Friday, December 31, 2010

Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality (My review)

In the last year or so, I have become increasingly interested by the 'study' of pornography and the effect is has on those who use it. I think it began when I joined a facebook group called "Stop adult magazines being sold at convenience stores". This lead to me doing my own research on the subject and becoming incredibly disheartened with what I learned.

I heard about a documentary about porn, entitled The Price of Pleasure. I was interested to see it but I learned it included clips of hardcore pornography (surprisingly enough!) so I decided I didn't want to watch it. Instead I was pointed towards a book by Gail Dines, called Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality. Gail Dines has studied pornography for several decades, and also founded

So, for starters, it took me awhile to track down the book, and I every time I was in a bookstore and asked if they had it, I got strange looks. ("We're not that kind of bookstore!"Haha.) I found it online and started reading it. It was absolutely fascinating to me, but at time very confronting and uncomfortable.

Gail Dines recounts the history of pornography in our culture, starting with pornographic magazines like Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, and shows how they have lead into the mainstreaming of porn today. She provides information about the billion dollar porn industry, and the economics behind it. She also dedicates certain chapters to racism in pornography, and to child pornography.

The majority of the book is about 'gonzo' porn. Gonzo porn is a particular genre of porn that is based on violent, humiliating, body punishing acts done by men to women. The very intention is to cause the woman as much pain as possible, to dehumanize and degrade her as much as possible- all while remembering that she loves and enjoys it. Apparently. I won't go into any more detail about this other than to say it could be quite upsetting.

Gonzo porn is becoming very prevalent, and according to Gail Dines, if you googled "porn", you will get a lot of this. Perhaps you see how this could potentially be a problem as even primary school aged boys are exposed to these kind of acts online as their first experience of what sex is, with nothing to compare it to. And statistics say 92% of children 8-16 has come across porn online, accidentally or not.

Another large segment of the book was devoted to how porn has become normalised and a part of our lives without us realizing. Fashions are inspired by porn and pornographic brands are on everything from bed sheets to pencil cases.

Gail Dines has done a fantastic job and this book is very informative as well as logical. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the subject, and especially anyone who thinks porn is harmless.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Who wears the pants?

So awhile back I was blogging about a book I have been reading, called The Depression Cure, which is about adopting a lifestyle that is conducive to health and well-being, through diet, activity etc. The author compares modern day living, in the age of sedentary lifestyles, convenience and instant gratification with the very different way of life of hunter gatherers from the past.

Despite having easier, more luxurious lives nowadays in some ways (at least physically), many people are struggling with depression. Before though, despite having physically demanding lives involving finding water, hunting for food and doing what is necessary to survive, depression was very rare, if not completely unheard of. Based on the authors' studies, this is still true today with the Amish, and other hunter-gatherer tribes who still live a simpler lifestyle.

Anyway, so getting back to the point, which isn't actually about depression today. This just got me thinking.

I was thinking about how in some ways, although there are medical, technological and other excellent advancements, humans were designed to live a different lifestyle to the one that many of us do. Compare being outside, getting some sunshine and searching and hunting for food to sitting in an office ALL DAY, and not going outside. Or else being with your family and friends always, as compared to lonely people, all isolated inside their houses, disconnected in reality but trying to socialise via facebook. (I bet there are plenty of Mums out there who know what I'm saying, righhht?) What I am saying is what you have most likely already come to- that in a lot of ways, the way we live life now is kind of backwards. We are inactive, isolated, eat an excess of junk food that is of no real use to us, and let's not get started on preservatives and additives and the way our food is grown...seeing as how it's a big subject on which my knowledge is very limited! Feel free to share though.

So this was my thinking: We were designed to live in a certain way and take on certain roles so we could function at optimum capacity.

I had an epiphany today. It was pretty simple I guess, but I was thinking of what qualities I found attractive in men. Now this might be just me, but I don't think so- I like masculinity. Strong, tough, manly men. And then it occurred to me- of course I do! It's simple biology. If I am a woman looking for a suitable mate, then surely I will be attracted to someone who I will be able to successfully reproduce and ensure the continuation of our species, one who exudes masculinity. Makes sense.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Gender roles in the 21st century are a lot more flexible. In a way, anyone can do whatever they want. Women have a lot more opportunities for careers outside the home, rather than being solely the nurturer. In building a career women often take on more "male" characteristics. We want our men to be more sensitive and understanding. (I'd probably settle for even listening when I talk but meh.) We want them to plan more romantic evenings of their own accord and consider our feelings all the time. Women are becoming more like men, and men are becoming more like women.

So what do you think about men and women? Is it good to evolve, or just natural? How do you think this impacts on relationships? Do you think this is liberating or inhibiting?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to maximise your gym experience!

Some people can find it quite intimidating walking into the gym for the first time, with all the buff guys grunting and throwing weights around, and lots of other fit looking people there who seemingly know what to do and how to use all the equipment. Today my advice is to anyone who would like a refresher on gym etiquette, or "How to not look stupid in front of other gym members".

- pee before using the treadmill. This is logical on several levels.

-rearrange your breast pads after vigorous exercise (breast-feeding mothers, that is), otherwise you may have a wet boob patch to deal with. NB If you do find yourself in this situation, consider dumping the contents of your water bottle on your top and exclaiming "OOPS" really loudly.

- bring music to distract you during cardio. Staring at the time on cardio machines makes me suddenly feel tired and ready to finish.

- hop on a cardio machine next to a friend. A little competition can be motivating for both of you, and push you to keep going a little longer than you otherwise would have.


-wear shorts while running unless you enjoy chafing.

- engage someone in an intense cardio workout in conversation. You may wave, or give them the nod, or say hi. At most you may say "Have a good day" as you leave.

-leave your towel in the kitchen between gym visits, where it will take on the aroma of sweet, baked goods and chicken. You will not appreciate this during a 6 AM workout.

-try to reach for a fitball positioned up high with dumbbells already in your hands. It is quite likely that you will knock the fitball, causing it to hit a fellow gym member in the face, and their frightening personal trainer will make eye contact. Eep!

-run so fast on the treadmill that you vomit into your towel, particularly when someone you know is on the treadmill behind you.

If you can follow these basic guidelines, people are less likely to point and laugh at you when you enter the gym.

Disclaimer: I cannot take responsibility for people who laugh at you anyway. Good luck!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Muscle up to lose weight!

Hey all. I just wanted to share a really informative article on the benefits of strength training. I love strength training, and I find it much more enjoyable than cardio! I have cut and pasted it below in case there are any problems with the link.

INCREASING your lean muscle mass can help speed up your body’s fat-burning ability and could be your key to permanent weight loss. By Linda Drummond

Evidence continues to accumulate on the benefits of adding some type of resistance or strength training to your workouts. With benefits that spread across the health spectrum, researchers now believe strength training can play a vital role in long-term weight loss. 

Miriam Nelson, author of Strong Women Stay Slim (Bantam Books) and a researcher at Tufts University in the US, found that women who followed a weight-loss diet combined with weight-training exercises lost 44 per cent more fat than women who only followed the diet.

“Researchers have discovered something disturbing: when women diet, at least 25 to 30 per cent of the weight they shed isn’t fat, but water, muscle, bone and other lean tissue,” Nelson says.
But strength training can help us to lose excess fat rather than vital tissue.

Muscle up
Melbourne-based exercise physiologist Trent Malcolm says: “People on low-kilojoule crash diets slow their metabolic rate and their lean muscle mass will deteriorate. Losing weight on these low-kilojoule diets can also exaggerate the sagging and softness of the skin when it’s not filled out with lean muscle mass.”

Kerry Warnholtz says she’s noticed a huge difference since she started weight training with a program devised by Ideal Bodies Online in July 2008.

“Your strength and energy increases and, after about six weeks, you start to see some muscle definition and lose body fat.”

Malcolm says metabolism is, for the most part, determined by our body’s lean muscle mass. “One kilogram of muscle will burn about 627 to 1465 kilojoules per day, while 1kg of fat only burns about 20 to 40 kilojoules per day.”

So it makes sense to try to not only preserve lean muscle mass, but increase it.

“It takes a while for your metabolism to kick in, but when it does it’s like a freight train,” says Warnholtz, who lost more than 15kg and reshaped her body to become leaner at 40 than she was at 20. Now that she’s reached her ideal weight, Warnholtz says her metabolism works well. Even after indulging, she says it’s easy to get back on track again.

After the age of 20, our lean muscle mass starts to deteriorate. Without training we can lose between 2.2 and 3.2kg of lean muscle every 10 years. Without lean muscle, our skin can sag and the texture appear less defined. You don’t need to build large muscles. As little as 1.4kg of lean muscle can increase your resting metabolism by about seven per cent.

Whether you want to build or maintain your lean muscle mass, it’s important to train smart, Malcolm says. Spot-training isn’t effective. You need to work large muscle groups with moderate weight to see success. “The most important thing is the intensity,” Malcolm says. “Use as much energy as possible with multiple body parts. Toning is more about losing body fat than building muscles.”

Body benefits
Michael Cunico, New South Wales fitness manager at Fitness First, says we need to move beyond the number on the scales and think about the change in clothing size and other benefits of developing lean muscle mass.

“Strength training doesn’t need any equipment; simple body-weight training can be extremely beneficial in building lean muscle,” Cunico says.

During any workout you burn fat, but with strength training you elevate your metabolism and continue to burn fat for up to 39 hours afterwards. So if you do some form of strength training every second day, you can knock your metabolism into high gear.

Strength training can also help create stronger bones, prevent injuries, increase balance, flexibility and mobility, and it has mental health benefits too.
Find a strength-training program that suits you. Perform some body-weight exercises after your walk (try squats, lunges, tricep dips, push-ups and the plank), take up Pilates, hit the gym for a circuit or Pump class, or ask an exercise physiologist to help you devise a plan.

Myths dismissed
• Women who lift weights get bulky muscles. Genetics has a role in building muscles, says Trent Malcolm. “Females don’t have the levels of hormones required for significant muscle mass.”
• When I stop training my muscles will turn to fat. Fat and muscle are different tissues, Malcolm says. “When you stop training muscles, they will reduce in size and tone. So keep working them.”
• To build lean muscle, use small weights and do lots of repetitions. “Low-intensity training and isolating muscles won’t burn fat,” says Malcom. “Increase the intensity and use moderately heavy weights.”

Caitlin's clever counsel regarding the purchasing and wearing of granny panties

(Seeing as how I am an expert on the subject....)

This piece of underwear can get you through unfortunate bloating phases during the month, those post-ice cream binge mornings, and many other fun events where you would prefer not being asked "how far along" you are. (I am an expert on all of the above.) From my experience, it can also get you through the first decade after having children...yes, my oldest is four.

Tip #1. Granny panties, or as I fondly call them, "sucky-inny undies", cos that's what they do, need to be made of binding material. This is a given.

Tip #2. They need to go a lot higher up your torso than regular undies, just a few cm below your bra.. If they are made of a binding material but only go a few cm higher than regular undies, you will get the tell tale bulge that says "I tried to hide my bulge and I failed". Been there.

Tip #3. Be aware of clothing choices that may reveal granny panties, e.g. should you bend over and your shirt rides up at the back. This is a rather embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

Tip #4. For toilet breaks, I recommend press studs down there. That, or a disabled toilet with a LOT of space for wriggling, and preferably no audience.

Tip #5. While we are on the subject of press studs, you may feel more secure wearing some tiny undies underneath, for the occasions where you make a sudden move, actually make that any move, and you hear "Pop Pop Pop" and realize it is more breezy at this wedding/work function/church service than you had anticipated.

That is all.

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