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Feminism is the female front. The male front suggests the patriarchy as the natural mode of human social organisation. Not just the rule by men, but by mature men.

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North Las Vegas, Nevada: 'I had to have botox in my vagina so I could lose my virginity'

Ryan M. Rodgers 2117 Barnes Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45211

"I always knew losing my virginity was going to be hard – nobody ever says it’s the best sexual experience of your life - but I never imagined it would take six years for me to manage to have sex.

I suffer from vaginismus - a term even I’d never even heard of until a friend saw it featured on TV - which means the muscles in my vagina would involuntarily contract whenever anything came near my genitals, making sex impossible and causing me to lose my self-esteem entirely.

I’d always been a bit squeamish when it came to anything to do with sex or periods when I was younger; I would faint when they started talking about sex education in high school, and would have to be taken out of class. But when I started thinking about having sex at the age of 18 with my high school boyfriend, it became obvious there was a deeper problem.

No matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t have sex. Everyone says it’s difficult, they advise you to relax and have some wine, so I did - I had plenty of wine – but still, it never worked. There’s no other way to describe it than that it feels like a brick wall; my pelvic muscles would clench shut to the point it felt like there was a complete block.

I couldn’t use tampons, either. I almost fainted after my first attempt at putting one in; I just couldn’t do it. It wouldn’t go in and I got more and more stressed until I nearly passed out.

Although I never used sex toys on myself (if I couldn’t get a tampon up there I was hardly going to succeed with a dildo) I did try things on my own, like fingering myself, but it was just as bad. It wasn’t as painful as it felt when I tried to have sex, but it was just as bad.

I was lucky that my first boyfriend was incredibly supportive; he kept telling me to relax and was insistent we’d just keep trying. But however calm he was about the situation, it didn’t stop me feeling stressed out about it. Everyone around me was having their first times and I felt like I was missing out. I felt like I was holding my boyfriend back from experiences because it should have been his first time, too.

We were together for three years in total, and we never managed to have sex in that time. We eventually broke up, not because of the sex issue, but I stayed in the relationship longer than I should have because I believed no-one else would want me.

After a while of trying and failing to have sex, a friend told me to look up vaginismus online. She’d seen it covered on Embarrassing Bodies and as soon as I started researching the condition I knew it was what I had.

I went to my doctor and when she touched me with her little finger on the outside wall of my vagina, she took a look, I almost kicked her. I felt terrible about it but it was the first time I’d ever been inspected and the pain was unreal.

Bizarrely, she had never heard of vaginismus, so all she could do was give be the number of local sexual health clinic, where they referred on to their physiotherapist which didn't help at all.

Doctors quizzed me on whether there was anything that had happened in my past that might have caused such an extreme, subconscious reaction, but there wasn’t. It tends to be one of the first things medical experts ask, because it would make sense that someone who had been abused might suffer this kind of trauma later in life, but there’s nothing I can pinpoint that would have triggered it for me.

The more time went on, the more I struggled. While I was happy to open up to my mum and my friends about the issue, no-one could really understand what it was like, and when the doctors even seemed baffled about my condition I felt even more alone. I was trying all sorts of treatments – yoga, meditation, a dilator - and nothing was making any difference. I’d been checked medically to see if there was anything physically wrong, too, which there wasn’t; I just couldn’t have sex.

It’s hard being ‘the only virgin’ among your friends, and although I started owning it the older I got, being happy to tell people I’d never had sex, my confidence was very low. I felt like I hated myself and would break down all the time.

So when I came across a book called When Sex Seems Impossible, written by a doctor in America, it was almost life-changing. In it were stories of other women going through the same experiences, and it brought me to tears with how similar the scenarios were to mine. Knowing I wasn’t the only person in the world going through this kind of thing was such a comfort.

As well as the first-hand experiences, the book described a botox treatment the doctor practiced on vaginismus sufferers which had a success rate of about 80-90%. I instantly knew I needed to try it if I wanted any hope of having sex, but it wasn’t on the NHS and I couldn’t find anywhere in the UK that practiced it.

My mum was cynical about the treatment, too. She wanted to know why it wasn’t on the NHS, and whether it had been tested properly or not. Plus, it was expensive – around £1,200 for a treatment – and I’d been warned by doctors that these kind of clinics only want your money and that they don’t care about your wellbeing. But I persevered anyway, and when I eventually found a private clinic in London, I secretly travelled down from Scotland to have a consultation.

I didn’t tell my mum at first what I’d really been doing in London, but I eventually told the truth and she said she wanted me to try one more treatment before the botox. So I went for cognitive therapy and - just as I’d thought – it didn’t work, which left botox as the only option.

Finally, in April 2014, Mum and I travelled down to London for me to have the procedure. I was heavily sedated when they inserted six needles into my pelvic muscles (we’ve got three, so two needles in each), and two weeks later I was having penetrative sex with my boyfriend, who I’d been with for a few months. I couldn’t believe it.

It works so effectively as a one-off treatment because it breaks the cycle of vaginismus. The condition makes your mind believe penetration is going to hurt, so your body reacts protectively by involuntarily clenching your muscles. With the botox relaxing my muscles, I was able to insert dilators graduating up in size until I could take a penis, and that tricks the brain into no longer being scared of sex.

The first time I had sex at the age of 24, it felt incredible. I was so excited I texted everyone I knew, and it didn’t hurt or feel awkward at all because with the botox relaxing my muscles there was none of the discomfort you’d normally get when you’re having sex for the first time.

It took me a while to come around to being fingered; in fact I’ve only just been okay with that this year. That’s because of the support and trust I have with my boyfriend, he’s been so good with me, knowing when to push me a little bit further and what I’m comfortable with. Nowadays I quite often orgasm through penetration, and it’s hard to imagine how I was before.

When I felt at my lowest, I used to tell my boyfriend he should leave me because I couldn’t give him what he wanted, and I really meant it. I even offered for him to have sex with other people and just not to tell me about it. I genuinely meant that, too. Now, my confidence has skyrocketed because I don’t have this issue dragging me down anymore. I don’t have to worry that I might never have sex or that I’d never be able to have my own children. I’m so much happier."

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Winston-Salem city, Arizona: A New Bio-Active Flavonol Glycoside from the Stems of Butea superba Roxb

Christopher S. Williamson 4021 Dovetail Drive Chicago, IL 60606

Abstract

A new bio-active flavonol glycoside was isolated from the stems of Butea superba Roxb, and its structure was determined by spectral analysis and chemical degradations as 3,5,7,3′,4′-pentahydroxy-8-methoxy-flavonol-3-O-β-D-xylopyranosyl(1 → 2)-α-L-rhamnopyranoside. The compound 1 showed antimicrobial activity against plant pathogenic fungi Trich viride, Asprgillus fumigatus, A. niger, A. terreus, Penicillium expansum, Helmitnhosporium oryzae, Botxitis cinerea, Rhizopus oligosporus, R. chinensis, Kelbsiella pneumoniae, Fusearium moniliforme and grampositive bacteria Streplococcus pyogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The maximum inhibitory effect was shown by H. oryzae, A. niger, B. cinera and gram-positive bacteria.

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Irving, Texas: Whether it’s a nick or full circumcision, female genital mutilation is about control: Paradkar

Glen C. Parham 4538 Marie Street Towson, MD 21204

In some cultures, talking about sex is taboo, as is talking about genitals. The taboo allows for vagueness to conveniently mask what is essentially a caging of female desire.

Seven years old.

Unsuspecting girls, told by their mothers they are being taken some place special. That place, a darkened room, where they are held down, their little legs parted and a blade brought down to slice off the hood of the clitoris or even the clitoris, itself.

This week, lawyers south of the border said they planned to mount a religious exemption defence after a U.S. federal jury indicted two Detroit-area doctors and the wife of one of the doctors in April for scheming to perform Female Genital Mutilation. This is horrifying. FGM was outlawed in the U.S. in 1996. It is also a criminal offense in Canada.

A cultural practice that began millennia ago and wound its way through Africa, the Middle East and 19th century U.S. medical practice, still affects millions of women around the world. FGM ranges from genital nicks and scrapes to wholesale cutting and stitching up, often by untrained hands.

Among Dawoodi Bohras, a small sect of Ismaili Shia Muslims from India and Pakistan, the 600-year-old practice takes a milder, but still indefensible form of mutilation.

Haram ki boti, is what that delicate part of the body is called in Gujarati. Sinful flesh.

Its removal “moderates the (sexual) urge . . . so there’s less chance of extra-marital affairs,” says a woman in the eye-opening 2012 documentary called A Pinch of Skin (viewable on YouTube).

Women on various forums recall harrowing experiences of pain, confusion over the duplicity of their mothers and grandmothers and repression from the silence or dismissiveness that follows.

“It’s an incongruous experience of something terrifying happening and people saying it’s no big deal,” says Toronto resident Farzana Doctor, 46, a registered social worker in private psychotherapy practice and a novelist, who belongs to the Dawoodi Bohra community. “You grow up and never made sense of it, and then you’re told you have to do it to your daughter.”

Although FGM is not considered an Islamic practice, in this sect, which is otherwise known for progressive attitudes on women and education, those who practice it consider it a religious requirement.

How does faith blind you so much that you’d place your little girl on a risk-filled path of pain?

Clearly, a few Bohra women wondered, too. The issue of FGM resurfaced after their concerted efforts to bring the hushed conversation out in the public sphere began to have an impact.

2015 was a seminal year.

Farzana Doctor was one of the original signatories of a Speak Out against FGM petition on change.org in December 2015, which resulted this week in a pledge of support by India’s Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi for a proposed anti-FGM law.

In November of that year, five women from the diasporic community, including a Canadian researcher, set up Sahiyo, a non-profit organization to end genital cutting.

Also that month, three people from the community were convicted in Australia of FGM, the first such prosecution in that country.

I can only hope no court in the U.S. ever allows girls to be abused under the guise of religion.

Abuse, because we’re not talking about adult women opting for designer vaginas. This is about cutting off a body part of a minor incapable of consent. And it holds true for circumcision of girls — and of boys, a practice that is widely carried out in North America.

But there the equivalence ends.

Circumcision of boys, a controversial and emotionally charged topic, is almost always by medical doctors (and not by a razor blade in a dark room), so you could say there is some comfort in a reduced risk of harm.

Science scrambled to catch up with that cultural practice and has thrown up contradictory results.

Female circumcision has no known medical benefits.

Then there is an added insult in the Bohra community. Circumcision of boys is openly celebrated. For girls, “it’s a very secretive practice,” says Doctor. “Often, the men don’t even know it’s happening to their daughters.”

So shrouded is it in secrecy that a celebration held after the cutting doesn’t even mention the girl has undergone khatna, the circumcision.

Get wounded, then hide in shame.

Like parents who circumcise their boys, women do this to their girls believing it to be in their interest.

In reality, in whose interest is it?

“It does damage to nerve endings,” says Doctor. “There’s psychological harm that makes them (women) afraid of sex. There’s pain during sex, risk of infections.”

Stories by affected women indicate it’s about male sexual insecurities.

“When a woman’s urge is moderated, many sins are eliminated from society,” says a young woman in A Pinch of Skin.

Urge to do what? To seek attention? To have sex? To have orgasms?

There’s no clarity on this, because talking about sex is taboo, as is talking about genitals.

The taboo allows for vagueness to conveniently mask what is essentially a caging of female desire.

Circumcision, whether it’s a symbolic nick, as some now claim, or a removal of the clitoral hood or clitoris, is a mark of sexual control over female bodies in this traditionally entrepreneurial culture where men travelled far as traders and were away from their wives and families for a long time.

It’s an interference that hoodwinks women into confining little girls in a chastity belt.

No such restraints for the travellers.

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Khmer Rouge terror in Cambodia

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Chesapeake, Virginia: This Is What It’s Like to Spend an Hour With “Neomasculinity” Blogger Roosh

Brandon P. Lane 3312 Shinn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Hearing that Daryush Valizadeh, a blogger who set off global outrage last week when he planned to organize men-only “tribal gatherings” around the world, would be holding a press conference Saturday night in a Dupont Circle hotel was like receiving an invitation to a real-life meeting with one of the odder corners of internet culture. Valizadeh had already had an interesting week: His planned meetings resurfaced an article he wrote last year in which he suggested rapes committed on private property should be legal, prompting internet-wide condemnation, rebukes from government officials around the globe, and the online-activist group Anonymous publishing his parents’ address.

A day after the Daily Mail followed Anonymous’s tip to a Silver Spring cul-de-sac and found him at the door, Valizadeh—who goes by the nom-de-blog “Roosh V”—hastily called the press conference, supposedly to dispel charges that he is a “pro-rape” advocate. The set-up suggested the strangeness that was to come. Valizadeh did not supply the exact location until less than two hours before it started. He arrived escorted by a clutch of burly men who he said were bodyguards, and set up his own cameras to ensure his online followers would have their own view of the proceedings with the dozen or journalists who took the bait.

What followed was nearly an hour of ranting, evasions, and accusations ranging from broadside attacks on all media to responding to one of my questions by asking, “Do you lift?” And rather than spend the remainder of the night adding to his purported sexual conquests—Valizadeh has self-published more than a dozen “guides” to seducing women in many different countries, all with the word “Bang” in the title—he followed the press conference by setting his Twitter followers loose on the reporters who showed up.

“This article, to a ten-year-old, was obvious I didn’t intend to legalize rape or cause harm against women,” Valizadeh said about his February 2015 post that his critics seized upon. While he said it was meant to be satire from the start, though, it is not difficult to see why readers would take it as his genuine belief.

As “Roosh V,” Valizadeh has built up a small but dedicated following of a philosophy he calls “neomasculinity.” He believes that women should be socially and physically submissive to men, claims to have 1 million monthly readers, and has written about multiple sexual encounters in which the woman was too inebriated to give consent.

But rather than give off a veneer of strength and virility, Valizadeh on Saturday came off as rambling, paranoid, and defensive, answering nearly every question by pivoting back to his belief that he is the victim of a media conspiracy, guzzling through several bottles of water in the process. He told a reporter from Vice Media that the company peddles “garbage,” and called the Daily Beast a CIA front.

“As you see I’ve been under a lot of stress from this mob that’s coming after me because of these things you wrote that don’t conform to the real world, and I don’t get it,” he said. “You’re ready to write that this guy is pro-rape without knowing where that false idea comes from.”

Even if Valizadeh’s professed exploits have been on the right side of the law, they do not, as Vox pointed out last week, comport to most people’s definition of rape. (The FBI defines it as “penetration, no matter how slight” without consent.)

“I’ve never been accused of rape,” he said. “Nobody’s ever read something by me and went onto rape, because I know if they did hurt a woman it would be all over the news.

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