Articles From Issue 7

The following are sample articles from Issue 7. Click here or contact to order the full zine in hard copy or PDF format.

Velvet Revulva (by Hadass S. Ben-Ari)
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On the sixth day to the creation of the world, God was putting the finishing touches on Adam and Eve. He had two more human abilities left in His bag of creation to bestow upon the humans. He turned to them and said, “I will let you choose which one of you would like to have either one of these abilities. The first is the ability to piss standing up.”
Adam jumps up and says, “Oh, me! Please, God, I want the ability to piss standing up. I always wanted to be able to stand up and pee. It would be awesome!” So God says, “OK, Adam, you can have that gift.” Then God turns to Eve and says, “Well, Eve, I’m sorry, but for you, all I have left is multiple orgasm.”
So that’s how it happened that men got the shorter end of the stick, and may be bitter about it to this day. “If we can’t have multiple orgasm, we’ll have everything else – power, money, ownership, control, and of course the, ahem, wonderful ability to piss standing up.”
The main difference between a woman’s body and a man’s body is that, as a woman, you don’t need to see the sexual power to know that you have it. The man has it all on the outside, very visible, and grows bigger with sexual arousal. The woman’s reproductive organ is subtle and introverted but has a much greater sexual ability than its male counterpart.
Yet, as beautiful and as powerful as the female body is, it is so heavily intertwined with so many social issues, that claiming it as your own is often tricky. As a woman, walking down the street at night, you have to be alert and aware that you’re in danger because of your body. Walking into a religious milieu, even as a secular woman, you must also check that your attire properly covers any area of your body that may be offensive in such places if visible. When dealing with pregnancy, menstruation and various sexual health issues, you may find yourself at the mercy of gynecologists and various products that are of an extremely invasive nature, and your body will then suffer trauma or related risks of undergoing such insidious procedures. All of this, plus the social pressures suffered mostly by teenage girls selling their bodies to the status quo imposed by consumerist, anorexic, plastic beauty magazines, as well as the patriarchic social dogma perpetrated by the male-dominated authorities around the world, make it even more difficult to claim our Goddess-given bodies and our divine sexuality, and taking control of what is rightfully ours – our freedom of choice.
Due to the intricacy and the complexity that is the female body, many topics will not be covered in this issue due to lack of space, but will appear in future numbers of the zine. This issue is dedicated to our innate freedom of choice, and celebrates the female body and sexuality with articles on the vagina, related health issues, feminist religious pieces reclaiming the holiness and purity of the female body, the reproductive system, pregnancy, alternative menstrual products, and as always, the Riot Grrrl Corner featuring the founding mothers of Riot Grrrl - Bikini Kill.

Vaginas Take the Stage - V-Day and the Vagina Monologues in Israel (by Hadass S. Ben-Ari)
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Consummation (by Roy Runds)
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Blooming beauteously
Trailing tender blossoms
Ecuding a seductive scent
She summons a suitor.
Goggling fishy eyes
Feast on her fairness…
What bliss to caress her –
Tentacles spring to sting
Entangle, crush –
Her slit swallows him…
The anemone waves contentedly.

How I Didn't Preserve Women's Dignity (by Smadar Shir)
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That Fibromuscular Tubular Track (by Hannah Greenberg)
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The Holy Grail (by Julie Feinberg)
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Have you ever had to go to your friend, co-worker, mom, and ask for a tampon? The question is always presented in a rather subdued tone accompanied by an apologetic look. We’re embarrassed. Even more embarrassing than asking a fellow female for a pad, is the amount of money we spend every month on various versions of Always, Kotex, no-name brand pads and tampons. But wait, our embarrassing experience is far from over. Not only do we end up spending obscene amounts of money on products necessary for monthly hygiene, we then go on to dispose of said goods. We do not recycle or re-use our tampons and pads. We happily throw them in the trash and open a brand new package that usually includes too much paper and/or plastic wrapping. But what’s the alternative? Stay home for 5 or so days and soak in the tub? Take birth control pills that completely obliterate your period? Be perennially pregnant or breast feeding?
There is a far less radical solution that has been around on the market for some years now, but one that still remains hidden from some unlucky ladies. The name is not exactly sophisticated; it’s called “the menstrual cup”. This product comes under many different brand names, but really remains the same in its original idea: the cup is made either out of natural rubber or hypoallergenic silicone. Completely reusable, it’s guaranteed to last for 10 years! The blood from the period is collected in the cup and then emptied out during a regular trip to the bathroom. No pads. No tampons. Not paying another dime for an environmentally unfriendly product. Never having to say “no” to going swimming during your period. Never having to lug bulky packages of pads and tampons on your vacation or worrying about going to the loo with a pad in your hand in the middle of a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant.
I don’t work for the makers of the menstrual cup. But neither am I employed by the makers of tampons and pads. And in the end, it’s our environment and our lifestyle that pay the price. So doesn’t it pay to have an alternative?

Blood and Water - A Feminist Wholly Holy Taboo (by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein)
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On Celibacy (by Grace McGarry)
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I will be 22 in January. I am a virgin. I don’t have a problem with this. Quite the opposite, in fact – I’m happy to retain the V-Card as long as I can.I’m not a crazy person who wants to indoctrinate the world with any “abstinence is bliss” agenda or anything; celibacy is all well and good for some of us and not the answer for everybody, and I get that.I’m far from ashamed of being a virgin, but I wouldn’t call myself “proud” of it either – by which I mean I don’t go around publicizing this fact to everyone and their mother. From a private perspective, I consider my virginity an integral part of who I am at my core. I realize that’s not a popular opinion, but it is mine.My reasons for electing to remain celibate are extensive and messy and, frankly, irrelevant to the discussion at hand. (For the record, not one of them has to do with religious or moral beliefs.) Suffice it to say, they’re good ones, and if I were to begin a sex life right now, most of the rest of my life would completely fall apart around me.For some reason, people think I have a problem with being a virgin. Worse, others think I should have a problem with it. When people hear I’m a virgin, the IQ of the conversation drops by about 25 points, and suddenly I lose all credibility on any “adult” matter in their eyes.There’s a lot of talk about not judging people based on their sexual history and choices, but it seems to only apply to one end of the spectrum. There’s a lot of talk about embracing the “outer limits” of sexual lifestyles and practices, but next to none on respecting the fact that some people have a range of sexual interests the width of a human hair. Tolerance is encouraged at one extreme, while the other extreme is left unacknowledged at best, mocked at worst.If I have to hear one more line of omg you’re such a prude oh grow up already tell us how you really feel but it’s really fun you’ll understand when you do it don’t take it so seriously it’s just sex for God’s sake, I’ll scream. Arguing the individual points is possible, but moot. Belittling my choice, belittling that part of me, by default puts me myself down. I am tired of it. In my tenure in women’s health, I’ve counseled women for abortion #12, seen 13-year-old mothers, treated women who chose not to disclose STD status to their partners until they’d been reinfected five or six times over, and had patients who chose to have unprotected sex with multiple partners knowing the risks full well, and I did not deign to pass judgment on those decisions; what makes my choice so deserving of judgment and self-righteousness?If someone hears I don’t have sex, I don’t want to be extolled for virtues I don’t possess, nor do I want to be condescended to like a 17-year-old with a crush who just can’t wait to grow up. I just want my sexual choices to be respected as I respect those of others. It’s not an unreasonable request.

A Tale of Two Births - How I Empowered myself and My Vagina (by Genevieve)
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Warm and Wet, Just like a Prayer (by Maggie)
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Tips for the Owner and/or Handler of a Vulva (by Yahm Reichart)
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Virgin Territory (by Phyllis Becker)
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A bride. A Kallah. Our parents met and talked about when the wedding could be, discreetly mentioning, “Well, the date depends upon the bride, of course.” I was surprised. They never left anything up to me before and I almost said it didn’t matter but then some comment I’d heard when my cousin was a Kallah made me hold my tongue. I felt my face burning when I realized they were referring to my cycles. I was shocked! How dare they mention such a personal thing in front of the fathers, in front of my young Chattan – did he understand the implication? How could he, when I hardly understood. All my life, my mother assured me that when I needed to know something, she would tell me. I’ve had so many questions and so few answers and some questions I didn’t even know how to ask. How could I know when to set the wedding date months away to make sure it wouldn’t conflict with my irregular monthly bleeding? What horror that such a personal issue would be discussed at all! I know that I will have classes with the Rabbi’s wife to learn how to be a good Jewish wife and mother. Maybe she will answer my questions but how will I ever face such conversations?
Religious girls never ever talk to anyone about their bodies. Even when my breasts started to grow and it really hurt the way they pushed out and my undershirts would rub the tender buds so painfully, making me so conscious of my body that I wore double layers of shirts and an over shirt to hide the shamefulness of it all, I never said anything and none of my friends did either. When my mother told me about the monthly cycles, I was really interested but she hushed my questions with quotations about the wonder of G-d’s work and the holiness of our ability to share in the creation of life. When the bleeding did start and reddish-brown clumps dropped into the toilet and left streaks in my panties, I would throw the underwear into the trash rather than face the shame of the laundry basket. I did learn to manage to be discreet, so much so that it never occurred to me that someone actually bought the necessary pads that I found in the low closet in the bathroom.
I had never even consciously touched my ‘private places’ although there were nights when my hand would be between my legs and I would get up to ritually wash my hands three times on each hand, before going back to sleep. Now, I was a bride and the Rebbetzin was explaining about checking myself for stains so that I could count clean days before going to the Mikveh, the ritual bath, before the wedding. I was to wrap a small bit of cotton around my finger and insert it into my most private place, where the blood came from, to check for stains. I just couldn’t while I was fascinated at the idea. It was so tight, I couldn’t get my finger in beyond my fingertip. I tried wetting the cloth, and tried with soap and I could just slightly push my finger inside. This was my vagina, virgin territory, sacred cavern waiting to be explored. I thought this can’t be right. Is this what all the women did every month for a week after their cycles, counting seven clean days to be able to dunk into the holy mikveh waters to be suitable for their husband to make love to them and to pray for a baby to grow inside the hidden place? How could a baby come out of this tiny passage? It was all so confusing but I felt too stupid to ask. I grew bolder, seeking the warmth of my secret passage with my finger, finding that sometimes, if I just touched a certain way, my lower stomach would do a little flip and I would try to make that happen but was never sure what caused that sensation. I began to imagine my Chattan lying with me, making sweet love to me, holding me and stroking me and then I would imagine him touching me, there, and that funny feeling would come again, coupled with fear and excitement. I wondered what he was learning in his classes. There were so many laws but I think that what I was discovering all by myself was the most fascinating.

Alternative Menstrual Products: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Period (author requested name be removed)
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If I had read that title a year ago, I would have cringed, so I won’t hold it against you if you do the same. I’d never heard of any alternative to disposable products, and I was utterly disgusted when I found out that the alternatives were washable. However, giving reusables a chance has really changed how I feel about my body, so I guess some revolutions just have to be bloody.
Why bother looking into alternatives at all?
Reduce waste: Disposable pads and their wrappings are not biodegradable, and plastic tampon applicators are a leading component among washed-up beach trash. Reusable products last for 5-10 years and are either biodegradable or recyclable.
Save money: A disposable pad or tampon costs about $.25 per use. A cloth pad or a cup costs less than $.10 per use. I determined that I spent $50 on pads/tampons in a year...

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Riot Grrrl Corner (by Hadass S. Ben-Ari)
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