Image: Markus Schoepke, Flickr

This week’s blog tour is more fun than we planned between Feminist Hulk, Erica Jong’s new collection of sex memoirs, and a geek-festival of a Ford Motor Co. tour.

  • We’ve fallen in love with the blog of Texas writer Ruth Pennebaker, and we thought it perfect for WVFC when she headlined a post “This is What Maturity Looks Like.” What follows, of all things, is a bemused meditation on the ethics of renting: “I admit it. In our long history together, my husband and I weren’t always the most conscientious tenants. When we were young and foolish — which was almost four decades ago — we did have a few disgraceful episodes involving urine ice cubes and a bogus newspaper ad for a 1957 Chevy with overhead cams for $75 […In any event] We grew up, got married, became semi-respectable, and now we kind of see the error of our youthful ways after we’ve finished falling down from laughing about them. That was what made me so proud of us when we spent our 10 months in New York City last year. I realized we’d finally become mature when we completed without incident what was probably an illegal sublet….” Click over to hear the story, and more from the acclaimed Texas Observer columnist.
  • Want a free peek inside the U.S. auto industry? Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By did when she was invited on a special tour of Ford Motor Co., and says it was a blast. She came back full of fun facts: “Who knew the company has a smell lab in which they test for and correct offensive odors from components? Or that there is an entire department devoted to studying and developing the sound of horns for different kinds of vehicles which includes, in addition to safety, incorporating cultural influences that inform Ford about the audio preferences of people in different countries?” Click over to see photos, including one demonstrating tricks the company is learning from film animators.
  • Speaking of animation, Ms. Magazine’s blog welcomes the newly beloved Feminist Hulk, who’s been delighting many of us on Twitter for over a year. (Sunday’s tweet: HULK HAVE CONFLICTED RELATIONSHIP WITH FREUD. IMPORTANT, INFLUENTIAL, BUT SOMETIMES A CIGAR IS JUST A SEXIST CREEP.) Now, Ms. features an interview with Feminist Hulk and its creator, J. Asked about how to stay amusing while “smashing the gender binary, J concedes that “a lot of Hulk’s core beliefs, like his feelings about the gender binary, need to be constantly reiterated for new followers, but they need to be expressed in new enough ways that the long-standing followers don’t get bored. It’s a tricky balance, one I continue to work on.” Hulk adds that “FEMINISM NOT ABOUT SIMPLY REVERSING PATRIARCHY’S TERMS. IT ABOUT RETHINKING THE ROLE THAT PRESCRIBED GENDER PLAYS IN REINFORCING PATRIARCHAL STRUCTURES. THAT NOT MEAN CATEGORIES ‘MASCULINE’ AND ‘FEMININE’ DO NOT DEEPLY IMPACT DAILY LIFE, BUT THAT ANY SYSTEM WHICH GRANT LEGIBILITY TO ONLY SOME LIVES DO INJUSTICE TO ALL LIVES.” When not channeling Judith Butler, Hulk comments on baking scones, Sarah Palin and poetry. Go look.
  • We’ve often found our Wednesday Five items at Feminist Law, but this week they let us in on a secret: a list of some of the best feminist attorney blogs. It’s worth bookmarking — not just for celebrities like Mad Law Professor Patricia Williams and Katherine Franke, also seen at the NY Times, but such handy blogs as  Linda Beale’s tax law blog A Taxing Matter. The investors among us, for example, might find Barbara Black’s Securities Law Blog a useful supplement to our finance guru Jacqueline Darien. It’s a long list; please tell us in comments below which others we should be keeping track of.
  • Just before President Obama was delivering news last week about Afghanistan, Afghan women were in Washington to offer insight on the situation there. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon at Foreign Policy’s Afpak Blog checked in with them: “Until now, support for women in Afghanistan has been seen largely as a women’s rights issue. Afghan women themselves, however, see their involvement in their nation as a security issue — and not just for themselves. In their view, the battle to contribute to their families and get their girls educated is also in the interest of the international community and all those who want to see a stable, more secure Afghanistan that draws on the talents of all its citizens.”
  • Is Erica Jong still flying? If you haven’t been keeping up with the author of the 1976 Fear of Flying, you might want to check out this interview at Westword, where Amber Taufen asks Jong about her new book Sugar in My Bowl. Jong notes that some of her contributors didn’t agree to write about sex without asking their partners: “Women are very careful. Women are not Anthony Weiner! They’re very careful, and they think it’s their obligation to hold the family together, and I think that sometimes kind of causes women to not want to write about their personal lives. So it moved them to ask permission.” The results, however, she found surprising: “First of all, how hard it was to write frankly about your life. But the other thing was that when I coaxed people and got them to write, they came out with astonishing stuff. I have in this book Liz Smith talking about sex during World War II in a very tender way. Many people wrote against type, they didn’t write the things they usually write, and that was wonderful.” And because Westword didn’t borrow clips from Jong’s Youtube channel, see below for another glimpse of the book. Do you agree with the authors about Oprah’s term “vajayjay”?

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  • Matilda Madsen August 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Words are powerful, that’s true, but please…

    Isn’t this just splitting curlies? There are plenty genital euphemisms available for both sexes. They’re not going away, no one is going to UNthink them.

    If a person is more comfortable using a sexual euphemism, so what? If that’s how they communicate, if that’s where they’re at in life or culture or region, big deal.

    How about discussing fundamentally religious pharmacists who refuse to fill female customer’s birth control prescriptions? Or those idiots who want to ban abortion and redefine the legal definition of rape?

    Yes, I know, it all begins with words. But how about NOT turning off the average person with the kind of academic dissection that only other academics aspire to or care about, and using language and issues that appeal to your everyday Jane and Joe who can actually create social reform by making small changes in their own lives?

    That’s where Oprah’s got it all over this panel. The masses, baby, the masses.