Thursday, January 20, 2011
Science fiction fashion and style: Is a great blog run by a feminist geek. It collects pictures of clothes and accessories that tie in to the sci-fi aesthetic. Can you say nerdboner?
Academichic: this site was a godsend when I was studying. Stylish academia-appropriate outfits. I still use it now, as my workplace's dress code tends towards the smart causal. It's also run by a group of women, so there's a decent range of body shapes and styles represented. It's also pretty feminist sympathetic.
Fashion for nerds: Audi, the writer of this blog, is a fairly prominent figure in the fashion blogsphere and it's not hard to see why. People talk about a 'timeless' and 'trendless' style but Audi actually has it. And it's not boring jeans-and-white-shirt combo favoured by Vogue, either. Lots of layering, and lots of colour.
Vintage lesbian project: I love this blog. Gorgeous vintage style. It's nice to see explicitly 'femme' (as opposed to feminine) style being represented.
A l'allure garconniere: Fashion blog/feminist discussion of fashion. Well worth a read if you like more academic discussion of fashion and associated issues: cultural appropriation, 'fat' fashion blogging, use of violent imagery...etc. Threadbared is another blog in this line, and its posts on the politics of vintage fashion are well worth reading. Just plain excellent thought provoking writing about fashion.
Bits and Bobbins: partly a craft blog as well as focusing on fashion. The writer created the 'wardrobe remix' group on flickr, which a showcase for many ordinary people showing off awesome style. The 'wardobe remixers of the week' shows off the best photos and is well worth a browse through.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
- James Fenton
Some people are like that.
They split up and then they think:
Hey, maybe we haven't hurt each other to the uttermost.
Let's meet up and have a drink.
Let's go over it all again.
Let's rake over the dirt.
Let me pick that scab of yours.
Does it hurt?
Let's go over what went wrong –
How and why and when.
Let's go over what went wrong
Again and again.
We hurt each other badly once.
We said a lot of nasty stuff.
But lately I've been thinking how
I didn't hurt you enough.
Maybe there's more where that came from,
Something more malign.
Let me damage you again
For the sake of auld lang syne.
Yes, let me see you bleed again
For the sake of auld lang syne.
I love this poem, because it seems to describe pretty accurately some of the relationships-whether they be lovers, friends,family-that I've seen or had break up. I always remember it when ex- wants to meet up again. There's something to be said for completely cutting off contact. Not always possible in New Zealand, thanks to it being such a village, but you can try.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Two days ago, I decided I needed to find a book about sex. It was about a specific kind of sex, which I had little experience in, and the internet had thus far been unhelpful. Plus I’m a nerd, so my reaction to any topic that I have little knowledge about is to find a book on that subject and read it cover to cover. Anyway, I had a number of options as to how I was going to acquire said book. I could go to the library, to my friendly local second hand bookshop, to my friendly local independent bookshop, or to my local big box retailer.
Although there is something vaguely skeezy about a ‘communal’ sex book, I went to the library. I’m poor, don’t judge me. And I knew that they actually have books on said subject in the library. I had spotted a few when I was examining their section on pandemics looking for books on Spanish flu. Yes, their sex book section is right above their pandemic section. No, I don’t know either.
Last time I had been in this section I had taken a book from the shelf and started reading it. Another library patron, who was in the same section I was for I assume the same reason, gave me a knowing look and smiled. I ignored him. I opened the book to a random page and started reading. It told me I needed to love my cock and be my partner’s daddy. I closed the book and put it back on the shelf. I’ve never wanted to be someone’s daddy. I hoped this was not some sort of character flaw.
When I went back to the library I was resolved to get that book anyway. I may not want to be anyone’s daddy, but it may have had other important information. Besides, it was about the size of an ordinary paperback and I had other errands to run. Getting books on sex out from the library has the potential to be embarrassing, but that’s probably why the library has self-check machines. I certainly wouldn’t be brave enough to put one on reserve. But all the relevant sex books had been taken off the shelf and were presumably being read somewhere private. So, I decided I really should buy my own. Less chance of odd stains.
I was closest to my friendly local second hand bookshop. I figured since their sex books were for sale, they would be sans stains. I went upstairs, to the very back of the shop. Their sex books are close to their section on the paranormal, which I thought a little odd. They didn’t have a wide selection, and the book that was relevant to my interests had been published in 1988. I’m pretty sure some advances have been made since then. I also was leery of buying a sex book that is as old as I am. Added to this was my friend was on the till, and I’d rather not inflict my taste in literature on her. It causes awkwardness on Facebook.
So, off to my friendly local independent bookshop. They did have a sex book that looked interesting, but it was the whole book about that particular type of sexual activity. I wasn’t sure I wanted the whole book. The half book or even the quarter book would have done fine. It was large and fairly heavy, and thus harder to hide. Not that I’m ashamed of this particular type of sexual activity, but I am aware that my parents may be helping me move at some point. The friendly local independent bookshop had also arranged things so that when I picked up this book an entire display fell down. The trendy assistants looked up and gave me a look that said, Oi Pervert I hope you’re going to pick that up. I did pick it up, and then, in a spirit of foolish optimism, went to look at the big box retailers.
Big box retailer No. 1 didn’t have anything. Not a single sex book to be found. I went to their health section and looked and nope, nothing. So I went up to Big Box No. 2. They did have some books, tucked away in their ‘self help’ section. They too had the whole book that the friendly local independent bookshop had, but it cost $10 more. I guessed I was going to have to buy the whole book anyway. I felt a bit awkward about this, so procrastinated by buying some unnecessary and overpriced pyjamas as procrastination. I wondered if I really needed the whole book. Maybe I could order something smaller online. But then I wouldn’t be supporting my friendly local independent bookshop, AND I have to wait, AND my Mum would probably want to know what it was. I could see the conversation:
“Another knitting book, darling? Let’s have a look.”
“Errr. No. I’m just going to my room now.”
This is what you get for being a boomerang kid. I trooped back to the friendly local independent bookshop.
As I picked up the book, I knocked over the display again. After replacing the display, I carried it cover side down to the counter. It had the bottom half of a naked woman and its title in big red letters on the front, so I felt a little self conscious, especially since I was buying during lunchtime rush hour. Unfortunately, the till was busy so the shop assistant had to carry it across the shop to another till. I noticed that she, too, carried it cover side down. She must have seen what it was, but kept her face professionally blank. She put it in a paper bag, though only because that was the kind they had. I caught a bus and refrained from reading it until I got home. It is, as it turns out, a very good book and a very valuable purchase. Just have to make sure I can keep it hidden. My girlfriend suggested putting a paper cover on it, but I pointed out that it might raise suspicion since none of my other books are covered that way. My mother was bemused enough when she found my copy of The Ethical Slut.
It’s taken almost 1000 words to get here, but I guess this made me think about the availability of books about sex in general. If you don’t have the internet, it seems pretty hard to find decent books in Wellington. People may also be too embarrassed to buy them. I’ve bought vibrators less sheepishly than I’ve bought this book, though I suspect it has to do with the excellence of the Dvice shop assistants than anything else. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world where book shops could stock these sorts of books openly and have a wide selection? I’m glad the library does have these sorts of books, slight ick factor aside, because there doesn’t seem to be any other place which stocks such a wide selection.
I strongly believe that people have the right to accurate information about sex. They also have the right to learn ways in which their sex lives could be better. Pleasure’s the main reason why people have it, right? A fact that seems to be forgotten in teen sex ed. It’s a pity that we’ll all a bit squeamish about such matters, retailers especially, though I can only imagine the shit fit that some people would throw if they saw a decent selection. Think of the children. (Though no one ever seems to think that eventually these children will grow up, and need and benefit from decent information about sex.) Luckily my friendly local independent bookshop seemed to ignore all this.
I suppose the internet has a role to play in all of this as well. Retailers assume, probably quite rightly, that people prefer buying their sex books online, to avoid embarrassment. But there is also the fact that the internet has a lot of information on a whole range of sexual activities. Some of it is more than likely very wrong, but then the fact that something is in print has never stopped it from being inaccurate. Information about sex is a lot more accessible these days, though, provided one has an internet connection and a way to delete search history. But I think widely available dead tree sex books are still important. Not everyone has the option of looking and indeed buying sex books on the web. So, keeping this in mind, I make a simple request: If you are indeed looking at the library’s sex books, would you put them back on the shelf when you are done?