Before I jump into the actual blog-story, I wanted to quickly say that I will soon return to my ongoing series on A New U.S. Constitution. Do not worry. Those of you awaiting Part 3 won’t be overly discouraged or disappointed that I might have forgotten. Because I knew you were. 😉 I’ve been wanting to post this quick musing for many months now and thought NOW would be just as good a time as any. Therefore, let’s jump right in… or as they say in football/soccer, “Get stuck in!”
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The other day I was having a half-serious, half-joking discussion with a friend. She had asked how life was going for me. I replied to her with a question, as I often do, so as not to waste anyone’s time. I asked, “Do you want the prim-n-proper, standard, social answer, or do you want the brute truth?” She asked for the unadulterated truth. I appreciated that greatly, as I always do with people like her, that she wanted nothing diluted, nothing sugar-coated. And as she desired, here was my answer.
I told her that I was sick-n-tired of having to shave, trim, cleanup, and remove body-hair and whiskers at least every 6-8 days from anatomical places I’m convinced were NEVER meant to have primate-hairs growing out of them! At least, not on my metro-sexual body! No, no, and NO! It is all so damn annoying! I think hall of fame comedian Billy Crystal talked frequently about body hair in places it was not meant to be, ever! I told my laughing friend, I want to overhaul my ears, just replace them with new ones or relocate all the damn jungle-hair growing profusely out of my ears and side of my skull, and move it all to the top of my head and shrinking hairline on my forehead! I mean, I’m dead SERIOUS now!
Then I took a slightly different tack. I explained to her that I want to just go down to the local auto “body parts” store and purchase everything I desperately need replacing on me! “Um, yes. Do you have any hairless ears in stock?” She pointed in that direction to show me. “Oh really!? What about full hairline replacements? You’re probably all sold out on those, right?” As we walked, she informed me that they might have exactly what I’m looking for. I began to get really excited about this NEW Body Parts store! But then the most riddling thing happened.
We walked through the Men’s Intelligence & Brain aisle.
Now, I want to preface this next bit. Please remember that I live in a highly charged, super Red (Republican), Conservative, ultra-religiously bigoted part of the nation: Texas. That right there should give you adequate context to the remainder of my story. ☺️
As we moved further into the store, the shelves we came upon were crammed full of all sorts of gifted brains, from floor to near the ceiling! It was incredible. Every where you gazed you saw discounted, clearance sale prices on overstocked men’s brains. Hundreds and hundreds of highly intelligent brains everywhere! There were even Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Mark Twain, and many other famous replica brains marked down super cheap! The store-clerk told me that they’ve been TRYING to move these men’s brains for 5-10 years, but we just can’t sell them, not even one. Astounded, I couldn’t imagine why these men’s brains were not flying off the shelves!
Then we entered the next section of the store.
On either side of the aisle were empty shelves. Dust, then more dust on these shelves. It was as if there had been a crazed rush of Black Friday shoppers had cleared out all stock of whatever was in this section. I asked the kind, helpful store clerk… “Why are these shelves utterly empty?” She replied matter-of-factly…
“Oh, this is the men’s giant penis, or jumbo-dick section. We can NEVER keep this section stocked for barely even half a day.”
I said to myself, Pffft.Yep, that’s about right in Texas and the Deep South.
Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Learn Always
In this extraordinary life we find ourselves and on this endlessly mysterious, riveting, and dazzling planet we call home, we can often recognize similarities, patterns between different events, different objects, different species and humans if we observe closely in earnest. If we observe it equitably and honestly.
For example, the musket or flintlock, as Wikipedia explains, “is a muzzle-loaded, smoothbore long gun that appeared in early 16th century Europe, at first as a heavier variant of the arquebus, capable of penetrating heavy armor.“ For some time the musket was the common weapon in use. Other than cannons and mortars they served pretty well their intended designed purpose. However, by the time the 19th-century approached they were quickly becoming obsolete. Their rate-of-fire simply could not keep up with repeating rifles, followed decades later by the faster, more sophisticated, more lethal machine guns. The musket had become a dinosaur on the fields of battle.
The machine gun, unlike the antiquated slow-loaded musket, could fire at a rate of 300 rounds per minute or higher. During World War II Mauser Werke manufactured one of the most feared machine guns Allied forces had ever faced to date, the MG-42 which could fire an average of 1,200 rounds per minute. For the two World Wars and beyond, the machine gun completely revolutionized modern warfare and tactics.
And then BOOM, it hit me! This history is also profoundly representative of another dynamic, another similar relationship.
Men’s penises and their performance are just like muskets! They are pretty much single fire until “hours” later, muzzle-loaded after some gun-powder (air-pumping? surgery? drugs?), and unless updated or refined, kept impeccably (not pecker you pervs!) maintained, then highly and properly trained, they are pretty much outdated, limp, and with a very shitty rate-of-fire.
Women’s sexual organs are quite sophisticated, quite advanced, with more than one arousal-barrel/spot and have a most IMPRESSIVE (and lethal?) rate-of-fire. Women are truly a beautiful work of art (not machinery) that honestly puts us musket-carrying Neanderthals to shame. There’s simply no denying it gentlemen. Sorry. This is why they are truly Earth’s most mesmerizing, most needed creatures. And looking back over history and how utterly crappy we males have progressed and developed, the women deserve so much MORE than just equality and unfettered respect.
Besides, guys… come on! We have muskets, they have machine guns for f*ck sake. 🙄
Live Well — Love Much — Respect Her Lethality — Laugh Often — Learn Always
I am notifiying all of my Alternative Lifestyles fans/Followers that I have migrated all of my BDSM and Open-lifestyle, Polyamory, Memoirs of A Darker Professor, and Memoirs of Consentual Non-monogamy posts — everything that is not related to the mainstream vanilla-lifestyle — over to my new Private blog:
For those of you interested in these subjects and participating in their discussions, as well as the next post in the Payments series and all future Alternative Lifestyle posts, just click on the link above and make your request there if I haven’t already sent you an invite. Hope to find all of you over there!
In Part I the various forms of ignorance raised five studied categories with applicable questions. For example, when does knowledge create ignorance? Ignorance for whom? Against whom? Selection and suppression are key factors influencing rise, stagnation, or fall among civilizations, organizations, or families. Recognizing how certain tactics impact you and those people goes a long way toward composing, testing, and restructuring the best available actions and reactions benefitting, as best as possible, the greater good. As A.B. Hill elaborates:
“All scientific work is incomplete — whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, or to postpone actions that it appears to demand at a given time.
Who knows, asked Robert Browning… [truthfully], but on available evidence most of us make ready to commute on the 8:30 next day.”
These are the wonderful rewards of living and working within a free open-system of inquiry, probabilities, plausibilities, and collective consensus! There is typically more — more accuracy in knowledge, more progress, and more accountability. As a slight apology, I realize this Part II post reached over 5,100 words. On the contrary, its content is so critical, so vastly unknown today by the general American public that I just could not reduce its word-count anymore than I have. I hope you’ll understand why when finished reading.
As I mentioned in Part I, in this post I am stepping extensively into manufactured uncertainty and ignorance, as well as into some women’s social and political issues, their implied status now and treatment throughout history with regard to learned forms of ignorance. However, I will do my best to allow women like Dr. Nancy Tuana and other highly credible female experts to do the talking as much as possible. Experience has taught me in the arena of Feminism, as a bumbling male at times, this is a wise and healthier approach. 😀
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In the world of athletic sporting events such as the Olympics, or the FIFA World Cup—both held only every four years—during the ensuing three years between, excitement and anticipation build to a fever pitch. In American sports in 2016 the three major pro leagues of football, baseball, and basketball raked in a mind-boggling $27.3-billion in revenues. Viewing the HowMuch.net infographic below it is easy to see just how much in dollars and socioeconomic values professional sports and their fans impact the entire globe.
In those stadiums and arenas of competition, both in the front and back offices, locker rooms, television broadcasting and sponsorships, in sports pubs and bars, and family homes, with that much annual revenues and profits flowing, how well do you think it would go over (to everyone in sports concerned) if none of these leagues, franchises, owners, players, and administrative offices had any sort of referees, umpires, or league policies and procedures? Zero. Would it upset some fans? To remain successful and winning, how would players and owners react to no enforcement of any league or game rules? Would parity exist? For how long might it exist?
Whether on the field of competitive sports or in the daily market-place, unchecked, all the worst human faults and ugly behaviors would run wild. Dog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest as they say… or rather the smartest, quickest, and most cunning would soon dominate. Those born disadvantaged would have dreadful, bleak, survival odds. Like it or not, the world and each of us NEED referees and umpires of integrity to keep the playing field equal and fair not just for survival, but for the innate right of livelihood for all.
Consequences of Deregulation or No Regulation The effects and impact of regulation, deregulation, or no regulation are never more central than in protecting the domains of public health and its environment where our health resides. This is more crucial for those who are disadvantaged and gullible, for unique reasons, and therefore are susceptible to acts of diversion and deceit. Following are five historical cases Dr. David Michaels, PhD, published concerning manufactured uncertainty and sustained ignorance.
Tobacco, Disease, and Doubt — in the early 1950’s as health researchers were discovering and publishing the negative effects of smoking, the tobacco industry launched major campaigns of counter-measures. “Doubt is our product” was one primary rallying cry directed to The Tobacco Institute, the industry’s voice or bullhorn defense against medical science as instructed via memorandum from Hill & Knowlton, Inc., one of the industry’s major public relations firms. With millions of dollars invested from large and small tobacco companies into these doubt campaigns, the success set the precedent for future successes against other scientific communities and their protection of public health and the environment, such as the effects of climate change.
VIOXX — and Merck. Before the FDA could approve Merck’s blockbuster pain-relief rofecoxib hit drugstore shelves, health professionals were finding and reporting in 1999, 2000, and 2004 the drug increased the risks of heart disease. With 88,000 – 139,000 heart attacks (30% – 40% fatal) attributed to rofecoxib, over four years later the drug was finally banned in November 2004. “On Friday, a Texas jury found Merck liable for the death of Robert C. Ernst, who died in May 2001 after taking Vioxx” reported the New York Times journalist. During the case it was found that Merck executives knew of the increased cardiac risks, but intentionally mislead physicians and the FDA in numerous documented company communications.
Beryllium — is a rare element in our universe produced by cosmic ray collisions. It increases the yield of nuclear explosions and thus has been highly valued in the U.S. production of weapons systems throughout the Cold War. As is corroborated by InvestorIntel.com, U.S. weapons manufacturers today dominate the beryllium market at more than 87% share of the world output. The revenues and profits are naturally a guiding economic force and investor’s criteria. The downside to beryllium manufacturing is exposure and lung disease, known as Chronic Beryllium Disease. Once again because of precedents set, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the DOE (Department of Energy) were constantly misinformed by the Department of Defense and funding-PR work by Brush-Wellman (now Materion Corp) the leading U.S. producer of beryllium products, that CBD-exposure was below hazard-standards and sporadic. Floor supervisors at Brush-Wellman were told by executives that when asked about CBD-exposure answer news reporters with more questions and uncertainty. This tactic leads us to another well-funded doubt campaign: PPA.
Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) — this particular case with PPA manufacturers and the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is a glaring use of well-funded misdirection and selling doubt. In the early 1970’s young females began suffering from hemorrhagic strokes when taking PPA. When these strokes were reported to the Mayo Clinic, only 20-years later did the FDA begin looking into the safety of the drug. Why 20-years? The manufacturers of PPA — organized together as the NDMA — were denying it was their drug causing the hemorrhagic strokes. They had hired and funded Yale University School of Medicine to study the effects of PPA. They also constructed the study to be approved by the FDA. In October 1999 when the results were finalized, the Yale study confirmed the link between PPA and hemorrhagic strokes. Did the NDMA remove the drug from pharmacy shelves? No. Instead they hired the Weinberg Group to attack the Yale study and science. The annual sales of PPA were well over $500-million despite over 200-500 men and women suffering strokes between ages 18 and 49 using the drug. These tactics stalled the removal of PPA from the market long enough (in 2000) to redesign them for a ready-made replacement that kept the flow of profits going — at the expense of crippled or deceased consumers. On their company website the Weinberg Group gloated* about their success for the NDMA.
The Funding Effect that $500-million in sales for an industry can elicit against protective science is a modern corporate tactic never to be ignored or taken lightly.
Funding Effect & BPA — When there is a close correlation between the desired results of a study by a study’s funders and the reported results of that study, it is called the funding effect. Dr. Richard Smith, M.D., a member of CBE and former editor of the British Medical Journal explains:
“Why are pharmaceutical companies getting the results they want? … The companies seem to get the results they want not by fiddling the results, which would be far too crude and possibly detectable by peer review, but rather by asking the “right” questions — and there are many ways to do this [see list below] … There are many ways to hugely increase the chance of producing favourable results, and there are many hired guns who will think up new ways and stay one jump ahead of peer reviewers.” — Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies, by Dr. Richard Smith, May 2005
With regard to BPA, an environmental estrogen used in polycarbonate plastic found in canned foods and dental sealants, exposure to low doses of the poly-plastic was found to alter human endocrine functions. At the time there were many conflicting reports. In response to the negative reports, the American Plastics Council employed the services of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis to dispute the reports and found that the effects of BPA exposure were inconclusive. A separate group of scientists felt the HCRA study was too small given the number of studies already done. When reexamining the some 115 separate assessments of BPA exposure conducted in addition to the much smaller samples by the HCRA, the conclusions were drastically different! What was found to be more disturbing was…
“90% (94 of 104) of the studies paid for with government funds reported an effect associated with BPA exposure; not a single one of the 11 corporate funded studies found an effect.” — Protecting Public Health in the Age of Contested Science and Product Defense, David Michaels, Ph.D., M.P.H., Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, pp. 156-157
A New Regulatory Paradigm The debates, controversies surrounding corporate funding-effects versus independent science, the millions-to-billions of dollars involved, and the risks posed to public health and our environment has created another industry niche that could be termed as Product Manufacturing Defense. In recent years these law and consulting firms have popped up to oppose independent science panels they label as “Private Surgeon Generals.” Here is one such lucrative strategy the firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP in New York, NY advertises and utilizes:
“Private Surgeons General seek to force manufacturers and retailers of food, consumer and household products to post Surgeon General-like warnings, change package labels and advertising and refund hundreds of millions of dollars to unharmed and otherwise perfectly happy consumers who purchased perfectly healthful and untainted products. Why? Because a substance shown in the ingredient list is claimed to be dangerous or a statement in the product advertising or label is claimed to be misleading.”
In the fight to return and maintain the scientific integrity in federal policymaking, the Union of Concerned Scientists published their January 2017 report detailing why more transparency is needed due to past conduct between manufacturers, agencies, science, and their possible bias. No records of gross misconduct are greater, writes the UCS, than what took place during George W. Bush’s administration:
“Bush administration officials manipulated, misrepresented, and suppressed inconvenient data and censored experts. They systematically chose science advisors based on ideology rather than scientific credentials, they prevented federal scientists from sharing their research and expertise, and they rewrote scientific reports to help justify predetermined policy decisions.
The evidence is clear: when policymakers undermine science, the public is left with laws and regulations that leave them exposed to unnecessary danger.”
It is very apparent that some/many industry-related research is not published, or distorted, or delayed until financially-covering alternatives are in place at the expense of health and/or environmental risks and consequences, some irreversible. Government laws and regulations—our referees and umpires of the highest integrity—must be in place for pure independent research and results to be readily accessible. More importantly, to offer the public and our environment parity-protection from well-funded Congressional lobbyists and biased product defense firms, our federal agencies such as OSHA and the EPA must have the best impartial, scientific information available! A two-way street of the funding for the science and possible conflicts of interest encourages transparency and integrity for these agencies to make informed regulatory policy-decisions.
In many ways Western civilization has only just departed the Dark Ages concerning women’s necessary place in all of society. The lethargy belongs squarely on two agents: Men and ignorance. For over a millenia, going back to ancient Greece, any mental or emotional “peculiarities” of a woman’s behavior would be diagnosed as hysteria by doctors; and all doctors were male. It was believed the hysteria was caused by a disorderly wandering uterus. This irregular behavior, as the story goes, led to the invention of the vaginal vibrators as treatment! Until the 21st century some of Emily Dickinson’s passionate works were little known, suppressed by men in positions of power:
“Wild nights — Wild nights! Were I with thee Wild nights should be Our luxury!
Futile – the winds – To a Heart in port – Done with the Compass – Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden – Ah – the Sea! Might I but moor – tonight – In thee!”
Her publisher was horrified and distraught over whether to publish those first four lines due to “social norms” of 1860’s patriarchal puritan America.
By the 1800’s male doctors noticed the time-correlation between “hysteria” and PMS. By the 1900’s male doctors and medical societies were linking menstrual insanity with tuberculosis and sexual molestation. Fortunately, modern medical science has greatly dispelled the myths concerning women’s bodies, but there is a long bumpy road still ahead with respect to eliminating all the ignorance.
Dr. Nancy Tuana reasons that what a group or person knows cannot fully be appreciated unless the unknowns are equally appreciated and who the knowledge or ignorance benefits or handicaps. It is an area that Dr. Tuana says:
“Female sexuality is a particularly fertile area for tracking the intersections of power/knowledge-ignorance. Scientific and commonsense knowledge of female orgasm has a history that provides a rich lens for understanding the importance of explicitly including epistemologies of ignorance alongside our theories of knowledge.”
Dr. Tuana closely examines seven subjects concerning women’s bodies and pleasures for a contemporary understanding: Epistemologies of Orgasms, Unveiling the Clitoris, Fingering Truth, The Issue of Pleasure, The Either/Or of Women’s Orgasms, Sisterhood Is Powerful, and finally Bodies and Pleasures. As mentioned before, I will let Dr. Tuana do most of the speaking and attempt to single out her key points within the first three areas.
Epistemologies of Orgasms The 19th century constructed and taught that sex, and women’s bodies and pleasures were a “problem of truth.” Dr. Tuana goes on…
“Can my investigations of the power dimensions of ignorance concerning women’s orgasms not fall prey to a constructed desire for the “truth of sex”?
…The bodies of my attention are those of women; the pleasures those of orgasm. But bodies and pleasures are not outside the history and deployment of sex-desire. Bodies and pleasures will not remove me, the epistemic subject, from the practice of desiring truth. Bodies and pleasures, as [Michel] Foucault well knew, have histories. Indeed the bodies that I trace are material-semiotic interactions of organisms, environments, cultures. Bodies and their pleasures are not natural givens, not even deep down. Nor do I believe in a true female sexuality hidden deep beneath the layers of oppressive socialization. But women’s bodies and pleasures provide a fertile lens for understanding the workings of power/knowledge-ignorance in which we can trace who desires what knowledge; that is, we can glimpse the construction of desire (or lack thereof) for knowledge of women’s sexuality. I also believe that women’s bodies and pleasures can, at this historical moment, be a wellspring for resisting sexual normalization.”
Hence, Dr. Tuana begins with the clitoris.
Unveiling the Clitoris Remarkably most adults in America, including university campuses, know more about the penis than they do about women’s genitalia and pleasures. In her many years of teaching at Penn State University, when Dr. Tuana has asked her students to sketch a drawing (from memory) of a woman’s internal and external sexual organs they are vague and typically exclude the clitoris.
“This pattern of knowledge-ignorance mirrors a similar pattern in scientific representations of female and male genitalia. Although the role of the clitoris in female sexual satisfaction is scientifically acknowledged, and well-known by most of us, the anatomy and physiology of the clitoris, particularly its beginnings and ends, is still a contested terrain. A brief history of representations of the clitoris provides an interesting initial entry into the epistemology of ignorance.
As I and many other theorists have argued, until the nineteenth century, men’s bodies were believed to be the true form of human biology and the standard against which female structures — bones, brains, and genitalia alike — were to be compared. The clitoris fared no differently. Medical science held the male genitals to be the true form, of which women’s genitals were a colder, interior version.
Even after the “two-sex” model became dominant in the nineteenth century, with its view of the female not as an underdeveloped male but as a second gender with distinctive gender differences, the clitoris got short shrift. It was often rendered a simple nub, which though carefully labeled, was seldom fleshed out or made a focus of attention.”
Not until the 1980’s did women’s health take another grand step forward in medical science. “…the clitoris expanded in size and configuration to include three structures: the shaft, the glans, and the crura.” Yet, this new expansion still fell short.
“But none of these [medical] texts focuses attention on coming to understand the sexual response patterns of these and other bits. Feminist imagery diverges significantly from nonfeminist in providing us far more detailed views of the impact of sexual stimulation on the glans and crura of the clitoris, as well as the labia majora and the bulbs of the vestibule, the latter of which possess a very extensive blood vessel system that becomes very engorged during arousal, doubling, even tripling in size, we are told, during sexual arousal… The always-found illustrations of male erections… are now accompanied by an illustration of female erections, …something absent in nonfeminist texts. Feminist texts also lovingly detail the other bits that are part of our seat of delight. Reminding us that the clitoris, impressive though it be, is not our only sensitive bit, feminists also provide us with images of the urethral sponge that lies between the front wall of the vagina and the urethra, which expands with blood during sexual arousal… It was this structure that was allegedly “discovered” with Columbus-like gusto (Christopher, this time, not Renaldus) by Ernst Graffenburg and popularized as the “G-spot.” Although a few nonfeminist anatomical illustrations, post-Graffenburg, provide us glimpses of this pleasurable sponge, apparently neither they nor Graffenburg have gotten the hang of the feminist speculum, for they continue to overlook feminist presentations of the other sponge, the perineal sponge located between the vagina and the rectum, which also engorged when a woman is sexually aroused… Pressure on any of these engorged structures can result in pleasure and orgasm.”
Thus, clearly the clitoris and her compliments are far more than a simple nub.
Fingering Truth How has the clitoris historically and socially remained as a mere nub? Because I am male I think it more wise to yield the floor to Dr. Tuana in her own words. She explains:
“Despite fifteen years of clear illustrations of this [modern] view of clitoral structures, our impact has been surprisingly minimal, at least so far. A review of anatomical illustrations in standard college human sexuality textbooks reveals a surprising lack of attention to the functions and structures of the clitoris. No surprise, then, that my students have, at best, a passing knowledge of the depths and complexity of its structures.
There is a politics of ignorance at work here, one that is linked to the politics of sex and reproduction… There has been little dispute from the Greeks to the present of the importance of male pleasure and ejaculation for conception. In contrast, the question of female seed and the link between it and female pleasure was always a point of controversy… Women’s sexual pleasure came to be seen as inessential to reproduction, although many scholars admitted that it might be useful in promoting the desire for intercourse.
Now to this view of the functions (or lack thereof) of female erotic pleasure add the politics of sex, namely the view that the only or at least the main function of sex is reproduction. To this view add the politics of female sexuality, namely the tenet common in scientific and popular accounts well into the nineteenth century that women were more lustful than men and that their sexuality was a danger to men, and a path is cleared to an understanding of why clitoral structures get lost in the process. The logic becomes quite clear: (a) There is not good reason to pay attention to the clitoris, given that it allegedly plays no role in reproduction and that sex is to be studied (only) in order to understand reproduction. (b) Worse, there is good reason to not pay attention to the clitoris lest we stir up a hornet’s nest of stinging desire. From Pandora on, and well into the nineteenth century, women’s stinging desire and limb-gnawing passion had been branded the cause of the fall of mankind. What better reason to construct and maintain an epistemology of ignorance? What better way to disqualify and perhaps even control women’s sexual satisfaction?
Leaving Sigmund Freud aside for the moment, genitals came under scrutiny during the end of the nineteenth century as science constructed the category of the “invert,” namely, those who mixed with members of their own sex. Evolutionary theory linked the newly “uncovered” sexual identity of the homosexual to degeneracy, and widespread societal fears of the degeneration of the race (that is, the white race) led to broadened support for eugenics movements… Belief in the degeneration of the race led many to believe that so-called inverts were proliferating. Anxiety led to a desire to be able to track such undesirables and an equally strong desire to believe their perversity and devolution would be clearly marked on their bodies… Although through images to be kept only for the eyes of professionals, whose objectivity and dispassionate nature would protect them from corruption, science began to turn its gaze on the structures of the clitoris to seek out and control deviancy.”
From 1935 — 1941 sexual deviancy outside the accepted binary norms was conducted to ‘learn the physical marks‘ of such behavior in order to stop contamination of the white race by other races (see p. 211 here).
“The point here is that this epistemology is not about truth. …What is missing or only sketchily attended to in nonfeminist anatomies, at least when the focus is on the “normal” rather than the “deviant,” is the desire to map the geographies and functions of the clitoris and our other pleasurable bits.
…What I am arguing is that the history of our knowledge-ignorances of the clitoris — indeed, our lived experiences of its beginnings and ends — is part of an embodied discourse and history of bodies and pleasures.”
For the sake of length and my time-constraints, and probably yours too, I am leaving out the next four sections — The Issue of Pleasure, The Either/Or of Women’s Orgasms, Sisterhood Is Powerful, and Bodies and Pleasures — all four of which are well worth the read! If you are interested, here’s the complete version: Coming to Understand: Orgasm and the Epistemology of Ignorance.
Abortifacients and the Making of More Ignorance
It is as easy as sipping a cup of Pride of Barbados herbal tea and washing herself with the same herb/flower in a morning bath. Doing this shortly after intercourse, according to secretancient medicine in the Caribbean islands, prevents conception safely and comfortably. In fact, a woman could do this repeatedly two or three days after intercourse accomplishing more assured results. Why has this profound medical knowledge NOT been circulated around the world, especially in European civilizations? That is literally the million-dollar question.
Age of Discovery? 1500 — 1899 Advances in European maritime navigation and ship-building saw an unprecedented extent of exploration far beyond the continent’s seas between the 1500’s and 1900’s. Empires such as Spain, Portugal, France, and Great Britain were economic competitors and often bitter enemies when the riches of the New Worlds were discovered and calculated. The magnitude of historical influence on the world by just these four maritime empires cannot be overstated — three of the world’s most widely spoken languages today are Spanish, English, and Portuguese. During the Age of Discovery and Exploration humanity witnessed and experienced at the time what might be described as the biggest economic boom in recorded history, for European nobility particularly, followed by a new age of scientific breakthroughs. But not all breakthroughs found in the New Worlds made it back to European headlines. Why?
“…in the eighteenth century, both European science and societies were structured to cultivate certain types of knowledge over others. Funding priorities, global strategies, national policies, structures of scientific institutions, trade patterns, configuration of technologies all pushed investigation toward certain parts of nature and away from others.”
Centuries of European gender politics and mercantile profits were the undercurrents of this knowledge-ignorance. Following were two basic distortions in 18th century botany. Taxonomists like John Ray asked: What is the uniformity of plants and flora across various continents? It was postulated that Caribbean flowers and plants were brought to the islands by the Tainos of South America and afterwards by the Dutch, Spanish, and English. What botanists failed to observe was crates and sacks of produce awaiting transport in harbors inadvertently collected soil and seeds of other weedy species. Thus, trade routes/winds, their imports/exports, and human mixing/influence caused taxonomists to wrongly conclude that “uniformity” in tropical flora was global rather than diverse according to regions and climates.
Two centuries later famed English botanist, William T. Stearn, along with earlier recorded scientific excursions from several other renown 18th century European botanists corrected this faulty science. Where 17th century science was in favor of profitable trade and commerce, Stearn also noticed European taxonomists then were not as interested or invested in the notion of boring, all the same, un-lucrative uniformity. Highly novel filled the pockets of East and West Indies shipping and commerce.
The second distortion in 18th century botany which fueled cultural ignorance was technology and transcontinental movements. Not until the early 1800’s did European botany more accurately know and understand taxonomies of the New World’s resources as opposed to their own. Voyagers crossing the oceans preferred succulents and bulbs over heavy stones and minerals simply because they’d survive the journey back to Europe; they weighed much less and cost less to transport. These trade conditions didn’t change until ships became larger and faster. However, New World abortifacients like the Pride of Barbados or the peacock flower, was not embraced in Europe even though the knowledge of its use had been known for centuries in indigenous cultures and in select scientific disciplines.
Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th century German-born Naturalist and botany-entymologist illustrator, documented that both Amerindians and African slave-women used the abortifacient flower almost exclusively because they did not want their child born into the slave-trade for life. There are several possibilities of the origin of the Pride of Barbados (peacock flower) and its use, but Dr. Schiebinger feels the more likely origin-knowledge is South America:
“The historical record of the peacock flower used as an abortive from Surinam up through the French Antilles to Jamaica suggests that the plant was known to the forebears of the Tainos, the Saladoid peoples, and followed their migration out of South America into the[Caribbean]islands. …While it is possible that displaced Africans taught the Tainos the use of the peacock flower, I find it more likely that the Tainos and Arawaks taught its uses to the newly arrived Africans.”
Despite the fact that so much Amerindian, African, and Caribbean resources and knowledge entered Europe during the Age of Discovery, their knowledge of abortifacients like the peacock flower did not. Again, why? What induced this European ignorance? Dr. Schiebinger explains pre-19th century social-moral legalities:
“Throughout the early modern period, the general consensus was that for legal purposes a woman was not pregnant — not truly with child — until “quickening” or “ensoulment” took place, usually considered to occur near the midpoint of gestation, late in the fourth or early in the fifth month of pregnancy (or according to Aristotle, forty days after conception for a male child and ninety days for a female child). …Even though abortion was legal in this period, it was never undertaken lightly: moral trepidation and physical danger argued against it.
Cultivating knowledge of West Indian abortifacients in Europe was discouraged by the fact that European colonial enterprises were largely male. The majority of Caribbean planters and slaves were men, as were colonial administrators, naturalists, and physicians. Colonial governors, such as Hendrick van Reede and Philippe de Lonvilliers, chevalier de Poincy (for whom the Poinciana pulcherrima was named), were most interested in medicines to protect traders, planters, and trading company troops, among whom few women were found.
Developing abortifacients or any drugs used predominantly to control fertility also worked directly against the interests of mercantilist states. Mercantilist governments sought to augment the wealth of nations by PRODUCING growing and healthy populations.”
There is simply no other more pleasant way of putting it. Women, in the Age of Discovery, were breeders, meant to bolster the wealth and resources of male nations. For European states and their foreign colonies, abundant population — both slave and citizen — was to increase production of crops and goods. Domestically large populations filled the armies and navies. It generated workers who would pay substantial taxes and rents. In the empire’s colonies it grew negroes that would push and pad the empire’s wealth. The moral issues surrounding abortifacients were just as centered around a company’s and nation’s wealth-accumulation as it was (or less so) seen in God’s eyes and prosperity for “true believers.”
And so the simple, safe, and comfortable remedy for a possible (objectionable? shameful?) conception — drinking an herbal tea of peacock flower and bathing in a warm “peacock floral” bath — went disinterested and/or suppressed throughout an apparently ‘advanced’ European people. How much has changed today in our knowledge-ignorance of safe, simple, ancient and Renaissance abortifacients?
For further information about women’s bodies and pleasure: OMGYes.com — “See What Science Says About Women’s Pleasure”
∞ ∞ ∞ § ∞ ∞ ∞
In Part III of Games of Unknowledging, I want to cover the art of Fabricating Facts, the Revelations of Indigenous Fossils and their knowledge-ignorance, as well as gaining a better understanding of the benefits and advantages of thorough Historical-Interdisciplinary Hindsight. I hope you’ll join me there with your thoughts and comments.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Last October I posted a six-part blog-series Untapped Worlds in which I shared the many abundant ways for humans to find, tightly grasp, and experience the marrows of life, a fuller more impactful, vibrant, attaching life. Today I want to address a very specific part of this human experience.
For a few different reasons in different settings both in the past and lately, I have been in conversations, listening, and reading about a subject that effects all of us, every single one of us. It is very intriguing to explore and examine the various perspectives of What makes quality human intimacy.Quantity inevitably enters the discussion in some form and this is where I find the most fascinating definitions and points of views about love, sex, intimacy, and the mindsets people create for themselves. More often than not, two love-models or paradigms eventually appear. Due to my schedule this weekend, I want to just share a lens to these two models from two excellent resources on the subject of love, sex, and intimacy…
Many traditional attitudes about sexuality are based on the unspoken belief that there isn’t enough of something — love, sex, friendship, commitment — to go around. If you believe this, if you think that there’s a limited amount of what you want, it can seem very important to stake your claim to your share of it. You may believe that you have to take your share away from somebody else, since if it’s such a very good thing, someone else is probably competing with you for it (how could they!). Or you may believe that if someone else gets something, that means there must be less of it for you.
We want all of our readers to get everything they want. Here are some ideas that might help you over some of the obstacles on the path.
We call this kind of thinking “starvation economies.” People often learn about starvation economies in childhood, when parents who are emotionally depleted or unavailable teach us that we must work hard to get our emotional needs met, so that if we relax our vigilance for even a moment, a mysterious someone or something may take the love we need away from us. Some of us may even have experienced real-world hunger (if you didn’t grab first, your brother got all the potatoes), or outright neglect, deprivation, or abuse. Or we may learn starvation economies later in life, from manipulative, withholding, or punitive lovers, spouses, or friends.
The beliefs acquired in childhood are usually deeply buried and hard to see, both in individuals and in our culture. So you may have to look carefully to see the pattern. You can see it in a small way in the kind of complaining contests some people engage in: “Boy, did I have a rotten day today.” “You think your day was rotten—wait till you hear about my day!”—as though there were a limited amount of sympathy in the world and the only way to get the amount due you was to compete for it. Or remember how you have felt looking at the last piece of a very good pie, the secret salivation that made you greedy and territorial and a “selfish” person. When is it okay to want anything? People may think that if you love Bill that means you must love Mary less, or if you’re committed to your relationship with your friend you must be less committed to your relationship with your spouse. And then how do you know if you’re Number One in a partner’s heart?
This kind of thinking is a trap. We know, for example, that having a second child doesn’t usually mean that a parent loves the first child less and that the person who owns three pets doesn’t necessarily give any less care to any one of them than the person who owns one. But when it comes to sex, love, and romance, it’s hard for most people to believe that more for you doesn’t mean less for me, and we often behave as if desperate starvation is just around the corner if we don’t corner some love right now. — The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures
An additional lens…
When they approach romantic relationships, people often fall into one of two patterns. Some follow a starvation model, and some follow an abundance model.
In the starvation model, opportunities for love seem scarce. Potential partners are thin on the ground, and finding them is difficult. Because most people you meet expect monogamy, finding poly partners is particularly difficult. Every additional requirement you have narrows the pool still more. Since relationship opportunities are so rare, you’d better seize whatever opportunity comes by and hang on with both hands—after all, who knows when another chance will come along?
The abundance model says that relationship opportunities are all around us. Sure, only a small percentage of the population might meet our criteria, but in a world of more than seven billion people, opportunities abound. Even if we exclude everyone who isn’t open to polyamory, and everyone of the “wrong” sex or orientation, and everyone who doesn’t have whatever other traits we want, we’re still left with tens of thousands of potential partners, which is surely enough to keep even the most ambitious person busy.
The sneaky thing about both models is they’re both right: the model we hold tends to become self-fulfilling. If we have a starvation model of relationships, we may tend to dwell on the times we’ve been rejected, which may lower our self-esteem, which decreases our confidence…and that makes it harder to find partners, because confidence is sexy. We may start feeling desperate to find a relationship, which decreases our attractiveness further. So we end up with less success, which reinforces the idea that relationships are scarce.
When we hold an abundance model of relationships, it’s easier to just go do the things that bring us joy, without worrying about searching for a partner. That tends to make us more attractive, because happy, confident people are desirable. If we’re off doing the things that bring us joy, we meet other people there who are doing the same. Cool! The ease with which we find potential partners, even when we aren’t looking for them, reinforces the idea that opportunities for love are abundant, which makes it easier for us to go about doing what makes us happy, without worrying overmuch about finding a partner…and ’round it goes. We think our perceptions are shaped by reality, but the truth is, the reality we get is often shaped by our perceptions (Cognitive scientists talk about confirmation bias—the tendency to notice things that confirm our ideas, and to discount, discredit or not things that don’t.).
These ideas will also influence how willing we are to stay in relationships that aren’t working for us, both directly and indirectly. If we believe relationships are rare and difficult to find, we may not give up a relationship even when it’s damaging to us. Likewise, if we believe that relationships are hard to find, that may increase our fear of being alone, which can cause us to remain in relationships that aren’t working for us.
Naturally, there’s a fly in the ointment. Sometimes the things we’re looking for, or the way we look for them, create artificial scarcity. This might be because we’re doing something that puts other people off, or because we’re looking for something unrealistic. If you’re looking for a Nobel Prize–winning Canadian supermodel with a net worth of $20 million, you might find potential partners few and far between. Similarly, if you give people the impression that you’ve created a slot for them to fit into that they won’t be able to grow out of, opportunities for relationships might not be abundant either. — More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory
“The model we hold tends to become self-fulfilling.” I could not agree more!
Returning to the point of my six-part blog-series Untapped Worlds, the majority of scientists, especially sociologists and psychologists, postulate not as a “theory” but available mechanisms of innumerable abundant ways for an intrinsic and extrinsic nirvana if you will, WITH OTHERS! Getting there is not a myth or Mount Everest! Simply rewiring and remapping the mind and body in more balance is the first step. ❤
Would you agree, add to, subtract, or disagree? Share your comments below.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always