4 Stars

There aren’t many US Army Generals that have them, and the few that do are all men.  The Senate is getting ready to confirm the first woman, Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, to the rank.  Only 5 percent of the Army’s generals are women, with 15 one-star generals, three two-star generals and two three-star generals, including General Dunwoody.

NYTimes (I beg to differ on the pretentious label) has more.

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Introducing…the spray-on condom!

Totally gratuitous and silly, but here it is: the Condom Consultancy in Germany (man, doesn’t THAT sound made-up) has developed a spray-on condom. Just spritz on some liquid latex, and after 20-25 seconds of drying time, you’ll have a custom-fitted condom!

Anyone else think this sounds intensely creepy (and furthermore, intensely unsexy)?

Connie Condom

Above: “Connie Condom,” a government creation meant to educate the Italian public about condom use. Just because it was too funny to be missed.

“Sworn virgins” – but no promise rings here

A couple of days ago, everybody’s favorite pretentious publication, The New York Times, ran a fascinating piece on the dying trend of “sworn virgins” in rural Albania. These are women who – due to disease, warfare, or a simple overload of girl babies – were left without a male figure to lead their families, and decided to step into that role themselves. The gender switch was a thorough one; it entailed the chopping off of hair, the adoption of male dress, and the commitment to a life without marriage, sex, or children.
What’s especially striking about this practice, however, is how it was and continues to be received by the rest of Albanian society. The sworn virgins are celebrated and revered, just like a traditional patriarch would be. People realize that the shift into life as a man was a necessity for these women, meant to protect their loved ones from the poverty that was once inevitable for families without a male leader. By inhabiting an ambiguous gender space (for example, most of the sworn virgins kept their female names while taking on masculine mannerisms and duties) – these women took hold of power not usually available to them.
I only wish the Times had spent more time on the implications of the sworn virgin phenomenon, because it raises a lot of questions. Why do these women-living-as-men get along so easily into their highly traditional patriarchal society, while in our “progressive” country people who do the same thing struggle to fit in? What does it take for a group to decide that crossing the gender divide is acceptable, even natural?

Random book recommendation: The Necessary Hunger

My own reading isn’t too relevant to readers, but my friend’s is. It’s called The Necessary Hunger, and because I’m too lazy to concoct a blurb, here’s Amazon’s:

Nancy Takahiro is a star high school basketball player who is smitten by a new player, Raina Webber. When Nancy’s father falls in love with Raina’s mother and the families move in together, Nancy’s love for Raina becomes positively excruciating. This novel grapples not only with the awkwardness of adolescent love, but also with race: Nancy is Asian American, Raina is African American. And if that’s not enough, it’s full of information on college sport recruiting techniques.

Sounds interesting, right? According to said friend, it’s heartbreaking. Pick it up while you can, since it’s high school reading and summer is the best time to take a break from all the Judith Butler and whatnot.

Babies in heels

Feministing did a post on this a few weeks ago, but when Gothamist jumped on the blogging bandwagon, I knew that I had to draw The W Spot readers to its attention:

No, it’s not just another item sitting on the racks of Toys ‘R’ Us. The Seattle-based Heelarious creates “baby booties” (some in patent leather) for daughters whose mothers want them to be “fabulous”.

Honestly, I’d just like to know what mother would put her baby daughter in a dress like that one pictured above.

Naked in New York

For two issues now, Time Out New York has printed pictures of 7 lucky naked New Yorkers. The first ran in Time Out’s “Horny issue” and the second pictures (and their reactions to the first printing) just came out in the most recent issue. Some of the pictures are funny (there’s one with a man in the forest and a perfectly placed tree branch aimed towards his butt and another with a woman on the toilet) but some are more explicit or suggestive. The 7 are only somewhat diverse (there is only one “plus-sized” model and most are white) and all of the women are completely hairless. I’m all for people feeling comfortable in their own skin and having the courage to pose naked for thousands of viewers (including co-workers, friends, and family). I guess I’m just a bit confused as to 1. why pose naked in this forum, 2. why print some of those poses, and 3. why are the women hairless? I think Time Out could have done a better job of better representing a naked New York population.