Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Movie Suggestions

Looking for a good movie for your Valentine's plans? I've got another list of non-traditional 'romance movies' to consider. I'm not your typical romantic and I tend toward things that are just a little off the beaten track. Here are my suggestions of movies that I think are romantic, but don't follow the mold of most romantic movies.

On Gold Pond - this is an oldie but a goodie. Featuring two of my absolute favorite actresses - Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda. This movie gives us a glimpse of what true love might look like when it gets very old. It's lovely to see two older adults still very much in love and connected to each other - all the while being painfully aware of each other's faults It's also an interesting look at difficult child/parent relationships - how we can hold love, frustration, anger, and disappointment with our parents all at the same time. Be warned, it's a tearjerker!

Phildelphia - okay - this is not a romantic movie. But it is an excellent one and it does show a lot of love - mostly between Tom Hank's main character and his partner, played by Antonio Banderas. While the main plot of the movie deals with discrimination in the workplace, the movie also shows two people in love living with the knowledge that one of them is going to die.

Shortbus - again, maybe not a romantic movie, but there is so much awesome love in this film! The love comes in all kinds of forms but I was particularly struck by the depiction of a couple who love each very much, trying to find a way to deal with one partner's very serious depression and its effect on their relationship.

Love and Other Drugs - I thought this movie was going to be a behind-the-scenes look at how the pharmaceutical industry works and was, at first, disappointed to find out it's really a love story. But the love story turned out to be really great. Anne Hathaway plays a woman living with early onset Parkinson's Disease. Jake Gyllenhal plays the man that was supposed to be a one-night stand and ended up falling for her charms. The movie follows his struggle in falling for someone who has a serious illness and his attempts to save her when she has no interest in being saved. It's an unexpected treatment of the subject that I really enjoyed. PLUS there is A LOT of nudity!

All right, so I admint, looking at the above films, that perhaps this is a pretty heavy list for Valentine's Day. I admit it, I like sad, depressing movies. But if that's not your thing, here are some other non-traditional suggestions that are not sad and depressing.

My Best Friend's Wedding - here ya go! A mainstream romantic comedy. I'm not a big fan of Julia Roberts' rom-coms but I have always loved this one. This movie has an unexpected twist and lets us know that you don't always get what you want, and you don't always get the prince, and you don't always live happily ever after - and yet, that might be just fine. It also shows that the love of a true friend can be just as important as that of a lover.

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. These are some of my favorite movies ever! If you have never seen these movies, you must go watch them now. Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke star as two people from opposite side of the globe who meet by chance on a train and decide to spend a day together. It is a devastatingly sweet and bitter romance as they fall head over heels in a short period of time and decide whether they will meet again or not. The romance between them feels very real as it doesn't rely on all of the typical Hollywood tropes. Instead, the two share stories and pieces of themselves and truly connect with each other.

Before Sunset takes place nine years later (both in story time and in real time, by the way) when they meet again and look at what has happened in their lives and how it might have been different. It is absolutely beautiful. The real-time walk through the streets of Paris doesn't hurt either.

There is a third installment to this series that came out two years ago but it is not as well done and while it's worth a watch, I don't recommend it for Valentine's Day.

I know that one of the biggest, supposedly romantic movies to hit theatres this year comes out today, but, given what I know from the book it's based on, these ones are a better bet for more realistic, heartfelt, and satisfying romance.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Another Crowd-Funding Campaign Gets It Completely Wrong

I ran across another crowd-funded campaign that seeks to increase the number of people who use condoms. Yet again, this group claims that one of the main reasons that women don't use condoms is because it's embarrassing to buy them. The solution, condoms in funky, easy to open packages, that will be accessible from places women go, like the beauty salon (because women never go into drugstores).

I was very skeptical when I saw the first video for loveability condoms because it seemed to be saying that it's just the packaging and the fact that condoms are so damned hard to open that keeps women from using them. But then I read the whole site and watched the founder's Ted talk and changed my mind a bit. I do like her idea of putting condoms in protective tins. When you're carrying stuff around in your purse, it gets DESTROYED. We all know that. So the tin is a good idea. But this is not new. The market is filled with all kinds of condom carriers, some supposedly specifically designed for women. ONE brand condoms packages their condoms with ends that flip off and make a little tin big enough for two condoms and a pack of lube. So yes, good idea, but it's not revolutionary. I also like her idea of putting condoms in places that you typically don't see them. This company is planning to have these condoms carried at spas, hair salons, and shoe stores. I'm not a fan of the obvious gender stereotyping and I'm not sure exactly how they plan to get these places to carry a product that's completely outside their industry, but I like the idea. I think it's cool to consider having condoms in more places and outside of the typical places we think of. I think this could lead to us seeing them as more of just an everyday item, like your shampoo.

So yes, there are some good ideas here and there's certainly nothing wrong with these condoms as far as I can see. However, I think this company, like so many others, is aiming at the wrong solution. I have worked with sexuality for about 13 years now. I have spent years talking to people about how to use condoms and why they do or don't use them. Rarely, certainly never, but rarely, do people tell me that they don't use condoms because they are embarrassed to buy them. Most people know that if they are embarrassed, they can go to Safeway or WalMart and use the self-checkout, get a friend to buy them, or buy them on-line. If they really want to buy condoms, they're going to do it. I am all for increasing access to condoms but I think this is only a small part of the issue. These are the reasons people, and particularly women who have sex with men, tell me they don't use condoms.

1. I just never think of it until I need it so I never have them around.
2. I'm embarrassed to bring it up. When do you bring up something like that? Especially if I don't have a condom and I'm hoping my partner does.
3. I'm afraid my partner will think I'm a slut if I have condoms in my purse.
4. If I ask to use a condom, they will think I have an STI.
5. If I ask to use a condom, they will think I think they have an STI.
6. If I've been with the person for awhile, I don't need to use condoms.
7. If I've been with the person for awhile and I ask to use condoms, they'll think I don't trust them.
8. If I've been with the person for awhile and I want to use condoms, they'll think I'm sleeping around.
9. I didn't think I needed to.
10. I've had sex with this person without a condom before, why start now?

These are the most common things that I hear. Rarely do I hear 'I don't like the packaging, it's not pretty enough' or 'The condom case in the store squeaked when I opened it and that embarassed me' (watch the loveability video and you'll see where this comes from).

A condom is not just a condom. It's a symbol. It's a symbol of trust or lack therof. It's a symbol of sexual availability or sexual promiscuity, or lack thereof. I don't believe it should be, but in North American culture, it often is. This is the problem that needs to be tackled. These are the attitudes and beliefs that we need to work on changing. That is what will get more women to use condoms.

The loveability condoms are very nice. I love the packaging and I love the idea and the earnestness of the people who are making them. They will be great for the few people who really care about what their condoms look like. But these are people who are already pretty cool with using condoms. Will it increase the number of women who actually use them? Definitely not.

Please Don't Buy This - Ever!

I have had some questions about a product I wrote about on the blog way back in 2012. It's called the Secret Ceres.

This is a stone that is supposed to tighten and 'rejuvenate' the vagina. When I first heard about it, it was because KoKo (our assistant manager as the store here) had stumbled across it and pointed it out to me. I thought it was a fringe thing that I would write about but never hear of again. I was wrong.

Apparently, the makers of this thing have been marketing the hell out of it. The site claims that it's been in Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Jolie. I don't know if that's true because I can't find the articles. But I know that people are somehow finding out about this thing because they're asking me about it.

It's very hard to understand exactly what this thing is. The site claims that it is infused with healing herbs but it does not say which. Regardless of what's actually in it, I would still say to stay the hell away from this thing. The site says that it helps to naturally slough off dead cell inside the vaginal lining. The thing is, the vagina does that all on it's own. It doesn't need any help. In fact, putting something weird in there could interfere with it's ability to naturlaly kill bacteria and other organisms that aren't supposed to be in there. The site does say that it helps to restore the natural ph of the vagina. That is legit. That is important. But does this actually do that? I doubt it. The PH of the vagina usually only changes as a result of other things that we put into our vaginas and into our bodies in general. I would guess that this causes more problems than it solves.

Whether it could possibly have some value or not, no one actually needs this products. Our vaginas do just fine on their own. I think there are much better ways you can spend $120.