It’s been a hectic week in Becki land so I didn’t put together a Five Things Friday post today. Lucky for us, Joe came through with a guest post. Here are three things that have been on his mind. Take it away, Joe!
From the palace of privilege high atop Mt. Whitedude, stuff about women that men didn’t know.
1. Building the better breast pump
MIT held a hackathon to design a better breast pump. Some of the motivation behind the hackathon? The breast pump and maternal health in general lag behind other arenas, also the United States inclusion on the list of 4 “Maternal Health Backwaters” alongside, Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, and Liberia whose other health issues include high infant mortality rates, tuberculosis and malaria. Not the lunch table you were hoping to find yourself at.
The hackathon brought together a wide range of talents and background and produced many interesting and marketable ideas with the winners getting $3,000 and a trip to silicon valley to pitch investors. Oh, to be a fly on the wall. Journey with me now to the land of not-so-make-believe: Will it work in reverse with some adjustable pastry nozzles asks one market savvy participant. Can we outfit it in leather with tassels, asked Spencer’s Gifts? Isn’t this an abomination and a continuance of the treatment of women as industrialized factories asked an Earthy type who snuck in with catering. Can we package it with a teddy or thong to really give these dolls a feeling that they’re still sexy even though they’ve got the baby weight and need to be nuzzled by machines said the old gentleman as he goosed the Earthy type.
The winner is the mighty mom, a stealth design that can fit and function under clothes for the working woman who is not afforded a chance to stop and pump during the day or has access to a privacy room which is shared by every other woman who is nursing in the hopes that no two women ever feel the biological need to pump at the same time. So here comes science to outstrip the standard in basic workers rights. Good job science, you get a cookie. Oh, and that’s not all…
2. The price of looking like we’re taking baby steps towards equality or Lab Rats, Now with ovaries
“The downside is that if there is a difference between male and female, they’re not going to know about it.”
The NIH is distributing 10.1 million dollars to address gender bias in laboratory research. This problem stretches from lab animals, to specific cells, to actual women in clinical trials. This money is intended to help close the gender gap in research. So thanks women, for having us, feeding us, being judged for pumping or not pumping for us and nurturing us only to be treated (scientifically speaking) like the pizza delivery guy. Everyone’s excited until delivery, then we’re pretty much through with you. It turns out the female animal is underused because researchers are afraid that the hormonal cycle of the female could skew results. We checked under a microscope. Girl’s are different than boys.
Maybe if someone had bothered to pay attention to what the mother’s of life had going on inside them we might have a better understanding about their cycle than we do about a washing machine’s. Maybe we might be a few years closer to more effective Cancer treatments if someone had the bright idea that while yes, the more complex system is by definition going to be more work, tackling the hard problem first might yield more useful information over time? Or if women requesting grants were afforded as much in funds as men or if there were nearly as many women hired to be in a position to request research grants than there are men.
I can’t blame science or it’s researchers, I was taught to fear a woman’s cycle by Married… With Children and one liners on t-shirts and who can compete with that? I know that in many parts of the world, including here in America a woman’s cycle and its physical affects are deemed dirty and considered unclean. It’s a very recent happening that the color red even appear in tampon commercials. Those are usually the home of the color white, bright happy color of purity and klansmen. It’s uncomfortable because reality is icky and we’re a delicate people unless a cop shot somebody, or a pop star or sports star beat their significant other then everybody wants a peek and dozens of trash websites pay for their server usage but menstrual blood? That’s just indecent. But in the name of science, can we not take our cues from the frightened, the old and whoever is writing ad copy for American Apparel? It’s science, it’s research, it is the process of the new. You take all the accepted and the old and you push or build upon it. There is nothing accepted in science until it’s been pushed and hasn’t collapsed. Were they saving this one for a rainy day? We can clone cows, Henrietta Lacks is immortal and someone just finally stumbled upon the idea of trying to incentivize research to embrace gender distinction?
There is also a cost difference in using females and controlling for the affect of a cycle. Because ultimately that’s where science ends up, on the shelf two aisles down from the tampons and the cheaper the research the more cost effective the result, the higher the profit margin for the new drug will be and by the time it’s been on the market long enough for anyone to see that it’s effects aren’t for women what they are for men, the company that sold it will have lost exclusive copyright and won’t really care if it’s still selling.
If you’re looking for me next month you’ll see me in my Halloween costume: the nightmarish female cycle. I can’t tell you what it’s going to look like because no one can tell me what it looks like. Sometimes when you have your blood pressure taken in a doctor’s office, they will get two readings. The first reading can be a bit high due to what’s called white coat syndrome. It’s nice to know there is something that scares the ones in white coats.
3. Real or not, The motorboat has been drydocked.
Now a moment to reflect on the number 3. Three also runs around under the alias: Triad. Pythagoras considered it to be the noblest of digits. It is considered a good number in Chinese culture because it is pronounced similar to the word for life. It is also reportedly the number of boobs on Jasmine Tridevil. Because we can. Because she felt a pang looking down at all that empty space and in the spirit of manifest destiny, got one more. There’s a very good chance that this is a hoax and someone was just looking for attention. Unfortunately, one surefire way to capture attention is with a few limited sections of female anatomy.
While women are overlooked in terms of pay and health considerations here at home, suffering even greater indignities and lack of personal liberty around the world the one thing that will always get women attention, wanted or not, is gross anatomy. Photoshopping, Miss America, USA and Universe pageants, a world of cover models, mostly lighter skinned, these are what I am told to want, what too many are told they should be. The very phrase bikini season? Why not just call it the summer olympics since it ends up being less about being comfortable on a beach and more about months of training to pull off a look in someone else’s eyes. For what? A pat on the head? The faint praise of a stranger that just wants to see if the rest of you looks like what porn taught him you should? Or just trying to get comfortable enough in your own skin to be seen in it?
The idea of beauty in the world was already impossible and this extra adipositive appendage, real or imagined is believable because of it. The link above (behind photshopping) is an interview with a digital photo retoucher. It introduced me to the concept of armpit vaginas, ( I could have lived a very full life never knowing that subclassification of a body) and some interesting gifs of Jennifer Lawrence going steadily from sexy to sickly, and Lena Dunham going from real to physically repressed. It also makes mention of the scandal that Beyonce may be photoshopping her own instagram. There are so many things in that sentence to which I don’t want to give attention but if there is one almost universally recognized standard of beauty, success and #Fierce #DAMN, then it’s Beyonce. And the idea that even she doesn’t feel Beyonce enough to let it all hang out is terrifying.
If a standard of beauty can’t even be comfortable in her skin then how hard is it to believe that someone would body-mod themselves almost to the point of self satire. The real can’t compete because no one is measured by the real, just reflections from a better lit, perfectly angled la-la-land we would all be better off without.