Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sex and female sexuality in 19th century America

Stumbled over an interesting article about Clelia Mosher, a professor at Stanford University who studied female sexuality between 1892 and 1920. She conducted surveys which reveal what family historian generally know more clearly than the general public: that Victorians were just as interested in sex as we are.

How do family historians know? Because 6 out of 10 Victorian brides were pregnant, that's how. The picture we have of a sternly disapproving society and virginal womanhood who barely knew which bits were involved in procreation is a bit misleading.

It is true that women often knew very little about the way in which their own bodies worked, but I think that actually that's pretty much true even today. Many women confuse menstruation with ovulation, don't understand the physical process of pregnancy and giving birth. The difference is that today, that's a choice.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change." -Thich Nhat Hanh

I realised some time ago that my father had taught me an important lesson: how to listen. That's because he rarely does, which forces everyone else to try. I didn't realise until today why I find the conversations we have so frustrating and pointless, but the above quote sums it up: generally he is fixed in his idea about things, and there is no possibility for change.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Now you see it...

Debenhams have apparently launched a campaign to highlight the amount of photoshopping which goes into the images which we routinely see in magazines and on the walls of retailers. The example they use is of a model who looks perfectly wonderful in a bikini, but is then "improved" by photoshopping, to make her look even more unattainably thin.

Photoshop disasters blog frequently has examples of photoshopping models going wrong - or as in that case, being completely unnecessary.

I would like to know where the drive for thinner and thinner models comes from. Most of the men I know prefer women to be slim, not thin, and have a womanly shape, not a shape like a teenage boy. Many of them like women to be even more voluptuous than that.

I think that fashion has a great deal to answer for. It isn't just women who are thin who like to wear nice clothes, and to look nice, although you would be forgiven for thinking that it was. Even the retailers who aim at women of larger sizes tend to use models that barely qualify as plus size. I love these people, who display pictures from their clients - real women wearing real clothing. (See Riva Lizette Nowell in the Bella dress from Holy Clothing, above.)

I'm fully behind the Debenhams campaign... I'd like to see more clothing manufacturers showing their clothing on real women, and acknowledging that even the less perfect among us can look amazing in the right clothing.