Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guest Post: Betty Fokker, The Stay-at-Home Feminist Mom

Today's guest post comes courtesy of the lovely Betty Fokker, penner of The Stay-at-Home Feminist Mom. (The slogan on her blog-- and just one of the many reasons I love her so--is: Don't try to oppress me with your patriarchal values. It will not go well for you.) 

Betty is hilarious, smart, and takes my breath away with her adept cussing. She is also fat. Oh, don't worry, she'd tell you the same thing herself.  

Now normally, Betty is well aware of how smoking hot she is, and rails against the whole stinkin' fat-hating society, but in the following post, dear Betty briefly succumbs to self doubt. Here she's talking about fat, but I think a lot of chicks could say the same thing about their stupid straight and/or curly hair, freaky pointy ears, or whatever.

(An aside: It took me like an hour to find a decent image (above left) to convey the concept of sexy zaftig womanliness. By contrast, it took me .00000004 seconds to find an image to convey the idea of "lady with big boobies.")

I also like her post because not only does Betty use the term "asshat" with typical aplomb, but she also lays down this sentence: "Even when I walk out of the shower and he pops a boner that you could club a baby seal with, I still wonder if he likes what he sees."

So here now, ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Betty Fokker:


image courtesy of:
http://bettyfokker.wordpress.com/
Turns out that almost 1/3 of the women of Britain feel that they are too fat to have sex, and that (strangely!) has a negative effect on their libido. Imagine, if you will, the concept that you loathe your physical self so much you don’t feel you should have sex since some poor male (or female, since the Fokker doesn’t care one way or another who shares your bed. I am not an asshat.) would have to look at your nekkid flesh, and touch your smooshy body.  I don’t have to image, considering the fact every time my Sweet Babou wants to tear up the sheets doing a nekkid waltz, I am surprised and bewildered.

Even I, schooled in feminist thought and the rejection of fat-hating bullshit, wonder why he would ever WANT to fuck me. I’m fat, therefore I am undesirable.

I have always, in my heart, operated under the assumption that he loves me so much he is willing to make the sweaty pretzel with me despite the fact I am repulsive to look upon. Moreover, I see that love as a sign of his quality as a superior human, not as a function of my worth. I just feel lucky. Like a lottery winner, not someone who invented the next-big-thing in computers and got rich from my efforts.

I was a well-loved and petted preschooler, so I always had the hope, maybe even the assumption, that I would be a lottery-winner in love one day. After all, I had been loved, so it wasn’t beyond the realm of reality. But as all the cultural messages of my ‘ugliness’ because of my obesity hammered at me for years, I assumed it would be one of those miraculous events – like a reverse beauty and the beast. I dreamed that one day a man would love me in spite of my hideous outward appearance. Which is better than the idea that I would never be loved, I guess, but is still all kinds of Fokked up.

Maybe I would have been more sanguine that Sweet Babou desired me is he had been a chubby-chaser. Then it would have made sense to me why he wanted me. But no, his prior girlfriends could be used to skewer cocktail hor’dourves.  So I have always believed, on some level, that loving me was a great sacrifice on his part, done because his heart was pure. All the rumpy-pumpy since we met has failed to convince me otherwise. Even when I walk out of the shower and he pops a boner that you could club a baby seal to death with, I still wonder if he likes what he sees.

This is not what I want to feel. I want to believe, as well as understand, that my fat does not devalue me. I do not believe it devalues others, but I cannot shake that feeling about myself. It makes me all the more determined, as a woman and a mother and a feminist, to fight fat-haters on every front, since this is horrible and I don’t want my daughters or any other woman to ever think of themselves as less because their body is more. Fat–hate and discrimination is BULLSHIT, y’all.

But I still wonder if he secretly thinks I’m yucky.


See also: My Wife's Body by An Anonymous Husband, in which a husband examines this phenomenon from the male point of view.

(image source: http://lacontessa.tumblr.com/post/907275831/tamara-de-lempicka-le-modele-1925)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Overthinking the Magic Bra

Sandra and I were shopping for bras in what is still called--in this day and age!-- the "Intimates" department when I saw it: the Maidenform Ultimate Push Up Bra. Have you seen this thing? "Add two cup sizes!" it promises, as well it should, since it seems to contain a small throw pillow's worth of padding in each cup. The bra was pretty ridiculous, really, so we gave it its proper mockery then continued with the special hell that is bra-shopping. [Oh, men, you don't even know! The egregious misstocking, the deciphering of strange terms (is "demi" good or bad?) and the hideous also-rans (I'm talking to you, green pin-striped push-up bra.) It's enough to drive you to the smelling salts, quite honestly.]

After some time (hours? days?) I had gathered a few bras that appeared that they might work (though "gathered" is not nearly a strong enough term for the savage, skillful foraging it took.) Though oddly, as though guided by some sort of unseen force, I kept finding myself circling back to the Ultimate bra. "Oh look," I thought to myself, with a forced casualness that didn't fool me one bit. "It's that ridiculous bra again." In a jump of logic that remains unclear to me even now, I concluded, "Well, may as well try it on."

I did, and well....DAMN! I had huge boobs, insanely inflated porno boobs, boobs that could not be contained by man nor bra. My bosom, as they say in the romance novels, was swollen. My cups runnethed over. I was like the chick in this photo modeling the bra in question, but...more. Way more. My boobs were so huge, I was unclear on which side of the sexy/comically large divide they fell. "Sandra!" I called to the other dressing rooms. "You must come in here and behold my giant boobs." She looked. "Damn!" she said (as well she should.)

"I don't know...I look...different," I said, hoping Sandra, who knows about such feminine matters, would tell me whether to get it or not. Sandra took charge immediately. "Well, girl, I look different when I'm not wearing make-up--that doesn't mean I don't wear it, " she said definitively. "You Are Getting That Bra."

So I got it. And it sat, unused, in its preternatural perkiness on my dresser. I put it on only two times. Once to show Leah and once to show my husband. "Look at my boobs!" I said. Leah looked. My husband looked. "Damn!" they said.

I liked it. Kind of. I think. I don't know. The bra was becoming... problematic. I just couldn't bring myself to wear it. Was it indeed sexy, or was it just too damn big, borderline silly? Would I feel comfortable showing up to my usual haunts with my suddenly gigantic rack? (It should be noted that I already have a pretty smokin' D cup, but the difference with the magic bra was noticeable, way noticeable.) What if someone started flirting with me just because of my big fake boobs? Would I be irked that they were into something I didn't actually possess? Hey, my eyes are up here, Mr. Big Boob Lover.

And what if you were still dating and wearing this bra? The padding was so flippin' thick--would you even notice when things had gone to, as we used to say, second base? And what about a "home run"? As you flung your bra to the floor, so would go your boobs, piled there on the carpet, still waiting perkily at attention. (Warning: never do your real boobs look so dreadfully inadequate than after taking off the magic bra.)

The magic bra was causing me to overthink. I mean, not that I control the direction of society with my bra choices, but did I really want to be promoting this as what a women's chest should look like? By wearing the bra, in some small--albeit, incredibly busty--way, I would be raising the bar of what a woman's chest was supposed to look like. If my D-cup needed enhancement, what about my C, B and A-cup sisters? Would they be forced to don a completely fabricated chest, similar to those boys' superhero costumes with the build-in foam muscles? Would we one day just all don our blonde-haired, big-boobed, sweetly smiling full-body foam costumes, completely covering our unworthy, misshaped, shameful selves? No, by jingo! I would not be a part of it!

I found the tags and the receipt for the bra. I had to return it--for the Good of Society.

But first I tried it on one more time.

Damn.





Addendum (3/22/11) Btw, if you, like some of the commenters below, wish to play your part in bringing down society, you can get the thing--it's full of lies, I tell you!--at a department store like Kohl's or order it via In Bed With Married Women through this link:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Female Hysteria and Creepy Old-Timey Vibrators

LADIES...
Are you exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
--Trouble sleeping?
--Fluid retention?
--Irritability?
--"A tendency to cause trouble"?
Yes, yes, yes and oh yes?

Let's see, according to my medical book, circa 1895, you have a clear-cut case of Female Hysteria. (Men with similar symptoms will need to diagnose themselves with some other old-timey disease. May I suggest "dairy fever" or perhaps "dropsy"?)

In the 19th century, as many as 75% of middle-class women were estimated to suffer from hysteria, but luckily medical science was there to help them. Doctors treated hysteria with "pelvic massage" until the patient reached "hysterical paroxysm." In modern times, we know "pelvic massage" to be "the doctor jerking off his patient" and "hysterical paroxysm" to be "orgasm." The procedure as a whole is now known as "grounds for a lawsuit."

Doctors of the day were happy to provide such a treatment, as it provided a steady stream of paying customers (patients were advised to come in weekly for their treatments). It was all good, except for one thing, doctors found the actual manipulation of their patients genitals to be tedious and tiring. According to the highly entertaining Wikipedia entry on Female Hysteria:  "The technique was difficult for a physician to master and could take hours to achieve 'hysterical paroxysm.'" (The physicians' widespread befuddlement at mastering these basic lady-pleasing skills puts Marrying a Doctor much lower on the To-Do list.)

The doctors were saved from the arduous task of trying to make these damn women come, already, by the magic device, the vibrator. The first of these "massage and vibratory apparatus" was patented by American physician (USA! USA!) George Taylor and was--and I can scarcely stand to type this--steam-powered. (The resulting billowing smoke making this perhaps the least discreet form of masturbatory tool.) Soon, physicians' offices were outfitted with electric vibrators, allowing doctors to get the job done in a matter of minutes instead of hours, and allowing most of mankind to stay blissfully ignorant about female orgasm until about the 1960s.

By the early 1900s, these miraculous health-giving electric vibrators started showing up in the American women's home. In fact, vibrators were one of the earliest electric home appliances invented, showing up ten years earlier than the vacuum cleaner or iron. Regular old, non-pervy companies like Hamilton Beach and Sears Roebuck were in the lucrative business of selling vibrators to housewives. The photo at left, for example, is from the 1918 Sears Roebuck and Co. catalog. "Very useful and satisfactory for home service," it says, vaguely, hoping you get the idea.

Vibes were openly marketed in catalogs and women's magazines. The ads weren't directly saying, "Put this on your wang" but they did refer to its "wonderfully refreshing" effect. Read one ad: "Can be used by yourself in the privacy of dressing room or boudoir, and furnish every woman with the essence of perpetual youth." The home vibe was a thrifty purchase, too. With doctors charging $2 to jack you off, the $5.95 portable home vibrator would pay for itself after only three uses.

According to this one dude, Mike, who collects antique vibrators, there were also air-powered and hand-cranked vibrators. Here's a photo from Mike's hand-cranked vibrator collection (a collection which I imagine causes some awkward moments on Mike's dates) of the Macaura's Pulsocon Hand Vibrator from the late 1800s.  I don't understand the physics of the device, but Mike explains that there is "a plunging motion of the center disk." To me, it looks like a hand-mixer. And, I know it's supposed to be an erotic device, but I see this and think of the twisting motions of a hand mixer, the voluminous bushes of 1800s-era ladies, and well, I can venture a guess as to why we don't all have Macuara's Pulsocon Hand Vibrators stashed in our nightstand drawers.

If you, like Mike and--apparently, me--are fascinated by these old devices, by all means make haste and check out the online Antique Vibrator Museum they put up at Good Vibrations. There is an educational video, plus photos of all sorts of creepy-ass, early electrical vibes. Like, look at this 1902 Hamilton Beach model, the "Type A":

The Hamilton Beach, Type A, 1902
I mean, Good Lord! The giant motor! The thick cloth covering the cord! And is that an oil can in there? The Type A looks loud--roaringly loud, jackhammer loud. But most importantly, electricity back then was scary. I wouldn't even be brave enough to use a toaster from those days, much less put some shorting-out, spark-shooting, scary new-fangled doodad on my nether regions.  I don't care how "wonderfully refreshing" it's supposed to be.

As all this new information (scary old vibes! hand cranks! hysterical paroxysm!) rattles around in my mind, I find that I keep going back to the 19th century doctor's office and this strangely sexless sex between doctor and patient. Were either of them aroused by what was going on? Did the females see the doctor breaking out his Hamilton Beach 4000 or whatever and feel a thrill of anticipation, or just the kind of dull disinterest one would experience while watching a mechanic change the car's oil? And I wonder about the women's orgasm. If they were not told it was pleasurable, did they experience it as pleasure, or as just a release, akin to finally getting to pee on a long car trip?  And not to be all zen koanish or anything, but is non-erotic sex that is not recognized by either party as sex indeed sex?



(image source: http://wickedknickers.tumblr.com/post/341563049/lacontessa-matisse-at-work) That's really Matisse, not a doctor, btw.)
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