Friday, August 31, 2007

I masturbated last night

And lots of nights, actually. But last night stands out because I spent a little time at Good Vibrations in Berkeley after work, perusing the toys and the books and realizing that I've lost valuable years in not giving masturbation its due and thinking about it in the way I treat other good things in my life: my yoga, the meditation I can't really get into, the massage I can't really afford on a regular basis.

I've been thinking about masturbation differently lately, mostly because I've had the privilege of working on Getting Off: A Woman's Guide to Masturbation, by Jamye Waxman, which will be available in October and is a superawesome book. I hadn't considered its fabulous side effects---mood-enhancement, the fact that it gives your skin that FFG (Freshly Fucked Glow) without you even having to deal with your partner, that it makes you feel more self-confident. (Yeah, I know, get on it, right?)

My college boyfriend was very pro-masturbation. At the time I remember thinking how interesting it was that he treated it almost like a sport. For him, the release was a big part of whether or not he felt relaxed. He was a golfer and refused to compete without getting off before a tournament. It was very matter-of-fact, and it was very much a part of his life. No excuses. No issues there for him. I, on the other hand, never talked to him about my own masturbating, never did it in front of him, never talked to my girlfriends about it. Meanwhile, he was as likely to talk about it at a dinner party as he was the weather or what he ate for breakfast that morning. After my initial amusement, I came to admire him for it. He had zero sexual hang-ups. (He was European, and I've always imagined that played a role.) Only now, in my early thirties, am I finally catching up with his attitudes about the M-Word. When I first read the proposal for Getting Off I thought about why it's important for women to have their own masturbation book---we don't talk about it the same way men do---and in working on the book I've come to admire Jamye the same way I admired my ex. It's a good topic! We don't talk about it enough. Next time you're out try telling someone about your latest go-round. It's a fabulous conversation starter.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Susie Bright for President!

Except no, that is not the right office for her--too lowly and restricted by baggage--not to mention the stench in that ovalish room and the serious bad vibes that would require more than a truckload of burning sage to disspel.

Please people, if you haven't read Susie Bright's posts this week on, go there now. Right now. I mean it. Go! It started Monday with the one that got me fired up, "Is there A Republican Senator Who's NOT Having Bathroom Sex?" She's so right. What's wrong with these people? The hypocrisy is beyond unbelievable. It's criminal. It's beyond criminal. AGGGHHHH! But Susie didn't leave me there stewing in my anger at the world and its unfairness. She helped me process on Tuesday by bringing in the experts. See the analysis of the cognitive dissonance we've seen employed by Larry, Bob, David, Tom, Harlan, Randall . . . and read the post from Tuesday, "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)". And today, well, she cheers us up a bit. You'll see.

When thinking this morning about this blog and what I would post, it seemed impossible to think about anything else. What's going in the world? I asked myself this, and I kept coming back to Larry Craig. That is sad. The saddest. Isn't there more to talk about? Of course there is. And we'll get to it in time. We'll talk about the good stuff. But sometimes we have to stop and talk about what we're pissed about. In the meantime, know that you can count on Susie Bright to be with you in the sadness. Susie will inform you, help you understand what's not remotely understandable, and ultimately help you laugh at the messiness of it all. AGGGHHH!

I leave you with this thought from SB's current posted poll: Have you ever run into anyone having bathroom sex, while you were just "doing your business?" Have you ever been propositioned and turned someone down? Was it hard to say, "No, thank you?"

Until the next time.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yes, people, they're calling it the Bridal Voting Bloc

Yes, has been covered---notably and well by Tracy at Broadsheet and recently by our own Ariel Meadow Stallings, author of Offbeat Bride, who captured my feelings about the site with a brevity and lucidity I admire:

I think we can also all agree that is decidedly dumb.

Though I do normally spend a brief few minutes watching The Today Show most mornings, today I ended up watching three middle-aged men discuss the merits of on MSNBC because I couldn't take a single additional second of Matt Lauer kissing Tiger Woods's ass while they discussed the mechanics of their virtual swings. (Note: The segment was supposed to be about fatherhood. It was so not.)

So what's my core issue with Really, it's the idea that newly engaged women or recent brides are a "demographic," and, worse than that, that the website's mission statement says nothing about brides. It talks exclusively about motivating "young women" to make educated decisions, and about covering topics that are important to "young women."

Their mission statement is like a Logical Reasoning question you'd find on your standard S.A.T. The question would go something like this:

Young women need their own bride-oriented political website to inform them about issues they care about. After all, these young women are potential voters.

The argument above depends on which the following assumptions?

(A) All young women want to get married.
(B) Young women only care about election issues that will affect them in their roles as wives.
(C) Potential voters who are also brides specifically need a bride-oriented site in order to make informed choices.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Sexualizing trans women's motives is nothing new."

As promised, here's Julia Serano's post to Feministing today about the previously mentioned Bailey controversy.

Check out Julia's book. Her insights into femininity and the ways in which trans women are maligned in our culture has deep implications for all women.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Getting His Due?

The New York Times ran an article yesterday about J. Michael Bailey, who's been the target of outrage among some transsexuals who feel like he made grossly inappropriate statements in his book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, in suggesting that the desire for some transsexuals to transition from male-to-female can be rooted in autogynophilia.

The whole controversy has lots of relevance for us because it centers around book publishing (the biggest controversy since James Frey?) and trans issues, one of the key areas we've been publishing in for the past couple years.

Today Forum with Michael Krasney had a panel discussion that included Bailey, along with Joan Roughgarden, professor of Biological Science at Stanford University and author of Evolution's Rainbow and Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. This is fascinating and absolutely worth listening to.

Bailey is portrayed, I think, somewhat sympathetically in The Times, and he comes off sympathetically on Forum, too. Then there's the fact that his book is popular science, and Publishers Weekly highlighted its shortcomings in its 2003 review: "Bailey tends towards overreaching, unsupported generalizations..."

But Keisling beautifully articulates several key points: 1) His book was marketed as science and it's not; 2) he drew his conclusions from a sample size of six; 3) the book was sensationalized for sales (comment based on the book cover, and I do know something about going with a cover you think will increase sales). This whole controversy is a perfect storm of factors: guy (who is a professor of science) who tends toward racist generalizations, publisher who capitalized on the sensationalism of the topic, and a handful of overzealous trans women whose attacks on Bailey make them look crazier than they really are. (Lynn Conway, in particular, compared Bailey's views to Nazi propaganda---never a good route to go if you want people to take your criticism as sound.)

We're expecting a post from Julia Serano, author of our book Whipping Girl, to post to tomorrow, so we'll be sure to provide the link as soon as it posts. Her insight is sure to be compelling, insightful, and rooted in her own very grounded experiences.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thinking about plastic surgery? Why wait?

I was thinking I'd do the American Society of Plastic Surgeons a favor and offer my services in coming up with this slogan for them: Why wait?

Indeed. You can get financing today!

The reason I'm writing about plastic surgery is because I came across a horrid progression of face shots of Courtney Love this afternoon down at the local cafe. Now generally I feel bad for women---even celebrities---who have botched surgeries (so I won't link to the numerous sites that exist solely to delight in bad plastic surgery). But really, this was so bad that I came back to my desk and decided it would be fun to make myself even more miserable by Googling recent news about plastic surgery. I get a little masochistic after lunch.

I got what I wanted, of course. I found this in the International Herald Tribune:

"In the past five years, with the advent of reality shows in the United States like Extreme Makeover and the popularization of nonsurgical treatments like lasers and wrinkle injections, people with middle class incomes and Beverly Hills ideals are embracing vanity medicine."

But it's not the rise in the number of procedures that bugs me as much as the fact that this whole article, in the business section, is about the ways in which plastic surgery is being marketed to women as a commodity---specifically as a "big-ticket consumer product" to be financed with credit cards and loans.

WTF? The idea that women are spending thousands---double-digit thousands---on boob jobs and lipo that's going to put them into massive debt that can only lead to strains in other areas of their lives (and their children's lives) ought to be the subject of public outrage. But it's not. Instead we poke fun at Courtney Love and Meg Ryan and whoever else's lips ballooned in size since the last issue of US Magazine and still somehow manage to convince middle class women that these procedures are not just attainable, but you can put them on your credit cards!

And so rather than try to take on the industry I decided to offer them my slogan. I think it's a guaranteed winner.

Monday, August 20, 2007

bazooms, beauts, bombshells, cha-chas, sweet sweet milkies

Yeah, I'm talking about boobs.

One of our main goals here is to keep you in the loop on our upcoming titles--and talk about what we're looking to publish as well (with the hope that our readers will send us their own brilliant ideas, too).

Today I want to talk about a book on our fall list that's already generating a lot of buzz: bOObs: a guide to your girls, by Elisabeth Squires, the bOOb Lady.

We're excited about this book because of how totally informative and fun and engaging it is--photos, factoids, bra-fitting chart, a place to record the results of your monthly self breast exams (we all know how impossible it is to remember to do this regularly).

Stay tuned for exciting stuff where bOObs is--are--concerned.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Goodbye Greenstone

It seems fitting to christen our new Seal Press blog with a brief moment of silence for the demise of Greenstone Media. Here at Seal, we've been following Greenstone with interest, excited by the existence of a likeminded organization. I realize, though, that it was the idea of it that caught our imagination. After all, who wouldn't love an organization whose spokeswomen are Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem and whose tagline reads: Women Communicate Differently: Find Out How to Talk to Them. But Greenstone failed to engage its target audience, in no small part because they were either incapable or unwilling to deliver the progressive content that was getting us excited about them in the first place.

It's true, too, that the fine line between success and failure comes down to money. I (Brooke) attended the WAM! conference this year (mark your calendars--next year's date has already been set: March 28-30, 2008), and one of the major frustrations women across industries expressed was the issue of funding. Progressive funding and right-wing funding are two entirely different animals, and progressive media is fighting a losing battle.

Today, in our own fledgling effort to create community, we open up an invitation to submit your favorite resources by way of the comment box so that we can begin to build our blog roll and feature all of you who are doing your part to provide spaces and promote ideas in this increasingly antagonistic, difficult-to-thrive, nearly-impossible-to-survive climate we are up against.

As a book-related aside, this strikes me as unfortunate: Today's nonfiction highlight, featured on the homepage of Publishers Marketplace, is Victoria Beckham's That Extra Half an Inch: Hair, Heels and Everything in Between, a handbag-size style guide for women providing a practical look at fashion, beauty and personal style.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Welcome to the Seal Press Women's Interest blog. Regular postings are coming soon from our editors, so please check back.