Beets! They’re So Much Cooler Than You Thought

Considering how delicious they are, beets are one of the most forgotten and unappreciated vegetables of our time. When I go off on a beet rant (which happens more often than I’d like to admit) most people wrinkle their nose and grit their teeth and say things like “yuck!” or “gross!.” I then proceed to ask them the last time they ate anything with beets and the typical response is either A. never, or B. when I was a little kid. Listen ladies, throw everything you thought about beets out the window and ebrace them as the awesome Fall vegetable that they are. Beets are full of health benefits- studies show they prevent cancer, have zero trans and saturated fat, are a high source of energy, contain betaine which is beneficial to your mental health and is found in products that fight depression, trytophan which helps you relax and have a sense of well-being, is a great source of iron for women, and also are full magnesium, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B & C. While researching beets I also learned that beets are full of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones. Ancient Romans used beets as an aphrodisiac. If that’s not a good reason to get on board, I don’t know what is. Beets are also super inexpensive and pretty easy to prepare! Below are a few simple ways to incorporate beets into your everyday diet:

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One Is Not Always The Loneliest Number

Music is an important ingredient in my life—and because of that, I go to shows all of the time with my friends and loved ones. Recently however, I was listed and had a plus one to go see Dragonette at Chicago’s Metro. Life got a bit hectic — I forgot about it, and then the day of the show I wildly went through my contact list trying to coerce someone to go to the show with me to no avail. I sat on my couch, defeated and sad, and then it clicked - I could go alone! Why had I not seen this as a proper option!?

I threw on a cute outfit, sprinkled some glitter over my head, and jumped onto my bike. When I walked into the venue Dragonette played the first beat of their set. At first I was a little self conscious about not having any friends with me, but two songs in, I quickly forgot I was alone and let the music consume me. Before too long, I was dancing my ass off, twirling around with my neighboring concert goers. The Canadian electro/synth pop band’s lead lady, Martina Sorbara, joked through the night and made everyone feel like we were old friends. It is hands down one of the best and most energetic shows I saw in 2012 and is without a doubt, 100% the absolute best light show I have ever seen at a concert. During the show my entire body was buzzing with inspiration, possibility, and hope.

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Get It, Girl

I love books. I also love a good time in bed. Needless to say, I figured a book called Thanks for Coming: One Young Woman’s Quest For An Orgasm would be right up my alley. But I wasn’t prepared for just how challenging that quest would be. Despite her sexual experience, Mara Altman has reached the age of twenty-six without having ever reached orgasm. Or having ever masturbated.

It’s the latter that bothered me and Altman’s friends/therapists/mentors the most. I imagine our reactions were all pretty similar— WHAT?! REALLY?! BUT…BUT… WHY NOT?! Followed by a Looney Tunes-esque jaw-dropping-to-the-floor bit. Now, to be at least a little bit fair, I had just finished reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman in which she discusses the fact that she’s been masturbating since childhood so I was especially thrown off by the whole idea of being twenty-six and not masturbating. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself since my teen years and while I understand spells where some good old-fashioned clitoral stimulation takes a backseat, I couldn’t understand the idea of being unwilling to give yourself what you want.

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Where’s My ‘No Co-Pay’?

When I went to CVS this past August I was thrilled. Tea-publicans of the radical right would say I was excited because our socialist Kenyan President was forcing them and other patriots to pay for my free slut pills to roam free and fuck everything in sight. 

However, I was actually excited because eliminating the co-pay on birth control is a huge step in making women’s access to health care more equitable. President Obama saw forcing women to pay higher costs in health care just for being women as an issue of economics.

I’ve paid for my birth control’s co-pay in the past, but with my approaching graduation this December, all these real-world expenses got too real— the economic burden of being a woman became much more apparent. Since August, it’s been a relief to know my co-pay expenses can now go to other things like rent or paying off student loans.

Unfortunately, there aren’t as many women as I thought who are benefiting from the ‘no co-pay’ ruling. And to get the right answer requires extensive Googling. Three months later, I still feel like there should be more done to clarify how these rules apply. Therefore, I’m attempting to compile this confusion into something more readable. And even though it would be wonderful for every woman out there to live in a world of no co-pay, that’s not exactly the case just yet. 

So if you’re still wondering why you have a co-pay on your birth control under your current insurance, it could be one of the following reasons: 

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Jess Williamson: A Soft Heart

I met Jess Williamson for the first time on a late October night in Austin with a cold front moving in and a drink in her hand and a nervous excitement in my voice. Over the past several months, I’ve heard from friends and fellow fans about her shows in Austin at places like Antone’s and Cheer Up Charlie’s, as well as those in LA, Portland, and Marfa. I tried my best to interview her in a professional manner, I promise I did, but it all ended up feeling more like a catch-up between old friends. For every question I gave her, she handed one right back to me.  She asked me my astrological sign (Gemini), I asked her what she thought about Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman (“I admire and envy her confidence), and she listed off places she’d lived (Dallas, Spain, LA, NYC) and those we both still hope to see someday. 

Williamson creates this same sense of intimacy with her songs that she writes herself; her soft, clear voice helping convey her stories and secrets. She cites Billie Holiday and Leonard Cohen as great influences, and listening to the heartfelt, quiet persistence qualities of her songs, I believe it. I ask her if she worries about the autobiographic content and the confidence in her answer makes me feel almost foolish.  

“A song you write is a snapshot of how you felt at that time,” she tells me. “It’s a therapeutic act.”

    

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Great Aunt Lo’s Mississippi Mud

Do you ever feel like you need to consume an inordinate, unwarranted, ridiculous amount of CHOCOLATE?  Of course you do, don’t even act like you don’t, it’s okay — you’re not alone.  So instead of tearing apart your kitchen, searching through all of your coat pockets, and digging in all of your clutches, purses, and gym bags looking for something, ANYTHING, that could possibly take care of that chocolate craving, go to the store pick up some cocoa, nuts, and marshmallow crème and make Aunt Lo’s Mississippi Mud. BEWARE: If you make this, you will want to eat every last crumb. 

 

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Long Creek: Erotic Fiction

Wind whipped past her face, brushing loose strands back to fly in the air behind her. The giant black stallion below her thundered around the turn and lengthened his stride.  Crouching low on his neck, her form was streamline and sleek as they raced against invisible competitors down the track. Even without hearing Martin cheer from the sidelines, Charlotte knew they had just clocked an amazing time.

“New personal best!” Martin waved the stopwatch in the air, and couldn’t help but let himself feel happy.  He could be a curmudgeon at times. 

Charlotte gently brought the elegant horse to a pause near the trainer and loosened the reins, patting his neck.

“Great job, Necromancer,” she said, and he seemed to huff an agreement, in a self-important way. She vaulted lightly to the ground and stretched her arms over her head, breathing in the cool misty Monday morning air. Suddenly she paused. A tall figure was sauntering towards them, unhurried but with an air of purpose. She recognized the confident stride and lean build even from a distance. Martin saw him as well and waved a greeting.

“Good morning, Harrison,” he called and walked forward to meet him.

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Fall 2012 Cover Artwork by Chloe Wilson
“When Jillian Barthold first asked me to do the cover art for this issue I wasn’t sure where to begin. But as I started thinking about Vagina in terms of a women’s collaboration, the idea came to me to use witchcraft as a theme. When I say witchcraft, I am thinking about a collective women’s wisdom that is magical and powerful. It is a wisdom achieved through collaborative rituals, and goes back to the beginning of time.


The cover presents three women making some sort of elixir together. Their many hands contribute many different ingredients/ideas/perspectives that together create a whole. Just like this potion, Vagina is another kind of healing brew made from the many and varied hands of women.”

*Copies of our Fall 2012 issue are still available here in our Etsy shop High-res

Fall 2012 Cover Artwork by Chloe Wilson

When Jillian Barthold first asked me to do the cover art for this issue I wasn’t sure where to begin. But as I started thinking about Vagina in terms of a women’s collaboration, the idea came to me to use witchcraft as a theme. When I say witchcraft, I am thinking about a collective women’s wisdom that is magical and powerful. It is a wisdom achieved through collaborative rituals, and goes back to the beginning of time.

The cover presents three women making some sort of elixir together. Their many hands contribute many different ingredients/ideas/perspectives that together create a whole. Just like this potion, Vagina is another kind of healing brew made from the many and varied hands of women.

*Copies of our Fall 2012 issue are still available here in our Etsy shop

Reflections Gone Wrong

A glance in the mirror

I turn sideways

Trying to push down any bumps I find

 

Move closer

Fingers across my face

Searching for a sign of imperfection

 

Hands running through my hair

Fixing 

 

I take too long to  ready myself 

 

Make-up

Shaving

Hair dos

Fashion

 

Perfection is what they seek

 

The world is all too quick to judge

 

Too; a misused word

 

Too fat

Too skinny

Too short

Too flabby

 

Itching to make it right

 

Yet, the only thing that is wrong;

Not finding beauty in our humanity.

It is a reflection gone wrong.

 

—By Gurpreet Kaur 

 

*Gurpreet’s poem originally appeared in Vagina's Fall 2012 issue. You can click your mouse on this to pick up a copy!

My Life As A Chick Magnet

My 22nd birthday was a blast. Three years ago my friends and family treated me to a night of drunken debauchery that ended with favorite friends on Sixth Street in Austin. Wearing a tiara and dancing on tables, I was obviously granted Birthday Girl attention. As last call was announced, we stumbled out into the dewy street to comically hail a taxi in our heels. That’s when I heard the words I’d been dreaming for a man to say to me all my life.

“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever, ever seen. Can I get your number? Can I get just one kiss?”

Outside a bar or not, that kind of adoration melts even my twisted little heart. I should’ve swooned, been utterly smitten, but I wasn’t. Why? This was no dream man spouting these platitudes with his whiskey breath. This was a woman.

This is no isolated incident, either. Generally when I go out to grab a drink or belt out some Alanis at karaoke, someone asks for my number. 7 times out of 10, that someone is a woman. Which is great, because women are the SHIT. My favorite people are women. But I don’t date women. So why do women want all up in this but men walk away with their noses pinched?

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Lunacy

I drove into the moon

last night and

bruised my knee

until it grew into a perfect

purple orb and

the moon was jealous

and the moon was

the garage door

and the moon

bent my bumper into

a funny little frown

dimpling the license plate

until it was

pockmarked and

cratered and blemished

and the moon was jealous

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Choosing Choice

I originally wrote this piece just before the 2012 presidential election reached its conclusion. And while I can’t speak for my editors or the zine’s contributors, Vagina itself is a pro-choice publication. As such, I was terrified of what a successful Romney-Ryan ticket could hold for the future of access to safe abortion services here in America. Ryan has co-sponsored “personhood” legislation that bans abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and Romney has threatened to overturn Roe v. Wade.

For most, if not all, of us V-Scouts, we’ve only ever lived under the pro-choice result of 1973’s Roe v. Wade. Granted, there have always been the constant battles to greatly limit access to abortion services but the option has at least always been there for us.

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Untitled

with flowers in my hair

breaking every refrain

you’d sing anywhere

never granted safe or true

the song i knew so well

but i, i could only hum

waiting for a cleaner air

darlin’, i’ve felt all i lost

clenching fists, i’ve set you

out to sea, out of sight

fallen heart be anchored

in answers he never gave

the flowers were never there

 

—By Sarah Bishop