Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CULTURE : Food Fever!


            Christians say grace before they eat, Muslims say Bismillah before they eat, Japanese say “itadakimasu” (“I gratefully receive”) before they eat, and me? I whip out a camera and take a picture of the food before I eat.

            I don’t know what it is about food: Asian girls like me automatically jump to press the shutter release on our cameras whenever we are eating out. Every weekend my Facebook newsfeed is flooded by pictures of food cooked by my friends, ordered out or even passed by in a display. Some of these pictures only feature the dish, others have my friends holding their food and making peace signs. It must be a little embarrassing to ask the person sitting on the other side of the table “hey could you take a picture of me and my potato?”. Trust me, I’ve asked hundreds of times-- I still feel embarrassed. Sometimes I even ask my starving friends to wait until I take a perfect picture of their food; admittedly, this is not the wisest thing I’ve ever done... As much as I enjoy taking pictures, I still couldn’t help but ask myself: why do I want a picture of food?

           Food presentation plays a significant role in many culinary cultures. Back in the imperial times in China, royal kitchens focused mostly on the color (appearance) and aroma of the dish. This became a tradition that has passed down for generations in Chinese cuisine, from hot and spicy Szechuan food to sweet and sour Cantonese food. Even the most commonly known Kung Pao Chicken follows this tradition. Every ingredients in this dish must be diced into little cubes around the same size, then you cover the chewy chicken in light brown sauce, fresh green onions and flamboyant red chili pepper, all in the same shape, finally scattering this all on the plate like a colorful cubism painting. The dish is often garnished by roasted peanuts, adding a nutty aroma and crunchy texture to the dish. And, with that, there you have it: appearance, aroma and taste! All assembled in a simple dish of Kung Pao Chicken.

            The same amount of attention is paid to food presentation in other Asian countries. In Japan, where people firmly believe that when you are dining, you eat with your eyes first. The visual presentation of a dish is believed to call for balance and harmony.  Sushi, always lined up in a straight line, is often served on a long strand of bamboo, leaf on top of a wooden platform. The combination of neatly cut raw fish, fresh leaf and wood creates a picture of naturalism and primitive beauty. Sashimi is also carefully arranged on top of Daikon strings, which are sliced so thin that they look like a puff of cloud floating on the plate, carrying maroon, pink, silver and white sashimi. 

                In Thai food, garnishes like basil and tropical flowers are not enough; crafty chefs carve fruits and vegetables into flowers with paring knives and ice water, a tradition developed by imperial kitchens to please the King of Siam. When food goes beyond the category of just filling your stomach, it becomes a special visual experience like a piece of art. And, Asian girls tend to be more sensitive to the appearance of food, probably because they have been brought up in a culture that traditionally pays special attention to aesthetic details.

             As for me, I love taking pictures of food that I have never encountered before. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, my friends and I went to try Ethiopian food for the first time. I entered the restaurant with an empty stomach and a fully charged camera. Now when I go over the pictures I took, the excitement of sharing a huge pan of food (it was humongous) with my friends, the embarrassment of making a total mess on the table (since you are eating with your hands), and the satisfaction of finishing at least seven kinds of beans for one meal all came back to me as if it was just happened yesterday. What can I say: it's the little things that count! Bonne appetite-- I hope I've made you hungry! I know I am... !


The Woman Behind the Cultural Perspectives Section:
Asheley Gao is an extremely creative young woman, currently attending UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, a long way away from her home country of China. She is double majoring in Political Economy and History of Art. Her interest in life and exuberance is evident, not only in her work as an artist and academic, but also a friend and co-worker.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Y Chromosome, from


Caroline is in my creative writing class at UC Berkeley, African Studies 159: Creative Writing. She always brings in the most innovative ideas for writing, and after reading this piece, I thought it absolutely perfect to show to my Unleashed readers. Caroline has nicely allowed me to publish her story, so please remember that it is copy righted 2012, and Enjoy!...

            This is a story about a world, a world much different than the one you may be familiar with. It takes place right here on Earth, in fact. The skies are blue; the oceans are vast and full of life. Birds sing sweet, melodic songs, fish swim gracefully through the clear freshwater streams. Thick forests of trees become naked of their leaves from winter’s harsh cold, flowers bloom bright hues in the warm months of spring. Humans inhabit the houses of the suburbs, the buildings of the cities, and the sidewalks of towns, taking part in their everyday life. From a bird’s eye view you may think that nothing has changed. So what is different? you might ask. Take a closer look, at the people that is. Mrs. Cragsby, an elderly widow, is seen watering her garden to the left. Little Tracy Sherman runs through the park with her dog Maggie. And Pattie O’Brien is at her office downtown. Ah, now you see it. There are no men. 
“‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him,’ God said. And then using Adam’s rib, Eve was created.”
“Is that what happened to them? We stole all their ribs and they blew up and died?” said Ruthie in exasperation, blinking her brown curls out of her face. Ruthie was the spitting image of her mother, and also inherited her stubbornness.
“No sweetie, you know the story. Why do you always want to believe women were the ones that caused their extinction?”
“Because we’re still here. We must have done something.” Ruthie’s mother tucked her into bed and gave her a kiss on the forehead. “It’s time for bed.”
            Andrea Jacobsen closed the door slowly as she heard the soft snore of her little girl. The chime of the grandfather clock resonated from downstairs. 8 o’clock. Already? Andy raced down the steps as quietly as she could, and turned on the TV just as “Diana’s Point” began its overture. Jazz music synchronized with the leaps and kicks of Diana. Clips of the superhuman secret agent flashed across the screen as Andy sipped her red wine. They were fast enough to keep your attention span almost non-existent, but enough to jog your memory of what happened in the previous episodes. Gosh I love Fridays, she thought to herself. Although Fridays consisted of ten long hours in the lab, a new episode of “Diana’s Point” certainly made up for it.
It was week fifty-three of the new project that Andy’s research lab had recently begun, and it took place in an isolated, windowless building downtown. “Project Y,” as it came to be called was practiced widely at the world’s top research institutions and labs. Andy’s PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Cornell drew much attention to her abilities as a researcher and she was heavily recruited to be the CEO of the company.  The goal was to restore the Y chromosome in mammalian species. Numerous trials had been very close over the years, however none were successful.
The sudden ringing of the telephone jolted her, nearly spilling her wine. Was it meant for me to miss this week’s episode! she thought in annoyance.
“Hello Ms. Jacobsen, it’s Sheryl. Is this a bad time?”           
Andy looked longingly at the frozen image of Diana roundhouse kicking three cyclopses at once. She sighed. “No, I guess not. What’s the matter?
There was a long pause. “We found something.”
“Okay girls and ladies, take your seats, take your seats. As I’m sure most of you know, Wednesday marks a very special holiday. Do any of you know what it is?”
“No school day?” Anne-Marie said, inducing the rest of the class to giggle.
Ruthie raised her hand eagerly. “Mrs. Albatross, I know! May 11th marks “Single Gender Day.”
“Very good Ruthie. And because it is coming up this week, we will be having a history lesson on its origin.” Several moans were let out followed by a sequence of eye rolling.
“My moms say women chased them off the Earth.”
“Mine says they melted because the sun was too hot and they were weak and women were stronger than them.”
“No! It’s cause we stole their ribs!” Ruthie let out in final declaration. At this moment arguments broke out in different sections of the classroom.
“Silence, girls, silence. Do you see why this day is important? To rid you of those ridiculous misconceptions that are tainting your young minds.” She waited for the room to settle down. “Now everyone open your history books to page 143 . . . ”
Although she told no one, Ruthie was captivated by the history of men. She wanted to know everything about them—how they looked, how they smelled, what they ate, and most importantly why they were no longer here. Of course she’d seen pictures in books and she had seen many old movies over the years with men in them, but she still felt that there was some sort of information missing. Sometimes they were depicted as mean, evil, dirty creatures that hurt women and took advantage of them; then other times they were charming, gentle, and romantic. Ruthie didn’t know which side to believe; perhaps they were a combination of both.
“While many of you might believe that women were behind the cause of man’s extinction, it was completely natural—a natural disaster some have called it,” Mrs. Albatross continued. “An important part of their DNA, the Y chromosome, just disintegrated over time until there was nothing left. And without their Y, there was no way men could survive on our planet.”
“So their bodies ate themselves? Eww.” Laughter erupted throughout the classroom once more.
“I don’t know why they expect 2nd graders to understand this type of material, it’s way over their heads,” the teacher mumbled to herself.
“Why didn’t the X chrosomome diesentigrate?” Ruthie questioned, somehow managing to get the mouthful of words out.
“Oh, well that’s a great question, Ruthie. The X chromosome was just built stronger I suppose.”
Suddenly, Madeline stood on top of her chair with her arms up high. “Look, I’m a big hairy man. Rawr!” The girls jumped out of their seats and ran outside, screaming.
“It looks like we will be taking an early recess today,” Mrs. Albatross said to Ruthie whom was still seated.
“It’s okay Mrs. A, I don’t associate the men with dinosaurs anymore. I’ve grown out of that stage.”
“Take a look at Charlie’s chromosome levels, they’re increasing! His Y is actually getting stronger and stronger by the weeks. I can’t believe the little guy pulled through.” Ecstatic, Sheryl began to write frantically in her lab book.
“Are you certain you got the right results?” Andrea stared into the cage at the male mouse, hiding her frustration from her subordinate. How is this possible? There’s no way you should still be alive. The mouse stared back at her as it ran on its wheel, as if it was mocking her.
Charlie was the lab’s newest addition, the product of artificial insemination between a female mouse’s egg and a chemically synthetic Y sperm. And of all the mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs they had experimented with, he was their longest survivor so far. Yet, what no one knew was for the past two months of the assignment, Andy had secretly tried her best to make sure Charlie didn’t survive, slipping a deterioration stimulant into his food pellets to expedite the chromosome decaying process. Ever since rumors arose that the lab would discover the human Y chromosome after smaller mammal Y’s had been successful, Andy wanted to slow down the progress as much as possible. It had worked on the other subjects, but this time something was different. The synthetic Y-chromosome her research lab had constructed this time around was far stronger than the others, growing at an even higher rate in the presence of her poison. Then it sunk in. They had done it. They had found the cure.
“Mom you’re famous! Look your work is on TV. And that’s my school. And that’s the library. And that’s the park, they’re showing our entire city!” Ruthie turned up the volume on the television and sat inches away from it, fixating on every word Susie Singleton reported:
We are live in Seattle, where our story focuses on Genecon, one of the leading research headquarters in the Northern Hemisphere and home to Charlie, the male mouse. After years of trial and error, the lab has finally reached a turning point in their research to restore the Y chromosome. Synthetic genetic material has been constructed by the lab that mimics the behavior of a real Y chromosome, except for one important trait—it doesn’t disintegrate. It remains intact, solving the issue males had so long ago. But the world wants to know, what now? Sources say that Genecon will continue to test its chromosome on other species and then attempt to breed these males with females. If viable offspring are produced, history will be made. Recent discoveries also reveal that an artificial human Y chromosome may be in the making. Back to you, Jan.
“Wow. Mom you did it, you did it! You’re bringing them back. Now I can have a Daddy; oh thank you, thank you. I promise I’ll clean up after him, and feed him . . .” Ruthie jumped on top of her mother, who was still staring blankly at the screen.
“Ruth Elizabeth Jacobson, what did you just say?”
“This means that the men will come back and I can have a Daddy like in the old movies. But I’d pick a nice one, one that smiles a lot and has a mustack, and isn’t bad.”
“Do you think they just fall from trees, these Daddies you speak of? Honey, they aren’t going to be any men here. This has all been blown way out of the water. We found a gene that let our mouse stay alive. A mouse. Mice and human beings are completely different things. Bringing men back is just . . . it’s not what the world needs. Trust me, baby, we are better without them.”
“You mean you don’t want them to come back?”
“I’m sure it would be . . . fun, for lack of a better word, to have them back but do we really need them? Isn’t the world fine just the way it is?”
“No. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Remember the Adam and Eve story you read to me? They’re supposed to be here with us. I know they look really strange and some of them are evil, but some of them are good, too. Like the man from Sleepless in Seattle.”
“Who’s sleeping in Seattle? What on Earth are you talking about? I can see it’s passed your bedtime.”
“No, Mommy! You always say that when you want to change the subject. I’m seven and a half, I’m not a baby. Rachel Simmons can go to bed whenever she wants to. You never listen to what I say.” Andy stared at her daughter in perplexity. She’d never seen her get this defensive before. And about men? What has gotten into her.
“Who’s been letting you watch these movies? I’m going to have to give Mrs. Albatross a call in the morning and then we’ll see about who’s going to be sleepless . . .”
“I found it on my own, in the public library. I searched ‘men’ and ‘Seattle’ and that movie came up. And you would like it Mom. It was about love and it had a miniature man, too and the man and woman fell in love and they lived happily ever after.”
“Ruthie, I don’t know why you would watch such an old movie when you know how unrealistic it is. I still don’t understand how women ever found them attractive. Obviously our gender has come a long way intellectually.”
“I’m going on strike!” Ruthie stormed off into her room and slammed the door behind her.
Fling! The racket made such an impact with the ball that the sound resonated throughout the courtyard. The speed of the ball was even more pronounced, as it flew inches from Andy’s face.
“Hey, that one almost hit me. Watch it.”
“Sorry Andrea, but you’re going to have to pick up your game. When did you become such a sissy. You used to school me at tennis in junior high.”
Autumn leaves covered the courtyard—shades of yellow, red, and orange created the illusion that the two were playing on fire.
“These stupid leaves are going to make me slip. And if you step on one, it cracks into 15 more pieces of danger.”
“Are you okay, Andy? You seem more miserable than usual,” Vivian said, as she flung the ball in Andy’s direction.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Ruthie has been very distant with me ever since that argument we had. She wanted a Daddy, can you believe that?” She fired the ball back.
“Well it’s becoming more and more of a possibility, you of all people should know that. How is the research coming, by the way. Any other successes?”
Andy hesitated, “Yeah we’ve tested our Y chromosome, and it’s been successful on all other mammal species we’ve used it on. Every one has produced a male that has been able to produce viable offspring.”
“That’s wonderful! Wow, you must be so proud of your work. Look at you, making history while I construct buildings all day. Do you really think they can bring men back? Wouldn’t that be a trip, just like in the movies.”
Aggravation overwhelmed Andy once more. Even her own sister wanted her lab to go through with the human experiment. “You know, some of the females killed the males when they first came in contact—a few rabbits and hamsters. The females thought they were a foreign species.” Andy laughed at the thought. Fling! “I just see it as a sign.”
“What do you mean by that?” Vivian asked.
“I mean the animal world has adapted just fine without males. Some have been able to evolve to be asexual and clone themselves as a means of reproduction. Some have been able to form both reproductive parts and become hermaphroditic. And then there’s species like us, that used intelligence and science to keep our population alive. Don’t get me wrong, many species went extinct because they weren’t able to adapt to the lack of males, but they were the weaker ones.” Vivian stared over the net at Andy questioningly. “What I’m trying to say is we don’t need them. That’s been made pretty clear if you ask me.” Andy perched herself down on the leaf-covered bench to get a drink of water. Crunch.
“If that doesn’t convince you enough, Viv, then look at the world in which we live. The crime rates have plummeted, the economy’s improved, and the human population has gone down significantly without men here. More jobs, more houses, more everything. We’re better without those scumbags.”
“Andrea, that’s not true at all. Don’t you see that one day we’re going to run out of all these scientific resources we have? One day we will no longer be able to even keep the women’s population alive, assuming that artificial insemination begins to fail. Then what? What will happen to us? Reproduction between a man and a woman is natural, it’s how we were designed.” Vivian sat down next to her and stole her water bottle. “You can’t fight it little sis,” she said as she took a mouthful.
Men were everywhere. Hanging from trees, running through the streets, yelling like wild beasts. Their deep voices shook the Earth and caused buildings to crumble in the background. Women were dragged from their homes by men, some were carried on their backs. The sky was black as coal, with no stars or moon to provide a comforting light. Hair drooped from their faces and covered the sidewalks. Shrieks were heard from all around, cries echoing throughout the cold city. Something small was approaching from the distance. A small creature with a long tail. It was a mouse. It was Charlie. His brown, matted fur was raised on its ends as he advanced forward. He came closer and closer, until you could see that he was grinning.
Andrea sat up in bed in a sweat, hyperventilating and grabbing her pillow as a weapon, searching the floor for any mice. Or any men.
            No men wanted here, do not make them reappear! No men wanted here do not make them reappear! Picket lines and circles surrounded the building of Genecon, news helicopters hovered above the scene, capturing every minute of the protest.
            “It is day twenty-four of the Anti-Male Protest here in Seattle, and these women are not backing down. Since the release of the news that the top research facility Genecon is now looking for a female surrogate to officially test out the human Y chromosome they have completed, many people have become outraged and are fighting back. Some have claimed that men will cause the demise of our world and bring ravage to our streets. Others believe the population of humans will simply increase too rapidly with males, and that the Earth’s capacity will be exceeded. But the real question is, will Dr. Andrea Jacobsen go through with the proposal, or shut it down for fear of opposition. Suzie Singleton, XYZ news.”
            Andrea sat at her desk with her head hidden in her arms. When she had been chosen to be the head researcher of this project, she didn’t actually think it would get this far. At least not in this century. She wanted to create males in the animal world for agricultural purposes; with the rationale that having male animals would increase the livestock numbers, and bring in more money to the economy. There would be more cows to eat, more sheep to shave for wool, more horses to plow. That’s it. She never intended it to extend to the regeneration of male human beings. Why would someone ask for that? Obviously not those people out there, at least they have some sense. They can see how detrimental men will be to our world, they can see the big picture. All the other “pro-male” women out there are too foolish to see. Knock knock.
            “Ms. Jacobsen, they’re ready for you.” Her assistant peeked her head in through the office door.
            Every seat was filled in the small conference room, making the room stuffy and adding to Andy’s anxiety. She loosened her white collar and stood before her lab team. Over the past year she had come to know these faces very well; she cleared her throat to get their full attention.
            “Good afternoon everyone. I’m sure most of you know why I called this board meeting. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve definitely heard the shouts and yells coming from outside our building. When we started this project over a year ago, I had the vision of restoring the Y-chromosome of mammals. And you succeeded higher than my expectations, which is where our problem arises. It was never meant for the human Y to be restored as well. It wasn’t even a consideration at the time, but now it has been done.  And those people out there are outraged because of this. Our research has caused this revolt and the project is no longer safe to continue. Come tomorrow, I will publicly announce the discontinuation of Project Y.”
             A bright light illuminated through the living room window, and the soft rumbling of a car engine followed. Ruthie stirred awake on the couch, touched a button on the remote control, then closed her eyes again as her mother walked through the door.
“Ruthie, I’m home . . . oops,” she heard in a whisper. The 7 year old felt a kiss on her forehead as she slanted one eye open to watch her mother. Andy was turning to go into the kitchen when the television caught her eye. A dark-haired man was displayed on the screen with what appeared to be his son, and then a title came across “Sleepless in Seattle.” Ruthie felt the sharp eyes of her mother on her and like clockwork began to snore softly. She braced herself for a serious grounding but her mother sat down on the sofa next to her and began watching. Ruthie smiled in satisfaction, only then to drift off into actual sleep; a couple hours later, Ruthie was awakened by a strange sound. She peeked an eye open to see that her mother was crying. The screen displayed the man and woman holding hands and walking away, staring into each other’s eyes. She didn’t even know moms were capable of crying. She felt her mom lift her up from the couch and carry her to bed. A hand stroked through her curly hair followed by a gentle, “Goodnight,” and her mother was gone.
“Good morning, everyone,” cameras flashed from every direction as Andy stood at the podium. Many of you might have heard rumors that we were going to shut down our research due to the recent uprisings. However as of today, Project Y is in full force and will continue to be so until we have finished what we came here to do—restore the Y chromosome in all mammals, including humans.
“Andrea, Andrea! What made you change your mind?”
“My daughter. Yesterday I realized how much smarter she was than her mom. She made me see things that I failed to acknowledge before.”
“Does this mean you will continue the search for a surrogate?” 
“Yes. Right now we have narrowed it down to two individuals that have met all of the requirements. We will inform you of our decision when the time comes. No more questions.”
“Thank you for tuning into XYZ broadcasting. I’m Suzie Singleton, reporting a special announcement. The day is here ladies and girls. I’m standing in front of the Lincoln P. Jackson Memorial Hospital in Seattle, Washington with the news that Abigail Roseland has gone into labor and sources say she is ‘doing great.’ The twenty-two year old volunteered to be the surrogate for Genecon eight and a half months ago and faced much opposition from anti-male protestors. Roseland says that she felt she was ‘called’ to do this and has never felt better in her life. A close source to the mother-to-be says that she craved steak and peanut butter on a regular basis. And now the entire world eagerly waits to see the source of those cravings. Andrea Jacobsen, and others from the Genecon institute are inside monitoring her progress.”
            Andy paced the halls of the hospital until her feet began to hurt. Has something gone wrong? Maybe our genetic design wasn’t ready for humans yet. What if comes out half human and half . . . something else? We would be shut down for sure. Andy took a deep sigh to calm herself down. Then she heard the cry. She raced into the room to see Abigail holding a small baby wrapped in blue sheets. He was perfect. In no way was he evil or threatening. There was no way something this precious could ever bring the world to ruin. “He’s absolutely beautiful,” she murmured to Abigail. “What did you name him?”
            “Adam. Adam Tom Hanks Roseland."

Monday, February 27, 2012



           Let's discuss some common sexpectations you are likely to experience with men, no matter how attractive or nice or funny or good a person you may be...

1) Without us girls even asking, the good old get-out-of-jail-free card is put on the table with: "I don't want a relationship," or "I don't want a relationship right now, but I could change my mind..." Which, of course, always ends with a smile and a kiss. 

Just for translation purposes? The latter really means, "I don't want a relationship, but you probably won't (keep sleeping or) sleep with me otherwise... I might as well give you hope! You never really know anyway." Sorry ladies, but you know it's true. 

As for the men who do just say, "I don't want to be in a relationship"... why would a guy ever say that unless a girl asks? He doesn't know what he'll be feeling in a month or two. Every guy who has said this to me so far eventually wants to be in a relationship. Well, I'm a pretty cool girl-- why wouldn't they want to be? Of course, sometimes the guy really isn't looking for a relationship at all, and won't settle into one. To the men who may be reading this: forget labels and just go with the flow instead of making the girl feel underrated with such unnecessary forecasts. 

Ladies, consider those two phrases. How do they make you feel? Ashamed, degraded, not good enough? The hottest, most intelligent, funny women I know have heard these phrases. I may be biased, but I'm not so bad myself, and hear these phrases too. This is pathetic. Men should be doing everything they can to be in a relationship with these women, not avoiding it because they think they might find more tail that way. The catch-22 we so often forget is that, most of the men who say this? They would be lucky to even go on a date with most of the women I know. Lucky to even kiss most of the women I know. Including you. And, them even saying, "I don't want a relationship," implies that you are the lucky one, not him. This is sad, because if anything, it should be a mutual appreciation. You are both lucky to enjoy one another's company. 

When a guy says he doesn't want a relationship? Even if you don't want one, consider why he said this to you. Because he doesn't want you to get mad when he doesn't commit? Because he doesn't want you to get mad when he hooks up with other people? Because he doesn't want to feel obliged to care? Are you really ok with any of the reasons? If you're not ok with them, then remember: 
there are plenty of fish in the sea... I suggest you swan dive into a different wave of fish. 

And, for the record gentlemen, some women don't expect relationships from you. So, when you say either of those two phrases, you just come off as conceded and stupid. 

2) Shaving. 

Ok, I prefer to shave down there, as do many many women for whatever reasons-- less messy, more organized, smoother, more comfortable, what have you. But, for the women who would prefer not to? Don't! Think about it: men expect us to shave; to look perfectly natural and disheveled (sex hair, no makeup but beautiful, etc); to dress conservatively, but still revealing just enough ... the list goes on. 

But, let's get back to shaving down there. Seriously? Men's genitalia are no picnic. Most guys do not trim, and the ones who do? They hardly trim enough! Men expect women to shave, do all these perfect things, and yet, women are expected not to want anything in return. 

How low do our standards have to go? If our standards are high, we're called high maintenance, stuck up, bitches. I say it's worth the risk of a few bad names and some patience in exchange for a guy who actually treats you right and has the right intentions. Girls shouldn't expect a man's life to revolve around hers or the moon or the stars, but girls can sure as hell expect mutual respect, honesty and caring. 

One of my guy friends drunkenly told me that, after beginning to hook up with a girl, he left her at a party, naked because she hadn't shaved. What has the world come to.

The fact that a man is privileged enough to see your down there, should be more than good enough. Sex with women has become more of an expectation for guys rather than a privilege. Why encourage this? 

3) To only want one man. 

Just like the Victorian times, women are now expected to be moral-compases of sorts. Women are supposed to want sex with one man, and one man only. Socially, men have more lee-way. It is acceptable for men to want many women; acceptable for men to go on with their lives, and not necessarily wait for one woman; acceptable for men to want a lot of sex. 

Women shouldn't feel restricted because men have created such standards. Sex is what you make of it. For some, it is personal and special. For some, it is a lot like playing tennis-- a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of sweat. Either way, we should be able to do as we please, whether it be meaningful with one person, or sporty with many. No social stigmas should be labeled to us for either (prude or slut). Girls are partially to blame for this as well. Girls do talk behind each other's backs... "she is such a slut!" Why waste time talking about someone else's personal life. Everyone should be able to do what feels right, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else in the process. If a girl decides to sleep with more suiters than you see fit, it isn't your business to call her a slut. She has her reasons. And, if a girl doesn't want to sleep with anyone, that is also her business.

The list of sexpectations goes on. And, I lose more and more faith in men with every bullet point. But, one thing we must remember, is that the more honest you are with the people you date and yourself? The more genuine and healthy relationships you will experience. So, if a guy says, "I don't want a relationship," and you're not ok with this? Tell him. It doesn't mean you want a relationship or are desperate; it means you know how to stand your ground and demand respect. And then, there won't be any resentment. Plus, the guy does deserve to know how you really feel, not the fake front you put on to please him. If he can't handle it, he doesn't deserve you. It's actually pretty simple.

Feel free to add any sexpectations you've experienced below. From men or from women. 

POLITICAL WORLD : The (Continuing) War Against Women


“ABORTION is legal because of Roe v. Wade. It’s here to stay.” ---Anonymous and much too prevailing.
In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment right to privacy extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Since then, politicians have tried to limit abortion with laws like parental consent, spousal notification, barred “partial-birth” abortion, required waiting periods before getting abortions, required vaginal ultrasound with monitor facing the woman along with doctor’s verbal description, and laws barring government funds of abortions. . . .

Chip, chip chip. So, how are we doing now in 2012?

Let’s begin by comparing these two photos:

2003 Then President Bush signs legislation banning so-called “partial-birth” abortions   Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

2012 House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious liberty and the birth control
Both photos are prototypical scenes of men making decisions about women’s health care rights.  Decisions that can send women and doctors to jail. These laws can ultimately send women to back alley abortion hideouts---remember those?

Now, let’s look at some recent flurries targeting women’s health rights:

The "Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012", introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), would allow any company or institution to refuse coverage of contraceptives based on religious beliefs.  The employee’s religious beliefs do not matter.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is further pushing to amend the Affordable Care Act to allow any employer to exclude any health service coverage, no matter how critical or basic, by claiming that it violates their religious or moral convictions. Again, the employee’s covictions do not count.

House Republicans voted recently to strip federal funding solely from Planned Parenthood in a bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) who hopes Roe v. Wade is soon be reversed. By starving PP and therefore the health services that PP provides to so many women, such as contraceptives, HIV tests, cancer screenings, STD tests, breast exams that are now critically threatened, Mike Pence and the GOP attempt to thoroughly crush Planned Parenthood (even though PP does not spend federal money on abortion services).

The House passed an act to further prevent taxpayer money from funding abortions that allows hospitals to deny even emergency abortions to women who have been raped if the rape is not proved to be physically fought off: for example, if the victim was drugged or verbally threatened and then raped, or if the victim was a minor impregnated by an adult.

House Republicans also passed the “Protect Life Act”, known by women’s health advocates as the “Let Women Die” bill. Under this act, hospitals that receive federal funds can reject any woman in need of an abortion procedure, even if the abortion is necessary to save her life.

Some states are pushing bills to force women who try to obtain an abortion
to first have a transvaginal ultrasound of the fetus (what do you call it when someone tries to force something into a woman’s vagina against her will?). Further, doctors in Texas and Kentucky are required by the new law to verbally describe the image to the patient if she won’t look at it.
So, from Bush’s gag rule (which Obama over-turned) that forbade doctors (whose international foundations received US$) to even mention abortion as an option, now we have GOP politicians requiring doctors to use explicit language describing the fetus to women who are required to have their vaginas probed.

In Ohio, Republicans are trying to pass a bill to ban abortions when a heartbeat is detectable with no exception for rape or incest.  This could ban abortions possibly as early as 6-7 weeks into pregnancy (many women don’t even know that they are pregnant at this stage).

In Virginia, a bill passed defining personhood as started at conception and "provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth."  This opens the floodgates to now also ban contraceptives and stem cell research.

The House Committee on the Judiciary recently conducted a legislative mark up of the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.  This bill could criminalize doctors who provide abortion services and would provide legal recourse for the family members of a woman who decides to have an abortion.

Now let’s hear what people are saying in defense of this War Against Women:

“The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.” ---Rick Santorum, Republican presidential candidate for 2012

"I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute," ---Rick Santorum, who old 'This Week' host George Stephanopoulos

Referring to the contraceptive debate:

“The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem. This is about freedom of religion.” ---Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell whose sense of freedom does not include women’s health choices

“Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s OK; contraception is OK. It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”---Rick Santorum who thinks he knows how things are supposed to be for all women

“[Mr. Obama had carried out the worst] attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance [in the history of the country]”. ---Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate

“We are still afraid that we are being called upon to subsidize something we find morally illicit.…What right does a federal bureau have to define the who, what, where and how of religious practice?”---Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York who has no problem with his religion defining the who, what, where and how of all women

Addressing the Federal defunding of Planned Parenthood:

"Nobody is saying Planned Parenthood can't be the leading advocate of abortion on demand, but why do I have to pay for it?"
“What’s clear to me, if you follow the money, you can actually take the funding supports out of abortion.”---Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) who single-mindedly hopes to destroy PP which could then lead to the banning of all abortion.

 Regarding the banning of abortion even in cases of rape:

“Well, you can make the argument that if she [the rape victim] doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life.…And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time… I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.”---Rick Santorum, presidential candidate for 2012

Regarding the required invasive transvaginal ultrasound and the required verbal description of fetus by doctor:

Referring to placing the screen before the patient and requiring doctors to point out the physical features of the fetus and saying that it does women a favor--- “When someone is already under a great deal of stress, the burden should not be on the person to ask,” she says. “The responsibility should be on the provider to tell, or in this case, display.”---Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for National Right to Life

Now, let’s hear what people who advocate healthcare rights for women say:

Regarding the recent hearings on contraception coverage:

“Where are the women? It’s outrageous that the Republicans would not allow a single individual representing the tens of millions of women who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning.”---Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) before walking out on the hearing

Regarding Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to allow any employer or insurance plan to deny coverage based on religious or moral reasons:

“…a health plan could refuse to cover mental health care on the grounds that the plan believes that psychiatric problems should be treated with prayer.”---Igor Volsky, of ThinkProgress

"Sen. Blunt’s proposal would render the notion of health insurance meaningless, and give businesses and corporations effective veto power over their employee’s health care decisions," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood

About the Federal defunding of Planned Parenthood:

“I’m concerned that some of these restrictions on reproductive health are going to whip through Congress and people aren’t going to see it coming.”--- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus

“This is about preventing low-income women from getting basic health services…. But it seems that the radical right-wingers behind this witch hunt care more about controlling women's bodies than they do about keeping those women healthy or even saving their lives….
It's hard to believe that, in the year 2012, elected officials care more about a political agenda than saving women's lives.” Shelley Berkley, senatorial candidate.

"There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood. …Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide family planning services. Planned parenthood has a right to perform abortions. Last time you checked, abortions were legal in this country." Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)

Regarding recent changes to abortion laws:

“There are no other situations where the legislature injects itself into the examining room and dictates how physicians practice,” said Dr. Scott Spear, medical director for Planned Parenthood in central Texas and the Austin region.

[Requiring vaginal probes] “It feels like old-school punishment of women for sexual impropriety, and I think that’s why people are responding so viscerally.”---Tracy Weitz, sociologist and expert on abortion care, UCSF

[Requiring ultrasound probes] “For a long time it was about shaming women and now it’s about humiliating women.”--- Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager with the Guttmacher Institute

“This is only the latest in a slew of thinly veiled attempts to erode and reverse fundamental reproductive rights of women, while further stigmatizing those women who seek out this care.…Republicans are advancing extreme legislation that is dangerous to women’s health, disrespects the judgment of American women, and is nothing less than the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health.  This is yet another blow in the war on women...”
"These actions …would severely hurt women's rights and insert the government in private decisions about abortion and are nothing short of an all-out war on women…Republicans are seeking to impose an ideological agenda on the country."--- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)

Referring to Santorum’s view that rape victims should not have abortions:

“The problem with Santorum’s sense of humanity is that it doesn’t seem to extend to the victim.…Robbing a woman [if pregnant from rape] of the choice to decide what to do with such “horribly created” consequences only contributes to the victim’s trauma. What’s more, Santorum’s argument forces a woman in these circumstances to share his religious beliefs and “accept what God has given to [her.] ….the fundamental point is that that should be her choice — not the government’s, and certainly not Santorum’s”. ---By Tanya Somanader of ThinkProgress

So it’s chip, chip chip.  Rights are only protected as much as they are intelligently, legally, vigilantly, continuously guarded. If Rick Santorum thinks a raped woman carries a “gift” in her violated womb, he has the right to that belief. But he has no right to make that same rape victim carry out the pregnancy against her own will. Not yet, anyway.
Chip, chip chip…


New York Times/The Caucus by Katherine Q. Seelye

New York Times/Ultrasound: A Pawn in the Abortion Wars by Erik Eckholm

The Nation/2012: Year of the Woman? By Katrina vanden Heuvel

THINKPROGRESS HEALTH/ GOP Ups The Ante, Introduces Legislation To Allow Any Employer To Deny Any Preventive Health Service by Igor Volsky

The Nation/The Conservative War on Women’s Sexuality by Ben Adler

HUFFPOST/Politics/Rick Santorum’s Birth Control Views Challenged By Women’s Groups by Anna Staver

New York Times/Obama Shift on Providing Contraception Splits Critics by Laurie Goodstein

The Woman Behind the Politic World Section:
Lesa Martin, after retiring from a career of professional ballet and graduating from UCLA, has sparked a wonderful career as a multi-media artist. She has shown her work in the SF Momma Rental Gallery, and has many ambitious plans concerning enticing new paintings people are itching to see! Multi-faceted Mrs. Martin is also deeply engaged with politics, nose buried in the New York Times daily. Here, she brings us a real, accessible woman's perspective on politics. Enjoy!