SSL Review - Filament Magazine - I Just Read it for the Articles, I Swear

That's right people. This right here is the first SSL Review for a magazine. You may remember an earlier post about Filament, a UK magazine dedicated to the female gaze. I was eagerly awaiting the 3 back issues I had ordered. Turns out, I, being the genius I am, chose and paid for UK instead of US postage rates when I ordered them, so there was a bit of a delay. However, it allowed me the chance to correspond with the Editor and creator Suraya Sidhu Singh who was both nice and quite humorous in our brief exchanges. She took care of the situation, and I got my 3 Filaments.

I decided to read one, cover to cover, and do a review. I went with the first ever themed Filament - the 1920's issue. It was published June of 2010. Originally I thought I would just do a general review on it because a magazine that is trying to create a space for women to desire and men to be desired, is a magazine that helps balance the sexual culture and adds positively to a new perspective of female sexuality in general. So those in themselves were good reason to review, but turns out I can actually do an SSL review also, because there was a written depiction of female sexual response - lucky me!

I've already discussed in a previous post about the idea behind Filament. In short, it's a magazine, unbeholden to the status quo and gender stereotypes, that is geared toward women who are into men. I personally am ecstatic that this magazine exists because it is something that I have thought about for years. In my head, I've always believed that women would enjoy a magazine with eye candy and longer form articles on a variety of interesting subjects. Why? Just because. I mean, why wouldn't we. We like looking at pretty men and reading things that are interesting don't we? For real though, start paying attention to the content of magazines found in Women's Interest sections and compare that with the content of magazines you find in the Men's Interest. All I'm saying is that wouldn't you like to read about something other than fashion, your body, celebrities, shopping, crafts, or children in a woman's magazine. And, I mean really, men's magazines (with exception of fitness mags) usually have hot sexualized women on the covers, and if men are on the covers, they look powerful, interesting, or important (and their pores aren't airbrushed out). In women's magazines, we don't often see sexualized men looking out at us. We're much more likely to see hot ladies, airbrushed and beautiful, reminding us that we don't quite measure up and we should take a second look at that face cream on p.4 and the new ways to tighten your buns on p. 61.Yet there's a long tradition of believing women would never go for a magazine like Filament. I could go on for pages about how silly I think that is, but I'll just leave it with this. I think women deserve a magazine like this and I think it can be successful if done right.

So I'm actually going to review this magazine in a real way, because I think it deserves that. I'll start in this post with the articles asn the next with the pictorials. It is a great concept. It is a good read, and it has some fabulous pics. I wasn't bored or annoyed while reading it at all, and that's a lot to say for me - I'm kind of a bitch. However, I think there are ways it can improve, and I know that they are working to improve with each issue - asking for lots feedback from readers. So, for those who aren't going to read much further, let me say this. This magazine is only going to get better, and it's already good. So if you are interested in this concept at all, I highly recommend you get yourself some Filament. But in the meantime


Consciousness Raising and Orgasm Inequality

Let's talk consciousness raising (CR). In a conversation a while back - I can't remember the context exactly, but Charlie said that what needs to happen with the subjects discussed in our movie is consciousness raising. He's been reading a book off and on that's in part discussing the history of feminism, so that's where CR first really came up. But, it's also an idea Charlie, Barnaby and I have talked about (without using the words consciousness raising) many times when discussing Science Sex and the Ladies. I think Barnaby was the one who said it felt like an avalanche of ideas - once female orgasm is seen from this new perspective, other related concepts can't help but be affected - your eyes are suddenly open. Sometimes it seems like we can't turn around without it hitting us in the face, and we are all really excited to share this consciousness raising with others through our movie.

Now...I may be butchering the original purpose and meaning of consciousness raising, but I believe that at least one way of seeing CR is as a way to to look at an issue from a new perspective - particularly to take yourself out of isolation and place your own experiences within the larger condition of other like people. It is one thing to feel inadequate because you just can't lose weight in your thighs. It is quite another thing to realize that every woman you know feels inadequate due to her dissatisfaction with one or more body parts. At that point you need to step back and say - maybe this isn't my problem but a problem of cultural oppression. Maybe what I am feeling is not a result of my own personal inadequacy, but a result of the culture's poisonous attitude towards women's appearance in general. To fix such an ingrained and personal oppression like this, one first needs to know that there is a problem. When we just go around believing it's our own personal inadequacies, we can never see beyond ourselves and realize that there is a problem. That's why CR groups were first created in the late 60's. Feminist activist realized that they did not fully understand all the ways women were oppressed. They had been living in the oppression since birth, and felt a little like babies suddenly opening their eyes into a new perspective. They felt that women expressing their personal experiences could help all the women in the group better place their own experiences within the common experience of women. In this way, the activists could better see where oppression manifested itself and what needed to be acted upon.

CR popped into my mind as I was searching through blog editorials, blog


SSL Review - Slums of Beverly Hills


I'm pleased to present another SSL review. In an SSL review, of course, I specifically critique the depictions and discussions of female sexual response. I also like to add in my 2 cents about the movie as a whole, so we'll begin with that.

Slums of Beverly Hills was written and directed in 1998 by Tamara Jenkins and is said to be somewhat autobiographical. I have caught it on TV a few times over the last several years and from my memories thought it could be an SSL review candidate. As I suspected there was a notable depiction warranting an SSL review, and I was happy to find I liked the movie just as much this time around. If I must categorize it, it would be a coming of age story. Vivian is a middle child about to start high school, who travels from crappy motel apartment to crappy motel apartment with her 2 brothers and divorced 65- year old father in Beverly Hills. This movie to me has an authenticity to it that is endearing. A lot of reviews called this movie a comedy, but I think if a drama has the good sense, as this movie does, to allow ample comedy in, it gets mixed up in the purely comedy genre, and it is much more than that. It is a sort of raw peak into a family - the good, the bad, and the ugly, and during that glimpse, we get to see Vivian exploring her place in the family, in society as a woman, and her exploration of herself as a sexual being.

Now that I've just kinda described this as a drama, I want to say that I like the lack of drama in this drama. There is no obsession with a big event that forces her into adulthood. In fact there are events in this movie that would have overtaken the plot of other movies; loss of virginity and witnessing a distasteful side of your parent for instance. However, instead of dwelling on these "life events" they simply flowed along with the rest of her experiences. Speaking of her experiences....Let's movie on to the SSL review.

There was only one scene in here that depicted female sexual response. Let me set it up first though - going a few scenes back...Vivian is sharing a room with her 29 year old sweet, fun, addict, fuck-up cousin Rita (Marisa Tomei) who has come to live with Vivian's family to get her life together while Rita's father subsidizes a nicer place for the family to live in. So, as Rita is unpacking, she holds up an item, a cream colored hard plastic dildo-shaped vibrator.


Pleasure and "Choosing" Whether To Have An Orgasm - Why Women Deserve Just A Little Better

I read this post on BlogHer entitled "The Orgasm Gap: Are Women Faking It?" It and the comments for it, started me thinking more about the words "pleasure" and "choice." These are common words used in discussions about the female orgasm, and I think they are often used sloppily. But to get into that, let's first answer the question posed...do women fake? Of course the answer is yes. Lots of women fake it. The author points to a study of about 6000 people where 85% of men claim their woman climaxed in their last encounter and only 64% of women claimed that they orgasmed in their last encounter. This discrepancy is nothing new. One could find a number of surveys showing that there is a chunk of women out there faking orgasms. Since men don't seem to fake nearly as much as ladies do, she wonders if women are just too used to pleasing without return or too tired with work, kids, and home to make the time for getting turned on. (Maybe faking quick helps you get more shut-eye without feeling like you are always saying no to sex). Then she goes on to wonder the following: 

Or could it be something even deeper. Right now, I’m on a book tour for my new book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend Just today alone, I got these questions:
  • What does an orgasm feel like?
  • How do I know if I’ve had an orgasm?
  • My boyfriend is bummed if I don’t look like I’m having fun, but sex hurts me. What should I do?
  • I don’t really know what I like in bed. How can I find out?
What this tells me is that many of us honestly don’t know what gives us pleasure. Many of us don’t even know what an orgasm IS! 

I think she's oh so right. Although I would make a small distinction.