April 5, 2013

Feminist Friday: Margaret Thatcher, March 29, 3013

March 22, 2013

March 15, 2013: Feminist Friday: Oprah Winfrey


March 8, 2013: Feminist Friday: Gertrude Stein


Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was an American who lived in Paris most of her life. She was an experimental writer. She wrote stream of conscious pieces, novels, plays and poems. The book that launched her career into the mainstream was The Autobiography of Alice B. Tolkas, which despite the title was her autobiography. It became a bestseller. Stein’s book Q.E.D was one of the first books about coming out as a lesbian that was published after her death. She did not hide that she was a masculine woman.

Stein held weekly Saturday night salons in Paris with the premier artists of the time that “brought together confluences of talent and thinking that would help define modernism in literature and art.”, quote from here. The guests often included Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and Henri Matisse. She collected modern paintings, especially cubist paintings.

Alice B. Tolkas, a writer, was her life partner, Hemingway referred to her often as Stein’s wife.  One of Stein’s most famous quotes is “A rose is a rose is a rose.”

Feminist Friday: Audre Lorde: March 1, 2013

February 22 2013: Feminist Friday: Nina Simone

Nina Simone was called the “High Priestess of Soul”. Her singing, songwriting and piano playing was legendary and has been profoundly influential for many other musicians. She was a classical piano player and though her music was mostly associated with jazz, she worked with pop, gospel, blues, classical, folk and R&B. She made over 40 albums, between 1958 and 1974 , with many hit records.

After twenty years of playing music she became a civil rights activist. Between 1964 and 1974 she recorded songs that were about racial inequality and race relations. Amongst many she sang “Old Jim Crow” which addressed the Jim Crow Laws, “Mississippi Goddam”, which was about the bombings of a church in Birmingham, Alabama. Her music and presence became regular at civil rights events over those years.

She was known to work incredibly hard, sometimes practicing 3-6 hours before giving a concert. She named being in water her first love, music her second. From 1974- 2003 she mostly lived out of the USA. She spent her later years in France.

“There’s no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes and heroines are or were.” – Nina Simone

“Jazz is a white term to define black people. My music is black classical music.” -Nina Simone


February 15, 2013: Feminist Fridays: Christine Jorgensen

Christine Jorgensen was the first widely known transwoman in America, she was called “the most famous woman in America”. She was an ex GI in the Army and in 1952 she went to Denmark and had sex-reassignment surgery and began taking hormones. She transitioned from male to female and returned to the United States in 1953 and became a celebrity who educated the public about transgender and transsexual people.

This 2.45 min interview with her is fabulous, she answers the talk show hosts questions with such grace, poise and education. This is an excellent 30 second excerpt of a play to her actual recorded voice, where she is answering the question of “Are you a woman” with an answer that we can all learn from.

February 1, 2013

Dr. Christiane Northrup has been a leading voice in the world of mind-body wellness for women in the last few decades. As an MD, ex-surgeon and Ob Gyn she wrote a classic book on women’s health: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. She has written much about health and pleasure, about mother-daughter relationships, menopause and most recently a delightful children’s book for little girls. Each of her books have been essential reads and ground-breaking work in the field of women’s health and wellness. I am particularly grateful to Dr. Northrup for explaining physically how pleasure is healthy and valuable for women to experience.

This painting is made in thanks to her for all of her work to the field of women’s health, sexuality and pleasure. The painting is an ode to her, by honoring her love of tango. I hear from her writing that it has become a great joy of hers in the last few years as she continues to deepen in the pleasure of being in her body.

Inspired by Dr. Northrup’s work,
May we all continue to know our bodies factually and practically and may that inform how we treat our bodies.
May we heal our lineages of mother daughter relationships.
May we open to the pleasure of being in our blessed female bodies.
May we teach young girls to be awake to the magic and mystery of their bodies as they grow.

I thank you Dr. Northrup for your work in this field, for what you have opened up for women in terms of knowing our bodies more intimately and with more reverence and delight.

Thank you.


Feminist Fridays: January 25, 2013: Annie Sprinkle

I first saw Annie Sprinkle at college. All the chairs were full so I sat on the stairs in the packed auditorium. I listened, watched and had my mind blown.

I had NEVER before seen a woman embrace her sexuality with so much fun, love, play and lack of judgement. She stood there in front of us with epic sized beautiful breasts decorated in glitter, sequins, boas and effused love.

She told us about how she had done public cervix announcements where she put a speculum into her vaginal canal and had people come by and take a look. She told us stories about when she had been a porn star and showed us pictures of her various sexual encounters, including one porn she made with a little person and another with an amputee where she was having sex with their stump. She talked about how lovely the person was and how fun it had been. She was happy to share with us how she had shared her body, she didn’t have all this shame, guilt, and judgement about having had sex with lots of people. She wasn’t upset or ashamed about having been a whore, she was so very fine with it.

Whatever you think about her professional choices, what really stayed with me about her was the total lack of judgement about sexuality. In my early 20’s, she changed my world view. At that time I had honestly never heard of, met or seen a woman who was living without the fundamental idea that being highly sexual with many people was bad or shameful. She expanded my sense of what was possible in terms of being a woman, of having a sexuality that didn’t have as a foundational belief that sharing your sexuality was bad, evil, slutty and ultimately diminished and dissolved your worth is as a woman. That, my friends, was a game changer for me. Annie Sprinkle showed me that one could choose who you have sex with, enjoy it and still be a loving, good person and have self-worth fully intact, and that was a revelation to me at that time.

She brought such fun to it all. She covered her breasts in paint and made tit prints. I LOVED them. Inspired by her I made bright blue prints of my own breasts and gave them to my college boyfriend as a christmas card that year and put others on my fridge. They made me so very happy and sparked lots of fabulous college girl conversations around our kitchen table.

Over the years she has professionally moved away from sex and into performance art. Annie and her partner (Beth) Elizabeth Stephens, an art professor at University of Santa Cruz, did a 7 year art project called the Love Art Lab where they had a public wedding ceremony each year to celebrate each different chakra. The first year, Annie got breast cancer, so they included that in their art project and dressed up in costumes for chemotherapy and shaved both their heads in a hairotica piece. She said their motto was to “eroticize everything.” Annie and Beth’s spirit of bringing so much fun and play to some of the hardest moments in life is clearly inspiring.

Now they both are focusing their art projects on being ecosexuals, being lovers to the earth. They aim to be part of shifting the idea of the earth as mother to the earth as lover. Their hope is because that is so much sexier, perhaps people will be more motivated to care for the earth. Annie and Beth’s artistic adventure continues.

Annie Sprinkle is like a fairy godmother of sex, art and love. I am ever grateful for the impact Annie Sprinkle had on my young life, showing me there was a playful way to be a woman, be sexual, live without shame and talk to and impact thousands of people’s experience of sexuality in a lifetime.