labia is big if she’s seen much smaller labia. I think of these things no different than boob jobs etc. I think you shouldnt have surgery JUST to appease someone else but if it makes you feel better about yourself, go for it. I would no sooner tell a transwoman not to get a boob job than I would a ciswoman, they both want something they didn’t have naturally and if it would make them feel better who the fuck am I or anyone else to tell them they’re wrong for doing it? Grown folks are allowed to make bad choices about their own bodies without other grown folk finger waving them telling them how naughty they’re being.

  29. Azalea
    Azalea September 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm |

    Jill:
    Is anyone suggesting that labia surgery be illegal, or that we ridicule women who get it? No. But come on. Again, just because women make a choice doesn’t mean that we can’t critique the culture that leads women towards particular choices. Lots of women also chose to let their husbands cast the family vote, and chose to advocate against female suffrage. So should we all just shut up and not critique laws against women voting? Because it might make someone feel bad?

    These conversations make me want to abandon “choice” language all together. I’m a big fan of freedom to legally choose one’s path, but that’s somehow been perverted in some (in my opinion, shallow and not particularly thoughtful) feminist circles to mean “anything a woman chooses is beyond reproach, because criticism makes some people feel sad.” Fuck that.

    But we’re not talking about a woman deciding something for OTHER women, we’re talking about whether or not a woman making a choic about HERSELF and HER vagina is ok. I think its problematic in and of itself. Does “trust women” only apply when the topic is abortion? Because the stats saying pregnant women are most liekly to suffer violence, mothers get paid less than nonmothers, women who have babies lose vaginal elasticity, how pregnant women are expected to gain dozens of pounds (most will “never” come off) and all kinds of anti-motherhood stuff yet we STILL say choosing abortion is a personal thing and not because society has made motherhood so friggin hard. There are few things more personal than a person’s genitalia. If they can’t be trusted to make choices about their own genitalia without being heavily infulenced what CAN we trust people to make personal choices about without being directed by society/the media?

  30. llama
    llama September 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm |

    Azalea: I dont think a man would have to be told his junk is smaller if he had ever seen larger penises.

    Luckily for me mathematicians having but a few data points can find consolation in Chebyshev’s inequality :p

  31. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    so close! soon jill will admit that people don’t make choices! and either way her children will be taught that they don’t in gen ed psych classes.

    im glad that azalea framed the question so effectively.

    Azalea: But we’re not talking about a woman deciding something for OTHER women, we’re talking about whether or not a woman making a choic about HERSELF and HER vagina is ok. I think its problematic in and of itself. Does “trust women” only apply when the topic is abortion? Because the stats saying pregnant women are most liekly to suffer violence, mothers get paid less than nonmothers, women who have babies lose vaginal elasticity, how pregnant women are expected to gain dozens of pounds (most will “never” come off) and all kinds of anti-motherhood stuff yet we STILL say choosing abortion is a personal thing and not because society has made motherhood so friggin hard. There are few things more personal than a person’s genitalia. If they can’t be trusted to make choices about their own genitalia without being heavily infulenced what CAN we trust people to make personal choices about without being directed by society/the media?

  32. zuzu
    zuzu September 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm |

    Matt: An adult can just walk away if you try to enforce your beliefs on them, but a child just has to take it. This is how Christians are created.

    Well, Matt, sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much…

  33. evil fizz
    evil fizz September 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm | *

    There are few things more personal than a person’s genitalia. If they can’t be trusted to make choices about their own genitalia without being heavily infulenced what CAN we trust people to make personal choices about without being directed by society/the media?

    Where does this idea that a choice can be made in a vacuum come from? Ain’t never gonna happen.

    Having said that, no one is saying, “Ladies, you are a terrible person if you opt for cosmetic surgery on your labia.” However, what we are saying is, “Look, telling women that their bodies are repulsive and in need of painful and wholly unnecessary surgery to be attractive,” is colossally fucked up and that women shouldn’t be subjected to shaming because of labial proportions.

  34. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm |

    yes, you know how babies are made. good for you. i have no cookies though sorry.

    zuzu: Well, Matt, sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much…

  35. Azalea
    Azalea September 28, 2011 at 11:54 pm |

    evil fizz:
    There are few things more personal than a person’s genitalia. If they can’t be trusted to make choices about their own genitalia without being heavily infulenced what CAN we trust people to make personal choices about without being directed by society/the media?

    Where does this idea that a choice can be made in a vacuum come from?Ain’t never gonna happen.

    Having said that, no one is saying, “Ladies, you are a terrible person if you opt for cosmetic surgery on your labia.”However, what we are saying is, “Look, telling women that their bodies are repulsive and in need of painful and wholly unnecessary surgery to be attractive,” is colossally fucked up and that women shouldn’t be subjected to shaming because of labial proportions.

    I live in a world where racism exist yet I am not and never will be convinced that I am inferior. I live in a world where misogny exist yet I will never be convinced that I am inferior. I live in a world with a blonde haired, blue eyed, tall petite beauty ideal and yet nobody on this planet can convince me that I am not blazing hot.

    There are somethings that people share in common without ever knowing another person likes what they like or prefer what they prefer. Just because you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate depending on your perception) to be around like minded people doesn’t mean your decision doesn’t count. The media is not one person, society is not one person and everyone is not following some great tenant put forth by one being on what beauty is or isn’t. granted there are many people who are easily influenced then there are other who simply happen to share the same view. Can we not lump them all into the same group?

    I think this idea that nothing ever occurs in a “vacuum” robs a person of their own agency. If you saw that our vagina underwent a grastic but natural change and did not like that change and decided to get surgery so that it could be back to your “normal” wouldn’t it be a bit upsetting to hear people tell you that you ONLY did it because you let society tell you what to do with your own genitals? Then have people argue that there is no such thing as you making a choice without someone else influencing you because you just are incapable of having an independent thought.

    Like I said, I agree that if you’re doing it for someone else, you shouldn’t. Becaus eno one should surgically alter themselves to appease someone else. But if you’re doing it for you, what exactly is the problem?

  36. Katniss
    Katniss September 28, 2011 at 11:54 pm |

    A lot of this is seeming to boil down to the typical debate about choice feminism, and I’d like to leave this great link here about it:

    http://www.whattamisaid.com/2011/01/from-vault-you-choose-your-choices-but.html

    The basic points is, yes, you choose your own choices. It is not WRONG or anti-feminist to choose to shave or get cosmetic surgery or whatever for your own reasons. But those choices are not made in a patriarchy-free background. I’d like to see some kind of acknowledgement that if it weren’t for our current culture, I doubt a lot of women would be out there thinking they would feel so much better if they just had bigger boobs or smaller labia. I don’t think people should pretend that their choices are somehow completely individual and free of any societal influence.

    And hell I say this as someone who has had intense debate about sex work here and on other sites. I will stand up for the fact that the sex work I do feels good and like a good life choice to me. I won’t pretend that the fact that I chose it makes it inherently feminist and I won’t pretend that my choice to be involved with it was completely free of any societal influences ever. We are none of us special snowflakes.

  37. ineffabelle
    ineffabelle September 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm |

    Evil Fizz got the gist without the baggage. + awesome.

  38. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 12:10 am |

    Azalea: If you saw that our vagina underwent a grastic but natural change and did not like that change and decided to get surgery so that it could be back to your “normal” wouldn’t it be a bit upsetting to hear people tell you that you ONLY did it because you let society tell you what to do with your own genitals?

    A) Your vagina =/= your labia.

    B) Just because something is upsetting doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    C) Seriously, who spends time looking at their own labia enough to notice a change if they’re not experiencing some kind of disease or dysfunction? I ain’t got eyes in my crotch.

    Okay, point taken about penis enlargement spam. However, other than size, and perhaps the presence or absence of a foreskin, is there an industry seeking to create a market for painful, expensive surgery for men’s penises to correct perceived very minor flaws or deviations in appearance? Is there an industry dedicated to penile rejuvenation for worn-out schlongs?

  39. Darque
    Darque September 29, 2011 at 12:16 am |

    You know what interests me about this discussion? The fact that a commentary about how popular culture makes women and men feel like shit about their bodies has been derailed into an irrelevant conversation about choice.

    and I’m sorry, but any time I hear “you don’t make choices in a vacuum”, or that “choices are not made in a patriarchy free background”, I’m reminded of the oh-so wonderful twisty and ibtp. The land where women can’t give consent to sex, because teh menz have all teh powerz. Snore.

  40. Matt
    Matt September 29, 2011 at 12:23 am |

    viagra? ed treatments? late life foreskin restoration or removal? i guess its not exactly what you were asking for. but there are a huge number of issues about penises. i could list more i guess, but mostly i think its superfluous. although admittedly in a lot of cases its dudes hating on each other’s penises, rather than women complaining, though ive seen that too.

    zuzu: A) Your vagina =/= your labia.

    B) Just because something is upsetting doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    C) Seriously, who spends time looking at their own labia enough to notice a change if they’re not experiencing some kind of disease or dysfunction?I ain’t got eyes in my crotch.

    Okay, point taken about penis enlargement spam.However, other than size, and perhaps the presence or absence of a foreskin, is there an industry seeking to create a market for painful, expensive surgery for men’s penises to correct perceived very minor flaws or deviations in appearance?Is there an industry dedicated to penile rejuvenation for worn-out schlongs?

  41. SmJ
    SmJ September 29, 2011 at 12:30 am |

    Bridget:
    Years ago I saw something online which was basically drawings of female anatomy, and it showed how diverse everything could look.I have no idea where it was…

    Probably Betty Dodson.

  42. Cactus Wren
    Cactus Wren September 29, 2011 at 12:43 am |

    1. Let us not forget that the Hairpin article mentions a FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL who had a “labiaplasty” because she’d been convinced that her labia were too large. Her body wasn’t even done growing!

    2. The Cunt Coloring Book.

  43. Johnny Heartbeat
    Johnny Heartbeat September 29, 2011 at 12:51 am |

    andie:
    Good lord.I for one have never seen a penis or a labia that I found particularly pretty.‘taint no such animal, son.

    Snicker.

  44. Johnny Heartbeat
    Johnny Heartbeat September 29, 2011 at 12:57 am |

    andie: In fairness, I have about six thousand emails in my junkmail folder for penis enlargement that would beg to differ on that point.

    Yeah.

    Zuzu, you’re always directly on point, but you were way wrong on this. If there’s any area in which men and women get ALMOST the same amount of shaming…

    …and please, I understand that in the context of the structure of the patriarchy “an equal amount of shaming” doesn’t begin to describe it, because of the cultural context surrounding it, men have a much more solid base with which to absorb and ignore that shaming…

    …but if there’s any area where men get maybe even more shaming, it’s appearance of genitalia. I think it completely sucks that (pace this article) people seem to be trying to make labia/vaginas into the newest source of shame for women, but if there’s one thing I hold tight to in frustration for societal messages, it’s the size of my penis.

    (That’s right, I said I “hold tight to…my penis.” You didn’t even see that coming, did you?)

    But no, seriously, as a teenager I used to ask the doctor for human growth hormone because I was convinced it was stunted. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized it was fine, and by “realized” I mean “I usually believe it, most of the time.”

  45. Johnny Heartbeat
    Johnny Heartbeat September 29, 2011 at 1:01 am |

    zuzu: industry seeking to create a market for painful, expensive surgery for men’s penises to correct perceived very minor flaws or deviations in appearance?

    Yeppers.

  46. Wendy
    Wendy September 29, 2011 at 1:09 am |

    This is one of the reasons I think it’s regrettable that women are now expected to remove all (or at least most) of their pubic hair. Nobody cared what their labia looked like back when you couldn’t see them anyway.

    And yes, personal choice and all that, but did we really need another part of our bodies to be insecure about?

  47. Spotpuff
    Spotpuff September 29, 2011 at 1:09 am |

    This documentary saddened me:
    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/perfect-vagina/

    People suck.

  48. Mr. Kristen J.
    Mr. Kristen J. September 29, 2011 at 1:59 am |

    I would chalk this up as additional evidence that beauty norms in the US are centered in capitalism.

    I have no doubt that there are individual human beings with aesthetic sensibilities about genitalia – after all I have aesthetic sensibilities about how thick to slice cheese and Kristen has aessthetic sensibilities about how towels are folded – but this continuous pressure to change or modify parts of the human body in seemingly random ways does not have any connection to a personal aesthetic.

    The “perfect” labia is not presented as a subjective judgment, a reflection of an individual’s preference with respect to their own labia. Instead, the perfect labia is presented as objective. In the view of these plastic surgeons there is such a thing as a “perfect” labia and all non-conforming labias are by definition imperfect regardless of the perspective of the person with the labia.

    As a result, a question of aesthetic sensibility is transformed into norms, social requirements for what is “ideal” that reinforces the kyriarchy.

  49. Anonoregonian
    Anonoregonian September 29, 2011 at 2:40 am |

    Labia is a perfectly decent word. “Vips” on the other hand, sounds insipid and repressed, the kind of word used by people who call flatulence “making fluffies.”

  50. llama
    llama September 29, 2011 at 3:08 am |

    I would like to know what sort of person becomes a cosmetic labia surgeon?

  51. karak
    karak September 29, 2011 at 3:57 am |

    @Azalea

    “I live in a world where racism exist yet I am not and never will be convinced that I am inferior. I live in a world where misogny exist yet I will never be convinced that I am inferior. I live in a world with a blonde haired, blue eyed, tall petite beauty ideal and yet nobody on this planet can convince me that I am not blazing hot.”

    That is… really cool for you. It really is. But sometimes I see my body in a mirror and I’m so sickened and ashamed and ANGRY about how ugly and disgusting I am I want to take a knife and just CUT OFF areas of my body. I’ve been with the same partner for three years and he constantly has to work to convince me my body is worthy of being loved and is beautiful because it is MY body. And yes I consider plastic surgery often as a way to “hide” how terribly ugly I am and how much I hate myself, and talking about it is really, really helpful for my issues.

    So, kind of given that this isn’t your context and you have no idea what some women would risk their lives to look differently (because, all surgery is inherently risky and purely cosmetic surgery is risking your very life for beauty), maybe this isn’t your conversation.

    @Johnny Heartbeat
    “…but if there’s any area where men get maybe even more shaming, it’s appearance of genitalia”

    Perhaps is appearance. PERHAPS. But my exes have kindly explained to me I should never expect oral sex because vaginas are inherently disgusting, that I should never talk about and should hide all signs of menstruation because it was so creepy he couldn’t bear the thought of it, and that while I should swallow the sex fluids emitting from his penis, MY sex fluids made the bed disgusting and was unnatural and possibly a medical problem.

    I mean, I’m not sure how many people tell you your penis smells as a shaming and silencing tactic. I think the obsession with the perfect genitals, vagina or penis (and less us not forget, the varieties outside the vagina/penis dichotomy) is stupid, but as this is a piece about labias, maybe we should focus on that a bit.

    @llama– I don’t know, I could see a need for the skill for women who have been burned, trans woman who’ve had sex reassignment, victims of abuse/rape, for women who have genuine vagina issues (a poster up above mentions some sort of very painful condition), and perhaps for woman who are born with truly atypical vaginas or even intersex people who desire more conforming genitals… I mean, I’m not sure how you go from “needed community service” to “snip and clip”, though.

  52. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 4:02 am |

    Azalea:

    I think this idea that nothing ever occurs in a “vacuum” robs a person of their own agency. If they can’t be trusted to make choices about their own genitalia without being heavily infulenced what CAN we trust people to make personal choices about without being directed by society/the media?

    Culture shapes EVERYTHING. This doesn’t mean we aren’t all still very unique individuals, but our thoughts & behaviors are completely influenced by our culture regardless of what degree of self-awareness or critical thought we think we have. We can’t live without culture (nor should we try), it’s just there — we shape it and it shapes us. Unfortunately, domineering western culture is so toxic in so many ways that we can’t trust IT, its messages and values. But I don’t extend mistrusting this culture to mistrusting people in their personal choices, most especially BECAUSE this particular culture leaves us so little freedom to make REAL choices. Speaking of cultural critiques, I share my wife’s description of eurowestern colonist-capitalist culture:

    This culture to my eyes is obsessively controlling and dominating. It is driven to divide and “purify”, it likes to chop things up into tiny manageable pieces, package them and label them. (Things are easier to use and control this way.) Violence, both direct and indirect is often used to achieve this agenda. If one were to apply all of these attributes to one single human being, that person would probably be labeled by the very culture i am trying to analogize, as being severely OCD, Schizophrenic and Sociopathic with violent tendencies and at risk for harming self and others and be recommended for long term psychiatric hospitalization and therapy.

  53. llama
    llama September 29, 2011 at 4:12 am |

    karak: I mean, I’m not sure how you go from “needed community service” to “snip and clip”, though.

    Exactly the jump I couldn’t understand. When I said cosmetic I was thinking more of snip and clip rather than the genuine need cases which are IMO as good as life saving in some way.

  54. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable September 29, 2011 at 7:05 am |

    llama:
    I would like to know what sort of person becomes a cosmetic labia surgeon?

    Probably the same kind of person who becomes a cosmetic anything surgeon. Why is being ashamed for your labia looking a different way any different than being ashamed of your nose looking a different way? Some cases are based on need, and others on cultural preference. I don’t see any difference in what would drive those kinds of surgeons.

  55. igglanova
    igglanova September 29, 2011 at 7:20 am |

    But some choices are anti-feminist, even when women make them. I don’t want to be needlessly cruel, since women who have been conned into thinking their genitals are so ugly they need to be cut up have already been pretty beaten down by the patriarchy.* But they are funding a cynical, misogynistic enterprise with their participation. That is a decision worthy of criticism, to say nothing of the criticism labiaplasty itself / society / greedy fucking surgeons deserve.

    Although, I don’t even think that Jill was criticizing women’s choices in the OP. The tone struck me as more sympathetic than anything; the ‘don’t do this’ reads not like an order but more of a recommendation.


    *It is common for people who opt for cosmetic surgery to have low self esteem or even full-blown BDD, so let’s be real here and not bother hand-wringing about the approximately 7 people in the world who have reasons for getting labiaplasty that are all about social commentary and personal empowerment.

  56. Hillary
    Hillary September 29, 2011 at 8:30 am |

    I strongly recommend the book “Cunt.”

  57. K__
    K__ September 29, 2011 at 8:51 am |

    I can’t help but notice that in these comments, I have thus far been the only one who actually owned up to having gone through something similar. And what I went through still falls under the medical reasons header rather than exclusively cosmetic. Even though guess what, my vulva looks different now.

    Shouldn’t we be talking with people who have had these types of surgeries done, instead of talking about them? Like, shouldn’t we be seeking out their own reasons instead of attributing reasons for them?
    I know where these reasons are coming from, seen it discussed in academic & panel discussions before.

    But like in that original Hairpin article, the OP brought up a girl who cited reasons of physical discomfort for having sought surgery in the first place. And that 15-year old was automatically dismissed (because why? Is 15 year old not in a position to register when she’s experiencing physical discomfort in her pants?)

    Or is this one of those times where we can’t possibly trust what those people say because they’ve all been brainwashed and will do everything to justify what can only be considered a horrible mistake.

  58. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua September 29, 2011 at 9:57 am |

    I’m glad there are responses to Zuzu’s error in thinking only women are made to feel insecure about their genitals. However, this use of the word “junk”–I haven’t got a traditional Chinese sailing craft. Or a rusted-out washing machine in my back yard. How about mustering up the courage to call things by their right names? Get some balls, people.

  59. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 29, 2011 at 11:08 am |

    There are plenty of underage women who have to endure genital mutilation without having any sort of ‘choice.’ Does it put us on a dodgy moral ground to say that this perfectly ok, while female circumcision is not? Germaine Greer makes a similar argument re: female circumcision and breast implants (which I don’t necessarily agree with, but I thought I’d throw it out there.)

  60. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 11:12 am |

    Johnny Heartbeat: Zuzu, you’re always directly on point, but you were way wrong on this. If there’s any area in which men and women get ALMOST the same amount of shaming…

    And yet, very few Russian spam lords are trying to sell *surgical* solutions for a not-pretty penis.

  61. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 11:15 am |

    Matt: viagra? ed treatments? late life foreskin restoration or removal? i guess its not exactly what you were asking for. but there are a huge number of issues about penises.

    I repeat, since people seem to be ignoring what I wrote (surprise!): Is there an industry dedicated to painful, expensive surgical “solutions” for perceived minor deviations in appearance, or rejuvenation of tired schlongs? Because what you’ve described here does not fall into that category.

  62. Andie
    Andie September 29, 2011 at 11:22 am |

    Fat Steve:
    There are plenty of underage women who have to endure genital mutilation without having any sort of ‘choice.’ Does it put us on a dodgy moral ground to say that this perfectly ok, while female circumcision is not? Germaine Greer makes a similar argument re: female circumcision and breast implants (which I don’t necessarily agree with, but I thought I’d throw it out there.)

    Yeah… I’ve argued about plastic surgery v FGM.

    Oppression is even more insidious, imo, when it has been disguised as choice.

  63. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 11:23 am |

    Tei Tetua: How about mustering up the courage to call things by their right names? Get some balls, people.

    Right, let’s call things by their right names and then go with “balls” as a signifier for courage! Woo!

    I personally feel very free to judge certain choices. I judge Mr. You Must Be a Virgin To Ride, and I judge people who feel that God wants them to cut off their baby’s foreskin, and I judge people who want to convince women that their labia are ugly and in need of painful surgical intervention at the age of 15.

    I mean, FIFTEEN. How on earth does a child of 15 get the idea that her labia are ugly and must be changed, and what parent of a 15-year-old supports that choice with medical intervention? Damn right I judge that choice.

  64. Florence
    Florence September 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm |

    zuzu: How on earth does a child of 15 get the idea that her labia are ugly and must be changed, and what parent of a 15-year-old supports that choice with medical intervention? Damn right I judge that choice.

    Yeah, me too. When we’re at a point where we can’t talk about surgical solutions to normative cosmetic preferences enacted on the female body because someone with an unrelated issue feels weird about it, we’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. Eventually feminism is going to learn that “be nice” is different than “don’t criticize”.

  65. K__
    K__ September 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm |

    zuzu: Right, let’s call things by their right names and then go with “balls” as a signifier for courage!Woo!

    I personally feel very free to judge certain choices.I judge Mr. You Must Be a Virgin To Ride, and I judge people who feel that God wants them to cut off their baby’s foreskin, and I judge people who want to convince women that their labia are ugly and in need of painful surgical intervention at the age of 15.

    I mean, FIFTEEN. How on earth does a child of 15 get the idea that her labia are ugly and must be changed, and what parent of a 15-year-old supports that choice with medical intervention?Damn right I judge that choice.

    Zuzu, the girl cited in the article actually said she was feeling physical discomfort. The Hairpin bloggers said she was wrong and that it must have been insecurity that motivated her instead.

    Who are we going to believe – the girl herself or the bloggers talking about her?

    Also, let me assure you: when it comes to matters of physical comfort & pain… You can’t always tell just by looking… That happens even with the finest doctors… You feel pain, they look, say “you are normal,” you continue to hurt. So. Looks don’t tell the whole story.

  66. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua September 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    Irony is lost upon some people.

  67. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm |

    zuzu: Right, let’s call things by their right names and then go with “balls” as a signifier for courage! Woo!

    I believe that was the joke. (Though they’re never as funny when you have to explain them.)

  68. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin September 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    This may have been said already, but when I’ve gone to bed with someone, I have often observed that we really are a species, and no one’s parts are identical. Speaking from a sexual perspective, to me, that’s part of the fun.

  69. Florence
    Florence September 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm |

    Fat Steve: (Though they’re never as funny when you have to explain them.)

    Balls have the worst sense of humor.

  70. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    K__: Zuzu, the girl cited in the article actually said she was feeling physical discomfort. The Hairpin bloggers said she was wrong and that it must have been insecurity that motivated her instead.

    Who are we going to believe – the girl herself or the bloggers talking about her?

    Also, let me assure you: when it comes to matters of physical comfort & pain… You can’t always tell just by looking… That happens even with the finest doctors… You feel pain, they look, say “you are normal,” you continue to hurt. So. Looks don’t tell the whole story.

    No, there was no discussion of pain, or general discomfort, but “discomfort in clothes,” which is what the Hairpin bloggers dismissed, since there’s a nonsurgical fix for that (my emphasis):

    Like one 15-year-old patient whose underaged area I found available for viewing online, both before and after her labiaplasty. Never mind the fact that she’s a minor and anyone with internet access can ogle her at will, but what kind of world do we live in where a teenage girl has been made to feel so ashamed of her labia that she needs plastic surgery? We’re not talking freakish, foot-long batwings here, we’re talking just slightly larger than average.

    Of course there was the totally absurd claim that, in addition to anxiety and low self esteem, she also experienced “discomfort in clothes” and therefore required this procedure at an age where most people are just figuring out how amazing it is down there. “Discomfort in clothes?” Give me a break. If your clothes are too tight for your junk, buy better fitting clothes. The smallest penis in the world is longer than this girl’s original labia, but you never see young men going in for penis reduction surgery because of “discomfort in clothes.” Discomfort in her own skin is more like it. She obviously saw mean, ignorant posts like the one I described at the beginning of this article and bought some surgeon’s hard-sell baloney about her baloney curtains. Just like so many young women buy the idea that they need breast implants, collagen duck-lips, or to be rail-thin in order to be loved.

    So tell me again why this 15-year-old needed surgery to fix a problem that could be fixed by wearing clothes that fit her better?

    And if you click through to the Scarleteen link, you’ll see that they are bombarded with emails from teenage girls who think that their labia are somehow wrong.

  71. K__
    K__ September 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm |

    Because there are in fact people who will experiece physical discomfort in clothing that covers the crotch in many or all circumstances, and this discomfort can only be mitigated by not wearing any clothes, by using meds, or with surgery. It’s called vulvodynia or pudental neuralagia. Any contact with genitals, the butt or general pelvic reason will hurt.

    There is no way for me to know if this girl had that. But being that there are degrees of discomfort, and I am not in her skin, I find it easy to believe that the clothes she desired were uncomfortable.

    In which case, the girl and others like her may benefit from talking to a pelvic pain specialist, except who at age 15 knows such specialists exist? I get the impression you are unfamiliar with chronic pelvic pain, so for a kid to know as well is, possible but unlikely. ESP since in conversations like these, no one likes to talk about complications that make insecurity less simple.

  72. Nora
    Nora September 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    I am someone who had a similar surgery when I was 14…because of pain! I had no idea that certain labia were more desired by men. It’s actually a larger problem than women with small labia minora realize. The nerve endings in the labia (speaking specifically about minora here) can be extremely sensitive and if they are touching clothing regularly (even the softest of underwear) it can be extremely painful. Do I agree that many women seeking labiaplasties are probably motivated by cosmetic concerns? Yes. And it is fine to examine that critically. But I am also uncomfortable with us deciding what is and is not acceptable to do to someone’s body. I know no one is advocating outlawing labiaplasties, but there are so many similar choices that women make every day that aren’t criticized so severely like wearing make up or shaving. I know that because it is a surgery it is more drastic, but why can’t we give these women a break? Living in a patriarchal society hurts all women, and we all do things that are rooted in it. Just like I don’t judge women for dying their hair or shaving their legs, I’m not going to judge any woman for doing this because I don’t know what it’s like to live with extremely large labia (I had mine done because of a sensitivity issue).

  73. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm |

    K__:
    Because there are in fact people who will experiece physical discomfort in clothing that covers the crotch in many or all circumstances, and this discomfort can only be mitigated by not wearing any clothes, by using meds, or with surgery. It’s called vulvodynia or pudental neuralagia. Any contact with genitals, the butt or general pelvic reason will hurt.

    There is no way for me to know if this girl had that. But being that there are degrees of discomfort, and I am not in her skin, I find it easy to believe that the clothes she desired were uncomfortable.

    In which case, the girl and others like her may benefit from talking to a pelvic pain specialist, except who at age 15 knows such specialists exist? I get the impression you are unfamiliar with chronic pelvic pain, so for a kid to know as well is, possible but unlikely. ESP since in conversations like these, no one likes to talk about complications that make insecurity less simple.

    How is making her labia “prettier” going to solve a pelvic pain issue that will exist regardless of how large her labia are? If this condition is so serious that ANY contact with clothing ALL OVER HER PELVIC REGION, INCLUDING HER BUTT, is painful, you’d think that merely freshening up her ladybits isn’t going to do much. Moreover, you mention meds as a solution. So, why is surgery the first stop?

    No, a 15-year-old isn’t likely to know any pelvic pain specialists. But a doctor who specializes in vaginal surgery just might, don’t you think?

  74. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua September 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm |

    You say “Isn’t it kind of fucked up that only women are expected to have zero body hair?” Well, like the way being made insecure about your genitals spans both sexes, men are catching up. Manscaping, the suave and attractive just have to do it.

    Speaking of choice or “choice”, there’s that recurring one about shaving pubic hair, which has had its time here. I think it links up with the concept of ugly labia–now vulvas are on view like never before. They’re out there to be seen and fretted over! So much better to say if it does it’s job, it’s good.

  75. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua September 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    Oh no, misplaced apostrophe, I am so ashamed…

  76. matlun
    matlun September 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    A question for the people who think this is wrong: Do you see any difference in principle between this and more “traditional” plastic surgery such as a nose job?

    I do not get why this is seen as worse than any other alteration of physical appearance.

    I could perhaps go for a more general argument that the current culture is overly focused on physical appearance, but many of the arguments seem to me to come from an emotional reaction “Don’t touch the genitals! That’s just icky!”

  77. K__
    K__ September 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    zuzu: How is making her labia “prettier” going to solve a pelvic pain issue that will exist regardless of how large her labia are?If this condition is so serious that ANY contact with clothing ALL OVER HER PELVIC REGION, INCLUDING HER BUTT, is painful, you’d think that merely freshening up her ladybits isn’t going to do much. Moreover, you mention meds as a solution.So, why is surgery the first stop?

    No, a 15-year-old isn’t likely to know any pelvic pain specialists. But a doctor who specializes in vaginal surgery just might, don’t you think?

    I didn’t say she had such a condition. I said that such conditions exist, and, having known such a one, it’s easy for me to sympathsize with citing physical discomfort as a motivation for seeking surgery. I know what it’s like to feel stuff no one else can feel and to receive such advice as, “why don’t you just wear different clothes,” etc.

    We don’t actually know, from the Hairpin article, whether this surgery was the first thing the girl tried. For all we know she may have already tried different clothing styles, with the same result.

    What I am reading between the lines, is again a dismissal of reasons cited by folks as to why they seek body modifications like labiaplasty. Why are we trying to invalidate her reasons, which include dismissing a mention of discomfort?

  78. matlun
    matlun September 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm |

    @zuzu: I am definitely not an expert but I do know how to access wikipedia.

    According to the referenced study it is about as common to do a labiaplasty to correct a functional impairment as for purely cosmetic reasons.

  79. Andie
    Andie September 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

    I think the issue arises when labiaplasty (or rhinoplasty, or breast augmentation/reduction – although I’ve never heard any medical reasons for an augmentation) moves beyond the medical towards that of the purely cosmetic in an effort to achieve some ideal based on an idea that is sold as ‘aesthetically pleasing’.

    The reason I find cosmetic labiaplasty (again, leaving out those who have this for medical reasons ie pain) particularly disturbing is that since, without some effort, we can’t really see our own labia – though some of you are probably a lot more flexible than I – then it stands to reasons that this would be something that, outside medical reasons, would be solely for the enjoyment and approval of others. It’s one thing if you have to look at your own face in the mirror everyday and be displeased with what you consider a less-than-stellar schnozz, or a concave chest but if you don’t like your labia, well, don’t look at it!!! and if others don’t like it, they are welcome not to look at it either!!

    In response to Matlun, I personally do NOT find this more disturbing than other types of plastic surgery.. I find them all questionable and on many levels, abhorrent.

  80. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

    If your clothes are too tight for your junk, buy better fitting clothes. The smallest penis in the world is longer than this girl’s original labia, but you never see young men going in for penis reduction surgery because of “discomfort in clothes.”

    Glad the writer of the article is not an advice columnist, that is some shitty and dismissive advice to give someone who can have something way more going on than her clothing choices.

  81. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm |

    What did people do before the biomedical daze of techno-colonial-industrialization?

  82. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    matlun:
    @zuzu: I am definitely not an expert but I do know how to access wikipedia.

    According to the referenced study it is about as common to do a labiaplasty to correct a functional impairment as for purely cosmetic reasons.

    We don’t know that there was a functional impairment *requiring surgery.*

  83. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    Tei Tetua: I think it links up with the concept of ugly labia–now vulvas are on view like never before.

    Whether or not I shave my pubic hair, my vulva’s getting the same amount of public view as before.

    Also, your inner labia are not covered in hair.

  84. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm |

    K__: What I am reading between the lines, is again a dismissal of reasons cited by folks as to why they seek body modifications like labiaplasty. Why are we trying to invalidate her reasons, which include dismissing a mention of discomfort?

    Maybe because we don’t know that her reasons extend beyond those cited by the girls who write into Scarleteen freaking out that their labia are weird or wrong. And maybe because “discomfort” with something or another is often cited as a reason for cosmetic surgery.

    Yes, there are real, painful conditions that require corrective surgery. That’s likely not at issue here, and you know that (because it’s likely the surgeon’s website would have mentioned the pain condition, right?). But by all means, let’s not examine why feeling that your vulva isn’t pretty is now suddenly A Thing That Must Be Corrected With Expensive And Painful Surgery. Let’s not examine why women’s genitalia, or women’s bodies, are considered ugly, or deviant, or how that insecurity is used to control women. Let’s not discuss the sheer fucking gall that any man who tells a woman her labia are ugly or her vulva is disgusting displays, especially when he’s carrying around a penis.

    Let’s above all never discuss anything that might make someone feel bad, or be uncomfortable.

  85. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar September 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm |

    Is someone volunteering to write a manual for how to call out misogynist cultural tropes, traditions and standards that doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable around the choices they have or might make? I really need to read that manual.

  86. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    I would chalk this up as additional evidence that beauty norms in the US are centered in capitalism.

    But by all means, let’s not examine why feeling that your vulva isn’t pretty is now suddenly A Thing That Must Be Corrected With Expensive And Painful Surgery.

    I was flipping through a women’s magazine recently and I was struck by just how much content was devoted to the idea that “You’re not good enough, buy this product and change it!”

    I am sure there are women who need labiaplasty (or other types of plastic surgery) for medical reasons, but I am equally sure that there are people who are more than happy to make money off the insecurity of the women.

  87. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    Is someone volunteering to write a manual for how to call out misogynist cultural tropes, traditions and standards that doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable around the choices they have or might make?

    Ooh, if the second volume in the series is about racism, I’ll need a boxed set!

  88. mary
    mary September 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm |

    From the article linked by the OP:

    I saw the [following] advice being given to men. The post in question showed two women bent over side by side. The one with the small, hidden inner labia was deemed clean, healthy, and virginal, while the one with larger, protruding labia was branded a nasty, diseased whore. It should be noted that both of the women in the photo are adult performers, so it’s reasonable to assume that both of them are having frequent sex with multiple partners. Obviously, neither one is “virginal.”

    Fact: Sexual intercourse does not make your labia longer. They are either naturally large or naturally small or somewhere in between, just like testicles. Don’t believe me? Check out famous MILF porn star Rebecca Bardoux, who has been making a living with her petite “virginal” labia for nearly 20 years.

    On the other hand, Scarleteen, a sex education and advice website for teens, receives tons of emails from young female readers who have been made to feel self-conscious about their large labia.

    Yes, it is a woman’s choice whether or not to have cosmetic labiaplasty. But the social context, in which people MAKE that choice? Absolutely fucking fair game for criticism. Because the choice many women and girls seem to be making is: “Do I want to pay lots of money to have a surgeon chop away at my genitals until they look a certain way… OR do I want to risk getting branded a hideous, diseased slut?” The problem isn’t “women are choosing wrong,” the problem is that women are being presented with a fundamentally fucked up set of options.

  89. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

    Thomas MacAulay Millar: Is someone volunteering to write a manual for how to call out misogynist cultural tropes, traditions and standards that doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable around the choices they have or might make? I really need to read that manual.

    Ha!

    For the uncomfy peeps, may I recommend: a) therapy and b) decolonizing the mined mind. Both done together will curb outta control egoes, which is a mask for low self-confidence (it’s okay, it’s hard to be confident in western culture!) that too easily lend to hurt feelings and uncomfy timez. Ego’s a nasty lil’ bugger that gets in the way of critical thought.

  90. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar September 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm |

    I just do not really buy that this is about how Jill said it. I think there was no way for her to criticize either the virgin-seeker or cosmetic labial surgery that would have resulted in a materially different conversation.

  91. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    No, this is about the same poutrage and butthurt that leads every thread down the primrose path to hell.

  92. Nora
    Nora September 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm |

    I was not trying to say that we should not say, yeah, these things are really fucked up and they’re rooted in misogyny, just that women who have these surgeries are the victims of a misogynistic culture, not the perpetrators.

  93. Haze
    Haze September 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    Chipping in as a person who has considered labiaplasty for cosmetic reasons, due to having an extended labia. I realize objectively that the desire to do so is based on arbitrary societal notions of being “not normal” which are, medically speaking, bullshit. Yes, there is some minor discomfort sometimes in certain clothing, but there’s no real medical reason for me to need such a surgery.

    It’s easy for my logical brain to say “You’re fine and you don’t need it,” but it’s a lot more difficult to switch off the part of me that’s been uncomfortable with my body since puberty and that makes me reluctant to stand in front of a mirror naked, much less be physically intimate with someone. A simple surgery would hypothetically fix that, so you could see how such an option would be attractive.

    In a perfect world everyone’s ladybits would be equally accepted and no one would have much reason to even consider labiaplasty. I suppose what I’m trying to say is just because stupid societal norms shouldn’t govern anyone’s choices, doesn’t mean their pervasive influence makes it any easier.

  94. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    To add to the etymological discussion, labia is the plural of labium. A few people seem to be using ‘labia’ as a a singular and ‘labias’ as the plural.

    There endeth the lesson.

  95. Alison
    Alison September 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    Jill: Well, part of the reason is that the generals are a locus for sexual pleasure.

    Not to ignore all the serious stuff in this post/thread, but…

    lol typo :)

  96. Florence
    Florence September 29, 2011 at 7:18 pm |

    “Don’t judge me; I choose my choice” is the new Tumblr version of feminism, circa 2010.

  97. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 7:34 pm |

    Interesting that nose jobs should come up. Do y’all realize that the history of the nose job has a lot to do with making “ethnic” people look more Anglo?

    Interestingly, the first nose jobs were done on Irish immigrants trying to pass as Anglo by getting Roman noses in place of their pug noses. Now pug noses are more the fashion. But in either case, there’s a WASP-ification factor which can’t be ignored.

    Same with boob jobs, lipo, eyelid jobs, etc. Whether it’s erasing age, fitting in with some kind of pornified feminine ideal, or looking less Asian, there are lots of reasons why body mod through plastic surgery isn’t exactly the same thing as getting a nipple ring or a tat.

  98. Katniss
    Katniss September 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    Florence:
    “Don’t judge me; I choose my choice” is the new Tumblr version of feminism, circa 2010.

    So it seems. I just wish people would get that examining those choices and acknowledging that they aren’t made in a vacuum is not “judging”.

  99. Katniss
    Katniss September 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    Florence:
    “Don’t judge me; I choose my choice” is the new Tumblr version of feminism, circa 2010.

    So it seems. I just wish people would get that examining those choices and acknowledging that they aren’t made in a vacuum is not “judging”.

  100. Denise
    Denise September 29, 2011 at 8:11 pm |

    The title and opening of this post is judgmental and patronizing, so much so that it should overshadow the entire conversation? No, not in my opinion. But writing as though talking to someone and telling them “Don’t do this! Just do not do this!” is demeaning in its on right. Perhaps it was meant to be cute but is anything but. Maybe we should get billboards with a list of things people just should not do regarding their own bodies.

    I was conflicted about even posting this because I do think some people use it as an excuse to bring up the choice debate, but this language and the way it is giving is ridiculously patronizing and dismissive. It talks to people who may consider or get this surgery as oppose to talking about the surgery and why people are being made to feel like they may need it.

    It’s all very well and good to say that you’re not trying to shame people who have this surgery and you’re not trying to ban it (which you aren’t) but you started your post with “DON’T DO THIS”. Don’t you see how that might come across as judgemental and shaming to people who are considering or who have had this surgery? Don’t you see how it’s a little free of wiggle room on the judgement?

    I think it’s fucked that people are forced by stigma and judgement to hate their bodies to the point where they want to undergo surgery to change them, if that’s the only reason they want the surgery. But if that’s the only way that they can cope with that internalised body hate, I support it. Body modification is extreme, but it’s no less valid a coping mechanism than any other. It’s also not necessarily a coping mechanism. I’m sure (here I go with the wild, baseless generalisations) a majority of people who prefer small labia do so because of social programming that small labia are better, but some will have that preference because of programming that comes more from their own personal lives. And some may be relatively resistant to all forms of programming and just form a preference one way or the other. People do that some times.

    *shrug*

    I guess I’m one of those “my body, my choice” types, and I don’t think it’s fair to say that some people’s choices are fair game to be dissected and “analysed” in an overly critical and judgemental fashion that labels what some people choose to do with their own bodies as inherently anti-feminist. Mock it if you must.

  101. Azalea
    Azalea September 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm |

    zuzu: A) Your vagina =/= your labia.

    B) Just because something is upsetting doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    C) Seriously, who spends time looking at their own labia enough to notice a change if they’re not experiencing some kind of disease or dysfunction?I ain’t got eyes in my crotch.

    Okay, point taken about penis enlargement spam.However, other than size, and perhaps the presence or absence of a foreskin, is there an industry seeking to create a market for painful, expensive surgery for men’s penises to correct perceived very minor flaws or deviations in appearance?Is there an industry dedicated to penile rejuvenation for worn-out schlongs?

    For crying out loud, so long as people have more than ONE sexual partner and people have preferences on what looks great to them and what doesn’t these things will have a market. Did a man need other men to tell him to grip his penis harder for him to now he likes a tighter grip? Women have been doing things to their vagina for centuries to make it tighter/wetter/smaller/somehowchangethewayitlooks etc. They didn’t need someone to TELL them to do it, no one had to show you how to masturbate before you did it right? There are just SOME things that society just doesn’t need to influence you on. I dont doubt that SOME women are feeling pressured to do this but I doubt that every woman doing it for non medical reasons is doing it because some ad, porn site, man (or woman) told her to. Women are not mindless drones, women are not impresisonable children, women are not psychologically vulnerable to every little whim that comes about. There WILL be women who love to pieces things that are anti-feminist because, they love it orbecause they want to or because they are grown and being grown means you dont have to answer the why’s of the world everytime someone wants to question a personal decision that has not a single effect on another person but you.

    I’m all for acknowledging the fact that yes, sometimes people do things that actually benefit the patriarchy. Like shaving etc. But seriously are you going to try to convince someone that they wouldnt shave unless someone told them to do it? That ignores the fact that at some point, she didnt have hair to shave and just may personally prefer the way her whatever looks and feels without hair. I suppose choice is only real when you choose feminist things.

  102. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm |

    Katniss: I just wish people would get that examining those choices and acknowledging that they aren’t made in a vacuum is not “judging”.

    YES. Judgment is a cancer that affects almost all of us to some degree since we’re stuck with this culture…for now. Thanks a lot colonization and Christianity, though Judaism and Islam are close runners up if not all tied. If we stopped giving these religions so much power to shape how we think and talk about any issue, then we could probably get quite far. Just a thought.

  103. Azalea
    Azalea September 29, 2011 at 9:22 pm |

    Natasha: Culture shapes EVERYTHING.This doesn’t mean we aren’t all still very unique individuals, but our thoughts & behaviors are completely influenced by our culture regardless of what degree of self-awareness or critical thought we think we have.We can’t live without culture (nor should we try), it’s just there — we shape it and it shapes us.Unfortunately, domineering western culture is so toxic in so many ways that we can’t trust IT, its messages and values.But I don’t extend mistrusting this culture to mistrusting people in their personal choices, most especially BECAUSE this particular culture leaves us so little freedom to make REAL choices.Speaking of cultural critiques, I share my wife’s description of eurowestern colonist-capitalist culture:

    This culture to my eyes is obsessively controlling and dominating.It is driven to divide and “purify”, it likes to chop things up into tiny manageable pieces, package them and label them. (Things are easier to use and control this way.) Violence, both direct and indirect is often used to achieve this agenda. If one were to apply all of these attributes to one single human being, that person would probably be labeled by the very culture i am trying to analogize, as being severely OCD, Schizophrenic and Sociopathic with violent tendencies and at risk for harming self and others and be recommended for long term psychiatric hospitalization and therapy.

    My point in that is to say: society doesnt have to tell you to masturbate for you to want ot masturbate. INFANTS masturbate. Nobody has to tell you that you dont look good if YOU dont feel you look good. There are people society constantly props up as gorgeous that have shitty self esteem, wtf is socety there? My point is this, culture controls a lot fo things but how a person feels about themselves have a lot more to do with their own perception of self. Some people comparen their present self to their past self. There are people chasing youth not because society values outh but because THEY valued their youth, they look at old photos of themselves and wish they still looked that way. No matter how many comliments they get they will always feel that way. I cant believe there is an argument about whether or not people can have an independent thought on their own genitals.

  104. Azalea
    Azalea September 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm |

    Darque:
    You know what interests me about this discussion? The fact that a commentary about how popular culture makes women and men feel like shit about their bodies has been derailed into an irrelevant conversation about choice.

    and I’m sorry, but any time I hear “you don’t make choices in a vacuum”, or that “choices are not made in a patriarchy free background”, I’m reminded of the oh-so wonderful twisty and ibtp. The land where women can’t give consent to sex, because teh menz have all teh powerz. Snore.

    I must have misread the first paragraph that condemned all cosmetic labioplasty as something yo DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT DO, NO DONT DO THIS, NEVER ITS A BAD THING TO DO and if you do it YOU ARE ONLY doing it because you’re under the influence of society, you only THINK you want this done, but somewhere along the line of your life some MAN must have told you to do this for the greater good of men who will see your genitals.

    Please show me where it acjnowledges that there will be women who consider this because they fucking want to and not because she’s a mindless drone.

  105. Katniss
    Katniss September 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm |

    I dont think people are saying people cannot have independent thoughts about their own genitals (or leg or pubic hair or breasts or whatever). But what is being pointed out that what we think of as attractive and ideal does not occur in a vacuum. You can make your own choices and they can be perfectly valid and great for you. But 1. That doesn’t make those choices automatically feminist or empowering and 2. Refusing to acknowledge that those choices ARE influenced by our sexist society seems naive.

  106. Denise
    Denise September 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm |

    Editing my last post to say that I don’t even have that big a problem with people making what can be considered outright judgments or arguing that what someone else chooses to do is harmful. Deciding to tell them outright “Do not do” however is pretty messed up imo. Especially when it could have been as easily addressed to cosmetic surgeons “do not do” but chose to target people who may consider the surgery instead.

  107. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm |

    Azalea: Women are not mindless drones, women are not impresisonable children, women are not psychologically vulnerable to every little whim that comes about.

    Mindless drones. I feel that if the domineering colonist culture has things ITS way, that IS the end result, and not just for women.

    I kinda think we’re all a bunch of fumblers and bumblers trying to do our best, jumping from this sandbox to that sandbox, hoping everyone plays nice, and learning as we go. I also think everyone is VERY psychologically AND spiritually vulnerable, to different degrees, to the toxic colonist culture shit being sprayed our way from day 1 of birth when they throw us in a pink or blue blanket and call us “princess” or “lil buddy” and it’s all downhill from there, and we’re dam lucky if we can rescue our minds and Spirits from hardcore harmful, dehumanizing social scripts that this DIS-eased culture indoctrinates us with and try to make some sense of the endless toxicity, mixed messages and meaningless bullshit we’re bombarded with 24/7.

  108. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm |

    Oops, messed up my quoting. My comment to Azalea was:

    I kinda think we’re all a bunch of fumblers and bumblers trying to do our best, jumping from this sandbox to that sandbox, hoping everyone plays nice, and learning as we go. I also think everyone is VERY psychologically AND spiritually vulnerable, to different degrees, to the toxic colonist culture shit being sprayed our way from day 1 of birth when they throw us in a pink or blue blanket and call us “princess” or “lil buddy” and it’s all downhill from there, and we’re dam lucky if we can rescue our minds and Spirits from hardcore harmful, dehumanizing social scripts that this DIS-eased culture indoctrinates us with and try to make some sense of the endless toxicity, mixed messages and meaningless bullshit we’re bombarded with 24/7.

  109. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 9:43 pm |

    And to add, I think everyone should give themselves a huge pat on the back for being on a site like this and trying to THINK through the endless colonist-cultural bullshit all around us.

  110. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm |

    Azalea: how a person feels about themselves have a lot more to do with their own perception of self. Some people comparen their present self to their past self. There are people chasing youth not because society values outh but because THEY valued their youth, they look at old photos of themselves and wish they still looked that way. No matter how many comliments they get they will always feel that way.

    We cannot separate ourselves from culture. I feel that our perceptions of Self come from SOMEWHERE other than ourselves (though not exclusively). It’s a mixed bag. Most definitely some people have stronger senses of Self than others and don’t internalize the toxic social scripts all around us, but not everyone is that strong or aware or whatever, but regardless, you can have the strongest most aware person in the world, but we are still HUMAN, we are not self-regulating machines, culture and our relations sustain our existence, and when that sustenance is poisoned, it poisons US, to different degrees cuz we’re all made differently.

    I know someone (no, not me) who has a very strong/positive perception of self which she had from birth, it’s just how she is – even as a young kid with all the familial AND societal toxicity around her, her Spirit wasn’t broken, she was very clear on who she was and what she believed or didn’t believe regardless of the messages around her. She was a body builder in her 20’s and had a pretty rockin’ body by societal standards, but then she got sick, and sicker, and sicker, and is now quite overweight (this happens NOT just from diet or lack of exercise but from illness too), and the weight IT GETS TO HER. Why? Why not?! Look at the weight/body-obsession of this dis-eased culture! Same goes for youth! Would people be chasing youth* AS MUCH if we had a basic respect for elders and aging in general in this culture? If we didn’t dump old people in nursing homes? If we structured society such that we took care of eachother and had time and plenty of resources to do it?

    *I’m personally quite enjoying aging and the LEARNING that comes with it thank you very much and I give a huge FUCK YOU to this colonist-culture’s obsession with and dragon-chasing of youth.

  111. igglanova
    igglanova September 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm |

    You can go ahead and snore at the idea that culture influences choices, but that doesn’t make it any less true. For fuck’s sake, this is proven, unassailable fact. The only part of the equation still under debate is the degree to which behaviours are governed by nature or nurture.

    Don’t you think the rates of given plastic surgeries would stay perfectly constant across time if the only factor was individual, self-directed preference? Care to take a guess as to why that isn’t so?

  112. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    igglanova: You can go ahead and snore at the idea that culture influences choices, but that doesn’t make it any less true. For fuck’s sake, this is proven, unassailable fact. The only part of the equation still under debate is the degree to which behaviours are governed by nature or nurture.Don’t you think the rates of given plastic surgeries would stay perfectly constant across time if the only factor was individual, self-directed preference? Care to take a guess as to why that isn’t so?

    “Science” is trying VERY hard to erase this basic fact of life. :-\

  113. DonnaL
    DonnaL September 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm |

    I’d love to know how some of you really feel about trans women having genital surgery. Because a lot of the rhetoric on this thread is so broad that it would cover that too. It would be nice if certain people here ever stopped to think for one second, when they talk about how “women” feel about their genitals, and about why they supposedly decide to “cut them up,” that “women” includes trans women. Whether or not they’ve had genital surgery. Not that most commenters here have ever been known for sensitivity to trans concerns, or for doing anything but sneering and/or being defensive if cis privilege is brought up.

  114. jose
    jose September 29, 2011 at 10:30 pm |

    I concur. What’s wrong with labia I don’t understand. Not everyone is going to like your butt or your nose or some other part of your body, or the way you walk, the way you think, etc. I refuse the idea that I should change everything a person doesn’t like about me, let alone if it involves surgery. Would we undergo brain surgery to modify our thoughts if society considered them inappropiate? Have we all gone nuts or what?

    And while you’re at it, don’t get breasts implants either. I’d like to emphatize that too because it seems to be more widespread and accepted than labia surgery. It’s so absurd. Hey girl, this is society speaking: I like the boobs you can see in pornographic cartoons and I have decided yours must look like that too, and therefore you must put plastic bags inside your tits. lolwut.

  115. DonnaL
    DonnaL September 29, 2011 at 10:32 pm |

    PS: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at any of this, in a thread in which someone brought up Germaine Greer’s opinions on cosmetic surgery. Lovely.

  116. Katniss
    Katniss September 29, 2011 at 10:41 pm |

    DonnaL I think there’s a difference between what is discussed in the OP (women getting genital surgery because they feel their genitals arent pretty enough or “hot” enough or that they look “used”) and anyone getting genital surgery to match their genitals to who they truly are.

  117. Katniss
    Katniss September 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm |

    And I apologize in advance if my wording wrt to trans issues is phrased badly. I consider myself an ally but of course have not had the lived experience so if I make mistakes in my wording I will rectify it.

  118. zuzu
    zuzu September 29, 2011 at 10:55 pm |

    Donna L, guess it’s a good thing that the OP specifically said don’t do this unless you have medical reasons, huh?

    Azalea, why are you defending this surgery so hard?

  119. DonnaL
    DonnaL September 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm |

    I wasn’t referring to the OP, Zuzu. I was referring to some of the commenters. You’re demonstrating both the sneering and the defensiveness I expected, all in the same comment.

  120. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm |

    Katniss: DonnaL I think there’s a difference between what is discussed in the OP (women getting genital surgery because they feel their genitals arent pretty enough or “hot” enough or that they look “used”) and anyone getting genital surgery to match their genitals to who they truly are.

    Is there a difference / what’s the difference between a cis-gendered/sexed woman getting cosmetic surgery on her genitals (or breasts or face or whatever), say, to match those of the latest Playboy bunny centerfold cuz that’s how she feels she should have been born, and a transwoman or transguy getting genital or top surgery?

    What do you think DonnaL?

  121. igglanova
    igglanova September 29, 2011 at 11:15 pm |

    The only thing in common between the kind of cosmetic labiaplasty we’ve been discussing and GRS is the fact that they’re both surgeries of the genital region. The motivations for seeking them are, by and large, totally different. People don’t become trans* because they are facing targeted shaming or experiencing the media saturation of ridiculous standards of beauty. Likewise, negative self-image re: the size of your labia [if you’re cis] is not directed by some inborn trait.

    I don’t understand why we’re being expected to treat them as part of the same phenomenon.

  122. Natasha
    Natasha September 29, 2011 at 11:40 pm |

    igglanova: The only thing in common between the kind of cosmetic labiaplasty we’ve been discussing and GRS is the fact that they’re both surgeries of the genital region. The motivations for seeking them are, by and large, totally different. People don’t become trans* because they are facing targeted shaming or experiencing the media saturation of ridiculous standards of beauty. Likewise, negative self-image re: the size of your labia [if you’re cis] is not directed by some inborn trait.I don’t understand why we’re being expected to treat them as part of the same phenomenon.

    So you think that motivation is the key difference, one being cultural, the other being biological? I don’t think it’s that neat and tidy, for either party, and the issue is divided even within the trans community (not all trans ppl think they’re born with the wrong body; I sure as hell don’t know all trans ppl in the world but the trans ppl I do know are very diverse in their trans-being). Oh those long, colorful, beautiful continuums! Which brings me back to my earlier culture critique about the whole either/or, dividing & packaging & *controlling* that this dis-eased colonist-culture is obsessed with & tries to inflict on our Being Human.

  123. karak
    karak September 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |

    @DonnaL

    We’re clearly not discussing GRS, we’re discussing purely cosmetic surgery done on people who have vulvas and plan to continue having a vulva, a population that consists overwhelming of cis woman.

  124. zuzu
    zuzu September 30, 2011 at 12:11 am |

    DonnaL:
    I wasn’t referring to the OP, Zuzu.I was referring to some of the commenters.You’re demonstrating both the sneering and the defensiveness I expected, all in the same comment.

    Glad to live up to your expectations! You certainly made them clear with your first comment, so I’m happy to oblige.

  125. llama
    llama September 30, 2011 at 12:25 am |

    I am surprised nobody has suggested we examine such cosmetic surgery from the point of equity and utility.

    For instance is it right to invest money in such technologies when there are huge inequities in access to basic health needs?

    Does the money we spend on these technologies give as much benefit to society as would addressing such things as universal access to contraception?

  126. zuzu
    zuzu September 30, 2011 at 12:36 am |

    So glad you’re here to mansplain plastic surgery decisions and scold the wimmens for retarding the progress of scientific research, llama.

  127. Azalea
    Azalea September 30, 2011 at 1:11 am |

    zuzu:

    Azalea, why are you defending this surgery so hard?

    It isn’t just the surgery, it’s beginning to seem as if any personal decision a woman makes that an OP disagrees with here is something the disagreeing woman only does because she can’t make decisions for herself, she waits for society to tell her what to do, otherwise she’d think just.like.YOU.

    There are women who do it, and they do it because they want to. Long before tummy tucks there were people who wanted to get rid of bellyfat without having to diet or exercise. Long before there were breast implants there were people stuffing bras and corsets that made B cups look like D’s. When people are unhappy with the way they look (either they want to emulate someone else’s look or they want someone else to find them desirable etc etc) they find ways to change it. I can’t agree with the mantra that because there are men somewhere spending more time inspecting labia than trying to get at the prize behind it that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN who wants the surgery is doing it for one of them and not because SHE wants it. The funny thing about fighting for the right to bodily autonomy is that there will bepeople who benefit who will use that right to do things YOU wouldnt do. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with anybody else but the fact that they just felt like it, they just want to.

    Why the strong push against it?

  128. matlun
    matlun September 30, 2011 at 1:15 am |

    Natasha: Is there a difference / what’s the difference between a cis-gendered/sexed woman getting cosmetic surgery on her genitals (or breasts or face or whatever), say, to match those of the latest Playboy bunny centerfold cuz that’s how she feels she should have been born, and a transwoman or transguy getting genital or top surgery?

    For the top surgery part, I at least do not see any difference. However, the genital surgery in GRS can be seen as a functional rather than a cosmetic change.

    Regarding some of the comments in this thread, I must say I find the arguments about choice (ie we do not have free choice) very suspect and troubling. If you want to call out some behaviors and choices, do that honestly. Arguing that these are not free choices is denying agency and does not make the argument less oppressive.

  129. llama
    llama September 30, 2011 at 1:16 am |

    zuzu: So glad you’re here to mansplain plastic surgery decisions, llama.

    @zuzu I am new to this forum it would really assist me in making future posts if you could explain why this is mansplaining about plastic surgery decisions.

    I would also be grateful if you could explain the logic that led you to make this statement:

    zuzu: scold the wimmens for retarding the progress of scientific research

    If anything I would think demand would drive scientific advancement and if the wimmens demand this type of surgery then they are probably causing it to be advanced.

  130. Azalea
    Azalea September 30, 2011 at 1:18 am |

    igglanova:
    You can go ahead and snore at the idea that culture influences choices, but that doesn’t make it any less true.For fuck’s sake, this is proven, unassailable fact.The only part of the equation still under debate is the degree to which behaviours are governed by nature or nurture.

    Don’t you think the rates of given plastic surgeries would stay perfectly constant across time if the only factor was individual, self-directed preference?Care to take a guess as to why that isn’t so?

    I’m not saying that every single cosmetic surgery is done by personal choice devoid of cultural influence. I am saying that not every cosmetic surgery is done because of cultural influence. People who aways wanted to be taller, have bigger boobs, a bigger but, a smaller nose, bigger iips, smaller labia.

  131. zuzu
    zuzu September 30, 2011 at 1:21 am |

    Azalea: There are women who do it, and they do it because they want to. Long before tummy tucks there were people who wanted to get rid of bellyfat without having to diet or exercise. Long before there were breast implants there were people stuffing bras and corsets that made B cups look like D’s. When people are unhappy with the way they look (either they want to emulate someone else’s look or they want someone else to find them desirable etc etc) they find ways to change it.

    And gosh, isn’t it interesting how all that aligns quite well with dominant beauty standards?

  132. karak
    karak September 30, 2011 at 1:46 am |

    “Sometimes, it has nothing to do with anybody else but the fact that they just felt like it, they just want to.

    Why the strong push against it?”

    I’d be deeply, deeply concerned if someone decided to alter their body for “the hell of it”, especially during something like elective genital surgery. People die on that table. They get infections, they lose feeling and sensation, and a whole host of scary other problems.

    I mean, I wouldn’t body tackle them to the ground and have them committed or anything, but I’d certainly voice some concerns about a friend applying knives to her vulva for no goddamn reason.

    And also, like I said above, I have some very serious body image issues I attribute largely to the greater culture, and yeah, those issues include my breasts and vulva, so this is a concern of mine that people like me are taking extreme steps to conform.

  133. igglanova
    igglanova September 30, 2011 at 2:01 am |

    Well duh, GRS is also subject to cultural influence and shitty kyriarchical issues. I left that aside out of concern for brevity, since the reason it exists *at all* is separate from the patriarchy in a way that the kind of cosmetic labiaplasty discussed by the OP is not. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much detail; I’m not interested in obfuscating the main point of difference between the two practices. To put it another way: in the mystical magical future where rigid standards of beauty no longer exist, there will still be demand for GRS, but not for cosmetic labiaplasty. (Okay, fine, there will still be outliers like fucking Orlan out there, but they would be rare and you get the idea.)

    llama, people are responding badly when you suggest we examine a given topic in a way that feminists have already written entire books (and lectures, and press releases, and and and…) about, as if it were completely novel and we’d never considered it before. It shows ignorance of, and a lack of respect for the feminist work that has already been done.

  134. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 30, 2011 at 2:56 am |

    Dude, calm down y’all — it’s not like llama didn’t make a valid point. Aside from the harm done to the women that this kind of surgery is marketed to, harm is also done to people whose needs are being ignored because they aren’t as easy and profitable. When a doctor can make bank off of cutting up lady bits for cosmetic reasons, that is one less doctor to do something more useful (like almost anything.)

    Some women are trying to photoshop their labia in RL, and some women are trying to keep their uteri in after a horrible childbirth or are suffering from fistulas, and we don’t have to blame the sad rich ladies for this inequality but we shouldn’t ignore it either. Oh noes, my labia isn’t naturally as aesthetically pleasing as one created by a team of artists: “first world problems” indeed.

    And yeah, I’m straight up judging right now. Are you obsessed with your labia being less than picture perfect? Sure, go see a doctor …of psychiatry and try to work your shit out scapel-free before dropping ridiculous money on removing tiny chunks of a large nerve bundle. These women are oppressed, but not on any kind of financial or medical or class level. And yes, this kind of “vanity” surgery (like everything else in the world) has an associated opportunity cost.

  135. llama
    llama September 30, 2011 at 3:37 am |

    igglanova: people are responding badly when you suggest we examine a given topic in a way that feminists have already written entire books (and lectures, and press releases, and and and…) about,

    Yeah, and everywhere else that public health policy is discussed, but perhaps you consider only feminist works actually count.

    The ubiquity of the concept is why I was surprised that this viewpoint had not yet been discussed here.

    But for the loss of anonymity, I would point you to a peer reviewed paper I had published on the subject of mathematically optimizing outcomes in this area.

  136. karak
    karak September 30, 2011 at 3:51 am |

    @llama,

    IMO your questions are overly pretentious and have such obvious answers there’s no real point to examining them (answers: capitalism and protests against any kind of “socialist” healthcare needs).

    I mean, these are the kinds of “questions” people ask when woman say something like, “DUDE it’s not okay to scream at me on the street, “I LIKE YOUR TITS” and then someone asks, “why should we be talking about this when women get raped in Ghana everyday?” Because that’s not what we’re talking about, that’s why.

  137. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 4:20 am |

    igglanova:
    Well duh, GRS is also subject to cultural influence and shitty kyriarchical issues.I left that aside out of concern for brevity, since the reason it exists *at all* is separate from the patriarchy in a way that the kind of cosmetic labiaplasty discussed by the OP is not.Sometimes there is such a thing as too much detail; I’m not interested in obfuscating the main point of difference between the two practices.To put it another way: in the mystical magical future where rigid standards of beauty no longer exist, there will still be demand for GRS, but not for cosmetic labiaplasty.(Okay, fine, there will still be outliers like fucking Orlan out there, but they would be rare and you get the idea.)

    llama, people are responding badly when you suggest we examine a given topic in a way that feminists have already written entire books (and lectures, and press releases, and and and…) about, as if it were completely novel and we’d never considered it before.It shows ignorance of, and a lack of respect for the feminist work that has already been done.

    Ok. I’m interested in making a mystical magic life now, so if you change your mind about “obfuscating the main point of difference between the two practices” I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts, if you care to share.

    What do you mean by people responding “badly”?

    Regarding ignorance around books/lectures/press releases etc. being a disrespectful thing, I disagree. We’re all ignorant about something or the other, learning is a lifelong process. Being ignorant of something or the other is not disrespectful if you’re making efforts to learn, through whatever ways work for you. My To-Read list is very long and I am slowly getting through it, though with every book I read 2 more go on the list, and there are very important books I need to re-read cuz I can’t remember everything. And in between this I’m livin’ life which equally informs my thinking about everything, if not more so. Some of the most amazing thinkers I’ve come across were introduced to me by other ppl, so I appreciate when others share their knowledge.

    I personally don’t think there’s such thing as too much detail.

  138. llama
    llama September 30, 2011 at 4:21 am |

    karak: (answers: capitalism and protests against any kind of “socialist” healthcare needs).

    Well that is a very narrow world view most of Europe and places such as New Zealand and Australia have what you might call “socialist” universal health care. So decisions between spending money on elective surgery and basic health care are actually made. For instance here in Australia some public money is assigned for such things as IVF , eyelid lift surgery, gender reassignermnt

  139. llama
    llama September 30, 2011 at 4:27 am |

    sorry I accidentally posted before finishing. I will continue:-

    For instance here in Australia some public money is assigned for such things as IVF , eyelid lift surgery, gender reassignment surgery. The amount we spend on these items must be balanced against what we spend on other aspects of public health.

    So this really is a first world issue.

  140. Clarence
    Clarence September 30, 2011 at 4:44 am |

    andie:
    Good lord.I for one have never seen a penis or a labia that I found particularly pretty.‘taint no such animal, son

    I BEG TO DIFFER!

  141. igglanova
    igglanova September 30, 2011 at 4:45 am |

    Uh no, I don’t think feminist work is the only work that ‘counts.’ How the fuck did you pull that out of my comment? I was reacting to the way you are proposing such surface-level questions as though they couldn’t possibly have occurred to us before. The reason we haven’t mentioned them is because it goes without saying.

  142. llama
    llama September 30, 2011 at 5:02 am |

    igglanova: when you suggest we examine a given topic in a way that feminists have already written entire books (and lectures, and press releases, and and and…) about, as if it were completely novel and we’d never considered it before. It shows ignorance of, and a lack of respect for the feminist work that has already been done.

  143. Ryan
    Ryan September 30, 2011 at 5:28 am |

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. I think labiaplasty is just a “medicalized” form of female genital mutilation which, under the vast majority of cases, is not really necessary.

    Now, there are men who, for instance, have undergone scrotum tightening surgery, but I would guess this is due to more of a comfort factor (especially if they prefer boxers to briefs) or vanity rather than shame at not looking like porn stars – who, anyway, seem to have minute scrotum and undescended testicles (steroids?!) If the tabloids are to be believed I think Nick Nolte has had a “sack lift”.

    Furthermore, I think men who compare labiaplasty to circumcision are being a bit shrill. I was circumcised as a baby and all I feel about it is a curiosity over what having a foreskin would be like, as well as some degree of annoyance at not having had a choice in the matter. That is a debate for another time.

    Secondly, I come to my third point. ;) I happen to like large labia and compare them to luscious lips (the facial ones), both of which are pleasing to the eye and to the mouth… The more the merrier. (Note: this is simply my preference, like for red hair or shapely calves, and no one should think anything more of it. It’s okay to be honest but not okay to ridicule or insult or base a relationship decision on.)

    Procrastination managed.

  144. FeministWhore
    FeministWhore September 30, 2011 at 6:04 am |

    These critiques don’t happen in a vacuum. The denigration of choice doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And we wonder why we are loosing abortion access.

  145. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 30, 2011 at 6:13 am |

    I must say I find the arguments about choice (ie we do not have free choice) very suspect and troubling. If you want to call out some behaviors and choices, do that honestly. Arguing that these are not free choices is denying agency and does not make the argument less oppressive.

    There is a significant difference between “You have no agency” and “Your choices are influenced and constrained by the society that you live in.”

    To choose another example, women who get married can either a) keep their last name, b) hyphenate, c) choose a totally new last name or d) take their husband’s name. And yet, somewhere around 90% of all women take their husband’s last name when they get married.

    So sure, you’re making a choice (and have agency) when you take your husband’s last name, but it’s naive to think that that isn’t strongly influenced by social expectations and traditions.

  146. Feministe’s “Don’t Do This” Thread Actually Teaches That What You Should Do Is Denigrate Choice and Mock Other Women « Feminist Whore

    […] It’s about labiaplasty, and states: Surgically altering your labia: DO NOT DO, unless there is some actual medical reason. Also ohmygod forget anyone who tells you your labia are too large or that virginal vulvas look one way and whore’s vulvas look another. They all look really different, I think! But also kind of the same! Also if someone is face-to-face with your labia, everyone involved should be having fun, so focus on that. If someone says something bad about your labia, not only are they terrible, but they really need a new hobby because what? You’re evaluating and insulting labia now? I’m kind of mad, actually, that this is now making all of us think about the relative sizes of our labia, which is not something I had ever seriously considered before, but which I’ve just wasted five minutes of my life considering. (Conclusion: This is a fucking stupid thing to be thinking about). […]

  147. matlun
    matlun September 30, 2011 at 7:30 am |

    FashionablyEvil: There is a significant difference between “You have no agency” and “Your choices are influenced and constrained by the society that you live in.”

    Obviously, and perhaps I am being oversensitive (by proxy, since the specific discussion does not impact me personally).

    Anyway: Personally I would rather hear a direct “You are wrong/acted badly” than a patronizing “You are incapable of making an independent choice”. YMMV.

  148. Florence
    Florence September 30, 2011 at 7:56 am |

    What the hell, people. If the OP stance is specifically about cosmetic labiaplasty, and differentiates the opinion from medically necessary labiaplasty in the first sentence, why is medically necessary labiaplasty even getting dragged into the conversation? I swear every comment section at Feministe is derailed by this propensity to be all, “Hey, I experienced something only marginally similar to this once, and this blog is not representing my experience correctly! HOW DARE THEY.”

    HOW DARE YOU NOT REPRESENT ME, BLOG. JILL.

    And to be fair, when zuzu says “I personally feel very free to judge certain choices. I judge Mr. You Must Be a Virgin To Ride, and I judge people who feel that God wants them to cut off their baby’s foreskin, and I judge people who want to convince women that their labia are ugly and in need of painful surgical intervention at the age of 15.” she is actually being quite clear about her judgement or lack thereof and isn’t mincing words.

    What were those rules again?
    1) Boundaries – no one should ever violate them
    2) Boundaries – not immune to critique
    3) Expectations – you can have them
    4) Expectations – no one is required to meet them

    Modify your body all you want, I do!, but body modification is open to critique. Considering that the body is a reallyfuckingcommon site for feminist and anti-feminist expression/oppression, let’s not act scandalized when feminists have opinions about said subject. And while it would be nice to have a stranger represent my life/experience/opinions on body modifcation perfectly online all the time for free, that’s probably an unrealistic expectation. Debate ensues. All is well. Neither feminism nor the internet implodes.

  149. Katniss
    Katniss September 30, 2011 at 8:40 am |

    matlun:
    Anyway: Personally I would rather hear a direct “You are wrong/acted badly” than a patronizing “You are incapable of making an independent choice”. YMMV.

    I would too, but the opposite of “your choices are constrained, to varying degrees, by the sexist society we live in” is miles away from saying “you are incapable of making an independent choice”. You can make independent choices! But at the same time you can also analyze how those choices are influenced by the world you live in.

    This isn’t directed at you, matlun, but just the thread in general:

    What frustrates me in this thread (and discussions about choosing your husbands last name, or choosing to shave your pubic hair, or any other controversial choice in feminism) is the people who REFUSE to accept that society has influence on their choices. That does not mean I want to tell them they did not make their choice validly and because it’s what they really did want. It just means that in the end I get sick of hearing, for example, “I shave my legs only because I want to and societal pressure had absolutely no influence on me ever”. To me that’s almost arrogant, it is acting as if you are above all those other people in the world who are in big and small ways influenced by the society they live in. It’s essentially claiming to live in a vacuum and that isn’t possible.

    And let me point out that I apply my own logic to my choices. For example, I have done nude modeling many times for several different nudie sites. I made the choice to do so freely and it is something I wanted to do. That doesn’t mean that my choice was completely free from societal expectations about what is “sexy” in women or an ingrained desire to be praised for my looks or any number of other influences. But I did not make that choice in a vacuum, no matter how freely and happily I made it. That doesn’t mean I have no agency, it just means the agency I have still exists within this particular society.

  150. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 8:43 am |

    Florence:
    What the hell, people. If the OP stance is specifically about cosmetic labiaplasty, and differentiates the opinion from medically necessary labiaplasty in the first sentence, why is medically necessary labiaplasty even getting dragged into the conversation?

    Because at least one person who cares about it past the 7 word disclaimer brought it up. And because every voice counts. Same goes for the “why are we talking about GRS in this thread?” sentiment — cuz someone who cares about it brought it up. If we don’t care to talk about it we don’t have to respond, but my kind of feminism doesn’t dictate what we can and can’t talk about under this or that topic. See my brief italicized summary of the fuckjob that is the colonist culture, comment #56, if you want to, and no sweat if you don’t.

    Aside: I appreciated your comments in the Christian Virgin Seeks Christian Virgin thread.

  151. raya
    raya September 30, 2011 at 9:50 am |

    Florence: What the hell, people. If the OP stance is specifically about cosmetic labiaplasty, and differentiates the opinion from medically necessary labiaplasty in the first sentence, why is medically necessary labiaplasty even getting dragged into the conversation?

    But who decides if a labiaplasty is medically necessary, or just for aesthetic reasons? I do think these two overlap pretty often. What about people who find a part of their body aesthetically unpleasing and develop serious psychological problems because of it?

  152. Andie
    Andie September 30, 2011 at 10:02 am |

    raya: But who decides if a labiaplasty is medically necessary, or just for aesthetic reasons? I do think these two overlap pretty often. What about people who find a part of their body aesthetically unpleasing and develop serious psychological problems because of it?

    Pain or discomfort that can’t be eased non-surgically? Yeah, I’d call that medical. GRS? Yeah to that too

    Your point though, points to all the more reasons that we need to examine the cultural influences that tell us as women that there is some kind of standard that of all things, our fucking LABIA need to live up to, that YOUR LABIA IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, BUT IT CAN BE WITH RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY. If someone is so displeased with their Labia that it’s causing psychological damage, maybe there’s something deeper going on there that requires more than just ‘Oh, well, with a little reconstructive surgery and that will fix everything!’ Maybe it stands to reason that we should be looking at influences that would cause someone to worry about their labia to that extent.

  153. jose
    jose September 30, 2011 at 10:02 am |

    “Body hate”? What the hell is that? Unless you’re the elephant man, if you hate your body the problem is the hate, not the body.

  154. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 10:26 am |

    raya: But who decides if a labiaplasty is medically necessary, or just for aesthetic reasons? I do think these two overlap pretty often. What about people who find a part of their body aesthetically unpleasing and develop serious psychological problems because of it?

    YEAH!!! I have nothing more intelligible to say on that, except that I’m sure glad this isn’t my online school forum (psychology) cuz almost everyone would respond to your questions in unison “why, the ‘expert’ doctors of course!!! they know everyyyything and science is SO ‘advanced’ and neutral and objective”….!! grrrRRRrrr! and even more GRRRRR, when I respond on my school forum like I do here (minus the swearing), the teachers private message me with a tone argument. THIS is “higher learning” that is producing “experts” so prized in this techno-colonial biomedically dazed culture. just sayin. raya, i totally don’t want to derail your post cuz you bring up some VERY good questions so apologies for my rant, it just rolllllled on out and i kinda think it’s important cuz this is the shit that “experts” need to be talking about since they’re advising ppl, but instead they want to talk about tones when ppl bring up questionable shit!!! whatevs though, i always say the client is the expert, and in this case, the person with the genitals in question is the expert of what they want to do or not do with them, though as others have pointed out, doesn’t mean we can’t explore what all is going on around our decision-making…

  155. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 30, 2011 at 10:27 am |

    Thinking about this thing I have to say I see good argument on both sides. On one hand you shouldn’t ever feel that a part of your body is ‘ugly’ because it doesn’t look like the majority. On the other hand I know plenty of people who’ve cosmetically altered their genitals (by piercing) to make them look ‘pretty’ and I don’t question their motives.

    I think we can all agree that there’s a difference between a woman who doesn’t like the look of her labia and cosmetic surgeons that advertise these procedures as if they’re something every woman should have.

  156. IrishUp
    IrishUp September 30, 2011 at 11:12 am |

    Watching this go forward, I actually think there were options that would have helped frame this discussion better. How about “WTF Is Wrong With A Culture that Sets Beauty Standards for Labia?” That way the interrogation is set up on the cultural Beauty Standard.

    “Do Not Do” frames the interrogation on the person. AND it’s the damned lede of the piece, so other qualifiers tucked in come after the frame has been set. I can easily imagine how anybody who HAS had or has contemplated this procedure is not feeling any fucking better about being shamed by “Do Not Do”. Whereas “If the culture makes you feel this way, please know we think that’s fucked up and support you!” might be more empowering.

    Medical vs. cosmetic is spurious to the issue of “Is it OK to set yet another misogynist goalpost?” which is the systemic critique. The line between “medical necessity” and “cosmetic” is not hard and fast. Medical necessity certainly should include mental health, but who can really tell when something isn’t body dysmorphia (medically legit right?) but vanity (personality disorder? asshole personality trait? do we really know?) for instance? Also, how about when our misogynist culture makes something cosmetic a virtual gottadoo for women? What if you’re an adult movie performer, and this becomes a Gottadoo for you to get work? Is it vanity then?

    I’m having trouble seeing a conversation that is framed in a way that further shames already marginalized peoples as a particularly healthy feminist one. Why are we interrogating marginalized peoples’ choices? Who does that help? Why are we putting it on them? Aren’t they US? Isn’t the richer discussion critique of the CULTURE which pretty much ONLY allows women CHOICES AMONGST LACK OF OPTIONS? Maybe evn proposing changes that don’t shame the damned victims? Could I possibly have included moar ??????????s

  157. jose
    jose September 30, 2011 at 11:12 am |

    Steve, but those surgeons can create that disliking. People don’t do unhealthy diets because they came up on their own with the idea that being super thin is cool and pretty, they saw it on models and movie stars and other places. The idea that one kind looks pure and other kind looks used is fucked up and a lie. But lots of people believe lies.

    I guess I’m just oblivious to why somebody would hate her labia unless someone else put that idea in her mind. But then again I don’t understand the people who go to the doctor to have their ears fixed because they used to stick out and things like that. I know a guy who had totally regular teeth but had them bleached because he felt they were grey, but now they just look freaky. I blame photoshop. Normal things are fine, I don’t see the point of getting on a surgery table for something normal.

  158. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 30, 2011 at 11:54 am |

    jose: I guess I’m just oblivious to why somebody would hate her labia unless someone else put that idea in her mind.

    And this is why some people are having an issue with the ‘no’ crowd. You can be against the promotion of cosmetic labioplasty AND think women are capable of thinking for themselves.

  159. jose
    jose September 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm |

    Fat Steve: And this is why some people are having an issue with the ‘no’ crowd. You can be against the promotion of cosmetic labioplasty AND think women are capable of thinking for themselves.

    First off, please refrain from insinuating that I have said anything about men being able to think and women not being so. My first two examples (unhealthy diets and ears sticking out) were neutral and my third example was a guy getting dental bleaching. So stop.

    Second, when someone hates a body or part of a body that is perfectly healthy and fine, why is the body considered the problem to be fixed, instead of the hate? I think a short interview would quickly reveal whether someone wants surgery because of some personal, solid reason or just because of social indoctrination, in which case the surgery should be denied and the person should be assigned a councillor so s/he gets to know her/himself a little and stops being such a drone.

  160. Donna L
    Donna L September 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    jose:
    “Body hate”? What the hell is that? Unless you’re the elephant man, if you hate your body the problem is the hate, not the body.

    I don’t mean to pick on you, jose, but this is simply another example of the ciscentrism that’s so rampant here. I hated my body once upon a time, and I wasn’t the elephant man. Have you ever heard of gender dysphoria? Or are you one of those who tells trans people to fix their delusional minds before they start mutilating their allegedly healthy bodies?

    And that applies to your earlier condemnation of breast implants, too. At what point, if any, are breast implants acceptable for trans women? Never? What if someone takes hormones for years and, basically, nothing happens? (As has been the case for some trans women I know, particularly when they begin transition later in life.) Should they just live as women without breasts and learn to accept their God-given lot? If not, and it’s sometimes OK for trans women, then why not for cis women too?

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s not always so easy to draw the line between medical (including psychological) necessity, and culturally-influenced vanity. I know damn well that the only reason I’ve always wanted my nose “fixed” is that I’ve internalized cultural standards of beauty that exalt Northern European features and consider traditionally “Jewish” features — noses, in particular — to be ugly. But that doesn’t make my feelings any less real. (It’s a good thing, probably, that I’ve never had the money to spare to get my nose fixed, or I would have done it years ago. It also helped to realize that my nose didn’t in any way prevent me from being perceived as a woman when I transitioned. A Jewish woman, perhaps — NTTAWWT — but a woman nonetheless.)

    By the way, to some of you who responded to my comments last night: I’m well aware that what the OP and others were addressing was not “medically necessary” labiaplasty or other genital surgery. (Not that the line is so easy to draw, whether for genital surgery or breast augmentation or anything else.) I’m neither stupid nor ignorant. I was, however, entitled to point out the fact that some people’s rhetoric was so broadly condemnatory that it far outstripped their intentions. And that when you talk about “women” and their decisions to “cut up” their bodies, and suggest that there’s no possible justification for it, you might want to keep in mind that trans women are women too. The predictability of the Sneering Defensiveness of some of the responses doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

    Natasha: Is there a difference / what’s the difference between a cis-gendered/sexed woman getting cosmetic surgery on her genitals (or breasts or face or whatever), say, to match those of the latest Playboy bunny centerfold cuz that’s how she feels she should have been born, and a transwoman or transguy getting genital or top surgery?

    What do you think DonnaL?

    When you present the contrast like that, it’s easy to make the distinction. In real life, it’s not always so easy; things aren’t always at one end or the other of a spectrum running from medical necessity to complete vanity. Which is why, as much as the idea of purely cosmetic labiaplasty makes me queasy, it isn’t for me to decide that anyone’s decision to have any kind of surgery to alter her body is, in fact, “purely cosmetic.” Returning again to breast augmentation, would I be happier if 11 years of hormone therapy had had more of an effect on my body? Maybe, but I’m lucky enough to be only 5′ 2″ tall, so that what did happen is sufficiently proportionate to my size that it allows me to “blend in” as female, and it simply isn’t important enough to me to do anything further. Not to mention the risk of loss of sensation. So for me, a decision to have breast augmentation surgery would, in fact, be based entirely on vanity. But if another trans woman in the same position as I am made the decision to have breast augmentation surgery, I’d never in a million years presume to to say it was solely because of “vanity” for her. Culturally-influenced? So what? Is she supposed to wait for the utopia in which breast size would mean nothing to anyone? The same way those who oppose GRS would have trans women wait until the utopia in which, supposedly, nobody would want to alter their bodies because all bodies are equally valued? (Not that I buy for a moment that the need and desire for GRS would vanish in such a utopia.)

    On the other hand, genital surgery was sufficiently important to my identity, and sufficiently necessary to help with my body dysphoria, that I went through with it a couple of years ago regardless of the risks — both general risks, and those personal to me given all my serious health issues including Crohn’s Disease and a long history of severe complications from every major surgery I’ve ever had. Without going into too much detail, most of those risks unfortunately happened for me, including very serious complications requiring emergency hospitalization in the nearest hospital in Montreal, where I spent six days in the ER while they decided what to do with me, followed by an exciting ambulance ride to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, where I was told “we’ve never had a patient like you before and don’t know how to take care of you” in terms of that aspect of my care — all of which ended up in less than perfect “cosmetic” results. Which I may or may not do something about someday. I’d still do it all over again, though; it was worth it.

    So let’s not forget that there’s a “cosmetic” element to GRS, too, and that there are plenty of trans women who decide on a surgeon based, at least in part, on photographic examples of their surgical results. There’s one website in particular that has dozens of examples from different surgeons, and I’ve known trans women who can get pretty obsessive about which one looks “best,” or the most like the mythical ur-vulva and ur-vagina, the Platonic ideal of vulvaness and vaginaness that they have in mind. And, of course, every surgeon does try to achieve a particular standard look which clearly is based on cultural standards of what female genitals are supposed to look like.

    I didn’t care so much about specific appearance, but I don’t condemn for a second those who do, given their underlying fear of someone looking at their genitals and being able to “tell,” and saying “those aren’t real.” Me, I’ve seen enough examples of female genitals in my life to know that they all look different, and maybe I’m overly cynical, but I’m convinced that most straight men wouldn’t be able to “tell” no matter what the results look like, as long as everything isn’t sideways. In the end, though, I do believe that people should be able to do what they feel is necessary. Cosmetic or not; culturally influenced are not. It’s not for me to draw lines.

    And I never forget for one minute something that most people here seem entirely clueless about: that both historically and today, the loudest feminist voices opposing cosmetic surgery belong to the most rabid, virulent, and disgusting anti-trans bigots, the Germaine Greers and Janice Raymonds and Sheila Jeffreys and Julie Bindels of the world. In other words, people I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with, let alone be on the same side.

  161. groggette
    groggette September 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    Fat Steve: On the other hand I know plenty of people who’ve cosmetically altered their genitals (by piercing) to make them look ‘pretty’ and I don’t question their motives.

    Wait, do some people pierce their genitals just for “prettiness”? I’m seriously asking, not being sarcastic. My piercing was definitely for function over looks and the other people I know with genital piercings have said the same, or that if aesthetics did come into it, it wasn’t about making their labia/hood/penis prettier.
    /offtopic

  162. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    I’m having trouble seeing a conversation that is framed in a way that further shames already marginalized peoples as a particularly healthy feminist one.

    How are “women who spend thousands on cosmetic surgery” more marginalized than women who don’t? If anything, having the kind of cash that you can spend it on prettying up your genitals (pain or GRS aside) sounds damn privileged. I know lots of people here are in love with the “women are choosing their choices so STFU” idea, but comparing women who have access to labia surgery with women who have no access to abortion/GRS/therapy/etc. is disingenuous at best.

    And it isn’t “blaming” to point out that women can be hurt by the patriarchy and also contribute to that patriarchy by how they respond to that hurt. When a woman is told “your labia is fugly and slutty” that is oppressive as hell, and she certainly doesn’t need to be crapped on by other women for receiving that message or taking it to heart, but we should honestly acknowledge that there is a difference between her reacting with “wtf if you don’t like my labia then don’t hang out with it!” and reacting with “omg you are right, big labias are slutty, here is a ton of money.”

    Those two responses are both under the influence of certain patriarchal pressures, but they have very different effects on all the rest of the women and girls — I think that womankind can withstand a little examination of how our choices can hurt the people around us, even as we navigate our own hurts.

    And I never forget for one minute something that most people here seem entirely clueless about: that both historically and today, the loudest feminist voices opposing cosmetic surgery belong to the most rabid, virulent, and disgusting anti-trans bigots, the Germaine Greers and Janice Raymonds and Sheila Jeffreys and Julie Bindels of the world.

    Yeah yeah and Hitler was a vegetarian.

  163. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    Wait, do some people pierce their genitals just for “prettiness”? I’m seriously asking, not being sarcastic.

    Vajazzling exists. People will do anything; it’s like Rule 34 for RL.

  164. Donna L
    Donna L September 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm |

    Bagelsan:

    Yeah yeah and Hitler was a vegetarian.

    I have no idea what that even means, other than that it’s another example of the reflexive nastiness around here. If you think those individuals’ putrid transphobia is completely unrelated to their general views on cosmetic surgery, then you obviously haven’t read anything they’ve written. Even if it were unrelated, if you think the fact that someone loudly despises everything about you has no bearing on what you might think of their writings in general, then you’re pretty damn privileged yourself.

  165. jose
    jose September 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    Hey Donna L,
    that was in the context of having surgery to modify your genitals just because society told you to, and in the broader context of cosmetic surgery. That comment has nothing to do with transexuals and does not apply to them. That’s a new, different context that would result in a different comment. In the context this post offers, I stand by what I said.

  166. Lucy Gillam
    Lucy Gillam September 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm |

    What did people do before the biomedical daze of techno-colonial-industrialization?

    In the case of real pain and real chronic discomfort and real illness and real medical disorders? Suffered, mostly.

  167. Lucy Gillam
    Lucy Gillam September 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    You know, I’ve got a lot of feelings on choices vs influences, on whether a post that starts with “DO NOT DO” can be called starting a discussion, etc. But as the mother of a daughter, I have to say that the idea of a bunch of strangers on a blog not only discussing my daughter’s medical decisions based on a second-hand line in an an article, but mocking those decisions, make me a little ill. The original author and a number of people here are speaking of her symptoms and the solution with a great deal of surety for a situation you haven’t even read a first-hand account of, to say nothing of actual medical facts.

  168. Azalea
    Azalea September 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    IrishUp:
    Watching this go forward, I actually think there were options that would have helped frame this discussion better. How about “WTF Is Wrong With A Culture that Sets Beauty Standards for Labia?”That way the interrogation is set up on the cultural Beauty Standard.

    “Do Not Do” frames the interrogation on the person. AND it’s the damned lede of the piece, so other qualifiers tucked in come after the frame has been set. I can easily imagine how anybody who HAS had or has contemplated this procedure is not feeling any fucking better about being shamed by “Do Not Do”. Whereas “If the culture makes you feel this way, please know we think that’s fucked up and support you!” might be more empowering.

    Medical vs. cosmetic is spurious to the issue of “Is it OK to set yet another misogynist goalpost?” which is the systemic critique. The line between “medical necessity” and “cosmetic” is not hard and fast. Medical necessity certainly should include mental health, but who can really tell when something isn’t body dysmorphia (medically legit right?) but vanity (personality disorder? asshole personality trait? do we really know?) for instance? Also, how about when our misogynist culture makes something cosmetic a virtual gottadoo for women? What if you’re an adult movie performer, and this becomes a Gottadoo for you to get work? Is it vanity then?

    I’m having trouble seeing a conversation that is framed in a way that further shames already marginalized peoples as a particularly healthy feminist one. Why are we interrogating marginalized peoples’ choices? Who does that help? Why are we putting it on them? Aren’t they US? Isn’t the richer discussion critique of the CULTURE which pretty much ONLY allows women CHOICES AMONGST LACK OF OPTIONS? Maybe evn proposing changes that don’t shame the damned victims? Could I possibly have included moar ??????????s

    Yesss indeed!!!

  169. Azalea
    Azalea September 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    Fat Steve: And this is why some people are having an issue with the ‘no’ crowd. You can be against the promotion of cosmetic labioplasty AND think women are capable of thinking for themselves.

    BINGO!

  170. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm |

    “Yeah yeah and Hitler was a vegetarian.”

    I have no idea what that even means, other than that it’s another example of the reflexive nastiness around here.

    Lol. You seriously don’t get that? I’m saying that telling us about how terrible some anti-cosmetic-surgery people are, in an effort to make us stop criticizing cosmetic surgery, is like telling vegetarians that Hitler was a vegetarian to make them eat meat. It is painting your opponents in this discussion as “rabid, virulent, and disgusting anti-trans bigots” because they have an opinion in common with some bigots. It’s a super well-known and ridiculous fallacy on the internet, and sadly I’m not surprised to see it make an appearance here.

    No one is saying trans women shouldn’t have any concern for what their genitals look like — the very opposite, in fact. People have specifically been excluding medical issues including gender dysmorphia from the label of “cosmetic” surgery, because that’s not what the post is about. Objecting to cis women being told their labia are ugly and they should cut said labia up isn’t remotely related to transphobia, and I think throwing out that characterization of the debate is pointless and derailing.

  171. igglanova
    igglanova September 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm |

    I don’t really get the comparison to piercing. Genital piercing has always been an alt-culture phenomenon (although it is becoming more popular with the mainstream) and was never designed to make people’s bodies align with patriarchy’s fucked up notion of ‘normal’. It doesn’t come from a cynical shaming and need creation process like fucking labiaplasty.

    It is pointless to concern ourselves with the possible, dubious, esoteric reasons a hypothetical individual might want to hack off their labia. There’s always some fringe element that will do anything. That there are vanishingly rare exceptions to a rule does not disprove the rule. ‘Oh, I know this one person who got labiaplasty as part of an art project, so we should stop talking about the influence of patriarchy on the other approximately 99% of people who get it.’ Please.

  172. Donna L
    Donna L September 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm |

    I think some of you keep missing my point. Maybe I’m not being sufficiently clear, but if people are intending to limit their comments to cis women, why not say so when they make those comments? How is “your rhetoric is outstripping your intentions” not clear? Especially given the history of *exactly* the same rhetoric being used against trans women — pretty much word for word — how exactly is it that anyone is supposed to know that people like Jose don’t actually mean what they say about “women” to apply to all women (including trans women) if they don’t say so? Regardless of the context, it’s hardly safe to assume that everyone here shares the OP’s viewpoint. I know that using inclusive rhetoric might require a tiny bit of additional effort sometimes, but I think it’s worth it, no matter how many times people repeat that 99% of women are cis so it supposedly should be obvious that that’s what everyone means.

    And, no, Bagelsan, I’m not painting anyone here as a rabid, disgusting, or virulent transphobe. I’m explaining why *I* am made uncomfortable by a lot of anti-cosmetic surgery advocacy. I already said this, but I’ll repeat it more directly: the Hitler/vegetarian analogy is absurd and simplistic; the reason I asked what you meant is that I found it hard to believe you would resort to it. Hitler’s vegetarianism had nothing to do with, and had no bearing on, his racist and anti-Semitic views; it’s indeed silly to use the latter to try to tear down the former. Once again: there is a direct and close relationship between the transphobia and the anti-cosmetic surgery views of more than a few very prominent feminists. It’s hardly surprising that the former would make me question the latter, or at least avoid aligning myself with the latter no matter how much I agree with everyone else here about “purely cosmetic” labiaplasty. I would never in a million years expect a cis person to have the same reaction.

  173. Donna L
    Donna L September 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm |

    One more thing: I always appreciate it so much when people who bring up the rampant heterocentrism and ciscentrism of so many commenters here get accused of derailing. Thanks!

  174. Florence
    Florence September 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    Donna L: One more thing: I always appreciate it so much when people who bring up the rampant heterocentrism and ciscentrism of so many commenters here get accused of derailing. Thanks!

    Seriously, when people are bending over backwards to exclude medically necessary cosmetic surgery especially in regards to ability and gender identity, it’s kind of derailing to keep beating that drum. Point taken! For real. The knee-jerk reaction against plastic surgery deserves to be interrogated. But Germaine Greer et al. are not commenting on this blog.

  175. Florence
    Florence September 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm |

    And to be clear, I’m talking in general about the inability for feminist blog-goers to hone a thread down to one or five topics without angrily veering off into 8000 other topics because your personal angle wasn’t represented in the OP. See also: HATS.

  176. zuzu
    zuzu September 30, 2011 at 5:37 pm |

    Donna, I’ll tell you why this discussion is not relevant to GRS:

    1) Medical reasons have been specifically exempted;
    2) Ciswomen have labia as original equipment; they’re not custom;
    3) Thus, a ciswoman who is unhappy with her labia is unhappy with what she was born with, while a transwoman who is unhappy with her labia is unhappy with what had been created during bottom surgery;
    4) Thus, the source of the dissatisfaction is different;
    5) Moreover, if a transperson wants bottom surgery, s/he has to go through a hell of a lot of psych evaluation, etc., in order to make a determination that the surgery is medically necessary; see 1);
    6) However, if a ciswoman wants someone to surgically alter her labia, all she needs is money or a good insurance policy and a surgeon who knows how to get reimbursed.

    Different problems, Donna. I don’t know what else to tell you. Other than, “It’s really fucking tiresome when people demand that their own issues must be discussed in every post or they’ll accuse the poster/commenters of some kind of phobia or ism or judgment or what have you.”

  177. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm |

    Lucy Gillam: In the case of real pain and real chronic discomfort and real illness and real medical disorders?Suffered, mostly.

    I think the opposite, I think ppl suffering from pain were/are a HELLUVA lot better off pre-techno-industrial-colonialism — I’m speaking of cultures that respect eachother and the Earth (vs. dominant culture that seems allergic to doing both) — such cultures didn’t/don’t have mental defective government* working together with their BFF big pharma corporations making opiophobic prescribing guidelines, for example, that leave pain sufferers under-prescribed pain meds. Safe & effective pain killing medicines made by Nature and free for all were not always stolen, controlled and hoarded by a buncha able-bodied profit & control-driven maniacs. Ppl of Earth & Respect-based cultures (then and now) with physical issues that cause pain and suffering just work(ed) medical shit out (including surgery), and to think they didn’t, or did so more poorly than “modern” times, is an exercise in cultural arrogance (no personal disrespect meant to anyone, I used to think this way too before decolonizing my mind). It’s also buying into the Great Lie that so-called “civilization” is a good thing (if you’re interested in this check out some John Trudell vids on YouTube, he’s one of my heroes), though this is not to say ‘all technology is bad’.

    *I make no distinction between red or blue, NDP or Liberal or PC or whatever party; as my wife says: they’re all a bunch of fucking colonists arguing over who gets to be on top this week.

  178. raya
    raya September 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    Andie: If someone is so displeased with their Labia that it’s causing psychological damage, maybe there’s something deeper going on there that requires more than just ‘Oh, well, with a little reconstructive surgery and that will fix everything!’ Maybe it stands to reason that we should be looking at influences that would cause someone to worry about their labia to that extent.

    For most people, cosmetic surgery does fix (some of) their body hate and low self-esteem problems.
    On a macro level, regarding the women-hating body-shaming society we live in, aesthetic surgeries of course don’t fix anything. But honestly, as individual women, it is not our duty to fight fucked up existing beauty standards _all the time_.
    It’s not okay to shame women for choosing the easier solutions for dealing with problems they have with their bodies, even when that easier solution is getting surgery.
    Just like it’s not okay to shame me for straightening my hair and shaving my legs because it perpetuates the notion that women with the ‘wrong’ kinds of hair are unfuckable. Because you know what, I would probably find myself less attractive and lose my job if I didn’t alter my body in such ways. So I choose the easier option and give in to fucked up beauty standards instead of dedicating my life to Abolishing Patriarchy 24/7. Yet I don’t think giving in means I should be blamed for the sexism and misogyny in our society.
    Just because surgeries like labiaplasty are a fairly new thing compared to other beauty work like shaving, make-up and such, I don’t think it’s that much different. It’s not even the only permanent modification available, but noone’s making such a fuss about tattoos or laser hair removal. It’s just treated differently because it’s still kind of a novelty.
    So, if someone’s experiencing low self-esteem, body hate, fear of having a sexual encounter, getting weird looks and being bullied by your sexual encounters (it happens.), fear of going to a gyn for check-ups because of shame etc. – is it really wrong of that person to choose the ‘easier’ option if that means getting surgery? Why do we see getting labiaplasty as an antifeminist move, but not laser hair removal?

    IMHO the post and it’s title came across as too judgemental and shaming, even though that wasn’t intended. The thing is, as a woman, I don’t think I need even more people to tell me what to do with my body and what not.
    And I have this feeling that a post about circumscision of adults for cosmetical reasons would not have turned out that shaming and judgemental.

  179. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm |

    Lucy Gillam: In the case of real pain and real chronic discomfort and real illness and real medical disorders?Suffered, mostly.

    I can’t not bring one of my other heroes (and pretend boyfriend) up in this particular issue, good ole’ Dwight K. Schrute III from The Office:

    In the wild, there is no healthcare. Healthcare is “Oh, I broke my leg!” A lion comes and eats you, your dead. Well, I’m not dead, I’m the lion, your dead! :-D

  180. andie
    andie September 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm |

    raya:
    Why do we see getting labiaplasty as an antifeminist move, but not laser hair removal?

    Why do you assume that it’s not considered anti-feminist?

    And I have this feeling that a post about circumscision of adults for cosmetical reasons would not have turned out that shaming and judgemental.

    That’s another pretty broad assumption.

    Questioning the cultural influences that may lead someone to such a state of self-loathing that they are considering risky elective surgery is not the same as shaming for taking that turn.

  181. karak
    karak September 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm |

    “Wait, do some people pierce their genitals just for “prettiness”? I’m seriously asking, not being sarcastic.”

    Oh, yeah. Genital piercings add an element of control and personalization over the body, certain ones can increase sexual pleasure in either the partner or the person with the peircing(s), and some people find the juxtaposition of pain/pleasure/fear of seeing a piercing or getting a piercing enjoyable.

    In all honestly, if someone said, “Man, I was to get my labia formed in the shape of a pokemon, because fuck yeah pokemon” I’d be like, “I hope you REALLY like pokemon, but that’s kind of cool; also, surgery is dangerous.” I mean, that right there seems to me to be a real choice, free (and flying in the face of) conventional beauty standards.

  182. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm |

    llama: Exactly the jump I couldn’t understand. When I said cosmetic I was thinking more of snip and clip rather than the genuine need cases which are IMO as good as life saving in some way.

    “Snip and clip” — funny, a male Somalian friend of mine said the exact same thing when discussing his religious/cultural practice of cutting little girls’ clits off, and he laughed and said pretty much the same thing: “it’s no big deal, just snip snip, like nail clippers!” For real. And yeah the clit is different from the labia is different from the penis, etc., but it’s all genital surgery.

    It’s never “just” snip & clip — morals & reasons aside, let’s not pretend genital surgery is a benign practice, whether we call it “cosmetic” or “medical” or otherwise. Check out some actual genital surgery vids on YouTube.

  183. Donna L
    Donna L September 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    Natasha:
    It’s never “just” snip & clip — morals & reasons aside, let’s not pretend genital surgery is a benign practice, whether we call it “cosmetic” or “medical” or otherwise.Check out some actual genital surgery vids on YouTube.

    Nothing to see; nothing to be concerned about; move along, folks, nobody could possibly misinterpret any of the rhetoric on this thread as applicable to genital surgery for trans people; anyone who suggests the contrary is derailing.

    I rest my case.

    PS: Check out some open heart surgery or brain surgery vids on the Internet. Horrifying, aren’t they?

  184. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm |

    And I never forget for one minute something that most people here seem entirely clueless about: that both historically and today, the loudest feminist voices opposing cosmetic surgery belong to the most rabid, virulent, and disgusting anti-trans bigots, the Germaine Greers and Janice Raymonds and Sheila Jeffreys and Julie Bindels of the world.

    !=

    I’m explaining why *I* am made uncomfortable by a lot of anti-cosmetic surgery advocacy.

    And yes, the point I was making about Hitler’s (mythical, I believe) vegetarianism is that when you introduce a bunch of bigots into a conversation specifically to compare one of their many viewpoints to one of ours, it’s equally ridiculous. I actually think the discussion about the cosmetic aspects of trans women’s labias is kind of interesting — the quest for the perfect vagina is a silly pipedream for them, too — but I hardly believe you think not addressing trans medical issues in a post about cis non-medical issues is phobic. Seriously. -_-

  185. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm |

    Donna L: Nothing to see; nothing to be concerned about; move along, folks, nobody could possibly misinterpret any of the rhetoric on this thread as applicable to genital surgery for trans people; anyone who suggests the contrary is derailing.

    I rest my case.

    PS:Check out some open heart surgery or brain surgery vids on the Internet.Horrifying, aren’t they?

    Donna, I really valued what you had to say earlier (to my question about what is the different/is there a difference) and the experience you shared about your surgery, which obviously was so important to you that the physical nightmare you went through was worth it. I want to fully reply to that in a different post.

    Every surgery is horrifying to ME and scares the shit out of ME, most especially cuz of the caliber of doctors I’ve seen out there and the way the sterile, inhumane healthcare system is, especially if you’re not rich. But hey, one day I’ll prolly have to go in for some kinda surgery or procedure and I dread that day & I hope to gawd I’ll get all the pain drugs I want to feel somewhat okay with it, but I probably won’t cuz the mental defectives in charge control the shit outta that too (as per my cultural critique post#56) . But for those that choose to go under the knife for whatever reason, whatever procedure, I do not judge, cuz it’s THEIR/YOUR body.

  186. jose
    jose September 30, 2011 at 7:55 pm |

    Hey DonnaL, you said,
    “how exactly is it that anyone is supposed to know that people like Jose don’t actually mean what they say about “women” to apply to all women (including trans women) if they don’t say so?”

    Alright DonnaL you’re right, sorry about that comment. I definitely had in mind only cis women when I posted it so trans women are right feeling left out. However in another comment I said “I think a short interview would quickly reveal whether someone wants surgery because of some personal, solid reason or just because of social indoctrination”, and transgender people certainly have one of those personal, solid reasons so in that case doing it would be right.

  187. Katniss
    Katniss September 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm |

    I’m not sure if you count me amount “people who insist that social influence is the only determining factor”, but I can assure you I’m not. Really all I’m wanting to see in this thread is a general understanding that societal influence IS a determining factor. It’s impossible to live in society and make decisions without being influenced by it. Again, that does not make those decisions wrong or stupid or invalid. Like I’ve said, I’ve made plenty of decisions that have been influenced by our (sexist) society that I’ve been genuinely happy with and that have been great decisions for me. But that doesn’t mean I made them 100% of my own will, with no societal influence whatsoever.

    If you live in a society you are influenced by it, full stop.

    Another example is that I like shaving my legs. I like how my legs feel when they’re shaved better. I genuinely enjoy how they feel freshly shaved and lotioned. But that doesn’t mean that my choosing to shave my legs isn’t at least a little bit informed by what our society considers attractive in women.

  188. Natasha
    Natasha September 30, 2011 at 11:41 pm |

    igglanova:
    It is pointless to concern ourselves with the possible, dubious, esoteric reasons a hypothetical individual might want to hack off their labia.

    igglanova, i don’t know what all you’re saying here or if i agree or disagree or both or neither or what, cuz i’ve been too busy laughing so hard at this line that i have tears in my eyes. not sure why this hit my funny bone but it did and I thank you for that. I love my crazy ass sisterhood in all its stripes and colors, this is not the first time i burst out lol’ing on this blog — there are some fiercely smart and funny womyn on here! xox to you all.

    it’s the “hack off the labia” part that gets me the most — i just read it again before submitting comment and burst out laughing again. i really hope no one takes offense to this cuz i truly mean no disrespect to anyone! sometimes you just gotta laugh at the absurdity.

  189. zuzu
    zuzu September 30, 2011 at 11:54 pm |

    What frustrates me is people who insist that social influence is the only determining factor,

    Yes, that would be frustrating. If that were happening here. Which it’s not.

    However, we do have several people who are trying to claim that societal influence is never a factor as long as you choose your choice. But society influences the choices you’re presented with in the first place. How is naming the elephant in the room denying anyone agency?

  190. igglanova
    igglanova October 1, 2011 at 12:03 am |

    Once again we have a thread full of people talking past each other. Nowhere has anyone said, or even implied, that social influences are the sole determining factors in people’s decisions. But they are powerful forces. We might as well abandon feminist thought altogether if we can’t agree to analyze choices through the lens of culture.

    I, for one, do not trust people to make the best decisions for themselves, or even good decisions. People make stupid, self-defeating choices all the time. Before people quote-mine the hell out of this comment for that one sentence I will say that that does NOT mean that I think I should be deciding for them, or that their choices should be restricted by some authoritarian force. Just that choices are fair game for critique and judgement, as is everything else on Earth.

    I also notice that nobody is attempting to factually refute the idea that people overwhelmingly seek cosmetic surgeries* due to insecurity that is engineered and manipulated by cynical industries, not for personal funsies. I see a thread full of people claiming that this notion is offensive. I don’t see any compelling evidence that this is wrong.


    *I’m not talking about counter-culture body modification here, which is an entirely different phenomenon; I’m talking about surgeries designed to bring a person’s appearance more in line with dominant standards of attractiveness.

  191. igglanova
    igglanova October 1, 2011 at 12:08 am |

    Natasha: I guess I’ll take that as a compliment. :P

  192. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 12:31 am |

    IrishUp:

    I’m having trouble seeing a conversation that is framed in a way that further shames already marginalized peoples as a particularly healthy feminist one. Why are we interrogating marginalized peoples’ choices? Who does that help? Why are we putting it on them? Aren’t they US? Isn’t the richer discussion critique of the CULTURE which pretty much ONLY allows women CHOICES AMONGST LACK OF OPTIONS? Maybe evn proposing changes that don’t shame the damned victims? Could I possibly have included moar ??????????s

    APPLAUSE & TWO-WOMEN SISTA!!!! (vs. “amen”)

  193. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 12:35 am |

    igglanova:
    Natasha: I guess I’ll take that as a compliment. :P

    Good cuz I meant it as such! :-)

  194. llama
    llama October 1, 2011 at 1:25 am |

    igglanova: Once again we have a thread full of people talking past each other. Nowhere has anyone said, or even implied, that social influences are the sole determining factors in people’s decisions. But they are powerful forces. We might as well abandon feminist thought altogether if we can’t agree to analyze choices through the lens of culture.

    I agree wholeheartedly. The last sentence is particularly poignant. About 10 seconds on Google scholar provides literally 100’s of articles showing how ignoring cultural context is a mistake.

  195. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 1:29 am |

    I had said:

    Is there a difference / what’s the difference between a cis-gendered/sexed woman getting cosmetic surgery on her genitals (or breasts or face or whatever), say, to match those of the latest Playboy bunny centerfold cuz that’s how she feels she should have been born, and a transwoman or transguy getting genital or top surgery? [if s/he feels they shoulda been born this way]

    Donna L:
    When you present the contrast like that, it’s easy to make the distinction.

    What’s the distinction for you? To me there isn’t one, but I see that you (and many others, including our culture) are placing a lot of value around, distinguishing between, and line-drawing around “cosmetic” and “medical” reasons for non-physical-pain, non-life/death genital surgery. Why? Is it because ppl think “medical” reasons are less valid than “cosmetic” ones, notwithstanding life/death, physical pain/functionality issues? I do not place hierarchies of worth or value on the labels ppl use for genital surgery. Your reasons for genital surgery are no more or less important or valid than K’s for getting labia surgery cuz of pain and discomfort.

    I’d love a separate thread around psychology/psychiatry being part of the biomedical world, cuz to me and many others, the two don’t belong together, which is not the same thing as saying psychological reasons to do with one’s body are not JUST AS IMPORTANT AND VALID as physical/functional/pain/life/death ones. But Science/the biomedical world is a loud, white, rich, able-bodied entitled man, no wonder he’s getting so much power, which makes it that much more maddening.

  196. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 1:41 am |

    Donna L: I do believe that people should be able to do what they feel is necessary.Cosmetic or not; culturally influenced are not.It’s not for me to draw lines.

    Me too!

    And I just want to say, that I am very glad you made it through that scary life threatening ordeal of your surgery and that you’re here today and able to tell us your story!

    Re. some trans ppl getting obsessive around surgeries, yeah, and I know some who are so desperate for it that they take what they can get, and some who are permanently physically suffering for it, but who may also feel it was worth it (I am thinking of a trans friend of a trans friend of mine so I don’t know if he is glad he did it or not). Anyway, this is all to say ppl do what they’re gonna do and have every right to do it, and judging it or arguing over semantics gets us nowhere but running in circles around circles of nothingness.

  197. karak
    karak October 1, 2011 at 2:38 am |

    @Donna L

    I feel that trans women who desire GRS are desiring it because of something that springs mainly from inside them. It is a body modification meant to allow the person to become a more real and whole version of themselves. On a much, much, much smaller scale, I feel more minor types of modification (such as scarification, piercings, gauges, and tattoos) are also part of this idea–making your body YOURS, unique and individualistic.

    On the other hand, I feel that cis cosmetic surgery is about making the body public property, standardizing it as something for society to consume.

    I hate my body. But I don’t hate my body because it doesn’t do what I want it to do, I hate it because it doesn’t look like other people want it to look and it makes me feel inadequate. I’ve seriously looked into plastic surgery to “fix” the dark circles under my eyes, not because they interfere with my eyesight or self-image, but because I think other people look at me and think I’m ugly. If everyone else in the world could never see my face again, I’d have no reason to want surgery. On the other hand, I’m guessing that even if no one in the world would ever see you again, you’d still want GRS.

    Again, let me break this down–I’ve considered paying someone to stick a sharp knife around my eyes and put synthetic material in my skin because I think my body is an offense to other people. And I’m still considering it, even though I’m risking my sight and my life, not to mention irreversibly pissing away a lot of money I could have used on thing I internally value, like charities or designer clothes (I love designer clothes and wear them in my room when no one’s around. If I was a hermit for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t give up my Jessica Simpson heels.)

  198. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 1, 2011 at 5:46 am |

    I hope to gawd I’ll get all the pain drugs I want to feel somewhat okay with it, but I probably won’t cuz the mental defectives in charge control the shit outta that too

    “Mental defectives”? Charming. Tell me about how perfectly decolonized your mind is, again?

  199. Kaz
    Kaz October 1, 2011 at 8:30 am |

    Have been following this comment thread debating whether to comment, but hell with it, I’ll go for it.

    I share DonnaL’s concerns about this ignoring and marginalising trans* people. It’s… everybody here is saying that it is easy to tell the difference between socially-induced and trans*-induced body issues and that the line between them is clear, but… I’m not entirely sure whether either of those things are true for all trans* people. Or, for that matter, whether socially-induced body issues can’t play a part in trans*-induced ones – for example, I remember a post by someone about how they think their dysphoria was much amplified by society telling them “having those bits make you a woman and you can’t be any other gender with them”. And I think especially for trans* people who don’t know very much about trans* issues yet and are only starting to sort out their genderstuff it can be very confusing. I know I’m very glad that a lot of my body issues go contrary to female beauty ideals, because it means that when I go “these breasts, they are not meant to be here” and discover that I am ridiculously happy when binding I don’t have to tangle with “but what if I’m buying into societal messages about female beauty ideals?” nearly as much. Others don’t and I think some are some dreadful mixture of societal messages and gender and societal messages about gender.

    And… I guess the thing is that I like to embed surgery for trans* folk into a larger narrative of “your body, your choice as to what you do with it, if there are bits of it that make you seriously unhappy that surgery can change then you ought to be able to access that.” If we frame bodily modification for trans* people as exceptions to the general rule of “you’re born with it, you ought to stick with it” that can have the effect of making it harder for trans* people (forex, the “you have to prove you’re trans* before you can access this” requirements for some of this stuff can be pretty damn stringent) as well as encouraging cis people to start policing trans* identities as to what “counts” and what “doesn’t”. (Something similar can happen re: medical conditions, too.) For instance, I note that in this discussion most people seem to have been thinking of binary trans* people. Nonbinary people can want to have an entirely different genital configuration, which could include surgeries which are being dismissed as always cis people buying into social stuff… not sure about labiaplasty but I can imagine it for e.g. a neutrois person with that genital setup who’d like to get rid of their genitalia entirely and is going for minimisation, or the same person might want to get rid of their clitoris. Nonbinary people can also find it difficult or impossible to access the sort of surgery they’d need because it doesn’t exist or if it does exist it comes as a parcel deal with other “transition to the opposite binary gender” stuff they don’t want and/or they have to prove that they’re the opposite binary gender in order to be allowed it (which can be hard enough for trans* people who actually *are*.)

    Disclaimer: I’d really, really, really like to hear what other trans* folk have to say about this, because I am kind of uncomfortable generalising from my experiences as a nonbinary person whose dysphoria isn’t that strong and who doesn’t think ze needs surgery for it right now. I’m really glad DonnaL has spoken up about her experiences.

    Disclaimer^2: obviously it is really damn shitty that there are sufficiently strong social messages about labia size that some people who would have otherwise been fine with their labia feel the need for surgical intervention. I just prefer to attack this from the “stop sending those social messages” angle rather than the “surgical intervention is bad except in X, Y and Z cases” angle.

  200. DonnaL
    DonnaL October 1, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    Natasha: non-physical-pain, non-life/death genital surgery.

    Obviously you don’t know very much about how some trans people view the genitals they were born with, if you are willing to characterize trans genital surgery that way. And why the distinction between physical and psychological pain? I’ve had plenty of both in my life, and sometimes the latter is harder to bear.

  201. DonnaL
    DonnaL October 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm |

    Thanks for saying something, Kaz.

  202. Florence
    Florence October 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm |

    I trust people to analyse their own damn decisions. They’re on the inside of their own heads.

    Wait, is feminism sociology or psychology? Because if the movement is so picky and sensitive that we can’t make social generalizations and observations in order to describe and explain women’s social experiences, we’ve nitpicked ourselves out of the entire movement.

    I touched on this in the virgin-seeking-same thread. Same shit, different topic, different day. ‘Kay, you chose your choice and we feminists all support you being able to make informed, consensual awesome/good/bad/terrible decisions about whatever strikes your fancy, right? But determining whether/how behavior or belief systems are misogynist and whether/how they are bad for women is one of the jobs that feminism aims to do. If we can’t participate in this exercise because it makes someone out there feel funny, what the fuck are we doing.

    Feminism: always nice, never critical or challenging.

  203. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    Bagelsan:
    I hope to gawd I’ll get all the pain drugs I want to feel somewhat okay with it, but I probably won’t cuz the mental defectives in charge control the shit outta that too

    “Mental defectives”? Charming. Tell me about how perfectly decolonized your mind is, again?

    ?? I never claimed that I’m perfectly decolonized or perfectly anything; key-riste it’s a lifelong process to undo the damage colonization has done by the time we wake up to it, whenever that is in our lives. What is your issue with what I said, exactly?

  204. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm |

    DonnaL: Obviously you don’t know very much about how some trans people view the genitals they were born with, if you are willing to characterize trans genital surgery that way.And why the distinction between physical and psychological pain?I’ve had plenty of both in my life, and sometimes the latter is harder to bear.

    I hear you @ psychological pain being more hellacious than physical, I totally concur!!! I am saying that both (physical and psychological pain) are EQUALLY important but not the same thing. My concern is that the psychological is treated like a 2nd class citizen in the colonist-culture (and Spirituality is treated even worse if ever acknowledged) so there’s this push to only value that which can be labelled “medical” and there are HUGE feminist problems in the biomedical sphere!

  205. Katniss
    Katniss October 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm |

    Natasha: ?? I never claimed that I’m perfectly decolonized or perfectly anything; key-riste it’s a lifelong process to undo the damage colonization has done by the time we wake up to it, whenever that is in our lives.What is your issue with what I said, exactly?

    I imagine the problem with your comment is that calling people “mental defectives” is incredibly ableist.

  206. zuzu
    zuzu October 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm |

    Can you quote? I seem to have missed that, but it’s a long thread. What I see is a lot of people saying that maybe the specific girl being discussed hasn’t made the decision primarily based on social influence considering that she’s been referred to as mentioning discomfort, and a lot of other people saying that that body mod choices are valid, not that they’re necessarily free of social influence.

    Can you quote?

    I mean, really, who has said what you claimed they did, that the choices here are SOLELY driven by society? And that no one has agency?

    I am not inclined to take the “discomfort” reason at face value, for a few reasons: 1) This girl’s pussy was plastered all over a vaginal plastic surgeon’s website; 2) The surgeon’s website was the source of the “discomfort” claim; 3) If pain relief were the primary reason for her surgery, why is the surgeon posting her before and after pics as an example of the prettification powers of cosmetic vaginal surgery; 4) Plastic surgery is only covered in the US if the insurance company is satisfied that there is some medical justification for the surgery, even if the primary reason is cosmetic. For example, it’s almost laughably common for people seeking nose jobs to claim that they have a deviated septum to get their rhinoplasty covered, and insurance companies require proof of actual deviation, including CT scans of the sinus (I know; I had a deviated septum fixed, and my ENT guy made sure to include a picture of my nose so that the insurance company knew I had what he called an “after” nose and wanted the same one post-op); 5) “Discomfort” is not the same thing as “pain”; 6) If she indeed had serious, pervasive pelvic pain, I seriously question how much shortening her inner labia really alleviated that.

    We live in a society where anyone who has enough money can walk into a plastic surgeon’s office and get something “fixed” — as long as what they’re seeking to do comports with gender expectations and standards of beauty. So a transperson cannot just walk into a plastic surgeon’s office and get bottom surgery, and a woman cannot have her breasts removed for aesthetic reasons. And the cosmetic surgery industry has catered to the insecurities that are nurtured by society; they’ve even created medical “conditions” such as “micromastia” (small breasts) that “require” surgery to fix them.

    So you’ll forgive me if I don’t buy the surgeon’s claim that this 15-year-old whose pussy he’s put on display all over the internet suffered such pain from her labia that surgery was the only option. Especially when large inner labia just happen to be viewed as undesirably non-virginal.

  207. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    kaz, you bring up a good point re. the binary problem of the biomedical world and this binary-obsessed culture in general, and this is a major problem for trans ppl who don’t neatly fit into the one or other box. I feel that if someone wants to do WHATEVER they want to their body, they should just be able to god dam well say so to the doctor or therapist or whatever, have a few sessions to make sure they are very certain of their decision, and get the ball rolling on making it happen, customized to the PERSON’S wishes. If someone wants 3 breasts, no probs! If someone wants a penis attached to their vagina, go for it! If someone wants only top surgery but to leave their vagina alone, AND still be considered a dyke, then why question any of that? People should do whatever the hell they want to do, and those in charge should accommodate it, period. All the labels and hoops and red tape and presumptions and assumptions and misunderstandings are ridick. One trans friend of mine was asked what he masturbates to, if he’s ever hired hookers, and what kind of sex he has as part of the “process” of getting the okay for top surgery. Unfuckingbelievable, ennit? What gets me the most is that the biomedical world (and most of the mental defectives in charge period) treat The People like children that need to be controlled, though healthy parents don’t even treat their KIDS this way.

  208. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    “Find looser fitting clothes if you feel discomfort” is the stupidest advice I’ve read in this thread. Not your labia, not your wardrobe. Maybe the kid wants to wear tight jeans, and frankly, that’s none of your business. I can’t imagine what an asshole it takes to say that someone’s discomfort is not something that deserves attention.

    I get that we didn’t hear directly from the 15 year old, but take it from me: as someone with larger labia minora, the discomfort in jeans is a very real thing, you’re an asshole if you think you should get to dictate whether I solve this issue with surgery or by buying looser fitting clothing, and frankly, the worst shaming I’ve heard has come from other women – not men. Women who think it is abnormal to not be fucking flat from leg to leg, resulting in me never wearing a bathing suit in public after probably the age of 15. Not because of dudes, but because of women. So instead of focusing on OMG WHAT ARE THESE WOMEN DOING TO THEIR OWN BODIES DON’T THEY KNOW MY OPINION THE PATRIARCHY, why don’t we try changing perception among women regarding what is and isn’t normal.

  209. igglanova
    igglanova October 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm |

    You didn’t back up your claim with anything worth a damn, so why should the people who disagree with you feel obligated to do so? I pointed out that I know plenty of people with healthy self esteem who have sought out plastic surgery but, hey, personal anecdata.

    I did do quite a bit of hunting for data re: the reasons people seek cosmetic surgery. Claims about the most common reasons people seek the surgery are easy to prove or disprove, but unfortunately I don’t have exact figures, studies, methodology etc. because everything credible was behind paywalls. So, blame the Man for that one. I can say, from reading the abstracts, that the researchers continuously cite discomfort with (both physical and psychological), and dissatisfaction with the target body part as among the most common reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery. Even with the limited data I have to work with, it seems clear that these choices are heavily influenced by insecurity, which comes as no surprise. As far as I can tell there is limited conclusive data re: whether the source of this insecurity is cultural or just mysteriously acquired, but I find it very suspicious that the most popular procedures (Botox, eyelid surgery, nose jobs, breast implants, facelifts, and liposuction) are the ones that are designed to ‘correct’ old, fat, flat-chested (etc.) appearances that just happen to be the ones most ridiculed by the patriarchy.

    I do want to make the distinction between low self-esteem and insecurity, though. They’re two different things. I never claimed that low self-esteem was a major determining factor in people’s decisions to undergo surgery. The studies I browsed actually found no significant difference in self-esteem scores between people who were seeking surgery vs. the general population.

  210. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

    Natasha: Would you please stop rabbiting on about decolonization? Unless you’re way less lily-white than your name would suggest, it’s not your issue. From the way you talk about ‘decolonization’ it seems like you’ve just latched onto it as a buzzword and have very little idea what it actually means. Also, please stop the chatspeak. It’s ‘people’ not ppl.
    Sorry, all. The creeping hippization of this thread just got to me. Not to insult actual baby-boomers, but the new age sh*t annoys me. Change doesn’t happen by just thinking happy thoughts, or lighting incense.

  211. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm |

    Katniss:
    Natasha: ?? I never claimed that I’m perfectly decolonized or perfectly anything; key-riste it’s a lifelong process to undo the damage colonization has done by the time we wake up to it, whenever that is in our lives.What is your issue with what I said, exactly?

    I imagine the problem with your comment is that calling people “mental defectives” is incredibly ableist.

    Ahh able-ism, ok thanks Katniss. I see where ppl can jump to that, though my thinking of it is very literal:

    Those in charge are presumed to be somewhat able to make decisions that effect a lot of people in very real and serious ways. When these people in charge fail so miserably at doing so, thereby harming many, and do it over and over and over again, they are defective at doing their job, a job that requires some clear coherent thought processes (the “mental”) in order to do their job effectively. Thereby making them mentally defective at adequately working with and for The People and holding such positions of power. It’s too dangerous to have these mentalities in power and harm is being done. No judgment behind it.

  212. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm |

    What is most striking to me in all these comments are those that talk about how judged and hated they feel by society, as well as how a lot of time this comes from women against women. It is comments like this that pierce my heart and inform my feminism and turn my gaze away from the bodies being judged/hated/ridiculed/dismissed/etc. to the structures, policies and mentalities at play that shape the hurtful messages people hear loud and clear. For those who feel empowered by doing things that others feel are oppressive or whatever, well, those can be endless debates and really, if someone feels good with doing whatever they do then why spend energy trying to take or debate that away from them or question their individual motives?

    Bagelsan, you bring up a really good point @ $$ being a privileged position that shapes a lot of these “cosmetic” vs. “medical” surgery debates, and I feel that if the shitload of taxes we pay was PROPERLY managed, those who can’t access services could do so, for whatever reason. Even though we’re stuck with this capitalist system which is inherently oppressive AND exploitative to begin with, it is also oppressive to decide who can and can’t get publicly-funded surgery, whatever the reasons for it. Business (i.e. PROFIT) has no business in healthcare and access means access for ALL otherwise there is NONE.

    GRS is now covered by public healthcare in Ontario, Canada where I live, and I have no issues with my taxes going towards it, because I truly feel that there is plenty of profit being made from our taxes in all so-called developed countries, including from other cash-grabbing government policies. It’s never about lack of money when it comes to economics and those who hoard the pie, it’s about these groups not wanting to give any of the stolen pie to those starving to death because of the inherent exploiting, hoarding & controlling that is capitalism or any other hierarchical socio-economic system.

  213. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

    I want to add that just cuz GRS or any surgery for that matter is publicly-paid for in some places doesn’t make it problem-free. A trans friend of mine currently going through this system is restricted on the doctor he has to use for his surgery, and this doctor is a specialist in F2M surgeries not M2F surgeries. So even when things are covered by healthcare, there will always be shortcomings and serious problems until healthcare completely rids itself of any business/profit model.

  214. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm |

    When these people in charge fail so miserably at doing so, thereby harming many, and do it over and over and over again, they are defective at doing their job, a job that requires some clear coherent thought processes (the “mental”) in order to do their job effectively. Thereby making them mentally defective at adequately working with and for The People and holding such positions of power.

    Okay, but please just call them “terrible at their jobs” then, k? “Mentally defective” is not only an inaccurate term for what you are describing but it’s also a very offensive one. As someone who is both crazy and in the biomedical field, my “mental defects” are what keep me empathetic and openminded — more “defective” people in medicine and research could only be a good thing, frankly.

    For those who feel empowered by doing things that others feel are oppressive or whatever, well, those can be endless debates and really, if someone feels good with doing whatever they do then why spend energy trying to take or debate that away from them or question their individual motives?

    My problem with that tactic is that “someone feels good doing whatever they do” is not sufficient reason for me to be cool with their choices. If women could get surgeries to make their labia look all “virginal” and shit in a total vacuum, then I’d theoretically have no problem with that (even though I think that they should — in the most genuinely sympathetically meant way possible — get some therapy and see if risking their lives over an obsession with surgically-enhanced psuedo-virginity might not be the best option for themselves…)

    But it’s not a vacuum; when those women are not only buying into the idea of chop-off-yer-bits-to-look-less-slutty but also turning around and promoting that idea to other women and girls — and tacking photos of their spanking new de-slutted genitals everywhere to show less financially privileged women what their broke-ass labia are missing out on — then yes I think those women need more pushback than simply “grats on choosing your choice, you empowerful lady you!” because they have judo-ed their oppression into oppressing other women and girls and that’s not acceptable to me.

    Sure, the industry and the cultural milieu of “stop letting your harlot labia take up all that space! And give me billions of dollars to help you do that, kthx” deserves about 99% of the critique, but I think that individual women are not so delicate (or entirely innocent of contributing to this) that they can’t get a bit of critique too. When I shave my legs I don’t need other feminists boo-ing me in the streets or whatever, but neither do I need to be protected from the idea that my choice buys into sexist narratives and makes life more difficult for women who don’t shave.

    And I think the “pro-choice” narrative of cosmetic surgery is different from the pro-choice narrative around abortion, for example, if only because I’ve never seen a woman (orr gynocologist) post-abortion take a photo of a newly-emptied uterus and tell girls that all uteri should look like hers or else they’re ugly. Nor have I encountered an extremely pro-abortion medical lobby or culture that says stuff like “bigger fetii = sluttier preggers lady!” and tells women to look prettier by vacuuming that business out. Yes, in theory both procedures should be 100% the decision of the person getting the procedure, but in reality they can have very different outcomes and are described in very different ways to women and girls, so I think they deserve different levels of examination (or even “judgement” if using that word positively won’t get me kicked out the nice-feminist-lady club. :p)

  215. the-r-evolution
    the-r-evolution October 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm |

    I just wanted to come in and support what Denise said re: Jill’s “don’t do this” phrasing.

    It is judgmental and shaming the same way it would be if it said “don’t shave” or “don’t get breast implants” or “don’t wear makeup”. I don’t think we should be telling other women what to do with those types of “commands”. Perfectly fine to critique the procedure and the misogynistic culture. But please, let’s refrain from *telling* other what what is and is not okay for them to do.

  216. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    What, so people experiencing pain are “allowed” to have surgery, but people experiencing discomfort should just suck it up?

    I obviously don’t know that 15-year-old’s deal, but when the “cure” for X ailment is expensive and potentially life-threatening (full anesthesia always carries a risk of death, natch) then I don’t think that it’s so much about allowing it as it is about debating whether it’s truly worth it. If “discomfort” means “can’t sit down without wanting to cry” then yeah, maybe a not-that-minor surgery would be worth risking. If “discomfort” means “can’t wear some of my favorite styles of thong” or whatever then I’d personally be more inclined to a tough-luck-maybe-try-looser-panties approach, yanno?

    Obviously it’s all subjective what level of want/need is sufficient for surgical intervention, but I think that most people would probably draw a line somewhere. I honestly doubt most parents (or surgeons) would allow a minor to get genital surgery for purely cosmetic reasons, so I’m personally inclined to believe that the teenager in question was indeed trying to solve a “discomfort” greater than “the undies I can wear aren’t the cutest possible!”

    But on a theoretical level I can imagine various situations falling under the label of “discomfort” that would or would not merit surgery, and I don’t think discussing the scope of those possible is automatically judge-y or dismissive of people in varying levels of pain. Hell, I got my wisdom teeth removed under full anesthesia, and some people wouldn’t think that was worth it either, so I’m not expecting a consensus on what amount of “discomfort” merits serious medical intervention. :p I just think it’s reasonable to lay out the parameters of “what does ‘discomfort’ mean, and how should a person reasonably respond?” a bit.

  217. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm |

    re: Jill’s “don’t do this” phrasing.

    Okay, obviously others disagree but I really think this is just a stylistic thing — I read that “don’t do this!” thing as being a bit flip and casual, like saying “OMG do not even talk to me right now!” or “seriously, who the fuck uses the word ‘totes’ anymore? Don’t ever do that!” rather than an actual command of any sort.

    Maybe I just have a very hyperbolic conversational style? I say stuff like “don’t ever wear Uggs in the summer, that makes you a terrible human being” or “I will honest to god kill you if you tweeze off another one of your eyebrow hairs” …and the tone doesn’t translate well in text, perhaps, but I always hear that sort of abrupt girl-to-girl type “command” as being exaggerated to add stylistic flair rather than being emphatically meant. Does that make sense?

    Ditto the “girl you need to DUMP HIM RIGHT NOW” stuff — I read it as Jill very much disapproving of him, and expressing that in a humorously overdramatic way, not judging the actual woman for not instantly dumping him or anything like that.

  218. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 10:39 pm |

    Bagelsan: Okay, but please just call them “terrible at their jobs” then, k? “Mentally defective” is not only an inaccurate term for what you are describing but it’s also a very offensive one. As someone who is both crazy and in the biomedical field, my “mental defects” are what keep me empathetic and openminded — more “defective” people in medicine and research could only be a good thing, frankly.

    I totally hear what you’re saying and I too am one of those “crazy” ppl midway through a counseling psych degree so I can work as a feminist therapist, and I definitely agree that us “crazies” are in the best position to work with other “crazies” so long as we’ve worked through our own issues enough that we can actually be of usefulness to others embarking on their own healing journeys. May I ask, what is it that you do within the biomedical field?

    I also feel my own craziness makes me compassionate and open-minded, but that is only for People who are suffering, I do not have much empathy for the ones who inflict macro/societal suffering because these people with all this power have a huge responsibility. If I worked with them 1 on 1 I could very well have empathy and open-mindedness towards them, but they just have no business being in positions of power. I tried to explore this a bit in Clarisse’s pro-slavery propaganda thread where we were talking about “good intentions” by those responsible for harm on a macro scale i.e. kidnap, slavery, genocides, etc.

    Of course I realize that my “mental defective” stance about governments and others in similar power positions is a charged one, but I’m not entirely sure its all that inaccurate cuz I don’t think these ppl’s jobs are to actually serve The People; seems they are mostly working to uphold the dictatorial, controlling, exploitative and punishment values of the colonist culture. If such authority/power jobs are truly to serve The People, then yes, the many who fail The People are indeed just ‘terrible at their job’. To use the oppressor’s language, I s’pose the more accurate personality descriptors for this bunch would be OCD and socio-pathic, maybe more. That said I have a problem with psychiatric labels in general as they are applied to individuals, but that’s a whole other story. I do think there’s a whole lotta projection going on though with psychiatry — its labels and the mindsets informing them appear much more applicable to the culture itself (and those who uphold its values), rather than the actual people that they label.

  219. Natasha
    Natasha October 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm |

    Bagelsan:
    My problem with that tactic is that “someone feels good doing whatever they do” is not sufficient reason for me to be cool with their choices. If women could get surgeries to make their labia look all “virginal” and shit in a total vacuum, then I’d theoretically have no problem with that (even though I think that they should — in the most genuinely sympathetically meant way possible — get some therapy and see if risking their lives over an obsession with surgically-enhanced psuedo-virginity might not be the best option for themselves…)

    But why target the “I’m not cool with your choice” at individuals making choices, rather than targeting the various cultural sources that shape (and so severely restrict) people’s choices, such as the media, schools, religions, law, etc.? I know its well-intentioned but targeting adult individuals and their choices feels rather paternalistic, unless of course people seek/want/ask for support in making a decision.

  220. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 2, 2011 at 1:01 am |

    May I ask, what is it that you do within the biomedical field?

    I’m working towards my Ph.D., but after that I have no idea. :p

    To use the oppressor’s language, I s’pose the more accurate personality descriptors for this bunch would be OCD and socio-pathic, maybe more.

    I don’t know about the OCD thing — again, that describes me, and I mostly spend my time picking at my nails or aligning my pens rather than oppressing people. ;p “Sociopathic” seems like a reasonable descriptor at least, as that seems to encompass the idea that a lot of people in power seem to give zero shits about the suffering they cause others (or even delight in it.) But I still think that “mentally defective” does not really convey what you seem to want to convey, at least as I read it, and it might raise more hackles with crazy people than with the actual targets of your criticism.

    As for whether or not that diagnostic type talk is necessarily “oppressive” language I don’t know; finally having something called OCD to attribute some of my distressing behaviors to was very freeing for me, personally. (But I won’t derail into that whole thing here.)

    But why target the “I’m not cool with your choice” at individuals making choices, rather than targeting the various cultural sources that shape (and so severely restrict) people’s choices, such as the media, schools, religions, law, etc.? I know its well-intentioned but targeting adult individuals and their choices feels rather paternalistic, unless of course people seek/want/ask for support in making a decision.

    Ideally I try to target both, as I think both the culture and the aggregate individual choices have an impact. If we could have more cultural pushback in the form of “why is that company trying to market to me based on my ‘slutty looking’ labia? Bullshit” and more personal pushback in the form of “you spent $1000 making your bits look more ‘virginal’? You realize that’s not a real thing, right?” I’d be down with that.

    And you might actually be crediting me with too much gentle kindness on that last sentence — I’m not really interested in helpfully patronizing some people about their choices so much as I’m interested in scolding them about them, or at the very least making it clear I think those choices should be available but are still often harmful. (The harmful choice to promote one’s shiny expensive new “virgin!!!” crotch as an aesthetic ideal more than the choice to get the surgery, that is.)

    It’s not the impulse to coax wealthy adult women away from expensive surgery so much as the impulse to tell them they need to stop acting like that surgery in any way improves them as a person, and stop acting like there’s any freaking legitimacy in telling girls to stop having X-looking genitals. So it’s a bit more of a “STFU about your pricey fake virginity, pls, that message is toxic & your plastic surgeon is already making bank” along with some “also the entire cultural concept of ‘virginal labia’ — and the obsession with virginity as a thing whence it came — needs to also STFU. Society, I’m looking at all of you!”

  221. EG
    EG October 2, 2011 at 9:17 am |

    Bagelsan, I agree with you about how I read Jill’s tone and meaning behind “Don’t do this!” I wonder if this is a regional thing. Where are you from, again, if you don’t mind me asking?

    I use a lot of sarcasm and hyperbole (“If those assholes don’t stop jackhammering the street outside my window right this instant, I’m going to run amok with my butcher knife,” “Ok, unless you are wearing a full baseball uniform and actually playing baseball, anybody who wears a baseball cap needs to be smacked. Hard.”). Everybody I know does the same thing (“If I have to write ‘a topic is not a thesis’ on one more student paper, I’m going to claw my own face off”), and nobody I know takes it seriously.

  222. Florence
    Florence October 2, 2011 at 12:15 pm |

    EG: Bagelsan, I agree with you about how I read Jill’s tone and meaning behind “Don’t do this!” I wonder if this is a regional thing. Where are you from, again, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Ditto. Midwest. But I’m thinking it may be more of an internet humor thing than a regional thing. As in things that are silly or bad are not just silly and bad, but are “epic fail” or “the worst” and an occasion for the “lulz”.

    I hate myself for writing that last sentence.

  223. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    Bagelsan:
    re: Jill’s “don’t do this” phrasing.

    Okay, obviously others disagree but I really think this is just a stylistic thing — I read that “don’t do this!” thing as being a bit flip and casual, like saying “OMG do not even talk to me right now!” or “seriously, who the fuck uses the word ‘totes’ anymore? Don’t ever do that!” rather than an actual command of any sort.

    Don’t you know that President Obama has made Jill the Secretary of Labia, and she has final say over any labia related decision making?

    Why is the ‘Don’t do it’ considered an imperative command but the renaming labia to ‘vips’ is so obviously a joke? This is a funny little piece which has elements of hyperbole, which I can see a few people disagreeing with (if they were serious,) but this kind of jokey piece certainly does not deserve this much outrage.

  224. andie
    andie October 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    1) This thread contains what I believe was the most successful and peaceful calling-out of ableist terminology that I have ever witness in the time I’ve been reading this blog.

    2)

    But why target the “I’m not cool with your choice” at individuals making choices, rather than targeting the various cultural sources that shape (and so severely restrict) people’s choices, such as the media, schools, religions, law, etc.?

    A lot of the time it seems that we are trying to target the culture but a lot of people jump in with the “I choose my choice” and the utter denial that there is any societal influence on these decisions at all. It seems like there are some people who, as soon as the words ‘societal influence’ are uttered, throw their hands over their ears and go ‘LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER MY AUTONOMY!!’

  225. j.
    j. October 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    Hey, Natasha, I happen to appreciate medical science for helping us live longer and healthier lives. That includes psychiatry. If you want to get on with your bad “spiritual” and “non-colonized” self in a world of smallpox, rinderpest, and bubonic plague, go find your own planet where you won’t infect the rest of us, kthx.

  226. Natasha
    Natasha October 3, 2011 at 12:45 am |

    Politicalguineapig:
    Natasha: Would you please stop rabbiting on about decolonization? Unless you’re way less lily-white than your name would suggest, it’s not your issue. From the way you talk about ‘decolonization’ it seems like you’ve just latched onto it as a buzzword and have very little idea what it actually means. Also, please stop the chatspeak. It’s ‘people’ not ppl.Sorry, all. The creeping hippization of this thread just got to me. Not to insult actual baby-boomers, but the new age sh*t annoys me. Change doesn’t happen by just thinking happy thoughts, or lighting incense.

    No I will not stop “rabbiting” on about decolonization, and I don’t appreciate your policing & bullying attempt. Not my issue?! Undoing colonization is ALL of our issue, and if you cared about it, why not add to a discussion about it instead of bashing someone else who cares about it? I’ve “latched onto” the concept of decolonization cuz it’s so all-encompassing of what needs to happen to restore balance and humanity in this increasingly unbalanced, dehumanizing world.

    Why do you think you know what the word decolonization means to me? And no I will not stop using the word ‘PPL’ or any other spelling or mis-spelling I choose to use to articulate myself.

    The idea of, and action towards a decolonized world makes me VERY happy.

    You need to check yourself.

  227. Natasha
    Natasha October 3, 2011 at 1:04 am |

    p.s. @ politicalguineapig:

    Colonization is most ESPECIALLY “lilly-white” PPL’s issue since it IS their cancer being inflicted across the globe historically and today.

  228. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 3, 2011 at 1:19 am |

    Bagelsan, I agree with you about how I read Jill’s tone and meaning behind “Don’t do this!” I wonder if this is a regional thing. Where are you from, again, if you don’t mind me asking?

    West Coast! And yeah, I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, or age thing, or just a I-happen-to-hang-out-with-sassy-hyperbolic-friends thing, but all the examples you gave are the kinds of things I would say too. And I certainly wouldn’t be actually advocating murder sprees or face-clawing. :p

    This thread contains what I believe was the most successful and peaceful calling-out of ableist terminology that I have ever witness in the time I’ve been reading this blog.

    Natashaaaaa, I think she means us! High five! :D

  229. Natasha
    Natasha October 3, 2011 at 2:15 am |

    @ Bagelsan: hehe high five back @ u sister (unless you’re a brother, either way)! :)

  230. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 3, 2011 at 2:56 am |

    Sister, in fact. :)

  231. Natasha
    Natasha October 3, 2011 at 3:31 am |

    Giddy up! here’s to the Sisterhood of Labias of all different shapes, sizes, & colors!!

  232. The Wendigo Comes
    The Wendigo Comes October 3, 2011 at 7:31 am |

    Politicalguineapig:
    Natasha: Would you please stop rabbiting on about decolonization? Unless you’re way less lily-white than your name would suggest, it’s not your issue. From the way you talk about ‘decolonization’ it seems like you’ve just latched onto it as a buzzword and have very little idea what it actually means. Also, please stop the chatspeak. It’s ‘people’ not ppl.Sorry, all. The creeping hippization of this thread just got to me. Not to insult actual baby-boomers, but the new age sh*t annoys me. Change doesn’t happen by just thinking happy thoughts, or lighting incense.

    To Politicalguineapig : Since you have obviously taken a liking to spewing out self serving demands which contain such wonderful tidbits as Blatant Entitlement, completely unfounded Assumptions, Insinuated hypocrisy, Racism, british slang, passive aggressiveness and denial of the horrific, genocidal GLOBAL disEASE of colonization that affects us ALL ( ie Stop *’rabbitting on’ about decolonization. Unless you’re way less lilly white than your name suggests, it’s not your issue.” ) , I have decided to offer up a few points of my own, if of course you are at all able to set your ego and feelings of annoyance aside long enough to honestly and open heartedly ponder what I have to say.
    Most importantly, please pause and consider this: the disease of colonization negatively affects ALL of Earth and ALL of Earth’s inhabitants, yes even you, although perhaps you are too busy enjoying the profits of colonization at the moment to realize it. Perhaps you consider colonization to be a good thing. I do not know much about you, other than you obviously DO NOT feel that DEcolonization is an extremely important concept and a subject that needs to be discussed by everyone involved and since just about every continent on the planet has suffered the DISease of colonization that would mean that Everyone needs to be discussing it and problem solving together.

    You assume the poster that you directed your anger at was white and therefore the poster has no issue with colonization. So following your logic then… only an Indigenous/Native/Aboriginal person a.k.a. “the colonizED” has a right/reason to discuss colonization and the need to put an end to it but a “white person” has no right or reason to acknowledge or discuss the need for DEcolonization. This is nonsensical, everyone and everything are feeling the effects of this global genocidal parasitic disease.
    You also assumed that the poster knows nothing of the concept of decolonization and nothing of the real life everyday hardships and struggles with colonization. I will just let you in on this one little detail: You Were/Are Absolutely and Unequivocally WRONG concerning this issue.

    Also, you make quite the assumption about the poster’s user name “Natasha”, you’ve obviously decided this person is non-Indigenous. So I guess following your logic, an Indigenous American person for example would choose a user name like “Running Wolf” or something like that? Hmm, I wonder what user name Native Activists like John Trudell, Buffy St. Marie, Leonard Peltier, Winona LaDuke, L Frank, Vernon Bellecourt, Ruby Beaulieu, Dennis Banks and Evan Adams might use? You have obviously forgotten/overlooked/just don’t care that we Indigenous folks are forced to use anglicized names and that it is just one of the numerous ways of executing cultural genocide. So my point here is, that you assumed a lot based on a name and that assumption was racist.
    As a Indigenous Activist and as an Indigenous Person whose life has been profoundly and deeply wounded by the ever growing disease of colonialism, I will ask you, Human being to Human Being… Do not attempt to silence those voices that carry the Healing message of DEcolonization. Do not attempt to stomp out the struggling voices that are trying so hard to rise up out from under the heavy oppressive boot of colonialism that is already twisting into their chest. We are strong and we will rise but really why are you trying to make it harder and why try to silence discussion about DEcolonization? Regardless of who brings it up?

    Finally, I will add for your information, that I happen to know there are multiple Native Activists that participate on this blog.

    *Rabbit On- definition: to continue talking about something which is not interesting to the listener. phrasal verb; british slang.

    http://johntrudellarchives.com/ No matter their stance on various hot topics, everyone agrees John Trudell has Important things to say. He is a Native American Activist, poet, writer and is pro Matriarchy. PLease check him out if you are interested in learning some new things, ideas and points of view.

    Ch Miigwech and Thank You very much if you read this whole thing and with and open mind and heart.~

  233. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 3, 2011 at 11:37 am |

    The Wendigo Comes:
    I use ‘rabbiting on’ as shorthand for ‘people who talk about things that they’ve really got no idea about.’ Their ears and jaw are engaged, but the brain is not. I do find the ideas behind ‘decolonization’ interesting, but as a white woman, I keep my ears open and my jaw shut tight, and I find it a wee bit disturbing when people seem to fetishize all things ‘natural’ and ‘non-western.’ Which, ahem, is what you seem to be doing, Natasha. Also, most decolonization movements are not welcoming to white people-and rightly so. White people can and should support decolonization, but they should do it as silent partners.
    And I’m aware that native people often have anglicized names, as I live in Leonard Peltier’s home state. However, in my experience, “Natasha’ is not generally used as a name by people who do not have Russian or Baltic ancestry.
    Natasha: Please do keep in mind that ‘Western medicine’ does help people. Without it, I wouldn’t have a father or siblings. There are some problematic parts, but Western medicine isn’t always sinister just because it’s from a European culture.

  234. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm |

    Natasha:
    p.s. @ politicalguineapig:

    Colonization is most ESPECIALLY “lilly-white” PPL’s issue since it IS their cancer being inflicted across the globe historically and today.

    Don’t play in to the hands of spelling Nazis. I’ll step in before he corrects you about ‘lily-white’ (unless of course you were referring to Steve Lillywhite producer of U2, The La’s, The Pogues, etc.)

  235. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    Fat Steve: Why do people always assume I’m a dude?

  236. Natasha
    Natasha October 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm |

    j.: Hey, Natasha, I happen to appreciate medical science for helping us live longer and healthier lives. That includes psychiatry. If you want to get on with your bad “spiritual” and “non-colonized” self in a world of smallpox, rinderpest, and bubonic plague, go find your own planet where you won’t infect the rest of us, kthx.

    Wish I could but I’m stuck here for now hence my desire to decolonize. I’m sure I will appreciate medicine’s lifesaving ability if something happens to me and I end up in its care, but I can’t say for sure, depends what I have and how they treat me, and I don’t have a whole lot of trust or faith in the business that is western medicine. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t help ppl, but it harms a lot of ppl too.

    My feminism is interested in and deeply concerned with arrogant, androcentric science’s positivst philosophy — basically, nihilism and dehumanization — which is deeply ingrained in biomedicine and psych. I’ve been unfortunately neck deep in science for the last while where this is becoming more and more clear to me. This doesn’t mean the idea of science or its medicine is problematic, but western science’s positivist philosophy is, unless one values dehumanization and nihilism.

    Modern medicine helps SOME ppl live longer, while others are getting sick and dropping dead at far too young of age (which colonist mentalities like to blame individuals for rather than the cultural values & actions that produce illnesses — disease is usually a combo of biology & the socio-political). Modernization & civilization are not benevolent projects that are good for all of humanity; these profit, manipulation & control-driven projects are good for a few at the expense of many.

    Re. psychiatry: Do you consider electroshocking ppl “helping ppl live healthier or longer lives?” This “therapy” is not some ‘back in the day’ practice, but one that is sadistically administered by psychiatry today quite regularly, along with chemical lobotomies being fed to The People like tic tacs.

    It is the mentalities, philosophies, and worldviews behind these helping fields and their behaviors that need serious critique and overhaul, not their helping & healing intentions. Not to mention that something like 70% of modern/western medicine is culture vultured (i.e. stolen and bastardized) from Indigenous medicine and Knowledges.

    Re: my supposed uncolonized self: colonization did not happen overnight; its undoing is a long individual and collective process.

    @ politicalguineapig:

    People may assume you’re a dude cuz of your entitled and arrogant attitude (no offense to dudes who aren’t like this). RE: your comment that I fetishize decolonization: your projections, judgments and absurd and wrong ASSumptions as well as general nastiness are really wearing on my patience.

    @ Fat Steve:
    ha! I wish I had mis-spelled that on purpose, but that was a genuine spelling mistake, but thanx eagle eye! :-p :-)

  237. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 3, 2011 at 11:50 pm |

    Politicalguineapig:
    Fat Steve: Why do people always assume I’m a dude?

    Men are pigs.

  238. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 4, 2011 at 12:11 am |

    Fat Steve: Guinea pigs are very different from pigs.

  239. EG
    EG October 4, 2011 at 6:54 am |

    If my drugs constitute a “chemical lobotomy” (and I have not found that they do; quite the contrary, in fact–depression prevents me from thinking clearly), then I say bring. it. on.

    As to other forms of western medicine: I had scarlet fever when I was ten years old. Yep, scarlet fever, just like Beth in Little Women. Do you know what happens with scarlet fever nowadays? Nobody quarantines your home and your family while you all wait anxiously for weeks to see if you live or die. You get antibiotics and feel better within 24 hours. I have asthma, as does my mother. We are also not dead from that, either–in fact, thanks to western maintenance meds, I barely notice it, and my mother does not have the massive attacks that knocked her off her feet for lack of air that she used to get. Mumps is, as I understand it, the leading cause of male infertility outside of the first world. In the first world, of course, we get vaccinated. In the first world, we no longer have to worry about measles, polio, rubella, or whooping cough, either (“Whooping cough sounds quaint and silly,” said a doctor I once knew who had spent a good deal of time working outside of the first world, “until you’ve actually heard the sound of a child choking to death on its own saliva.”). I had friends in high school and college who were diabetic, and managed well. I have a friend who had cancer when she was younger, and is fine today. I have other friends whose daughter was born two years ago as early as it is possible to be born and survive–and for a long time, it was unclear whether or not she would. She has, and she has thrived.

    Where is the nihilism there?

    Capitalism helps the few at the expense of the many. There’s nothing inherent in western medicine that makes capitalism necessary.

  240. groggette
    groggette October 4, 2011 at 9:47 am |

    I’d suggest, Natasha, that if you’d actually experienced severe mental illness, you’d probably have a less stigmatising view of the treatments that help some people with mental illnesses achieve some relief from our negative symptoms. As it is, you’re just spouting the same kind of shit that stops people with mental illnesses being seen as human and gets in the way of us accessing treatments that can save our lives.

    I once got into a fight with an ex who spouted off on how even though he suffered from depression (as I do) he was “strong” enough to not need meds. Thanks fucker. At this point in time I’d rather be “weak” than dead.

  241. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 4, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    Natasha: I apologize. I let my temper get the better of me. I just get a little tired of the ‘everything natural is GOOD, and everything Western is EVIL’ mentality that runs rampant in any discussion of medicine, including this one.
    Natasha: That said, what about the ‘culture vulturing’ that runs amok in alternative medicine? White men and women who go to sweat lodges, yoga classes and acupuncture? How do you feel about that? Also, if everything natural is good, why isn’t everyone eating their meat raw, chewing on yew berries and taking curare? I mean, natives of South America have been using curare for thousands of years, so it must be a good thing..

  242. Andie
    Andie October 4, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    My mom used to say to me “If you were diabetic, no one would think you ‘weak’ for taking insulin, so why would anyone be ashamed of being on anti-depressants for depression?”

  243. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 10:45 am |

    Have you actually researched the treatment, or are you relying on scare tactic imagery not based in fact? Electro-convulsive therapy has a high success rate in treating treatment-resistant depression, and is a literal life saver for some people. It’s been refined quite a way since the bad old days, and it’s usually used when other treatments have failed.

    “Chemical lobotomies”? A lot of psychiatric medications can slow your thinking (and trust me, it’s a sacrifice a lot of us are more than willing to make when faced with the alternative) but I’m yet to hear of one that actually disables part of your brain as a regular mode of action being handed out with any frequency.

    I’d suggest, Natasha, that if you’d actually experienced severe mental illness, you’d probably have a less stigmatising view of the treatments that help some people with mental illnesses achieve some relief from our negative symptoms. As it is, you’re just spouting the same kind of shit that stops people with mental illnesses being seen as human and gets in the way of us accessing treatments that can save our lives.

    I’m not a fan of scare tactics, I prefer informed thinking driven by the heart, which is where I try to always come from. I’ve done research on electro-shock treatment, called ECT today (as you pointed out), and the main difference between old and new electroshock from my understanding is that they administer muscle relaxants now so that ppl’s bodies don’t get as physically harmed as far as teeth or bones breaking from the physical impact of the shocks on the body. I would suggest checking out what radical feminist psychologist and scholar Bonnie Burstow has to say about ECT & anti-depressants, as well as Dr. Peter Breggin, a former psychiatrist who is now part of the anti-psychiatry movement, both have written much on the topics for I think the last 15 years or more. Here is a link with some articles by both of them and some other well-informed psychiatry experts:
    http://coalitionagainstpsychiatricassault.com/articles/academic-articles/electroshock/

    If people think these treatments help them, I am not here to take that right away from them or shame them or anything like that. I’m no stranger to psycho-social-spiritual pain (I don’t like using the term ‘mental illness’ as I feel it’s stigmatizing) but there is no way in hell that I would personally be treated by psychiatry. Since I am going into the psych field, these things are very important to me and I will never recommend ECT or anti-depressants to ppl based on the research I’ve so far done and the convos I’ve had with ppl who have taken them, but at the same time I would not prevent clients from going down this road if it’s what they want, its their minds & bodies, though I would be more vocal with loved ones about not going down these roads.

    The place I’m coming from is from a place of value and respect for the power and fragility that comes with being human and I want to honor and work with that in people and my clients rather than shuffle them off into systems that I personally feel do more harm than good. And as far as research goes, there is probably more research out there supporting ECT & anti-depressants than there is debunking it, which speaks more to funding of research (i.e. “stakeholders”) rather than what it produces, so I pay attention to the place research is coming from, and Burstow and Breggin and others of the same ilk clearly come from a place of caring, which is evident in their work. Let me know what you think of their work if you check it out.

  244. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 10:50 am |

    groggette: I once got into a fight with an ex who spouted off on how even though he suffered from depression (as I do) he was “strong” enough to not need meds. Thanks fucker. At this point in time I’d rather be “weak” than dead.

    I would get pissed off at that too, that is really disrespectful and obviously coming from a place of ignorance of psycho-social-spiritual pain. It speaks to the judgmental, non-caring sentiment that runs through society of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps already! Suck it up, just smile/keep yourself busy (that one pisses me off the most!)” which I think is total bullshit.

  245. EG
    EG October 4, 2011 at 10:51 am |

    I once got into a fight with an ex who spouted off on how even though he suffered from depression (as I do) he was “strong” enough to not need meds.

    Let’s see, should I be “strong” and suffer a lot and not be able to do the things I’m good at and enjoy, or be “weak” and make the most of my life? Decisions, decisions…

    My mom used to say to me “If you were diabetic, no one would think you ‘weak’ for taking insulin, so why would anyone be ashamed of being on anti-depressants for depression?”

    Yep. I’ve dated men who’ve asked me, incredulously, “Don’t you want to try going off your anti-depressants?” I always then ask them if they feel I should try going off my asthma meds as well.

  246. chava
    chava October 4, 2011 at 10:54 am |

    Are you sure you’re not a closet Scientologist? Cause you sure sound like it.

    Natasha: I’m not a fan of scare tactics, I prefer informed thinking driven by the heart, which is where I try to always come from.I’ve done research on electro-shock treatment, called ECT today (as you pointed out), and the main difference between old and new electroshock from my understanding is that they administer muscle relaxants now so that ppl’s bodies don’t get as physically harmed as far as teeth or bones breaking from the physical impact of the shocks on the body.I would suggest checking out what radical feminist psychologist and scholar Bonnie Burstow has to say about ECT & anti-depressants, as well as Dr. Peter Breggin, a former psychiatrist who is now part of the anti-psychiatry movement, both have written much on the topics for I think the last 15 years or more.Here is a link with some articles by both of them and some other well-informed psychiatry experts:
    http://coalitionagainstpsychiatricassault.com/articles/academic-articles/electroshock/

    If people think these treatments help them, I am not here to take that right away from them or shame them or anything like that.I’m no stranger to psycho-social-spiritual pain (I don’t like using the term ‘mental illness’ as I feel it’s stigmatizing) but there is no way in hell that I would personally be treated by psychiatry.Since I am going into the psych field, these things are very important to me and I will never recommend ECT or anti-depressants to ppl based on the research I’ve so far done and the convos I’ve had with ppl who have taken them, but at the same time I would not prevent clients from going down this road if it’s what they want, its their minds & bodies, though I would be more vocal with loved ones about not going down these roads.

    The place I’m coming from is from a place of value and respect for the power and fragility that comes with being human and I want to honor and work with that in people and my clients rather than shuffle them off into systems that I personally feel do more harm than good.And as far as research goes, there is probably more research out there supporting ECT & anti-depressants than there is debunking it, which speaks more to funding of research (i.e. “stakeholders”) rather than what it produces, so I pay attention to the place research is coming from, and Burstow and Breggin and others of the same ilk clearly come from a place of caring, which is evident in their work.Let me know what you think of their work if you check it out.

  247. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 11:00 am |

    chava:
    Are you sure you’re not a closet Scientologist?Cause you sure sound like it.

    LOL hell NO! Those people and that religion scare me!

  248. raya
    raya October 4, 2011 at 11:02 am |

    I’d suggest, Natasha, that if you’d actually experienced severe mental illness, you’d probably have a less stigmatising view of the treatments that help some people with mental illnesses achieve some relief from our negative symptoms. As it is, you’re just spouting the same kind of shit that stops people with mental illnesses being seen as human and gets in the way of us accessing treatments that can save our lives.

    Seriously. I once got into a fight with an ex who spouted off on how even though he suffered from depression (as I do) he was “strong” enough to not need meds. Thanks fucker. At this point in time I’d rather be “weak” than dead.

    Storytime!? An ex of mine once told me I was bourgeoise scum because I let my parents pay for my therapy + meds for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder when I couldn’t afford them instead of curing myself with weed, like she did for her mood swings. /
    But, well, it’s not my fault that our health care system is fucked up. If you don’t want to take meds/go see a doctor/’believe’ in the existence of disease or illness/get therapy or surgery for whatever reason, just don’t. But don’t tell me “OMGZ DON’T DO THIS or you’re the reason this colonist-capitalist culture still exists!111″ It gets boring.

  249. Katniss
    Katniss October 4, 2011 at 11:03 am |

    chava, I was thinking the same thing.

    I can understand being wary of the industry that makes and sells psychiatric medicine. “White Coat, Black Hat” (I think that’s the name) is a really good look into the issues within that industry.

    But being wary of psychiatric medicine IN GENERAL is dismissive of the people who really really need it. Myself included. If I hadn’t had the intervention of medications for my anxiety, I don’t think I’d have any stability at all, let alone the stability I maintain now. And I’m frankly sick of “skeptics” of this trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do to treat my own illness.

  250. chava
    chava October 4, 2011 at 11:10 am |

    I’m not fond of the religion myself, but seeing as about half my family is still ‘in,’ I’m equally not fond of the “haha those people are scary LULZ” crap, either.

    Aside from which, your distaste for the psychiatric industry mirrors that of the CoS pretty closely, so you might want to consider the company you’re keeping.

    Natasha: LOL hell NO!Those people and that religion scare me!

  251. EG
    EG October 4, 2011 at 11:11 am |

    Ok, I just looked at a few of the articles on that blog, particularly the ones about meds. They don’t seem objective to me; they seem carefully culled. In a group of 25 speakers, 23 said that their psychiatric drugs hurt more than helped them, that they had significant negative side effects, that the drugs impaired their thinking and feeling when the drugs in question were mostly SSRIs? That is wildly out of sync with not only my experiences, but the experiences of almost everybody else I have ever known who has been on contemporary (post-Prozac) anti-depressants. (I did know one man for whom the sexual side effects were so severe that the drugs were not worth taking; the potential for these side effects are well known and not hidden from anybody.) Finding the kind of numbers they have found seems so bizarrely disproportionate that I must question how they selected their speakers at this panel, and I note that the document they provide does not say. They also note that all the speakers had been institutionalized at one point or another; is that representative of the majority of people who take SSRIs? If not, might not the prevalence of coercion and negative effects of the SSRIs have more to do with the practice of institutionalization than with the drugs?

    As for dependency on anti-depressants–hell, I already was addicted, in the sense that my body needed them to function properly. I just didn’t have them before. So now I get queasy if I miss a dose or two? Better that than dysthymia leading to severe depression.

    I pay attention to the place research is coming from, and Burstow and Breggin and others of the same ilk clearly come from a place of caring

    Good intentions say nothing about reliability.

  252. Alex
    Alex October 4, 2011 at 11:34 am |

    Politicalguineapig:
    Natasha: I apologize. I let my temper get the better of me. I just get a little tired of the ‘everything natural is GOOD, and everything Western is EVIL’ mentality that runs rampant in any discussion of medicine, including this one.
    Natasha: That said, what about the ‘culture vulturing’ that runs amok in alternative medicine? White men and women who go to sweat lodges, yoga classes and acupuncture? How do you feel about that? Also, if everything natural is good, why isn’t everyone eating their meat raw, chewing on yew berries and taking curare? I mean, natives of South America have been using curare for thousands of years, so it must be a good thing..

    Politicalguineapig, there is a pretty big difference between a white person talking about Indigenous worldviews and the act of cultural appropriation. I don’t think we really have any reason to believe that Natasha is engaging in any New-Age sweat lodges run by white folks or anything like that based on her comments.

    Considering how dominant white culture is and how pervasive western perspectives in medicine/science are I am pretty confused as to how you can be so exhausted by any sort of Indigenous perspectives (although I have to say, Natasha, that anti-depressants saved my life — I shudder to think what would have happened if I had a care-giver who had steered me away from them when I was suicidal).

    There are benefits to both perspectives and many Western scientists, particularly ecologists, are looking more closely at Indigenous people’s Traditional Knowledges as a way of rounding out where Western science falls short.

    Also, Politicaguineapig, your comments on “natural” eating habits are really offensive and reliant on the old civilized vs. savage stereotypes. Are you suggesting that Indigenous people of South America were/are stupid? That they didn’t have fire?

  253. Alex
    Alex October 4, 2011 at 11:35 am |

    Sorry, Politicalguineapig for misspelling your name the second time!

  254. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    Politicalguineapig:
    Natasha: I apologize. I let my temper get the better of me. I just get a little tired of the ‘everything natural is GOOD, and everything Western is EVIL’ mentality that runs rampant in any discussion of medicine, including this one.
    Natasha: That said, what about the ‘culture vulturing’ that runs amok in alternative medicine? White men and women who go to sweat lodges, yoga classes and acupuncture? How do you feel about that? Also, if everything natural is good, why isn’t everyone eating their meat raw, chewing on yew berries and taking curare? I mean, natives of South America have been using curare for thousands of years, so it must be a good thing..

    Thanks politicalgunieapig, apology accepted. I hear you @ getting tired of the new age stuff, my mom has suggested that my wife, who suffers from severe chronic pain and needs powerful painkillers (that come from Nature but that colonist western medicine hoards and controls and thinks it knows what dosages ppl need regardless of what ppl say is their actual experience) put raw potatoes on her painful areas!! I love my mom to pieces but some of her raw/natural ideas are…uh…a little out there and just not practical for what my wife has going on.

    For me it’s not that westernism is evil so much as it’s harmful. I just want to live in a society that I can trust and where I can feel safe, but that is not the case today. I am pissed off at my primary and secondary education cuz I feel I was not taught the things I need to know to actually live a good bio-psycho-social-spiritual life by learning the complex science that is Earth, her medicines and the different ways to basically sustain ourselves respectfully and without harm, so I just try to educate myself which involves sifting through a lot of -and oftentimes loud – misinformation out there. Luckily for me I have a wicked smart wife who is very knowledgeable on this stuff and has a built-in bullshit detector so I use her as my compass. I think we’re all trying to do our best and it’s okay to NOT know. I feel like knowledge was ripped away from us, twisted up, re-packaged and sold back to us via colonization that affects us all, so we gotta re-learn what we need to know to live a healthier life, and learn from eachother. Seems like that’s what most ppl (minus governments and corporations!) are doing. The knowledge is out there, it just seems mangled & tangled with a lot of BS, at least from my perspective. And a lot of that BS is more interested in profit than healing..

    Re. new-agers who sell things like sweatlodges, my wife (she’s Native) tells me that a real [Native] medicine person would never charge money for these or other ceremonies or therapies as that is sacrilegious so I go by that cuz it makes total sense to me, though it further pisses me off at how much western medicine is a business, big time in America and getting more and more corporate-ized here in Canada. This also makes me uncomfortable as I move my way through school to become a therapist cuz I need to charge some kind of money for my work so I can have a roof over my head and food on the table, though I do feel it is fundamentally wrong to do so — when I was in therapy it felt icky to pay for it and somehow dirtied the otherwise healing experience for me.

    I dunno, it’s complicated and there are very few choices to live a fully good life, and I have way more questions than answers and am just stumbling and fumbling my way through and holding on to any knowledge that speaks kindly to my body, mind, heart and Spirit. I think if we all follow our hearts and pay attention to those who speak & act from their hearts, we’re well on our way.

  255. groggette
    groggette October 4, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    Natasha: I would get pissed off at that too, that is really disrespectful and obviously coming from a place of ignorance of psycho-social-spiritual pain.

    And yet you would refuse to prescribe me the meds that kept me from killing myself. What’s the difference between his attitude and yours?

  256. EG
    EG October 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm |

    Also, Politicaguineapig, your comments on “natural” eating habits are really offensive and reliant on the old civilized vs. savage stereotypes. Are you suggesting that Indigenous people of South America were/are stupid? That they didn’t have fire?

    I interpreted the comments as a way of noting that the societies and customs of indigenous peoples are no more “natural” than those of westerners, because living in a truly “natural” way would mean not cooking meat, etc. I might be wrong.

    when I was in therapy it felt icky to pay for it and somehow dirtied the otherwise healing experience for me.

    I had anxieties about this for a while, until I started comparing what my therapist does with what I do/did as a babysitter (in this particular aspect). What are parents paying me for? They’re not paying me for my love for their daughters–not only would I love them whether or not I got paid, but I can’t love people on command, even for money. Love doesn’t work like that. They’re not even paying me for the care I give their daughters, because I would not deny their daughters the care they needed because the parents failed to pay me–when I am with young children and nobody else is taking care of them, I take care of them, regardless of whether I’m a babysitter or a guest at a party, and I do so to the best of my abilities. What they’re paying me for is my time. When I am babysitting, I block out a chunk of time in which not only do I do nothing else, but in which I rarely think about anything but taking care of their daughters. I don’t make social plans for that time, and I don’t take on any other paid work for that time. And yeah, without pay, I probably wouldn’t do that on a regular basis, unless there was some kind of emergency, and/or we had a prior affection-based relationship.

    It’s the same with my therapist, which is why I pay her if I miss a session without sufficient notice and no discount, because she’s still blocked out the time. She’d care about me and my problems (if she knew about them, you understand) whether or not I paid her, and if she found herself in a treatment situation with me, I think she’d do her best by me. But she’s not going to block out the time to focus on me without pay.

  257. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm |

    EG:
    Ok, I just looked at a few of the articles on that blog, particularly the ones about meds.They don’t seem objective to me; they seem carefully culled.In a group of 25 speakers, 23 said that their psychiatric drugs hurt more than helped them, that they had significant negative side effects, that the drugs impaired their thinking and feeling when the drugs in question were mostly SSRIs?That is wildly out of sync with not only my experiences, but the experiences of almost everybody else I have ever known who has been on contemporary (post-Prozac) anti-depressants.(I did know one man for whom the sexual side effects were so severe that the drugs were not worth taking; the potential for these side effects are well known and not hidden from anybody.)Finding the kind of numbers they have found seems so bizarrely disproportionate that I must question how they selected their speakers at this panel, and I note that the document they provide does not say.They also note that all the speakers had been institutionalized at one point or another; is that representative of the majority of people who take SSRIs?If not, might not the prevalence of coercion and negative effects of the SSRIs have more to do with the practice of institutionalization than with the drugs?

    As for dependency on anti-depressants–hell, I already was addicted, in the sense that my body needed them to function properly.I just didn’t have them before.So now I get queasy if I miss a dose or two?Better that than dysthymia leading to severe depression.

    Good intentions say nothing about reliability.

    Oh noooooo now I gotta put on my science hat to talk about reliability and validity & objectivity again — I just finished banging my head against the wall wrapping my mind around these concepts (in a research methods class) which science is NOT neutral OR objective about even though it pretends so hard it is. I wish you were in this class with me, seems we coulda had some fruitful convos. Anything I critiqued about these concepts was met with cricket chirps. If I have time I will look up more studies and share.

    Good intentions mean a LOT to me; I’ve been reading through tons of “peer-reviewed” articles that make my brain bleed and that are way more telling to me about researchers’ biases going into, and interpreting research results than actual results. That goes both ways, for and against a particular topic. So I am not all that interested in playing research statistic gymnastics cuz I feel it can take away from the meat of a topic, but if I come across more research I will share as I do find value and important information in some research, just not a lot cuz the stuff that interests me is not mainstream & therefore lacking in funding and general interest, at least in academentia (though it seems to slowly be getting better).

    Just because you or others may have had positive experiences with electro-shock or SSRI’s doesn’t mean just as many if not more people have not, and my concern is with this group and future people who may fall into this group. Other people’s bodies are not for me to police and as I said, I do not shame or judge ppl who want these treatments.

    I hear you @ dependency, great care needs to be taken if one wants to wean off SSRI’s!

  258. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    groggette: And yet you would refuse to prescribe me the meds that kept me from killing myself. What’s the difference between his attitude and yours?

    I said the opposite of that. If you were my client and insisted you wanted these meds and if I had prescribing ability, then I probably would prescribe them, though I would want to explore other options, drug and otherwise, as well as first and foremost, get to know YOU. Who knows, we could be incompatible as client and therapist. Ya never know, maybe you’d hate my methods. Bottom line for me is that YOU are your own expert and I am not here to get in the way of your life, otherwise I’d be doing the opposite of my job and being the opposite of who I want to be as a human being.

  259. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    @ grogette:

    Oops maybe I didn’t say the opposite of that, I didn’t re-read the post where I said it, but yeah as a therapist I would recommend against ECT and SSRI’s specifically, explain to my client why, and if they still insisted on it, I would either prescribe or refer to someone else who can, it all depends on the client and the therapeutic dynamics.

  260. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    groggette: What’s the difference between his attitude and yours?

    Judgment and lack of empathy/compassion/understanding?

  261. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm |

    Politicalguineapig:
    Fat Steve: Guinea pigs are very different from pigs.

    Don’t be so piggist!

  262. EG
    EG October 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm |

    It’s been a very long time since I read up on the sociology of science, but once upon a time when I was young, I did. And yes, I remember all about the fallibility of objectivity and researcher biases, etc. Scientists are fallible. But acknowledging that they’re fallible and bring their own biases to the table does not mean well, we have to throw out all the research they did and replace it with good intentions. Everybody has good intentions. Everybody thinks they’re doing the right thing and working for the right side of the force. Almost nobody wakes up and thinks “You know, today I’m going to choose evil.”

    Except Henry Kissinger. That guy’s just evil.

    I am still highly doubtful about those essays. They don’t even mention how they found the 25 people they had speaking. I’m just supposed to trust that they did it fairly and randomly and so that’s an accurate representation of how SSRIs operate in the general population? “Nobody can be perfectly objective” does not mean “so we should just believe everybody’s claims.”

    Scientists get attacked for their supposed biases all the time. The right wing likes to attack scientists who study weather patterns and agree that human activity is responsible for dangerous climate change and scientists who study the fossil record and carbon dating and conclude that yes, evolution is a real thing that really happens and takes place over millennia. The left-wing, or parts of it, likes to attack scientists who develop vaccines and note that they do, in fact, prevent disease and do not cause autism, and that pasteurizing milk is a good thing. Expertise in the sciences doesn’t get attacked as often as expertise in the humanities, but it is certainly under fire. If there are problems with given studies and their interpretations, that’s one thing. But substituting good intentions for even the attempt at objective data-gathering is not convincing.

    All that said, I think it’s a good and important thing to develop treatment methods and models that will help, work for, and support people with mental illnesses (I use the term because I’ve never found it stigmatizing; on the contrary, I found it liberating) who, for whatever reason (don’t want to, doesn’t work for them, have bad side effects) don’t take meds. I just don’t like to see meds denigrated–and yes, when you say things like “if people think these treatments help them,” (emphasis mine) or “The place I’m coming from is from a place of value and respect for the power and fragility that comes with being human and I want to honor and work with that in people and my clients,” you are implying that a) the people who are helped by meds are merely deluded and b) that people who do work with meds do not have value and respect for the power and fragility of humanity.

    If you want to imply that, fine. I’m fine with religious people taking offense at my characterizations of religion, because I am genuinely of the opinion that religion is fiction. If you are genuinely of the opinion that meds are harmful, that people who benefit from them are deluded, and that people who prescribe them don’t value and respect the humanity of their patients, own it. Don’t back off by saying you’re not shaming or judging. Your words suggest otherwise.

  263. groggette
    groggette October 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    EG: If you are genuinely of the opinion that meds are harmful, that people who benefit from them are deluded, and that people who prescribe them don’t value and respect the humanity of their patients, own it. Don’t back off by saying you’re not shaming or judging. Your words suggest otherwise.

    Repeated for emphasis.

    Natasha, it shows an amazing lack of “judgment and lack of empathy/compassion/understanding” to waste the time and energy of a person on the verge of killing themselves by refusing to treat them in a way proven to give immediate results. And yes, pushing your own agenda on patients and only agreeing to prescribe meds (or push the person off to someone else) after they pass some bullshit litmus test for you is refusing to treat them. By all means, explore what works best for different patients, but sometimes meds DO work best (and in emergency situations they work better than talk therapy), and the people who benefit from them aren’t delusional. So yeah, I’m really not seeing the difference between you and that shithole ex.

  264. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm |

    chava:
    I’m not fond of the religion myself, but seeing as about half my family is still ‘in,’ I’m equally not fond of the “haha those people are scary LULZ” crap, either.

    Aside from which, your distaste for the psychiatric industry mirrors that of the CoS pretty closely, so you might want to consider the company you’re keeping.

    You’re right, I take back my LOL @ Scientology, because from the (extreme) stories I’ve heard, it can be a dangerous group to be involved in and I hope your family members are okay and not part of the extreme stories the media showcases.

    Isn’t it interesting how some groups that seem so opposite of eachother can at times be so similar? I’ve heard the same said of some radical feminists and christianity and now scientology. I think all ideologies mean well, but some are a little less informed than others…though what is information? If someone strongly believes they are born “evil” and there is a white man in the sky judging them and commanding to be feared (while at the same time loving and forgiving them? Mixed messages?), backed by the words in a bible, who am I to say otherwise? It’s when ppl try to inflict their ideologies on others and then punish or judge them in a variety of ways when they don’t, then it becomes a problem. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I am passionate but want to be careful not to impose or inflict myself on others (cuz I don’t appreciate it being done to me), so I apologize if the passion behind my beliefs comes out that way (such as in my previous use of the word “mental defectives” to condemn those in charge of this society). I only want to share my views, hear others’ views, discuss, and build knowledge that way, and I am really appreciating the sharp (and hella witty!) minds in the Feministe community.

  265. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    groggette: Repeated for emphasis.

    Natasha, it shows an amazing lack of “judgment and lack of empathy/compassion/understanding” to waste the time and energy of a person on the verge of killing themselves by refusing to treat them in a way proven to give immediate results. And yes, pushing your own agenda on patients and only agreeing to prescribe meds (or push the person off to someone else) after they pass some bullshit litmus test for you is refusing to treat them. By all means, explore what works best for different patients, but sometimes meds DO work best (and in emergency situations they work better than talk therapy), and the people who benefit from them aren’t delusional. So yeah, I’m really not seeing the difference between you and that shithole ex.

    Thank you for repeating this, I am hearing you and EG and others who are pro-ECT and SSRI’s loud and clear, and I hope you are hearing me when I say I believe ppl are their own experts and if someone on meds came in to see me and ran out of their meds I would never leave them high and dry. This is why there are so many different therapists and counselors out there, not everyone is compatible with everyone. As a therapist I would much rather someone be on whatever meds if it keeps them from killing themselves than taking them off because I feel it’s right, that is just all kinds of fucked up.

    I agree @ bullshit litmus tests, I do not appreciate jumping through hoops when I know what is right for me, so I will marinate on that, thank you. I do not ever want to ‘test’ people, I want to get to know the clients I work with to figure out treatment strategies that work best for them, in a power-sharing client/therapist relationship.

  266. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm |

    Ok, we’ve moved on to psychiatry.

    If depression and other mental health issues are causing people pain and distress- then I think a pill that can help relieve the pain is no more or less morally suspect than the painkillers I was prescribed when I hurt my back. I mean, the painkillers I got were probably worse in a way as I got 120 for ‘a month’ (I’ve not even gone through half the bottle in a year,) which would be a good way to get addicted, and painkiller addiction is a pretty common occurrence in this country.

  267. rox
    rox October 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    “just that women who have these surgeries are the victims of a misogynistic culture, not the perpetrators.”

    “You can be against the promotion of cosmetic labioplasty AND think women are capable of thinking for themselves.”

    “I trust people to analyse their own damn decisions. They’re on the inside of their own heads.”

    I think that pressuming that the decisions we make only affect us is wrong thinking. Some people decide to eat really unhealthy diets that make them sick. This decision does not only affect them. If their health care bill becomes too high for them to pay, society WILL be taking care of them. Some people decide to smoke, and again, not only health care burden but what about kids who see them smoking? What about neighbors who have to smell it? What about being in an apartment and the smoke leaking through the walls/ventalation systems? Some people choose to make themselves sad and miserable and how does that affect the people around them? Some people choose to drink to inebbriation where they are not in control of their behaviors. How does this affect people around them? Some people choose to buy fancy clothes/things/accessories that many people can’t afford, how does that make people who are excluded from the club feel? Some people choose to date abusive nasty people— who have demonstrated they are dangerous. What kind of risk does this put their children and friends and family members in? How will their friends and family members feel watching the suffering of an abused person?

    The reality is that most people defend the right to eat crappy food, smoke cigarettes, let themselves be treated like crap by their partners, drink like a fish, join exclusive mean spirited social clubs for rich people etc etc because they claim that the people making these decisions might have issues leading these decisions to feel better than all the other options. Or that they might be poor/mentally ill/lacking resources that would enhance choice.

    But if you’re going to say, ‘NO! There are not environmental factors at play they are just making these choices because they damn well feel like it and there’s no underlying environmental factor/emotional issue they just feel like it.” Then you’re actually IINCREASING the validity of judging people’s freely made choices that can hurt others.

    The reality is THIS kind of thinking is actually anti-freedom in choice. If there is really only one crappy choice that feels tolerable to a given person, then how much free agency are you really saying they have? You’re really saying the same damn thing as the people saying that choices come from environmental conditions in which an unappealing choice still feels like the only one that can work the best.

    you’re still saying, “Well you can’t judge people for doing hurtful things because maybe they didn’t have a better option.”

    Really you’re coming back to saying they lack better access to better choices. Which is exactly the point. If someone hates their body then the reality is they might need some real support working through that. And maybe that support isn’t available. Maybe there are some forms of support available but it’s not the right kind of support for them so it doesn’t work. In which case, they are still making choices out of limitation.

    I believe in harm reduction for all problem human behavior. you don’t look at the behavior itself, but the root. And the solution is always more support to an area where people have not been adequately supported. Or potentially creative innovative inventions that create new possibilities not previously available. We, you know, as humans, capable of that.

    But if all the supports are in place and total free will is available– then yes, every choice that has the potential to hurt others should be judged as a negative choice that all people should avoid. So if we’re going to say, “any choice a woman makes ever is made absolutely freely!” then judgement of any choice she makes that could hurt others, even inadvertantly, is perfectly valid.

    I just don’t believe it’s true at all. I believe all choice is made within limitation, and therefore understanding harmful choices should be made with an understanding of where the choice was stemming from.

  268. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    p.s. I don’t think ALL drugs are harmful, there are some life-saving drugs out there, and different drugs work differently and in different dosages for different people. I have learned this firsthand watching my wife needlessly suffer from being under-prescribed pain meds for the last 13+ years as her pain gets worse and worse. I don’t think I’ll ever change my position about how I feel about ECT and SSRI’s for ME and MY body and mind (which does not mean that I do not personally experience a lot of psycho-social-spiritual pain), but I do not intend to inflict and impose that on others who find whatever drug(s) or treatment(s) effective.

    Speaking of research I did find 2 studies (1 old, 1 new) in my school travels that supported treating major depression with opiates, which I found refreshing given that this drug class is safer as far as side effects go than SSRI’s, though of course different bodies react differently to different drugs so I’m sure not everyone would react well to opiate treatment for depression, though it makes me wonder why there are more opiate addicts than there are SSRI addicts. Maybe it has something to do with the SSRI’s being legal & readily prescribed by doctors and opiates being so highly controlled and therefore pushed to the black market. That said opiates have their own drug hysteria to deal with. Thoughts?

    p.p.s. I love that this labiaplasty thread has turned into one about decolonization and the medical and psychiatry industry (to me it’s allll connected). :D

  269. Caperton
    Caperton October 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm | *

    Natasha: If you were my client and insisted you wanted these meds and if I had prescribing ability, then I probably would prescribe them, though I would want to explore other options, drug and otherwise, as well as first and foremost, get to know YOU.

    Natasha: I believe ppl are their own experts

    Actually, this is the part that bothers me. I don’t go to a therapist because I have all these ideas I want to run past her–I go to her because she knows more about my mental illness (I also prefer that term; it reminds me that I’m just another person with a treatable illness, like someone with the flu) than I do. I was torturing myself in many and sundry horrible ways for ten years before I found a therapist who said, “Hold on, that sounds like bipolar disorder.” It was awesome. And yes, I was deeply reluctant to take a drug to regulate my crazazy–I thought I should be able to tough it out or spank my inner child or whatever–but I’d been in therapy on and off since I was a teenager and nothing else was happening. I’m a safe, functional, physically and emotionally comfortable human being for the first time in a decade, and I wouldn’t be if someone hadn’t known enough to make that suggestion.

    If I’d had to go into my therapist’s office and request drugs, I’d probably still be nonfunctional right now (or dead). What saved me is that she was open to every available avenue to treatment. And if she hadn’t been, I hope she would have clued me in to that from the very beginning.

  270. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    EG:
    If you are genuinely of the opinion that meds are harmful, that people who benefit from them are deluded, and that people who prescribe them don’t value and respect the humanity of their patients, own it.Don’t back off by saying you’re not shaming or judging.Your words suggest otherwise.

    I am genuinely of the opinion that SOME meds and treatments are harmful, but that isn’t the same as thinking the people who get such treatments are deluded, there is an important difference. I can have an informed opinion about something and still respect others for choosing things for their bodies that I do not put in mine. Why do conflicting opinions have to collapse into shaming or thinking people are delusional, one way or the other? People who love SSRI’s or ECT are just as delusional as I am for being against them. OR, the two groups are equally informed people making decisions THEY feel are best for THEIR bodies, and as a therapist, that is the root philosophy that will guide me: people are their own experts, no matter what kind of oppressive society we live in, and especially because of it. But it doesn’t meant we can’t discuss these things and the socio-cultural factors that shape every single thing in our lives.

    I want to reply to the rest of your comment later, gotta run to my capitalist, enslaving “job” now. :-\

  271. EG
    EG October 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    that isn’t the same as thinking the people who get such treatments are deluded

    I agree that it doesn’t have to be. That is why I highlighted the part of your post that suggests that you do think that.

  272. j.
    j. October 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

    Some people choose to date abusive nasty people— who have demonstrated they are dangerous. What kind of risk does this put their children and friends and family members in? How will their friends and family members feel watching the suffering of an abused person?

    Straight-up victim blaming and a complete ignorance of the realities of domestic violence.

    And, yes, Rox, I have every fucking right to eat junk food if I want to. And who the fuck are you to decide that somebody can’t have a nice, expensive piece of furniture or dress or whatever because someone else might feel bad? That’s got precisely jack and shit to do with minimizing equality in society.

  273. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    EG: My point, clumsily worded as it was, was that the ‘natural life’ isn’t as natural as we think, and that ‘natural’ isn’t always good.
    Alex: See above. I didn’t mean to pick on any particular group, it was just an example of something indigenous tribes used that isn’t good for anyone, but which an average newager would latch onto as the eighth wonder of the world.
    Natasha: I’m glad you acknowledge that some drugs are neccessary. Anti-depressants aren’t in any way like a lobotomy, they just help even out the rough spots.
    I don’t take mine anymore, but that’s my choice. Just because they didn’t work for me doesn’t mean they won’t work for grogette or Caperton, or anyone else who needs them for any length of time. Also your idea of society.. yeah, as long as you’re around people that ain’t ever going to happen.
    On topic: I think that a medical system of some sort is neccessary, and while there are abuses (botox, cosmetic labioplasty) throwing out the whole thing is overkill. I would be an only child without it, and my mom would be a widow now.

  274. rox
    rox October 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    “Straight-up victim blaming and a complete ignorance of the realities of domestic violence.”

    I know a fucking damn more than you might think. : )

    My point, precisely is that many choice are not as freely made as people claim. Some people “choose” to have unprotected sex but because some a-hole was bullying them into with a complex manipulative agenda to intentionally have unprotected unsafe sex with them, some people “choose” to do drugs because life is so fucking shitty they can barely stand it, some people “choose” to smoke cigarettes because they’ve got lifelong PTSD and trauma and can barely even handle the days and we live in a world where people like that get rejected over and over “hey fix yourself before you can be part of social interaction!” Awesome! I’ll get back to you on that asshole, actually nevermind, you stay in your rejectful little world cause if I ever get better I don’t want any part of your egotistical self centered society where everyone gets theres and leaves everyone else to their fate.

    Some people eat junk food because when you’ve got no fucking money and your insides are churning and you have a buck you want to get as full as you can with fat and meat and you can get a dollar hamburger and that’s way faster than going to grocery store and buying a banana or a little one dollar bag of rice. Wht the shit.

    There are millions of valid reasons why people make the choices they do. But yes if all things were equal, we SHOULD care how our choices affect others. Unless you’re really into that “I am an island, I got mine fuck you” routine. That is really exactly why people don’t get the support they need to begin with. All disease comes back to it.

  275. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm |

    Also isn’t “labia” such a gross word?

    Getting back to the original post and topic, I don’t actually agree with this point. I think ‘labia’ has a rhythmic sound, reminiscent of words in romance languages. Were it not a name for a woman’s body part, I could see it as a brand of espresso, or pasta perhaps.

  276. j.
    j. October 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |

    You had no “point,” Rox. You victim-blamed and proposed to dictate how people should live their lives, and, when called on it, you pretend you weren’t actually victim-blaming or proposing to dictate how people should live their lives, except in some ideal society where everything was equal to start with. Fuck off and take your disingenuity with you.

  277. Anonymouse
    Anonymouse October 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm |

    So I read this whole thread and all I have to say is: Natasha, please, please, please get out of the field of psych field before you do a lot of harm to a lot of people. If my anxiety/mild depression ever get to a point where I need professional support I sure as fuck hope I don’t run into someone like you.

    Totally randomly, there were at least three Natashas in my high school in Brooklyn: one was Russian, one was African-American, and one was Boricua. So yes, a person of indigenous ancestry can certainly have that name!

  278. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 4, 2011 at 8:15 pm |

    If people think these treatments help them, I am not here to take that right away from them or shame them or anything like that. I’m no stranger to psycho-social-spiritual pain (I don’t like using the term ‘mental illness’ as I feel it’s stigmatizing) but there is no way in hell that I would personally be treated by psychiatry. Since I am going into the psych field, these things are very important to me and I will never recommend ECT or anti-depressants to ppl based on the research I’ve so far done and the convos I’ve had with ppl who have taken them, but at the same time I would not prevent clients from going down this road if it’s what they want, its their minds & bodies, though I would be more vocal with loved ones about not going down these roads.

    So I read this whole thread and all I have to say is: Natasha, please, please, please get out of the field of psych field before you do a lot of harm to a lot of people. If my anxiety/mild depression ever get to a point where I need professional support I sure as fuck hope I don’t run into someone like you.

    Yes, this. If you think that psychiatry and medication and ECT and therapy-as-a-paid-profession are all wrong and harmful… psych is not for you. It’s great that you’re questioning everything, it really is, but when your conclusion is “Western medicine is awful” then maybe Western medicine shouldn’t be your job.

    You’ve made it obvious you’ve never required any kind of serious medical intervention — mental or otherwise — and I think that this inexperience (coupled with a weird mix of naivete and arrogance, with your “good intentions!” and “psh, peer review schmeer review” stuff) is gonna make it really hard for you to serve your future patients well. And you could honestly kill people with your attitude.

  279. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm |

    On my last comment, that should be: Without Western medicine, I’d be an only child and my mom would be a widow. I’d also be minus a few friends- one had whooping cough as an adult, one has really bad allergies to a common food substance, and one’s dealing with neuralgia and depression. There seem to be a whole lot of babies going out with that bathwater.
    Rox: Have you ever read any of the various checklists of abusive characteristics? One of the commonest signs is that the abuser usually exhibits charming behavior at first, and by the time the partner realizes they’re abusive, the partner’s usually too entangled (by affection, marriage or kids) to get out easily. So, yeah, women don’t really choose to date abusive assholes.
    I realize you’ve experienced abuse and I haven’t, but that experience seems to make it hard for you to take an objective view of the events leading up to that relationship.

  280. The Wendigo Comes
    The Wendigo Comes October 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm |

    Speaking as an Indigenous person, I want white people to discuss the shit out of decolonisation. I want them to shut up and listen when Indigenous/Native/Aboriginal people are talking, of course, but then I want them to go away and have their own conversations. I want them to do ally work. I want them to talk to other white people who won’t listen to us and have the conversations that won’t happen while we’re in the room. That’s what allies are for.
    And as someone who’s constantly “read as white” because I don’t present as what white people think an Indigenous person should look/sound/behave like, that crack about Natasha’s name was totally out of line. We don’t have to fit your boxes. We can call ourselves whatever we like. I would actually put money on there being an Indigenous person out there somewhere named Natasha.

    Boozhoo, Chi Miigwech (Hello and Thank You) for standing up and speaking on this subject. You made some good points.

    It can be difficult to be heard as a Native person and as a minority in general. So yes it is important for the majority to calm down and listen while we are trying to speak, otherwise we do not get heard…..and actually that is often the case.
    I agree, that there is indeed a very important place for non Indigenous people in the DEcolonization discussion circle. If the goal is to heal from the DISease of colonialism, then yes, most definitely the colonizer needs to have talks with the colonized. Just as if a family has suffered some kind of abuse among the members, it is important to acknowledge what has happened and talk about it and how healing can take place. It also helps to try to take judgment out of the equation as much as possible and talk to each other honestly and openly from the heart as human beings because I think fear of judgment affects how many behave and communicate.
    I have been a member of the American Indian Movement for a very long time and we have always had what we call a “Support Group”, this is a special part of the chapter for our supporters that are not Native. Our S.G. members have been EXTREMELY helpful over the years in assisting us achieve our goals and we are grateful. These Helpers are respectful and thoughtful towards our culture and to us as people, they are NOT “new agers” “twinkies” “culture vultures” or “wannabes” – words we use in the Movement to describe the culture appropriating, new age, crystal wearing, stereotypical name using (ie Little Grandmother, Wolf MoonDance, etc.), “My great gramma was an indian princess”, want-to-be Indian types. Our supporters in the Movement usually do have an interest in Native cultures but they go about it in a respectful way… by coming to us and asking what they can do to help and asking US any questions they have about US, instead of referring to books written by white people that study us and talk about us as if we aren’t here to speak for ourselves.

    As far as being mixed race and white people seeing you as white, try to consider the source and attempt to educate them. I know this type and they usually have lived in their white bubble their entire lives and the closest thing to Native culture they ‘think’ they have experienced is Hollywood western movies and TV shows, created by and for white people that know nothing of Indigenous People so they portray the Native folks almost invariably as a Plains Tribe, preferably a horse culture, with everyone wearing a chief’s war bonnet, war paint, the obligatory monosyllabic hollywood indian accent, ie “Ug, me want wife”, everyone’s painted iodine brown and that’s pretty much what a Native American is in hollywood and therefor that’s pretty much what a Native American is to much of mainstream white america. So, many times Mr. and Mrs. White can be out for a stroll and run into Natasha White Plume and her annoying teenage brother DJ Rezz-it-up a.k.a. Homer White Plume, all decked out in their cool kid clothes and they wouldn’t even know they just ran into two Anishinaabe Natives and if they were told so, Mr. and Mrs. White may very well say something like “But you don’t look like Indians.” or “Where are all your feathers and beads and where are your long braids?” or “But you’re not the right color”…. I’ve seen it and heard it for real and when asked “Well, what does and “Indian” look like?” you can almost SEE the spaghetti western play back in their heads as they come back with something like “Oh, well you know, long hair, feathers, beads, buck skin clothes, etc etc”.
    These people need to be educated. (probably about a lot of things) There are many many beautiful faces and Nations of Native people but pretty much only one is portrayed in hollywood movies (inaccurately at that) and it also a huge misconception among many sheltered white folks that Native Americans are no longer here, that we are something from the past. I have heard that so many times or a variation: “There are no full bloods left”. Both are equally untrue and it really hurts to hear things like that. The majority of us are shoved off on reservations and forgotten about…. Then I start to wonder, as a Native Activist.. how does that affect what we are trying to do? How can you get people to hear you if they think you don’t even exist?

    As far as the Natasha name subject there is a Native actress named Natasha Kaye Johnson, she is Navajo. I am not looking up anymore Native Natashas. Besides I wouldn’t want my Wife, the beautiful Russian Natasha to get jealous (wink wink).

    Well, I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent and we’re pretty far off topic so I will just say this: LABIA!

  281. The Wendigo Comes
    The Wendigo Comes October 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm |

    Fat Steve: Getting back to the original post and topic, I don’t actually agree with this point. I think ‘labia’ has a rhythmic sound, reminiscent of words in romance languages. Were it not a name for a woman’s body part, I could see it as a brand of espresso, or pasta perhaps.

    Ahh yes, the espresso would sound nice… “Give me a double Labia with cream and sugar please.”.

    Labia could also be the name of a small country in North Africa, somewhere between Libya and Arabia. Then someone could say something like “I remember being in Labia as a teenager… it was very warm and humid…” or “I am a member of the People’s Party of Labia!”.

    I’ll probably get stoned now for my attempt at levity but not in the good way. :o/

  282. rox
    rox October 5, 2011 at 7:37 am |

    “Fuck off and take your disingenuity with you.”

    Earnestly, I don’t think you’re being very genuine yourself. I do nothing but every single day read about advances in neurobiology, human behavior, the environments that alter and shape human behavior and disease.

    Our environments make us. I do not even believe in free will and sure as shit do not believe in victim blaming. I believe that in any moment at any time each and every one of us is doing the best we can with what we know and understand and the skills we have available to us. But- if there is no blame– what do we do with abusers, with law breakers, with emotional manipulators, with people who use harmful parenting techniques? Human behavior can cause great suffering. And the truth is that car pollution is right now causing long term diseases in the prenatal envrionment, in your children– yet how many of us drive cars? Right now pollution from industrial production of goods that most humans in major cities around the world are buying— and that kind of pullution is causing diseases.

    Social isolation and rejection in early childhood and for long periods are associated with the development and worsening of mental and physical diseases. How many people suffer alone because we are too busy to notice them or too afraid to get near social outcasts who has stigma attached?

    What’s more the kind of people who become shut down to others in need are often themselves struggling and learned to shut down the needs inside them that are begging to be filled. Why would they listen to someone elses need when they are doing everything to shut down that need within themselves?

    We can’t JUST point at the whole and absolve ourselves. If we want “the system” to change we have to realize that “the system” feels as helpless to make change as we do.

    But in any given day we can only do what we can do.

    In studying prenatal environments the reality is that experiences throughout the mother and grandparents lifespan will affect the development of the child. The kinds of foods eaten, the toxic exposures, the emotional stress, trauma– everything.

    The kind of emotional and physical health in the mothers body will affect the well being of her child as the child grows. All of these things matter. But we can only do what we can do at any given time. Perhaps you haven’t read extensively about harm reduction, but the point is to acknowledge that judging “harmfulness” of a behavior is a cost analysis of pluses and minuses— and that most people unerestimate the value of the addictive or “harmful” habitual behaviors other human beings are using to survive. There are often very real, and very needed purposes that we are holding on the behaviors that the world judges as “harmful” or as “not a need.”

    There’s all kinds of research about how in fact nicotine is protective against certain brain diseaes and that working memory and executive function is in fact in some ways improved for smokers making a low income working person whith memory impairment and chronic stress and past life adversity at a huge impairment to ever quit.

    In order to come up with a good alternative to a “problem” behavior, you first need to see the extent of the very real and possibly very needed benefits of the problem behavior. If you can FULLY support all those needs it was filling AND cut the side effects of the behavior by offering an alterntive that really does work better, then people will use it. But only if they try it. And only if it really does fill all the biological and emotional needs the person knows they deserve having filled.

    Honestly— I don’t think you’re meeting me in this conversation at all– with the “fuck you you’re victim blaming” but that’s alright. That’s where you need to be right now. ; )

  283. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos October 5, 2011 at 7:53 am |

    I don’t know why, but I will never stop being amazed at how desperately some people need to push the Feminist Purity Test every time Jill (or any other SINGLE, INDIVIDUAL feminist blogger) states their opinion. Neither Jill, nor any other individual feminist speaks for all.

    Jill writes a post explaining her OPINION. But we can’t explore the issue or the opinion without first proclaiming all the ways in which her opinion is wrong, her phrasing is wrong, her attitude is wrong, etc ad pukem.

    Arguing against the opinion = excellent. Whining and complaining about how that opinion didn’t pass the “DEAR GOD DON’T THINK JUST AGREE!!” purity test = tedious and really fucking annoying.

    Choices are not made in a vacuum. If this plain and simple fact is troubling to you, better go back to Feminism 101 and read up.

  284. rox
    rox October 5, 2011 at 8:34 am |

    Bringing all that I’ve said back to the topic of labia modification (‘m just going to go with het women’s possible reasons since I don’t know much about LBGT women’s desires- and also because that ties in how men could be involved in this)- I can only understand from my own experience and the possibilities that I see are that right now I think it’s a very hard time for women (and possibly men?) in the dating world. Look at marriage statistics. Look at cheating statistics. I’m not going to say that misery in marriage or cheating are now more prolific than they once were, but what has definitely changed is that our awareness of misery and cheating in marriage, and our dreaming and hoping for a very real life long partner has been changed by the existance of birth control, abortion, social welfare for single mom’s, work options for women, changing attitudes about sex outside of marriage and whether marriage is a valuable thing at all, internet porn, the film industry, advertising, changing views about what a healthy sex life is. Men and society in general no longer feel that women “need” men. If a marriage is subpar or an unintended pregnancy occurs, we don’t rush to encourage marriage or rush to encourage sticking with a marriage. We trend toward the opposite.

    These changes are so recent that having older women that have made their way through them, to give wisdom to young women trying to understand their sexuality or what to hope for or expect in relationships with men is a relatively new thing.

    I know for me, the 20 and 30 somethings I know in a liberal town I’m in tend to ramble idiosincratic gibberish about what they think about relationships and marriage. I don’t think I am the only one confused about what it all means. Our worth as women is constantly given to us by the media/advertising/film/porn as being about sexiness. Yet we have parallel movements trying to teach us the opposite that our worth is in fact about success in career and that we need to meet the previously male dominated career ladder with the same aggresive self promotion and hierarchy climbing that was previously only required of men. In this movement, the detrimental affects of teaching humans their worth is only based on how well they can perform in school or work is nor being applied to women as well as men and we call it a win. women who don’t want a college degree, or who don’t want a STEM career, or who don’t want a masters, or who have never been able to do well in school or who aren’t very skilled in the workplace are now subject to being called losers and not fully human as much as men have been subject to. Again we call this a win for women, when the reality is this is just extending a heartless capitalistic ideology that money making is the only path to integrity that previously mostly hurled at men.

    Who are we? What does it mean to be a good woman? Meanwhile, sexual abuse, family abuse, homelessness and poverty for children, neglect— these things are the realities of so many children and broken homes may be in higher numbers among the poor but they happen accross the economic spectrum. Many girls and women have executive functioning problems and life issues that make it hard to ever do well in a structured environment but these struggles are not being appropriately identified.

    And meanwhile, large numbers of women, still dream of having the attention and interaction from men that it’s natural for het women to crave. What do men want? What does the media tell us? They want sexiness– extreme physical sexiness. And also, more sexiness. They don’t even want marriage anyway so the path to continued interaction with men is now to make your own money, pump sexiness, accept men’s terms (no long term commitment, try to fit emotional interaction into something more transient and impermanent that will account for their inevitable desire to leave or cheat, plan for an open marriage or inevitble divorce if you still want that, try to act like a porn star in bed).

    I’m just guessing at the factors I’m seeing that might lead some women to feel that without being as physically sexually attractive as possible– they will be left all alone. They will be put on the bottom of the social/career/interaction with men ladder. Failing to reach the top means abandonment. The kind of neglect many women who cling to their own sexiness already faced in their childhoods and never want to go back, or witnessed others experiencing and never want to be the one to experience it.

    I don’t think many of us who might want long term love from a man feel that there are much of a pool of men interested in this. which means trying to get one (or many) is an intense competition to pick out which traits seem the most successful in film/advertising and in real life. And those of us who DON’T want to play this game in order to share a meaningful loving relationship with a man, might feel very threatened by these competitive tendencies because if the pool is already small and the stakes keep getting upped, we fear that men will just pick the top of the crop and fail to look deeper, beyond the tricks women are using to boost their appearance of sexiness.

    We don’t want to trapped into trying to be all sexiness all the time, by a monstrous social trend toward being all sexiness all the time. If all these women are mastering every single detail of every man’s potential aesthetic desire– than what will that men for the women who don’t want to mutilate their genitals for such purposes or get plastic surgery or boob jobs or tummy tucks? Will it become expected in order to date like brushing teeth or taking a bath or brushing hair?

    Just random thoughts?

  285. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 5, 2011 at 10:45 am |

    Roxy: Speaking for myself, I think any man who’d demand or expect that his significant other undergo labioplasty or other cosmetic surgeries isn’t worth having. Maybe it’s my age, but I don’t plan to change anything about myself to be in a relationship, and it doesn’t really matter to me whether I ever end up in a long term relationship. (Marriage is completely out of the question.)
    About the only thing I’d like to change about my life is to get a job and a space of my own. I am not pretty, I’m never going to be pretty no matter what I wear or put on my face or do to my body, and I’ve made my peace with that. I’m probably going to be single for life, and that’s cool too. Can’t travel around the world with a husband and kids in tow.

  286. groggette
    groggette October 5, 2011 at 10:50 am |

    rox: than what will that men for the women who don’t want to mutilate their genitals for such purposes or get plastic surgery or boob jobs or tummy tucks? Will it become expected in order to date like brushing teeth or taking a bath or brushing hair?

    You are aware the fat women and/or ugly women and/or hairy women and or otherwise non socially “attractive” women date and fuck and love and even occasionally marry for life, right?

  287. groggette
    groggette October 5, 2011 at 10:51 am |

    You are aware that….

  288. rox
    rox October 5, 2011 at 11:32 am |

    “You are aware the fat women and/or ugly women and/or hairy women and or otherwise non socially “attractive” women date and fuck and love and even occasionally marry for life, right?”

    Yes of course– I’m just providing potential context why some women might be upset about the phenomenon of women being willing to go to extreme lengths to meet social constructed notions of beauty. The question is, do the women who go to these lengths really believe they could find a meaningful life partner even if they don’t do those things? And if the majority of women adopted these practices might it in the future change the requirements put on women’s appearance to find partners?

    While in femenist communities is more common for women to say “Hey look I’m much happier being myself than changing myself for a man” not all women feel that way. And some women are at a social disadvantage in that they have obstacles to getting the social interaction they need, and we do ALL need at least some amount of social acceptance and support.

    Some women might be facing deep social isolation or more willing to make sacrafices they wouldn’t otherwise make in order to gain social interaction and acceptance they might not otherwise have.

  289. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm |

    Rox: I don’t think American culture is such a monolith as you seem to think it is. I doubt people ‘choose’ to be unhappy. There are ways modern American society does coerce everyone in it-but there are lots of variations on American culture too. The culture of my state is different than Califiornia. A city-dweller like myself has very different experiences than someone from Nowheresville Kansas would. Two people from the same city of different races, or even religions, would have very little in common except for being from the city and both being Americans. Culture is important, but not as much as you think it is. Free will is still there.

  290. Azalea
    Azalea October 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm |

    Natasha: We cannot separate ourselves from culture.I feel that our perceptions of Self come from SOMEWHERE other than ourselves (though not exclusively).

    *I’m personally quite enjoying aging and the LEARNING that comes with it thank you very much and I give a huge FUCK YOU to this colonist-culture’s obsession with and dragon-chasing of youth.

    SO despite a culture that favors youth, you enjoy aging. Is it because you’re just going against the grain, how could you have enjoyed it all on your own? All by yourself without society telling you what to do?

    You see how condescending that sounds?

    There are people in this society who society does NOT like yet manage to love themselves how the fuck can we dare to give society credit for it? There are people who are perfect (physically) according to society who dont feel as if they are, who do we blame for that? Society is made up individuals, sometimes we agree on something most times we dont. Bottom line is when we know what we want and like, nobody likes being told wanting or liking it is wrong or just you playing follow the leader.

    Even when I dont like someone’s decision, I respect them and the decision enough to step back and allow them their right to ownership of that decision as a person who can think for themselves, influence be damned. I am not saying nobody ever takes anything else into consideration on anything ever. Just that some things ARE sacred where we say, as YOU havevyourselfm FUCK society, I am doing this for ME and who gives a shit about what anyone else thinks or wants. I can not and do not see how that is dismissed as simply being a byproduct fo society’s influence on all of us.

  291. Azalea
    Azalea October 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm |

    Katniss :

    What frustrates me is people who insist that social influence is the only determining factor, and that their analysis means they know better than the person making the decision. Take pubic hair removal, for example. I remove my pubic hair (usually) for the primary reason of making oral sex feel better. There’s a lot of skin down there that’s a lot more sensitive when there’s not a bunch of hair getting in the way, and I like having that bare skin touched and licked. I don’t think female pubic hair is “gross”, ugly or unfeminine, neither of my partners feel that way, and I have no interest in sleeping with anyone who does. Yet some people will insist that I am wrong about my own motivations, and that social influence about the inappropriateness of female pubic hair must have conditioned me to hate it and decide to get rid of it. This frustrates me no end.

    I trust people to analyse their own damn decisions. They’re on the inside of their own heads.

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS X a BILLION!!!! FOr crying out loud than you for reminding folks that PERSONAL EXPERIENCE is the biggest factor! There ARE people who are more influenced by society than others, by culture, by friends etc. Then there are the, let me see for myselfers who genuiney take the time and energy to try something evaluate it and THEN decide if they like. What a slap in the face to be told, after all of that, the only reason you chose what someone else chose i because society told you so. Gaw.

  292. Azalea
    Azalea October 6, 2011 at 11:25 am |

    zuzu: And gosh, isn’t it interesting how all that aligns quite well with dominant beauty standards?

    I dont care about beauty standards. Please understand there are some people who will never EVER in their lives fit beauty standards who have personal standards. I had never in my memorable existence had belly fat before. When you get it isnt something you dont feel, there is a difference between never having any belly fat to being physically aware of your tummy because you can feel a fold or some of it in your lap when you sit down. Society doesnt matter YOU matter YOU feel it and if YOU dont like it wtf is anyone else to tell you that your personal experience and feelings are mute you only dont like it because you’re under the influence of society’s beauty standards? A person’s body isn’t some hypothetical thing for people to criticize. I swear I hate the idea that a woman, a grown ass woman who doesn’t like a CHANGE in her body or that she doesn’t like something naturally is a mindless drone. Does society tell you who to find physcially and sexually attractive? Is there some manual that flew past me on what I am and am not supposed to like about myself that everyone here seems to have that came down from the great heavens of society? As I said there ARE people who are heavily influenced by society whose personal decisions aren’t personally influenced. BUT there are also people who really dont give a fuck what society has to say, good or bad, their personal feelings about personal decisions trump the influence of society hands down. How patronizing is it to say “no little lady, you’re NOT thinking for yourself you’re INCAPABLE of making a decision without deferring to society!”

    karak: Azalea

    This is the thing, though I currently have no desire to have cosmetic surgery I KNOW without doubt that if I were to lose my breasts for any reason, I’d want them back. There is no medical reason for me to have my breasts, if you’re not breastfeeding they are there for aesthetics and nipple pleasure. I KNOW I would want fake ones because I’m attached my breasts. Nobody had to tell me to be attached to my breasts, one of the most gorgeous and feminine women I have ever known is almost totally flatchested. I thin she is perfect. But I would not feel like *me* without my breasts. I would not feel like *me* without my uterus. I have undergone serious major surgery to keep my uterus and I would go to surgical hell and back for my breasts.

  293. Azalea
    Azalea October 6, 2011 at 11:38 am |

    zuzu: Yes, that would be frustrating.If that were happening here. Which it’s not.

    However, we do have several people who are trying to claim that societal influence is never a factor as long as you choose your choice.But society influences the choices you’re presented with in the first place.How is naming the elephant in the room denying anyone agency?

    I dont know who is saying it is NEVER a factor, the decision to have a child has to include societal factors as the child will be living within that society (where to live, where to work, schools etc etc etc) what you do with your VAGINA..I’m sorry. I dont see why society plays a role in that its personal. Like someone said upthread she shaves her pubic hair to make oral sex easier. Not everyone got pubic hair at the same time, I was an adult when I got mine so I knew what oral sex was liek without hair getting in the way vs when it did, WTF does society have to do with the oral sex I have in my bedroom? How did it influence that? You’re claiming its apart of every single personal decision because no one can mae one without considering society. That doesnt begin to make sense. Some people are more afefcted by societal preferences than others and thats just cold hard facts. Some people are easier to manipulate, some people are easier to convince, some people are easier to influence period but you’re claiming EVERYONE has the same threshold where societal influence is concerned and it simply isn’t true.

  294. rox
    rox October 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    “I think you have an extremely simplistic and gender essentialist perspective of what male and female sexuality looks like, and what the difference is between “what men want” and “what women want”.”

    The paragraph you quoted was me describing the social messages that I have heard from my peer groups and the media about men. I explicitely said, “What can be heard in the media about men”. I did not say that was my belief about men. Experientially that has been my experience with a lot of men, but I would pressume that is not a universal. I know in my peer groups a lot of women feel that this is how men feel about these issues. So I’m just saying it’s a cultural phenomenon that exists.

  295. Natasha
    Natasha October 7, 2011 at 5:58 am |

    Azalea: SO despite a culture that favors youth, you enjoy aging. Is it because you’re just going against the grain, how could you have enjoyed it all on your own? All by yourself without society telling you what to do?

    You see how condescending that sounds?

    Hi Azalea, yes that kind of message is condescending if we take an extremist position on cultural influence vs. individual choice/thought, which I do not. I think that both culture and our own selves equally shape us and our actions, it’s not either/or. And both are always playing out, to different degrees, differently amongst individual people, that differ from situation to situation.

    Re. aging: I absolutely personally enjoy aging for reasons that have nothing to do with cultural messages (at least, not that I’m aware of), but at the same time it gives me great pleasure to not feed money into the cosmetic industry which profits the most from our society’s youth obsession, so that is the direction my “fuck you/I enjoy aging” is directed towards (i.e. fuck you cosmetic industry, you’re not getting a dime outta me for anti-aging/makeup products or procedures).

    I completely agree with you about Sacredness, and I wish there was more of this in our culture; if there was, it seems like there would be less conflict in general.

    You said: Bottom line is when we know what we want and like, nobody likes being told wanting or liking it is wrong or just you playing follow the leader.

    I agree. But, what if we replaced the word ‘wrong’ in your sentence with the word ‘harmful’? If I’m doing or thinking something that is harmful to me or others, then I want to know about it so that I can reconsider my position on whatever the thing is because I want be as harmless as possible to myself and others. But, people have different ideas of what harm is, like upthread regarding my position about electroshock therapy and SSRI’s — I think these things are harmful but some people think they aren’t.

    I think (one of the) bottom lines for me is that very few things in life are black/white, either/or.

  296. Natasha
    Natasha October 7, 2011 at 6:09 am |

    Anonymouse: Natasha, please, please, please get out of the field of psych field before you do a lot of harm to a lot of people. If my anxiety/mild depression ever get to a point where I need professional support I sure as fuck hope I don’t run into someone like you.

    No I will not change my career path. I hope that whoever you do get if/when you seek mental health care will be a good fit for you. If you’re worried about harm, I suggest you look into the harm caused by electroshock therapy and SSRI’s because they do a lot more harm to people than I ever could.

  297. Natasha
    Natasha October 7, 2011 at 8:10 am |

    Bagelsan: You’ve made it obvious you’ve never required any kind of serious medical intervention — mental or otherwise — and I think that this inexperience (coupled with a weird mix of naivete and arrogance, with your “good intentions!” and “psh, peer review schmeer review” stuff) is gonna make it really hard for you to serve your future patients well. And you could honestly kill people with your attitude.

    I’ve never had any serious medical interventions yet (knock on wood) but I said nothing about mental — I had therapy that saved my life, but this therapy also fell short in a few areas that I am building on to inform the kind of counseling I will be practicing.

    I don’t discount all peer-reviewed articles, I just don’t accept theories solely based on the fact that they’re popular. They have to make sense to me and be meaningful towards healing and empowering individuals and society, as I found the articles I shared earlier to be.

    As far as killing people with my attitude: If you think a therapist that has deep concerns about the brain damage and other harm caused by SSRI’s and electroshocking people is a dangerous therapist, then that speaks for itself and warrants no further retort.

    //

    For anyone interested in learning more about what the anti-psychiatry movement sees as psychiatric violence and assault as it pertains to electroshock “therapy” (ECT), SSRI’s and anti-psychotic drugs, here is some more info:

    http://www.radicalpsychology.org/vol7-1/weitz2008.html

    On ECT:
    http://youtu.be/RFxVA2qG47M

    On SSRI’s:

  298. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos October 7, 2011 at 8:29 am |

    As far as killing people with my attitude: If you think a therapist that has deep concerns about the brain damage and other harm caused by SSRI’s and electroshocking people is a dangerous therapist, then that speaks for itself and warrants no further retort.

    *shudder* This is one half step away from homeopathy.

  299. Natasha
    Natasha October 7, 2011 at 8:53 am |

    Isn’t it nice that you have that privilege?

    What do you mean?

    Re: the research I shared being full of scare tactics — To me, scare tactics are baseless fear-mongerings that lack any real analysis of an issue; the research I shared undertakes a deep and critical analysis of psychiatry’s use of electroshock and SSRI’s. We just obviously disagree on whether or not we accept/agree with the analyses.

  300. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 7, 2011 at 9:06 am |

    Natasha: I don’t discount all peer-reviewed articles, I just don’t accept theories solely based on the fact that they’re popular.
    That’s not what ‘peer-reviewed’ means! It’s got nothing to do with popularity. “Peer reviewed” means that the articles have been reviewed and discussed by scientists working in the same field. Also, SSRIs ’cause brain damage?” No, no they don’t. I don’t know where you are getting these strange ideas, but I really think you need to do a lot more research, and maybe look up some reputable sources- Lancet and JAMA’s archives might be good places to start. I third Anonymouse and Bagelsan. You need to get out of psychiatry, a field which you obviously know very little about, before you ever see any patients.

  301. groggette
    groggette October 7, 2011 at 9:58 am |

    Natasha: As far as killing people with my attitude: If you think a therapist that has deep concerns about the brain damage and other harm caused by SSRI’s and electroshocking people is a dangerous therapist, then that speaks for itself and warrants no further retort.

    If I had seen you or someone like you when I was sunk deep into my depression and finally managed to seek help, I’d be dead right now. That you evidently don’t see the problem in that speaks for itself and warrants no further retort.

  302. zuzu
    zuzu October 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |

    Azalea: WTF does society have to do with the oral sex I have in my bedroom? How did it influence that?

    You can’t possibly be serious.

  303. Matt
    Matt October 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    But she is serious, oh so serious, that’s what makes it so great.

    zuzu: You can’t possibly be serious.

  304. EG
    EG October 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    Given how recently oral sex on a woman was considered disgusting and abnormal, and how recently women who can’t come from being fucked were considered and made to feel defective, I’d say that social pressure has a lot to do with how and whether people have oral sex.

    I mean, I’m glad it wasn’t this way for everybody, but I’d never even realized it was possible for anybody to go down on a woman until I was in my late teens, long after I knew about the existence and commonness of blow jobs, and at the conversation in which I found out that it was, the woman talking about cunnilingus opined that it must be “weird” and “unnatural” for a man to do.

  305. rox
    rox October 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm |

    “Early health risk factors that influence negative behavioral outcomes include prenatal and postnatal nutrition, tobacco use during pregnancy, maternal depression, birth complications, traumatic brain injury, lead exposure, and child abuse. There is an ample literature to suggest that these early health risk factors may increase the likelihood of childhood externalizing behaviors, aggression, juvenile delinquency, adult criminal behavior, and/or violence. This paper proposes an early health risk factors framework for violence prediction, built on existing developmental theories of criminal behavior and supported by empirical findings. This framework addresses gaps in the adolescent psychopathology literature and presents a novel conceptualization of behavioral disturbance that emphasizes the pre-, peri-, and post-natal periods, when a child’s development is critical and the opportunity for behavioral and environmental modification is high.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21399727

    “early childhood malnutrition was associated with problems in executive functioning at both occasions. Malnutrition also predicted discernibly higher parent-reported levels of aggression toward peers at 9-15 years than at 11-17 years. These findings were independent of baseline age, sex, household standard of living, and maternal depressive symptoms. Problem behaviors in general decreased during follow-up.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21902884

    “There was a subdiagnostic main effect for CD, related to thinning of the middle/medial frontal, and for ODD in the left rectal/orbitofrontal. Findings suggest that thinning and decreased GMd of the insula disorganizes prefrontal circuits, diminishing the inhibitory influence of the prefrontal cortex on anger, aggression, cruelty, and impulsivity, and increasing a person’s likelihood of aggressive behavior.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21538379

    I’m just curious, how many people who assume there is free will (also we have a “spirit”!) have done any reading whatsoever on the research behind that? Because there is a lot of research being done and the level of prediction biological factors and early life factors can match up with specific behavioral tendencies is putting those of us keeping up with the research in some pretty compelling moral dilemmas:

    “The present paper addresses the philosophical problem raised by current causal neurochemical models of impulsive violence and aggression: to what extent can we hold violent criminal offenders responsible for their conduct if that conduct is the result of deterministic biochemical processes in the brain. This question is currently receiving a great deal of attention among neuroscientists, legal scholars and philosophers. We examine our current knowledge of neuroscience to assess the possible roles of deterministic factors which induce impulsive aggression, and the extent to which this behavior can be controlled by neural conditioning mechanisms”

    I’m not saying I have an answer but saying that I’m over estimating biological and environmental variables or that there is objectively some surety that “free” will exists is simply not a claim particularly backed up by any science that I’ve seen (if you’ve seen otherwise, let me know!)

  306. Azalea
    Azalea October 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm |

    EG:
    Given how recently oral sex on a woman was considered disgusting and abnormal, and how recently women who can’t come from being fucked were considered and made to feel defective, I’d say that social pressure has a lot to do with how and whether people have oral sex.

    I mean, I’m glad it wasn’t this way for everybody, but I’d never even realized it was possible for anybody to go down on a woman until I was in my late teens, long after I knew about the existence and commonness of blow jobs, and at the conversation in which I found out that it was, the woman talking about cunnilingus opined that it must be “weird” and “unnatural” for a man to do.

    Its the opposite for me, I dont know many men who didnt go down and brag about how good they were at it. I dont like pubic hair in my throat and I dont like someone having to stop to get pubic hair out of their mouths. It’s an inconvenience and I liek the way it feels without pubic hair. Granted some people like a few hair balls thats their preference. Some people just *think* hairless is better without having experienced it because of what they hear, then there are those who have tried and compared the two and made a decision that hairless oral sex is awesome.

    Like I said I NEVER had a man say he wasnt going to go down on me. I’ve had to say NO dont eat it, no oral play just go straight to the point. I cant remember the last time asking for it.

  307. Azalea
    Azalea October 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    zuzu: You can’t possibly be serious.

    Why cant I? From what I am hearing form the Feministe society my experience in my bedroom with oral sex is not normal. I have never dated a man who did not want to taste me and once he did not want to do it over and over again. I do not know what it is like to have someone say “no I dont want to eat you, eating it is gross” though I now those men exist and they have their right to feel that way. I dont ask prior to date “do you perform oral sex” but when the conversations have gone sexual every guy wanted to taste.

    I had been eaten with pubic hair and without, I have given blowjobs with pubic hair and without, pubic hair gets in the way. Obviously you all disagree so again, where am I getting my personal experience from?

    YOU cant be fucking serious thinking my sex life is dictated by society. You and Matt are something else.

  308. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm |

    Natasha: As far as killing people with my attitude: If you think a therapist that has deep concerns about the brain damage and other harm caused by SSRI’s and electroshocking people is a dangerous therapist, then that speaks for itself and warrants no further retort.

    Did you mention having a medical degree? I don’t see it in your comments, but I may have missed it.

  309. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm |

    Azalea: I had been eaten with pubic hair and without, I have given blowjobs with pubic hair and without, pubic hair gets in the way. Obviously you all disagree so again, where am I getting my personal experience from?

    I agree with you, but I lost my feminist card when I found fucking on the rag something I did not want to do. So.

    But yeah, nothing is grosser than getting a pubic hair caught towards the back of your mouth. Not even period sex.

  310. EG
    EG October 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm |

    Its the opposite for me, I dont know many men who didnt go down and brag about how good they were at it. I dont like pubic hair in my throat and I dont like someone having to stop to get pubic hair out of their mouths.

    That’s pretty awesome (the part about the men going down). I have certainly encountered men who did not want to do the going down on me, and/or men who would flick their tongues at me for like, 30 seconds, and then come on up all “Am I hero in bed or what?”

    I wonder if there is a generational shift at work with cunnilingus? It’s my impression that the going hairless thing is far more popular among younger people than it is among people my age.
    J

  311. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm |

    Rox: Biology is not destiny, biology is not destiny. I’m as interested as you are in this stuff, but I still don’t think biology alone accounts for everything.
    A personal example: I and my siblings were all brought up by two middle class parents. I was the first kid, so my mom did things like nip at champagne while three months along, might not have taken the best care of herself, and worked throughout her pregnancy as a waitress and cellist. I obviously shouldn’t have been born as healthy as I turned out. She did everything ‘right’ for the next two siblings, but li’l bro and sis were born not breathing. I later found out that being born ‘blue’ (as they call it) is common among kids with ADD. Guess which one of the kids has ADD? The one not born blue.
    And how do you explain those kids born biologically destined to fail who end up acing the SATs, or at least with an acceptable enough score to get substantial scholarships? The kids who become professional athletes who AREN’T fuck-ups?
    I don’t think there’s a scientific expression of free will- that’s purely a theological debate. I think, personally, that humans are influenced by our social environments and by biology, and that we make the choices we make by thinking of past experiences and hypothesizing what the best outcome will be. And in my opinion, you’re not giving the human intellect a whole lot of weight here. Yes, the wiring can go a little wonky every once in a while, but humans have these big brains for a reason.

  312. Matt
    Matt October 8, 2011 at 2:42 am |

    I don’t believe in free will, that doesn’t mean I think your sex life is dictated by society/culture. All aspects of our personality are informed by a wide variety of influences, some are biological and some are environmental. Society and culture don’t account for all these variables. To agree with PGP, biology is not destiny.

    Azalea: Why cant I? From what I am hearing form the Feministe society my experience in my bedroom with oral sex is not normal. I have never dated a man who did not want to taste me and once he did not want to do it over and over again. I do not know what it is like to have someone say “no I dont want to eat you, eating it is gross” though I now those men exist and they have their right to feel that way. I dont ask prior to date “do you perform oral sex” but when the conversations have gone sexual every guy wanted to taste.

    I had been eaten with pubic hair and without, I have given blowjobs with pubic hair and without, pubic hair gets in the way. Obviously you all disagree so again, where am I getting my personal experience from?

    YOU cant be fucking serious thinking my sex life is dictated by society. You and Matt are something else.

  313. rox
    rox October 8, 2011 at 10:37 am |

    “And how do you explain those kids born biologically destined to fail who end up acing the SATs, or at least with an acceptable enough score to get substantial scholarships?”

    You’re underestimating how many variables there are involved here. I would say there were specific variables different for the person who made it that didn’t. Resliency studies tend to find that people from difficult circumstances who made it had some protective factors in their lives that others didn’t. Such as, different genetic variables (each person has about 60 de novo mutations unique to them, so even among twins there can be biological variance.) The kind of things that can influence a human can come down to, two twins in the same room with the ‘same’ environment begin to be exposed to different variables down to their start being seperated in the womb. One person might look up and see light and it might trigger certain responses and other doesn’t happen to see that. Having a diet that fills the biological needs of the body can make a difference. Metabolism can make a difference, and yes there can be differences among siblings. Yes siblings can have different food preferences even in the same house. Yes siblings bodies can process the same diet differently. Because you’re talking about millions of variables and every single experience accross the lifespan plays into these biological variables— it should be pretty obvious that trying to predict and outcomes based on one variable would be ridiculous.

    Having a mentor, a friend, a human that you can relate to, finding a skill that makes you feel empowered and believe in yourself, finding a space in society where you feel at home—- these kinds of protective factors are not the same even among siblings in the same home. Parents often don’t even treat each of their children exactly the same. Not to mention, different immune profiles, different activation of viral activity, different bacteria making differing amounts of presence in the brain and body. There are millions of variables that can be protective or detrimental and they happen across the lifespan.

    This idea that some humans are better than others for getting through adversity because they are inherantly “better” is a cruel farcity and anyone thinking they are better than those who crumpled should re-examine whether they actually lived THE SAME life as anyone else. People hold on the idea that they have a will that is better than other people’s in the same situation— it’s the bases of identity so I don’t mean to take that away from anyone who needs it, but it’s also what makes people feel justified in pressuming they know they would have made “better choices” or “tried harder” in the same circumstance and no one anywhere has exactly the same circumstances as anyone else. So I just personally find the concept bullshit and an excuse for placing yourself above others in some heirarchy of how hard people try to be good people or to fight for survival or well being.

    There is no plant that is not striving for health. I think humans are always seeking what they need with the same force, the differences we see are environmentally shaped variables in biology, belief, behavior, and cognition.

    “The kids who become professional athletes who AREN’T fuck-ups?”
    Actually, professional athletes mostly come from healthy homes. People with higher adversity don’t tend to make it that far. The myth of the succesful athlete from the broken home is in fact, the exception and not the norm.

    “Contrary to popular perception, poverty and broken homes are underrepresented in the NBA, not overrepresented. For example, while 45 percent of black male children in the U.S. live in households earning no more than 150 percent of the poverty line ($22,050 for a family of four in 2010), just 34 percent of black athletes in the NBA grew up in that financial situation, according to Dubrow and Adams. Thirty percent of white American males come from below-average-income homes without two parents, but not one white NBA player had that background. Economics and family boost or drag an athlete, like in other professions.”

    “…among African-Americans, a child from a low-income family has 37 percent lower odds of making the NBA than a child from a middle- or upper-income family. Poor white athletes are 75 percent less likely to become NBA players than middle-class or well-off whites. Further, a black athlete from a family without two parents is 18 percent less likely to play in the NBA than a black athlete raised by two parents, while a white athlete from a non-two-parent family has 33 percent lower odds of making the pros.”

    http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/6777581/importance-athlete-background-making-nba

    People don’t understand how much we are influenced by our biology and enviornments because people don’t graps how many variables are involved here and the cumulative nature of positive and negative variables and the way they play on each other. If one person made it and the other didn’t, there were some variables that were different. You might be afraid to know that we are getting closer and close to understanding those differing variables. The myth that the kid who faced adversity and aced the SAT’s didn’t have some protective variables (not of their own making) that the kid who failed didn’t is crumbling.

  314. Pavlov's Slobbering Dog
    Pavlov's Slobbering Dog October 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    Concerning Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) and the use of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) , in which the goal is to cause a Grand Mal Seizure and subsequently brain damage there is another option that does not cause brain damage, which is not new by any means but has been recently “rediscovered”. This treatment is a low daily dose of an Opiate drug, Opiates are naturally found in the brain as well as certain plants and flowers. Pretty much any opiate will do but the trials I am aware of used Buprenorphine 0.8-2mg/d or Oxycodone 20mg/d. The patients in the trial had severe treatment resistant depression and had undergone extensive ECT with little to no relief as well as little to no relief from SSRIs.

    The Opiate treatment showed significant relief from depression and anxiety in these otherwise treatment resistant patients and it did not cause damage to the brain or anywhere else.

    So to be plain, I’d rather give my patients a little Poppy flower juice than cause irreversible damage, no matter how that damage may occur, be it from seizures or neurological damage from serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

    It seems to me the people that are, lets face it, attacking and abusing a certain hard working Psych Student here are possibly projecting fears from past negative experiences of not getting the medication or help they felt they needed from mental health professionals and/or they misunderstood what she was trying to say as well as not thoroughly reading or understanding the information and studies she cited along with her posts.

    If your goal is to create change and a healthier world for us all to exist in, educating others and learning from others is the way to do this. If you feel you have valuable information to share with someone, presenting it with a respectful and patient approach will most likely get you the best results.

  315. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    Roxy, I’m going to go through this piece by piece..
    You’re underestimating how many variables there are involved here.

    No, I think you are. I did not pin it all on biology, you did.

    This idea that some humans are better than others for getting through adversity because they are inherantly “better” is a cruel farcity and anyone thinking they are better than those who crumpled should re-examine whether they actually lived THE SAME life as anyone else.

    Fallacy, but whatevs. Again, I tried to avoid value judgements here. As I said at 302, two people born in the same city and neighborhood will have different experiences. One may succeed, one may not. I refuse to believe that everyone not born in a safe neighborhood, or not born to a two parent family is omg doomed unless they are rigidly mentored, and that everyone born to a two-parent, well-off family with access to plenty of fresh air and sun is going to soar. That does not mesh with reality.

  316. rox
    rox October 8, 2011 at 9:02 pm |

    Politicalguinea pig— uh– I just told you there are millions of variables that all play on each other, how on earth would that translate to anyone not born to a two parent family being doomed? I’m saying that at any given moment, a person whose functioning is impaired in any given area: attention/empathy/long term goal setting/long term thinking/awareness of consequences/ability to feel inspried/motivation/energy level/social comfort/success in school/success in career/success with managing the day/etc– they have an obstacle that you don’t. I can’t tell you what that obstacle is (or those obstacles are), I’m saying, when people don’t do as well they had a obstacle that got in the way.

    Like if a plant is very young but turning brown, we can pressume it’s no obtaining what it needs from it’s environment, we wouldn’t say, “this plant is a shitty plant that’s not trying as hard as the others” we would make sure it’s getting the water/nutrients/light/shade or possibly treatment it needs to recover it’s health.

  317. rox
    rox October 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm |

    And yes I gaurantee you that every person alive right now found a way to get love from someone. If their parents sucked they manage to get some from a neighbor, or a friends at school, or an older sibling, or another family member etc etc…

    Mammals in isolation have terrible health, and if youre parents had NO love for you, you got it from somewhere else, or you’re body has at least moderate levels of immune/hormonal/metabolic dysfunction.

  318. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    It seems to me the people that are, lets face it, attacking and abusing a certain hard working Psych Student here are possibly projecting fears from past negative experiences of not getting the medication or help they felt they needed from mental health professionals and/or they misunderstood what she was trying to say as well as not thoroughly reading or understanding the information and studies she cited along with her posts.

    Bullshit. She is saying things that are at best disingenuous, and at worst are flat-out wrong. She has compared peer-review to “popularity” contests, which is a tragically ignorant comment from any student alone one in a health field, and has expressed disinterest in serving her future patients to the best of her ability because of (as best I can tell) a somewhat woo-tastic idea of brain purity and shit like that. She also refuses to believe that such closemindedness could cause any harm — a medical professional should always acknowledge that their personal biases might cause harm, and thus work to mitigate that, rather than going on the defensive.

    When people say “that attitude would have killed me” they aren’t projecting or abusing, they are attempting to educate. Her attitude is literally potentially life-threatening, and she doesn’t realize it. That must be corrected.

    Just like someone who doesn’t want to hand out birth control shouldn’t be a pharmacist, someone who doesn’t want to prescribe medication should not be a psychiatrist; it’s just a fundamental incompatibility between her stated beliefs and the function of the profession. I think she might be, at most, suited to becoming a talk therapist and just staying entirely silent on the subject of medication, or else she will cause serious and possibly fatal harm to a future patient.

    So to be plain, I’d rather give my patients a little Poppy flower juice than cause irreversible damage, no matter how that damage may occur, be it from seizures or neurological damage from serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

    You think there exists a perfect cure out there somewhere with no side effects or downsides? Aw, that’s darling.

    Know what else causes brain damage? Self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Please keep in mind that some people can’t afford for their physician to faff around with new or gentle treatments because they have severe depression and need help now. When someone’s heart stops you give chest compressions, even though that will cause “damage” to their ribs; in a life-threatening situation the results of a less-than-perfect treatment are often good enough because the alternative is death or complete loss of function.

    It’s not like we patients can’t understand side effects, you know; we’re crazy, not incapable of understanding basic cause and effect or pros and cons. A psychiatrist should explain that some treatments can have harsh side effects, but they should not peremptorily discard these treatments altogether when faced with a patient in need, no matter how much their woo-and-crystals friends whine about big pharma or OMGseizuresisascaryword! or whatever. I was warned about the side-effects of SSRIs when I was depressed and I said “fucking bring it on” because there was almost nothing worse than how my brain felt then.

  319. Azalea
    Azalea October 9, 2011 at 12:17 am |

    Matt:
    I don’t believe in free will, that doesn’t mean I think your sex life is dictated by society/culture. All aspects of our personality are informed by a wide variety of influences, some are biological and some are environmental. Society and culture don’t account for all these variables. To agree with PGP, biology is not destiny.

    Thats tough not to believe in free will but I do believe that many things are biological (some of which have been scientifically proven) . And I said upthead that there ARE in fact many things that are definitely influenced by society, I’m just not buying the bullshit that way the way I give, enjoy or recieve oral sex is influenced by society.

  320. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 9, 2011 at 1:06 am |

    The Opiate treatment showed significant relief from depression and anxiety in these otherwise treatment resistant patients and it did not cause damage to the brain or anywhere else.

    So to be plain, I’d rather give my patients a little Poppy flower juice than cause irreversible damage, no matter how that damage may occur, be it from seizures or neurological damage from serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

    So you’d rather get your patients addicted, damaging whatever familial bonds and friendships remain, risk major damage to their organs at some point, then *help* them? F’off, please.

  321. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 9, 2011 at 1:28 am |

    Rox, I’ll use your own words again:
    I do nothing but every single day read about advances in neurobiology, human behavior, the environments that alter and shape human behavior and disease. Our environments make us.

    Right there, you identified the two most important things that shape development as environment and neurobiology. You did not, at that time, admit to any other variables. And what makes you think I don’t have any obstacles in my life? I have ADD, for f’s sake. Bad impulse control, difficulty planning ahead and I’m easily distracted. All are obstacles, but they can be worked around. Same with a bad environment growing up: it can impede someone’s functioning, but that person can usually find a way to manage their past and move on. And poor health in one’s youth does not guarantee that one will always be unhealthy: look at Teddy Roosevelt for example.

  322. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 9, 2011 at 1:47 am |

    Stupid blockquotes. @338, the first two paragraphs were Pavlov’s Slobbering Dog, not mine. The last paragraph was mine. Also, does anyone else smell a sockpuppet?

  323. llama
    llama October 9, 2011 at 2:04 am |

    Bagelsan: She has compared peer-review to “popularity” contests, which is a tragically ignorant comment from any student alone one in a health field

    I am glad you commented on this. Peer review frequently means double blind.

  324. llama
    llama October 9, 2011 at 2:07 am |

    Matt: I don’t believe in free will

    How did you come to believe this? :)

  325. EG
    EG October 9, 2011 at 10:34 am |

    It seems to me the people that are, lets face it, attacking and abusing a certain hard working Psych Student

    Yeah, why can’t you ladies be nicer when discussing something that puts your lives at risk? Being aggressive and angry is totally abusive, you know.

  326. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm |

    I read opiates and thought ‘heroin and morphine.’ Heroin might have some medical use, but it’s doubtful. Morphine is a very valuable drug- as I’m sure anyone would agree, but it’s very addictive too. Other opiates may have some medical purpose, but those are the only two opiates I have any awareness of. Unrefined ‘poppy juice’ sounds like a problem waiting to happen.
    By the way, thanks for checking.

  327. rox
    rox October 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm |

    “you identified the two most important things that shape development as environment and neurobiology.”

    Envrionmental variables include every single emotional and molecular variable that exists. That is millions of variables. Emotions are in fact a biological process that happen in the body unless you believe in an ethereal spirit that exists out side of molecular forces.

    If somone’s legs are broken you would say something caused their legs to be broken right? Any number of things could have caused it, a car crash, a fall, a sports injury, an assault….

    That does not mean the reverse is true. Car accidents don’t all result in broken legs. A fall doesn’t always or even often result in broken legs.

    You’re taking my statement “If someones ability or motivation to find and execute solutions to their obstacles is impaired, something impaired it” and then saying that because you managed to find solutions to your obstacles that means everyone else had the same capacity.

    You managed to get by while having executive functioning impairments, however you don’t know that you didn’t have skill sets given to you by your experience, self esteem given to you by people around you who believed in you, hightened motivation from clear headed thinking about the possibility you could really succeed, or other variables that were available in your environment and not in the environments of others.

    You do not know whether others have tried as hard as you. You do not know how hard others have tried or what obstacles they were up against. EVEN IF they share certain variables with you.

  328. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 9, 2011 at 6:02 pm |

    rox: “you identified the two most important things that shape development as environment and neurobiology.”Envrionmental variables include every single emotional and molecular variable that exists. That is millions of variables. Emotions are in fact a biological process that happen in the body unless you believe in an ethereal spirit that exists out side of molecular forces. If somone’s legs are broken you would say something caused their legs to be broken right? Any number of things could have caused it, a car crash, a fall, a sports injury, an assault….That does not mean the reverse is true. Car accidents don’t all result in broken legs. A fall doesn’t always or even often result in broken legs. You’re taking my statement “If someones ability or motivation to find and execute solutions to their obstacles is impaired, something impaired it” and then saying that because you managed to find solutions to your obstacles that means everyone else had the same capacity.You managed to get by while having executive functioning impairments, however you don’t know that you didn’t have skill sets given to you by your experience, self esteem given to you by people around you who believed in you, hightened motivation from clear headed thinking about the possibility you could really succeed, or other variables that were available in your environment and not in the environments of others. You do not know whether others have tried as hard as you. You do not know how hard others have tried or what obstacles they were up against. EVEN IF they share certain variables with you.

    First of all, I wouldn’t call emotions a ‘process.’ They’re a result of neurons misfiring, simply put. Secondly, I know that I had a lot of help. I’d like to make that help available to other people- I know support is vital, because people with ADD will often give up on their own. I have absolutely no self-esteem, by the way, so if we can knock that out of the equation, so much the better.
    Love is also a concept I reject. I’d suggest that it’s ‘physical affection’ that’s key here. It is entirely possible to be physically affectionate to someone without loving them. And let’s face it, an infant isn’t going to know whether they’re loved or not; but they do know when they’re being held gently or being taken care of.

  329. Natasha
    Natasha October 10, 2011 at 2:58 am |

    Thanks Pavlov’s Slobbering Dog (lol great moniker), I know I’m not the only one with these non-mainstream views, but I am surprised at the level of hostility from some feminists towards more empathic perspectives of using electroshock and SSRI’s to treat human suffering.

    To clear up some ASSumptions:
    I never said I was going into psychiatry, I’m in counseling psychology, which doesn’t mean I know nothing about psychiatry because in my field there is a strong push towards, and privileging of biomedical/psychiatric models & treatments of human suffering. Your comment about me being privileged is backwards, you are privileging psychiatry’s view of human suffering when the reality is that it takes more mental, emotional and spiritual work to do talk therapy (on both patients’ and therapists’ ends) than it does to slap labels on people, electroshock them, and/or drug them (with harmful drugs, which is not to say ALL drugs are harmful). That some of you had shitty experiences with talk therapists is very unfortunate, but it does not make talk therapy shitty or less effective than psychiatry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you found SSRI’s or being electroshocked to be a good experience, then I am genuinely happy that you have found something that works for you; you are the expert of YOU.

    I am very familiar with peer reviewed articles, I use them extensively in my schoolwork. I was thinking about falsification of theories in terms of popularity and how some popular theories are harmful when it comes to thinking about and treating human suffering. Again, I do not deny that extreme suffering can warrant extreme measures. However, for the majority of ppl who are suffering from mild to moderate emotional pain, they should not be subject to brain damage. Electroshock, SSRI’s, or anything else with severe and harmful side effects should be last resort treatments, and it sounds like some of you felt you were at a last resort place.

    I’ve been on this blog for about 2 weeks and I’ve had enough, and it has nothing to do with defensiveness or not liking people’s “tones”. Communication isn’t about being NICE to eachother, it’s about being RESPECTFUL, and basic respect here has been severely lacking in some of your comments to me. It’s not just this thread. I had read through an older thread that so severely attacked and abused one guy that I seriously wondered if he contemplated or tried killing himself.

    THIS BLOG IS NOT A SAFE SPACE.

    I wish everyone well.

  330. llama
    llama October 10, 2011 at 3:19 am |

    Natasha: It’s never “just” snip & clip — morals & reasons aside, let’s not pretend genital surgery is a benign practice, whether we call it “cosmetic” or “medical” or otherwise. Check out some actual genital surgery vids on YouTube.

    I was borrowing the clip and snip description from the poster I was answering. I am in no way pretending genital surgery is a benign practice. I am totally against genital mutilation male or female.

  331. EG
    EG October 10, 2011 at 9:10 am |

    the reality is that it takes more mental, emotional and spiritual work to do talk therapy (on both patients’ and therapists’ ends) than it does to slap labels on people, electroshock them, and/or drug them (with harmful drugs, which is not to say ALL drugs are harmful).

    Why on earth would you think a bunch of people with mental illness don’t already know this? It’s not like most of us wake up and think to ourselves “You know, I think I’ll go on meds.” I was in talk therapy. I still am. I’d hazard a guess that Groggette have been in talk therapy. You’re the one trying to make it an either/or situation.

    I had read through an older thread that so severely attacked and abused one guy that I seriously wondered if he contemplated or tried killing himself.

    If somebody contemplates suicide because of being “abused” by strangers on a blog that he can turn off and walk away from at any time, that person is already in need of such severe help that I find it hard to take seriously your accusations that the blog would somehow be responsible.

    THIS BLOG IS NOT A SAFE SPACE.

    I get tired of this rhetoric. There is no such thing as a safe space. Some spaces are safer than others, it’s true, but I don’t know where anybody got the idea that feminist blogs were supposed to be “safe” for anybody to express any old view and not have that view attacked. I don’t know where the idea that feminists were responsible for taking care of everybody’s feelings came from. Nowhere on this website was anybody promised a safe space. What people are promised is feminist analysis and debate.

    If people need to stop posting for any reason, that’s a fine decision to make–I took a few years away for various reasons. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the blog is supposed to cater to your emotional needs.

  332. groggette
    groggette October 10, 2011 at 9:47 am |

    Yeah, I guess this place only needs to be a “safe space” to Natasha… not to the people who be killed by her anti science/meds thinking.

  333. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 10, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    Natasha, talk therapy and meds often go hand in hand. I am dog tired of the idea that these two things never meet.

    Before I got on the Celexa, the talk therapy was focused on the symptoms and not the causes. We were doing triage, and I was slipping. The Celexa got me stabilized enough so that we could actually start focusing on the root of the problem. I am no longer on the meds, but I would gladly go on them again if I thought I needed them. Had I not waited until things got really ugly, I could have possibly been able to deal with that shit in half the time. And some people really do have chemical imbalances in their brains; I’m not going to tell them that they shouldn’t be on meds if it keeps them healthy, happy and functional.

    I am sorry you feel this isn’t a safe space, but you should know that with all of this rhetoric against meds (that effectively saved my life, and the lives of many other people) feels pretty goddamn unsafe as well. If I had a dollar for every time I heard some self-righteous asshole inform me that I didn’t have the courage to do the hard work to get better (WHAT), that all I needed was a drum circle (WTF), that it was a crutch, that I was damaging myself, etc., I could retire right now, in Switzerland.

  334. EG
    EG October 10, 2011 at 10:04 am |

    If I had a dollar for every time I heard some self-righteous asshole inform me that I didn’t have the courage to do the hard work to get better

    Seriously. I like to tell them that I don’t support the work ethic, and that I don’t think there’s anything inherently virtuous about hard work. That’s why I use washing machines instead of washing my clothing on a scrubbing board in my bathtub. I also point out that it’s actually impossible to do any of the “hard work” therapy requires when you can’t stop crying long enough to talk.

  335. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 10, 2011 at 10:34 am |

    @Natasha,

    Look, I get it. Modern psychiatry focuses too much on quick fixes. Part of that is insurance driven. And it sucks. When my mother was severely ill her shrink offered me anti anxiety meds to deal with the grief. As if popping a pill would resolve everything.

    But the alternative is not “anti-meds.” That perspective is still centering the doctor/counselor in the treatment. I.e., your personal theory is X, so all patients are treated with X. Instead place the patient’s needs at the center of treatment and keep the theories to yourself. If she needs meds, medicate. If she does better with hypnosis, hypnotize. If she needs drum circles, dig out your bongos. But putting theories before people, is a shit thing to do.

  336. Caperton
    Caperton October 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm | *

    My concern is only that a therapist who is unequivocally opposed to psychiatric drugs and more extreme treatments might be incapable of giving his/her patients the care they really need. If you can help your patients get healthy with whatever your preferred methods are, that’s great. But when someone comes in who really needs some kind of medication–like I do, like Sheelzebub did, like so many other people here do–and you’re not willing to at least refer them to someone who can give them that help, you aren’t helping them, and you might be doing harm. If I were to come into your office and we were to pound away at talk therapy for years (as I did for a long time), I wouldn’t get better (as I didn’t), because ultimately what I needed was medication on top of the therapy I was receiving. And I certainly didn’t know enough about my condition to ask for them myself.

    Natasha, when you do go into practice, I really, really hope you’ll note somewhere on your shingle, your business card, your Web site, and any other material that you only do talk therapy and are vehemently opposed to psychiatric intervention. You’re free to practice however you want (within the bounds of professional ethics, of course), but prospective patients deserve to know beforehand what treatment options will be off the table if they come to see you.

  337. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm |

    Natasha: I am very familiar with peer reviewed articles, I use them extensively in my schoolwork. I was thinking about falsification of theories in terms of popularity and how some popular theories are harmful when it comes to thinking about and treating human suffering. Again, I do not deny that extreme suffering can warrant extreme measures. However, for the majority of ppl who are suffering from mild to moderate emotional pain, they should not be subject to brain damage. Electroshock, SSRI’s, or anything else with severe and harmful side effects should be last resort treatments, and it sounds like some of you felt you were at a last resort place.

    I’ve been on this blog for about 2 weeks and I’ve had enough, and it has nothing to do with defensiveness or not liking people’s “tones”. Communication isn’t about being NICE to eachother, it’s about being RESPECTFUL, and basic respect here has been severely lacking in some of your comments to me. It’s not just this thread. I had read through an older thread that so severely attacked and abused one guy that I seriously wondered if he contemplated or tried killing himself.

    Again, SSRIs do not cause brain damage. Yeesh. Yes, sometimes they are overused, and sometimes they just don’t work. And sometimes, talk therapy just doesn’t work. I only did talk therapy as a child, and never tried it as an adult- I’m a bad communicator, and I simply can’t make the time. Anti-depressants didn’t work for me, but they do work for other people. I think by discounting them as a whole, the baby goes out with the bathwater.
    On the respect issue, you get what you give. By telling people that you know what’s best for them and that they are damaging themselves if they don’t throw out their evil nasty anti-depressants, you are being very condescending. If you don’t show them respect, why should they show you any? I’m impressed by the restraint shown here.
    Pulling the ‘delicate flower’ defense doesn’t really help your case, Natasha.

  338. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm |

    OMG, “talk therapy”? Why have I never heard of or tried such a thing? I’ve been depressed half my life, so surely someone would have menti–

    Oh right, I have been doing talk therapy on and off for the last decade. In fact, my therapist was the one who helped me wrap my mind around the idea of medication and I am endlessly grateful to her for it — she didn’t prescribe it to me, and got zero money out of it, but she saw the need and told me what was up. And every single mental health professional I’ve ever seen has reminded me to combine meds with talk therapy, if only to gauge medication effectiveness and keep an eye on any side effects that might crop up.

    Why, it’s almost like people here besides Natasha are familiar with various treatments, know what they’re talking about, and/or have made rational informed decisions about their own health, despite how “brain damaged” we must all be. Fancy that. :p

  339. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm |

    In other news, chemo also has bad side effects so cancer patients should never ever take it no matter what. Plus heart/brain/whatever surgery can have complications, so try “walking it off” first because the idea of medicine being imperfect is horrifying. And so on.

  340. zuzu
    zuzu October 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm |

    Natasha: THIS BLOG IS NOT A SAFE SPACE.

    No shit, Sherlock.

    You’re certainly doing your best to shame people who’ve gotten meds to treat their depression.

  341. shfree
    shfree October 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm |

    I have a choice between having tonic clonic seizures (what the current name for what used to be grand mal seizures is) and localized partial seizures or take a cocktail of meds. Oh noes! Horrid brain damage vs. meds! What will I do??

    (PS. For the person up thread: For those of us who would like to not have people tut and look at us with pity, or think we are going to drop over and start foaming at the mouth, can you stop framing a seizure as if it is some permanently debilitating brain-damaging incident? The brain is really fucking resilient, and most of us epileptics make it through life just fine.)

  342. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm |

    Bagelsan: How did you manage to get talk therapy? I just got anti-depressants. Of course, I can’t afford either at the nonce.

  343. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm |

    shfree, don’t you know you could get brain damage?? You should skip the meds and just resign yourself to suddenly falling down at various times so that your head will never get… uh… injured… Hmm.

  344. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm |

    @Politicalguineapig: My parents’ insurance; I was in middle/high school at the time. Otherwise it would’ve been prohibitively expensive, I think…

    Talk therapy was how I originally got diagnosed anyways, and therapy was the reason I managed to get over the Natasha-style fearmongering about meds long enough to try them. Before talking it out I was pretty adamantly against medication ’cause I was scared of it.

  345. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 12, 2011 at 11:11 am |

    Bagelsan: Oh, okay, thanks for clearing that up. I did a bit of talk therapy too as a child, but I preferred to play with the toys, and it didn’t do much for me.

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