Uncommon Commodities

Fema Fresh - Dietary Supplement Capsules for Feminine Hygiene

$8.55 for a 60-count box 

Finally, another pill to pop! In case regular washing and proper hygiene just don’t cut it for you, there’s now a supplement for your vaginal health. Throw two of these down your food chute a day and expect a removal of that feminine funk. Because this product is not a spray or cream, it evidently doesn’t mess with your delicate pH balance. It’s a dietary supplement that, through all-natural means (which aren’t specified), manages to eliminate feminine odor by seeking out odor-causing bacteria. Sounds shady, but reviews are pretty positive. Ladies tout “feeling fresh” as well as confident — just what the slogan provides.

Verdict: Interesting alternative to sprays and douches if you are worried about vaginal odor and don’t want to get yeast infections.

P-Mate Female Disposable Urine Director

$4.95 for a pack of 5 
On the whole, being a woman is something I’m proud of. However, I find myself wishing to trade in my vagina for a penis each and every time I go camping. No matter how well you think you’ve mastered the pop-and-squat, you will still pee on your feet. Or your pants. Having my whole bottom half exposed in the woods doesn’t exactly make me feel at ease either. Thorns, bugs … there’s just too much that could attack my sensitive bum. However, this odd little funnel gives you the ease of urinating upright. My penis envy has come to a close. Hallelujah!

Verdict: Say what you will, but this is going to save my ass (literally) next time I head into the great outdoors for a bit.

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When you start to think ugly thoughts about your body, I highly recommend squelching them with some ice cream. Or a snow cone. Hi, vegan friends. High-res

When you start to think ugly thoughts about your body, I highly recommend squelching them with some ice cream. Or a snow cone. Hi, vegan friends.

Go to the Movies Alone

Go because you need some time to yourself. Go because you have to ignore your cell phone. Go because you don’t have to share your Reese’s Pieces with anyone. Go because you get to choose your favourite seat. Go because no one will see your spit-take or running mascara. Go because you need a break from reality. Go to the movies alone just because. 

—By Hillary-Anne Crosby, Vagina Editor-in-Chief

Blueberries, Raspberries, & Small Grapefruits (The First Trimester)

I am pregnant. 

As I write this, only about six people in the world know.  But by the time this is published I will be out of my first trimester and feeling more at liberty to spread the news.  Plus my uterus will have expanded out of my pelvic bones making it more and more obvious that the reason I’m not drinking Scotch is not because “I just don’t feel like a drink,” but because even though I definitely feel like a drink, it isn’t the most responsible option for the little human growing in my tummy.

I was always on the fence about becoming a mom.  I worry about overpopulation and global warming and the general decline of civilization.  But as I approached “advanced maternal age” I decided now was the time to give it a go.  After almost a year of coming to terms with the reality that I had probably waited too long to try to conceive, a sonographer searching for uterine polyps and cysts blurted out, “I found a gestational sac!”  And then I was pregnant. 

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Rally Cry

Governor Perry made me cry June 25, 2013, the night after Wendy Davis stood and the people filibustered.  It wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  There comes a point when enough is enough. 

You see, living in Texas as a woman, a progressive and an atheist requires a lot of patience — something I don’t always have.  I’m a native Texan and hate the thought of leaving my home state, but the possibility has definitely crossed my mind before.  I used to daydream about leaving for more liberal pastures after college.  The events of the Texas legislature that week proved to me that I needed to stay here.  I think progressive Texans finally reached a tipping point when it comes to our state government, and I want to be here to help bring about the change.

No longer will we stand idly by as Republicans in the state House and Senate attempt to regulate abortion clinics out of existence.  No longer will we allow the religious beliefs of Evangelical Christians to dictate the healthcare and marriage laws of our state.  No longer will we let gerrymandering disenfranchise minority, lower-income, and student voters (no thanks to the Supreme Court).  

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Kanye West Is My Mother, and Vice Versa

Adages, a fable’s crippled little cousin, tend to set me off more than anything.  Of these, the one about, “what you most dislike in people are things that remind you of yourself,” is the one that kills me.  

Which leads me to Kanye West and my mother.

I love Kanye West, and I love my Mom.  Somewhere over the course of the past few years, they’ve merged into the same person.  Which is why I suppose she isn’t that into his new album.

Both are prone to inflammatory statements, have a sizeable God complex, take great pains to point out what they construe as boldfaced racism, and over the past few years, developed a strange fascination with Kim Kardashian.  Also, both are so very angry. 

I grew up in Chicago, during a lovely time to be in Chicago.  Common was still Common Sense, Wilco and Son Volt played shows across the street from each other, and you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a member of Tortoise or an auxiliary member of KMFDM.  And on top of all of this was Kanye, in his pre Roc-a-Fella glory, making Chicago proud.

I spent every summer as a teen with my mother, a psychologist doing AIDS research, working at the needle exchange program on the South side of Chicago in a poorly air-conditioned RV.  One dirty syringe gets you two; a pretty sweet deal.  Junkies tend to cop in the morning, so a lot of time was spent hanging out in the neighborhood, on stoops and office chairs rolled into the sidewalk of the South Side listening to mixtapes and holding up the corner. 

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Vintage Deadstock Gold Knot Rings
Single Knot $20
Double Knot $24 Vintage Pocket Knives $22 In God We Trust golden heart necklace $45 Nemadji Pottery $36-58 MCMC Perfume Oil $45 Minimalist Necklaces $24 Saipua Soap $10 Jess Williamson's new Native State album $7 Mantis Massage customized massages $30-$120

Galentine’s + Valentine’s Gifts

With Galentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you may be on the prowl for some sweet gifts for the special lady in your life! I’ve got you covered. Here are some of my favourite gift ideas from Austin, the other city of love.

Olive 

Knot Rings, Vintage Pocket Knives, Golden Heart, Nemadji Pottery, MCMC Perfume Oil, Minimalist Necklaces, Saipua Soap

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Jess Williamson

Jess Williamson’s newest album, Native Stateis a mesmerizing mix of voice and banjo. It’s delicate and forthright and comforting and aching and beautiful in every way. 

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Mantis Massage

This is my favourite place to get a massage in Austin! They’ve put my body back together after rough bike rides and my sanity back together after rough weeks. Massages are customized to your needs and start at just $30 for 30 minutes. 

— By Hillary-Anne Crosby, Vagina Editor-in-Chief 

Short Hair Don’t Care

When I was in first grade, I told my mom I wanted to cut off all my hair. Was I a 5-year-old feminist looking to rebel against all of the other girls with pretty bows and scrunchies? Maybe subconsciously. But really I was just sick of my hair getting in my mouth in gym class. I suppose I could’ve put it in a pony tail, but I had shit to do on the playground. I had no time to waste messing with my hair.

Through the years, having short hair became an emotional struggle. People mistook me for a boy constantly. I thought if I got my ears pierced, they would all realize I had a vagina. But alas, bright pink earrings don’t mean anything if your hair is short. I guess wearing clothes from the Boy’s Department threw people off, but it was still humiliating to be called “sir” and “young man.” It got to the point where I didn’t even have the energy to correct people.

My mom gave me hope with the anticipation of my future breasts. She’d push on my back to help make my boobs grow faster, promising me that no one would mistake me for a boy when they arrived. FINALLY! Finally there was something that even the most oblivious of idiots would notice. My boobs. My boobs would be my saving grace. My boobs would allow me to live the life of a girl. Because who could possibly miss two mounds attached to my chest?

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Victims & Our Voices

If we’re going to get anywhere in terms of people treating people like people, we’re going to need to be as critical of those we idolize as we are of those we don’t. We’re going to have to hold everyone equally accountable for their actions and not just look the other way when that means admitting they’re not all that we want them to be. 

Despite allegations from too many of our leaders, we’re not actually facing an epidemic of people lying about being victims of sexual abuse. We don’t have hoards of folks accusing others of rape, pedophilia, or really any abuse just for the heck of it. And I can assure you that it’s just the same for our beloved directors, favourite athletes, or talented musicians

I’m not judge-and-jury, I’m not a psychiatrist, and I’m not Dylan Farrow. But I’m a person and a victim of sexual abuse and I understand the courage it took for Dylan to tell that story and the humanity required of us to not question it.

We have a backlog of over a half-million rape kits, a justice system that isn’t always just, and a culture that more often than not is telling a victim to just stay quiet and not upset anyone. Please, don’t be a part of these problems. Please, don’t assume that a victim is lying. Please, don’t assume they’re in it for the publicity. Please, don’t make it any harder for victims (and perpetrators) to come forward with their stories. 

Every time I see a friend or family member defending a rapist, or worse — just saying the words I Don’t Care, it reaffirms my decision to stay silent on the names of my past abusers and it reminds me that I’m a powerless victim. And I know that’s not right but I think to myself, They don’t even know that celebrity, they’d never believe me over their friend. I’m not speaking for everyone, I don’t know how others feel. But I’m just one voice in a sea of many, many other victims who face this same struggle every time we see you defend an abuser. 

You’re not the judge-and-jury, you’re not the psychiatrist, and you’re not the victim. But you’re a person with a voice and I hope that you’ll use that voice to hold people responsible for their actions, even when those are people you look up to. I know that can require a lot and maybe more than you feel you can give, so I’m only asking you to please, please never use your voice to make the victim feel any more like a victim. 

*It really bares noting that I don’t personally prefer the term Victim because I feel that Survivor is far more accurate and really conveys the strength we all have to not let our horrible experiences define us. That being said, I wrote this piece because conversations that defend sexual abusers leave me (falsely) feeling as if that strength isn’t really there and that is exactly why I chose to use Victim here.

—Hillary-Anne Crosby, Vagina Editor-in-Chief

Why Big Boobs Are Not The Tits

One of my favorite expressions for something that I find better than mint chocolate chip ice cream and Ryan Gosling flicks is to say that “It’s the tits!”  Today, however, I took some time to think about the irony of the statement.  Sure, to guys, there probablyisn’t anything that more adequately expresses pure awesomeness than “the tits.”  However, given my own struggles with my super-sized gozongas, it dawned on me today that my big boobs are in fact, not the tits. 

Here’s why:   

When I go running or engage in any kind of physical work-out, those rascally ginormous chest melons like nothing more than to flop, bounce, and swing all over the place, sometimes coming dangerously close to clocking me in the face.  I have tried all different methods of containing the suckers, butmy boobs absolutely refuse to be oppressed. Now it is to the point where I must don not one but two sports bras, wear a tank top with a built-in shelf bra, and wear an additional regular under-wire bra underneath it all.  That’s the equivalent of wearing four bras, people.  Do you know how uncomfortable it is to wear four fucking bras?!  Very.  Don’t even get me started on the amount of boob sweat this creates.  Let’s just say that during the drought in Austin this past summer, all I would have to do is go for a jog and the moisture from my underboob area would have risen the water level at Lake Travis by about an inch.  Gross, you say?  Try walking around feeling like your entire torso looks like a fat plumber’s armpits, and then talk to me about gross. 

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Choice - Locally and Globally

It is 2014 and Texas women still have to fight for the right to choose what to do with their bodies. In other words, they still have to fight to not have someone else impose a moral code and to have the right to choose for themselves what is right and wrong.

I wish I could have been there for that fight and stood with my Texas sisters and brothers in orange against SB5.

Instead, I spent the last year living in a country where I was too scared to visit a gynecologist, knowing that as an unmarried, sexually-active woman I would probably be thrown into the street, at best.

Bear with me as I tie all this together.

Feminism. People hate it, swear by it, label it, and divide it. East vs. West. Some say we should ban Muslim veiling since it’s a symbol of oppressing women. Others say western feminism is too sexualized. When the SB5 debacle began, I even for a split second thought that we should globally prioritize better. How can we focus on abortion when in other parts of the world women are just barely starting to discuss the right to break their hymen before marriage? 

Local battles. OF COURSE we have to stand against any legislation like SB5. Why? Because feminism, just like any movement working for human equality, dignity, and respect, is not about comparing who has what rights, prioritizing, dividing, or labeling. It’s about providing the conditions in which women can make independent, fully informed decisions about their lives and bodies that empower them rather than oppress them.

Pro-choice isn’t just about the right to choose to have a safe abortion. It is about the right to comprehensive health care without moral judgment. It’s about women’s safety emotionally and physically. Mostly, it’s about the right for a woman to choose what is best for her.

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A Guy’s Intro to Feminist Literature

With all the rhetoric surrounding feminism, it can seem a little intimidating to delve into, especially for men. But feminism has not only positively affected women but also men. In helping disassemble gender roles, feminism gives men freedom to explore activities previously judged “feminine” as well as empowers men to be more than the animalistic tough guy men are raised to strive for. Holding the beliefs that women and men both should be able to vote, seek an education, be free to enjoy sex, receive the same pay for any position, and own property makes you a supporter of feminism. Yes, this means men can be feminists. So, this is aimed at the fellas as an intro course on feminist literature to provide you with the essential knowledge of the struggle for equality.

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Firstly, this book is an influential piece of literature that everyone should read for its verbal economy with poetic nature. Yes, it is depressing. Yes, it is unnerving. In addition to candid insights about depression (which affects women more than men), the book delves into the age old inequities: pressure for women to marry, to slight their own careers and dreams, to start a family, to be housewives, to be satisfied with the status quo. Our protagonist’s journey to self-awareness — from interning at a women’s magazine in NYC to struggling with post-graduation expectations to staying in an institution — is brutal at times. The Bell Jar mirrors Plath’s personal life at the time, as a new mother feeling eclipsed by her writer-husband’s success. In the end though, its her name we remember from this semi-autobiographical story.

“That’s one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.”

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I Love Nails Y’all, Y’all

First things first: I hate manicures. My first and only manicure in 24 years occurred before my junior prom and left me with a bloody cuticle marring the bubblegum pink nail polish that I chipped before I even made it into my mother’s car. And I paid $45 for that? No, thank you.

Fast-forward 8 years to a much more serious occasion at the Texas Capitol. Women’s reproductive rights were being stripped away, national media coverage left much to be desired, and orange-colored clothing was getting harder and harder to come by. But for roughly 11 hours on June 25, 2013, Senator Wendy Davis took a stand against the dreaded SB5 and the dangers it posed to women’s rights. Already a popular state senator and a force to be reckoned with, her hot pink sneakers became an overnight sensation and she a heroine to folks around the country.

While some of us scrambled to throw together “Run Wendy Run” t-shirts or explore the possibility of “I <3 Wendy” temporary tattoos, Meghann Rosales introduced a manicure promotion featuring Wendy Davis nail decals.

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Recommended Books For Single Gals

A few months ago, I was prompted to seek out books for single gals after a customer at my bookstore joked that she wanted a counterpart to the store’s Relationships section. As someone who regularly stocks those shelves, I’ve noticed that quite a few books directed toward singletons seem to be anti-single ladies. It got me a little bit peeved. It’s not that I’m bitter about being a single twenty-something. Surprise! Often enough it’s a choice you can make for yourself and not always a problem that needs fixing. So I decided to put together a display of awesome books for single gals at Austin’s BookPeople. Some of them are relationship books that speak directly to single gal life, but others are just great works that are perhaps made more enjoyable while unattached. Here are a few of my favourites: 

The Between Boyfriends Book: This book is full of witty, hilarious, and pitch-perfect essays about the various stages of being a single gal. I recommend reading this to avoid bugging all of your engaged pals with singleton stories.

Getting Off: A Woman’s Guide to Masturbation: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Anthropology of an American Girl: The story of Eveline may not be standard, but every page rings true. Her narrative is heart-wrenching and exquisite. If Holden Caulfield were a girl aging from 17 to 22, he would be Evie.

Wild: Every good thing you’ve heard about this book? I agree completely. “Powerful”, yes. “Riveting”, yes. “Fierce”, yes. I read this book while in the process of tearing my life apart. It may not be the same as hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but I recommend it as a sort of plan B. 

It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Break-Up Buddy: This book is alternately funny, aggravating, and just what you need to get you through a break-up. Sure, it’s a mixed bag but so is all advice, right?

Sugar BabyWho needs a sugar daddy or a sugar mama when you’ve got Sugar Baby? Candies, cookies, cakes, and more. Treat yourself to some sugar, girl! 

Also recommended: Daring Greatly, Bossypants, My Life Map

By Hillary-Anne Crosby, Vagina Editor-in-Chief

One Tough Bitch: Sotomayor’s My Beloved World

“An embodiment of the American Dream.” That’s how President Obama referred to the life of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Chronicled in her own words in My Beloved World, her life surely lives up to the claim. Far from dry, the autobiography provides feeling insights into the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice’s coming of age with veracity.

 Raised in a Puerto Rican community in New York City, Sotomayor was the child of an alcoholic and a nurse, with strong ties to her paternal grandmother. Diagnosed with diabetes at 7, instability at home necessitated she learn to give herself insulin shots. As her father died a few years later and her mother lie prostrate with grief, Sotomayor threw herself into books and school. The precocious girl had made up her mind to become a lawyer, with television characters as her role models. By the age of 40, Sotomayor had graduated at the top of her class at Princeton, attended Yale Law School, was the Manhattan district attorney, and became a Supreme Court Justice. It’s a haughty feat for any person, much less someone who was far from privileged. Sotomayor’s biography stresses the importance of family and of self-determination. Never defensive or ashamed, the world was her oyster. 

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