When a dear friend introduced me to Samantha Irby’s blog Bitchesgottaeat a year and a half ago, I became obsessed with the author in an “I’d carry a suitcase of drugs into another country for you” sort of way. The blog’s cult following led Irby to get her comeuppance - her first book deal. In her debut novel - cheekily and fittingly titled Meaty - Samantha Irby faces the challenges of adulthood in this collection of essays.
Irby tackles the gross truths of life with dignity spawned from the healthy perspective on life afforded her by her raucous sense of humor. The author doesn’t take life, or herself, too seriously — while still a serious student of her craft. Nothing is off limits from her orphan upbringing to her fecal catastrophes to the overeating meat sweats. While the book can be off-putting, it’s only because it is shockingly relatable, wholly visceral even if it doesn’t hit home. A burning honesty like full-strength comedic Listerine exists in her prose. Meaty doesn’t simply aim for laughs; it tells a story through vignettes, one that is often heart-wrenching with an innately wicked wit that doesn’t come along often.
A: The dental dam can be used by dentists to isolate a tooth being worked on, or to protect your mouth from someone else’s anus or vagina. It’s a sheet of latex (or silicone) that you lay over the anus or vagina while engaging in oral sex. It helps reduce the chances of contracting an STD. It is also beneficial if your partner wants anal play, and you aren’t about to lick an asshole. So dental dam = mouth condom/saver.
If you’re in the Austin area and like what Vagina does, consider nominating the maga*zine for a Best of Austin - Non-Chronicle Publication award!
I started Vagina over three years ago with the goal of promoting women’s creative work and I’m so thrilled to see how the issues have grown from brown paper bags and yarn to barcode-boasting, full-color issues. Keep an eye out for the premier of the Summer ‘14 issue in the coming days!
Ma Jian (马建) is quite the dissident. The Dark Roadopens with a riot. Family planning officials are arresting women and dragging them to be sterilised. Pregnant mothers who do not have a state-issued birth permit are criminals and hunted down for a double punishment – a violent coercion into abortion and sterilisation. In a bid to enforce the One Child policy, even women who are beyond their second trimester are forced to terminate their pregnancies, illegal by international standards.
Neighbours are rewarded for tip-offs, properties are confiscated, rape is prevalent and often goes unreported, and families who cannot pay up fines have their houses demolished. An atmosphere of fear and death has hung over the village.
The central character in the novel is Meili and her husband, Kongzi. The couple already have a daughter but Kong wants a son to carry on the family line. With Meili’s baby bump almost visible now, they leave their village and become family planning fugitives, etching out a floating existence -literally- down the Yangtze River. After Meili loses her 8-month old unborn child in a crackdown, Kongzi is desperate to get her pregnant again (and again and again with each unsuccessful birth) so he can fulfil his filial duty of producing a male heir for the family.
But children born outside the One Child policy also face another set of problems. The child joins the ranks of ‘black children‘ and has no access to medical benefits, free education, a residence permit or subsidised housing. In short, he is stripped of his right to live, condemned to a life as an outcast.
Seasons of Your Day is Mazzy Star’s long-awaited, first full-length release in seventeen years. Comeback records can often be bitterly disappointing, but it’s immediately clear from the album’s opening organ notes, that the duo has lost none of their power. Hope Sandoval’s languid drawl is just as smoky and sweet as ever, and David Roback’s sprawling guitar work is alternately sparse and lush, with a characteristic heartstring-tugging twang. In fact, judging from Roback’s psych-tinged, meandering accompaniment and Sandoval’s rich, hazy murmur, it seems that time has only ripened and enriched their sound. Seasons of Your Day doesn’t deviate much from Mazzy Star’s previous work, instead building upon their distinctively atmospheric, spooky tone. It’s like they picked up right where they left off in 1996, and the result is a dreamy, nuanced record that figures perfectly into their catalog.
This isn’t only about Hobby Lobby. It’s about Hobby Lobby and the 71 other companies that this ruling directly affects — ranging from law firms to manufacturers. And while birth control is plenty welcomed among those of us hoping to avoid pregnancy at any given time, it also treats a number of conditions, some of which require surgery to otherwise handle. And while I’m happy not to work at Hobby Lobby and thankful that I don’t work at the other 71 businesses, this does in fact set a dangerous precedent in which any company can claim religion to avoid paying for employees’ health care — whether that be birth control, blood transfusions, antidepressants, products that involve gelatin, etc. Again, I’m glad that I don’t work at any of those companies but I also know that were I in the position that many of their employees are now in, I couldn’t just afford to quit and assume I’d find another full-time job that pays benefits and respects my healthcare needs.
“Five-foot-two, eyes of blue, name of Sue,” she rapid-fire spits through the nubs of her teeth, mostly gums really, sticking her wiry hand out to shake mine. Firmly.
She smokes Seneca Menthol 100s, the kind she picks up on Indian reservations as she makes her way through the country, hauling loads of God-knows-what in her shiny white truck.
She lives in that truck, all her worldly possessions on the top bunk, and shares the tiny bottom one with her two cats. One of ‘em blind, both of ‘em fat.
Not Sue though. Skinny as a string bean, short grey hair cropped close to her head. When I meet her she’s got on an oversized tie-dye hoodie, offers me a cigarette. We sit at a bar studded with keno machines, sipping Budweisers in the Gold Strike Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi.
Tunica — a flashback to Vegas before what happened there stayed there, back when the casinos all had low ceilings and windowless walls that boxed in and recycled the endless smoke from cigarettes balanced between gnarled fingers, un-ashed.
We were down there for a truck driver convention, but we snuck out, bored as hell, and found the bar by the lobby. We drank beers and smoked the Senecas while she speedily barked out her past: She had been a crack addict and a prostitute. She had two children, whom she saw sometimes. One of them had been what she called a “trick baby.” She said this with some measure of sadness, but matter-of-factly all the same.
Sue was shriveled up, a tiny woman, and she was self-conscious about her teeth-nubs. She looked right at you when she talked, hard blue eyes. She was smart; she could read a situation, and although she came off as having a few screws loose, she gave me the impression that she knew herself well.
June 25, 2014 marks the one-year anniversary of Wendy Davis’s 11-hour filibuster of HB2/SB5 and I’m just as filled with excitement and fear and joy and sadness as I was a year ago.
A quick run-down of what this bill means for Texans: all but a few abortion clinics in Texas will be shuttered, abortions after 20 weeks are illegal (the bill has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest), doctors must obtain the difficult-to-obtain admitting privileges to a nearby hospital, and outdated dosing procedures for the abortion pill.
This time last year, I’d already been through the testimonies for the House State Affairs committee, sitting in the front row on my laptop tweeting out bits of personal stories, Rep. Byron Cook’s calling those stories “repetitive”, and the reactions when he announced that he would be cutting the meeting short without allowing all registered speakers to testify. I’d already been through the bill’s passage in the House, crying in the Capitol’s hallways at 3:45am with hundreds of others as the likes of Rep. Jessica Farrar and Rep. Senfronia Thompson thanked us for our fight.
On the morning of June 25, I took off work, put on my orange Stand With Texas Women shirt, and packed my phone, laptop, and chargers. I felt certain that if the bill could pass through the House then it would pass through the Senate, but I was going to be there when it did. I was going to sit in the Gallery with hundreds of other Texans (along with the hundreds outside) and watch the senators vote against our physical, emotional, and financial well-being.
For 13 hours, I tweeted updates from my seat in the Gallery above Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s desk. I silently joked and silently cried and silently mouthed my reactions with my neighbors. For 11 hours, Davis read personal testimonies (none of which felt “repetitive”, Byron). Again and again, opposing senators asked her to pause and submit to questioning. Her response: I Will Not Yield.
I am a twenty-two-year-old American female with a lackluster love life. No man has ever left me feeling as satisfied as I have after a plate of tacos. My first sexual experience occurred when my veins were full of alcohol and my brain lacked any inhibition. I woke up the next morning to go to work and haphazardly pulled my clothes off the floor. He walked me out of his house and then he walked out of my life.
I’m not bitter about this or my other sexual encounters. There’s a little bit of spit-swapping, he gets frisky, and I signal when I’m done. Here’s another thing I’m done with: being unsatisfied. I’ve given in to guys and on occasion I’ve had them take a half hour commute to give in to me.
Sex really doesn’t mean anything to me. I haven’t met a man who could match my sarcasm, video game knowledge, or love for soccer. I’ve made a promise to myself to wait to have sex again. I want it to be something special and mainly I just want to see what the fuss is about. There has to be a reason why people have been doing this for years and there has to be inspiration behind all those dirty songs (“Ignition” by R. Kelly anyone?). I’m waiting for someone to make this girl a believer.
I’ve recently taken a new job and everyday on lunch the same coworker complains about her love life. She mentions all the characters she has currently been talking to and her exes are frequently brought up as well. I find myself gritting my teeth in between the chewing of my turkey wrap. I feel like I’m suffering in silence as she harshly accounts what happened on her last date. But then I realize that I would be no happier if I were in her position. Multitudes of meaningless dates could never be as significant as a few seconds with someone that you truly connect with.
I’m not solely pointing the finger at all the men I’ve been with. I know I am to blame for my heaps of disappointment. I still slept with the man that left me to walk home by myself. I shrugged off the instance when another called me the dreaded c-word. I couldn’t get another to commit to a relationship so I told myself I was fine with a couple romps in the sheets. These men have not been good enough for me. What is more important is that I have made myself believe that I did not deserve better.
As I said I’m going to wait and I’m happy doing this even if it means I find myself in a committed relationship with my Xbox. I’ll keep strapping on my sweatpants and firing up my Netflix account when most people are on date night. I think more women need to tell themselves that they would rather be lonely than miserable in a relationship.
I lived in Egypt for a year, and I was harassed on a daily basis – sometimes physically, usually verbally. It was horrible. For many reasons, I’ve been hesitant to write about the issue. I’m afraid, for example, that my audience might make unfair generalizations against Middle Eastern culture.
When in Egypt, sometimes, I hated all men. Sometimes, I blamed all Egyptians. Logically though, I tried to always remind myself that these feelings were not fair towards men nor towards Egyptians.
Having close Egyptian friends was also a helpful reminder that Egyptian culture is welcoming, beautiful, and respectful while harassment is a beast born of a dark side of human nature that knows no borders nor is it monopolized by any culture, gender, religion, or group of people.
Certain social factors – including oppressive governments, poverty, no police or legal protection – cause it to be more prevalent in certain areas, but these factors shift and change with history and time.
When it comes down to it, all types of people are subject to harassment or sexual violence and different types of people harass.
Embrace it! Snag some waterproof mascara, toss out your aluminum-riddled antiperspirant and flaunt that dewy skin like the champion you are! Riding your bike in 100 degree heat is a sure sign that you are a boss and the world needs to know. Confidence is always your best bet when it comes to personal style!
Sure, cut-offs are a Summer staple but have you had the pleasure of feeling the breeze up your skirt on a hot day in August? It’s second only to hopping off your bike and directly into a cool lake. Bike shorts are always optional, just be sure and put on some panties to avoid that whole indecent exposure thing.
Who likes having a peeling nose? Or a sunburned back of the neck? Slather on the good stuff – SPF 50! If you’ve got the budget, I really suggest spending a few dollars more to get a bottle of sweat-proof body sunscreen as well as a bottle intended specifically to protect your face. It will be less oily and thus far less likely to clog your pores. Even if you can’t afford both, get something! The occasional pimple is always better than skin cancer.
Wear a pair that doesn’t require socks because it’s just too darn hot for those things. Scared of your shoes smelling crazy with all that sweat? Sprinkle some baking soda or Dr. Scholl’s Deodorant Powder in them at the end of the day!
Look, I don’t care if sweaty helmet hair isn’t your thing. Brain damage probably isn’t your thing either. Tie your hair up in a scarf, wrap a bandana around your hairline, twist together an easy braid, get a pixie cut, or invest in dry shampoo. But for goodness sake – wear a helmet!
“Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” This question is the downfall of every woman. Lana del Rey’s new song “Young and Beautiful” is featured in The Great Gatsby and can be distinctly heard in several scenes throughout the film. Lana’s haunting voice and powerful lyrics combined for a mesmerizing effect and I found myself being forced to listen to the song over and over again, even multiple times a day. In the movie, the words seem to apply to the lead female character of Daisy as she struggles with her torn emotions over her failing marriage to a man she once loved and her newly rekindled love for Gatsby.
As I watched the film and heard those words repeated, it took me to a more personal place. Young love is the most intense, most exhilarating, and also the most painful. Even once years have past it is still easy to get wrapped up in the nostalgic waves that come from an old high school flame. Maybe it’s because the daunting fears that plague us in the relationships as we get older aren’t there.
when your best friend dies, you will find out on the phone. it will be during finals week in your senior year of college. it will be the longest day of your life. your head will ache from the shock and agony and the physical strain of grief. all the water will have been drained from your body. all your lips will taste of is salt. when your friends want to hold you, let them. they will know better than to say a single word. true friends know that words, however desperate to help, cannot breathe life back into the dead. instead they will hold you and let you know it’s okay to fall apart. so you do.
when you fall in love with a boy still in love with a girl who broke his heart, you will write him poems. when he asks you what you’ve been up to, you will read them to him and he will never know. he will sit front row when you finally muster the courage to read your poems in front of strangers. he will hoot and clap hard and hold you afterwards when you are still shaking from your nerves. you will never tell him that it is in his arms that your bones have finally found their home.
you will wait for him. he will not love you back. your poems will never win you his love. words have never bought the love of the people we thought we deserved. even your bravery will earn nothing but his admiration. later, with the pain still fresh in your mind, you will write poems about how you lost him to the lingering ghost of a past love. you will be wrong.
you didn’t lose him. you never had him in the first place.
Grace Garcia was an incredible leader, an incredible advocate, and an incredible inspiration. Her work for Texas women in politics was unparalleled; she fought to make sure we had a seat at the table and under her leadership Annie’s List thrived. She helped provide women the confidence and support to run for public office in the rough landscape of Texas politics, and with her help that landscape is changing to better reflect the needs of all Texans.
Do you like friendship bracelets, water balloons, or PB&Js? How about story time, playing MASH, or face painting? Maybe even just spending the day with rad ladies pretending you were back at summer camp? Well then you and your friends should sign up for Vagina's first All-Grrrls Summer Camp in Austin, TX on Sunday, June 22!