Women are More than Lady Parts

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie –Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire

In Hollywood, nothing is unusual about a woman having surgical procedures, but most of the time, these excisions are kept secret because they are designed to maintain the look of a 20-something starlet.  Then there are women, like Angelina Jolie, who are open and honest about their choices, as radical as they may seem, to maximize their chances of a long life and a long career.

Jolie has had her lady parts removed because she carries the gene that killed her mother and her maternal grandmother with cancer.  She uses her celebrity as a channel of communication, a statement of the realities of life, as opposed to the glamour of video.

Janet Hughes of the Western News suggests that Jolie will no longer be attractive “more than for her cheekbones” and goes on to discuss how other stars have used HRT and facelifts to stay young looking.  That’s their privilege—it is their bodies, and they make their choices.

But to suggest that Jolie is only cheekbones with no lady parts denies her talent, her intelligence and her backbone. Here’s a news flash: Women are more than lady parts.

Menopause is freedom from unexpected “accidents” of femaleness.  Menopause brings its own wisdom, whether from surgery or from moving out of middle age into cronedom.  It’s time that this culture grew up, and recognized that according to the 2010 US census, 42% of  adult women  in the US are over 55, the average age for onset of menopause
(adult = over age 19; 32% of all females,  16% of the total population).

It is ridiculous to imagine that 42% of women in America are no longer viable as human beings—or as actresses. I submit the following as evidence from IMDB:

  • Angelina Jolie lady parts

    Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie was made an honorary Dame by Queen Elizabeth in recognition of her work against sexual violence

    Angelica Huston

  • Candice Bergen
  • Diane Keaton
  • Glenn Close
  • Goldie Hawn
  • Helen Mirren
  • Judy Dench
  • Kathy Bates
  • Kirsty Alley
  • Maggie Smith
  • Mary Steenbergen
  • Meryl Streep
  • Olivia Newton-John
  • Renee Russo
  • Susan Sarandon

An agent once asked me, with a snide grin, if I wanted the main character of my first novel, Maven Fairy Godmother, to be played by Angelina Jolie.  The answer is still no, I’d prefer Kathy Bates, but for Maven’s arch nemesis and Fairy Godmother Superior, Jolie would be exquisite. She knows how to make hard choices and how to set priorities for her own life.  She is a grown woman, having intestinal fortitude, which is more important than lady parts. Someone explain this to Brittany Spears.

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“Normalize the Idea of Women Existing”

NPR keeps me in touch with the insanity of the world for my 9 minute commute every day. Yesterday I heard a story about a cartoon for adults, BoJack Horseman, and an issue that the writers and artists struggle with to be true to themselves and to comedy: women exist.

The underlying assumption there is that the default mode for any character is male, so to make the characters female is an additional detail on top of that. In case I’m not being a hundred percent clear, this thinking is stupid and wrong and self-perpetuating unless you actively work against it, and I’m proud to say I mostly don’t think this way anymore.”
–Raphael Bob-Waksberg

image from BoJack Horseman by http://lisahanawalt.com/

Is it funny when women do things that are gross…like slobber on someone? Can women be gross and funny?

The point of the story was an argument between show runner Raphael Bob-Waksberg and production designer Lisa Hanawalt. In a one-second sight gag, person and a dog are waiting for a bus on their way to work, and when a car passes by, the dog slobbers on the person. It was originally written for male characters, but Hanawalt argued that there was no reason for the characters to be male. Discussion ensued that it would not be funny if women were gross–like men.

The article mentioned a study that showed audience perception of a crowd of people to be 50/50 male and female, when in fact women were only 15% of the group. This explains the token character on any show. For example, Nichelle Nichols was 16% of the bridge crew on Star Trek TOS, as was George Takei, with Chekov and Spock as white guy normals beside  Kirk and McCoy. If you add in Scottie and Nurse Chapel, each character is 11% of the group, 55% white male.

Even these young professionals, people who believe they are feminist and equality based, still need to be made aware of their own gender bias as male=normal. This is very ironic as all fetuses start out as female–or what are nipples for?

Unconscious concepts are never examined unless challenged, as they work within a culture, until they don’t. If a cartoon about an alcoholic, has-been-actor horse can raise awareness and make social change, write and draw on.

Read the story here: For ‘BoJack Horseman,’ It Matters If A Cartoon Dog Is A Man Or A Woman



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Nimoy: the Full Body Project

The Full Body Project

The Full Body Project

 Many fans of Leonard Nimoy knew that he was a photographer, but I recently found an article about a shoot that he did with fat women, a show called The Full Body Project.

The women, members of the Fat Bottom Review, a burlesque troupe, presented him with a different kind of project, exploring the models themselves as people rather than using them to explore some other idea, even if that idea was about feminine power and spirituality.

His work on the Shekhinah as the feminine aspect of God is mystical and spiritual, but different from these images because as he says  those “pictures were not about [the models]. They were illustrating a theme, a story I hoped to convey.”

“Art,” Nimoy says “is about illumination.” His images explore the joy these women have in their bodies and their joy for life. At one point he asked them to dance to the music they brought, and he captured their exuberance.

The Fat Bottom Review - from the Full Body Project by Nimoy

The Fat Bottom Review – from the Full Body Project by Nimoy

These women are projecting an image that is their own. And one that also stems from their own story rather than mine. Their self-esteem is strong. One of them has a degree in anthropology and will tell you that ideas of beauty and sexuality are “culture bound”—that these ideas are not universal or fixed, and that they vary and fluctuate depending on place and time. They will tell you that too many people suffer because the body they live in is not the body you find in the fashion magazines. –Nimoy

Upstate Steampunk 2014

Upstate Steampunk 2014

I’m not the fashion magazine type, being as fat (let’s be honest here–not overweight, not big, but fat) as these wonderful women are. I find myself in an ideological struggle with identity with them on the one hand and with a negative feeling on the other–much the same as when I look at myself in the mirror.

 I am glad to have found these role models, women who know who they are and who are full of themselves as they are in these lovely pictures. Somewhere out there on the innerwebs are a series of nudes with me as an earth goddess…at least there used to be. But for now, this will have to do.  

Thank you, again, Leonard Nimoy.


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Spring Equinox Haiku

Spring Ghosts

Spring Ghosts

blooming ghosts foretell
spring through cold wet dark as life
returns from red clay

On my way to work every morning, I see these ghostly blooms, volunteer bradford pears and plum tress lighting up the gray woods of the damned daylight saving time darkness of a wet, raining morning.  The balance of light and dark, of warm and cold–it is still March–and the promise that the green will return brings the hope of new days remembered in the ghostly reminders of spring. Happy Equinox.

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International Women’s Day 2015 Making it Happen

International Women’s Day 2015
Taking Action – Making it happen.

After years of consciousness raising, awareness, and work at self-acceptance, it is time to for the balance to shift. Any person shoud be seen for the talents developed, for the skill of mind and hand, and for the content of character, despite shape, color, gender identity, philosophy, age, or fashion sense. This year’s theme for International Womens Day is Making it Happen. See the list below of ways that women have made things happen.

Celebrate International Womens Day by learning about Women’s Inventions

  • Straw hat weaving process, Mary Kies, 1809, first patent granted to a woman in America, created an economic boom in New England
  • Circular Saw, Tabitha Babbitt, 1810, Shaker community
  • Emergency stop mechanism for industrial machines Margaret Knight, 1855 (age 12)
    better known for paper bag folding machine patent battle (1870) where it was said by the patent thief that no woman could design such a complicated machine She held more than 80 patents including designs for rotary automobile engines in 1913.
  • windshield wiper, Mary Anderson, 1903, ironically a “belle” from Alabama.
  • Radio frequency-hopping for torpedo guidance, Hedy Lamarr, 1942. Yes, that one. Not Hedley.
  • Fungicide Nystatin, Rachel Fuller Brown and Elizabeth Lee Hazen, 1950
  • Liquid Paper Bette Nesmith Graham, 1957. She was a poor typist.
  • Kevlar, Stephanie Kwolek, 1964, seems that rods are stronger than circles for polymers.
  • Urine powered generator, Adebola Duro-Aina Oluwatoyin Faleke, Eniola Bello and Abiola Akindele, 2012 – Nigerian teen women aged 14-15, who wanted everyone to be able to have electricity.
  • pediatric IV backback –  Kylie Simonds of Naugatuck, Connecticut (age 11) 2014, cancer survivor.
  • Super capacitor, Eesha Khare, 2014 (high school student, Sratoga, CA)

What else could be added to the benefit of the population of the world if all women (and men too) were granted access to education and the ability to experiement and learn? Take a moment today to encourage a woman to be herself, to use her talents and to shift the balance of power to an equilibrium.

International Womens Day  2015

International Womens Day 2015: Making it Happen


Abrams, M. (2012). Margaret Knight. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved from https://www.asme.org/engineering-topics/articles/diversity/margaret-knight

Edmons, M. (2011 January 12). Top 10 Things that Women Invented. How Stuff Works website.  Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/inventions/10-things-that-women-invented.htm#page=0

Murano, G. (2014 July 7). 10 amazing inventions by teens. Retrieved from http://www.oddee.com/item_99064.aspx  (Note that boys are included in this article.)

Olofinula, T. (2013 February 13). Girl Power: Nigerian teens invent urine-powered generator.  Global Press Institute. Retrieved from http://www.girleffect.org/what-girls-need/articles/2013/02/girl-power-nigerian-teens-invent-urine-powered-generator/



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What Would Spock Do?

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy: Thank you.

What Would Spock Do? An Iconic Role Model

I wish I could write a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, but sadly, I have no personal recollections. I was not fangirl enough to find a way to get to a con where he appeared.

However, I have been, and always will be, a fan.

Though his books, I am Not Spock, and later, I am Spock, Mr. Nimoy explored the character that he will always be identified with, the eminently rational yet passionate Vulcan.  He said that as he grew older, carrying the constant mantle of the role, he found that he wanted to grow into the wisdom and perspective of the Vulcan. What better fictional role model could a person strive to emulate?

Spock and Cat

Spock and Cat

Spock is one who knows who he is, despite his always being an outsider, unlike so many of us who are drawn to science fiction and the otherworlds. He is sensual, judging by the elegance of his quarters on the Enterprise, contrasted with the Spartan quarters of his captain. He likes cats and tribbles.

He has strong emotions, but controls their expression while not being heartless, despite the other doctor’s many jibes. He is able to sacrifice himself to save the many, a heroic figure without bravado or machismo. The famous neck pinch is symbolic of the great personal power held in reserve, extremely effective without overt violence.

Evil Spock

Evil Spock – even in the mirror universe, his wisdom prevails.

While he can command, he has no ambition to rule, only to learn and explore the mysteries of the infinite. In the “Mirror, Mirror” episode, even the evil Spock is able to see the rationality—always called logic but always more than that—of his taking over the Empire because he knows it will collapse in his lifetime, and he can take it to a better place than it will be without him.

I would like a bumper sticker, which seems to be an appropriate signal of one’s world view, that reads:
What Would Spock Do?

Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy and Spock Prime. Thank you for your blessing, “Live long and Prosper” and your example both as yourself and as the Vulcan.

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Neural Networks Built by Affirmations

Neural networks are built by mantras: All is well, life is good, I am happy, and I am safe

All is well, life is good, I am happy, and I am safe

I never really understood the point of repeating affirmations or mantras until yesterday. Chanting puts me to sleep. In a class I am taking, Barbara Waterhouse of Center for Spiritual Living Asheville explained that our negative thoughts build strong neural networks so that these thoughts are easier to think than new thoughts–like an interstate vs. a cow path. 

The impact of this became clear to me yesterday. I went for  a walk and listened to myself repeat a story, one that was not uplifting or inspiring. I decided to repeat a mantra as I walked, mostly to get the inner whiner to shut up.

I’d tried several affirmations for the class: All is well, Life is good, I am happy, I am safe. So halfway around the park I chanted to myself, and it worked well.

I could not think anything else while I said this to myself.  I had repeated each of these sentences individually over the past week, so putting them together was easy. 

Building new neural networks

But when I stopped to take a picture with my phone, a new thought occurred to me. If I made some variations in the statements, just rearranging them a little, that should build another lane, so to speak, on my new neural highway. Then I found out why having a strong network is important. 

It’s hard to think a new thought.

I didn’t change the mantra very much: All is happy, I am well, Life is safe, I am good. It was very hard to say. I had to concentrate to change the words around. Even after repeating for at least ten minutes, I still had to think about each word to keep from going back to the previous pattern.

The new neural net was not nearly as strong because I had new sentences.  My brain didn’t see these new sentences as just variations, but as completely unique. I did not have a neural path for each of these sentences, but was building four new paths at once. 

The value  of mantras is first that they crowd out other thoughts, those repeated stories that pop into the unoccupied mind and reinforce the nearly unconscious thoughts like “I can’t  do this, I am not good enough, I am fat, I am weak, what if…”  

Then the kicker–if I do build my own worlds from my thoughts, it’s time I took control of them. Easier to think than to say. Neural networks are built by repetition. 

I also get the “walking meditation” idea, at least that I can walk around in a garden, look for flowers in the winter, and keep the inner chatterbox busy with something good to think.

All is happy. I am well. Life is safe. I am good.

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