Meet Bob

bob

Have you met my new boyfriend?

Probably not. Silly question. See, I keep him a secret. I keep him in a drawer, in a Ziplock bag, in the hopes that no one will find him. I keep him away from prying judgmental eyes. I keep him to myself.

Why, you ask? I’m not exactly sure. I’d like to think that I’m past being ashamed for pursuing sexual pleasure. Sometimes I fancy that I’m beyond the type of narrow mindset that plagued me in my younger years. I’d like to think I’m a liberated woman. But despite my assurance in the strength and beauty of other women, and my unwavering commitment to not denying them their sexuality, there are corners of my mind that have reservations when it comes to ME. These corners have pressing, pestering questions.

Like:

  • What would your mother think?
  • What would your baby sister think?
  • How about how BOB changed your own perception of yourself.
  • Are you an indulgent girl now? This is not a girl I recognize.

But maybe that’s because I’ve suppressed that part of me for so long. Scratch that. I’ve suppressed, ignored, and misunderstood my own body and its needs for so long that I don’t recognize a version of myself that doesn’t neglect my own sexuality. No doubt.

But BOB has helped me with that. Despite what some traditionalists might argue, ordering my boyfriend off Amazon was the best decision for my love life. Not because BOB is special, but because when I’m with him I actively seek it, nourish it. It being my own happiness, my pleasure. It seems wrong to deny anyone these emotions, so how can it not be wrong to deny myself them? Am I not human, too? Why should such a good thing be a sin, if it makes me happy and hurts no one else?

And yet knowing this in my brain is different than accepting it as truth and in practice. My brain believes in the logic, but my body often rebels against it. This has not been erased by BOB’s presence, but it has been helped. The fact that I don’t own up to him is proof enough of that.

Nothing is completely fixed. Besides, me being happy isn’t tied to any notion of fixedness. I just want to accept, embrace, and enjoy my own sexuality without lingering guilt. BOB is not my soul mate, he’s not even human, but he’s been instrumental in my self-discovery and self-appreciation.

Now I at least have that off my chest. It’s another step towards the end that is being who I want to be. And now you’ve met my boyfriend. My first, as it were. His name is BOB, short for Battery Operated Boyfriend. Don’t tell anyone about him though, alright? This is just between friends.


Sadie Quinn

Staff Writer, What the F Magazine

Art by Kate Johnson

Emily Graslie Uses YouTube to Showcase Natural History

Since last January, Emily Graslie has been using YouTube to introduce viewers to the inner workings of Natural History Museums. Graslie hosts “The Brain Scoop,” initially a project out of the University of Montana and is now an entity of the Chicago Field Museum.  She uses her platform to show viewers the wide range of work natural history museums do, as well as forward her belief that everyone is a scientist.

She is also well-known on the internet for her video featuring one of her producers reading the comments she receives sexualizing her and demeaning her work while she spoke about the harm that such comments cause.

That video sparked a discussion online of the treatment of women on the internet in general, as well as the absence of women scientists on the internet.

Graslie graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Art. During her senior year, she began volunteering at the Natural History Museum, cataloguing specimens and prepping them to be added to the collection. She enjoyed the work so much that she stayed on after she graduated and began working toward a graduate degree in Museum Studies.

One of Graslie’s hallmarks is her assertion that everyone can be a scientist. She holds up her Art degree as proof that your degree doesn’t define your career path, nor should it stop you from pursuing a path you are interested in.

Besides the cool feminist work Graslie does, her videos are also really interesting and informative. She breaks down information in ways that are understandable, but never condescending, and her enthusiasm is infectious. The series is an interesting look into the work museums do beyond exhibits, as well as the a glimpse at what goes into dissections and anatomy. With her wide range of topics and guest-experts, there is something for everybody.


Erin Kwederis
University of Michigan

Let’s Talk About Menstruation

    What do you know about your period?  I mean, we’ve all been taught that it happens because of ovulation.  But beyond that, what do you really know about menstruation?

    I faced this question in my physiology class last term.  To my chagrin, I learned I actually knew very little about this monthly visit.  Previous “sex ed” courses never fully explored the hormonal and physical changes that occur.  So, here goes a brief explanation about the fascinatingly complex gift Mother Nature bestows upon us:

  1. A follicle is a group of cells in which the egg is stored.  10-25 follicles are initially chosen to undergo development.

  2. Estrogen levels rise, and the endometrial layer of the uterus thickens.

  3. One dominant follicle, from the previous 10-25, is chosen to be ovulated.  The other follicles and eggs die.

  4. The level of the hormone LH rises drastically, in what is known as the LH surge.  The LH surge causes ovulation to occur, around day 14 of the cycle.

  5. Progesterone levels rise during ovulation.  The glands of the endometrium become filled with glycogen (a storage form of sugar).  The number of blood vessels in the uterus increases.  These changes prepare the uterus for potential implantation of a fertilized egg.

  6. If the egg isn’t fertilized, progesterone and estrogen levels decrease around day 25 of the cycle.

  7. Blood vessels in the uterus constrict, lowering blood flow to the uterus.  Endometrial cells degenerate, which causes bleeding to occur as the endometrium is sloughed off.

  8. The first day of bleeding is counted as the first day of the menstrual cycle.

     Sorry, I know that was a lot of science terminology I just threw at you.  To make up for it, I’ll highlight some important, but less jargon-filled, implications of this cycle.

    First, hormonal birth control does not prolong a woman’s reproductive lifespan.  Although The Pill prevents the ovulation of an egg, it does not save this egg from dying.  With hormonal contraceptives, none of the follicles can mature enough to reach the “dominant” stage.  Therefore, all 10-25 follicles (and the eggs they hold) die.

    Second, counting the number of days in a cycle is not an entirely reliable method of birth control.  Bleeding starts on day 1, and ovulation usually occurs around day 14.  However, cycles vary.  The LH surge ovulation can occur anywhere from day 3 to 27.

    Overall, it’s fascinating to consider the changes the female body naturally goes through.  Our body maintains the intricate fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone, and LH each month.  It automatically prepares our uterus for possible fertilization, and quickly adapts when fertilization doesn’t occur.  Periods are complex, sometimes painful, and well worth demystifying.


Michelle Torby
University of Michigan
English Language and Literature