Sunday, December 8, 2013
Vaginal knitting and other Sunday thoughts in this big world
This morning I wasn't two sips into my coffee when my eyes scanned the headlines of Salon (an online news source that I admit is really no better than a tabloid) and lit on a story about a woman who knits yarn that she has inserted into her vagina. She's an Australian performance artist, and looky-loo gawking aside, it's actually an interesting article about misogyny, feminism, taboos and general outrageousness. What I'm grateful for today, this gorgeous Sunday morning, is my own opened-up mind that is so, not because of any great effort on my part, but due to chance (meaning I could have just as well been born a woman who reads something like this and dismisses it as being bullshit or even disgusting). Reading about the Australian woman's skein of yarn, rolled into a ball and inserted into her netherparts (unlike her, I'm still close-minded enough to shirk from using the "c" word), I was able to even read through the part where she describes what happens when she menstruates, and I didn't even flinch but rather raised an eyebrow figuratively as I can't do that literally, and read on. I even nodded my head at parts of it, and to tell you the truth only balked when the language became too theoretical. I hate theoretical talk more than visualizing a ball of yarn inserted just so into a vagina, tugged little by little on needles and then knitted into a long scarf, to tell you the truth. Years ago, and I might have already discussed this on the old blog, I read a story in Vanity Fair, that other great tabloid, about men who dress as stuffed animals and have a fetish for it, who actually number in the thousands and who call themselves Plushies. I remember reading about this and, again, not being particularly grossed out, felt more amazed than judgmental. I was hard put to thinking anything theoretical at all and could only come up with what could become a mantra for the more simple-minded like myself, and that is:
It's a big world.
So, years after reading that article, I attended a healthcare conference in Orlando, California for my job, at the time, as a parent co-chair of a national collaborative to improve the access and quality of healthcare for children with special needs (what a theory, right?). While lunching in a nearby hotel with my elderly aunt and uncle who had driven to meet me, the three of us noticed a series of men dressed in animal costumes. There were wolves and squirrels and bears. One man walked by our table with a darling raccoon tail coming out of the back of his khaki shorts. My aunt said in her sweet voice that they all looked adorable. My uncle wondered if it were a mascot convention. I think I was digging at an avocado half and bringing a spoonful of chicken salad up to my mouth when it suddenly occurred to me who these men, masquerading as stuffed animals, actually were, and in lieu of spitting my food all over my plate, I probably raised my figurative eyebrow and nodded sweetly at them. Later, on my way out of the hotel, headed back to figuring out why children with special healthcare needs were treated so abominably in our great American healthcare system, I followed a puppy who walked into a huge banquet room of playmates. It was, indeed, the annual Plushie convention, and I could only shake my head in wonder that I had the great good fortune to be at the hotel in that exact moment in time, with my lucky open-mindedness and think it's a big world.
Sipping my coffee, I thought about how so many of we humans believe that things like cursing, particularly if you're a woman, make you somehow less of a woman. I thought about how so many of we humans like to nod our heads in admiration at those women we think of as real ladies -- you know, the kind of women who dress properly, speak properly, act gently and with humility and how thinking of these women, these ladies, make people like myself feel insecure, like we don't measure up, like we're somehow less than because we curse or rail or complain or knit scarves from yarn inserted into our vaginas. I have no theory for this kind of musing on a Sunday morning sipping coffee and skimming tabloids other than it's a big world.
Reader, are you more a theorist or someone who has been chanced with an open mind? Or both?
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
I might be both, though I'm not quite clear on what it means to be a theorist. But I definitely thrill to the bigness and surprise of the world. How humdrum it would be otherwise!ReplyDelete
Furries. Plushies are those with stuffed animal fetishes. I came to know the furries after I published part of my novel. They liked it and thought I was one of their own. I think the knitting woman is similar to housewives in the early days of feminism exploring their vaginas with hand mirrors. The strange thing about the article for me occurred in the comments thread where some people expressed surprise at the fact that the artist had pubic hair.ReplyDelete
Plushies, Furries -- it's still a big world. And I didn't catch the pubic hair comment. Again, it's a big world.Delete
First off, I love tabloids and cherish my monthly Vanity Fair. The editor of it was one of GW Bush's most outspoken critics. The man HATED GW so of course I love him.ReplyDelete
The word cunt does not bother me when it is used as what it is, not when it is used as a derogatory name for a woman. And if a woman wants to knit with yarn that has been placed within hers as a statement- well, excellent! I would never have thought of it but she did and there you go. Takes all different types to shed different lights. Yes! It is a big world!
I don't know what to think about that whole Furrie or Plushie thing. Sex, to me, is so odd in and of itself that I boggle about it endlessly. I think I am quite open-minded. And I sure have a lot of theories. So. Both, I guess.
theories are interesting...but sometimes take too much brain power. I'm more of a 'live and let live' kinda gal. Putting yarn in my vajayjay sounds kinda - ugh - painful (does she soak it in, oh, I dunno, olive oil first?). But hey - it IS a big world. Not sure about other cultures, but in North America (US predominately) we seem to have a very narrow view of what is acceptable. Think back to the social restrictions of the 1950s America -- if there were any women knitting yarn that they kept in their yoni, there sure wouldn't be talking about it. Unless, of course, the were Beatniks. ("Yoni", btw, is the term I love)ReplyDelete
I have a theory that I've got an open mind, but cannot prove it. I'm struck by two of my favorite musician/satirists here. Tim Minchin has a great song called If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFO6ZhUW38w . And last night I saw folkie/satirist Roy Zimmerman in concert, and he sang a song called The Vagina Dialogues (which is not only a brilliantly funny title, but is accurate as it was about the whole absurdity of the use of "the v word" on the floor of the Michigan House last year). That song is not available on YouTube, but twas quite funny and also about the fact that we often get squeamish or have a closed mind over really strange stuff... at least in theory!ReplyDelete
Um, wow... speechless. I know you wrote some great stuff in there between the vaginal yarn and the Plushies, but I'm like, totally stuck on the vaginal yarn and the Plushies. Like, in shock. I guess I live in a cave. Big world indeed.ReplyDelete
I remember when I was 19 working at the Aaron Brothers in Laguna Beach and a hippie chick came in shopping the watercolor supplies for natural sea sponges to use as tampons. I can honestly say I simply raised an eyebrow and since then think of her creative alternative on a monthly basis. Curious is what I am - and not easily squeamish-ified. Perhaps it was the training ground of living in Laguna Beach for the next 20 years after having spent my first 18 in Ilinois.ReplyDelete
I am a Myers-Briggs INFJ. My daughter tells me I have a judge-y look. I am afraid I would have brought that out at a plushie convention or vagina-yarn performance.ReplyDelete
Interesting, Kate! I'm an INFP which apparently makes me less judgmental? Thanks for your comment, though!Delete
I'm completely distracted by the thought that jumped to mind halfway through the first paragraph. Does she use wool yarn ever? That would be... uncomfortable. Distracted I tell ya!ReplyDelete
Unless it was merino!Delete
God I love this post. I love the way you say it all. I have tested both INFP and INFJ, at different times in my life. I tend to be less judgmental, mostly, except for when it comes to the communities I was raised in--meaning, the churchy people. I am trying to be better. I do think that a large portion of our beliefs--religious and political--come down to genetics, and so when I encounter someone who is conservative in both arenas, if I am having a good day I can remind myself that they might not have any choice. And neither may I. Might I. Whatever.ReplyDelete
The pubic hair thing Radish mentioned is upsetting. I recently read Caitlin Moran's essay on porn and pubic hair, and it seems that the younger generations of men expect women to be hairless, and are appalled and disgusted when a woman's hair is intact. This is obviously problematic for anyone hoping to knit their vagina hair. Or whatever.
Ah, but you have only given me two options. I am neither probably. I think the world is chock full o' crazy people, yours truly being among them, I would never cast stones of course. :)ReplyDelete
I am still laughing from reading this and all I can think about was if the guys tail was attached to his shorts or worse, a plug. Ugh. And I'm feeling the ball of yarn like fingernails on chalkboard. But thanks for helping me with the context, you are so right. It is a big world. A friend of mine, who trained me at work as a lab geek decades ago would never judge, always accept, and just comment that it takes all kinds of people to make a world. He has survived a heart transplant and last I heard was a scuba instructor. I think of him every time I see or read about unusual people. Thanks for making me laugh and for making me think fondly of Mike. And for reminding me to rewatch Amanda Palmer sing Dear Daily Mail:ReplyDelete
Oh, I found a much better video where you can see Amanda smile. I adore her. http://youtu.be/1L1sOeYjOVwReplyDelete
I'm a bit of both.In my day job, when I'm not setting up websites I'm a psychotherapist, and I've found that if a person has a consistent world view that includes compassion toward self and others and the ability to give and take love and support, it is generally "OK". I have a bit of a squick and an ick to think of working with yarn that has been soaking up nether juices, but if that's what floats her boat...ReplyDelete
Our world is filled with a steady drip of daily misogyny that teaches us to hate our bodies and their natural shapes and functions. I'm just as affected as the next person, or I wouldn't have the "squick" reaction to her art. I'm more partial to knitted vaginas than vaginal juice in art.
I feel like I'm a 'live and let live' type, although my visceral reaction to the womb yarn was "ick!" and then I instantly worried that she might end up with toxic shock syndrome if she leaves a little fiber in there accidentally. Then I went to "whatever made her think of doing such a thing?" and knew I could go down that rabbit hole for quite a while or I could go do something else instead, so I forced myself to quit thinking about it. Thank you, once again, for bringing the most novel things to my attention, Elizabeth. My life is so much richer because of you - poetry I would never have read on my own, learning about your daily courage to unschool and fight for Sophie's rights, and vaginal knitting. Whatever could be next? I don't know, but I'm waiting with bated breath...ReplyDelete
I'm just curious about how big a ball of wool she can manage to fit in there. I'm thinking it might be hard to find tampons to fit her but other than, as someone else said, whatever floats your boat. She's not hurting anyone. As for women not cursing, why the fuck wouldn't we curse?:)ReplyDelete
i'm too a believer of the "it's a big world" theory, but i also believe that you have to have big reasons to make possibly questionable choices (that are perfectly fine when in the private realm) public. (I know, this may sound hypocritical coming from someone who publicly blogs about menial & minutiae!). big reasons that go beyond mere shocking. shocking is totally fine, it shakes people from stale opinions, but it must be followed by a big message. for instance, there's an artist who paints with her menstrual blood, fine, but when you ask her why, the answer doesn't get deeper than "because". to me, it just sounds like trying to attract attention, other than having something big to say. and because it is indeed a big world, i'd rather listen to people with *really* big ideas.ReplyDelete
What a wonderful topic of conversation. Thank you for initiating such an interesting discussion.ReplyDelete
I believe that open mindedness and truthfulness are important qualities for a good theorist
I believe when we stop comparing and suspend looking at others through evaluative categories, we will be able to accept all people as beings like ourselves, and care for them as we care for ourselves.
I believe that life is about finding our way.
It’s about finding our own path and accepting our own uniqueness.
It is about being true to one’s self, if I may borrow from Shakespeare.
When we are true to ourselves, comparing ourselves to others is fruitless since our paths, like ourselves are unique. Different thoughts, ideas and lifestyles, no matter how quirky or unusual, become easier to accept, like knitting with unusual body parts or wearing a furry animal costume….to thine own self be true.
I believe that perfection is an illusion, it doesn’t exist.
I believe that the use or nonuse of profanity or complaint… makes us unique, not better or worse.
I believe that finding humility and compassion for others brings us closer to finding ourselves.
I believe there is no one in this world like you dear Elizabeth.
You are a true Renaissance Woman and I am glad to know you and your beautiful family.
OMG, this is hilarious – especially because I REMEMBER that specific Vanity Fair article! I remember the accompanying photo of the man in glasses reclining in a yellow furry suit. And yeah, as Mel mentioned, how was that tail attached??ReplyDelete
Re. Vesuvius’s comment, I haven’t read that Caitlin Moran essay, but believe it or not the pubic-hairlessness expectations also apply to men. I think pubic hair in general is out of style, if it could ever be said to have been IN style. (Maybe in the ‘70s?)
My mind boggles at the whole knitting thing.
I love it when I come across an individual or a group of people and I have one of those “it’s a big world” moments.