Many Sleepless Nights Indeed

From Chris Zammarelli @ Bookslut

When Earl Adams discovered his two teenaged sons had seen Felice Newman’s book The Whole Lesbian Sex Book at the Bentonville (AK) Public Library, he e-mailed Library Director Cindy Suter and requested the book be removed from the stacks. Suter had the book moved to what Richard Dean Prudenti described in an article for The Morning News as “a less accessible location” in the library.

Adams responded by faxing Mayor Bob McCaslin with the demand that the book be removed from the library for good because it is “patently offensive and lacks any artistic, literary or scientific value.” He also requested that Suter be fired and asked the city to pay him and his family $20,000 in damages because the library violated Arkansas obscenity law.

In an e-mail to McCaslin, Adams wrote, “My sons were greatly disturbed by viewing this material and this matter has caused many sleepless nights in our house.”

Adams said that his younger son Kyle found the book while browsing the library’s stacks for books about military academies. It’s worth pointing out that The Whole Lesbian Sex Book, which is no longer in the public library’s catalog, would probably be shelved in under the 613.9 section of the Dewey Decimal System. Books on military academies, (say, David Lipsky’s Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point, which is in the Bentonville Public Library collection), are classified under 355.

When asked in an interview for the San Francisco Chronicle about Adams’s contention that his sons were looking for military books, Newman told Violet Blue:

“Perhaps the book ended up in the military section because the boys hid it there. Or perhaps, having found the book in its proper section, the boys were reading it in the military section, where they had told their father they would be researching military academies. Someone catches them smack in the middle of the fistfucking chapter and they make up the story as an alibi.”

The library’s advisory board voted to remove the book from the stacks while, as Prudenti’s article notes, “a suitable book on the same topic” is found to replace it. Said board member George Spence, “A more sensitive, more clinical approach to same material might be more appropriate for the library.” Adams was invited to attend the board meeting on the book, but did not go.

“I’m not sure what Spence means by clinical. Some people say my book is pretty clinical, in that it gives basic health info, etc.,” Newman said in the Chronicle interview. “But if by ‘clinical’ Spence means boringly technical, I can’t see who is going to write it, let alone read it.”

Suter said that if a more appropriate book is not found, The Whole Lesbian Sex Book will be returned to the stacks. Adams responded, “Any effort to reinstate the book will be met with legal action and protests from the Christian community.”

The city’s attorney, Camille Thompson, told Prudenti, “There is not a valid legal concern here” because the book is not pornographic. She added that Adam’s demand for $20,000 “made me question his motivation.”

Suter, as it turns out, resigned from the Library Director position, effective May 31. Both she and McCaslin said that her resignation had nothing to do with the flap over The Whole Lesbian Sex Book. Suter said that she wanted to spend more time at her art gallery.

Newman sees a silver lining to the controversy over her book: “If there was one teenaged lesbian or bisexual girl in America who didn’t know there was a book about the sexual experiences she so desires, she knows now.”

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the politics of bicycles 2

from  londonrihla

“On the basis of a fatwa issued by the supreme religious guide [Ayatollah Khamenei], women cycling in public is prohibited. Disobeying such a fatwa within the Islamic Republic of Iran could lead to penalties such as imprisonment and flogging.”

Offensive Boobs

From The bOOb Lady’s Blog

Heard the one about the woman thrown off a plane for refusing to cover her baby’s head when breastfeeding? It’s no joke. Seated by the window at the back of the plane next to her hubby, she could hardly be considered in-flight entertainment. But the flight attendant—genderless, by all accounts—found the sight of a mother nursing a child to be “offensive.”

While it sounds bizarre, this story is similar to one reported back in July. In that case, readers objected to the mere image of a breastfeeding baby on the cover of BabyTalk, a free publication targeted to (big surprise here) new moms. Letter writers used words like “gross,” or said they were “shocked to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine.” One woman considered it a form of flashing, stating “I don’t want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn’t want to see.” Accidentally? In some cultures, women’s breasts are purposely left uncovered at all times, making it easy for them to do the centuries-old job nature intended: feeding babies. What’s unnatural are boobs deliberately hiked up by some tits-on-a-platter bra, á la Victoria’s Secret.In today’s civilized society, women must stage “nurse-ins” and lobby for laws to protect their right to breastfeed in public. But there’s no legislation shielding our eyes from the endless images of provocatively-posed models in their skivvies–ready for work or play in a pair of indispensable stiletto heels. These airbrushed, photo-shopped, cartoon bosoms could poke out an eye, or two! One wonders whether the above-mentioned reader has any concern for the continuous over-exposure to suggestive lingerie ads. It could leave the impression that breasts can only be appreciated for their erotic value. Guess it’s all in how you look at boobs.

BabyTalk CoverVictoria's Secret ad

A few notes and quotes from "Dreams of Trespass"

Mostly regarding islamic feminism and women’s rights in general.

From Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood By Fatima Mernissi

– Regarding those “women who [ally] themselves with men [and their msgynist philosophies] as being responsible for women’s suffering…these women are more dangerous then men…because physically they look just like [other women]…but they are really wolves posing as sheep”

– “[Fate] and happiness…how to escape the first and pursue the second…[women’s] solidarity, many [agree is] key to both”

-“[The] problem with [(most) arabic/islamic] women today [in the middle east and N.Africa] is that they are powerless…[and] powerlessness stems from ignorance, and a lack of education”.

– The main thing for the powerless is to have a dream…[true], a dream alone, without the bargaining power to go with it, does not transform the world or make the walls vanish, but it does help you keep ahold of dignity.”

Dignity is to have a dream, a strong one, which gives you a vision, a world
where you have a place, where whatever it is you have to contribute makes a
difference.

You are in a harem[restricted/controlled] when the world does not [think it needs] you.

You are in a harem when what you can contribute does not [seem to] make a difference.

You are in a harem when what you do [men think] is useless.

You are in a harem when the planet swirls around, with you buried up to your neck in scorn and neglect.

Only one person can change that situation and make the planet go around the other way, and that is you[emphasis mine].

If you stand up against scorn, and dream of a different world, the planet’s direction will be altered.

But what you need to avoid at all costs, is to let the scorn around you get inside.

When a woman starts thinking she is nothing, the little sparrows cry.

Who can defend [those sparrows] on the terrace, if no one has the vision of a world without slingshots?

Mothers should tell [their] little girls…about the importance of dreams [and hope]…[they] give a sense of direction…you need to have a vision. [Can] you distinguish amoung all the wishes, the cravings which beseiged you, and find the one on which you ought to focus, the important dream which [gives] you vision? [The] key dream [will] emerge and bloom within, and then, from the intense pleasure it [gives to] you, you [will] know that it [is a] genuine little treasure which [will] give you direction and light…[you’ll] be able to transform people [from these dreams of freedom].

– “[Gender seperation] creates an enormous gap in understanding. ‘Men do not understand women…and women do not understand men…[the] cosmic frontier indicates the line of power, because wherever threre is a frontier, there are two kinds of creatures walking on [this] earth, the powerful on one side and the powerless on the other” Where do you stand? “If you cant get out [are restrained, held back due to your sex] you are on the powerless side” Is that where you want to be? Do the “impossible”, stand up for yourself and for those who cannot stand up for themselves. It is your right. Make it happen!

Standing alone, no longer…

From Asra Nomani’s Standing Alone in Mecca:

An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Bedroom
1. Women have an Islamic right to respectful and pleasurable sexual experience.
2. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their bodies, including the right to say no to sex.
3. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their partner, including the right to say no to a husband marrying a second wife.
4. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their choice of a partner.
5. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about contraception and reproduction.
6. Women have an Islamic right to protection from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
7. Women have an Islamic right to sexual privacy.
8. Women have an Islamic right to exemption from criminalization or punishment for consensual adult sex.
9. Women have an Islamic right to exemption from gossip and slander.
10. Women have an Islamic right to sexual health care and sex education.

An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosques
1. Women have an Islamic right to enter a mosque.
2. Women have an Islamic right to enter through the main door.
3. Women have an Islamic right to visual and auditory access to the musalla (main sanctuary).
4. Women have an Islamic right to pray in the musalla without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines.
5. Women have an Islamic right to address any and all members of the congregation.
6. Women have an Islamic right to hold leadership positions, including positions as prayer leaders, or imams, and as members of the board of directors and management committees.
7. Women have an Islamic right to be full participants in all congregational activities.
8. Women have an Islamic right to lead and participate in meetings, study sessions, and other community activities without being separated by a barrier.
9. Women have an Islamic right to be greeted and addressed cordially.
10. Women have an Islamic right to respectful treatment and exemption from gossip and slander.