March 1, 2015

Women's History Month: Egyptian Women

March is Women's history month and I am going to feature article about women but limit the show the female form to minimal.

 If you were a woman in the ancient world, the best to live is in Egypt.  Women in Ancient Egypt enjoyed many of the same rights that women in our current society enjoy today. A woman could own and sell private property, resolve legal settlements, write a contract, initiate a divorce, file lawsuits, have a profession and inherit property (of course these rights also depended on the woman’s social class). I wouldn't say that Ancient Egyptian women had complete parity to men before the law. Yet they did have many rights that were out of reach for women in neighboring Greece. Women in ancient Etruria and then Rome came close second.
This article will examine what it was like to be a woman in Ancient Egyptian society and the different rights and responsibilities that they had. Most women performed domestic tasks in the home. However, there were female midwives, priestesses, weavers, dancers, musicians and even professional mourners. (Hiring complete strangers to act sad at your relative’s funeral was pretty normal in Ancient Egypt). Also, even though most of the positions of authority were occupied by men, there were a few female pharaohs (about 15), such as Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. It also wasn't uncommon for a woman to serve as a regent (temporary ruler) when her husband died, until her son was old enough to take over. It was preferred for a woman with the right bloodline to be in power temporarily, than a man with the wrong bloodline.

The Egyptians had a very natural view towards sexuality and the human body that was untainted by guilt. Walking around naked for example was not the taboo that it is today. Though I’m guessing part of this attitude was due to how unbelievable hot Egypt can be and the Egypt is an oasis in the desert. The average temperature of an Egyptian summer is 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius). Children tended to walk around naked until puberty (about 12 years of age). Women of a lower social status walked around topless and wealthier women wore loose clothing that was sometimes transparent. Female entertainers frequently performed naked.

A popular image of a prostitute today is a woman sticking out a stilettos heel and a fishnet clad leg to interest her potential customers. Ancient Egyptian prostitutes did something similar, they advertised themselves in a blue faience beaded fish-net dress, painted their lips red and tattooed themselves on the breast and thighs. However, the modern idea of prostitute and the Ancient Egyptian similar end right there. In the modern world, we typically have a negative association with prostitutes, even if they are high class “escorts” that make thousands an hour sleeping with the wealthiest CEOs.
The reason why the modern idea of prostitution can’t compare with Ancient Egyptian sex workers, is because their profession wasn't tainted by guilt. Many sex workers were associated with Gods and Goddesses of fertility (Like the Goddess Hathor) and were regarded with respect. Also, it is not certain that all prostitutes slept with people for money. Some were temple prostitutes who had a connection to the divine. Others were entertainers who would dance, play music and perform sexual acts all in one (Miley Cyrus lol).

There are some theories that men slept with prostitutes before marriage, in order to learn how to please their wives, and that young girls engaged in prostitute related acts, in order to learn about sexuality in marriage. However, these are just theories and we don’t have any real proof for these ideas.

A woman generally could get married at any age, and typically married after she started her period around the age of 14 or 15. Men got married when they were around 17 or 20. This may seem very young to the modern person, however we must remember that lifespans were shorter in Ancient Egypt. Documents written in the Ptolemaic Period reveal that the average life expectancy was 58 for women and 54 for men. This doesn't seem too bad, but we must remember that in the modern developed world, the average person lives to be about 80 or 90, which naturally drags the average age of marriage up to mid 20’s or early 30’s.
Consent from the parents was also needed to get married. This was especially important in the upper classes, since marriage determined the division of property and social status. However, as religious and ceremonial as Egyptian society was, what is surprising to note is that there was no ceremony for marriage: no special dress, no exchange of rings and no exchange of vows as the Greeks and Romans. It was a fairly simple affair where the wife moved into the house of her husband. He would either be living alone or with his parents.
While this doesn't sound very romantic, there is much literature and poetry that suggests that the ideal marriage was filled with affection, love and tenderness.
However, one thing that made the Egyptians much smarter than those of us today, is that they usually drafted up a contract before the marriage about how property would be distributed, and what would happen in the event of divorce. That’s right, they had a prenup power up! This was more relevant to people in the upper classes, who had more property and land to fight over.
May need a lawyer for court
Divorce: Divorce was not hard to get. Both a man or a woman could initiate a divorce and write up the divorce contract. Men divorced their wives if they were incapable of baring children – or baring a son. He may also divorce his wife if she stopped pleasing him. A woman could divorce her husband for mental and physical cruelty. In some cases, if a woman initiated divorce, she forfeited her right to communal property. Also women got spousal support in the case of a divorce, which was about 1/3 of her ex-husband’s earnings.
However, there were other options if the parents were childless: adoption and polygamy were two. Sometimes men had concubines, and these women did not have the same rights as their wives. However, polygamy was uncommon for most people. It was mainly practiced by the pharaoh so that he could display his virility, sire several children and political aligns.
Incest: One taboo topic that comes up when talking about Ancient Egypt is that of incest. Incest is another one of those things that was allowed for the Pharaoh, in order to keep the royal bloodline in place, but not commonly practiced among most people. This is reserve for the gods not ordinary people.
Adultery: The sexual openness of Ancient Egyptian society and women’s freedoms is awesome and modern. However, adultery was a completely different subject. While sex before marriage wasn't a big deal, an extra-marital affair was completely off the table. There was no DNA testing or Maury to show the paternal matching. The bond of trust and fidelity in marriage and family were highly valued by the Ancient Egyptian people, so valued in fact the worst punishment for a woman was death by stoning. This was described in the Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers. For a man, on the other hand, the worst thing that could happen to him is that he would be forced into a divorce.

February 28, 2015

The Power of Sex and Money: Storyville

Storyville was a well-known, semi-legal vice district in New Orleans from 1897 to 1917. Prostitution, gambling, and live jazz fueled the streets, bringing visitors from all over the world to experience what was growing into one of the city’s largest tourist attractions and money maker. Some scholars of jazz believe that swing started in Storyville, and we know for sure that the original jazz greats made names for themselves in the brothels along Basin Street.

Storyville got its name from Sidney Story, who wrote the legislation that “legalized” the district, based off of the vice restrictions used in other port cities infamous for their pleasurable activities. The new legislation bound all prostitution to the area between North Robertson, Iberville, Basin and St. Louis streets just outside the French Quarter. Some locals believed that “lewd women” were getting out of control, and tarnishing the image of the fancy little shops along Royal Street, so the legislation was met with approval from many business owners, some of which went on to open businesses in the district.
Tom Anderson, nicknamed the “mayor” of Storyville, published what was known as Blue Books, which were sought after by visitors for their scandalous information. A Blue Book could be purchased for 25 cents. Blue Books were created for tourists and those unfamiliar with this area of New Orleans and contained, in alphabetical order, the names of all the prostitutes of Storyville. It also included, in a separate section, the addresses of these prostitutes and separated them based on race. Blue Books could be purchased throughout the District in various barbershops, saloons, and railroad stations. Primarily they were sold on the corner of Basin Street and Canal Street.White man can find black prostitute. and black men can find white prostitutes. Remember this was when Plessy v. Ferguson became the law. Storyville is  rare spot in the United States that allow white and black coexist together for a time while rest of the country is divide on race.

Lula White, probably the most well-known madam in Storyville, operated a luxurious brothel called Mahogany Hall, which employed prostitutes that were considered Octoroon, meaning one eighth African American. Quadroons, which meant one quarter African American, were also popular with male clients and were considered an exotic temptation unique to New Orleans. Mahogany Hall, like many of the other brothels in the district, was full of lavish mirrors and expensive, fine wines and liquors. Other brothels on the outskirts catered to those with less money, beer joints where fights broke out and pleasures of the working man could be had.
Money was flowing in Storyville. Madams and Brothel owners became very wealthy and hire musicians to play to brothels and clubs. Many famous jazz musicians made a name for themselves in Storyville, including King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. Here they were given more freedom to play how they wished compared to hotels in the French Quarter, many of which would not even allow jazz music in their establishments. After the district closed, many jazz musicians left for Chicago or New York where their reputations flourished.

E.J. Bellocq, an unknown photographer at the time, eternalized the women of Storyville in his photographs. Bellocq was friends with many of the women who worked in Storyville, and snapped photos of them posing in their rooms. The photos are now priceless, sought after pieces and are some of the only photographs from the era. The faces of some of the women have been crossed out, the reason for which is a mystery debated to this day. Bellocq died in 1949 and is buried in St. Louis Cemetery Number 3.

Storyville closed in October of 1917 after the beginning of World War One, after it was ordered that no prostitution be within five miles of an American military base. You see this was a time before the invention of penicillin and other antibiotics. Sexually transmitted diseases were becoming a major problem across the United States, and after a few soldiers were actually killed in the district shortly after their arrival, it was forced to shut down. Prostitution quickly became illegal again that same year, but sex work still existed in the area regardless of increased police presence. Most of the buildings were demolished during the Great Depression for public housing, now only three known buildings remain: Lulu White’s Saloon, Joe Victor’s Saloon, and Tark “Terry” Musa’s store, formerly known as the Early Saloon. The district may be long gone, but the effects it had on tourism in New Orleans were long lasting.

February 19, 2015

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival as it’s been called since the 20th century, remains the most important social and economic holiday in China. Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese year 4713 begins on Feb. 19, 2015. Originally tied to the lunar-solar Chinese calendar, the holiday was a time to honor household and heavenly deities as well as ancestors.
Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. It was also a time to bring family together for feasting. With the popular adoption in China of the Western calendar in 1912, the Chinese joined in celebrating January 1 as New Year’s Day. China, however, continues to celebrate the traditional Chinese New Year, although in a shorter version with a new name–the Spring Festival. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

The Ancient Chinese Calendar
The ancient Chinese calendar, on which the Chinese New Year is based, functioned as a religious, dynastic and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that it existed at least as early as 14th century B.C., when the Shang Dynasty was in power. The calendar’s structure wasn't static: It was reset according to which emperor held power and varied in use according to region.
The Chinese calendar was a complex timepiece. Its parameters were set according to the lunar phases as well as the solar solstices and equinoxes. Yin and yang, the opposing but complementary principles that make up a harmonious world, also ruled the calendar, as did the Chinese zodiac, the cycle of twelve stations or “signs” along the apparent path of the sun through the cosmos. Each New Year was marked by the characteristics of one of the 12 zodiacal animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

A Charming New Year
Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Those born in sheep years are often artistic, charming, sensitive, and sweet. It is known as the most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac. Jane Austen, Boris Becker, Jamie Foxx, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Barbara Walters, Bruce Willis, and Orville Wright were born in the year of the sheep.

The Traditional Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year period began in the middle of the 12th month and ended around the middle of the first month with the waxing of the full moon. Observance of the New Year period was traditionally divided into New Year’s Eve and the first days of the New Year.
Traditionally for the Chinese, New Year was the most important festival on the calendar. The entire attention of the household was fixed on the celebration. During this time, business life came nearly to a stop. Home and family were the principal focuses. In preparation for the holiday, homes were thoroughly cleaned to rid them of “huiqi,” or inauspicious breaths, which might have collected during the old year. Cleaning was also meant to appease the gods who would be coming down from heaven to make inspections. Ritual sacrifices of food and paper icons were offered to gods and ancestors. People posted scrolls printed with lucky messages on household gates and set off firecrackers to frighten evil spirits. Elders gave out money to children. In fact, many of the rites carried out during this period were meant to bring good luck to the household and long life to the family–particularly to the parents.

Fireworks and Family Feasts
At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.
Did You Know?
San Francisco, California, claims its Chinese New Year parade is the biggest celebration of its kind outside of Asia. The city has hosted a Chinese New Year celebration since the Gold Rush era of the 1860s, a period of large-scale Chinese immigration to the region.
Most important was the feasting. On New Year’s Eve, the extended family would join around the table for a meal that included as the last course a fish that was symbolic of abundance and therefore not meant to be eaten. In the first five days of the New Year, people ate long noodles to symbolize long life. On the 15th and final day of the New Year, round dumplings shaped like the full moon were shared as a sign of the family unit and of perfection.
Significantly, younger generations of Chinese now observe the holiday in a very different manner from their ancestors. For some young people, the holiday has evolved from an opportunity to renew family ties to a chance for relaxation from work.

February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone

BDSM vs Abuse

This Friday morning, I heard that Fifty shade of Grey the movie was shows today. Most news shows were hyping it or was curious about BDSM. Some groups are boycotting the movie because that abuse and trying get for cause of domestic abuse. I personally know the different between BDSM and abuse and I see kinkier sex on bound-god than in movie.

BDSM is a variety of erotic practices involving dominance and submission, role-playing, restraint, and other interpersonal dynamics. The term comes from three other acronyms:

B&D: which stands for bondage and discipline

D/s: which stands for dominance and submission

S&M: which stands for sadism and masochism

BDSM isn't a clinical term universally used by medical or health care professionals; it’s more often a term used by people to describe their own sexual practices, and sometimes used by others to denounce the way others choose to have sex.
There isn't one accepted definition for BDSM. A very general one might be that BDSM is a form of sexual expression that involves the willing and consensual exchange of power. Notice that the definition is “sexual expression” and not just sexual activities. A lot of people who engage in BDSM talk about the fact that most of it happens in your mind, and often the sexual activities you can see are the least interesting aspect of the action. 
Some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle.
An example of BDSM might be using a pair of business ties to tie your partner to a bed post during sex to elaborate scenarios of dominance and submission that include role play, edging, costumes, leather, and days of preparation (and often no intercourse at all).
Once again


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